Good starter RangeFinder with a budget.

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by ardeepapa, Jan 2, 2012.

  1. ardeepapa

    ardeepapa Member

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    Title says it all. Other than that, I've had experience with 35mm since high school (4-5 yrs ago)
     
  2. sr44

    sr44 Member

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    What's your budget?

    for the under $100 range you could get any number of fixed lens 70's era rangefinders from the likes of olympus or canon, such as a canon ql17, or olympus 35 RC/SD/RP.

    For a little more, like $200-$300 you could get something like a Bessa-R with a soviet lens.
     
  3. ardeepapa

    ardeepapa Member

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    What are the pros and cons for fixed lens RF other than no interchangeable lenses.
     
  4. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Pro - Being limited to one lens makes you slow down and focus on the symmetry between you and the subject and use you body position to compensate. Fixed lenses can focus to about 3 feet min to infinity. Usually cheaper (Yashica, Canon, Olympus, etc)

    Cons - Non fixed tend to be more expensive (Leica, Bessa, Zeiss) save for the Russian Leica clones

    Magic question for you is what is your budget?

    Welcome to Apug btw
     
  5. ardeepapa

    ardeepapa Member

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    Hi and thank you!

    My budget is around the $100 and I'm pulling more towards the Canon ql17.

    May I ask you a question about RF? Whats the main difference from RF and SLRs? Easier, harder to shoot? May I know your take on RF? Thanks!
     
  6. Aristophanes

    Aristophanes Member

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    Small, lightweight, and simple. They viewfinder can be more illuminating of the whole scene than an SLR.

    They take a bit of practice to master the zone system and the patch alignment. RF's are considerably less flexible than an SLR, but they are quick and easy to use.

    I second the list above with my comments. A Yashica GSN is also good, if on the large side. I very much like the Olympus and Canon 35mm series. Ihave the Oly 35 RC/2.8 and it is so small and light it goes anywhere, with the slight drawback of a slower lens. The Yashica 35 GSN/1.7 is big but is dead simple to operate and has fantastic glass. The Canon QL17 is a very nice, solid RF with very good glass. Only knock on it is it does not meter in full manual mode.

    All of these can be found for less than $100, and there are very good places for a CLA for all 3 brands. Others will chime in with other brands and recommendations.
     
  7. Karl K

    Karl K Subscriber

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    Some advice: don't begin with cheap junk because it may turn you off quickly; similar to drinking cheap wine and smoking cheap cigars.

    Around $100 will get you a Yashica Electro 35 GSN, maybe a Canon GIII 1.7, or a Konica Auto S2. All three have decent lenses and rangefinders.

    Around $300 will move you into the bottom of the interchangeable RF cameras, like the Bessa R and the Canon P or Canon 7 with a decent normal lens (not a Leica optic, though). Probably the best bang for the buck is the Bessa R or R2 with a Canon 50mm lens. I would advise avoiding Soviet bodies, as they are notoriously unreliable.

    Starting at around $500 you can find some Leicas, like the IIIc or IIIf with an inexpensive Leica 50mm Elmar. The best thing about Leicas is that if you find out they are not your cup of tea, you can easily sell them and not get hurt financially.

    But be careful, Leicas can be addictive!

    Best of luck.
     
  8. ardeepapa

    ardeepapa Member

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    Thanks for the info. Now I need to do more research on each of the listed RF and find the right one for me. Appreciate all the comments!
     
  9. ardeepapa

    ardeepapa Member

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    That's the problem, money. I'm a full-time student with a on-call job meaning I don't work everyday/week, only when they need me, meaning little if not no income at all. But as of right now I'm just interested in educating myself of RF. But thank you for the list of RF and the price ranges!
     
  10. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    A Canonet QL-17 GIII is a great value. It is readily available - though might have gummy light seals that you can fix yourself. It's manual mode or shutter speed priority - automatic aperture is easy to use. Shutter is fully mechanical all the time. The Quick Load feature makes it easy to reload. And the short stroke focus is easy to lock-in with, and has parallax correction framelines.

    I didn't find the lens to be amazing, but it was good enough. The main reason I like it: The camera as a whole performed very well for me - giving me a "high yield" of good pictures.
     
  11. charlief64

    charlief64 Member

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    Don't overlook the Petri 7s. Built in meter, no batteries decent lens. It's my under the seat, always in the car camera. Never fails me.
     
  12. spacer

    spacer Subscriber

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    The first roll of film I shot with my QL17, I *knew* it had to be horrible. How can you get good images from a camera that doesn't sound like a construction site when you trigger it? Also, I wasn't at all familiar with the range focus and figured that would be a disaster too.

    Surprise, surprise. While my shots were all random pics of the parking lot surrounding the CVS (I know.. I know... but I had 'em send this roll in) and unexciting, they came out nice and sharp. I had a Mal Reynolds "Hrhn!" moment, and decided that this little camera was probably well worth getting used to. Besides, I just had Mark Hama do a CLA for me, so there's that too.
     
  13. MattPC

    MattPC Member

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    Consider an option with full metered manual mode. I have a Yashica GSN, and I like it, but it encourages me to be lazy and do no more thinking about exposure than bracket whatever the camera 'thinks' best. (no shutter speed indicator) This is not a criticisim, it's original market was not for creative photographers, it was for (people like) my grandfather who shot thousands of holiday slides with one in the 60's and 70's. (which, incidentaly, says something about it's metering ability!)
    Conversly, my (equaly cheap) '80's SLR with fully metered manual mode encourages me to think about lighting on my subject & gives me greater confidence in regard of subject motion, even if I'm using AE mode (there's that laziness again!). But, I dislike the SLR viewfinder and only mention it as an example of fully metered manual.

    Good luck with your purchase, and don't forget that older your preferred option is, the more likley it is to need a service.

    Matt.
     
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  15. dnjl

    dnjl Member

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    As always with threads like these, everyone will simply suggest what they own. Let me add my own experiences:
    A Minolta 7s can be had for less than 50$. It's a solid rangefinder with a sharp f1.8 lens and permits fully manual operation (vital if you want to know your stuff). The rangefinder is much brighter than the Petri 7s, take that into account if you have a choice. In my opinion, the 7s is vastly underrated. Most people look down on it because they want the slightly better and much smaller 7sII, but don't let that misguide you. It's an excellent performer.
     
  16. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I have a Voightlander Vitomatic. It's a very nice compact rangefinder with a bright finder. If I remember rightly, it has a fixed 50mm lens. I had Gus at OC camera overhaul it last year, and it works very well. (I got it fixed up so that my daughter could use it on a trip.) Unfortunately, I don't really use 35mm film any more, and so it's sat on the shelf most of the time.
     
  17. keithostertag

    keithostertag Subscriber

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    I have a Canonet G-III QL17 I am going to post for sale soon. CLA'd a few years ago, very good condition. Comes with cap, copy of instruction booklet, _and_shade. $75 shipped.

    The catch- it will need a new battery.

    PM me drectly if interested.

    Keith Ostertag
     
  18. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    Hit the local thrift shops and find the $5 camera bin. I'm finding many decent entry level 35mm non-slrs in them and most are being passed over even at that price. You do not mention what photo intrest you have such as portraitures, street, etc. so really hard to make a recommendation as to a particular model. Different features can aid or detract from the experience depending on what you are shooting. For instance a wider angle lens with a smaller aperature having greater depth of field may be advantageous and faster than a rangefinder longer focal length; or even for street shooting. Zone or scale focusing is easy to use for landscapes and street work. A rangefinder is better for portraiture and still life.

    If using a built in meter and possibly filters, better to find a camera with a through the lens meter or a meter cell that is close to the lens so the filter covers it and hence metering is through the filter. If filters are not an issue, the cell can be outside of the lens area which is common with many non-slr cameras.

    While we tend to class cameras into slr and rangefinder, the better term is slr and non-slr as the non-slr has categories that include both rangefinder and non-rangefinder formats. The slr generally has an eyelevel viewfinder viewing the image through the lens but has a limitation of not generally as bright as a non-slr camera viewfinder but, closer to what you see is what you get. Also, depth of field can b viewed where with a non-slr DoF is not viewable hence reliance on the DoF scle on the lens and a knowledge of DoF visualization is a plus in composing.

    A smaller local camera shop may take pity on you as a stuggling student and donate something to you as many are still taking trades of these but just dumping them. A a beginner do not get wrapped up in the brand names as much as the features that will help in making good shots and aid in training your eye and mind. Look for a focal length that feels good and seems to match your mental image of what you want. There is no standard except in marketing. While many talk of 50mm lenses as standard, you'll find many who after some time tend to go somewhat smaller, down to the 28-40mm range. I personally prefer the 35-40mm range. Top speed is also not all that critical except in certain situations. A leaf shutter with a top speed of 1/500 is more than usable in most situations.

    2 of my favorite shooters have a 40mm lens, 1 is a rangefinder and the other a zone focus model, both have a max speed of 1/500, one has no coating and the other I think is single coated, both leaf shutters and both from just after WWII. Both have a lens design that I do not about nor care about technically and the results from each are limited by my ability. I enjoy shooting both as much as my Leica and Bronica systems and could live with either as my only camera. From memory I think I paid $20 for 1 and about the same for the other. 1 is user grade, having been heavily used by the original owner a military man who traveled around the world several times while the other was owned by someone whose widow said he used it as his only camera from new but babied it. Currently both need a shutter cla which is not expensive as they are leaf shutter cameras and will be good for another 50 years or so when done.

    a camera is like buying a car or a computer; there is no pat answer.
     
  19. Clay2

    Clay2 Member

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    Another vote for the Minolta Hi-Matic 7s. I have two of them now. Had a photo contest at work (1000's of employees).
    I took first, second, and third prize. Only the first was taken with my Nikon F2AS, second and third were taken with the Minolta.
    Best regards,
    /Clay
     
  20. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

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    I had a similar problem not too long ago. I wanted a small rangefinder to take along on bike rides, instead of my big Nikons. Didn't want to spend a lot of money. I could have found a used Leica body or maybe a Bessa I could have afforded, but then I'd never be able to afford more than one lens for it. So I figured, why not save myself a lot of money and buy a fixed-lens camera? So I got a nice old Konica III for about $100 and have been very pleased with it. Solid build and excellent lens.
     
  21. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    Olympus XA is another great option in a fixed lens range finder. The XA2 is also good, but not a range finder.
     
  22. illumiquest

    illumiquest Member

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    Another vote for the QL-17 as well as for checking your local thrift store. I've probably found a dozen or so decent Japanese fixed lens rangefinders at thrifts over the years. I'd avoid the Leica screw mount bodies as well, the finders on them are tiny and for the price you could probably find a more user friendly and reliable Bessa.

    If you've never shot a rangefinder I'd suggest starting as cheaply as possible just to see if you like it. It's a different shooting experience than an SLR or TLR and you may not find it suits you.
     
  23. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    May I commend you on your choice of wanting a rangefinder camera? For me, the most outstanding feature of a rangefinder is the fact that the frame lines allow you to see to left and right, above and below the scene you are about to capture. If you use an SLR you may as well look through the centre of a toilet roll. How about a simple Voigtlander?
     
  24. dnjl

    dnjl Member

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    This doesn't really belong here, but I love the gallery on your website. Truly excellent photography.
     
  25. Red Robin

    Red Robin Member

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    For myself, I like and use a Canon P (3) and a Bessa R There are four others and a number of lenses. I could go on but really why .Buy the camera that "fits" you. I love the Bessa R but the Canon P just "fits" me. Try to borrow a user or two then choose. I remember a old slogan I think fits." Cry Once! " You always be happy with the best , but then what is best for you?
     
  26. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I recommend these two rangefinders:

    Canon QL17 Giii 35mm rangefinder with 40mm lens

    Minolta Hi-Matic 9 35mm rangefinder with 45mm lens

    Neither needs batteries for operation. Batteries are only needed for the built-in light meter.

    Both are small, quiet, unobtrusive, capable of producing high-quality images, and inexpensive.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11336821@N00/5227629588/
     

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