Any suggestions for a compact rangefinder?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Woolliscroft, Jul 19, 2005.

  1. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    As a lot of you will know by now, I do a lot of archaeological air photography. A private pilot has recently offered to take pictures for me at times when I can't fly and I want to lend him a fairly decent film camera in preference to his own less than brilliant 4MP digital. I offered an old EOS 650, but he thinks it too big, but is prepared to take something like my Canonet QL-17 GIII. I'd lend it happily, but the 40mm lens is a bit too short to give good images of small features from 1500 - 2000 feet. Can anyone suggest something like this camera: a compact rangefinder with a good, fairly fast lens and shutter priority auto, but with a slightly longer (more 50 than 40mm) lens and a maximum shutter speed of at least 1/500th? I'd prefer a rangefinder, but auto focus would be OK so long as you can switch it off and still focus on infinity (from the air everything is at infinity, except bits of the aircraft).

    David.
     
  2. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    You mentioned no bugdet. If one can be procured at a price reasonable to you a Konica Hexar RF with a 50mm lens would make a very nice choice.
     
  3. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I don't think the Hexar has shutter priority auto and it is probably still a little bit big, but thanks anyway.

    David.
     
  4. jjstafford

    jjstafford Inactive

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    I know aerial photography, specifically mapping. I cannot respect any effort that is limited to anything short of 4x5. You wanna get serious, then let's change the platform. 35mm has been dead in that area for decades.
     
  5. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Sorry, you are right. The auto-exposure is aperture not shutter priority. The weight with batteries is 22 ounces. In its favor is 2.5 frames per second motor drive and a shutter topping out at 1/4000th second and motor rewinding. The ability to change focal lengths may turn out very handy in the future. The camera has been discontinued and may possibly be had a bargain basement price.

    Good luck with your search.
     
  6. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    If you can fit a 4 x 5 with a motor drive and still get it in a pocket fine. I am looking for something a private pilot can use without lumbering himself with intrusive equipment. He is flying for fun, but has been kind enough to volunteer to help me at the same time, so I need a camera where he will get the best detail for the least trouble. 35mm will still outclass his digital and he just won't use anything bigger. I use 6 x 7 myself with a bit of 35mm colour. I don't know any archaeological flier that uses large format. You just can't take pictures fast enough. Mapping work is often done around 10,000 feet and covers large areas on a relatively small number of frames, shooting vertically, often in specially modified aircraft. We work between 500 and 2,000 feet, covering details as obliques by just shooting out of the window of little light aircraft like C-150s and I can easily take 200 pictures an hour, often in intensive bursts. It just can't be done with large format. As for getting serious, well have a look at my books or TV stuff: it keeps me in work.

    David.
     
  7. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Hmm I think most fixed lens rangefinders come with 35-40mm lenses. P&S mostly comes with 28-35mm lenses. That leads to the leica/contax/konica/woigtländer cameras.
    How about the Bessa L with a 50mm ? Do you need the rangefinder when shooting from a plan ?
    regards Søren
     
  8. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    Quite true, you don't need a rangefinder in the air as everything is at infinity. The main problem in this case is exposure control. I am dealing with someone who is not camera savvy and so needs something fairly point and shoot. At the same time, light aircraft vibrate badly so we need fast shutter speeds, hence the need for shutter priority auto: and 1970s era rangefinders were mostly shutter priority. I have an assortment of other small cameras I could lend him (up to a Leica MP) with manual or aperture priority auto, I just don't think they are suited to this pilot, at least not yet. Basically anything with a lens longer than my Cannon's 40mm will be a plus.

    David.
     
  9. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I've done a bit of this myself (MF and 35mm) shooting B&W, color and false color IR.

    My (rather expensive) 35mm solution would be the Contax G2 with either the 90mm Sonnar or 45mm Planar lens. The G2 provides auto exposure and your choice of auto or manual focus. The G2 is capable of shooting single shot, 2 fps and 4 fps. It will also auto bracket exposures.
     
  10. medform-norm

    medform-norm Member

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    Not that I've seen one in real life, but have you considered the Nikonos Calypso or the Nikonos III? They were available with a long 80mm lens, have an uncoupled? range finder, shutter speeds up to 1/500th, are/look sturdy enough to to handle some vibration and have a wire frame winder on top. It's maybe an odd suggestion, but why not? They come cheap these days on the second hand market places.

    (And, please do correct me if this is nonsensical advice)

    Cheers,
    me-fo-no
     
  11. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Norm, I think the Nikonos IVa or the Nikonos V would meet most of the requirements. The Nikonos III does not have automated exposure so is not a good choice for this application.

    The Nikonos V is currently selling on eBay in the $200 to $400 price range. I only saw one 80mm lens on eBay - $100 (currently).
     
  12. gnashings

    gnashings Inactive

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    I think a compact SLR may be a better solution... just from what you're saying, the flexibility may be a big plus. There are some great tiny SLR's, like the Olympus cameras and even a Nikon FG. Not much bigger than a rangefinder and infinitely more flexible. Don't get me wrong - I love RF's dearly, and maybe my limited understanding of what you are after is mixing things up for me - if so, sorry for butting in.
     
  13. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    You are correct--the Nik III is fully manual.

    The NikV is much like the Nikon EM in the electronics.

    It does *not* have a rangefinder at all, just a viewfinder. You set the focus distance on the lens, in this case infinity, and blast away. The OP would be limited to 35mm and 80mm for air-interface lenses.

    Matt
     
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  15. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    That would have been my preferred solution. I used OM2s myself until recently for the 35mm side of my air photography and have spare cameras he could have had. The pilot concerned seems against the idea, though. He is fairly determined that he wants something that will fit in the top pocket of a flight jacket like his digital, which does rather restrict me to compacts. Ho hum.

    David.
     
  16. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Well, the Contax G2 meets the pilot's criteria.
     
  17. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Sounds like this restricts you to one of the compact auto-everything cameras. I only know the Olympus Stylus 35 (my son's, hardly every used) and Yashica T4 (my wife's), but those don't get you the focal length you want, and I don't know about max shutter speeds. You might look into the Olympus Stylus zoom models or similar, but I can't vouch for the lens performance on any of those, or the max shutter speed.

    Earlier I was going to suggest the Bessa L, T, (both manual exposure) or R3A (aperture priority auto), with the 75 f:2.5 Color Heliar and the 1:1 finder for it on the L or T. But those don't fit the restrictions. That's a very fine lens, and the shutters all go to 1/2000. You can see the metering diodes on the L and T without an eye to a finder, and the operation is dead simple. The 1:1 finders would be great for a pilot doing aerial photography.

    Get him a flight jacket with a bigger pocket and expand your options. :wink:

    Lee
     
  18. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Yep, and the compact auto everything camera WITH INTERCHANGEABLE ZEISS LENSES and MANUAL FOCUS OPTION is the Contax G2.
     
  19. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    And perhaps the Konica-Minolta Hexar RF, with a ton of lens options going back to about 1932, manually focused to infinity. This would include a number of lenses nearer the 75-80mm range.

    G2 is aperture priority auto, right?

    Lee
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 23, 2005
  20. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Yes, you set the aperture and the G2 chooses the shutter speed. The longest lens for the Contax G2 is the 90mm Sonnar (an excellent performer).
     
  21. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I just wanted to thank everyone who contributed to this thread. After an unsuccessful hunt for a Canon GIII QL-19, which I am told has a 45mm lens, I got him an Olympus 35RC, with its 42mm, which is still a little bit longer than my QL-17's 40mm lens and the camera really is tiny. The down side is a slightly slower and simpler optic, but such is life, it's still going to have much better resolution than his digi.

    David.
     
  22. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    How about a high-end P&S? One example is the Lexio series from Konica. They're very cheap on the auction site and the optics are surprisingly capable. They make a zoom to 70 and zoom to 115 variation. The 70 is more respected, optically. They are a clamshell and would be familiar to operate for the pilot as it would be very similar to a small pocket digital. I keep one in my glovebox that's been through this torture for years and it constantly surprises me with its results. In the hands of a less-than-dedicated photographer such as your pilot friend, you're likely to get better results with something simple anyway. I'm sure there are others.... I've got a small Leica pocket rig that gives good results but the longer focal length you require would have you looking at zoom models, I suppose.
     
  23. bohica

    bohica Member

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    What do you call bargain basement prices? $1500-2000 used.
     
  24. jamesdak

    jamesdak Member

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    Hey, I picked up a used Olympus 35 RC for my son to use about 2 months ago. It's quite a nice little camera. I did a comparision test between it and my Minolta 7sII and while the Minolta's images were sharper and showed better color and contrast it really wasn't that much of a difference. The RC's photos by themselves look great and the bright viewfinder blows away both of the Minolta 7sII's dim windows.
     
  25. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Bohica,

    Leica makes some compact auto-everything cameras similar to the Yashica T-4 and Olympus Stylus series. They sold new for a few hundred dollars. These are not M series rangefinders. Leica die-hards disown them and they don't have the name recognition among typical consumers. Used prices, as noted above, are probably pretty good, especially for what you get.

    Lee
     
  26. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    How about a Bessa-L or -T with a 90mm Lanthar? It is hard to find a sharper lens or a smaller camera - and since everything is at infinity you might as well go for the L which has no rangefinder :smile: