Fixed lens RF's... in lieu of Voigt and Leica?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by dugrant153, May 10, 2011.

  1. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    Hi all,

    I started using a Konica Auto S2 and I find it to be a really awesome camera... especially now that I have the focusing square properly calibrated!

    As I can't afford a Leica, and as these cameras can be found for a scary cheap prices, I'm thinking of using these fixed lens RF cameras for not only my personal work but also some of my documentary pro work in lieu of older film SLRs. (Documentary style wedding photography is what I plan to do.)

    Curious if anyone else has gone this route?
    Or if maybe the idea of using these older cameras for this kind of work is too crazy?
     
  2. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I have a Konica Auto S2 myself. Don't use it much but still like it. Great camera! One of these days use it more.

    Jeff
     
  3. insertwittynamehere

    insertwittynamehere Member

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    Not as compact as a Leica which I don't own., nor does it have interchangeable lenses. Smaller than my FE and FM, as quiet and quicker than my TLR (in my inept hands anyway) and found for $10 in a junk shop. Both owner and I thought we were taking advantage of the other! Sweet little piece of kit.
     
  4. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    The only thing is with one lens you're limiting yourself. I photographed a wedding with only a 40mm lens once and felt later I would have acheived some more interesting results with a longer lens to accompany it.
     
  5. Hikari

    Hikari Member

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    Konica Hexar AF; great camera, great lens. No, it is not limiting at all. Just throw yourself into the situation and have fun.
     
  6. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I also have used a hexar AF and I think it's great. The 1/250 top shutter speed can be quite limiting though.

    Let me suggest also considering the fixed-lens medium format cameras- there are several made by Fuji.
     
  7. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Yes, it is limiting. If it wasn't there would be no longer or shorter lenses made.
     
  8. ruby.monkey

    ruby.monkey Member

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    I've owned a few fixed-lens small-format rangefinders, including a Ricoh Five-One-Nine, Yashica Lynx 14 and Electro GSN, and Konica IIIA; and have given away all but the Konica. For all that they were excellent cameras in their own right, none of them (not even the Konica) could match my Leica M3's viewfinder for clarity and ease of focussing.

    To be honest, I only kept the Konica because it's too damned beautiful to part with.
     
  9. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    Ah, I don't know, ruby.monkey. I've got a Konica IIIa that I sent to Greg Weber to have a CLA and the shutter speed disengaged from the f-stops. And I've got one of the first 4000 Leica M3 DS. The Konica viewfinder sure is nice, parallax corrected and all that. And I swear the Konica is quieter than the Leica. If I were comfortable with just the 50mm lens all the time, and I couldn't have an M3, I could do very well with just the Konica.
     
  10. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The 1960s Japanese rangefinders are OK. Some have very good lenses. But I don't think they're the equal of an interchangeable lens system.
     
  11. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I should add that the Konica III is in a different class. It's a premium camera and on par with great German cameras in its build quality and choice of materials. The Konica S and later cameras were a step down in terms of quality.

    I'm trying to think whether there are other fixed-lens rangefinders that fit into the high-end category. Although it enjoys an excellent reputation, I probably wouldn't put the Yashica/Kyocera Contax T cameras into this group if for no other reason than the amount of automation. But maybe I should.

    The folding Zeiss Ikon Contessa is an excellent camera, as is the prewar folding Zeiss Ikon Super Nettel with a Tessar. I'll keep thinking about it. Interesting question, for sure.
     
  12. Anthony J. Martinez

    Anthony J. Martinez Member

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    I rather enjoy my Kodak Retina IIa. Fits in my pocket, and has superb glass. When I fancy a medium format pocket camera, my Agfa Isolette III finds its way into my pocket. Is a single focal length limiting? I suppose, but we each have our stylistic preferences and I've found that the overwhelming majority of what I enjoy shooting gets shot with a normal lens. My LR3 catalog well documents that fact from even before I started shooting film. The overwhelming majority of my images having been taken with my 50 1.4.

    Really, this comes to a matter of preference and means. If one cannot afford a Leica but would like a 35mm rangefinder there are several alternatives. All of them will do their job if the photographer does theirs. If the rangefinder is accurate and the lens is clear it's unimportant, to me, who made the kit.
     
  13. mablo

    mablo Member

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    Hexar AF is my choice. After I got it all other fixed lens rangefinder cameras I have started to look like redundant (yeah, I know It's not a rangefinder but I use it in lieu of them).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 11, 2011
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  15. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    I sold my hexar AF and bought a bessa R2. It's nice to have control again. I really liked the hexar, the lens is nice and all. But I don't miss it really. I usually take my R2 instead of M6, I feel I don't have to worry about scratches and resale value with the M6.
     
  16. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I used to do quite a bit of travel/street photography with a Minolta Hi-Matic 7s---broadly similar to the Auto S2, though if I remember aright the latter doesn't have a metered manual mode---and it was a terrific camera functionally. The ergonomics clearly weren't those of a Leica or even a Voigtlaender, but for US$30 I didn't expect them to be, and I see no fundamental difference in quality between shots from that camera and shots from a Bessa-R with a Nikkor 50/2 (my usual normal-lens rangefinder kit). I'm sure the Nikkor, or any of a number of good Leitz or Zeiss lenses, would outperform the Rokkor on technical criteria in a lab environment, but who shoots rangefinders in a lab environment?

    That summary neglects matters like bokeh and "glow", which are intrinsically subjective and come down to "everyone likes the lenses they like".

    With that in mind, I don't see any real problem with using this sort of FLRF for "serious" work, provided the particular lens you have performs to your satisfaction, and it sounds like in this case it does. Weddings give me a bit of pause, though, because normally you'd want some fairly tight portraits, and with a normal lens you'll have to get pretty close to do that. That's a concern with the focal length, though, not the camera system as such.

    One thing to worry about is sudden death of the electronics. My first 7s decided one day to quit firing the shutter---it metered, it cocked, it made a little click, but the blades weren't actually opening, and I didn't know that until I got the blank roll back. I think every roll I shot with the second one included an out-of-focus closeup of my eyeball, peering into the lens and saying "Is this thing really firing?"

    (I eventually gave the 7s to a friend who's taken up shooting film and seemed like she could use a good camera with an auto mode. I'm travelling less and shooting less 35mm lately, and I'd gotten to where I had more 35mm RFs than I could really use.)

    -NT
     
  17. dugrant153

    dugrant153 Member

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    I heard about the Hexar from a buddy of mine :smile: Apparently a really nice camera. Something I may consider in the future if I go that direction. The cool thing about fixed lens RF's is that there's so many flavours to choose from... And if one can find a working model, it's quite a bargain. I may go Bessa or Leica in the future if RF's really work for me.

    Thanks for all the feedback. I tend to use my cameras in manual mode and hand held meter, so I generally aim for RF's that run without batteries (batteries just power meter). This means that I've still got a working camera if the battery dies, or an available battery-powered in-camera meter backup if my handheld meter dies for some reason. Atleast that's what I'm thinking.

    I thought the Minolta Himatic 7S can work without batteries? (Maybe it's the 7S II)

    I figured the image quality was not going to be a huge diff between interchangeable lens and fixed lens RF's. My scans from negatives taken with my the Konica C35 (auto everything practically) and the Konica Auto S2 have been really good actually. They also have that "look" I'm going for when I combine it with Tri-X 400.

    The other part I wanted to mention is that I have a 645 Bronica ETRS for the non-documentary stuff (detail shots, portraits, etc.) where this seems to excel incredibly well. Digital Pentax DSLR for backup of everything :smile:


    My main concern is "firing blanks" as was mentioned in the previous post. I can see this being a problem with electrically-powered shutters, but what about manual shutters? I'm guessing if it isn't working, it's not going to click and I can figure it out without downing a whole roll, or an entire wedding event??
     
  18. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    I don't know about doing weddings with them, but fixed-lens rangefinders are great cameras when you want to travel light and shoot things that don't require a lot of special preparation. I recently got an Olympus 35 SP and I love it. The meter or auto mode doesn't work since the battery door is jammed, but I don't care about that and use it in manual mode. The shots look great because it has a wonderful G-Zuiko 42mm f1.7 lens and gives some contrasty images and very mellow bokeh. I love using it also because it is so light and fun to handle. I've used it as a "travel" camera a few times now and it has been a joy to use. I would also like to get something like an Olympus XA or a Trip 35 just for fun and to have a different flavor of this camera style.
     
  19. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Yes, I have gone this route.

    I would love to own a Leica rangefinder with a fast normal lens. However, I find it hard to justify the high price of the Leica when my Canon Canonet QL17 G-III 35mm rangefinder with a 40mm f/1.7 fixed lens and my Minolta Hi-Matic 9 35mm rangefinder with a 45mm f/1.7 fixed lens meet my needs for a fraction of the cost of the Leica. When I need quality that is higher than my two rangefinders and the Leica, I use a Fuji 6x7cm rangefinder with a fixed normal lens.

    Also, one feature I really love is that all three of my rangefinders do not need batteries to take a photo.
     
  20. R gould

    R gould Member

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    I have several fixed lens rangefinders, both 35mm and 120, mainly German and English from the 40's and 50's from Voightlander, Zeiss Ikon Kodak Nagal Retina's, both 11C AND 1 and English Ensign, and I use them all at variours times, and I love them all, I prefer using them to my modern Slr's, bot MF and 35mm, they are small, have great lenses,take great pics, are easy to use, although not always light, but they are solid,well made,and none of them need batterys, and with a CLA will last a lifetime,
    Richard
     
  21. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

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    I recently purchased a Konica III and I agree--it is a truly fine camera. It looks and feels solid, and takes excellent pictures.

    It is true that having only the fixed lens is limiting, but I figured if I bought a Leica, I'd never be able to afford more than one lens anyway, if even that, so that is limiting too. And the Konica only cost me $100.
     
  22. adi

    adi Member

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    Hi. Like NT, I also have far more fixed lens RF's than I need. 12 in fact. In terms of lens quality and enjoyment, my favourites are:
    Minolta Hi-Matic E f.17 but unfortunately a fully automatic camera, does credible available light half-body portraits, great for indooor documentary photography if used with ISO 400 or faster film;
    Olympus 35RC f2.8 Shutter priority, very sharp Zuiko lens, great as a compact "in case" camera that gives very decent results outdoors;
    Minolta AL-F f2.7 Shutter priority, decent but not outstanding Rokkor lens, does very well at landscapes and buildings,feels wonderfully solid and mechanical, really a delight to use. Lens is not that well coated though, use a hood when in doubt. I pretend its a Leica :smile:
    Contax G2, without a doubt the best camera I own but not really compact. 28, 45 and 90mm lens are an unbeatable combination. Can be had at a fraction of the cost of an M6. You could probably pick up a G2 body with 35mm lens for $700. 28mm and 45mm lenses are more expensive ($200-400) and the oustanding 21mm landscape lens doesn't go for less than $700. I have all the lenses but use the 45mm and 28mm most often.
     
  23. hobbes

    hobbes Member

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    Nobody has spoken of Yashica GS/GT family yet? Oustanding Yashinon 45/1.7, aperture priority with stepless time (COPAL - central shutter) between 1/500-30sec. with under- & overexposure. What else? Yeah, it's a big girl..in considering RF family. :wink:
     
  24. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    I also have a Yashica GS, I like it! Just hard to find batteries for it.

    Jeff
     
  25. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I'm a big fan of the Retina IIIc. Wonderful fixed lens camera. Lots of great ones actually but the Retina is a bit unique in regards to its size.

    I went with fixed lens rangefinders for a while... until a Leica IIIc came along locally for a good price. I still use the fixed lens rangefinder a fair amount, as I like the 40mm focal length, enjoy the built in meter, like the optional use of aperture/shutter priority, etc. The lenses on some of these fixed lens rangerfinders are very good - on par with glass I use on the Leica at 50mm, better than what I'm using at 35mm.

    The Leica is great if I want the choice between 35mm and 50mm. The lenses I use have a different look than the more modern fixed lens camera.

    If I had to go with only one camera, I frankly would be fine with any of these options.
     
  26. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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