Beater RF

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by dsiglin, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. dsiglin

    dsiglin Member

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    Hey guys, I'm researching rangefinders as the final piece to my analog camera trifecta. I've done a LOT of reading and think I know what I'll be getting, but before I make any decision I wanted to present my case to you all and see what suggestions are made. Here's a break down of where I'm at:

    ---------------------------

    Needs:
    Bright viewfinder
    Good lowlight performance
    Small (QL17 GIII or smaller)
    Not fragile

    Would like:
    Reliable meter
    Auto Exposure
    Pocketable

    Considering:
    Canon 7
    Olympus XA
    Olympus RD
    Konica Auto S3
    Minolta Hi-Matic E
    Minolta Hi-Matic 7SII

    ---------------------------

    So there you have it. Would like to hear your thoughts/suggestions.
     
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  2. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    I don't consider the Konica S3 pocketable. Nor the Canon 7 if you mean the classic screwmount RF. That's not saying they aren't fine cameras, just "big" fine cameras.

    Does the Hi Matic E have manual control? If it doesn't, is that an issue?
     
  3. dsiglin

    dsiglin Member

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    One of my problems is I've never held any of these cameras, I was just guessing on size based on online photos. I've updated the list. I would like something as small as or smaller than a QL17 GIII. That's a RF I've actually used (and replaced light seals before I sold it).

    No manual controls I'm fine with. It's a camera I'll be using more for quick shots, not dwelling on every detail. That's what my Mamiya 645 is for. :smile:
     
  4. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    The only one on your list that's larger than a GIII QL17 is the Canon 7. The Konica S3 fits in nicely with the rest. The Olympus XA is much the smallest. Olympus RC is also worth considering.

    The XA is the odd one out - in addition to being much smaller/lighter, it feels and handles very differently from the others. Some like it, some find it fiddly and hard to handle. It's also more dependent on electronics and as such is more vulnerable to a failure that can't be repaired.

    My favorite of the lot is the Hi-Matic 7SII. But I use it manually. What I don't like about the '70s-to-early-'80s-vintage compact rangefinders with mechanically-governed shutters is that their exposure automation is shutter-priority, which as I'm sure you know means the aperture gets set automatically. That's not OK by me, since the aperture determines what's going to be in focus and thus what the picture is going to look like. The XA is the only one on your list which has aperture-priority AE, with an electronic shutter.
     
  5. Fixcinater

    Fixcinater Subscriber

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    Canon 7 is quite large, especially if you add a lens that isn't a collapsible/slow 50mm. Even the small/light late black rigid Canon 50/1.8 makes it quite a bit heavier than any of the rest. Most would not consider the 7's meter to be accurate, and my sample's meter is DOA. For quick shots, I'd much prefer a QL17 over the 7, unless it was in very low light or you absolutely needed wider/longer lenses.
     
  6. dsiglin

    dsiglin Member

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    @Oren - YES! I really want an aperture priority RF. I guess if I buy a XA and don't like it I can always sell it again as there seems to be a steady demand.

    So I bought a QL17 GIII at a local pawn shop for $15. Like any greedy bastard I fixed the light seals and sold it for a bit profit. I wish I had kept it.

    Besides the Minolta 7SII there's the copy Vivitar 35ES. Thoughts on that?

    EDIT: how about a Contax IIa?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 13, 2014
  7. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Oly RC. Smallest full manual rangefinder with aperture priority that can run without batteries if needed.
     
  8. dsiglin

    dsiglin Member

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    well that sounds like a great idea! Thanks Newt!

    One question - how does the camera fair in low light? I know the lens isn't the fastest but with RFs you can hand hold at slower speeds.
     
  9. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    No - the 35RC is shutter priority. These compacts that have mechanically-governed shutters use trapped-needle AE systems that control how far the aperture is stopped down.

    There is a small number of cameras of that vintage with electronically-controlled shutters that have aperture-priority AE - look among the Yashica models.
     
  10. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    IIRC the Vivitar does not have full manual controls - it's shutter-priority AE only.
     
  11. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    I have a 35RC as well as the 7SII (and a GIII QL17, too). I often find myself making pictures with the 7SII at 1/30 or 1/15 of a second at f/1.7 on Tri-X; in that kind of light the 35RC runs out of steam because the slowest instantaneous shutter speed is 1/15, and I wouldn't be able to hand-hold it at 1/8 or 1/4 with much yield even if it had those speeds. YMMV - depends whether you often find yourself shooting in that kind of murk, and what kind of film you like to use.
     
  12. dsiglin

    dsiglin Member

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    Hmm ok. That's a point against it. I see there's a Vivitar 35ES for sale for $50. Would that be considered a worthwhile purchase?
     
  13. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    Depends on condition, and on whether you're OK with having only shutter-priority AE.
     
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  15. dsiglin

    dsiglin Member

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    I would much rather have aperture-priority, but seems that feature isn't to be found on most of the RFs available. I read the 35ES has exposure lock which is one thing I forgot to put into the "want" category.
     
  16. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    Go study this page...

    http://www.cameraquest.com/com35s.htm

    ...and the camera-specific pages linked at the bottom, before you buy anything.
     
  17. Cold

    Cold Member

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    Also consider the Oly 35SP.

    Metered (though non-coupled) manual is a feature I love, that isn't really found on any of the other fixed lens rangefinders (that I know of).

    Then again, you can do something vaguely similar using any of a number of shutter-priority models...rather than the EV number in the viewfinder, you just get the f/ number, then turn the aperture dial accordingly.

    I own three of this type: a Canonet, a Yashica Electro, and the 35SP. The Yashica takes beautiful exposures, but I hate having to trust its (somewhat notorious) "Pad of Death", the Oly gives me metered manual and is a really nice handling camera...but mine needs to be sent to repair a minor complaint (the advance lever doesn't lock, makign it possible to advance through a frame without exposing it), and the Canonet is what I'm most comfortable with and sees the most use, it's minor complaint being that the battery check light only works when it wants to.

    Ultimately, it's going to come down to personal preference on your part, which can only be gained through trying a few. That, or just get any of the suggested models and you'll love it because you have nothing to compare it against.
     
  18. abrosig

    abrosig Member

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    I'll second the Oly 35RC. I have one which was my fathers and it still works like a champ. And it easily slips into a pocket. Can also be shot manual, but have to read the meter then set the aperture. Easy enough, but an extra step.
     
  19. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Most if not all of these cameras use a trap needle system.
    That means the needle is held in place when the release is partially depressed. So, they all effectively have exposure lock.
     
  20. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    The missing camera from this list is the Olympus RD see

    http://www.cameraquest.com/olyrd.htm

    The SP has two modes

    auto shutter priority
    manual with suggested meter display always active

    All the others are more inconvenient to use the meter in manual mode.

    The SP also has a spot option in either mode.

    The faster lenses have better IQ only the slow RC is competative.

    You will need to use a Wein cell or a silver cell with a Shockety diode in most of these (an adapter or soldering iron... for the latter)

    Id be torn between a RC and the SP but both have the long travel shutter release of trapped needle shutter priority so when size and weight is not a problem I use a Canon P. Though I have an RD as well as a SP and RC.

    Most of the trapped needle cameras are battery independent in manual mode some arnt.

    Some lock when the light is too low in Shutter Priority.
     
  21. Cold

    Cold Member

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    That's funny, I love the long travel of my SP and Canonet. :tongue:
     
  22. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    My rc has a soft shutter release screwed in always and it helps a ton.
     
  23. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Yes but it is a subjective thing some people like some dont, but there is more travel in the trapped needle system, so you get a exposure lock thrown in.

    The Yashicas with Aperture Priority arn't too wonderful.

    We are telling the OP the differences?
     
  24. dsiglin

    dsiglin Member

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    I'm very much a person that has to hold and play with something because the littlest thing can bug me. To that end I scored a good deal on a QL17 GIII with a sluggish shutter and a Olympus XA. I figure I'll play around with both of them and then sell the one I don't want. I'll also look into finding a good deal on the Oly 35SP or 35RC.

    The Canon 7 still appeals to me because it's decently compact and has interchangeable lenses. We'll see.
     
  25. Spicy

    Spicy Member

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    The Canon 7 is quite large. It's a bit bigger than a Canon P, which is more M size than Barnack... I would say the 7 is too big for a screwmount body, and the P is borderline. Not that either are big in the world of DSLRs, but I often bring my film M out instead of the P simply because I can use all my LTM lenses as well as M mount.
     
  26. elekm

    elekm Member

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    If you can, explain what you mean by "Beater RF" in the title.

    Do you mean that you want one that's worn? Or that you plan to treat it roughly?

    Personally, I wouldn't buy another beater. None of these cameras are rare, so there is no reason to buy one that's been mistreated.