Recommend me a rangefinder

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by m_liddell, Feb 10, 2005.

  1. m_liddell

    m_liddell Member

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    I'm looking at getting a camera for street shooting and also candid stuff at BBQ's with my friends etc where an slr is a little bit intimidating. So far I've been using my nikon FM which I love, but it's just a little too bulky, and a bit noisy because of the mirror. I'm undecided whether an rangefinder would be better for me than my FM for what I'd use it for, I'm on a pretty tight budget so I need some advice.

    It must be:

    Cheap second hand, under £80. I expect light seals may need to to be replaced
    Around a 45mm sharp lens, must be faster than f/2, don't care if it's interchangeable or not
    Very quick to use, esp focusing
    Full manual control, possibly with AE but not too bothered
    Appreciably smaller than my FM
    Not a dodgy russian brand (eg FED etc.)

    I tried a Canon GIII QL-17 once and while a nice camera, it wasn't right for me. No DOF scale (not essential but nice to have) but the thing that drove me nuts was the really thin aperture and shutter speed rings. It was just to fiddly and so that made it slow for me to use, I don't think I'd get used to it. I'd rather use my fm and put up with the bulk and noise. I understand that the GIII is on the small side for rangefinders, the only dimension it was really smaller than my FM with 50mm was the lens.

    I guess I'm pretty demanding when it comes to cameras! Any help appreciated.
     
  2. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    What about the old Yashica 35's ? They're cheap and have great glass...
     
  3. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    Or a Rollei 35? Small and light, cheap on E Bay.
     
  4. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    Maybe you could look into the Soviet Era range finders. I have a Fed-3 and it takes interchangeable LTM lenses. They generally come with a sharp Industar 50/2.8 lens. They can be had on ebay for about $50. They are in between in size of the Canonet QL you tried and a Leica M. If you want to move up to an Leica M camera in the future you could use the lenses you've accumulated.
    For a faster lens you could pick up the Jupiter-3 50/1.5 for around $50 US.
     
  5. eric

    eric Member

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    I second the Yashica's. You can get a GSN cheap. And a piece of plastic, a modern battery, and you are set!
     
  6. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    I've got a Yashica Electro 35GSN. It matches most of your requirements, it's very quiet, excellent ultra-sharp f1.7 45mm lens, aperture priority. It's not that small or light though. On mine the light seals are just starting to go, but it's a very nice camera. See www.yashica-guy.com for loads of info on them. I used it to see if I really did like RFs as I was hankering after a Leica. In the end I got a Bessa R2.
    Yashica's usually go for much less than 80 pounds. In fact, now I've got the R2 I'm hardly using mine so I'll be putting it on eBay after half term next week. pm me if you want to try it out.

    Cheers

    Mike
     
  7. Doug Bennett

    Doug Bennett Member

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    I think it's hard to beat a Canonet QL-17. Great ergonomics, sharp glass, cool lookin'. I love mine.
     
  8. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    You guys are missing good stuff. Konica Auto S2. It has 45mm f/1.8. APerture ring is a bit narrow but it is certainly good enough for blind operation. Shutter ring is wider. It has lock needle auto aperture mode (shutter priority) in addition to full manual. Meter is visible from viewfinder as well as on the top panel.

    I definitely prefer Auto S2 over Minolta Hi-Matic S2, or Canonet QL 17 type.

    Look for ones with good rangefinder superimposing image. Quite a few are faded. Sticky shutter is common but they can be cleaned easily. Definitely avoid anything that has winding problem.

    Other than this, I'd use Konica Hexar (original black AF), Ricoh GR-1V, etc. but these are probably not what you are looking for.
     
  9. eric

    eric Member

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    I don't have one but I'm on the Konica list (slr and rangefinder). What I hear is good about the S2 is that it works without batteries.
     
  10. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, M Liddell,

    I just purchased a Konica Auto S2 (E-Bay--$15.00!). I've only used it for one roll of film, but, so far, I think Ryugi's comments on it are exactly right. I haven't been bothered at all by the idiosyncracies of the Canonet G-III, but I think I may end up liking the S2 better.

    Konical
     
  11. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    Short answer: there are many good old compacts around :smile:

    I like my G-III, and it's easy to put a bit of white gaffer tape next to the lens and scribe-on the DoF markers. None of those old cameras are built like pro gear -- they'll inevitably strip a gear or something. Buy two more.
     
  12. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Though I like mine QL17 as well I really want an Olympus RD35 or SP35.
    Søren
     
  13. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    I'm ALL about the cheep rangefinders.

    If a FED/Zorki/Kiev is out (and really, don't knock them just because they're not Leicas or Contaxes -- my Kiev 4 is rock solid and takes great pictures with both the Jupiter 50mm f1.8 and 35mm f2.8 lenses) and a Canonet is out, then the obvious choice is a Yashica GSN or a Yashica Lynx 14.

    The GSN series has f1.7 glass, the Lynx has f1.4. The GSN has LED metering that you can see from miles off. The Lynx has a needle that can be hard to see. Both are just rock solid in build, have a beautifully quiet leaf shutter, and take nice photos. The glass is sharp and contrasty. The only downsides are the range/viewfinder might be dim and the rings may have grit under them. A good repair shop should be able to correct both of those.

    The alternative, one which I've been salivating over for months, is the Bessa R3a. M mount, modern (AE, metering, etc), but doesn't require the sale of your (or another's) kidney to buy.
     
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  15. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

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    This post is only a month late :smile:, but here it goes anyway...

    I would recommend the Yashica Electro 35 GSN. It seems to fit your requirements quite well. The lens (45mm f/1.7) is quite fast and sharp, and you can get these cameras from eBay quite cheap. The only downside to the Electro 35 is the battery - they originally used 5.6v mercury batteries which are not available here anymore (you can still get them in Asia). However, that being said, there are adapters available (Yashica Guy, Cris Cam, etc.) that will use readily available batteries to replace the original one. Some of these adapters are supposed to step down the voltage to 5.6v while others use 6v. I do not know if the .4v difference leads to any exposure issues: I have always used the mercury batteries but now I will have to look at alternatives.

    Hope this helps.
     
  16. Will S

    Will S Member

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    The Yashica 35 GX is a great choice for this sort of camera. However, I have a Petri 7S which also works very well. The Petri Color 35 is nice too.

    A Kodak Retina IIIC might be a little above your price range. Or a Minox 35GL. Or a Rollei 35. The Rollei 35XF is really a Voigtlander VF135.

    Lots of possibilities.

    Good luck,

    Will
     
  17. sp_maher

    sp_maher Member

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    Another late addition to this thread.....but I'll cast another vote for an old Yashica Electro. The lens is very sharp, it has aperture-priority, if the rangefinder is clean it focuses quickly. Get the battery adapter from Yashica Guy and you're set. I use mine frequently--amazing results for such a small investment.

    Sean
     
  18. mfobrien

    mfobrien Member

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    Konica Auto S2 gets my vote -- it's bigger than a Canon QL17, but it has a nice built-in lens hood, and can be fully manual.
    Second place - Olympus 35RC -- fun little camera, can be fully manual, nice lens, and I wish my daughter would sell hers to me...
     
  19. Sanjay Sen

    Sanjay Sen Member

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    Sean,

    You are saying that the meter works fine with the Yashica Guy adapter? In that case I can get that adapter for $12.50 instead of the one from CrisCam.com for $29.95.

    Thanks for the input.
     
  20. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    Why not a FED, if you want cheap? I've had one for years and it's been perfectly reliable through some hard knocks. I think I paid 20 pounds UK for it 2nd hand, so if it dies, who cares get another. I also have an old Leica IIIa a Bessa-R and a Canon GIII QL17, but I still use the FED if the camera is likely to get bashed, wet, muddy etc.

    David.
     
  21. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Might I respectfully suggest either a Moskva-5 (6x9, Tessar-copy coated f/3.5 lens, folds to a little bigger than a 35 mm SLR body without the lens) or Iskra (6x6, similar lens and folds even smaller)? Both have coupled rangefinders, the Iskra has automatic frame counting (if it works -- many have been converted to red window), and while they're bulkier than a compact 35 mm rangefinder, the negative size makes it worthwhile. Either can be had in working condition for under $100 (though the Iskra is a little riskier, with the relatively fragile frame counter).

    I have a Mosvka-5 (including the 6x6 format mask) that cost me $72 shipped from the Ukraine, and the only major complaint I have with it is that it's hard to get a good steady hand hold. Since I bushed the tripod mounts to fit American tripods, it's given me some really stellar images...
     
  22. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

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    The Oly RC has a very sharp lens, though it's f2.8. I find the aperture control ring to be a bit problematic because of its size, but if you are on auto (shutter-preferred), it's not an issue.

    That being said, I'd recommed the Olympus 35SP. Its lens is legendary, and its only drawback is that in manual mode the implementation of the EV system isn't the most streamlined. But it fits very well in the hand; not as small as the RC or RD, but a just right size and heft, IMO.

    I would also like to try the Konica S2 or S1.6, and the Lynx 14. But SWMBO says no more camera-buying for now. For interchangeable RFs, I would be tempted to go the Zorki or Kiev route. If budget were not a problem, the new Zeiss Ikon. Hell, I'd probably sell some OM stuff to finance that. Did I just say that?

    Earl
     
  23. m_liddell

    m_liddell Member

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    Just a quick update to anyone that is interested. In the end I decided on the QL17 despite the problems I had with one I tried before due to it being much smaller than a GSN etc. Got one off ebay for probably a little over the odds but it had been fully checked out with replaced seals, when it arrived it looked basically new, ready to give another 20+ years of service!

    Took it out to London street shooting and it's small size and quietness made quite a difference. Still not sold on rangefinder focusing, I find it a bit slow and difficult compared with a manual focus slr but I'll get used to it. Didn;t have any real issues adjusting teh apature and shutter speeds as I did before, I think the one I tried had much stiffer rings.
     
  24. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    Good choice. You soon get you used to RF focusing. I found it slightly slower at first, but now its much faster, especially in poor light.

    David.
     
  25. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    you may need to clean the rangefinder if it is a bit dim. We just had a thread on that recently.

    Matt
     
  26. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    The first "good" camera I owned was Konica S2 - I wish now I had kept it. Two concerns - I believe that it used mercury batteries (not necessarily a fatal problem), and it's neither compact nor light.

    A few years after I sold the S2, I also decided that I wanted a small rangefinder for casual/street use. After shopping around, I settled on an Olympus 35RC. Still have it and still use it. Small, light weight (it can go in a jacket pocket). It does require a PX625 mercury battery, but they last forever, and I was able to purchase a few in Asia a while back so I don't need to worry about that problem for many years. They are fairly widely available in the used market.