Cheap entry into rangefinders?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Matt5791, Nov 14, 2007.

  1. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I have never used a rangefinder camera but find myslef becoming more and more interested in them.

    Can anyone advise on what might be the most economical way to test the water with this type of camera? Which makes and models will give a good introduction without large cost?

    Many thanks for any advice,

    Matt
     
  2. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    You could start with a cheap all manual Russian, like a Zorki or a FED, with changeable lenses. There are also the fixed lens Canon range of Canonets particularly the QL17 GIII. Any of those can be had for less than £50. There are also old German Voigtlanders (not Cosina), like the Vito CLR, an extremely good camera, and very cheap.
     
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  3. floydking

    floydking Member

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    Yashica are a brand that I have been collecting for years. Whereas many people tend to recommend the Electo range GT, GTN, GS,GSN etc. I would suggest that you tried something that wasn't dependant on batteries.

    My own choices would be The Lynx 1000; Lynx 500; Lynx 14; Minister III; Minister D, or Minister II. Many of these don't even require a battery for the meter. The trouble with the battery models is that they frequently require a full CLR before you can use them, whereas the batteryless models usually work as soon as they arrive at your door.

    They are also amazingly cheap, frequently selling for between 10-20 Pounds stirling on Ebay, or even less. Why don't you try half a dozen, you won't be disappointed, the Yashinon lenses are excellent.

    Finally, if you do decide that you would rather a battery model, or if you buy a model where the meter requires a battery (I usually tend to use an old Euromaster hand held meter - consequently the 'onboard' meter doesn't bother me) you may require a battery adaptor which can be bought for about 12 Pound Stirling on Ebay, or go to www.yashica-guy.com/ where you can buy them equally as cheaply directly from his webpage.

    P.S. I am not Yashica-Guy, neither do I know, or have any business with him.
     
  4. nsurit

    nsurit Subscriber

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    If you would look at a larger format the Voigtlander RF could be a decent choice producing a 6X9 image on 120 film. Should be able to get one for somewhere around $100 to $150 (perhaps less) and if you didn't like it, recover your investment when you resold it. Bill Barber
     
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The Kodak Retina II's and III's are also good candidates. Nice f/2 Schneider or Rodenstock lenses, nearly as small folded as a modern digi. One major downside is that they have a bit of a following, and can be pricey, compared to the Voigtlanders of the era which some people judge as just as good.
     
  6. Jean Noire

    Jean Noire Member

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    Contax G1 or G2 prefferably, great lenses, for about £100/150 with 45mm lens.
    Regards,
    John.
     
  7. Coolmac

    Coolmac Member

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    I have a Kiev 4 which has been enjoyable to use. They can be found for quite cheap on ebay.
     
  8. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    I have a Zorki 1D, which while being a beautiful camera which I love I wouldn't recommend as a first go (even though it was mine) - the viewfinder is incredibly small, and it has the annoyance of having to cut the film leader to shape for bottom loading.

    I was in a wonderful camera shop in Budapest at the weekend though, and took the opportunity to introduce my digital P&S carrying friend to the wonders of film by convincing him to buy a Fed-2 (actually, I think he fell in love with it at first sight anyway, so not much convincing needed.) It's a beautiful camera in its own right, but has a much nicer viewfinder/rangefinder, loads from the back (so you don't need to cut down film,) and even has niceties like a self timer. Best of all, it cost about 3000 forints - ~ 11 euro :smile:. I imagine you can probably get one for the same price or less on eBay.

    I was going to buy a Kiev from there, but unfortunately it had a sticky shutter - but a working Kiev looks a nice buy as well.
     
  9. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    If you can get a G2 for a good price then go for it.

    One of my first rangefinders was an Olympus SP. Has a fixed 40mm lens. Cheap, compact & high quality images. Be aware however that the meter battery is one of the old mercury ones & difficult & expensive to obtain these days. If you want to use the camera meter I would look for a camera that takes easy to get batteries. Anyway I used the SP for awhile, realised that style of shooting suited me & ended up with an M6.
     
  10. Chan Tran

    Chan Tran Member

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    The Contax G1 or G2 are not rangefinders.
     
  11. Jean Noire

    Jean Noire Member

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    This is true, they are autofocus, but still have to have some sort of rangefinder built in. They also have a manual mode of focus.
    Regards,
    John.
     
  12. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    I tried a Contax G2, didn't like it. You couldn't see what it had chosen to focus on so you had to look at the distance scale to check.
     
  13. ksugden

    ksugden Member

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    sorry I have used a G2 for some time you just line up the brackets in the view finder on whatever you want to focus on press the focus button with your thumb re compose holding the focus button down and release the shutter. Its easier than it sounds especially if you come from an AF SLR. I would not call it cheap though. look at Voltlandrs or Zorki for value

    regards Keith
     
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  15. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Seconded. I had an outfit for a year. Nice camera; intermittent focus; not an RF.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  16. sun of sand

    sun of sand Member

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    You could do nicely with an Olympus RC RD DC -with some of those costing upwards of $20. SP will set you back much more. FED/Zorki/etc "leica-like" cost you a bit more -$30-50. Not extremely reliable, either.
    Petri's are cheap.

    I'd go Olympus RD/RC ..whichever had the 40mm 1.8 lens.
    Nearly fully automatic however.
     
  17. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    I'll second the Oly 35RC. They can be used fully automatic as mentioned, but this particular camera can also be used fully manual. I use mine regularly with a handheld incident meter. Another one I like is the Canonet QL-17 and QL-17 G-III. Not all rangefinder cameras are created equal. I assumed they were all somewhat difficult to focus when I got my first one, then moved up to a Bessa R2A and the viewfinder was a revelation!

    Check out www.cameraquest.com and look for Classic Camera Profiles. You'll find everything you ever wanted to know!
     
  18. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I think you need to provide some more constraints; the answers you've gotten are all over the map, and so will ultimately not be that useful, except to the extent responders provide reasons for recommending specific models that match (or don't match) your needs. Some questions:

    • What do you consider "economical?" To me, that'd be about US$50. To somebody else, it might be US$10 or US$500. (Convert to your local currency, of course.)
    • Do you want new or used gear?
    • How much automation are you used to having? Autofocus? Autoexposure? A built-in light meter? Do you expect the same in a rangefinder, or do you want to branch out and get more or less automation?
    • Do you want interchangeable lenses? If not, do you have a preference for lens focal length? (They don't vary much in fixed-lens rangefinders, but some are a bit wider than others.)
    • Why are you becoming interested in rangefinders? Do you have a specific purpose in mind (unobtrusive street-shooting or dim-light focusing, say)?

    Answering these questions may help others provide more focused responses to your question. (Of course, the cat's already out of the bag; I fully expect this thread to meander quite a bit now.)
     
  19. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    Hi, I like Olympus XA camera. Very small and quiet with aperture preferred autoexposure. I mostly don't use the rangefinder, but just set the distance scale. I have taken many pictures of people without looking through the viewfinder - it's a good sneaky camera. I took a picture with it that won a nice award with Ilford.

    Jon
     

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  20. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    A good point - I should have really specified this at the outset.

    I guess in terms of budget up to areoun £100 would be OK

    And I am looging for something which will give me a flavour of what Voitlander / Leica cameras offer - note "flavour" by which I mean similar focusing etc - I know very little about rangefinders.

    I guess my interest in this area has been started as I recently started shooting more street type photography, obviously at present with an SLR (Nikon FE2) but I think, although I have never used a rangefinder, I can see why they are popular for this type of work.
     
  21. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    A small SLR like an Olympus OM-1 would serve you just as well.
     
  22. leeturner

    leeturner Subscriber

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    Spot on. I've got a couple of Olympus RC's, an OM1, 3 x OM1n's and an OM2n. The OM1(n) is small, light, has terrific glass and is available for peanuts. Only downside is that the 1's (and the RC) uses mercury batteries but it's cheap enough to just get an insert so it takes newer cells. Benefit of the OM1 is mirror lockup.
    These cameras are certainly pocketable and the lenses are tiny.
     
  23. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    But it won't introduce you to ragefinders and the, after all, different approach to picturetaking. I second the Canon QL17 GIII/ Olympus RC or RD suggestion. I had a QL17 GIII but I sold it when I found i didn't use it. I am more a SLR kind of guy. It was a great little toy and sometimes Id like another one but then I'm looking for something 6X7'ish :wink:
    Kind regards
    Søren
     
  24. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    For "Leica on the cheap," the Russian Leica clones (FEDs and Zorkis, mainly) are worth considering. They range from old models without built-in light meters to fairly recent production models with light meters but few frills by modern standards. These cameras all take the old-style LTM39 lenses, so you can even use Leica glass on them. Most can be had for well under your price limit; in fact, for £100 you could get a complete system, with several lenses and an auxiliary viewfinder.

    Since you mention street photography, you probably don't want to be overburdened with lenses. If you want something pocketable, an older FED or Zorki with a collapsible lens is handy, but these models also lack meters. Deviating from the Leica mold, small single-lens rangefinders like the Canon QL series are popular for this purpose. They're surprisingly small and quiet, and many have shutter-priority automatic exposure.

    That said, all rangefinders focus in the same way, by definition, so "similar focusing" to Leicas doesn't really narrow the field at all. (Very old Leicas used separate focusing and viewfinder windows, though, which was a bit different in practice from the way most rangefinders made since WWII or thereabouts are made, with a rangefinder field within the main viewfinder.)
     
  25. mtnbkr

    mtnbkr Member

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    Yup. Everytime I think I want a rangefinder for compactness, I realize my OM-1 isn't much larger, certainly not larger than the modern rangefinders and only barely larger than the likes of the Canonet (why I sold mine).

    The main reason I'm still interested in a rangefinder is slightly better performance at slow shutter speeds and more interesting lenses (Voigtlander 40mm f1.4 Nokton, yum).

    Chris
     
  26. mtnbkr

    mtnbkr Member

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    BTW, while we're on the subject...

    For you folks that shoot with meterless Leicas and FSU rangefinders, do you always carry an external light meter, just wing it, or use some other method to calculate exposure?

    Chris