My rangefinder cameras are taking over

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by lensworker, Nov 8, 2011.

  1. lensworker

    lensworker Member

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    In looking back over the past few months, I have realized that nowadays I am shooting almost exclusively with my rangefinder cameras. It has been months since I got out my Nikon gear - I seem to always pick up my Leica gear or my Hassleblad XPAN kit when I'm going out to make images.

    My Leica M4-P and my 28mm f/2 Summicron are what I use most; this setup (along with my Sekonic meter) are what I carry on a daily basis when I want to go light.

    This made me wonder if others who have rangefinder cameras (regardless of make) have found their rangefinder cameras claiming more and more of their photographic time.

    I have discovered that making images with a small, light and nearly silent rangefinder camera is truly an enjoyable way of photographing. The negatives and chromes that are produced by Leica lenses are frighteningly sharp with dazzling color rendition. The lenses for the XPAN (which were made by Fuji) are also outstanding. They are very close in quality to the Zeiss T* lenses made for the 6x6 'blad cameras.

    The cameras themselves are about as simple and basic as a camera can be - no command dials, sub menus buried beneath other menus and no 400+ page camera manuals. The simplicity of rangefinder cameras is liberating and allows much more time with your eye in the viewfinder rather than spending hours with your nose buried in a thick manual.

    I'm just curious if others here have notice that their rangefinder cameras are claiming more and more of their time. Is anyone else having a similar experience?
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    No, because they always have.
     
  3. X. Phot.

    X. Phot. Guest

    As a sidekick to the 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10, I do prefer a quality rangefinder. I carry one most everyday. The small footprint and reduced weight I really appreciate. They make for excellent snapshot cameras.
     
  4. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    Yes, rangefinders all the way, Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander. From the 30's until the mid 50's, at most.
    I don't care about SLR's, never did and hopefully never will.
     
  5. Chrismat

    Chrismat Subscriber

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    When I first got into photography I thought slrs were what 'real' photographers use. Boy, I was I naive. I love my Pentax and Minolta slr gear but I really love my Yashica and Kodak Retina rangefinders. When I shoot 35mm I find that I generally use rangefinders over slrs. One of my favorite rangefinders is a Retina IIIS and I have the normal, 28mm and 135mm lenses for it. The Schneider-Kreuznach lenses for the Retinas are great.
     
  6. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Yes. Love my Leicas (MP and CL). But I also love my old Nikon (FM2, F3) and Contax (RX, RTSII) SLRs too. Vive le difference! (or whatever....)
     
  7. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I've been a rangefinder man for years now, first in medium format, but now 35mm since I just got my new Leica M6 today! I think SLR's are ok in 35mm, but for medium format get too bulky, heavy and just awkward to use. Rangefinders are small, easy to handhold and quick to use, and best of all, the optics are sharper than SLR optics.
     
  8. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Making sweeping statements like the optics on range finder cameras are much sharper than SLR s Brian on photographic sites, is what they call in boxing circles "leading with your chin". :wink:
     
  9. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    Please, explain why.
     
  10. R gould

    R gould Member

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    For 35mm it is rangefinders all the way and has been for a few years now, I v=have sold most of my Pentax gear
    Richard
     
  11. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    I too have found the rangefinder as my main camera more recently. My SLR is a MF that can be also used as a 35mm but while an excellent camera and a dear companion for several decades is not just to heavy and large for me to carry. I find the Leica CL to be just right with its 40mm lens and do not miss the features of an SLR at all.
     
  12. artfoto47

    artfoto47 Member

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    30+ years ago when I got an M3, 35,50 & 90 my Nikon SLR stuff went on the shelf. Sadly, several years later it was stolen, so back to Nikon until I recently got a Kiev 2a. No M3, but still lots o' fun.
     
  13. Bateleur

    Bateleur Member

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    For many years I used SLR exclusively, mainly due to the type of photographs I took then, wildlife and nature necessitating telefoto and macro. Nowadays my subject matter is very different and am therefore almost 100% a rangefinder user. Being small and light even my back is much happier about the switch.:smile:
     
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  15. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I grew up on SLRs, starting with my parents Canon A1. It was the only type of camera I knew.

    I got into rangefinders about a year ago and have been shooting either rangefinders or larger formats almost exclusively since. A mix - a medium format rangefinder - is my most recent obsession. :smile:
     
  16. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Well,

    I have Leica M3 with summicron 50 and M6 with color skopar 35/2.5 - but still I am using more and enjoying more using Nikon F3 with 50 or 105/2.5.
     
  17. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    Because it's a sweeping generalization that he does nothing in his assertion to substantiate, to me it's more like a statement of prejudice without any evidence to support it, which lenses ?, which SLR s ?, which range finder cameras ?
     
  18. andysig

    andysig Member

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    Like many people I eventually arrived at rangefinders. Somehow they just seem "right". I have kept just one SLR body with a macro lens simply because that is something rangefinders can't do. I find that rangefinders have got me taking far more pictures than I ever did with an SLR.
     
  19. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Member

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    Don't get me wrong, I really like my Leica M3, but your sweeping statements are simply not true. Not only are there 35mm SLR cameras that are as small, or even smaller, than Leica M bodies (Olympus OM system comes to mind) but there are many SLR lenses that are demonstrably superiour to anything Leica or Zeiss has ever made for rangefinder cameras. Also (especially if you're hand-holding) lens sharpness doesn't matter - only the subject matters!

    It all depends on the style of your photography. Of the many internet memes about rangefinders that are untrue (such as their supposedly superiour optics, better handholdability, etc) one that strangely does seem to be true, is that people seem to notice them less for spontaneous portraits. Just the other day I attended a party, and these two lovely ladies - even though I photographed them from about a metre away - was simply unaware that I had photographed them! If this was the first time this had happened, I could discount it, but it's a regular occurrence - people seem to have some sort of built-in response to an (especially if it's a black / modern-looking) SLR camera.

    Really?
    [​IMG]
    (Leica M3, Voigtländer Heliar 50mm f/3.5)

    To the OP, enjoy your rangefinders! I have a different problem - my 4x5in view camera is taking over...!
     
  20. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    @benjiboy & philosomatographer,
    SLR wide angles are mediocre compared to RF ones.
    The SLR ones use more complex optical scheme, more surfaces for the light to pass through, while the RF ones are simpler, easier to correct, perform better, have less distortion and so on.
    RF can have 100% or more viewfinder coverage, while with SLR that is a challenge if You want a smaller body.
    There is no SLR smaller than Leica I or II or even III*.. even the M bodies and lenses are tractors compared to the original Leica I system.
    There is no 50mm SLR lens that is more compact than Leitz Elmar 1:3,5/50 and perform so good.
    There is no wide angle SLR lens that is more compact than KMZ Russar MR-2 1:5,6/20, let alone being even close to its optical performance.
     
  21. Prest_400

    Prest_400 Member

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    I really like my OM-1. The most "rangefinderish" SLR around (it seems). I've seen comparisons and it's very similar to an M3 in size. It's not very much bigger than an Olympus trip 35! I should use it more often.
    I might have to try RF someday, although that my progression might be going to MF rather than using more 35mm.

    I've got the "cheapest" OM line lenses and never been unhappy, they fill my needs for sharpness perfectly.
     
  22. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I bought my first Leica RF in 1953 and first SLR in 1963. Since then I've used whichever is most appropriate. Obviously the SLR excels for closeups and long lenses. For most other photography, I prefer the Leica rangefinder's handling and performance. If I could have only one system, it would have to be the SLR because of its versatility. There is little practical difference in optical performance between my Leica and Nikon systems. Both companies rarely produced prime lenses that were not excellent. I have attributed rare unsharpness to the SLR mirror. A rigid tripod or appropriate shutter speeds prevents this. My Leica M4 and its five lenses have given 41 years of reliable service. Nikon F1 and Nikkormat bodies have occasionally failed.
     
  23. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Member

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    As generalisations, most of what you say is true. I can point out some exceptions to you (like how all current Leica wide angles are, in fact, retrofocus just like their SLR brethren... like how an Olympus OM Zuiko 21mm f/2.0 is actually smaller and a whole stop faster than the Leica M 21mm f/2.8, that composing a 21mm image through a separate viewfinder is guesswork at best, etc. Rangefinder wide angles are simplistic because the cannot be used for the interesting compositional possibilities that SLR wides can. The do not have to be designed to perform well at a focus distance of 20cm, etc) But I don't think it'd matter to you... Point is, for every problem in SLR land, a rangefinder seems to offer a solution, and for every problem in rangefinder land, SLRs seem to offer a solution. I certainly don't limit myself to just one or the other - just use both!

    The all-time highest-performing 50mm is a rangefinder lens, yes (the Heliar 50mm f/3.5 by all accounts) but it's like 2% better than the OM Zuiko 50mm f/2.0 Macro, and a heck of a lot less versatile. When you're shooting teeny 35mm negatives, how much do these differences really matter? If one really cares, shoot a compact medium format camera instead. Now there rangefinders really DO make sense. An M3 actually makes so little sense these days, but it's such a nice piece of engineering, I keep on using mine... :D
     
  24. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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  25. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    Make note that as far as wide angle compactness and performance I was talking about KMZ Russar MR-2, thou You might never heard, seen, hold or used such lens, when screwed on camera its about 14mm or 0.55".
    Leica M cameras or lenses are out of my point and totally out of my interest. They are OK made to some extend but You can not compare an almost entirely aluminum M (ok, brass covers) with Leica I or II all brass (only the shell is alu pipe).
    In this regard, Zeiss cameras from 30's to late 50's beats the crap out of any Leica.
    With Leicas You have painted or anodized alu parts internally while Zeiss used chromed brass or steel parts.
    Heliar is good but its not even close to Elmar compactness and performance is about equal for B&W.
    As far as optical performance, resolution, definition.. Leica (or any decent) RF lenses outperform medium format lenses and lets not even mention larger formats.
    When You shoot 35mm negatives and more specifically high resolution films as Adox CMS 20 or Agfa Copex-Rapid, the advantage of RF is clearly seen. You have to experience it to believe it.
    In larger formats You gain from the negative size not from the fact that You have optically better lens, in fact they are optically inferior in most regards.
    Now, I agree that RF makes more sense in medium format, my all-time favorite camera, regardless format is Voigtländer Bessa I with Color-Skopar 1:3,5/105, Jeans jacket pocketable beast, parallax corrected, switchable frame lines for close distances.. made 1950 - Best of the Best!
    Zeiss Super Ikonta 532/16 or Zeiss Ikonta M 524/16 are close second.
    Leicas are last.
    In large format my favorite is Sinar P but life is busy, so its once or twice a year thing, at most.
     
  26. Ken N

    Ken N Member

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    Over the past couple of years I've converted myself to shooting the OM system like it's a rangefinder camera. What I've learned is that so many of the advantages of an M style rangefinder camera can be applied to the OM system as well.

    My favorite combination is the OM-3Ti and 35/2.8 right now for shooting within the one to two meter distance. The camera and lens combination is held and shot just like a rangefinder.