Small Portable fast lens Rangefinder?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by SunnyHours, Jul 25, 2011.

  1. SunnyHours

    SunnyHours Member

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    Hi all,
    I'm looking to get into film and figured I'd use the 35mm to my advantage (going smaller than any digital Full Frame can be...)

    So I'm looking for a small Rangefinder with a faster than f/2 lens, focal length between 20mm-50mm.

    I've been looking at the following cameras:
    *Olympus RD
    *Canon QL-17 G-III
    Konica S3
    *Yashica Electro 35CC (the whole series too but mostly this one)
    Minolta 7sII
    *Yashica 35GX

    If anyone has any other suggestions please feel free :smile:
    Thanks!
     
  2. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    The Canonet is really good, tho a bit big. It's one of the few cameras that I feel comfortable shooting in 1/15 without support.
     
  3. dnjl

    dnjl Member

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    I've heard great things about the Minolta 7sII. I have never owned one but I've used its much bigger predecessor, the 7s, which is a terrific camera. If the 7sII really is smaller, lighter, sharper and faster, then it must be one heck of a RF.
     
  4. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I like and use the Canon QL-17 G-III because with the exception of the built-in light meter and the flash guide number feature, the camera operation is battery independent.
     
  5. zsas

    zsas Member

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    Welcome to film, you will love it.

    Two more to consider, Yashica Lynx 14 or 14e. They have a 1.4 lens, the fastest fixed lens RF ever made. I own one and love it. It doesnt even need a battery to photograph (although a battery is needed to use the light meter).

    Also consider the Olympus 35 SP, that camera is legendary (but costly).

    So long as what you buy (if you use the Internet) has a evaluation period and return policy you are in great form. I bought my Yashica on an auction site, ran some film through it and confirmed it worked and am happy as a clam.
     
  6. Mackinaw

    Mackinaw Member

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    I can vouch for the Canonet G-III, I own a few of them. Nice lens, even wide-open, and pocketable. I've also heard nice things about the Konica and Minolta. Actually, you'll be happy with any of the cameras on your list, they're all excellent.

    Jim B.
     
  7. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I used to have the Konica Auto S3, nice camera. It's got a really short distance between where the film cartridge goes and the take up spool meaning I'd always get at least 38 - 39 shots per roll. I had to play with the ASA rating as it's designed for a mercury battery and I'd use a modern one.
     
  8. BrianL

    BrianL Member

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    I used to use an Olympus 35RD that I had as part of my Olympus collection and it was a very regular user. Olympus really knew how to make 1st rate lenses and the RD lens was equal to almost anything at the time. I only discontinued using it because the collection formed part of the deal I made for my Bronica system. I think I'd be using it today as I now do with my Leica and not have gotten the Leica.
     
  9. SunnyHours

    SunnyHours Member

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    Thank you guys!
    Yeah I'm hoping I'll enjoy it. It does fit the bill pretty well for what I want it to do. I'm looking for an "all-arounder". I'll be keeping it with me all the time, this is why I'm looking for a RF. I can't always carry my bulky Nikon D7000 with me. I'm also looking to improve my photography...I'm thinking with only 36 exp per film I'll be paying more attention to my settings and composition. Hopefully it'll also follow me to the digital side :tongue:

    Let's say, that I'm really poor (you're probably thinking "he's got a D7000, how poor can he be?" Hence the reason why I'm poor LOL) and I'd be looking for a ~100$ to spend on a RF? What would you go for?
     
  10. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    I would recommend the Yashica it is very good. The cameras in this series were called the poor man's Leica. The autoexposure mode officially goes down to 30 seconds. A good feature if you are interested in night photography. I have 4 of Yashicas in various models and they are very well built.
    .
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 25, 2011
  11. zsas

    zsas Member

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    I can recommend the Yashica Lynx 14 or 14E. These camera's are heavy and pretty big, but very neat with such a fast lens. I got mine on an auction site for $80 and it was stated in almost mint condition and all working (meter and shutter) w/o haze/dust/mold.

    It came with a 7 day return policy, so the day I got it, I ran some film, processed it and verified exposure and shutter were all great and I have been thrilled since. Just be careful buying such an old camera, your budget does not offer much room for a lemon - as mine did too - so be sure to check it out or get a return policy or buy it so cheaply ($10 at a flea market that you can afford to get a few lemons).

    The Linx 14, being so fast f1.4, gives you that extra stop that can sometimes be very important. Below is one of my images shot in I would say in a tough place - indoors with a slow film (used PanF Plus at box ISO 50). The bokeh on this lens is just so special (although I am sure the Oly and others are just as great - I mean no offense to the other brands, in fact, if I had the money, I would own evey one on the list the OP listed - I love RFs!!!).

    The one great thing re the Linx 14 is its ability to shoot w/o a battery it is more like a Leica MP with a nice Sumilux 1.4 on it. (At least I pretend it is and only for a mere $80).

    At the end of the day, all those models mentioned here are great cameras!! I would own all of them, but for me, the one I own was going to be the one I invest in, I am sure I would be happy with others too...RFs are so special. Just make sure it works and if you are getting a deal or a "I dont know if it works auction without return", be prepared to have possible issues.

    Sample image from Yashica Linx 14E
    [​IMG]
     
  12. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    A good comparison for this family of range-finders cameras is to be found here:

    http://www.cameraquest.com/com35s.htm

    Their characteristics are pretty similar, but there are differences between models, which this writing highlights.
    I suggest you select two or three according to your requirements, and then buy the one for which you find a good bargain, a good copy etc. without fixating too much on a single model.

    Personally I have a Canon Canonet 19 QL III the viewfinder is not really easy to focus and generally speaking focusing, in my case, is slower than with my SLR although I concede that in low light focusing might be easier.

    The "quick loading" of film is a nice thing to have and I find that it should be present on all cameras. Sometimes also those saved 10 seconds count.

    Do factor in the cost around $40 for viewfinder cleaning, range-finder collimation, and foam replacement. You'll have to do this works most likely in any case, so it is better to go for a cheap camera "in need of servicing" than for a camera supposedly good to be used, as it'll be "in need of servicing" anyway, those cameras are 40 years old.

    Good purchase
    Fabrizio
     
  13. derwent

    derwent Member

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    I have a Konica Auto S2 which is near the top of the list of my favorite cameras out of the 25 or so that I own. Easy to use and the lens is scalpel sharp.

    Also got a Yashica Minister D which is nice, and a voigtlaender Vito CLR which is a lovely vintage rangefinder but not particularly fast.
     
  14. Ralph Javins

    Ralph Javins Member

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    Good morning;

    It is interesting that there are here in stock four out of the six models you listed.

    Noting your specification for a fast lens, others have already suggested the addition to the list of the Yashica Lynx-14 in one of its four variants. I tend to agree, although there is also the poiint that it might have difficulty fitting into that "small" category, but it certainly does meet that "fast lens" requirement, and it does have a full range of shutter speeds. I do agree that it is one fine camera that will certainly do the job for you.

    The other Yashica 35 Series of cameras are less serious contenders, although they do fit well into that "small" category. I admit that other than the test roll through mine when I got them, other than the Yashica Electro-35, I have not used them much, having the Yashica Lynx-14, Lynx-1000, and Lynx-5000 that I enjoy using more.

    The Minolta Hi-Matic 7s II has been a disappointment for me, in spite of so many other people having a cult like adoration for them. To me the 7s II is a smaller stripped down model that is lighter in weight and more difficult to hold still for taking a photograph. One thing that some weight does give to you is inertia, and a easier time holding the camera still. Yes, I know that the 7s II shutter only goes from 1/8 to 1/500 second, and those are the settings that most people will hand hold, but I do have several tripods, so I can use a camera with a full range of shutter speeds. In the Minolta Hi-Matic Number Series, my preference is still for the Minolta Hi-Matic 9, with its full range of shutter speeds from 1 second to 1/500 second, and the choice of Shutter Priority or Aperture Priority, plus a full "Automatic" Mode or what we now call a "Program Mode." Just for reference, yes, I do have working samples of the entire Minolta Hi-Matic Number Series of rangefinder cameras here.

    The Canon QL-17 G-III is another camera that is a little bigger and heavier than the Minolta Hi-Matic 7s II, but it also is a little more convenient and stable, and it does have the Canon Quick-Load feature.

    All of these cameras do have that nice discreet "snick" of an in-the-lens leaf shutter.

    I know that I do not have an Olympus RD, and the Konica S3 sample I have needs repair, so I cannot comment on that one either.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2011
  15. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I use a Konica S3 Auto and there's a reason why it's dubbed the "Leica killer". I bet on a digital screen, most people wouldn't be able to tell the difference between it and a Leica 35mm summicron on a Leica body. I haven't made any prints with it yet, but the negatives look very sharp and the scans I get from it are amazing. I just like being able to set my own aperture as it does it automatically. Also, I had to set the meter down to 160 when I'm shooting 400 as the meter is a 1 stop too dark. Here's a few examples:

    Image #1
    Image #2
    Image #3
     
  16. MattPC

    MattPC Member

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    I have a Yashica GSN that I like. While I don't claim to be a talented photographer, i'm inclined to think that the F1.7 lens on it delivers a depth of too shallow to be very useful wide open unless I have time to carefully set up the shot. Which often defeats the purpose of the fast lens....
    It's an easy camera to use, apeture priority +/- exposures using the film speed setting of course.
    A limitation is that I have to use the film speed setting to compensate for filters, making it more difficult to use slower films with orange & red filters.
    Another limitation (which all rangefinders share to an extent) is the difficulty with lens hoods shading the rangefinder, lightmeter or cutting off some of the framing. I use a slip on rectangular hood that does not interfere with the rangefinder or light meter but cuts into the view finder a little.
    The best thing about a GSN is it's cheap with excellent glass. Other really cheap & reliable options are SLR's such a Pentax P30n with a F2 50mm lens for $50 or so. Also very very good 35mm camera for the cost. And you can buy a wider lens for cheap if you want to try it out.
    Bear in mind that any of these old 35mm cameras are highly likley to need a CLA, around $160 for my last one. The newer your purchase is, the more likley it is to work.
    And, lastly, budget for some film developing gear, a Jobo tank or similar. It's easy, cheap and very rewarding to process your own film.
     
  17. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    That $160 probably includes complete CLA of the shutter mechanism (disassembly, cleaning, lubrication, reassembly).

    Normally though leaf shutters, unless somebody tried to lubricate them improperly, remain precise without need to disassemble them. The usual CLA work for those cameras is viewfinder cleaning, rangefinder alignment, and foam replacing. That would cost only around $40 and is highly recommendable.
     
  18. Diapositivo

    Diapositivo Subscriber

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    Frankly, jordanstarr, the resolution of a monitor screen is so reduced that everybody would have difficulty in seeing the difference between a Leica and any other "non-lomographic" camera.

    The only thing that can be evaluated in a small jpeg is composition, the photographer's work. If we exclude flare and maybe "bokeh", the rest of the lens quality is absolutely not visible on screen at resolution below 100% (pixel-for-pixel).

    As a side note, the same goes for colour evaluation.

    Posting small jpegs to show the colours obtained with a certain film or process doesn't work. If everybody had colour-managed good-quality monitors, colours could be evaluated but, again, most people just scan and post their jpegs and it's impossible to evaluate colours that way. Try to put two non-calibrated monitors near each other and show the same picture, you'll be surprised at how far chromatically they are. If one does that once, he'll buy a monitor calibration kit as soon as possible and use it for the rest of his life.

    At night all cows are black.

    Fabrizio