Rangefinder vs. SLR

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by brianentz, Jan 17, 2013.

  1. brianentz

    brianentz Member

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    Not that i have the money now anyway, but one likes to dream ... No? I love my FE2 and FA2 and nikkor ai-s lenses. As well as my canon canonette QL-17. Someday, with some debts paid down, I'd like to get a small collection of Zeiss lenses for my nikons OR pick up a Bessa Voiglander rangefinder and a small collection of zeiss and leica lenses. SO nikon SLR or Bessa rangefinder?
    What do you think?
     
  2. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    You could always get a Nikon Rangefinder
     
  3. segedi

    segedi Member

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    I think you already have an answer...

    Me, I'd do the Bessa and Zeiss.
     
  4. Aja B

    Aja B Member

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    Opinions on what could be a multi-thousand dollar expenditure despite the gallery knowing nothing about your interests/preferences/subject-matter other than owning the three cameras you noted? The question sounds like a poll, answers to which are unique to each individual and their circumstances. What are yours? Without your background info opinions mean...I don't know, do they have much value? Well, anyway...perhaps I can demonstrate. Bessa. :wink:
     
  5. kbrede

    kbrede Member

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    I purchased both an SLR and a rangefinder for different purposes. It really depends on what you like to shoot. The SLR gets used for close up, macro or longer telephoto. The rangefinder comes out for shooting street scenes and some landscape/cityscape scenes. Of course you can always get a rangefinder because you want one. :smile:
     
  6. cjbecker

    cjbecker Member

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    What are you going to use the camera for?
     
  7. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Photography can be and often is, two or more different hobbies. Taking pictures, sometimes including processing, printing and "Collecting" gear. It can be both of these or either one.
     
  8. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    If I ever reached that stage in life when I had to decide between two camera systems that I did not need, I would simply get them both.

    However, I would get a Leica rangefinder instead of a Bessa.

    Heck, now that I think about it, I would get a Leica and a Bessa.


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11336821@N00/8135993200/
    Pro Cameras 002_filtered b sml.jpg
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2013
  9. StephanA

    StephanA Member

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    Back in the day, when I shot film as a professional, the flash sync on my Mamiya C330 crashed in the middle of an assignment at night. I had to revert to hand-holding my just CLA'd Contax I at 1/5 second on a 50/2.8 Tessar. Upon inspection of the contacts, the 35mm shots all sold and none of the 2-1/4 shots. I've since been hooked on Zeiss lenses and still use my "modern" Contax IIA. There is very little sound or vibration and the pictures can be spectacular. While there is a slight parallax difference compared to the SLR's, I'd go all the way with RF and Zeiss.
     
  10. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    So much is down to personal preference in these things that other people's opinions are kind of meaningless in making the decision for yourself.

    That said, when weighed against the cost of Zeiss and Leica lenses, the cost of a Bessa body is a drop in the bucket. If you find yourself in a position to sink some money into high-end lenses, it seems like kind of a no-brainer to get a Bessa body and find out if the 35mm rangefinder gestalt really lights you up.

    -NT
     
  11. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    I spent a couple of years shooting my Oly "35" rangefinders exclusively, just to give them an honest trial. My observations:
    - An SLR will do anything a rangefinder will, but not vice-versa (marcos, tele, etc)
    - At least for Oly gear, the shutter noise difference is negligible
    - Except for the 35RC and XA's they are no smaller than an OM with equivalent lens
    - The focus on a RF can be faster, but my eyesight is not the best (astigmatism). With good eyesight and a split prism focuser I believe the SLR can be focused as fast.
    - The camera shake problem is much worse with the rangefinders. This seems counterintuitive, but with the rangefinders you are setting the exposure with the shutter button. This requires a very long, stiff shutter button to trap the needle and set the aperture, and you were never sure where in the travel the shutter would acually release. I almost never get camera shake with my OM's even down to 1/4s, but with the rangefinders shake was not uncommon at 1/60's. (This is not a problem with XA's, but that little shutter button has its own problems.) If you are shooting print film, of course, you do not need a meter and can use an older RF without built in metering. But for slides, you need an external meter which I never found practical. (It is somewhat different with a MF folder, where the metering is just another step in the overall creation process. There I just accept that about 1/3 of the shots will get tossed for bad exposure.)

    So while the RF's look lovely in their display case, the OM's go with me now when there are pictures to make.
     
  12. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    For decades I used both Leica RF and Nikon SLR outfits. They each have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the task at hand. I also have a compact car and a light truck for the same reasons.
     
  13. Yashinoff

    Yashinoff Member

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    I haven't used an RF for several years (excepting testing an Argus last year) because they don't offer any advantages over an SLR, save for being quieter, and using filters without messing with your viewfinder. Both of those things can be big advantages depending on what you're shooting, but for me not so much. I rarely use anything other than a yellow filter for B/W which is not too bad to look through on an SLR, but if you're going to be stacking neutral density filters or using deep reds, etc. then the advantage of an RF is much more pronounced. If you shoot indoor situations the lessened shutter noise can also be advantageous.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2013
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  15. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Except a Leica with Visoflex finder.
     
  16. BradleyK

    BradleyK Subscriber

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    +1. I would add "wide angle" to list of where I use the SLRs.
     
  17. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    There is a big difference between the low budget soapbox RF like XA or 35RC and full featured RF like CV Bessa, Zeiss or Leica.

    Also, the argument about camera shake is valid in the low end.
    Keep in mind that a relative recent SLR intriduce vibration by its mirror, shutter, jumping lens aperture, while in RF there is only shutter that might be source of such..

    In wides and primes lens performance RF is #1
     
  18. 2bits

    2bits Member

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    Georg,
    Look at some of the reviews of the lowly 35RC VS Leica, Zeiss etc. You will be amazed.
     
  19. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I haven't shot the Olympus rangefinders, but assuming they're similar to their relatives from Canon, Yashica, Minolta, etc., I think this statement is only sort of correct. There is a big difference, but I think it has more to do with the user experience than with objective measures of quality. (As far as the bodies are concerned, that is. Lenses are a more complicated issue.) The fixed-lens rangefinders mostly have electronic shutters that are dead-on if they're working at all, onboard meters that work fine given the right battery, and often really good viewfinders---but the controls are sometimes fiddly, many don't have full manual modes, and they just don't *feel* like high-end cameras. To some people that adds up to "terrific cheap camera", to others it adds up to "not comfortable enough to make its virtues practical".

    I didn't understand thuggins's point about "setting the exposure with the shutter button", and maybe it's a construction specific to the Olympus cameras. I think everyone agrees that camera shake induced by the internal moving parts is worse with an SLR than a rangefinder, all other things being equal---and especially with the cheap fixed-lens RFs, which mostly have leaf shutters---but the concern seems to be something about shake induced by pushing the shutter release. I'm pretty sure it doesn't apply to the Bessa bodies, which if I remember correctly actually share their release mechanism with some Cosina-made SLRs.

    -NT
     
  20. Aja B

    Aja B Member

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    Not sure of the RF to which you're referring but I suggest an upgrade to a proper RF that allows you to control aperture and shutter speed and has consistent travel in the release. Your experience sounds disastrous. Why spend any time with a camera that induces 'shake' at 1/60?
     
  21. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    2bits,
    Comparing tourists RF soapboxes with RF camera systems compatible with the best optical glasses way back to 1930's borders humor and science fiction.

    Try those lowly 35RC vs Leica or Zeiss RF's on film capable to resolve the differences, print optically with a capable enlarger, then go look at the mirror and see who's is amazed.:wink:
     
  22. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    You can find SLR vs. RF comparison charts above and elsewhere. One thing I'd add from my own long experience--my Nikkors beat every Summicron I've had (35, 50, 90) in the aesthetics of rendering and, with one partial exception, in measurable optical quality (but even then, I'll take 50/1.2 and the longnose over the DR anytime). At this point, I use Leica mostly as a conversation starter and jewellery... But then again, your FA2 should be great in those departments, too!

    :cool:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 21, 2013
  23. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I love how Leicas work, I think the Leica M3 is about as nice as cameras get. Incredibly simple, beautiful to (be)hold, and I find range finder focusing so much easier than the SLR split screen.

    However, Leicas of course cost a lot, and don't have the accurate framing of an SLR. An SLR setup comparable to a Leica M3 can be had for 10% of the cost, and they really are just as good. Leica lenses are great, and nice to use, but they're not unbeatable. I've shot Leica and other glass, I can't say the best lenses were Leica.

    Leicas are outstanding, no question, but as a general rule, SLRs are probably more useful. Having said that, I'm a sucker for a beautiful camera, so if I wanted a nice 35mm camera, I'd be getting a Leica. You can keep prices down with a screw mount Leica, or perhaps a Bessa or Zeiss Ikon range finder, the Ikon in particular is very handsome, and very functional.
     
  24. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I may be speaking only for myself here, but I wish you'd mount your criticisms without using pointless insults like "tourists RF soapboxes".

    Are you talking about the body or the lens? The body has next to nothing to do with resolution, and most of the 1970s fixed lenses probably fall somewhere in the middle of the pack when compared to screwmount normal lenses.

    -NT
     
  25. 2bits

    2bits Member

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    Haha Georg,
    Nothing quite matches a Leica for build, looks and feel, but there are specs of the 35RC that exceed the leica's. Look it up!
    Best,
    2bits
     
  26. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Range finders excell with wide angle lenses since there is no mirror to interfer with their design. SLR wide angles must include extra elements in their design to prevent the lense from extending into the camera body.

    RF lenses are also simpler in design because no stopdown mechanism is needed. They are therefore smaller and lighter than SLR lenses.