Looking for first rangefinder

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by redvis, Nov 22, 2006.

  1. redvis

    redvis Member

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    Hello everyone,

    I may be going on a trip this coming summer and I'd like to get a portable rangefinder to use while I'm overseas. My budget is approximately $500 total.

    I've see the Bessa Rs for a good price and Leica CLs too, but I was wondering if anyone else had any recommendations on a nice rangefinder with quality lens for an overseas trip.

    Thank you in advance,

    Cameran
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    If you shop carefully you can get a Contax G1 with the 45 F2 lens for about that kind of money...
    it's a beautiful camera, takes fantastic images, and handles so easily. The Autofocus is a little glitchy, but still fairly fast and accurate. The AF mechanism makes it not as quiet as other rangefinders, but if you don't need silence, it's great. I never had a problem with it causing subjects to freak out when I hoisted it to my eye, unlike an SLR.
     
  3. redvis

    redvis Member

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    Thanks for your reply. I had looked at the Contax before. I forgot to mention that I'm looking for a rangefinder that is manual and only has a meter built in to it. From what I understand the Contax requires a battery, and that's what I'm trying to avoid.

    Thanks!

    Cameran
     
  4. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    You might want to look for Cannon P or 7, takes screw mount Lieca lens, but no meter, the 7s has an external meter but I think will go for more than $500.
     
  5. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

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    There are so many options even within the Bessa line-up. Cameraquest sells an R with lens kit (25mm or 35mm) within your price range. But if you got just the body you could do some "bottom feeding" and get good used FSU lenses and have more money left for film, etc. The classified ads here and on RFF often have very good lenses for sale (not to mention bodies/kits), which is normally better than taking a chance on the auction site.

    So I'd say it depends on a couple of things. Do you want new with warranty? and ... what focal lengths and lens speeds do you want/need?
     
  6. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    What about a Zorki?
     
  7. John Shriver

    John Shriver Member

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    Portable? Leica IIIa, or any bottom-load Canon rangefinder, and an Elmar 50/3.5. The Elmar is the ultimate in portable. For an uncoated Elmar with cleaning marks, and some smart shopping, you should be able to stay under $500.
     
  8. copake_ham

    copake_ham Inactive

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    Frankly, did you do a "search" of the RF Forum before posting?

    This query comes up about once or twice a month such that there is now a vast "library" of advice and competing recommendations and even nasty debates regarding one's initial purchase of a RF camera!
     
  9. frank

    frank Subscriber

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    One of my favourite combos at the $500 level is a used Bessa R2 with used Canon 50mm f1.8 lens. An altenate 50mm lens is the CV50 f2.5. If you are more of a 35mm lens shooter, the CV35 f2.5 is great. The used body is around $300, and the lenses are found used around $200.
     
  10. MCTuomey

    MCTuomey Member

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    what frank said. can't go wrong with the R2 and a CV 50 or 35. prices i've seen lately seem closer to USD600 for the combo, but that's prob'ly just me.
     
  11. rpsawin

    rpsawin Subscriber

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    I would agree with Frank as well. The Bessa R2 with either the CV 35mm (my personal choice) or the 50mm is an excellent combination to get started and very cost effective.

    Bob
     
  12. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Fed 5 or Kiev have built in meters and are manual.

    Make sure they work of before risking your holiday shots lots are sold as mint ignoring the owner knows they dont work. The F2 lenses are pretty good at 2.8 even if you are picky picky. They are pretty cheap as well.

    Noel
     
  13. elekm

    elekm Member

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    There's no reason to risk your hard-earned money on Soviet gear that might or might not work or on something older that might or might not need to be serviced.

    That would really sour your first experience. Go ahead and buy new and then if there's a problem, you always have the warranty or Steven Gandy.

    Then if you get hooked, you can start investigating some of the classic gear.

    You can't place any faith in an eBay purchase.

    "Mint" is now a deceptive term that is inaccurately used. Excellent could mean truly excellent or it could mean that they don't see too much rust or it could mean that it's a piece of junk but they don't really care because they just want your money.
     
  14. redvis

    redvis Member

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    Thanks for the tips everyone, I figured the Bessa would be my best shot but I was just wondering if there were any hidden gems. I will look at the Fed 5 and Kiev as backups too.

    I already have an old Leica screwmount but it has sentimental value so I don't use it.

    Thanks for the advice everyone. Coming from an astrophotography background, looking for rangefinders is a whole different ball game!

    Cameran
     
  15. elekm

    elekm Member

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    If you have a Leica, you should use it. Leicas were really produced to take photos and not to be locked in a cabinet.

    As with most of the older cameras, the more you use them, the better it is for the camera.
     
  16. DBP

    DBP Member

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    The FED 5 is a clunky thing, try the 2, 3, or 4, or the Zorki 4 or 6. I wouldn't bet on getting an accurate meter on either a FED or Kiev.

    The worst thing you can do for that Leica (or any camera) is not use it. I have an M3 sitting on my desk at home that belongs to a friend of my mother. It is beyond economic repair from having sat too long.
     
  17. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Let me throw something very different into the mix, namely the fuji medium format rangefinders. I had a fuji ga645zi (that is a zooming one, quite unique) and also a ga645w, w=wide, and that is great for landscape and general wide stuff. When I saw my first 645 chromes that was the beginning of the end for me, they are about 2x as large as 35mm frames, truly glorious. Now I use a 6x6cm rangefinder and I adore it.

    The fujis are really great travel cameras, truly zero fuss and quite compact. I see many of them going around $500-600, though the price has been rising recently especially for the superwide 6x9 cm one, the fuji gsw690. That is a no-frills gem with a great lens.

    If these or similar medium format RF options interest you, you might look around, especially at dantestella's site. These are the "forgotten option" - kind of like medium format point and shoot cameras. There are many of these and also some non-fuji ones.

    Drawbacks of the medium format RFs: the fujis are manually focusable but only in a weird electronic way, and the lenses are not terribly fast, maybe f/4 typically. they are not appropriate for available light work unless you are willign to work with fast films. And you have fixed lenses. But all told, dollar for dollar, it's a good deal.

    Composition with an MF RF is quite fun and easy (big bright VF) and the big reward at the end of the day is the size of the chromes or negs, which enlarge beautifully.
     
  18. Bromo33333

    Bromo33333 Member

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    I would recommend the Cosina-Voigtlander as your best option. I have a Kiev and while it is fun to use, it is much rougher and less smooth than the Zeiss Ikon I eventually got. And the glass on the FSU cameras is a real crapshoot - you can get awful quality to great quality and there is no way to tell form the outset. I managed to get a great lens for the Kiev, though there is a HAIR in it (!). SInce the hair is not at eh focal plane or anything it is harmless to picture quality, but this is atypical of what you would expect. And everything works OK except the timer. The slow speeds may be a bit too slow. And I have to externally meter the thing. It feels like it is about the break in my hands (though it seems built like a brick from a weight point of view), and it takes decent pictures, I think a CV would be a better bet, even if you buy it used!

    If it isn't you ONLY camera, a FSU camera can be cheap and fun. If you were really serious about it, you are best served by getting something new with modern quality control.

    Especially if you are buying it sight unseen!
     
  19. salamandrine

    salamandrine Member

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    What about a Canonet? It's portable, its A priority or manual. Has meter. It's small.
     
  20. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The Canonet and the other 1970s rangefinders are great.
    I'm a big fan of the little 1970s rangefinders, because they're very light weight, generally reliable and have nice sharp lenses.

    However, by now, they most certainly will need new foam seals. Not everyone wants to tackle that task.

    As well, then there is the battery issue. The original 1.35 volt mercury cells are no longer available. Your options: 1) use hearing aid batteries, which are the correct voltage but last just six months, 2) buy a $20 adapter that will allow you to use silver oxide batteries, or 3) use a handheld meter, which might be an option with some but not all cameras.

    Between the foam seals and the batteries, some people would just rather not have to contend with that and will take a different route. But I agree that these can be great all-around cameras.
     
  21. salamandrine

    salamandrine Member

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    Well, i got my QL17 just a few months and sent it to a mecanic that treated her so well! He even adjusted the meter for the new bateries :smile:
    It's rocking that beauty. Goes with me wherever i go :smile:
     
  22. mike_j

    mike_j Member

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    Bessa R2 is manual with built in meter. For economy a 50mm f2 Jupiter 8 lens is high quality and should cost under 10 UKP (say 15$) to get you going. CV 35/f2.5 is great general purpose lens when you can stretch to one.

    I would hestitate to take an old camera as my ony camera on a long trip.
     
  23. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I would hesitate to take any camera as my only camera on a long trip. One of the joys of rangefinders is how small and light they usually are, so carrying two is no great problem and it is always good to have a spare body.

    David.