Rangefinder question?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by stradibarrius, May 8, 2009.

  1. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Why are rangefinder camera so popular? I know some are very expensive.
    I ask this question because I am completely ignorant when it comes to rangefinders.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Because rangefinder focusing is very accurate, the shutters quieter, lenses often optically better particularly wide angles - these can be purer designs rather than retro-focus to allow room for the mirror. Much easier to hand hold at slower speeds. Lastly they are really easy and fast to use.

    Ian
     
  3. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Just off the top of my head a few reasons are their small size, they are generally quiet, you don't lose sight of the subject when the shutter fires, you can use opaque filters but still see through the viewfinder to compose your photograph. Some say they can be used at slower shutter speeds than SLRs, but to be honest I also use the same slow shutter speeds with my SLRs with no problems.
     
  4. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    For the most part I agree with what Ian and Andy have said; however, some of those items are subjective judgments and/or they aren't always true. For instance, speed of use is determined by many factors, and specific rangefinders might not always win out over specific SLRs on this score. As an example, you might need to focus using something other than your viewfinder using a rangefinder, or change auxiliary viewfinders when changing lenses. This will slow down rangefinder use under some circumstances.

    SLRs also have their advantages, such as access to longer lenses, easier use for macro photography, better ability to judge depth of field, etc.

    In the end, it turns into a question of choosing the right tool for the task, with a strong helping of personal preference thrown in to the mix.
     
  5. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    What arew their limitations compared to an SLR?
    What are some example of good rangefinders?
     
  6. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    I mentioned some of the limitations of rangefinders in my earlier post. IMHO, those are the most important, although there are others. For instance, you can't see the effects of special-effects filters (star filters, polarizers, etc.) in the viewfinder. (That can cut both ways, though; as Andy mentions, dense filters, such as thick ND filters, can make an SLR difficult to use.) Parallax is an issue with close subjects -- that's a good part of why rangefinders are poor choices for macro work, but parallax can become an issue even in close but non-macro photography. (Some rangefinders have parallax correction marks in their viewfinders, but this isn't universal.)

    As to examples of good rangefinders, that's a hard one to answer. Leicas are often considered the "gold standard" in rangefinders, but they vary a lot in age and capability. Most Leicas support interchangeable lenses, as do some Contaxes and clones of both of these lines. Other rangefinders are much more basic, but still very capable for what they are. In the 1960s and 1970s, small fixed-lens rangefinders like Canon's Canonet line were very popular cameras. These cameras had automatic exposure and were generally easy to use, but lacked the flexibility of an interchangeable-lens Leica. Some of them had very good lenses.

    If you say what you want to do with a rangefinder, I'm sure you'll get more specific suggestions.
     
  7. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    Regarding the use of polarisers on rangefinders. I use a polariser regularly on mine. It came with a matching auxiliary polarised viewfinder which sits in the hotshoe. You turn the hotshoe polariser, read the vernier scale, then match it on the lens polariser.
     
  8. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    Mine is a pipular camera with me because it gives me the option to not lug half of a studio with me if I want to shoot.
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Stradibarrius, most of the limitations of range-finder cameras are really dependent on the type of photography you intend to use one for. I always enjoyed the freedom working with my leica M3 and just a 50mm Summicron lens.

    You really need to see and use onwe before deciding whether to go down the rangefinder or SLR route, I do use both mainly because I need greater flexibilty for commercial work, but I'd be happy to use inly a range finder camera for 35mm personal work.

    Ian
     
  10. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    Many years ago I would have not considered rangefinders. A few years ago I inherited two rangefinders and now I love them.

    Jeff
     
  11. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Are you sure that they are?
     
  12. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    They appear to be I've met quite a few people who have bought them in the past few years either second hand or new, particularly the Cosina made Voightlanders.

    Ian
     
  13. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    Are the high end point & shoot digital cameras a modern version of the the rangefinder?
     
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  15. Andy K

    Andy K Member

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    No, they are the equivalent of point and shoot disposables.
     
  16. dmr

    dmr Member

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    Uh-huh, I'm very sure they are. :smile:

    In particular, the 35mm RFs.

    As to why, they seem to appeal to the purist and the minimalist. They appear to be not only the perfect antithesis to the {d-word} camera, but also to the film SLR.

    The whole thing about the rangefinder camera is in the focusing. It's manual, visual, interactive. Uh-huh, the (real) SLR's focusing is quite similar.

    The RFs tend to be small and compact, quiet, vibration free, and as an over-generalization they have high quality optics.
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    In practical use, they are far closer to a Leica than a disposable, both in philosophy and in the types of images they can capture: a lot of power thrown into a small, convenient, and unobtrusive package. Just because something is made to be usable by an idiot does not mean that it is at the level of a point and shoot disposable.

    As for the "Are you sure that they are" comment, my point was that we tend to live in an analog photo nerd bubble, and take things like RFs for granted...when in reality, a large percentage of photographers these days have probably never even heard of one, let alone seen one, let alone used one.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2009
  18. milosz

    milosz Member

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    Apart from what was already mentioned rangefinders have another significant advantage over SLR’s. Similar to TLR’s they do not suffer from, inherent to SLR’s operation, view finder “block out” by the mirror during the exposure. This is quite relevant in certain circumstances…
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2009
  19. nicefor88

    nicefor88 Member

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    Hi Stradibarius,

    I'd like to add my own comments after the valuable contributions above.

    I've been using Nikon SLRs since 1974 to my complete satisfaction. The system is versatile, comprehensive, easy to use and brings excellent results. For those who can use it :smile:D).

    Now, I resisted to the Leica appeal for a long time but eventually offered myself a M6 rangefinder ten years ago.

    What the main differences to me between the two systems are:

    rangefinder is more compact (hence its name in German - kompakt kamera) because of the absence of prism and mirror
    rangefinder works better in low light in terms of focusing (you don't need to have an expensive fast lens, since you're not looking at your subject through the lens)
    rangefinder is normally extremely easy to operate (you don't have all theses electronic gizmos, multiple programm modes, switches, levers, etc like in some SLRs)

    The Leica M series has a reputation of quality and durability which to me is absolutely founded. I've not used any other brand but I've heard good comments on other makes.

    So, I'm using both a rangefinder and 2 SLRs when I go out. I think we can all agree that the lens quality is actually decisive in the quality of the final product: the photograph. So, after all, is the camera body that important? To ask the question is to answer it. Probably.

    Serge
     
  20. dwdmguy

    dwdmguy Member

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    I have shot MF and SLR's all my life. Picked up my first RF a few months ago and purchased it that week. It's hard to explain until you pick one up. See if your local pro shop will let you a loan for a day or two and you'll see.
    Good luck
     
  21. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Hi Barry,

    I thought seriously about a RF until I got an FM2. Small, simple, light, easy to focus, and inexpensive.

    I still think about a RF now and again but less noise, less mirror slap, and F1.0 are the only upsides I see.

    The noise doesn't bother me, I like the look I'm getting shooting with fast films and I like using a mono-pod so the mirror slap doesn't mean much to me, and they are so expensive that I'd be afraid to take a Noctilux out of it's case.
     
  22. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    It's not so much about the real and objective advantages (and disadvantages), even though they do play a part: It's mainly a different way of working and seeing. A bit like colour vs. B&W or oil painting vs watercolour...
     
  23. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I have found true love in medium format rangefinders. I now own three, a Bronica RF645, a Mamiya 6, and a Mamiya 7II, and four if you count my holga... Anyway, rangefinders offer freedom and lightness when shooting and the lenses are very sharp. I personally can't find advantages (as far as size difference) in 35mm rangefinders compared to 35mm SLRs, but when you get up to medium format the difference is much greater. Try hauling a Pentax 67 or a Blad around with a few lenses for a day, then the next day head out with the Mamiya II and 3 lenses. What a difference! And I believe the lenses are sharper as well.
     
  24. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

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    I was out shooting last night in China town... I took a Zeiss Ikon rangefinder with a 35mm and a Minolta film camera with a 85mm F1.4 Zeiss. both had the same film. I kept one camera in the bag and one out at a time. I found the rangefinder easier to carry since it's light weight, easier to focus as the light fell off and more enjoyable to use. The camera with the 85mm was a fair bit heavier... mostly the lens I know. After walking with the camera in my hand for a while I found myself switching back to the rangefinder because of the weight in the hand.

    Overall I found one a joy to use and one a hassle. I also shot more frames with the rangefinder.

    Rangefinders are not the answer to everything though and trying to force them to work as macro, product or with sports is an exercise in frustration.

    Worth what you paid for it.
    -rob Skeoch
     
  25. stradibarrius

    stradibarrius Member

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    HI Mark, I understand about being afraid to use a RF! I have a MF and 4- 35mm's and all together they don't cost as much as a RF.
    I am not sur why but when I use the MF I feel like a real photographer...LOL! I have a nikon FE SLR and it is very lightweight and simple to use. RF's look very cool!!!
    The new Canon G10 looks like a RF and is very sophisticated. Certainly not a disposable.
     
  26. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I know the feeling.

    Since we talked last I was really feeling the urge to get an RB but I had a 4x5 fall in my lap cheap.

    The large format stuff is amazing.

    At the end of the day Barry there are three things that really make a difference. The lens, the film, and you.