getting a start with rangefinders

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by splash_fr, Sep 6, 2013.

  1. splash_fr

    splash_fr Subscriber

    Messages:
    41
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Location:
    Freiburg, Ge
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hi all.
    I usually shoot digital, but recently started to explore the analog world with an old Spotmatic and a bag of Takumars. Since then I'm in love with film, have fun developing b/w negs etc.
    Now I'm really intrigued by rangefinders for wide-angle and street work.
    I've found a (imho) good offer for a new bessa r4a with an new Zeiss 35 2.8 biogon (both with warranty) that I'd like to have some opinions on.

    Is it an sensible start to rangefinders in general or is there anything I should be aware of concerning this combination?
    Like its not a good lens, or it's not a good fit for the r4a for whatever reason?

    I liked it because it felt wonderful to handle and because I like 35 on my Spotmatic. I plan to get a wider lens in the future like 28 or better 21/24 (and a 50 if funds allow). I don't plan to go tele.

    rgds...
     
  2. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,434
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you liked handling it and shooting with it, that's good enough reason to buy it in my book.

    Others will tell you it's a poor substitute for a Leica, or any of another hundred reasons why their choice would be different and better, of course.
     
  3. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

    Messages:
    696
    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2011
    Location:
    Memphis, TN
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It sounds great to me! I myself have a Bessa R2 and use assorted FSU lenses on it -- I can't afford a Zeiss currently!
    Enjoy, and be sure to post photos you take with the combo. And if you aren't already a member, I'd suggest you peruse some of the forums on rangefinderforum.com. You'll find many more discussions on rangefinders, including the Cosina Voigtländer Bessa series.
     
  4. splash_fr

    splash_fr Subscriber

    Messages:
    41
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2013
    Location:
    Freiburg, Ge
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks guys.
    Cant afford a L... and this set is way less than one grand...

    So I think I'l give it a try!

    edit: oh and thanks for the rff link!
     
  5. Tom1956

    Tom1956 Inactive

    Messages:
    2,057
    Joined:
    May 6, 2013
    Location:
    US
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    A Spotmatic is a terrific camera--all you'll ever need in a 35. And the Takumars are terrific lenses. No need to get interested in another thing. Enjoy.
     
  6. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,248
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have 3 Bessas and love them.
     
  7. David Allen

    David Allen Member

    Messages:
    761
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2008
    Location:
    Berlin
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    I think that the key thing you need to consider is what works best for you. Many fine images have been made with every type of camera ever made. The key thing with using a rangefinder is that it is simply a different way of working. SLRs give you a very accurate idea of what you are shooting, you can directly see the effect of polarizer filters, they are much better for working with long lenses and give a better indication of any (apparant) distortion when working in close with wide angles.

    Personally, I have always preferred using rangefinder cameras. Why? - with a rangefinder you have a camera that is generally inherently quieter, it is easier to make excellent lenses for them, they are light and (even at 6 x 7) much less bulky than SLRs. However, for me there are four crucial points why I personally prefer rangefinders:

    • The image is not interrupted when you fire the shutter (no moving mirror).
    • Generally, you can see beyond the frame (i.e. see what is coming into shot or what you are excluding but which might actually be important to the image).
    • As I generally zone focus, the image remains completely clear whereas with most SLRs (excluding the original Leicaflex / Periflex / etc) using zone focussing results in one having to view a slightly blurry image.
    • I personally can hand-hold at slower speeds than an SLR and this is important to me as I generally want front to back sharpness.


    Hope this helps you with your choice.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  8. ntenny

    ntenny Member

    Messages:
    2,283
    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2008
    Location:
    San Diego, C
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There just seem to be SLR people and rangefinder people, and the only way to know which one you are is to try 'em out. The Bessae are undoubtedly good cameras at the price point---you might end up saying "nope, this just doesn't feel right for me" and go back to your Spotmatic, but you won't say "ugh, this camera is junk and I didn't learn anything from trying it".

    The Voigtlaender 21/4 is an extremely fun lens, by the way. I think there's a newer 21mm in M mount now as well.

    -NT
     
  9. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,248
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I personally have never found rangefinder vs SLR to be an either/or proposition and I am very comfortable switching from one to the other. The advantage that rangefinders have is the lack of time parallax. You can see the subject even at the moment of exposure. To use an SLR one must be able to anticipate what is going to happen in the next half second. Not everyone is able to do this.
     
  10. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,717
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2010
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    I can't and would prefer a rangefinder. Unlike an SLR it allows you to see the moment of capture, together with many other advantages already mentioned.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 7, 2013
  11. pdeeh

    pdeeh Member

    Messages:
    3,434
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Location:
    UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I overcome the "time parallax problem" by dint of only ever taking photographs of sessile objects
     
  12. momus

    momus Member

    Messages:
    2,714
    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    Location:
    Lower Earth
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    That sounds like a fine combination (although my personal IQ tastes would lean toward a Bessa R3a w/ a Summar or collapsible 50 Summicron). I prefer AE cameras or scale focusing cameras for rangefinders because of the ability to take a quick photo. I know, a scale focusing camera is not a RF camera, but other than the RF patch, it works essentially the same.

    To me the advantages of a RF camera are small size, low weight, the ability to focus in low light, and quiet shutters. The Bessas don't have particularly quiet shutters though, at least for a RF camera. If you don't shoot a lot of close candids (coffeehouse grab shots and such), no big deal. RF camera lenses tend to be a little sharper too.

    The disadvantages are that if you shoot portraits, a SLR allows you to see exactly what you will get on the film neg. I like that a lot. That's just something that I love, seeing the image come into focus. If you're traveling, nothing beats a cheap Konica C35. So small and light you don't even know you are carrying it, and has a wonderful lens.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2013
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,040
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't shoot much 35mm these days but used Spotmatics for years later Pentax MX/KX. However I bought a rangefinder camera (Leica M3) in the late 1980's and it became my preferred camera for general use.

    My reasons are much the same as have already been given by David Allen, Gerald Koch etc. In fact the M3 is a touch heavier than my SLRs which is an advantage, greater mass makes a camer less prone to camera shake at low shutter speeds.

    If I went back to 35mm I'd contemplate a Bessa alongside the Leica and also some of their lenses.

    Ian
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,087
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I use both rangefinders and slrs and have never understood why people say this. You always have to do this, with either type of camera. The moment of exposure means that you have already pushed the button. Seeing it or not seeing it makes no difference at that point. No mirror movement means slightly less mechenical lag between pushing the button and the shutter opening. It's a very small amount of time. I think you would be hard pressed to show an example of when it was really significant.
     
  16. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,972
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Location:
    Netherlands, EU
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Just go for it and have fun using it!!
    Maybe in due time you'll come along a nice used Leica with lens for a reasonable price, like I did (Leica M4-2).

    An other nice option is the Bronica RF645 if you wan't to shoot 120 roll film. A very good camera and excelent glass! And easy to use & carry.

    I just love using rangefinders.
     
  17. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,248
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The amount of delay is much smaller for a range finder than for an SLR. It takes time for the mirror to move out of the light path.

    Time parallax is important for certain types of subjects, racing photos for instance. A photo of a horse or car just crossing the finish line is worth more than one which misses the moment. The examples are many; a motorcross rider in mid-jump, the football player catching the winning touchdown, etc. Of course not so important when dealing with sloths. :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2013
  18. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,087
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I do not agree that it is "much smaller", unless you can find me actual time measurements. I have a hard time believing it is significant relative to the reaction time of your finger. Racing finish lines? Really? You won't be able to do that handheld with any camera (or if your sense of timing is that good, you can do it with any camera!). Nobody ever successfully photographed those other things with SLRs? And how often do you do that anyway?

    I still say "time parallax" is mostly bs.
     
  19. miha

    miha Member

    Messages:
    1,217
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Examples of shutter lag times: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shutter_lag (film-based Leicas are 5x more responsive than the best SLRs, digital Leicas are about two times slower than the best DSLRs)
     
  20. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,087
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Uh, the fastest time on that list an SLR. And the difference between the Leicas and the 35mm slrs on that list is measured in 10s of milliseconds. The difference between the Leica and the slowest 35mm slr on that list is one tenth of a second. So there may be a few situations where 1/10th of a second might be visible on your photo. If you can even compensate for such a small difference in your shooting. And again I say, if you can do that, then you can do it with any camera.
     
  21. miha

    miha Member

    Messages:
    1,217
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with you, every camera is fast enough, the bigest lag is in our minds.
     
  22. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,248
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    At one time I shot many rolls of film at motorcross events. Much easier with a rangefinder.

    The question is how far will your subject travel during the delay. Even a millisecond can be significant.

    The word of the day is INERTIA. Camera designers do as much as they can to reduce it as they can.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2013
  23. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,972
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Location:
    Netherlands, EU
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    Could we stop the "who shoots the fastest" contest (since Lucky Luke always wins) and get back to the OP original question?
     
  24. miha

    miha Member

    Messages:
    1,217
    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2007
    Location:
    Slovenia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Left foot up

    [​IMG]
    Taken with a SLR camera :wink:
    Print scan
     
  25. TheToadMen

    TheToadMen Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,972
    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Location:
    Netherlands, EU
    Shooter:
    Pinhole
    That left foot is indeed the first thing my eyes are drawn to.
     
  26. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

    Messages:
    6,248
    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2010
    Location:
    Southern USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Its not a contest, you are missing the point. We ARE discussing how appropriate each type of camera is for a particular situation which was the topic of the OP. If you are going to take photos of fastly moving subjects then time parallax IS important.