Most compact rangefinder?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by jasonjoo, Jun 3, 2007.

  1. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Hey guys,

    I'll be traveling to Brazil this summer with my church to assist in a medical mission trip. We will be staying in San Paulo. I've been told by locals and read on the internet that it is a fairly dangerous location. Theft, murder, and other crimes are common.

    Because of this, I am looking for a very compact 35mm camera. I'll list some criteria that I feel that is important, but not necessary. If you could please point me to a camera that fits the bill, I would greatly appreciate it.

    - Compact. Preferably pocket sized. For the most part, range finders have extruding lenses correct? Is a "normal" 35mm camera a better choice?
    - Built in metering.
    - Cheap! Just in case it is stolen, I don't want to be too heart broken :wink:

    Well, I guess that's about it. I'm not familiar with rangefinders, other than the fact that they are compact and quiet. Is this a good choice to take with me, or is a regular 35mm camera a better choice?

    Thanks,

    Jason

    BTW, I've been considering a toy Lomo/Holga too and perhaps a small digital point and shoot.
     
  2. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Olympus XA. Extremely compact and ingeniously designed- a true pocket 35mm camera. If you get a good copy, capable of professional-level work. Personally I would avoid the latter ones, and go for the original XA. And at ~$50, you won't mind if you drop it down a hole.

    Otherwise you might look at the yashicas. But for travel I think the XA is tops. You could throw it at an assailant.
     
  3. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    I have a little Rollie 35s, it is about the size of a pack of cigs. It is a good camera, has a metre, but requires special batteries, and I can't tell you if it is cheap or not. I assume by 'regular 35mm' you mean SLR. I prefer an RF over an SLR for travel, but we are all different.
     
  4. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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  5. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Hahaha thanks Keith. I'll be looking for one as soon as I hit the reply button.

    Thanks for the link JD. Cheap is what I'm aiming for right now, but I'll take a look at the Rollei 35 as well. Half the size of a pack of cigarettes... That is TINY!
     
  6. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Keith, what do you think about the Olympus XA 2's? There is a lot of 3 on eBay right now at a fairly low price.

    Edit: Just read a link about the XA 2 and it seems that the XA is far superior. Will have to stick with the XA model as you recommended!
     
  7. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I also have an XA2, but I prefer the XA. I prefer a manual rangefinder. Also, the XA's lens is a bit faster, which is sometimes important.

    Some shots from my XA are here and here.
     
  8. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Beautiful shots Keith. The more I read about the XA, the more I wonder why I've never heard of it before. It seems like a fantastic, compact camera.

    Edit: BTW, is there any reason to have these camera's CLA'd? And is there a reputable person/store that will?
     
  9. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Nah, I'd say there's no reason to CLA an XA, the camera should cost $100 at most. I have heard that there are some bad copies but mine cost $50 and was in great shape, I just cleaned it with a lenspen and was ready to go.

    My only gripe with the XA is that they stopped making it a long time ago :sad:
     
  10. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Guess I'm being overly paranoid :wink:

    I'm currently a top bidder on a XA on eBay. The owner said that the seals (?) have been replaced... I'm hoping he did a good job on it :X . He's Aussie and if I win, I'll be paying a pretty penny for it (close the $70 USD)!

    I'm planning on picking up another and possibly a third for my trip. It'd be nice to have 3 different types of film (ISO 100, 400 (for flash), and 800 for indoors) :wink:

    Thanks for your help Keith!
     
  11. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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  12. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Love the photo Jon! Very moody.

    I haven't seen many color photos with the XA though. Anyone care to share some? :smile:
     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

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    I too advise a Minox 35.
    The models made differ somewhat in the way of exposure control.
     
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  15. eddym

    eddym Member

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    Disposable cameras will fill 2 out of your 3 requirements... especially the third one. And they will certainly NOT make you an attractive target for thieves.
     
  16. rosey

    rosey Member

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    Never without an XA

    I have dozens of cameras and lenses to choose from whenever I travel. But the one camera that is almost always in a pocket is an Olympus XA.

    I have three of the XA and a couple of the XA2, but the XA always fills the niche better.

    I keep it loaded with 800-speed film to avoid needing the barely adequate, attaching flash, which kind of defeats the rationale for a small camera since it makes it almost unpocketable. The XA and fast film are wonderful for night shots in Vegas or in museums where flash is not allowed.

    The silver button cells last for years and, other than a foam job every couple decades or so, no other service has ever been required.

    The closest thing to the XA in a point-and-shoot would be the Olympus Stylus Epic. It has very precise AF, a splendid lens and spot metering, probably tracing its pedigree back to the XA.

    Of course, the XA offers control over aperture and depth of field or speed which puts it ahead of the P&S pack for shooters who prefer some more involvement in the picture-making process.

    Also, the metal clamshell case makes it extremely hard to damage anything on the XA.

    Lastly, the almost-silent shutter makes it handy for from-the-hip, surreptitious pictures when you set a hyperfocal distance on it.

    Ken Rosenbaum
     
  17. nicolai

    nicolai Member

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    Another vote for the XA, for all the reasons already mentioned.
     
  18. cao

    cao Member

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    I first read that as "assistant." Eeek! :surprised:
     
  19. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Haha that too! But before throwing it, I would advise recovering the film and the batteries. I mean, those things cost money.
     
  20. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    Olympus Mju II (also known as the Stylus Epic). For me, the perfect carry around compact.

    It is tiny, has a good meter with spot metering facility, versatile flash settings and a cracking lens. I've almost never had a bad picture from mine.

    Downsides, the 35mm lens is a bit wide for a lot of what I like to shoot, and the flash tends to produce redeye when used for night portraits with colour film.
     
  21. mcgrattan

    mcgrattan Member

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    I realize, of course, the Olympus Mju isn't actually a rangefinder. The XA is, afaik, the only rangefinder with comparable size.

    I recently bought a Kodak Retina IIc which folds really small, but it's much heavier and would require an external meter unless you were comfortable using sunny-16 to estimate exposure.
     
  22. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    This thread inspired me to get on the phone with my dad to ask him to mail me all his retired, analog "vacation" cameras. I'm pretty sure there's an XA-something in his junk drawer.

    What I really need is a new, bargain QL17 GIII. Mine has a dead shutter. Can't beat that 1.7 aperture.
     
  23. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    I'd happily support the XA for your expedition, and you may wish to read a bit more about it on Camerapedia at the link below. That page also has links to other sites where you'll most likely get examples of colour shots you were looking for.

    http://www.camerapedia.org/wiki/Olympus_XA
     
  24. Justin Cormack

    Justin Cormack Member

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    It was some years back when I went to Sai Paulo but I didnt feel it was that dangerous. I felt a bit paranoid in Rio, but I think it was all the things I was told - wasnt there for long but had no problems. I would get insurance from a decent company and take what you like to use. Brazil is a lovely place to visit. I am sure you can buy a film camera if yours does got stolen in the worst case.
     
  25. jasonjoo

    jasonjoo Member

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    Thanks for the replies guys!

    I've already been outbid on 3 XA's on eBay! I've been bidding around $70 USD on each auction and have had no luck. I've upped my max bid a bit now so hopefully I'll be able to snag a few.

    The disposable camera was a good suggestion, but I think investing in a camera that I can reuse would be a better bet for me. I'm hoping to return with at least 500 negatives or so from this trip alone, so carrying around that many disposables would not be feasible!

    Edit: The Olympus Stylus Epic seems like a great, compact camera as well! I can get one brand new for the same price as a used XA! However, I'm really drawn to the rangefinder, so I will keep trying for the XA. I might as well add a Stylus Epic to my bag as well, since it's so cheap!
     
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  26. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

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    I am a huge proponent of the XA, (currently have 2 XAs and an XA2 in the house) but ... an even less expensive alternative is the Konica C35. It is totally automatic (programmed exposure), and not as versatile as the XA, but it has a stellar lens. In some respects/situations I like how the lens draws a bit better than the XA. In my experience, buying an XA on eBay is a bit of a crap shoot. They are old cameras, and even if it is operable when you get it, how co you know it will be fine throughout your trip to Brazil? The film wind can wear out before other parts, and the electronics are not replaceable as modules; you would have to have a tech who could do component level troubleshooting and repair. A good CLA will cost about $100 with shipping.

    The Konica is a bit simpler in design and construction because it is not as small. But it is small enough to fit in a jeans pocket. Plus, the viewfinder of the C35 is bigger and the patch is, in certain light, easier to see.

    Either camera is great, it's just that the Konica doesn't get as much "good press".