Needed - Small rangefinder with fast lens and decent quality

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Robert Kennedy, Jun 5, 2003.

  1. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    O.k.

    My latest thing has been playing with high-speed film and really pushing it. Mostly to shoot in public places. More "bar shooting" than "street shooting". Much in the style of Jackie Brenner, but in more reputable locales.

    Thing is my old FT is heavy, awkward and a pain. Plus it doesn't lend to "hip shooting".

    Looking around, there are a few small 35mm RFs out there, but many seem to be either too automated, or unable to handle the higher film speeds I need to meter and the large apertures that requires.

    I'm thinking maybe Leica M (expensive) or some sort of Voightlander (the new ones). But would like some input so I can get headed down the right path here.
     
  2. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    If your doing grain, seems like you could get away with one of the minox 35's. They are tiny, with good glass. Have a look here http://www.calumetphoto.com
     
  3. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I had the Voightlander Bessar on extended trial a couple of years ago when it was first released and loved it. I did some street photography workshops with it and got some great results. It sits very comfortably in the hand and you can shoot from any angle without it being noticed. It also has a comprehensive range of lens from 12mm upwards.

    I carry a Ricoh GR1 almost everywhere I go and although it has limitations, a fixed zoom lens, the results are good and they are not expensive.
     
  4. docholliday

    docholliday Member

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    My favourite is still the Contax G1/G2 with a Zeiss Hologon 16 f/8

    The lens is fixed at f8. So, it gives a new meaning to "f/8 and be there" :smile:

    The Planar 45 f/2 is also a really cool lens, and with the autofocus, you never have to really look through the RF to focus (not like you really need to with the DOF of the 16mm Hologon).

    Of course, one of the twin-lens Minox replicas would be cool as hell too, if you had the patience to work with the tiny negs.
     
  5. BobF

    BobF Member

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    Olympus XA. f2.8 quality lens and semi automated exposure that can be overriden. Only goes to ASA 800. Great little camera.
     
  6. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    The Minox 35mm (I have the ML myself) is a nifty little camera. Good optics but you have to set the distance yourself. So no rangefinder which if you are in a hurry for the "decisive moment" could be a tad awkward.

    Good luck

    Hans
     
  7. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Robert,
    If you can afford it, the Leica survives for a reason. Small, very quiet, fantastic range/viewfinder and takes really fast lenses. A used 50mm f1.4 can run about $600 and an M4 about $600/700. For real fun, a used 50mm f1 Noctilux or 75mm f1.4 both sell for about $1,500 used.
    Try one used at a local camera dealer. Once you use the Leica, anything else will disapoint.
    Tom
     
  8. lee

    lee Member

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    I second Les's suggestion. I am not a 35 mm type of guy but am thinking of buying one for less formal work. Go for the Bessar.

    I noticed that you said you might be shooting in a bar. I don't know now what that would be like, but it used to be a big NO NO, as sometimes there are people there that might not want to be seen with the people they are making cozy with. Discretion should be applied here in large doses. Just be careful....


    lee\c
     
  9. JHannon

    JHannon Member

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    I use the Olympus 35RC. It is a rangefinder with both fully manual or automatic exposure, self timer and a small size.

    John
     
  10. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    One camera I used for years for just such stuff was a Minolta HiMatic 7s. Had a 50mm f1.7 lens that was tack sharp. Quick rangefinder, worked well in low light and very quite. You could do either manual or auto exposure and the lens was threaded for filters. Check it out I am sure you could pick one up real cheap.
     
  11. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I bought a Contax G2 a while back. Very nice. It is automated, but not complicated. Not as quiet as my Leica M3, but it is cheaper and faster to use than the M3.
     
  12. frank

    frank Member

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    I like the idea of an older manual rangefinder like the canonett QL1.7, Konica S2, or Yashica Lynx. If worse comes to worse, you can always just ditch the camera and run from the bar full of bikers.
    Frank
     
  13. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    ..
     
  14. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I would shy away from the Canon Canonet. My version, the GIII QL, can only be set for film speeds up to iso800 and there is no proclivity for exposure compensation. Therefore, high speed film with AE mode is out and on top of that the meter doesn't work in manual mode. Personally, I use a Bessa R and I think it's great.
     
  15. JohnH

    JohnH Member

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    I have just purchased a Bessa R2 and although it's probably a bit too early to sing it's praises, the first impressions are very good. The Bessa R2 and the new Leica MP appear to have an almost identical specification. The Leica will be built to a better standard than the Voigtländer, but that doesn't mean that the Voigtländer is not a well made solid feeling piece of kit. For me, at 20% of the price of the Leica, there is no choice.

    The only negative point so far, is that the shutter is more noisy than I expected, but not as bad as a typical SLR.

    The top film speed setting on the Bessa R2 is 3200, for the Leica MP it is 6400. Neither have separate exposure compensation so you may have to think a bit harder when rating films at high speed depending on how high you go!

    I also considered the Konica Hexar but eventually decided that excellent value for money that the Bessa represented could not be ignored. Don't forget you can use Leica L and M mount lenses with the Bessa R2.
     
  16. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Go for the Canonet, despite what's been said. Here's why:

    • CHEAP. I got my last one for $35.
    • FAST SHARP LENS. Yes. Maybe a little prone to flare outside.
    • QUIET. Leaf-shutter, it's far quieter than an M6.
    • SMALL. Smaller than an M6, or a HiMatic.
    • YOU WON'T USE THE METER ANYWAY. If you are shooting in a bar, get a single valid mater reading from something in the light, then shoot manually based on that from that point forward. It's the only way you're going to get decent shots anyway, so ignore the automatic metering.
    • FLASH-SYNC AT ANY SPEED. Leaf shutter...
    • GUIDE-NUMBER AUTO FOR FLASH. It can set the f/stop according to the focus distance. Handy!

    The only real downsides to this camera are that some of them are old and beat-up, they're flimsier than a pro camera, no interchangeable lenses. But hey, the whole kit is cheaper than a Leica lens cap.
     
  17. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    If money is not a major issue then LeicaM6, end of story.
     
  18. Thilo Schmid

    Thilo Schmid Member

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    I use an Olympus 35RD for that purpose some times. It has a faster lens than the RC (1.7 vs. 2.8). They are traded around $100. Be aware that they need mercury batteries.
     
  19. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Again, the mercury batteries are a non-issue, because you should just ignore the meter (even if it's a spot meter). Make yourself a little card with exposures if you must. Shoot a test roll. In dark interiors the proto-point-n-shoot auto meters in cameras like the RC are NOT what you want to use to control exposure.
     
  20. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    The Leica CL might be worth a look-a lot cheaper than the Ms but takes the same lenses. also the Minolta CLE (ditto)-did a worksop at Duckspool with Charlie Harbutt & he recommended it.
     
  21. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I use a Leitz/Minolta CL in my mini, take-it-everywhere system. It's tiny, even with two lenses, flash, meter, etc. and offers no compromise in image quality over my best SLRs.

    I would have suggested it to Robert but I don't know if it would suit his needs.
    The 40mm Summicron/Rokkor C lens is pretty slow at f/2.

    I really love it though.

    -Neal
     
  22. Lex Jenkins

    Lex Jenkins Member

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    If the new Voigtlander would come out with a variation of the classic fixed lens compact rangefinder with a *leaf* shutter I'd grab it in a split second. I bet there'd be plenty other folks tossing elbows alongside me trying to grab one. I really believe there's a market for a reissued Bessa folder.

    For me a camera like that must, above all, be discrete. Leicas ain't quiet enough for my tastes. For example, I do some theatre photography. A Canonet GIII QL17 is hardly any louder than clicking a ballpoint pen. Any camera with a focal plane shutter, even a Leica, is going to be significantly louder. I recently wanted to be convinced to get a Leica for this type of photography but just wasn't persuaded.

    For now I'm sticking with the Canonet and a battered Olympus XA3 loaded with either Tri-X or Delta 3200 (both do well in Diafine). Metering? I let the XA3 worry about that. With the Canonet I just guesstimate based on what the meter says at the camera's maximum setting of 800, if I bother using the meter at all.

    BTW, any SLR with a *cloth* focal plane shutter and mirror lockup, like the OM-1, can be reasonably quiet. Use an ultrawide angle lens, rely on fast film and DOF, lock up the mirror and simply point the camera. The mirror lockup cuts the overall shutter noise in half. And a cloth focal plane shutter is already quieter than metal. I'm even considering adding a Voigtlander accessory finder to my OM-1 just to assist in framing while using the camera this way.
     
  23. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    If Robert is shooting in bars and is concerned about shutter noise, we must not go to the same bars. :smile:

    Although it doesn't fit a single condition that Robert mentioned in his original post, IMHO the ultimate camera for bar crawling is the Lomo LCA. It not only captures the image but the images also generally accurately reflect the condition that you were in when you made them. (Although you may not wish to be reminded of that)

    -Neal
     
  24. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Robert wanted something not too automated, but the ideal camera for inconspicuous bar shooting might be the discontinued Yashica T4/T5 with its right-angle finder and sharp 35mm Tessar.