Best rangefinder with 1:1 viewfinder

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by BetterSense, May 15, 2010.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I use an OM2n. I chose this camera out of the sea of cheap Japanese SLRs precisely because with a 50mm lens, viewfinder magnification is exactly 1:1 so I can keep both my eyes open at moderate distances and aside from the fact that the focus can be hard to nail, it works pretty well...but only with the 50mm.

    I've never shot a Leica. Or even held one. Up until today, I still wanted one though. I thought that a rangefinder would be a superior camera for anything but macro and long lenses...or 99% of my shooting. People talk as if using a rangefinder allows you to be more aware of the world outside the frame, so I always assumed rangefinder viewfinders were like looking through a window with some framelines. But I was reading today that Leica (and most rangefinder) viewfinders are not actually 100% magnification. This totally burst my bubble since I felt this kind of composing freedom would be the total point of using a rangefinder, aside from easier low-light focus, compactness, and quietness.

    Now that I don't want a Leica on account of the viewfinders not actually being 1:1 like I always thought they were, what should I be looking for? I hear that the Canon P and Bessa R3m have 1:1 finders. Any others?

    I would most like to use a 35mm or 40mm, f/2 or faster lens, and I would like the camera to work without batteries. It MUST be easy to use fully manually. Really, the Leica M2 was my dream camera until I found out about the viewfinders not being 1:1 magnification. It really seems like a waste.
     
  2. RustedChrome

    RustedChrome Member

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    Bessa R3M and R3A are the only ones that come to mind. I use an R2A and I wish I had that 100% finder sometimes.
     
  3. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Leica and similar rangefinders are not the only ones afflicted by this syndrome. Many 35mm SLRs have this affliction! :surprised: :surprised: :surprised: :surprised: :surprised:

    Steve
     
  4. David William White

    David William White Member

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    It all makes sense. Recall that 40-50mm seems 'natural' i.e. the perspective they eye sees? To mount a 28mm lens AND see the framelines requires reduction from 1:1. So the Bessa R3m/a are a real treat to use just as you described -- I love mine -- but they can't show framelines wider than 40. That's the 'gotcha', but totally worth it in my opinion. Panning with both eyes open, full peripheral vision is much more useful.

    The R3m is a mechanical shutter and will operate without batteries. The framelines are set for 40/90, 50, 75.
     
  5. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

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    I suppose what I need then is an R3m. A 40mm lens suits me just fine. What's an inexpensive 40 or 50mm lens that fits this camera? I don't have high lens standards, and any old lens that works will probably be fine for me.
     
  6. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    The Nikon S3 and SP viewfinders are 1:1, too. Collector's items, but they can be used. I do (S3 2000), with a Nikkor-S f/1.8 3,5 cm.
     
  7. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    I know that the Nikon S2 RF viewfinder is 1:1, as is that of the Konica IIIa fixed-lens RF camera.
     
  8. Krzys

    Krzys Member

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    Leica M3 is close enough to shoot both eyes open. But come on...1:1 are so few and far that I'm sure you can make up your own mind on which vastly different camera most interests you!
     
  9. mablo

    mablo Member

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    Canon P has 1:1 viewfinder too.
     
  10. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    I come from a history of Nikon F's and Leica M3 which has about a 0.93 finder.
    I have an M6 and two M7's, all with 0.85 viewfinders. I find them no problem what so ever and have no problem going between them and my current Nikon favorite, the FM3a.
    If you discount the current MP and M7 or the discontinued M6, which all have metering systems built in and are very much like the Nikon center weighted systems, you are not including one of the best ever handling cameras for 35mm film photography ever made, but not availing yourself of probably the best set of (Current lenses) lenses ever manufactured for any 35mm film camera.
    But of course the choice is yours.-Dick
     
  11. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    For a 40/50mm lens it's hard to go wrong with Leica,Canon,Voigtlander lenses.
    The 40 Voigtlander and Rokkors are very compact but are more money than an(old) Leica 50.
    If you use filters though the Rokkor uses Series 5.5 that aren't all that common.
    M3 is .91 viewfinder magnification, M2/4/ is .72 & later can be found with .58/.72/.85
    You had your choice.
    Although I have an M3(.91) now, I really prefer the .72 finder it's much easier to see the entire 50mm frame than with the M3. I've also got a Canon Vl & I think it's 1:1 but its very squinty to view through. Haven't used a Bessa so, no experience.

    I focus & compose with both eyes open & find the .72 the most comfortable & am probably going to get rid of the M3.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2010
  12. jpberger

    jpberger Member

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    "I've never shot a Leica. Or even held one. Up until today, I still wanted one though. I thought that a rangefinder would be a superior camera for anything but macro and long lenses...or 99% of my shooting. "


    Nb that those who like rangefinders like them a lot, but retro cache aside, most people can't stand them in practice-- there's a reason Contax, Nikon and Canon stopped making them-- most people prefer slrs.
    best to get something cheap but good like a olympus 35rc to find out if you like it, before you lay out for a big lump of German brass.

    There are focus magnifiers for the leica .72 finders that give you a life size or near life size image with longer lenses.

    My experience has been that shooting with both eyes open is a better idea in theory than in practice because pictures that look great in 3 dimensions don't work as two dimensional prints-- when you have both eyes open you are not seeing the scene same way the camera lens does. The real advantage of a high magnification finder is that you get more focusing accuracy relative to rangefinder base length, less eye strain and perhaps a little more low light visibility than with a lower magnification finder.

    The idea of looking beyond the framelines is also overstated -- if you have a camera stuck to your face you aren't really watching what's going on around you regardless of how many eyes you've got open. The trick is to be able to anticipate interesting stuff before it happens and have the camera ready -- it's having framelines in your minds eye that's more important.


    All this said I've got a bessa r3a and It's got a great finder. Hard to see the all of the 40mm framelines at the same time( not that big a deal really ) but the 50 is fantastic

    I've Also got a topcon re slr which is life size with the 58mm normal lens and it's great too.
     
  13. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    That I feel different about. The few pictures I've made with rangefinder cameras that I couldn't have made with a SLR have depended on that split second, almost subconscious decision to press the shutter NOW, when the composition falls together just so. And you know when you got it, because you could see it while the camera took the picture, you weren't blinded by the mirror going up. Working a lot, you could perhaps anticipate the moment with a SLR, but the reinforcing moment of having seen it is priceless.
    Sorry to be gushing so ...
     
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  15. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    That is my rangefinder setup: R3M with CV Nokton 40/1.4 lens. Superb combination, and very unobtrusive on the street.

    Many of these were taken with the 40mm (others with an Apo-Lanthar 90mm)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 16, 2010
  16. mopar_guy

    mopar_guy Subscriber

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    Andy,
    Thanks for the link, thanks for sharing. Terrific images.:smile:
    Regards,
    Dave
     
  17. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Hi

    A M3 or Canon P near !:1 finders are ok but even with a M2 or Kiev if you leave the other eye open your brian can cope with both images without needing a restart.

    This allows you to see things approaching like an auto in peripheral vision, or see around a lens hood, or if the details in the shot are below acuity, at 0.7 through the finder, look at them 1:1 with other eye.

    It is simple don't close the other eye, you are doing it wilfully.

    Noel
     
  18. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I agree with the above^ except my brian can't seem to cope.
     
  19. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    Just a word for the P—a superb camera, very well made. If you are content with screw mount lenses and external meter, it is hard to beat.

    Another option is to use a Voigtlander metal viewfinder in the cold/hot shoe on the camera of your choice. It offers a 1:1 view that is just brighter than normal eyesight.
     
  20. arealitystudios

    arealitystudios Member

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    same here, though mine is an R3A. Same thing in terms of general design, image quality, etc. The viewfinder is quite a treat and the combination makes for an amazing street shooting tool.

    I wouldn't give up that 40mm Nokton for anything.
     
  21. photoncatcher

    photoncatcher Member

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    Ok, maybe I,m weird, but I always keeo both eyes open when shooting out side. I also keep both eyes open when sighting a fire arm (long time ago). I suppose I learned how to do it out of a sence of self preservation when shooting all my Daughters sports. You really do not want to get blind sided by either a field hockey, or lacrosse ball. For street photography, it's good to know who, and, or what is getting close.
     
  22. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    Perhaps the OP should try an eye patch.
     
  23. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    The 100% / both eyes open business is only part of the consideration. It is unfortunate that these are the main issues that are discussed when someone considers an RF; most of us who shoot RFs routinely do so for entirely different reasons. For one thing, the whole 3D way that you compose with an RF is fundamentally different... even if you're not using a 100% VF or if you don't prefer to shoot with both eyes open.

    The view through RF is an unlensed 3D view, very similar to what we see directly with our eyes. No DOF preview. This drives some people nuts, while others (myself included) consider it actually beneficial. I really like the idea that nothing... not even the camera's lens... comes between me and the subject. It'd just like looking directly at the scene. I really like to consider a scene throughly before ever holding up a camera.

    Another benefit of the non-TTL view of an RF is that the VF is always bright, which is a really important thing for available light work. Yes there are plenty of superfast SLR lenses, but to see the whole scene in the same way that our eyes see it- everything equally in focus and thus with nothing emphasized by lensing- you have to stop way down and then the VF becomes dark.

    The flip side of this is that you have to imagine the DOF when you use an RF. You can judge it by scale as well, but some people never get past that and would much rather be pressing a DOF preview button on their SLR. For some things like macro, I prefer that mode as well, but for landscape, street, scenic, documentary type stuff, I simply have no need for DOF preview. And the mirror, the associated body bulk, and other SLR gadgetry is just stuff coming between me and my subject.

    Being able to see beyond the framelines is usually very beneficial to me. I usually have the composition firmly in mind before lifting the camera, but still, being able to see around the composition is helpful to me, for fine tuning. It's a bit like holding an empty frame up to the scene. I like it. Feels very natural to me.

    Overall, I do believe that shooting with an RF is a totally different experience than I get with any other type of camera. I'd recommend it highly to anyone who's not done it yet. It will present you with new challenges and limitations and also many new capabilities. If you step back from your current methods and really think about what it means to compose, I think you will find an RF to be a real lesson teacher. N.b. you can learn similar lessons with an SLR, e.g. by using a sports finder or by forgoing your VF altogether, but that's just part of it. RF focusing is totally different from TTL focusing.... but long before that, the way of composing and seeing is totally different. You simply have to proceed with the faith that what an RF can teach you is worth knowing.

    Incidentally, I now rarely use 35mm RFs, all I have now is some XAs and such. These days, I am using 6x6cm RFs and a crown graphic now and then. I do see a definite difference between my output with those and my SLR output. It's really not so much about pros and cons, it's about totally different ways of seeing. Sometimes for me, it is about equipment bulk- my mamiya 6es are teeny tiny for what they give. But more importantly, I turn to them because of how unencumbered they make me feel.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 19, 2010
  24. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    If your goal is to shoot with both eyes open,
    so that the framelines seem to float in the
    field before you, there is another approach
    that satisfies your requirements, better than
    any other yet mentioned: Get an LTM Leica
    -- a IIIa for example -- and a viewfinder to
    fit in the accessory shoe for the FL you desire.
    The Leitz viewfinders are brilliant and not too
    expensive (the SBOOI is the 5cm finder, but
    they are available in many FLs), and Voigtlander
    makes very good finders for very little money.
    The Leica screwmounts are jewels of cameras,
    inexpensive, small, all mechanical, no batteries
    -- joys to use and own. And with the viewfinder
    perched on top, it is easy to shoot with both
    eyes open, with floating framelines.

    The downsides: You have to focus through the
    rangefinder window (or zone focus), and you
    have to correct for parallax up close. The Leitz
    finder has a second frameline to account for
    parallax so it's not a big deal, but you have to
    remember it when shooting close.
     

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  25. Leigh Youdale

    Leigh Youdale Member

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    RF Viewfinders.

    I also wanted a Leica - probably an M6 - but the price and crowded framelines plus focal lengths I never use put me off.

    I bought a Bessa R3A with the Nokton 1.4/40 and enjoy the 1:1 viewfinder very much. I can use it in manual mode too but AE is very convenient in some situations. I have a 2.5/50 and a 2.5/75 that I also can use with the standard R3A viewfinder. I don't have or use a 90mm FL lens.

    But eventually I drifted towards the "wide side" and ended up with a 15/4.5, a 25/4 and a 35/2.5. I had accessory viewfinders for the 15 and the 25 and that worked well for a while but eventually I had the opportunity to buy a mint R4A body which has framelines for 21/25/28/35/50. It too can be used in manual mode if I wish. I still need the accessory viewfinder for the 15 (both cameras) and also one for the 75 if I use it on the R4A. The 50mm framelines are small on the R4A and I'd normally use the R3A if I wanted this lens, but the others are fine and I find I use the 25mm lens a lot when travelling.

    So now I have a compact and lightweight kit that has the two bodies (backup too) and a range of viewfinder options and lenses that covers just about everything I want to do except macro and telephoto. I keep the Nikkormat for that!
     
  26. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Why is a 1:1 VF even important? With anything other than a 50mm lens on a 135 format SLR, the VF isn't even close to accurate magnification-wise. I highly suggest you borrow an M6 and shoot with it for a week or so. Then come back and lend us your revised thoughts.