Suggestions for new rangefinder

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by MattCarey, Jan 16, 2005.

  1. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Hello,

    I have had great fun, and good success, with my Canonet. I like the fact that it is quiet and the optics seem to be very good. It is a big bonus that it is fairly cheap so if it gets lost or stolen, I will miss the film probably more than the camera.

    I kept it loaded with Tmax3200 for the hospital stay with my first baby. It worked very well--people don't seem to take notice of it. I attribute this to (1) it is very quiet, (2) I didn't need a flash and (3) no one takes it seriously, so they act more natural.

    The downsides I have are: (1) the focus is a bit clumsy for me with that little tab and (2) I don't have a lot of confidence in my ability to focus, so I keep the lens stopped down more than I probably need to and (3) the highest ASA for the meter is only 800.

    I looked at the new Bessa's (at least the reports of them online). They don't seem to be quiet. Leica's I fear are out of my price range.

    1) Olympus rangefinder (RC?)
    2) leica clone?

    Non-rangfinders:
    1) Hexar (with the stealth mode)
    2) Nikon t35

    any comments on these or other suggestions?

    Thanks a lot,

    Matt
     
  2. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    Hi Matt,

    I've got several rangefinders, sadly no Leica yet.

    I do have a Voigtlander Bessa R2 which I love. But, as you mention it's not quiet which is probably it's worst point, however it's not as loud as your average SLR. Also, it sounds louder as it's only a few centimetres from your ears! Apparently, the newer Bessa R2a & R3a are noticeably quieter.

    The Voigtlander lenses are generally superb, especially for their price, (the only lens which some people don't like is the 50mm f2.5).

    I expect that some of your problems focussing the Canonet may be due to the fact that the viewfinder and rangefinder patch need a bit of a clean -- a common problem with these 1970s cameras.

    The focussing on the Bessas is very easy as the viewfinder/rangefinder is very bright.

    If you're starting to dream of a Leica, what about a second hand one? Still more expensive than a Voigtlander but an M4-P with a CLA may be a good choice for you?

    By the way the Hexar is a rangefinder, it was discontinued Oct 2003.

    I assume that you've found Stephen Gandy's Cameraquest site? If not try www.cameraquest.com for loads of rangefinder stuff. It's also the best place to buy Voigtlanders from in the US.

    Hope that helps!

    Mike
     
  3. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    I finally had an empty R2 (not an A, the older mechanical shutter) and R3A with the newer electronic shutter in the same room at the same time. I checked, and from about 6 inches away, the R3A is from 1.5 to 2 dB quieter depending on whether I use the A or C weightings on the meter. The R3A does have a slightly different sound, a bit lower in pitch. Most folks can barely discern a 1 dB difference in sound level, so yes, it's a noticeable difference, but not dramatic. The lower pitch may make the R3A a bit less distracting. I still love using both cameras because there's so little between the photographer and a good, fast shot.

    My son's Minolta XG1 came in about 7dB louder than the R3A, which makes it about 6 times as loud. My R2 is also _much_ quieter than the fake shutter noise I've heard on some digital p&s cameras.

    I'd expect all of these to be louder than your Canonet leaf shutter, as will a Leica rangefinder. I don't have a Leica rangefinder to compare to.

    I agree with Mike on all the other points about the Bessa rangefinders. BTW, the Bessa L, T, R, and R2 have mechanical shutters and will shoot without batteries. The R2A and R3A have electronic shutters, so no batteries, no photos. Plus, if you get a Leica M mount body (on a Leica, Bessa T, R2, R2A or R3A, and some others), you have literally dozens of of models of used lenses made since about 1932 to try out, some of them very reasonably priced, and many excellent performers.

    Sounds like you'll have little kids around for a while. I'd recommend the trigger winder for the Bessas for that. Gets you right to the next frame quickly with the camera still at your eye, no batteries or loud motor noises, and makes for a somewhat steadier grip with a little more bulk. It can help get more candid kid shots once they're up and moving, or changing expressions rapidly.

    Lee
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 17, 2005
  4. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    If you don't mind medium format I would recomend a Mamiya 6 or 7. I have a 7 and it is a great camera. It's quite, takes amazingly sharp photos, has a good meter, gives you a 6x7 negative, and with exposure compensation you can set the meter to 3200 (1600 - 1 stop exp comp).
     
  5. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    The Mamiya 7 is wonderful, but the lenses are not fast. I have the Hexar AF and it is nice to use, quiet (sometimes I can't tell that I've taken a picture), and has a great 35mm/2 lens. I don't always remember that it is auto focus and sometimes I miss the subject focus a tad, but I like these cameras. For a rangefinder that is faster to use and has interchangeable lenses, I like the Contax G2 and it is more convenient, cheaper, and as sharp or sharper than a Leica, albeit not as quiet (for that the Hexar). The Contax is AF, too, and not a true rangefinder, although there is the Hexar RF (recently discontinued). I have an M3, but without a meter, it is not that fast and I think that fast is what 35mm is all about. If I've got lots of time for the shot, I use the Mamiya 7 or the Deardorff.

    Try them all.
     
  6. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member

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    I have the mamiya 6 and shoot the 50mm @ f/8 in most instances. It is plenty fast enough outside, but in doors is another story. If they made the lenses a stop faster that would be great, but the size of the lenses would become an issue as would DOF.
     
  7. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I am amazed at how fast the responses are coming in. Thanks a lot!

    The Bessa's do sound like a good option. I wish I try one and see how they respond.

    I must say that I have lusted after the Contax and the Mamiyas.

    This does bring up a question (that must be covered already somewhere)--what is the advantage of the G2 over the G1? The used G2's are about 2x the price of the G1's.

    As to the Mamiya, I see that the 7 lenses are much more expensive than those for the 6. I don't think I can come up with the money for either, but if I did, I would probably be limited to the 6. The draw of the bigger negative is always a big draw for me. My only MF gear now is a baby speed graphic (with some very nice glass) and a Mockba 4. A real MF camera would be great.

    Again, thanks for the responses so far,

    Matt
     
  8. Neil Souch

    Neil Souch Subscriber

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    Matt,
    The Bessa Voigtlanders are also light and portablle. I use an R2 and two Ts plus a few of the new Bessa lenses - 15mm to 90mm and find them all excellent and good value.
    Cheers, Neil.
     
  9. SuzanneR

    SuzanneR Moderator Staff Member

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    I have the Mamiya 7, and love it, but it has its limitations expecially with kids. Inevitably, I have to pick my three year old up, and I'm always bonking him on the head with the lens! Also, with only ten frames, you have to change film a lot, and it's a cumbersome process. I still love the results I get with it, but it's not quite as fluid to use as a 35mm rangefinder. I have an older Leica without a meter, and I don't find speed an issue. I just take a meter reading with a hend held meter, and unless the light changes, I can just shoot away! I almost bought the Bessa, but found a reasonably good deal on the Leica, and went for it. Whichever rangefinder you settle on, you'll love how they work, especially photographing your kids! Good luck!
     
  10. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Don't dismiss the Bessa to quickly. Yes they are louder then a leica, but much quiter then an slr. The big advantage is the glass is very good, as good as any nikon 35mm glass I have owned, and the cameras will mount leica glass. The viewfinder is also very good. The cost of a bessa with lens (even the newest models) is about 1/4 of the cost of a Lieca body alone.


    Also Voightlander/Cossina seem to be very dedicated to film as they have continued to refine their cameras and introduce new lenses.
     
  11. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    I don't mean to sound ignorant, but what exactly is a rangefinder and what are it's benefits?
     
  12. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Nicole,

    A rangefinder camera is one that uses a set of prisms to triangulate the distance to the subject by making two images at a given offset come together in a viewfinder. This is mechanically connected to the lens, and as the lens is focused, the two images are superimposed. Some older cameras have separate rangefinders and viewfinders, but newer ones tend to combine the two. The viewfinder has a set of lines to show what's in the frame, and the interchangeable lens rangefinder cameras have multiple frames available for different focal length lenses, or can use auxiliary flast-shoe mounted finders. The split image focus common in some single lens reflex cameras is a form of rangefinding device.

    Rangefinders have no viewing pentaprism or mirror to move from behind the lens on taking an exposure, so you can see the subject during the exposure, and there is often less shutter lag in a rangefinder design. They also don't require special lens designs at short focal lengths to make room for a mirror box, so those designs can be more straightforward. They are _generally_ lighter, smaller, and faster handling than an SLR of equivalent format. They do come in formats from smaller than 35mm through at least 4x5. Look up the Leica, Nikon, Canon, and Minolta 35mm rangefinders, lots of Fuji 670 and 690 models, Mamiya 7, many Graflex 4x5's were available with rangefinders, Plaubel-Makina 67, and The Fuji/Hasselblad Xpan. Literally hundreds of models of folding medium format camera models from about 1900 up through the 50's were rangefinders.

    Rangefinder benefits are faster, more accurate focusing on mid to wide focal lengths, fast handling, lower sound levels, light weight, and small size. Drawbacks are somewhat less accurate framing, poor handling/framing with lenses longer than short telephotos, and most are fairly basic cameras if you prefer the automatic stuff. There are a few autofocus/autoexposure rangefinders, although some would not call an autofocus camera a true rangefinder. Most rangefinder shooters prefer them because once they know the camera, it stays out of the way, or at least makes it easier to get what you want quickly and discretely. There has been a rangefinder "rennaisance" in the last 5 - 10 years, especially in 35mm, where new, lower priced cameras and lenses have rejuvenated the market.

    Lee
     
  13. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Wow, Lee, thank you very much for all the info!
    Do you know a good website to checkout various rangefinders?
    Kind regards,
    Nicole
     
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  15. bjorke

    bjorke Member

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    I like my Contax G2 (http://www.contaxg.com). It's a bit loud because of the motor. The shutter is the same assembly as that used in the Hexar RF. The classic Konica Hexar (fixed 35mm lens) is AF and the early black models had a famous SILENT "stealth mode." Expecftg to pay a premium. The lens is very good, probably on par with a 1990 35mm Summicron.

    I like my Canonet too and I've pretty sure it's the quietest of all mechanical 35mm cameras (maybe the Rollei-35's compete). It's a wee bit quieter than my 6x6 TLR. Leaf shutters all.

    (My old Canon digi is quieter still, annoyingly TOO quiet -- can't tell when it fires sometimes! Electronic "shutter noises" from modern cameras (including film P&S cameras) should be entirely mistrusted -- their timing is highly suspect.)

    Quietest manual SLRs are probably the Olympus OM series -- Canon newer EOS's are also quite quiet for SLRs.
     
  16. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Nicole,

    You're welcome. I don't want to hijack the thread, so I'll just point to a couple of places:

    http://www.luminous-landscape.com/tutorials/rangefinder.shtml

    Steven Gandy's page:
    http://cameraquest.com/classics.htm
    Gandy also has models in the Bessa line that are new since the comparison page at luminous-landscape above came out.

    Karen Nakamura's page:
    http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/
    and her take on general pros/cons for camera types:
    http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/index-frameset.html?focusing.html~mainFrame

    And she has specific models on the left hand side, but don't miss the "more..." link at the bottom of the left side menu.

    Lee
     
  17. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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  18. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I like the size of a rangefinder and carry my little CL kit with me constantly.
    But I'd prefer shooting with an SLR any day.
     
  19. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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  20. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Wow, how much does one of them set you back?

     
  21. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    The out-of-pocket expense wasn't too bad, but I do kind of miss my first-born son. :wink:

    Seriously, Leica gear is fairly expensive. But, if you buy used, you'll likely get all or most of your money out of a Leica if you sell later.
     
  22. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    the price of perfection

    The M6TTL would be used, unless you can find new old stock, which might be possible. A used M6TTL and new 75mm f:1.4 would go for perhaps US$4,400 to US$4,700, but that's a guess on the used body price, I'm not up on that market. (Anyone feel free to correct me on that if you know better than I.)

    Well, he did say "perfect", right? :smile: I'm sure the post was at least partly in jest. But it is a beautiful setup, and built to last, and we all would like to see the work you'd get from it.

    An R3A and 75mm f:2.5 from Cosina Voigtlander costs about US$900, but not so perfect and about 2 stops slower, and with autoexposure.

    Follow Bjorke's advice if you need autofocus, autoexposure, and a price somewhere in the middle. The Contax G2 does have a zoom available, but IIRC, doesn't share the Leica bayonet or thread mounts common to many other rangefinders, so you have 7(?) Contax lenses available, all high quality. It's sort of a hybrid, an interchangeable lens P&S on steroids with fine lenses.

    Lee
     
  23. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    One more candidate

    Very little press has been given to Zeiss re-entering the rangefinder field by resurrecting the Ikon trademark. They will market thru Hasselblad a camera body made by Cosina..in my opinion the most beautiful camera that I have ever seen. Introduced with it are the following lensed 15mm 2.8 Distagon, 21mm2.8 Biogon, 25mm 2.8 Biogon, 28mm 2.8 Biogon, 35mm 2.0 Biogon, 50mm 2.8 Planar and 85 2.0 either a Planar or Sonnar I forget which it is.

    I have to tell you that a firm of Zeiss's stature bringing out a new FILM ONLY camera and a rangefinder at that is extremely heartening to me. It is Zeiss's intent to offer lenses indisputably superior to all other lenses on the market. The battle between Leica and Zeiss should be very interesting. The MFT charts are provided for some of the lenses and are fabulous. Take a trip over to www.carlzeiss.de.

    You do not have to own product or be a fan of Zeiss's to learn an awful lot obout photo gear and photography. It is a really groovy web site. If you contact them with a technical question about one of their products you will most likely receive an answer from somebody with a doctorate.

    I would hazard a guess that the equipment will be voraciously expensive.

    Nicole when photographing children in 35mm where ease of precise focus is of the utmost importance to the photographer an optical rtangefinder is almost impossible to beat. Extremely easy to focus and very quiet are they.
     
  24. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    ...But never take it out of the box or put a roll of film in it.
    That will turn it into a lowly "User".camera.
     
  25. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    While the new Zeiss Ikon camera looks nice I don't think it will live up to it's price tag (thinking of Rollei's expensive Cosina rangefinder).

    Personally, I would go for a Bessa setup if I had the funds:
    R3A $599
    Bessa L $69 (cheap rangefinderless body to be used with the 15 and 21mm)
    15mm f/4.5 $345 (plus screw-M ring $55)
    21mm f/4 $335 (plus hood $45 and screw-M ring $55)
    40mm f/1.4 $349 (plus hood $45)
    75mm f/2.5 $299 (plus screw-M ring $55)
    2 Soft Shutter releases $15 each

    This is a total of $2281, which is over $500 cheaper than the cost of JUST 1 Black Leica M7 .85X camera from B&H (that's right, NO lenses).
    Take away the 15mm (a luxery in my opinion because of the number of shots it would be used for) and you come in under $2000 ($1881 to be precise).

    With this setup I could photograph 99.9% of anything I would photograph today with 35mm. If I had even more hypothetical funds I would replace the 75mm f/2.5 with the Leica 75mm summilux or the rumored summicron and add an extra R3A body, but other than that I would be set. In addition, I would actually prefer the R3A and it's lifesize rangefinder to any other available in 35mm. After using a M3 for a while I loved the "floating frameline" sensation of shooting with both eyes open and the lifesize viewfinder in the R3A would make this even easier to accomplish. I'm already saving up for my graduation present to myself which will either be a setup much like this or a brand new Canham 5x7--we'll see which it ends up being....
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 18, 2005
  26. Nicole

    Nicole Member

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    Thanks Claire. I'm just a little concerned it may not give me the flexibility an SLR does. Being quiet and unobtrusive, small and light weight is wonderful. I enjoy reading your posts.