Affordable walk-around rangefinder?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by jasonjoo, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    I've been playing with my Olympus XAs for about a week now, and several rolls in, I am really growing to love these things. While the image quality is great for such a small camera, I'm looking for "more" now.

    I'm looking for a rangefinder that will match the image quality of my Canon A-1 SLR. Something that is affordable, easy to find, and easy to service would be a huge bonus as well.

    Doesn't have to be a Canon per se, but I've been really pleased with my Canon cameras, so I thought I'd look there first.

    All suggestions are welcome!

    Thanks,

    Jason
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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  3. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    How could you go wrong with a rapid omega?

    Mike
     
  4. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Jason,

    As you will soon realize - you have opened up the proverbial "can of worms"!

    Now, as they squiggle all over the floor - you will have to try and find them and put them back into the can!

    For, you see, there are a hundredfold as many recommendations for RF cameras are there are RF cameras to be recommended! :D
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 27, 2007
  5. dchatter

    dchatter Member

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    Fed 3 + Jupiter 12 (Fed/Zorki mount), or a Fed 3 + Industar 61.
     
  6. elekm

    elekm Member

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    You need to define "affordable."

    To some people, that's less than $150. To others, it's less than $50.

    There are a huge number of possibilities out there, from the modest Argus C-3 (certainly affordable) to the Japanese rangefinders of the 1970s to classic Leicas and Contaxes (some consider them to be affordable).
     
  7. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    Some time ago a friend gave me a Konica Auto S2. I didn't think much of it at the time until I ran a couple rolls of film through the thing. The camera delivers spectacular images, almost equal in quality (maybe better) to the images I get from my 50mm f/1.8 AI Nikkor. It's a fixed lens camera, if that matters, but the meter works fine with currently available batteries.
     
  8. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Thanks guys!

    I do believe I opened up a "can of worms." I've also purchased a Polaroid model 440 and easily spent $60 dollars just today on pack film!

    The XA is a great pocket camera, but I'm wanting more in terms of image quality and control.

    As for my budget, I'm thinking within the $100-200 dollar range.

    Thanks!
     
  9. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Oh, well that changes everything.

    Now, the next question you must ask yourself is whether you want German or Japanese, plastic or paper ... uh, metal, I mean (little joke there).

    If you go the German and classic route, you could look at some camera from the 1950s ... possibly a Zeiss Ikon folding Contessa, a Kodak (Nagel) Retina or for a bit less an Agfa Super Solinette or Vito III (or Prominent, if you want to torture yourself).

    On the Japanese side, you have the Konica I, II and III with the III being a superb camera, although somewhat/very heavy.

    There's a sizable number of Japanese fixed-lens rangefinders from the 1960s and 1970s from Ricoh, Petri, Fuji, Olympus, Canon, Minolta and others. A favorite is the Olympus 35RC -- small, great lens and with a shutter speed dial on the top deck.

    The Canon Canonet and the Minolta Hi-Matics are popular, as well.

    The interchangeable lens cameras tend to be pricier and probably more than you want to spend at this moment. Everyone has a tale about the flea market find for $5, but those are the exception and not the rule.

    There also is a lot of Soviet gear, however you probably want to be assured that it works out of the box.

    Most older Japanese cameras will need to have their light seals replaced (except the Konica I, II and III) and possibly serviced, and nearly all older German cameras will need to be serviced. There are some re-sellers on eBay who buy eBay cameras, service and flip them back onto eBay.

    Are you looking for something more recent? Do you want a rigid-front camera? A folding camera? German? Japanese?

    So many choices, which is a good thing, by the way.

    Lately, I've been playing around with a 1960s Foca Sport II rangefinder. Great camera. It's from France.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    If you don't mind scale focusing, the Retinette's can be nice, and often much less than your budget (see my avatar).

    Matt
     
  11. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Wow elekm, thanks for all of the info!

    I'm not exactly sure what the difference is between cameras that are made in different countries. Most of the cameras I own are Japanese made. I'm not sure why that is!

    Without the country as a factor, I'm just looking for something compact, affordable, and something that will produce images like my Canon A-1 does. The real reason I'm looking into a "real" rangefinder, is that the viewfinder on the Olympus XA is quite terrible.
     
  12. rusty71

    rusty71 Member

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    I'm going to toss my hat in with the Soviet made rangefinder Kiev 4 series.
    They're fairly faithful copies of the Pre-war Contax cameras. Arguably the Contax was a much better designed camera than contemporary Leica models. If you get a Kiev 3 or 4 in good working order with the 1.8 Helios lens they can be surprisingly good picture takers. And they can be had for 40-70 bucks at auction sites. If you drop it or lose it, no big deal. And of course they use the Contax lenses and accessories if you choose to buy more.
     
  13. kunihiko

    kunihiko Member

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    Your A-1 doesn't produce image quality, your lenses do. If you are looking for image quality comparable with those from multi coated Canon FDs and a camera with good "real" finder, I doubt that 200USD is enough.
    You may need a M-mount camera, Leica M, Cosina Bessa, Konica Hexar RF, etc and some top class lenses.
     
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  15. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    The Retina would be a great choice. I have a IIc and the lens is great and it's so compact. No meter though.

    Some of the soviet cameras (I have 4 soviet rangefinders) are great picture takers -- I'd match the images I've had from an Industar 61L/D lens with anything -- but the viewfinders tend to be quite poor in comparison to some others I've used.
     
  16. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Jason,

    Konica SIII is hard to beat for a good, reasonably fast lens (47/1.9) AND a good viewfinder (parallax compensated brightline). The meter even works on mine!

    Most old RF cameras have finders that range from poor to lousy, and that includes screw Leicas (pre IIIg), Kievs, Zorkiis and Retinas: most are squinty, and the IIIC always seems to me to have more brightline than image area. I own or have owned all the cameras listed above so this ain't hearsay: the ones I still own are asterisked. I can't remember if late Contaxes have brightlines but I don't think so. Given that the poor VF on your Olympus is a reason for changing, I'd definitely think twice about some of the recommendations given by others.

    When it comes to lenses, yes, the Konica and the best Retina lenses will stand comparison with whatever you've been using, but most FSU lenses won't. And again, I've owned 'em.

    On the other hand, the way you've been buying kit lately, I'd suggest thinking hard about which is better: one or two really good cameras, or lots of indifferent ones. With the beneft of over 40 years' hindsight, I'd go for the former. A second-hand Leica M-series or a new Voigtlander is a lot of money but it's also a far more versatile camera than any of the others recommended above, by me or anyone else.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com, where you'll find some ideas for saving money)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2007
  17. Donald Boyd

    Donald Boyd Member

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    Where's this money saving section on your website?
     
  18. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Donald,

    In 'Photo School' there's a free module called 'Saving Money' (it would have to be free, really...) It's about where you can save money, and where it's unwise to try to do so. Then there's are a free module called 'Hints and Tips' -- some to save money, some to make life easier -- and another free module called 'How Many Cameras Do You Need', which might also prove useful to the OP.

    I can't seem to post direct links. Several people have tried to explain how, but the box at the top only ever says 'Homepage for Roger and Frances' without all the dashes-and-dashes that most sites have.

    My own view is that as there's so much free stuff there, and as I normally only mention the free stuff when I reply to people, it's not a great hardship for them to look for it. But apparently some have complained that I'm 'promoting a commercial site', to which the only reply I can make is that I wish it were earning me lots of money.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  19. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Like this: http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photoschool/ps save.html


    You are right, whatever page you are on, it only shows the main address at the top. Have a word with your website administrator to see if this can be changed.

    In the meantime, if you go to the page you want and click the right mouse button, you can then select 'properties'. This will show you the full page name which can be highlighted and copied to paste into a post like I did above.


    Steve.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 28, 2007
  20. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Can't disagree with anyone's recommendations, but for a few years I was officially not doing any photography, and during this time the only camera I owned was a Konica C35 (I think the first model, it had a metal body, rangefinder focusing and no built-in flash). I found the perfomance more than acceptable.
     
  21. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Steve,

    Ah! Clicking 'Properties' may be the missing link. I was told 'just right click on the address' but that didn't do anything -- presumably the person who told me assumed (entirely incorrectly) that I knew what you have just told me.

    I'll try again...

    A moment later: if I put the cursor over the address and right-click, I get 'cut', 'copy' or 'delete' (actually I get them in French, but the principle is the same).

    Any further ideas?

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  22. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    Roger - right click on the page of interest, not the address -- should do it.

    DaveT
     
  23. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Dave,

    Aha!

    http://www.rogerandfrances.com/photoschool/ps save.html

    Thanks also to Steve who sent a PM.

    Let's see if this works...

    (Seconds later)

    IT DID!

    Thanks everyone...

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  24. mabman

    mabman Member

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    Just curious, which FSU lenses do you consider mediocre/underwhelming? After reading a lot and looking at other people's pictures, I have a couple - Jupiter-9, Industar 61 L/D, and the collapsible Industar-10 that came with my recently acquired FED-2.

    I know this is subjective, but I quite like the 61 L/D for sharpness and resolution, and the Jupiter-9 helps to take great portraits (from the limited tests I've done the "good bokeh" argument is valid). And, well, the price/performance is fantastic :smile:

    Now, I don't have any Leica or real Zeiss glass to compare them to directly, but presumably you have, so I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject.
     
  25. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    As a starving student, I bought a full set of L39 lenses to go on my "cheap old" Leica IIIa. I had an Orion (?) 28 mm f6, Jupiter 12 35 mm f2.8, Jupiter 8 50 mm f2 and Jupiter 11 135 mm f4. I used to use them for press work where definition was not ultra-critical and I never enlarged beyond 8x10". I was not very impressed with any of them except the Jupiter 11 135 mm, which seemed to be up there with Leitz glass. I sold my original lens a long time ago and bought another example 4 to 5 years ago, which seemed just as good.

    Regards,

    David
     
  26. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Generally, the wider, the worse. The two 20/5.6 Russars I've ever tried (one owned, one borrowed) were awful in every way (sharpness, resolution, vignetting, contrast). The 28/6 is not very sharp (I've had about five or six, in Zorkii and Kiev fit) and every 35/2.8 I've had is again pretty uniformly awful -- and I even found a 'new, old-stock' one of those once. Again I've had several.

    The 50/2 is kinda romantic but quality control is all over the place, and the best I've had (out of maybe 10) haven't been outstandingly sharp. The slower 50s are among the best, again subject to quality control, but again I've even found new ones to be lacking in contrast. The 85/2 is a wonderful portrait lens but (again) lacking in resolution -- I half wish I'd not got rid of my last one, but a friend fell in love with it for portraits -- and while the 135/4 is impressively ugly and rather slow it's probably the best of the lot, but I've only had two or three.

    Next to current (or indeed most post WW2) Leica lenses all the FSU lenses lack 'sparkle' on trannies though as I say there can be a vintage charm on mono: I still use my 1936 50/3.5 Elmar sometimes for its vintage look, though the 50/1.5 Sonnar-C that I currently have for review is both 'vintage' and 'sparkly' -- possibly my favourite 50 ever, and I've tried most except Leica 50/1.2 and 50/1.4.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    Roger