1st rangefinder recommendations?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by stradibarrius, May 20, 2009.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I have 35mm, MF and digital but have been thinking about trying a rangefinder.
    I know that Leica's are the Rolls Royce but I just want to give it a try without breaking the bank.
    What would you recommend for a 1st rangefinder?
     
  2. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    Depends on whether you want interchangeable lenses. For interchangeable lens rangefinders that are not too pricy, take a look at the new Cosina/Voigtlander cameras. You can find them at http://www.cameraquest.com/, they carry a large assortment. For a simpler and even cheaper choice, there were lots of nice cameras made from the 60's through the 70's, Yashica Electro 35, Canon GIII QL 17, and Minolta Himatic are all popular and can be found for not too much money. These will have no interchangeable lenses, usually older batteries for which alternatives need to be found, etc. However, they are great little shooters and not too expensive.
     
  3. luvcameras

    luvcameras Advertiser Advertiser

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  4. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Canon Glll. Lots of bang for the buck.
    It will give you the rfdr. experience without spending a lot of money.
    If you like using it then you can go for an interchangeable lens camera. If
    you don't you can get your money back selling it here. Current market is $30-$100+.
    If you find one that doesn't seem to work at first glance, see if it's set on Auto. If it is,
    and the battery is dead it will not release. Just change the aperture ring to an f stop and it may just work.
    It is fully operable in manual without a battery or with a dead battery. Also check the battery contacts for corrosion, if they're all corroded the corrosion may have gotten to the + wire.
     
  5. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    what about a Canon Canonet QL17 G-III ???
     
  6. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I think much depends on your budget. Affordable is relative. For some people, it's $20-$50. For others, it's $150-$250.

    The issue with any older camera is finding one that doesn't need to be serviced before you use it.

    There are hundreds of different models from all over the world. So, my questions:

    1) Your budget

    2) Interchangeable lens? Or is a fixed lens OK?

    3) Modern-day camera or vintage? (make that, European or Asian)

    4) Japanese or German?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 20, 2009
  7. Larry.Manuel

    Larry.Manuel Member

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    Basic Bessa to Bare M3.

    For about 2 1/2 years, my film revival was with a Bessa-L, finder and 25mm f/4 lens. I used Delta 100 [at EI 50], and it worked great. Obviously, there are some limitations with only one short lens. Many of those photos will stay with me forever. Zone focusing was a good way to discipline myself into working quickly and confidently. My background was a Rollei 35B and Minox 35 in the late 70s and early 80s [Kodachrome 25], I didn't take to d!g!-stuff.

    Then I bought my friend's somewhat tired M3 [he wanted to pay for his 8x10 Deardorff]. I had it fully overhauled [CLA'd] and the [wrecked] vulcanite replaced with modern vinyl, which is great.

    After I bought the M3, for about a year and a half, I used Rolleicords almost exclusively [craving the larger negative]. Now, I am well into using the M3 exclusively, with new Summarit-M 50 f/2.5 and Plus-X Kodak movie film stock: b&w 5231, bought by the 400 foot roll. The larger negative is no longer is my obsession; from Tri-X or the Plus-X, I make 16x20 FB prints that delight me.

    Summary: starting very modestly worked out great for me. My first 35mm RF wasn't really a RF after all; just a scale-focus delight. Now, I love working quickly and spontaneously with the M3, using Sunny f/11; no meter. Good luck!
     
  8. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    If you want a 'real' [leica style] instead of a fixed lens RF, for under $100 CLA'd or in CLA'd condition, you can get a Zorki 4 with a wicked Jupiter 8 from Fekda.com
    Screwmount Leicas are not that expensive either, $250 for a IIIc.
    The only fixed lens RF I have experience with is the Olympus XA, which is tiny, quiet, aperture priority and has a wicked lens. Best pocket camera ever :D
     
  9. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I would want interchangable lenses
     
  10. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    The main choices then are the Bessa/Leica/Zorki/Zeiss Ikon cameras.
    Bessa is pretty well built, not as good as Leica, but its not too expensive, and a good way to get into it. It uses M lenses, unless you get the original R, which takes Leica screwmount, just like the Leica III and Zorki.
    The zorki is pretty nice, though more rough feeling than the smoothness of a Leica, or even a bessa. Remember to only change shutter speeds after winding with the Leica screwmount cameras and Zorkis. Otherwise you'll probably break the shutter.
     
  11. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    I am asking this question from my ignorance of rangefinders...what is the advantage of a rangefinder over one of the small lightweight SLR bodies with a 28mm or 50mm prime?
     
  12. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    They're generally even smaller, quieter, you see and focus better in lower light levels and the lenses are nicer I think. I like the feeling of using a rangefinder, its more enjoyable. It also has wicked lenses like the CV 12mm f5.6! For me, RFs are for almost everything. I just use my Nikon on paid shoots, sports, and parties, all places where I need the flexibility of using flashes, AF, and other stuff.
     
  13. Softie

    Softie Member

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    1. Some RFs are quieter than SLRs.

    2. With an SLR, you can't easily take a photograph of the back of your lenscap.

    3. If you have trouble focusing or composing thru filters, the RF allows you to avoid looking thru the filter.

    4. A 28mm RF lens will be smaller than the equivalent SLR lens.

    5. With an SLR, you generally don't look through an accessory composing viewfinder to use your 28mm lens. If you want to use a 28mm on an RF without the accessory finder, there aren't many choices of bodies for you---the cheapest would be a Bessa R4.
     
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  15. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    Why is this? Is it because of the larger SLR lens mount or something?
     
  16. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    In my experience, RFs are "quicker on the draw" only if they are used so often everything works intuitively. I love my Leica M6; but an Ollie OM with a 28 or 35 would be a great choice in an slr.
    If does not mind the vagaries of soviet-built cameras, some of the Feds and Zorkis can be very good picture takers. I have a FED 2 with a tessar-formula, lanthium-glass lens which cuts a very sharp image and it cost me 30 bucks, incl. shipping from the Ukraine. The diopter-correction on the RF is jammed, but it still focuses and frames correctly and I am sure it could be fixed, but with my bifocals perched atop my pate, everything is kinda blurry anyway. And besides, my FEd has red leatherette covering, dontcha know. I also have.... o.k......., here it comes , a Canonet GIII. Which is compact, quiet, has a parallax correcting viewfinder frame, a sharp-cutting six element lens, built in meter, auto/manual aperture selection, auto flash exposure by dialing in the GN; dedicated auto-flash with the Canolite D. And, oh , yes, cost me 20 bucks off Craig's list.
    The M6 is always my RF of choice, but..........
     
  17. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Member

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    Konica Auto S-2. IMHO, even better than the Canonet QL-17 GIII. You can generally find these Konicas for under $50, and they are wonderful - the lens is Leica Summicron quality.
     
  18. Softie

    Softie Member

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    Nah. A 28mm SLR lens has to throw the nodal point of the optic behind the lens, resulting in more complexity and a larger front element.
     
  19. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    Then why is a RF 50 so much smaller than a SLR 50mm?
     
  20. arealitystudios

    arealitystudios Member

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    Speaking only from my own epxeriences, the first rangefinder I ever owned was an old Yashica Electro. My girlfriend bought it for my birthday at a flea market knowing that I like beat up used cameras.

    It's actually a rather remarkable little camera. It's a fixed lens, but the automatic aperture priority exposure is pretty much spot on and the lens is better than I expected.

    Recently I did "upgrade" to a Bessa R3A which is obviously a lot more expensive than the Yashica. It's a great camera though. Nice clean design, great optics, and plenty of accesories available either new or used. Being an M mount camera with the ability to take Leica screwmount lenses certainly doesn't hurt either :tongue:
     
  21. nicefor88

    nicefor88 Member

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    Hi,
    If you'd like to try Leica because it is said to be lighter than a SLR, well, I can tell you that a M6 plus 35mm or 50mm lens is no lighter than a Nikon FE2 with similar lenses... or the difference is really hard to feel.
    This said, Leicas never come cheap. But, I suppose this is subjective. You can use a leica for 30+ years then pass it on to your children...:D
     
  22. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Here's another wrinkle to consider-

    Contax G1 or G2.

    They're autofocus, with manual focus capability. They take modern CR2 lithium batteries. They have interchangeable lenses, and some of the best glass ever made for 35mm. They offer aperture priority or manual exposure, TTL flash, and they're quite compact and quiet (not quite as quiet as a Leica M, but still quite good).
     
  23. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    *******
    I agree. Although the Konica Auto-S2 is a bit bigger than the Canon, they have most of the same good features such as parallax correcting viewfinder and as Doug Green states, a very, very fine lens.
     
  24. dougjgreen

    dougjgreen Member

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    Another thing, and this is significant with these older cameras, is that the Konica Auto S-2 is much easier to re-seal than the Canonet QL-17 GIII,
     
  25. mojobebop

    mojobebop Member

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    g1 not good for street shooting.
    the focus mechanism won't shoot till in focus.
     
  26. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I have looked into getting a Voigtlander Bessa and I think they are great cameras.