Low cost rangefinders...

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by papa52, Jun 24, 2010.

  1. papa52

    papa52 Member

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    Any suggestions, info or quirks to watch for would be very helpful as I have never shot one before.
    The FEDs seem low cost are they a good starter?
     
  2. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Well, what's your budget? Do you want a fixed-lens rangefinder or interchangeable lenses? Do you want Japanese, German or other European.

    And is price the most important factor when buying?

    Do you want a meter built into the camera? Autoexposure? Manual exposure? Both?
     
  3. vedmak

    vedmak Member

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    Fed, Kiev are an interesting choice, former soviet union cameras could be quite good, I've heard zeiss icon copy named Iskra could be purchased just for a fraction of a cost of brand name camera. Most of those made after 1950, with lenses copied from Zeiss line. Quality is spotty, when picking a camera, it is better get an ugly used one then minty looking because minty looking probably has some kind of problem :cool:
     
  4. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    I got my Olympus 35RD for $35 a few years back - $1 per mm isn't too bad... :smile: It has a nice lens on it, a 40mm 1:1.7 F.Zuiko.

    That's if you want to shoot 35mm of course. It's nice and compact, and quiet too. The batteries are a little difficult to come by, but even if you lose the battery, all you lose is the meter. My "Old Trestle" photo in the gallery was taken with it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 24, 2010
  5. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    Snagged a Retina IIa pretty cheap, if small stuff is your thing.
     
  6. JPD

    JPD Member

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    I second the Retina suggestion. The IIa is a great little camera, or the IIc which has a better finder if you wear glasses. They have no lightmeters, so a hand held one is a good accessory.
     
  7. paulie

    paulie Member

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  8. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    in terms of modern, full featured rangefinders, the Bessa R series are the way to go. Someday, when I have a real job but still not a millionaire (in which case I would purchase a Leica :D), I plan to get a Bessa R3A/M
     
  9. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    Most of the fixed lens rangefinders from the 70s are good... provided you find one in good condition. elekms questions are good ones. I'd also add 'how important is size' and 'how comfortable are you with doing some repair yourself'.

    I've been on a mad rangefinder buying spree the last few months (if I can find something interesting for under $20, I have a hard time passing i up!).

    My go to rangefinder is still the Canonet 17 GIII. It took me a few tries to find one that wasn't jammed/had a stuck shutter and I had to do some cleaning/rangefinder adjustment when I got it, but the camera is nice. Compact, fast lens, workable meter, etc.

    I like the FED 2 for the interchangeable lens capability, but it is a bigger camera. Not huge by any means, but it isn't quite as compact which does change how and when I use it.

    To be honest, I haven't come across a flat out 'bad' rangefinder from the 60s-70s yet (ignoring broken ones). All of the Olympus rangefinders seem like solid cameras though the 35RD usually has stuck shutter blades which need some work. The Canonet is my default recommendation because they seem so plentiful. The Ricoh 500G mentioned earlier is also nice, as are the Yashica G line (though there again, you are back to nearly SLR size cameras).

    I found this site rather useful: http://www.cameraquest.com/com35s.htm

    Again though, for me, the compact size, image quality and manual control were key features. Your values may be different.
     
  10. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    How about Konica Auto S2?

    Jeff
     
  11. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    The Canonet, as mentioned above, is a very capable little shooter. I would guess the lens is as good as it gets in that type camera; although the Olympus 35s have a reputation for good glass. Ditto for the Konica Auto S2. They all have the advantage(?) of built-in metering.
    I lucked out with a decent Fed2 with the Industar 61-l lens, which is very sharp. The rf magnification lever does not work; otherwise it is pristine; plus it has a neat red-leatherette covering! With shipping from Ukraine it cost me about 35 bucks.
    The advantage of a FSU RF with interchangeable lenses is that it is the beginning of a system; whereas the Canons and Ollies are dead-end streets-- as good as they are--for about the same investment initially.
     
  12. papa52

    papa52 Member

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    Thanks everyone. I now use SLRs (2 canons,2 minoltas,1 OM-1) and would like to try a small and lightweight fixed lens if I can find one on the cheap.
    Non metered would be fine as they probably will be off anyway.
    My OM-1 with a 50mm is usuallly my roaming around choice because it is the lightest of the group, tho still larger then I like.
    All of your input tells me I need to look and listen awhile longer, I have a lot to learn yet. Thanks again....
     
  13. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    Okay, if you're looking for something smaller than the OM-1, that definitely could be your biggest constraint. The OM cameras are small - smaller than many fixed lens rangefinders.

    A bunch of people on flickr post shots of their camera collections. That could be a good place to get a reference point for differences between cameras. Here is a good example page with an OM-2 and pair of rangefinders (Lynx 14 and Canonet 17 GIII):

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/propheci/2902650129/

    You're definitely looking for something on the compact side of rangefinders. I'll revise my earlier suggestion - an Olympus 35RC may be a better fit if you want a somewhat traditional form factor. I've only shot one roll with minute but was pretty happy with it.

    Another camera to check out is the Olympus XA. I am still on the fence with it myself. Its a great camera given the size and is about as portable as a rangefinder is going to be but its still a bit big in a pocket and the image quality doesn't quite match some cameras only marginally larger.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 25, 2010
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  15. elekm

    elekm Member

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    If you want inexpensive, get something Japanese. Be prepared to replace the foam seals and to have the camera serviced. All of these cameras are at least 30 years old, and at the least you're going to have to replace the foam seals.

    If you can, buy a camera that's already been serviced. You'll pay more, but at least you should get a camera that works properly.
     
  16. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    One further suggestion.

    If weight is your major concern, an Olympus OM-10 or, preferably, an OM-20 (OM-G) body is a fair bit lighter (80 gm) than your OM-1. Combined with the 50mm f/1.8 lens, the package is quite small and light (600 gm), and both are quite inexpensive.

    With the 40mm f/2.0, it is even smaller and lighter, but a lot more expensive!

    Interestingly enough, the Canonet GIII-17 weighs 620 gm - 20 gm more than an OM-20 with the 50mm f/1.8 lens.
     
  17. vedmak

    vedmak Member

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  18. Emil

    Emil Member

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    I have one of those. I like it a lot, but it's not easy to focus and flares easily. It certainly is small, light, and cheap and has a pretty sharp lens, but I am often annoyed by the small dim rangefinder spot. But then again, for the prices I see these go for, you might as well get it if you see one. Also, it's great for use with flash because of the lens shutter and full manual option.
     
  19. Pumal

    Pumal Member

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    Ricoh 500GX might be better. Great lens. Double exposure and surely the smallest of them all.
     
  20. alexmacphee

    alexmacphee Member

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    The Ricoh 500GX is excellent, but it's slightly bigger than the camera that's my all time favourite, the Olympus 35RC. The difference, however, is measured only in a millimetre or two, and of utterly no significance in choosing between them. The Rikenon lens is a little smasher, but it's matched by the Zuiko on the 35RC, though which you'd prefer could be down to a coin toss. My coin fell on the side of the 35RC, but I wouldn't argue with someone whose coin landed on the 500G/X side. The Ricoh has the advantage of an extra slow speed, having 1/8 to the Oly's 1/15. The only difference between the 500G and the 500GX is that the GX has a little lever that will cock the shutter without winding the film, and it's sure not a reason to pass on a 500G whilst waiting for a GX to show. One of the things I like about the Oly is that the shutter speed dial is on the top plate, which is where it should be for a camera with a shutter priority autoexposure mode.

    Both of them use naughty batteries, and in neither case do they work anything except the meter, so it's no loss not to have a battery.

    For looks, whilst the Ricoh at first sight has a 'boxy' look, the lines have soft contours and it's very pleasing on the eye -- moreso, I think, than the 35RC. On the negative side, replacing the light seals on the Ricoh is rather more of a job than on the Oly. The first thought that goes through your mind when you pick up either of these is, 'I want to take pictures with this!' They really are that inviting.

    I've never been put off by the fact that they're fixed lenses. If I need interchangeable lenses, I reach for the Bessa R3A ; I had thought of buying a Leica once, but I didn't want to settle for second best. (There, that should have the Leicans swallowing their tongues in apoplectic rage...)
     
  21. mgb74

    mgb74 Subscriber

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    Very interesting. So often, comparisons are meaningless when viewed on my laptop monitor - these aren't. I assume it was an "apples to apples" test.

    Were lens hoods used? If not, I'd love to see a comparison when lens hoods are used.
     
  22. Roger Thoms

    Roger Thoms Subscriber

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    Don't forget the Minolta rangefinders. I have a HiMatic 7s and I got a AL-F for my girlfriend and they both work great. The AL-F was 30usd including shipping of ebay and the HiMatic 7s was 15usd off Craigslist. Took a little patience but the deals are out there.

    Roger
     
  23. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I have owned a Yashica J rangefinder for a couple of years but have not used it yet. I am planning to take it out tonight and try it.


    Steve.
     
  24. Alex1994

    Alex1994 Member

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    Olympus XA is very tiny indeed, with good glass. Smallest ever rangefinder and very close to smallest 35mm ever. It'll go well with the OM-1 for sure and it's not that expensive.
     
  25. xxloverxx

    xxloverxx Member

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    Kiev — solid, good weight, nice lenses, terrible VF (but very visible RF patch); haven't managed to knock anything out of alignment yet (and I bang it around every day…sometimes rougher than I would try with any other camera. Something about the build makes me trust it not to shatter.)
    Oh and the exterior is pretty much entirely metal. You just have to get used to the terrible built-in VF.
     
  26. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    The two best optics that I've experienced in small Japanese rf's are the Konica S-3 and the Minolta Hi-Matic G. The Minolta was electronic and hard to manipulate for compensation, etc but the lens was extremely good. The Konica had an interesting and clever flash-matic system for use with simple flashes. I was taking some shots with the Konica at a cousin's wedding many years back (25+!) and the pro lost all of her film somehow to a processing disaster. There are some shots hanging as 8x10's on her wall and I'm still amazed at how solid that little rig came through and saved something of the day for her.