Nikon FM2n - Switching to Rangefinder

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by Nathan Riehl, Jul 28, 2013.

  1. Nathan Riehl

    Nathan Riehl Member

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    I currently shoot mostly with my Nikon FM2n with my 50mm 1.8D and a Sigma 90mm 2.8 macro, but I had the chance to shoot with a FED 5 and I've seen a Konica Hexar RF in action and honestly, I'm much more impressed with the rangefinder systems. I'd love to get into it, but I feel like I might not like the switch if I choose the wrong model. Is there any model I might like in switching from one to another? And would it be worth trading one of my SLR cameras for a rangefinder camera? I've been the Bessa cameras and they look great. I'm also impressed by the Contax G-Series cameras.
     
  2. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    What is that you like about the FED 5 that you didn't like in the FM2?
    Since you were impressed by the FED 5 why wouldn't you get that model?
     
  3. Nathan Riehl

    Nathan Riehl Member

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    I had the FED 5 and I loved the way it functioned, but it felt cheap. Which is a notorious quality of Russian rangefinders from what I've heard. I love the FM2, it's one of my main shooters. I use my Yashica T4 more, but the FM2 is my go-to SLR. Although, I have my Pentax KR-10 Super with a 50mm 1.7 and a 28-105 2.8... which I like a little better lens-wise, so I think if I got a nice rangefinder and shoot with my Pentax, I'd be happy. I'll soon have an Olympus OM-1 for a mechanical body as well, so I'm not shy of SLR equipment, I just don't have a lot of access to interchangeable lens rangefinders. Almost picked up a fixed-lens QL17 III, but it was gone before I had the chance to test it out. I want an interchangeable lens body anyways.
     
  4. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I have a FM2 and for a while I also had a Leica M4. What I particularly missed when using the M4 was the obvious lack of a depth of field button and also the limitations of close focusing. I did like the relatively small lenses, mind.
     
  5. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Go for Leica - they are not that expensive (you can find M body and LTM elmar 5cm/3.5 for ~500 euros). Then you will have best rangefinder. Nobody argues that Leicas are the best - they just argue that they are overpriced.
     
  6. Aron

    Aron Subscriber

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    In my opinion at the bottom of the whole rangefinder enthusiasm is the simplicity of gear and the freedom that comes with this. Good lenses and accesories are expensive, so instead of thinking what new piece of equipment to buy next week you just take pictures with the small kit you've chosen.

    If you can feel to be one with your Nikon, there is not much you would gain by buying into an RF system. But go to a place where you can handle the cameras.

    If you can sacrifice for a considerable amount of time, buying a new MP with a 35 mm ASPH Summicron, 50 mm (non-ASPH) Summicron or Zeiss Biogon/Planar or a second-hand Leica in good condition will help your work gain more focus. At the end you can still sell it and think about the money you've lost as the price you paid for valuable experience.

    Stick to your Nikon for a couple of months and lock your other cameras away in a box. After that ask yourself if you still wish for a rangefinder, they will be around at that time, too.
     
  7. blockend

    blockend Member

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    Rangefinders excel in street photography. The bodies are mostly compact and the viewfinder is always 'in focus' except for the rangefinder patch, unlike SLRs which have to be focused. For other forms of photography SLRs have a lot going for them.

    Optically, there's little difference between a good rangefinder lens and equivalent SLR glass. The difference is in price. In my opinion pre-M series Leicas are fiddly to use and load, negating some of the advantages of a rangefinder, and lenses of the era are either worn (soft glass and scratched) or hideously expensive for what they offer photographically. M-series Leicas are just expensive. Whether your budget deems them good value or over-priced is a matter for you and your bank manager.

    One compromise is to use, say, a III series Leica body and Russian glass. It's not a logic I advocate as the real advantage of a Leica is in the best lenses. Don't expect to find 'bargain' Leica lenses and you won't be disappointed. If you're not sure a good way into rangefinder photography is a fixed lens Japanese camera such as a Yashica. The lenses are surprisingly good and you'll either like the type and trade up to a rangefinder system, or discover it's not for you. I think quality autofocus point and shoot cameras covered most, though not all, the rangefinder's territory, but if you're seduced by brass and chrome, and have the funds to drop on one, nothing else will fill a Leica shaped gap. It won't make your photography better but if you enjoy using it, who cares?
     
  8. Timestep

    Timestep Member

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    I use both Nikon SLR's and S2 rangefinder camera kits. Each has its own area of strength.
    Ideally use the SLR for Micro lenses or telephoto, and the rangefinder for 21-50mm.
    Nikon S2's are generally available at reasonable prices— you might even go for an SP.

    On a negative note: I sold off my FM2n after a few years. As it happened, it failed me twice and I didn't trust it.
    But primarily I found the idiot-proofing on the shutter lock a damned nuisance. Nikon had gone "one bridge too far".
    I still use my 1972 Nikkormat on a regular basis, supplementing my F2 with plain DP-1 prism. ( Nikon's last "Adult" camera.)
     
  9. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Member

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    If you enjoy shooting 50mm and 90mm lenses, there js nothing on the planet more exquisite, accurate, and pleasant than a Leica M3. I am just a 50mm shooter, and using an M3 safeguards you against the feeling of the need to upgrade to a better camera.

    With a Voigtlander Heliar 50mm f/3.5 or a Summilux-ASPH (pricey!) you will be at the pinnacle of what is possible with 35mm film, with a small camera that never has to leave your side.

    Used to have a very extensive Olympus OM system, but for most types of photography suited to 35mm, the M3 makes me happier than ever. Focusing speed and accuracy is unbelievable compared to an SLR.
     
  10. Les Sarile

    Les Sarile Member

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    That would be interesting to put to the test.
     
  11. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Depends on how you feel about meters, I'd say if you're not bothered about having a meter, a M2, M3 or M4(-P) can be a perfect camera. If you want a meter, along with nicer, brighter viewfinders, and easier film loading, get a Bessa or a Zeiss Ikon.

    Contax G2 is a beautiful camera, but it does not have range finder style focusing.

    If you're also considering medium format rangefinders, the GF670 is stunning.
     
  12. thegman

    thegman Member

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    It's probably a very personal thing, but I finder I can focusing a range finder *far* faster than my SLR or TLR, but I expect it really varies from person to person.
     
  13. Ambar

    Ambar Member

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    Same here.
    And if the OP wants to go MF. I second the GF670 suggestion! All the speed of a rangefinder on a MASSIVE film plane.
     
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  15. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Comparing a fed5 to a Nikon FM2n is like comparing a blunt old axe to a surgeons scalpel. They will both do the job but the latter will be better.
     
  16. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    My advice would be M2, but by far the most advantageous point about using a rangefinder are the frame finders in the viewfinder. These are a wonderful aid to composition, allowing you to see above, below and right to left of the subject. Also, unlike an SLR you do not lose sight of the subject at the moment you click the shutter. Less moving parts with no mirrors chucking up clouds of dust in front of the focal plane. If you make the switch, welcome to the simplistic world of rangefinders. Don't worry about a meter, as if you stick with one film/developer/enlarger, you will soon find you don't need one.
     
  17. kivis

    kivis Subscriber

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    I have used Nikon SLR's for years. Still have and love my FE and my original F, but I now use mostly my M3 with a 50 mm 'Cron and a Circa 1937 Leica 90 mm lens. Camera Heaven.:cool:
     
  18. Nathan Riehl

    Nathan Riehl Member

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    I'd love an M3 more than anything in the world photographically, haha. Too bad pretty much any Leica gear is out of possibility for me. I always seem to get lucky in that I either find a few neat things here and there at thrift stores (which sounds unlikely for Leica gear) or friends give me equipment (which also seems highly unlikely, heh).
     
  19. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    I agree with Les, The Rf's are good at certain things but an SLR will have it's own strengths.

    Try focusing & shooting quickly with a Visoflex. :smile:
    set the mirror, focus, set the lens to working aperture & shoot. Wanna race?
    If you set a limit to uses there's really no comparison, it's apples and artichokes.

    Using anything but a standard mount lens can be challenging if not difficult.
     
  20. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    if you wanted a pro DSLR the choice is N or C...

    if you need a pro rfdr there is also Leica.

    The pick of the Canon rfdr is the Canon P the Nikon the S3 the Leica the M2 (or M4-2 if you can tolerate ugly) .

    They all have the same shutter the Canon is stainless steel and noisier.

    The Canon is cheaper and you have the option of the 60s lenses in single coating or the Cosina in multi.

    In UK good P and slow 35mm SC or MC less than 500 GBP from dealer.

    You load 400 ISO use ID68 for 650 prefocus at 7 foot /125 and 5.6 fast draw and fire like Gary Winogrand in their face.

    Though Gary used a 28mm Canon on his M4 mostly.
     
  21. clayne

    clayne Member

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    Rangefinders are generally good between 28-90mm depending on the finder magnification and perspective. Outside that realm an SLR rules. I would not get rid of an FM2n just because one is "switching" to rangefinder. Unless you have a low mag wide based finder using wide angles on range finders sucks!
     
  22. sangetsu

    sangetsu Member

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    Before jumping in and spending a lot of money on a new camera and lens, you should try someting on the less-expensive side. There are literally hundreds of kind of fixed-lens rangefinder cameras, and some are stellar performers. The Olympus SP, Canonet QL17 GIII, or a Yashica Electro will help you learn the basics, and are relatively cheap. FSU cameras are hit-and-miss, with the emphasis on miss. I have bought several, and not a single one has worked properly out of the box.

    Leicas and Nikon rangefinders are nice, I have several of each, were you in Japan I could loan you one to try out. Nice as they are, they aren't going to outshoot your Nikon, which is built to a higher standard of sophistication and quality. Rangefinder lenses have an advantage over SLR retro-focus lenses, but 99.9% of people would never notice the difference.

    The advantage rangefinders have over SLR cameras are a slightly smaller size, and a quieter shutter. I shoot either type regularly, and though I prefer rangefinders, there is nothing wrong with shooting an SLR.
     
  23. Nathan Riehl

    Nathan Riehl Member

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    I did attempt using a QL17 once, but I couldn't figure it out. I'm wasn't sure that it worked. A thrift store had it for $45, and I didn't know anything about fixed lens cameras at the time, but by the time I had done the research, it had sold the day prior to my returning. Sad day. I am hoping for a Leica M2 at some point.
     
  24. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I can't/won't speak ill of any other system, as for the most part I've not used them, but I will laud the merits of the Contax G system. I absolutely LOVE my G2 setup. The autofocus is fast, even if not as quiet as a Leica. There is no other interchangeable lens rangefinder system that has the combination of manual and automated systems that the G series does - various auto-exposure options, motor drive, auto focus or manual focus, parallax compensating viewfinder. The best reason for the system, though, is the lenses. I have all the lenses made for it except the zoom and the 16mm. The 35mm is the weak link, but only by relative comparison to the other lenses in the system. Compared to anyone else's 35mm f2 lens, it is outstanding, but outstanding is mere mediocrity in the Contax G series. I think my all-time favorite lens in the lineup is the 21mm, which I used a LOT when traveling. I've been able to pull off a 1-second exposure hand-held with that setup, and actually sold prints of that negative.
     
  25. Nathan Riehl

    Nathan Riehl Member

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    I'd love to play with a Contax G2/45 f2 setup one day.
     
  26. parkpy

    parkpy Member

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    you're always going to feel this way until you get a Leica. And when you finally do, it likely won't live up to your loftt expectations.

    In my opinion, you should KEEP the FM2n, save up money for a Leica, and see if you're really okay with not having a 1/4000 top shutter speed, split-prism focusing screens, and really affordable and GOOD quality lenses. If you don't like you're Leica, you'll likely take very little, if any hit on reselling it. But the Nikon stuff will cost you a bit more to reacquire versus the prices you would sell them for.

    I sold all of my Nikon primes, FE2 and FM2n for a Leica M3. I shouldn't have done that. I liked my leica, but it wasn't worth the money i put into it.

    Looking back, I think Nikon FM2N + 40mm Ultron SLI + Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 is a great quality combination that would cost at least 3x more if you replicated this lens combination with a Leica M. And my pictures weren't 3x better with my CLA'd Leica M3 with 50mm Summarit f/1.5.