Affortable Rangefinder?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by ToddB, Mar 27, 2014.

  1. ToddB

    ToddB Subscriber

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    Hey guys,
    These rangefinder camera's a have caught my attention recently and was wondering if anyone knew of a affortable Camera that has good optics and good reputation for durabilty. I looked at Leica M2 .. that is a gorgous camera, but typically comes with a premium price tag. Any imputs?

    ToddB
     
  2. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    Unless you go Russian, affordability is directly proportional to the size of your wallet. I find that most quality rangefinder cameras are too rich for my blood. The Kiev 4A that I borrowed some years ago had a good lens but like many Russian cameras buying can be a bit of a lottery.
     
  3. ToddB

    ToddB Subscriber

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    Thats what I'm realizing.. Anyone else?
     
  4. spacer

    spacer Member

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    A good rangefinder that I've gotten good photos from is my Canonet. It doesn't have the mystique of the Leicas and other early RFs, but it's a good, honest camera you can find for a low price.
     
  5. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Screw mount Leicas. Not so expensive as M, and with great reputation and optics.
     
  6. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    This one sold apparently within one day, but is a nice and affordable example of Russian RF:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum379/128738-fs-zorki-4-a.html

    I don't know what your budget is, but I love my Bronica RF645 camera. A beautiful rangefinder camera using 120 roll film and negative size 6x4.5. The Bronica lenses are excellent!! Maybe something to consider too.

    See also: http://www.japancamerahunter.com/2012/04/the-bronica-rf645-the-orphan-rangefinder/ and http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Bronica_RF645
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2014
  7. giannisg2004

    giannisg2004 Member

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    If you're interested in rangefinders because of the compact size/weight and the amazing wideangles, consider the Contax G1.

    It's an autofocus rangefinder, with aperture priority and good magnesium body.

    The main attraction are the Zeiss lenses, which are stunning in performance.
    And the best part is, the system can be had for cheap.
    ~450 for the body *and* a lens.
    The lenses go for ~300$ for the usual ones (28mm, 45mm, 90mm, that last one a bit less).
    Even extremes like the 21mm f/2.8 Biogon cost no more than 600-700$.
    Just google it to see samples of the image quality.

    If you're ok with the electronics, it's an amazing little camera, great value for money, and very suited for travel.
     
  8. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    Them old down-home Leica blues....

    I adore rangefinder cameras. To me they are the sports cars of cameras. Sure, some other cameras have all the bells and whistles, and lenses are limited, but for certain things they are tops. I had a Leica M2R and loved it, but I let it get away years ago. There's the old Canon P and Canon 7s which are full feature rangefinders with interchangeable lenses. (The Canon 7 has a light meter that is not pretty, IMO). Have you thought about a nice, clean Canon Canonet? They have non-interchangeable lenses that usually top out at f2.8 but take very sharp photos and are small and compact. There is variety of Canonet models. Yashica made some fine cameras similar to the Canonet with even faster lenses. The LYNX has a vey fine f 1.4 lens but is no featherweight. Yashica also made some great Leica clones based on the fine Nicca line which they bought. I want a Yashica YF. I am saving my pennies. I just cannot see me buying another Leica, because of the cost.
     
  9. DannL.

    DannL. Member

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    I think it would be best to define "affordable" at this point. What is the maximum you are willing to spend on a good quality camera and lens? How far are you willing go money-wise if the perfect camera became available? Over the years I determined that rangefinder cameras were best suited for snapshots when in my hands. So, I have never found myself spending more than a couple hundred dollars on a good rangefinder. I'm sure there are others that wouldn't touch a camera that cost less that several thousand. But, in my opinion Adrian hit it on the nail. Get that price narrowed down.
     
  10. Regular Rod

    Regular Rod Member

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    What feature must you have?

    Has the rangefinder got to be coupled? Or are you prepared to find the range then adjust the focus?

    Must you have interchangeable lenses? Or is sticking with one focal length acceptable to you?

    Are you happy to use an old camera from the 1950's? Or must it be from the 1980's onwards?

    Are you happy to carry a large camera to get the advantages of 120 film? Or must it fold away to a small size?

    How much are you happy to spend?

    RR
     
  11. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

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    A rangefinder with autofocus?? Interesting. How does that work? Sounds like a contradictio in terminis to me.
     
  12. ToddB

    ToddB Subscriber

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    Affortabilty is based on average pricepoint of the Leica's.. $800.00+. To much for me. Love the chim in for Canon camera's and others. There is just something classic about the way they look. Might be something worth while to put in my arsenal for quick outings and feel confidant they will get good sharp images.

    Todd
     
  13. trythis

    trythis Subscriber

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    Do you need interchangeable lenses? Have you used a rangefinder?

    If you dont know the answer to the first, and you say no to #2 question, drop $25 on any Konica/minolta, whatever- rangefinder (c35 autos2, etc). Try that out, if you just love it after 5 or 10 rolls of film and dont find yourself headed back to your SLR, then start the search for a fancy [$$$] rangefinder. Also remember that the viewfinder will be off when you get away from the normal lenses. Your wallet will also be off when you start in that direction.

    Personally, I have tried several cheapos, have a Canon IIF (cheaper RF compared to leica) and a couple lenses for it. I find the canon (a Leica copy) much less appealing than the Auto S2, Konica C35, or Canonet gL17 (or really any camera). I wear glasses, and looking through a 2.9mm x 1.8mm hole for composing is awful compared to a Nikon F3HP finder or a TLR hood. The Canon IIf feels awesome but its a bottom loader, ick. THe Canon also looks awesome but as soon as I finish a test roll its going to auction. A Leica will feel and look awesomer (I have a friends M2 on loan) but I still don't like using it.

    I know that super famous photographers used this style of camera and it holds that romance visually as an object, but it does nothing for me as a user. I say all this so that you dont let GAS lead you to a very expensive camera that you wont like without spending some serious time with a cheap rangefinder.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2014
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  15. andrew.roos

    andrew.roos Subscriber

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    See http://www.cameraquest.com/com35s.htm for an overview of compact 35mm manual focus cameras (mostly rangefinders) with f/2 or faster lenses.

    Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk
     
  16. pstake

    pstake Member

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    There's an Agfa Karat 36 listed int he classifieds right now. I have no relation to that seller but the Karat 36 is one fine Rangefinder camera. Too bad that one needs rangefinder work.

    It's fixed-lens but all the lenses available for that camera, were firecrackers. The Solinar is the less-exotic but super-sharp Tessar variant built for or by Agfa.

    It's extremely well built; built to compete with the Retina rangefinders ... and the optics are the same as the Retinas. Fortunately, the Karat is not as well known as the Retina and the prices are much more reasonable.

    If you need lens interchangeability, the early Kievs are fantastic and well built with excellent rangefinders that almost never go out of adjustment. Earlier the better with the Kievs. These are of course a little pricey but not nearly as high as a Leica; and a whole lot more user friendly than the early Leica IIIs that cost twice as much.

    And of course there's the original Contax II and IIa, which is again more money.
     
  17. giannisg2004

    giannisg2004 Member

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    They operate on the same rf principle, with twin windows etc. .
    But instead of projecting the superimposed images on the viewfinder for you to align, the alignment is done electronically.

    And it's very, very accurate.
    Most of the complaints you're gonna hear about the autofocus accuracy, is from people not understanding how a single focus point camera works. For instance, someone might try to take a photo of a couple holding hands, point the camera at them and not notice that the focus point lies between the couple'a bodies, aiming at infinity.
    Of course the camera will focus at infinity, and if course the photog will think that the camera has an issue, when there's none.

    Based on the principle the autofocus on the camera works, it'll either focus dead on, or not focus at all.
     
  18. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    A basic camera may suffice while one is deciding if a rangefinder camera will be a long-term investment. The ultimate use for the images is an important factor. Huge enlargements demand much from both equipment and photographer. Images posted online are more forgiving. Some of the inexpensive fixed lens cameras are capable of fine photos. They may be less durable than professional quality cameras. My personal choice is the Leica M4 bought in 1970 after 17 years of using Leica and other rangefinder cameras. That kit with five lenses sounds expensive, but the cost has been less than the film expended.
     
  19. Peltigera

    Peltigera Member

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    My favourite rangefinder cost me £1.04 on Ebay - a Zeiss Ikon Contessa LKE with a Tessar lens. My second favourite rangefinder cost me nearer £20.00 - a Voigtlander Vitomatic II with a Color Skopar lens (a Tessar in disguise).
     
  20. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Second that motion. I recently acquired a '59 Kiev 4a, this is not a carbon copy of the Contax (the baseplate is different and it lacks the stabilising foot) but it's a very well made camera. I had and used a Contax II with a collapsible Sonnar, and the Kiev sounds and feels just like the Contax. The Jupiter 8m behaves like a coated version of the Sonnar. There's little to choose between a good Kiev and the echt Contax, except for cost and the fact that Kievs have x synch. Either will likely need work when you get it, I replaced the shutter ribbons in my Kiev because they were getting frayed (after 55 years) and I didn't want them to fail in service, possibly damaging the shutter. After almost 20 years of using SLRs, I decided to get back into Rfs as a lighter more compact outfit - the Kiev is the system I'll be using. The rangefinders on the Kiev/Contax are the best I've ever seen on a 35mm camera bar none.
     
  21. mr rusty

    mr rusty Subscriber

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    How about a Retina IIIS http://www.cameraquest.com/ret3s.htm if you want interchageable lenses or a Retina folder if you don't.

    For either factor in a CLA by a specialist (like Chris Sherlock in NZ, where I sent my IIIS) http://retinarescue.com/

    A good IIIS and lenses is probably circa £/$150 plus say £/$100 for a CLA - something less than a leica, and these are very high quality cameras with superb lenses.

    The key thing with the IIIS is there is a "string" connecting the meter to the aperture and shutter speed. Eventually it breaks. Chris replaces it as part of his CLA, but its a pig of a job. the folders, of course, don't have the string but neither do they have interchangeable lenses (there is a sort of pseudo supplementary lens set for the folders, but they are so awkward to use, they are virtually useless)

    Otherwise, compur shutters and usually schneider lenses in beautifully engineered bodies. What's not to like :smile:
     
  22. momus

    momus Subscriber

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    A Bessa R and any of the great FSU lenses would be my recommendation. I love those cameras. Build quality is NOT Leica-like, but they have an excellent meter, are reasonably priced, the shutters go to 1/2000, and the viewfinders are big and bright. Very reliable. Buy this kit and invest in a ton of Tri-X w/ the money you'd save over a Leica.
     
  23. Regular Rod

    Regular Rod Member

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    [​IMG]

    OR Less expensive and easier to carry around...

    [​IMG]


    RR
     
  24. Steve Toner

    Steve Toner Member

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    Kodak Signet 40. Around 10 bucks.
    If you don't like it or it breaks, no big deal.
     
  25. DannL.

    DannL. Member

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    Canon made quite a few rangefinder cameras in the early days. At present I only own one rangefinder camera, that being the Canon IIS2. I previously owned the Canon III, and consider both of these to be fine cameras.

    Here's a list of those early Canon rangefinder cameras.

    Many of these can be found on eBay in excellent condition, and at a reasonable price.
     
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  26. nosmok

    nosmok Subscriber

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    Sort of seconding Steve T above, get a Kodak Signet 35. It focuses down to 2 feet and has an Ektar lens, 44mm f3.5 IIRC. The shutter has only 4 speeds and is the weak point of the system but the pictures are great. As a rule of thumb, any lens that Kodak called an Ektar will punch way above its weight.


    --nosmok