Suggestions for First Rangefinder

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by lilmsmaggie, Sep 22, 2010.

  1. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Hello,

    Thinking about buying my first rangefinder. Since I've never owned one, I'm not even sure which cameras to even consider at this point. Leica's seem to be the most available as well as the most expensive, and the glass for Leica's are lets say separate the haves from the have nots.

    Being a Minola X-700 owner and user, I recently came across a short article on the Minolta Hi-matic 7SII rangefinder, but I'm not sure if these cameras are even available on the used market. The 7SII would be a perfect choice - I think :laugh:

    I'm aware of the parallex issue with these cameras, but thought it would be an excellent street photography tool.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. dehk

    dehk Member

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    It all depends on how much money you have and how much of that you want to spend.

    In fact you can still find the Hi-matic used.
     
  3. Captain Slack

    Captain Slack Subscriber

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    For staters, I'd recommend something like the HiMatic 7sII. It would be a good starter camera to get your feet wet. Wait on getting a body with interchangeable lenses until you decide if RF's are right for you.

    If you can't find the HiMatic, I'd recommend the Canon Canonet QL17 GIII or the Yashica Electro 35.
     
  4. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Yeah -- I zeroed in on the Minolta Hi-matic 7SII right away since the article I read mentioned it came with a 40mm lens. Which according to some photographers like Sally Mann, 40mm seems to be just about right. :D
     
  5. dehk

    dehk Member

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    I actually own a couple Petri Rangefinders, and I quite like them, especially my Petri 1.9, and they are not really expensive.
     
  6. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Since we're on the subject, any thoughts comments on the Voigtlander Bessa R series rangefinders ?
     
  7. dehk

    dehk Member

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    I do not own one personally but from what I heard they are fantastic.
     
  8. Luc More

    Luc More Member

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    Any working fixed-lens RF with some kind of manual settings would probably apply very well to street photo. If you shoot from the hip and such you don't even need a RF as you're going to use hyperfocal distance or zone focusing. This opens up a whole range of other small 35mm cameras. I would recommend something really cheap but with a good lens. An Olympus from the XA family comes to mind (only one family member is actually a RF, the original XA), or a Petri 7, 7S, 7SII, or the smaller Petri 35E (not a RF). Chinon 35EE or its GAF sibling... As a Minolta user, also look for the Hi-Matif E and F models, they're a lot smaller than the older Hi-Matics (I don't own a 7sII but I understand it seems to be a nice camera, not so easy to get cheap though).

    In that category I was only disappointed by the Rollei XF35 (couldn't find one with a correctly adjusted RF), despite the good reputation of its lens.

    All of these little guys tend to come with a lens ranging from 28mm to 45mm at the extremes. Usually closer to 35mm or 40mm which is excellent for street work IMHO.
     
  9. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I know this is maybe little extreme :smile: - but here it goes anyhow: If you can wait - go for Leica. On the end you will finish there probably :smile:. I had bunch of rangefinders: zorki 4, fed, kiev, argus c3, himatic, yasica lynx, and many many more. If I went for Leica at first place - on the end it would be much cheaper. And if you don't like it = you see that rangefinder is not for you - you can sell Leica easily, while other stuff not so easy.
     
  10. Cromlech

    Cromlech Member

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    I love my Argus C3, and it seems to have produced some very vintage shots.

    Richard

    PS. Although I do prefer the unrpofessionalist look and vibe, and my own personal style to be conveyed in framing, etc. That being said, the Argus C3 is my first rangefinder and in somewhat poor of shape.
     
  11. Galah

    Galah Member

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    I have several (cheaper sort) rangefinder cameras.

    The first thing I'd like to say is that rangefinders -in general- all appear to have a rather limited set of applications: essentially, they are useful for photographing human to building sized objects and some scenics.

    Secondly, unless one is using hyperfocal distance or zone focusing, they are hell to focus and it is easy to forget to focus altogether or simply to leave your lens cap on:tongue:.

    Focusing is a curse, because the little diamond or square-shaped focusing patch can be very difficult to see (dirt, poor contrast), and the rangefinder itself can be grossly out of adjustment.:sad: If you wear glasses, unless you are exeptionally careful, the lens of your viewing eye will be scratched to hell.

    Close-up and Macro are near impossible.

    Unless it is an interchangeable lens model, the one lens you get is the one lens you have: for everything!:tongue:

    Other than that, they are just brilliant (easly hand-held at very slow speeds, e.g. 1/8th sec; unobtrusive, very quiet shutter; "full frame"; flash synchro at all speeds if with a leaf shutter, and very fast to use if pre-focused or using zone focus!:laugh:

    Just two things I have noticed: be very careful to check out the rangefinder and that all the shutter speeds are in functioning condition as these are the more common problems with used rangefinders (other things include light seals and the lightmeter, if there is one)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 22, 2010
  12. 6x9

    6x9 Member

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    Let us know your budget, desired photography style and location.
     
  13. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Since I've never used a rangefinder, I'm not quite sure how to answer the questions after "your budget" :laugh:

    I have a variety of photographic interests from architecture and landscape to table-top but not much portraiture. I have three film 35mm SLR's, a DSLR, a 4 x 5 view camera and a compact digital camera.

    I've become interested in street photography. Using a SLR, or even my Canon S90 just doesn't seem to be the right tool for the job. I find that having shot film, then digital, that I prefer the look of film.

    I've considered a used Leica M5, but the cost of Leica glass causes me great hesitation :sad:

    Having done a bit of research, I suppose if I were able to buy new today, I'd get a Voigtlander Bessa R3M with a 40mm 1.4 Nokton to start. Would work very nicely with my 4 x 5 kit.

    I'm located in Northern California near Sacramento.

    Is somebody having a sale :laugh:
     
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  15. elekm

    elekm Member

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    There are several options:

    1) Interchangeable lens camera. Could be the most expensive option. You have classic German (Leica, Zeiss Ikon, Agfa, Voigtlander, Kodak Retina, Braun and others) to Japanese (Canon and Nikon). One of the best values is the Kodak Retina IIIS. Excellent build quality with excellent Schneider or Rodenstock lenses.

    2) Fixed lens camera. These are divided into several subcategories:

    a.) Classic German folding cameras from Zeiss Ikon, Agfa, Voigtlander, Welti and others. You probably could include the Kodak Retinas (made in Germany).
    b.) Later German cameras from Zeiss Ikon, Rollei, Balda, Kodak Retina and Voigtlander.
    c.) Early Japanese models (1960s) from Fujica, Canon, Konica, Minolta, Yashica, Olympus and Petri. These tend to be larger cameras.
    d.) Later Japanese models (1970s) from Yashica, Olympus, Canon, Konica and Minolta. These tend to be smaller cameras.

    3.) Recent offerings from Cosina Voigtlander, Carl Zeiss, Leica and Konica. These probably involve a considerable investment of cash for a body + lens. Anywhere from $600 to $3,000.

    The Cosina Voigtlander Bessa cameras are very good value. I still think that Cosina needs to put some R&D money into developing rangefinder components that don't fall out of register. The earliest models used a lot of plastic. The plastic vs. metal ratio swung increasingly toward metal with each model that it released.
     
  16. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Schneider, Rodenstock ... Mmm :cool:
     
  17. Leigh Youdale

    Leigh Youdale Member

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    Bessa

    I went through a similar process, first buying a Leica IIIf (nostalgia kick and it was affordable as an experiment) and soon realised that camera ergonomics had moved on so I bought a Bessa R3A with Nokton 40/1.4 lens. A great combination with aperture priority or manual exposure facility, good range of interchangeable lenses (including old Lietz glass with adaptors), but framelines no wider than 40mm and eventually I graduated to using more wide angle lenses. So I bought a second hand R4A body to add to the kit.
    Recently I bought an M6. Mainly because I'm about to turn 71 and thought I should have an M-series Leica before I died! Feels lovely in the hand but honestly it doesn't do anything the Voigtlanders won't and they even do some things better for my purposes.

    I'd recommend the R series Bessas. The only thing you have to watch is that each model has different framelines and you need to choose the one that will best fit what you expect to use.
    The R3A has 40/50/75/90
    The R4A has 21/25/28/35/50
    The R2A (which is often overlooked) has 35/50/75/90
     
  18. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Early on, I had a little Konica C35 Automatic. I traded that for some albums and then bought a Pentax MX, which I later sold to my brother so that I could buy into Nikon SLRs.

    Fast forward another 25 years, and I bought a Bessa-R with the pancake 35mm Color-Skopar. I loved that camera. I then started getting into classic cameras, which included everything from a Leica IIIf and M6 to the Zeiss Ikon Contax (I, II, IIa) to the news Zeiss Ikon.

    I sold the Bessa-R and M6 and in between added the Rollei 35 RF (Bessa-R2 clone) with its 40mm Sonnar. Lately, I've been shooting with the rigid-front Zeiss Ikon Contessa, which I think is a great little camera.

    Regarding the M6, I bought it from a camera store owner who wanted to buy up to an M7. I liked the camera but found it to be a bit too large, despite having sort of large hands and long fingers. I sold it to a fellow who really wanted an M, and I think that he put it to better use than me. Excellent camera, however, but it wasn't for me.
     
  19. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    While not the right forum, don't rule out a TLR for street use. Remebering Vivian Maier (sp?) who died with a zillion rolls of unprocessed film because she liked the shooting part so much.
     
  20. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Which is a stern warning to photographers: never forget that it's about the image. Not the process.

    So... how does she using a TLR speak against rangefinders and in favour of using TLRs?
     
  21. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I'd get a Yashica Electro 35. They are a dirt cheap way to find out if you even like shooting with a rangefinder. I have two of them, for which I spent five dollars total. I just had to buy a 6V a battery for each and make an adapter for each, and I was shooting. I got exceptionally lucky, but they are generally sub-$30 cameras on the used market.

    Not only are they perhaps the cheapest way to figure out if you like shooting with a rangefinder, but they also can be very useful for making pictures. (Imagine that!) They have a very good 45mm f/1.7 lens, and if you can get used to tweaking things to get the best out of aperture priority automatic exposure, they can take some very technically sound pictures in all respects.

    My first RF was a Leica IIIc. These are great, but a different animal, featuring two teenie-weenie peep holes, as opposed to a big, bright combined viewfinder and rangefinder. They have a dedicated viewfinder and a separate dedicated rangefinder, which gives quite high magnification for focusing. The Electro 35 is more like M series Leicas. There is a big, clear viewfinder with superimposed automatic parallax-compensating framelines, and the rangefinder is just a little patch in the middle of the frame. I like both types for different things. I find the separate peep holes and high-magnification RF easier to use for static objects, and the combined VF/RF better for moving objects.
     
  22. polka

    polka Member

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    Yes they are good, however they may have the "pad of death" problem (or soon develop it). Fortunately, it is rather easy to repair. If you buy one, you can check this even without proper batteries : at the beginning of slowly winding, you should hear a loud "click", then everything is ok ; otherwise : pad of death !

    Paul
     
  23. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I should also mention that there are Soviet and French rangefinder systems with interchangeable lenses. The Soviet cameras include the Fed, Zorki and Kiev.

    The French camera is the Foca -- both with interchangeable lenses and fixed lenses.

    And I'm sure there are tons of other cameras that I've forgotten.

    For anyone starting out in rangefinders, a low-cost approach often is best, because you get to try out a rangefinder without a huge investment of cash. And often a good place to start is with one of the 1970s models. You usually have to replace the foam seals and occasionally readust the rangefinder.
     
  24. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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    I have long observed that the Argus C3 is a perfect street camera: it's boxy shape and sharp corners make it serve as an excellent weapon.:D
    The lens, I believe, is a Taylor-type triplet and shows good definition when stopped down. The RF is squinty but accurate. Also, it is great for double exposures, intentional or unintentional.
    I still have my dad's; and a friend gave me his pristine C-3 Matchmatic, which had a "simplified" proprietary number system for setting f/stop and shutter speed; made easier, I guess, because it still has the (working) meter (also calibrated in "match" numbers) in the accessory shoe. It would be easy enough to relabel the Argus numbers, but, since it just sits on my shelf looking pretty (in a funky sort of way), why should I bother.

    As far as the others recommendations are concerned, also consider the Konica Auto-S II--a fine lens and good RF, with automatic parallax correction. The Yashica Electro (IIRC) is batter dependent. I have long admired the Canonette GIII 1.7.
     
  25. paulfish4570

    paulfish4570 Member

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    Petri 2.8 with fixed 45/2.8: built like a half-track, solid, easy to load ...
     
  26. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Thanks everyone for the feedback and recommendations :smile:

    I think I'm very close to making a decision.