Newbie: need cheap RF then more expensive one!

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by demonboy, May 2, 2012.

  1. demonboy

    demonboy Member

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    Hi all,

    I don't yet own an RF but I have been looking at the Yashica 35 Electro GSN. Here in India there are loads and it seems like a good place to start, though I return to the UK for the summer and obviously have access to ebay too.

    I'm a Canon 5Dii owner and shoot street but I'm keen to play with film once more and wanted a cheap introduction to film street photography. I shoot AP/Av and might even entertain using a flash. I've yet to master zone-focusing but would like to perfect that with my RF. My first question, then, is:

    1) Assuming I find a good copy, is the Yashica 35 GSN a good, cheap RF to start with? My budget is £50 tops.

    If I take to RF, which of course I will:

    2) What should I then look to buy, this time with a budget of around £150?

    With this second question in mind I have been looking at the following models and would appreciate any thoughts and comments on them, and then alternatives I may have missed out. Roughly in an order of preference:

    Olympus RD
    Yashica 35 CC
    Canon G-III 17
    Konica S3

    The RF I go for has to be small. In India I stick out like a sore thumb at the best of times. Add to that a whacking great big SLR and I have little chance of candid stuff. This is one reason for looking at an RF. Another reason is that I want to look cool :wink:

    Any help and comments appreciated.

    [Edit] I should add that I am off to a second-hand camera store on Friday morning. Apparently the owner has quite a few RFs but I don't know what they are yet. Should be interesting to see what he has but I just want to bone up on my knowledge before seeing him.
     
  2. phirehouse

    phirehouse Subscriber

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    I love the Yashica GSN. It is a great little camera with a great lens. The Olympus XA is a decent choice also, and is very portable. I see no real reason to have to "upgrade" from the Yashica if you decide you like using a rangefinder, but, that would be up to you. Maybe, a model with an interchangable lens would be a nice choice if you decide to replace the GSN.
     
  3. Alan W

    Alan W Subscriber

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    Forget the Yashica and go straight for a Kodak retina iic or iiic.Folds to go in your pocket and inaudible shutter release sound.The iic has no meter,which is not a drawback for me,the iiic has a selenium meter,which usually doesn't work.Both have top quality lenses.I focus using hyperfocal distance all the time with mine.The only warning I would give is not to buy one from ebay in which the owner cannot guarantee the correct functioning of the camera.You can get a iic in the U.S. for less than $100 in good working order.You're going to have about 100 recommendations before the week is out!Good luck.
     
  4. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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    The Yashica seems a fine camera. I have the Oly 35RD, it is fine for street too, and when I bought mine it was well within your budget (I think I paid US$ 35 for mine). Might be harder to find though. I think you'd be happy with a good working version of the Yashica 35 GSN.

    Whichever rangefinder you find, you'll probably want to invest in a CLA at a good camera shop.
     
  5. fotch

    fotch Member

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    The Yashica is a great choice. I think they go for about $50 in good working condition in the USA. Another one to consider, if available, would be the Minolta 7s. I think the Minolta will work without a battery, of course, no metering then.

    Good Luck.
     
  6. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    Another Yashica to look for is any of the Lynx models. I have a 5000e, which has a similar lens to the GSN but is totally mechanical (battery only powers meter).
     
  7. nosmok

    nosmok Subscriber

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    The Lynx is a cannon though, not very compact (I have 3 of 'em). Great color rendition on that lens though.

    The Konica S3 has beyond-lovely glass but is not particularly well built and overpriced IMO. I can second the Olympus XA-- get one that's been gone over it should last a long while and takes great shots, in addition to being tiny and pocketable. Good sleeper is the Vivitar 35EE (also available in Europe as the Revue 400something, I forget which)-- tack sharp lens, and very under-appreciated. I bought a mint in box one for cheap to sell but I ended up keeping it. Tons of good and good-enough stuff out there, don't need to break the bank.

    --nosmok
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG!

    If you have access to a decent local camera repair technician, I would suggest asking them.

    I like the Canon G-III 17.
     
  9. dpn

    dpn Subscriber

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    The Yashica Electro 35 GSN doesn't have the same battery issues as the Canonet GL 17 -- the Yashica takes a commonly available battery with a cheap adapter. Look for seal deterioration on both of these, but it's an easy fix.
     
  10. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    I got my Minolta Hi-Matic 9 for >$20 and the Rokkor lens is quite outstanding. Many 35mm negatives can print quite large and it has solid contrast.

    For spending more? I'd go for the Canon...
     
  11. demonboy

    demonboy Member

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    How weird. I did a quick search on ebay for the Olympus XA and as soon as I saw the picture I was taken back to my childhood. I swear I had one of those when I was about 10! What a peculiar sensation. I might have to look into getting one of these. Again!

    Thank you all for the great ideas, there are a couple of extra cameras in there I hadn't come across (and I'm sure there are many more).

    I knew about the old mercury battery issue with the Electro and found the converters, but I didn't know the Canonet had a similar issue.

    I spotted the Lynx in my searches. I wonder how they compare to the later Electro models? They look slightly bigger. You said the 5000, but what of the other models, rthomas? Any experience?
     
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  12. demonboy

    demonboy Member

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    Oh, and one other thing. Should I be looking at the Olympus XA or the XA2 and is there a difference? The XA appears to be selling for a lot more than the XA2.
     
  13. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    XA has user selctable infinite focussing. The RF patch can be a bitch to see at time though. XA2 is zone focussed in four discrete steps.

    I think the shutter speed options may be a bit wider on the XA , but can't be sure. I am pretty sure both have backlight compensation. If not , lie to the camera on the film speed for the backlit shots, but don't forget to set it back once you are no longer in that situation.

    I have both. They both work well. I tend to keep c-41 int he xa-2, and use the XA to better manipulate the aperture and shutter speed when shooting b&w.

    I also have a pair of Minolta 35RC's and they act quite simialrly to the GSN, but with a slower lens, I think.
    Standard slow shutter with a dead battery, and a real nimble one that can be quite quick when the battery is in them. Full auto exposure here.
    I blank off one half of the old two battery mercury compartment ( one has a short piec of copper water pipe) and feed the other half with a pair of lr44 alkaline button cells to run the meter.

    Steer clear of old Petri RF's. They tend to gum up, and are a challenge to maintain, with nothing but intermittent shutter jams for my efforts.
     
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  15. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

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  16. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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    The only Lynx I've used is the 5000e. To me it seems compact, but my regular cameras for a few years were a motorized Nikon F3 and a Mamiya RB67... I would say the 5000e is roughly comparable in size to a Yashica Electro 35 GSN I had years ago, but I don't have them side by side. I always wanted a Lynx 14 with that fast f/1.4 lens - that camera really IS massive. When I had the Electro 35 I always wanted more manual control.
     
  17. demonboy

    demonboy Member

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    [Update]

    Thanks Mike, rthomas and Tony for those last couple of comments.


    I went along to that shop I mentioned in the OP yesterday. The guy had a lot of old cameras but I have to say most were in pretty poor shape. Still, he's a collector only and has a man down the road who specialises in refurbishing them.

    First thing I noticed was the Yashica Electro 35 GSN is way too big! I did tell you I was a newbie but I was surprised at how big this thing is. I need something for street photography and if I went for this I may as well cart around my 5Dii.

    He had a Electro 35 GX, which was more compact and felt much better. It was still not in great shape though. Although a lot of the grubbiness could be cleaned up the thing that bothered me most was the 'runner' bit that the film presses against (not the back plate, the strip above and below the lens hole) might scratch the film due to a little bit of corrosion. Not sure if the repair man can fix this or not. Also the viewfinder was misty. I imagine the only way of replacing this would be to replace the plastic or glass with new bits, but is this easy? Is it something the repair man could sort out?

    He had a couple of Canonets, which I really liked the feel of. Really liked, in fact. One appeared to be working mechanically, whilst the other had a clear viewfinder and was complete. Combining the two might make one really good one, but that would mean buying both.

    When I look at the stuff on ebay I wonder if I should wait until I am back in the UK and buy one that is working well, rather than buying a cheap, battered one and getting it repaired. That said, there is something to be said for rescuing these tired little things and bringing them back to their former glory.

    Still loving the Olympus XA, of which there are quite a few on ebay, but slightly over my budget. Still open to suggestions and opinions!
     
  18. dpn

    dpn Subscriber

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    Olympus Stylus Epic. You'll lose manual focus, but it's small, light, streamlined, and has a great lens.
     
  19. sandermarijn

    sandermarijn Member

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    I have a couple of these oldish rangefinders (Yashica, Canon, Olympus) and always liked the feel of the Canonet 28 most. It feels solid, and the shutter release seems more reassuring than that of the Yashicas.

    It's difficult to predict how a certain camera will work out until you've held/used them. The lowly Canonet 28 pleasantly surprised me with its feel and handling. It's also not a big camera (big as in Yashica GSN). And I like the eveready case, but that's just me, most people seem to hate these things.

    My dad took most of my youth pictures with the Canonet 28, so maybe I'm biased. Here is one from 1986, scratched and all. It's a fine camera.

    1986_canonet28.jpg
     
  20. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Unless there is a feature you really want, just get one with at least an f2.0 lens, great working condition, and a battery solution that works for you. Many of them used mercury batteries that are no longer available. There are way's around it with hearing aid batteries or modifications to the camera, but you should be aware of it. Something else to consider is an Olympus OM1 (fully manual, mercury battery) or OM2 (aperture priority+manual, available battery). It is as compact as the bigger yashica's and about as compact as an SLR can be.

    If you are considering an XA-series camera, it is really, really small, really, really quiet. The downside is that it is really hard to focus and handle. That is the trade off for the pocketability. I've had a few of them over the years as my carry-in-my-bag-all-the-time camera. It is a very unique camera, but I don't think it is a great camera to shoot with regularly.
     
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  21. demonboy

    demonboy Member

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    That photo is wonderful, sandermarijn. Great depth to it. I'll take a peak at the 28. Do you know how it compares to the 17? Is it bigger or smaller?

    Another one I've come across is the Oly 35 DC. It's the automatic version of the RD. I know I said I shoot Av but I read one review that said shooting the DC is like shooting in P mode on a digital, which I don't have a problem with when shooting street, especially in fast situations. Any thoughts on the DC? There are a few on ebay at around £50-60 and boy do they look sexy. I've no idea how big they are though. I think I read they're a little smaller than the Canonet 17, which is good enough for me.

    I realise I'm going backwards and forwards a little here, but I'm now thinking the XA is a bit too compact and modern for my tastes, especially with Mark's comments in mind. I said as a joke in my OP that I want to look cool. I realise now I wasn't joking, so design is becoming a factor and I particularly like the 60s-70s combination of chrome and black. Call me shallow, but...
     
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  22. Greg Heath

    Greg Heath Subscriber

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    I love Rangefinders !!! The best kept secret in film photography.

    Have you decided Yet ? Do you need a camera ?

    There are so many cameras out there.

    I have rebuilt and used

    Olympus 35RC
    Zeiss Ikon Contessamat SE (1962)
    Yashica Electro 35 GSN
    Konica Auto S2
    Petri 7s
    Yashica Lynx 14E

    and the one I have yet to buy is the Voightlander R4M with 21mm lens.

    Send me a private message with your address and I will give you your birthday present early or late :smile: (to the original poster who is looking for a camera )...

    I will give you my awesome Olympus 35RC, with yellow filter and hood. It takes awesome photos and I'll even throw in some film to get you going. Photography is worth sharing and I have too many cameras anyway.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kb2qqm/7000061205/in/set-72157626444135224/

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/kb2qqm/5653040344/

    Greg
     
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  23. demonboy

    demonboy Member

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    PM sent (immediately, of course!).
     
  24. demonboy

    demonboy Member

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    Well, what can I say? That was a turn up for the books! Indebted to Greg for that, with many thanks sent via PM.

    I mentioned in a previous post that I was going to visit a camera collector. Well, on my wife's birthday, without her :whistling: , I drove 4 hours to get to Pala, which is not that far away (70km from Cochin), but a long way when contending with Indian driving and Friday traffic. It was a great journey, but because I was taking my wife out to lunch I could only spend 20 minutes with this guy. An impressive collection, though some cameras have suffered due to the tropical heat. All the cameras on the table are rangefinders: 3 or 4 Yashica GTNs, two Canonet 17s, one Yashica GX (possibly the one I'm holding) and a couple of others I forget. For the first time I was actually able to play with these cameras and get a real feel for them. I'm almost tempted to drive there again and spend more time in his shop, or maybe take a punt with his repair man and just see if he can rescue that GX.

    546041_307897245954782_100002035279327_652226_511081970_n.jpg
     
  25. rthomas

    rthomas Member

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  26. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    Also, consider an older Zeiss or Voigtlander such as as the Ikonta or Vito series. The Ikonta is small enough to fit in a pocket as the lense folds in but there is no belllows to worry about. The Vito series is fixed lens and depending on version can have the Color-Skopar lens that can run with the best of them. Usually they need a cla for the shutter but easy enough to have done and the charge is usually very reasonable.