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Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Aggie, Feb 17, 2003.
A couple of reasons why not.
First is the focus problem. A longer lens has shorter DOF in general, so you either have to make the long lenses very slow, or you have to have a wider rangefinder base (and thus a larger camera body) to focus more precisely. This is also part of the reason why MF rangefinder lenses aren't particuarly fast. The other part of the reason for that is that the lenses have to cover a larger format and would need to be inconveniently large to get an aperture like f:1.4.
The other is the viewfinder problem. A wider focal length range requires a more complicated viewfinder, either with more framelines or with a more complex zoom arrangement. With very wide lenses you can use an auxiliary finder mounted on the accessory shoe, but wide lenses have wider DOF and don't require precise focusing.
Leica made it possible to use long lenses on Leica rangefinders with the Visoflex system. This inserted a periscope kind of thing between the lens and the camera body, so that you could actually focus through the lens as with an SLR. It was a bit of a kludge--better to use an SLR for what an SLR does well and a rangefinder for what a rangefinder does well.
The main reason is, it would be hard to frame properly as the user of such a camera, and it is probably hard to design a rangefinder that would track accurately enough to a long lens. The longer the lens is, the more any slight error will be magnified, along with the parallax that all rangefinders have to some degree. Then, how would you set the rangefinder optics to match a wide range of lenses? It probably would be difficult and expensive. For most types of shooting, a long lens is not needed. For long lenses, an SLR is still the better choice since you are looking through the lens and what you see is what you get (more or less).
Great camera, isn't it? I get enlargements to 16x20 from that that rival my 4x5 negatives.
Think of rangefinder as focusing with your eyes. Looking at the door handle of a car across the street and down the block, you can't really judge distance from that to the person walking on the other side of the car. Your eyes are too close together. But with the short DOF of a 210 or 300 lens, one would be in focus and other wouldn't. And you wouldn't know which. And so it is with a RF camera, whose "eyes" are even closer together than yours.
The extra viewfinder has nothing to do with it. It is the ability of the range finder...the big window with the blue/yellow tint and the little window on the other side of the camera...to distinguish a difference in what they see that makes the difference. The further apart they are, the more they are able to see something slightly differently and therefore focus. Even with the Mamiya's 150mm lens they can barely do that, which is why there are so many complaints about that lens's ability to focus and why people tell you to ignore the hyperfocal marks on the barrel.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Aggie @ Feb 18 2003, 05:21 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>The mamiya alreadey uses axuillary finders for its 43mm, 50mm, and 210mm. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
there does even exist an auxiliary finder for the 150mm. But these finders are only for framing. They dont tell you anything about your focus. They dont have rangefinder capabilities.
BTW: having a frame within a larger view is usually taken as an advantage of the rangefinder camera. You can watch the environment of your frame/subject and release the shutter at the right moment.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Aggie @ Feb 18 2003, 09:44 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>The extra finders also work well to preview a scene before switching out the lens. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
Some rangefinder cameras have the ability to switch the frame independent from the lens. Unfortunately, the Mamiya 7 does not have this feature. But the auxiliary finders do allow you to frame a scene without taking the camera out of the bag.
Maybe I'm becoming a bigger negative snob. 35's have the ability that I look for once in a while. But I love the bigger negatives, and wish I could find that capability in medium or large format
You can have that ability with a medium format SLR. Long lenses for medium format can get costly, but you seem to have a fair budget for photo equipment. If you also want autofocus occasionally, there are a few 645 systems that could suit your purposes.
Another option, if you want most-definitely-not-autofocus, would be to add a telephoto lens of around 400-500mm to your Wisner and a rollfilm back.
There are also some less costly options if that is a concern. I use a Bronica S2A system for 6x6 and have managed to put together an extensive kit with 40, 50, 75, 100 Leaf Shutter, 135, 200, 300, and 500mm lenses (plus a 240mm Heliar I use occasionally for portraits, half a dozen backs, and a few exotic accessories like a tilt-shift bellows) for less than the cost of an M7II with one or two lenses.
"They" can make lenses longer than 210mm for medium format. Bronica has lenses up to 500mm, Fuji has a 500mm for the GX680, Hasselblad has a 250, 350, and 500mm lenses, Mamiya has a 500mm for the RB/RZ series, Pentax makes a 500, 600, 800, and 1000mm lenses for the Pentax 67. You'll notice, however, that all of these cameras are SLR and provide focusing through the lens itself on a viewfinder screen and not through a range finder mechanism.
If you're talking specifically about the Mamiya 7, I could only guess at the answer. I would think making the range finder work with telephoto image magnification would be very difficult.
The range finder has two windows, and using the parallax between the two windows provides a focus mechanism. The windows probably cannot accomodate the narrow angle of telephoto lenses making it impossible to show when the lens is in focus (much like really wide angle lenses require an auxillary viewfinder for the same reason). Because of the shallow depth of field with longer focal length lenses, this would be a critical issue.
Leica solved this problem (using long lenses) by employing the Visoflex this essentially turned the rangefinder into a single lens reflex. For a medium format camera this would have to be huge and most likely costly. Just a thought.
sorry I need to re-read ALL the posts before answering so I don't step on anyone elses answers.
I am pleased that this subject came up and it is one that I have absolutely no knowledge about. What exactly is the benefit of a range finder system? I understand that Leica is one manufacturer that has used this system and their cameras seem to carry an excellent reputation. Is it the quality of their lenses? Is it the fact that they are rangefinder in design? Thanks for the information that you are able to share.
One big benefit of rangefinders is size and weight.
By eliminating the bulky prism you get with SLRs, you really cut down on weight. You also can make a smaller camera. Plus you eliminate mirror slap and make a much quieter camera.
Rangefinders allow the camera to operate without a mirror and in the case of the Mamiya without a curtain shutter. This makes for smooth, silent, motion-free operation while making a picture. The Mamiya can be used a few feet from someone in a quiet room without the person hearing the shutter. You can hand-hold it to a much slower shutter speed than you can an SLR camera. Also, not having a mirror to move and slap out out of the way at the time the picture is made means a much lighter camera. The Mamiya 7ii is one of the lightest cameras of any format, and absolutely the lightest and most compact for a rollfilm format. Leicas, as you are probably more familiar with, are also remarkably light and small. And very rugged for their weight.
Other advantages to a rangefinder are:
Easier low-light focusing, because you are not dependant on the maximum aperture of the lens.
Better, smaller, often less expensive, wideangle lenses, because you don't need a retrofocus design to get around the mirror.
Leaf shutter lenses will sync at any speed, so if your camera uses leaf shutter lenses, you can use fill flash in bright daylight without the complex electronics required to make a focal plane shutter do that trick.
Thank you for your explanations. I have leaf shutters in my Bronica, but the mirror movement is definitely noticable.
Try shooting an ETR off in the basement of York Minster.
THAT is a loud noise! The mirror slap sounds like heavy machinery!
ALMOST as loud as the Pentax 67 mirror! I used that in an old Hitler bunker in eastern Poland a couple of years ago and I swear that each time that mirror slapped back down people ducked!
That may have been Adolph "goose stepping"....
You could have such a thing, but it would be heavy and mechanical. The Linhof rangefinder kind of works like that, as does the Speedgraphic: bigger rangefinder on the side, with arms and a cam that go under the lens. I think in the case of a camera like the Mamiya it would be too much bulk and extra mechanics and weight. Might as well get a Linhof and a tripod. BUT, I do wonder sometimes why the two little RF windows on the Mamiya are not further apart as it is. They certainly could be. Maybe it wouldn't make a big enough diff with the longer lenses? I don't know.
I suspect the rangefinder base (distance between the two mirrors) is limited by other stuff that needs to be in the camera, like the winding mechanism, and that would have to be put elsewhere, making the camera bulkier, if the whole top of the camera were left to the rangefinder.
Hmmm, Still think there should be some way to make it lighter than what is being mentioned, but then I am not an engineer.
To answer David Hall froim another thread tho,,,,, I do not have trouble understanding how my rangefinder works. I just saw a limitation and wondered why not? Isn't that how you get people thinking and coming up with possible solutions? I have been tryhing to think outside of the box.
As for the winding mechanism being in the way, it wouldn't be if you kept the new add on below the top and in front of the camera like a ledge over hang. That is where the existing sensors are. It could be anchored via the hot shoe. But this is just me fantasizing.
Thank ya'll for the input.