message in a 35 mm bottle?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by melmoth, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    Hallo,
    I would be grateful for any suggestions from someone who was once in a similar situation ie. Still learning but intent on a lens collection and in the near future: a dark room.

    The Nikon FM3a or the Bessa range of cameras?

    Which camera would suit someone having passed beyond the beginner phase but still learning?

    Greatly appreciate any input.

    Many thanks

    M.
     
  2. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Hi melmoth,

    Each of those options is an excellent choice in its own right, but each has its own set of pros and cons.

    Could you give us a bit more of an idea what style(s) of photography you intend pursuing (landscape, candid, still life, sports, wildlife, studio portrait, etc., etc.)?
     
  3. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    Certainly.

    I was drawn to photography through an interest in art. I was frustrated with a metering system (Minolta dynax 5 - different title in US) I have never come to grips with, results from regular commercial printing services in b/w and my own lack of knowledge.
    To answer your question I am particularly interested in people in landscape.

    I have read up surfed the net a lot but have yet to draw any definite conclusions. I have a moderate to medium budget.

    thanks M.
     
  4. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    People in landscape? Or people and landscapes?

    Either way, I personally prefer and SLR for those. Being able to see what you get (or at least 90-95% of what you get) is a key component for these types of shots.

    I know there are many that use RFs for all kinds of shots, but I personally find myself relegating my RF cameras to situtations where the light is low or where I need to be quick.

    allan
     
  5. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    Thanks allan

    People in places mainly. But with an emphasis on backgrounds. This brings in landscapes also.

    What is the advantages of Rangefinders? Or the Bessa's? Clarity? Weight? Noise when clicking? etc.

    again - grateful for any suggestions.

    M.
     
  6. kaiyen

    kaiyen Member

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    The advantages of RFs is a pretty big question, but I'l give it a go.

    The main thing for me is that RFs don't have a mirror to bang up and down in the body. This means that you don't get the subtle camera shake that affects sharpness at about 1/10-1/15. If I'm in a really tough situation, I can handhold down to 1/15 and get about 40% of the frames back. Some are better at it than I am. Since I'm shooting with the fixed lens on the Canonet, that's a solid 1.3 stops or so better than I could do with an SLR.

    I don't think the viewfinder is going to be any clearer than with an SLR. While there are some SLRs that are as light as RFs, I don't know of any RFs that are as heavy as the pro SLRs out there. Some RFs shutters are very quiet (particularly the leaf shutters in the fixed-lens 35mm models from the 70s), but the Bessa ones are supposedly quite loud (I don't have one myself, though I wish I did).

    I think that's a good start.
    allan
     
  7. BruceN

    BruceN Member

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    This thread will probably draw about as many opinions as there are members! For 35mm here's mine: Olympus OM's. Specifically, I love my OM-1n's for landscapes because of the mirror lock up feature, and my OM-2n's for people stuff because in those situations I frequently make use of the AP off-the-film metering. And the Zuiko lenses are outstanding. I haven't found anything I thought would be worth changing to in 20 years.

    Bruce
     
  8. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    If you're going to shoot at moderate to long distances with lenses of moderate focal length -- 35 mm to 135 mm -- it doesn't much matter whether you use an RF camera or an SLR. If you're going to use longer lenses, an SLR would be preferable. If you're going to shoot at close distances, and SLR would usually be preferable.

    As for brand, well, that so many brands (= proprietary mounts) of SLRs persisted for so long is very interesting. If any were overwhelmingly superior, it would have driven the others out of the market. You'll have a hard time making a bad mistake if you buy into one of the major brands and get a body and lenses in good order.

    To expose my prejudices, a long time ago I bought into Nikon, and there I stay. I don't regret it, but I could equally well have bought into Canon or Minolta or Pentax or ... and stayed with it.
     
  9. Bruce Appel

    Bruce Appel Member

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    I use and love rangefinders, but an slr is more versatile. Longer lenses are no problem, macro is easy, wide range of lenses available, probably cheaper too.
     
  10. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    Thanks for all your help fellows.
    M
     
  11. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Another couple of RF advantages are noise (or lack thereof) and the ability to see through the 'finder as the exposure is made. The key area that these advantages apply to is that of candid street photography.

    Also rangefinders tend to be fitted with prime lenses, which have clarity and contrast in spades.

    An SLR can wear either primes or zooms. Whilst you don't get to see through the finder as the exposure is made, you do get to see through the lens the rest of the time. This does away with any parallax error and also helps with the positioning of grad filters (which may be of interest if you're doing landscapes).

    For what you want, I would personally go the SLR route. Others may feel differently. If you are set on a manual focus Nikon then I would also consider the secondhand market. Ffordes do decent kit, are honest about the condition, offer a warranty and a moneyback guarantee if you're not happy... ...and there isn't much difference (other than cost) between an FM3a and an FM2n.

    Other makes are also worth a look. Canon MF bodies are good and fairly bulletproof and their prime MF lenses (speaking as a devout Nikon-worshipper) are just plain lovely. They also have the advantage of being dirt cheap (don't you just love the digital revolution?!)

    I also wouldn't discount AF bodies. The Dynax 5 might not have been for you. Try an F80. I love the ergonomics of mine, and it'll let me do my own thing when I want to or operate as a sophisticated film-in-brain-out PAS if the need arises.

    One final thought - don't get too hung up on kit. I've taken some of my best shots (okay, not exactly an exacting standard in present company! :wink: ) with a forty year-old Pentax S1a and a selection of equally old M42 screw-mount third-party lenses. One APUG subscriber of my acquaintance favours Holga plastic-lensed "toy" cameras, and produces stunning work with them.

    The most critical factor in photography is generally found standing about a foot behind the camera. Pretty much all else is secondary. There have been a couple of absolutely excellent articles in Lenswork on the subject, which I'd highly recommend.

    I hope the above ramblings have been of some use. They're free and I assure you worth every penny! :smile: At the end of the day though, what works for one person may very well not suit another. I hope that whatever you finally choose will prove to suit your way of working.

    All the best,

    Frank
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2005
  12. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    Thanks Frank.

    Thats exactly the type of information I am looking for. Cheers.
     
  13. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Based on your profile, you are already shooting 35mm. Is the equipment you are now using not meeting your needs for landscape & people pictures? If you are still frustrated with your camera’s metering system, turn it off and use the Sunny 16 exposure guide instead.

    Replacing your current 35mm equipment with different 35mm equipment may or may not solve your problem. For example, if you are dissatisfied with the detail captured in 16x20 inch prints, a larger format camera may solve your problem better than a different 35mm camera.
     
  14. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Most of the suggestions you've had so far are well thought out. I have a few additional comments.

    The Bessa rangefinder bodies use a metal focal plane shutter designed originally for SLR cameras. It's not quite light-proof enough for use without a mirror in front of it, so Bessa uses a secondary shutter to help keep out stray light. A metal shutter is louder than a cloth focal plane shutter, and the secondary Bessa metal shutter adds a little more noise. So the Bessa shutter is a bit noisier than a cloth focal plane shutter, definitely louder than a leaf shutter, but not in the same league as an SLR. I use several Bessas, as well as several SLR models and other rangefinders with leaf and cloth shutters. The Bessa shutters are not as loud in comparison to other cameras as Allan (kaiyen) implies.

    Rangefinders also have the advantage of a very short lag time between pressing the shutter button and the frame being exposed. You don't have to wait for mirror travel, and for fleeting people shots, this can be a definite advantage. SLR mirrors and their noise preceding the exposure can also allow enough time to trigger a reaction in the subject that you might not want.

    Allan (kaiyen) is right about handholding rangefinders as well. I have a shot with a Bessa T and 21mm Voigtlander-Cosina lens made at 1/4 second handheld, and you can count the threads in my son's t-shirt from 4 to 5 feet away. (I have an SLR that can approach that, but it has a rarely-implemented cam-driven mirror design that doesn't slap, and a heavy brass chassis with good inertia.)

    The view finders in rangefinders can be excellent. You are looking much more directly at the subject than with an SLR and you can see the surroundings outside the frame as well. I love the 1:1 finder in the Bessa R3 (others do not) for the fact that I can leave both eyes open and see the framelines floating in the world in front of me. Rangefinder focusing with a quality camera like the Bessa and other brands is also very snappy and fast.

    As FrankB mentions, one big advantage of rangefinders for people photography is the fact that you still see the subject at the instant of exposure. The shutter lag and disappearing image in an SLR may leave you wondering whether or not you caught that fleeting expression (until you see processed film). With a rangefinder, you have a much better idea of exactly what you got at the instant of exposure.

    For macro and telephoto use, I would still use SLRs.

    As others have said, after taking into account the physical limitations of the hardware, it's what's a few inches behind the film that really counts.

    Lee
     
  15. melmoth

    melmoth Member

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    thanks lee,
    tis all grist to the mill. Cheers. M