I'm looking for a small rangefinder

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by tomalophicon, May 21, 2010.

  1. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Hello experts,
    I've decided I want a small 35mm rangefinder.
    I've like one that's fully manual that doesn't need to use a battery.
    I'd like one with a fairly good lens, but it doesn't have to be particularly fast or interchangeable.

    I'm really just interested in something that's small, easy to use with no frills, but still of fair quality.

    If anyone knows of any camera that fits this bill, please post here.

    I've got a Yashica electro 35 and a canon 50E with battery grip if anyone is interested in a trade.

    Tom.
     
  2. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Take a look at Kodak Retinas.

    Grossly simplifying:
    "I" models have no rangefinder
    "II" models have a rangefinder
    "III" models have RF and light meter - light meter (if working, though they seem to survive better than average) is a selenium type and needs no batteries.

    Lens models used range from the good to the sublime...
     
  3. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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  4. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Great.
    My friend actually has Kodak Retina he might sell but I'm not sure of the series.

    The Olympus looks really good.
    It doesn't say if it needs the battery in manual mode. I'm guessing it doesn't.
     
  5. mindcircus

    mindcircus Member

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    I've used both Kodak Retina II and Canon QL17 G-III. I found Retina to be a little heavy for its size, small viewfinder and quite hard to use, but with great optics and being very very small. Canon on the other hand was much easier to use, had parallax compensation, with an accurate light meter, but was bigger and about the same weight with Retina. Canon needs a battery only for automatic mode (shutter priority actually), while Retina is totally independent. You can use canon in full manual mode without batteries though.
     
  6. mindcircus

    mindcircus Member

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    One more thing, if you consider Retina III, keep in mind that even if the light meter works, firstly it will not be as accurate as a CdS meter and secondly it may die unexpectedly. I would not rely on it. Retina III is also taller than II, due to the meter. Personally I'm against Retina III...
     
  7. mablo

    mablo Member

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    Retinas are smallish, most have a rangefinder, they don't need batteries and lenses are either good or very good. Retina IIa or IIc (small a and c) are known to be good for example. Frankly said, I don't know any Retina that would not be good. If you like something with a very large and bright viewfinder you might consider Retina IIS or IIIS. They are not foldable however like many earlier models.
     
  8. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    Not true, *if* a selenium meter is working properly, it's actually more linear and less influenced by colour than a CdS meter.
    I've also never seen a Selenium meter "suddenly" die.

    The Retinas have Selenium cellss which seem to be far more durable and lasting than most.
    I have 2 Kodalux meters (made by the same company which made the in-camera Retina meters) which are spot-on.
    Also my old Sekonic Studio Pro can still be used as a reference...

    Selenium meters are basically an "all or nothing deal": either they work and are sensitive enough, or they're dead (or largely so)...
    I've had far more insidious and complicated problems with CdS cells.
     
  9. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    It indeed doesn't.

    Which is exactly why they die suddenly. :wink:
     
  10. geek

    geek Member

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    I know its againt both your "fully manual" and "doesn't need a battery", still I would like to toss in the Olympus XA. I have a Bessa R that would fit your demands and I love it for those reasons, still the XA thrills me as the almost perfect little camera.
    Smallest 35mm rangefinder ever made, very compact clamshell design, a very good 35/2.8 lens.
    It might need a battery, but it surely fits your "small and easy to use" section.
     
  11. mindcircus

    mindcircus Member

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    I've never used one, but that's what I've read and been told. Sorry about the misinformation.

    I don't understand though what problems can be caused by CdS cells. The only problem I have faced is the discontinued mercury batteries.
     
  12. Matthew Thompson

    Matthew Thompson Member

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  13. maderik

    maderik Member

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    You did not say if a built-in meter was a requirement.

    Japanese rangefinders
    * Olympus 35RC
    * Ricoh 500G aka Sears rf|35
    * Yamato Pax M3 (also sold under different names, no meter)

    Folding German rangefinders from the 50's
    * Retina IIIC
    * Retina IIC (no meter)
    * Agfa Karat 36/Ansco Karomat (no meter)

    American:
    * Kodak Signet 35 (no meter)

    Neither the Oly nor the Ricoh need the battery in manual mode, but the meter doesn't read in manual mode either. You should buy one that already has been CLA'd with new back seals. A clean rangefinder makes a huge difference. These have 42 or 40mm f/2.8 lenses, squarish aperture blades, and lack slow shutter speeds.

    As said, the Retina's are compact when folded, but very heavy. (A IIIc weighs about 1.5lbs compared to the 35RC's under 1lb.) There is a difference between the big-C and the little-c versions: the big C have much larger viewfinders (and command a higher price.) But the III has an 50mm f/2 lens as do many of the Agfa/Ansco cameras (the II is a 50mm f/2.8)

    The Pax has a 45mm f/2.8 and Signet has a 44mm f/3.5. Both only have shutters to 1/300th and no slow speeds (the Kodak is manually cocked.) The body of the Pax is the same length and height as the 35RC but the lens sticks out a bit more. The Kodak is a bit taller.
     
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  15. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    Wowzers.
    No a light meter isn't a requirement. I'll be guessing and using a hand-held meter.

    So many to choose from. I'm gonna have to to do some major research.

    Keep em coming.

    The Bessa R sounds great but a bit expensive for me at the moment.
     
  16. R gould

    R gould Member

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    Retinas are very good cameras, also consider voightlander vitomatic, if you get one with a color skoper lens you will get one of the best "tesser types",if you can find one with the ultron lens,even better, big viewfinder,easy to use, built in selimun meter,maybe not working, I have two of them with the skoper lens and love them,Richard
     
  17. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    American:
    * Kodak Signet 35 (no meter)


    The Pax has a 45mm f/2.8 and Signet has a 44mm f/3.5. Both only have shutters to 1/300th and no slow speeds (the Kodak is manually cocked.) The body of the Pax is the same length and height as the 35RC but the lens sticks out a bit more. The Kodak is a bit taller.[/QUOTE]
    ************
    I have a Signet 35 I do not use. I would sell it for 20 dollars plus shipping. It's a heavy, clumsy little beast, but that Ektar lens is stunningly sharp. The shutter was CLAed about two rolls of film ago. Oops, I see you are in Australia. Hardly worth shipping to the Antipodes, methinks.
     
  18. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    Russian:tongue:

    Zorki 4k/ industar 61 panda lens, no battery,no meter. Small, great lens,and so cheap you can get half a dozen. That way if one breaks, just grab another.

    Regards
    CW
     
  19. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Does that mean you have to carry half a dozen, or at least two, so that if one breaks, you can grab another?
     
  20. Ria

    Ria Member

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    I have a Retina IIa which I use and like. It is not, in my opinion, particularly difficult to operate. It is not, in my opinion particularly heavy; although you certainly couldn't carry it around in your shirt pocket. Of course, everything is relative,
     
  21. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    Having owned both an Olympus XA and a Retina IIc, for me there'd be no contest. The Retina takes _much_ better pictures. In fact, I didn't really like the rendering of the XA lens at all.

    The Retina is heavier, but, for me has better ergonomics, also. I think the only downside to the Retina is that the viewfinder is a little pokey and dim.
     
  22. alanrockwood

    alanrockwood Member

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    Do you need a rangefinder on the camera, or would a scale focusing camera do?

    If a scale focusing camera will do then consider a Rollei 35. They don't need a battery (if you decide you don't need the built in exposure meter) and if you get one with a Tessar, Xenar, or Sonnar lens then the lenses are very good. Of these, the Sonnar is considered best. The ones with the triplet lens (Triotar if I remember correctly) are not as good.

    I have a Rollei 35TE that used to belong to my father in law and it is one of my favorite cameras.

    By the way, if you are interested in a scale focusing camera and you want some kind of focusing aid, it is possible to build an external uncoupled rangefinder with just a pen and paper. I have an upscale version I made using a pen and an old plastic hotel key card. It gives surprisingly accurate results.
     
  23. elekm

    elekm Member

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    There are two routes: European (primarily -- but not limited to -- German) or Japanese.

    1. Japanese -- The smaller 1970s models tend to be mostly trap-needle autoexposure. There are a couple of models with manual exposure, the Olympus 35 RC being one of them. The Yashica Electros were available at this time, but they're much larger cameras. The Petri 35 is an earlier camera, somewhere in size between the Olympus at the Electro and a very nice camera. It's usually marked Petri 35 Color Corrected, not to be confused with a later camera sold under the same name, I believe.

    2. German -- Mostly from the 1950s but also into the 1960s, there are a decent number of offerings from Zeiss Ikon, Voigtlander and Agfa, as well as Balda, Kodak AG (Retina models) and also Welti, although I'm not up to snuff on Welti.

    • Zeiss Ikon: Folding Contina II and folding and rigid-front Contessas, including the final Contessa S 312, which is an aperture-priority model. Its sister model is the Voigtlander VF 101.
    • Voigtlander: Vito III with the excellent f/2.0 Ultron; a number of other Vito models, including the CLR, Vitomatic IIb, etc. I like the Vitomatic IIb. Great camera -- small and somewhat heavy for its size.
    • Agfa: The folding Super Solinette (and the Ansco sibling Super Regent), as well as the nonfolding Super Silettes.
    • Balda: Super Baldina, Super Baltinette III and others.
    • Kodak AG: Retina II (several models), Retina IIa (two models), Retina IIc/C, Retina IIIc/C and Retina IIS and IIIS. The Retina "c/C" and "S" models are larger cameras with the IIIS probably being too large for what you want.
     
  24. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    I second the Rollei 35 and would suggest the Ricoh 500GX
     
  25. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Into the third page & Canon Gll 1.7 hasn't been mentioned.
    Fully usable in manual w/o battery, decent RF, compact, excellent lens.
    Key word: compact.
     
  26. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I have to agree on the Canonet. I started with it and have been exploring other rangefinders other compact, fixed lens rangefinder for the last six months... it is still my favorite, bar none. The Olympus DC makes me think the Olympus RD has a bunch of promise but I haven't had a chance to use one yet.