Zeiss rangefinder

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by George Papantoniou, Mar 23, 2006.

  1. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    Just this afternoon fiddled with the new Zeiss plastic rangefinder (made in Japan by Cosina)... I have mixed emotions... Zeiss lenses (3 biogons WAngles), Leitz M lens mount, ugly plastic body with ugly shutter noise (far, far from the music you hear from Leicas) and a price that cannot be considered a bargain... I might ask to do a test, but....

    What do you guys think ? Have you seen it ??
     
  2. magic823

    magic823 Member

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    Plastic? The one I played with was metal. I loved it. Nice viewfinder. I liked the shutter sound. Its different due to the metal vertically running shutter. Its much easier to load than a Leica and the lenses are on par (if not better in some cases).

    Now I just have to afford one (but they are about $1000 less that a M7).

    Steve
     
  3. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    I just did a search - $1625?!! Really, what is it with these rangefinders? And an "ugly plastic body" to boot. I really appreciate rangefinders and have a few of the sharp-but-dirt-cheap ones with fixed lenses, but can someone explain the whole mystique behind these ones? What sort of earth shattering precision is needed to put an interchangeable lens mount in there instead of a lens?

    I'll take an F6, thank you. In fact, on second thoughts I'll take an F100 for $400 and spend the rest on lenses. Jeez!
     
  4. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The new Zeiss rangefinder has a lightweight metal alloy body (not plastic) and a vertical metal bladed shutter, not a machined brass body and horizontal cloth shutter. Different animals for different tastes, budgets, and design goals. Cameraquest has them in stock at US$1400.

    I think it's great that at the same time people are lamenting the death of film, you can get new Leica mount bodies from three manufacturers at prices from under US$100 (US$185 if you count only bayonet mounts) to near US$3000, and multiple marques of new rangefinder lenses with different design goals from US$200 up. Choices and a lower entry price on quality film rangefinders are great for the market, consumers, and photography in general.

    Lee
     
  5. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    Yeah...the Ikon is a metal bodied camera...it isn't plastic. I don't know what you played with, but I doubt it was the Ikon if it was plastic.
     
  6. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    The camera has a rugged design body. To obtain an optimum balance between weight, stable handling, and wearing comfort, the inner core of the camera consists of aluminum die cast. The top cover, bottom cover and front plate consist of varnished magnesium. The camera’s weight of 460 g is sufficient to shoot pictures with lower shutter speeds, but on the other hand the camera is not too heavy to carry it on the shoulder with a couple of lenses in a bag.

    http://www.zeissikon.com/faq.htm
     
  7. Earl Dunbar

    Earl Dunbar Member

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    Troll.
     
  8. Magnus W

    Magnus W Member

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    It's not plastic.
    It's far from ugly.
    What's not to like about the biogon 25/2.8.

    I call troll.

    -- MW
     
  9. TimVermont

    TimVermont Subscriber

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    Given his other thread about the use of MDF by Gandolfi, a total troll.
     
  10. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    A 50 year old Leica will focus a 50 mm lens with 4 to 5 times more accurately than will your F6, and with consistent precision ( unlike the randomness of the AF ) The shorter the lens, the greater the difference.

    That is the beginning of the big deal. There is room in my camera bag for both cameras.
     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    What's so inaccurate about through-the-lens focusing? If you see the exact image being formed by the lens, then to borrow a song lyric, is you is or is you aint in focus. With a rangefinder, you have to design the optical projection system around one lens. Any other lens is just an approximation. I fully understand the benefits of rangefinder focusing for low-light situations - there are times when I wish I had one for travel purposes. I don't see how it could be more accurate though.
     
  12. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Rangefinders can have a longer baseline to triangulate the distance, which is significantly more accurate than your eye seeing a reduced image on an SLR groundglass at normal or wider focal lengths. The "baseline" of SLR split image focusing is shorter than a rangefinder in this case, and DOF covers slight errors on the ground glass.

    Longer focal lengths on an SLR eventually overcome this advantage of rangefinders, typically in the short telephoto range. Fast lenses on an SLR help, but a rangefinder with a decent baseline has the upper hand with normals and wides.

    Lee
     
  13. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    The accuracy of an SLR is tied to the magnification of the lens, and the 'depth of field' effect of focus screen. You think the image is sharp, it is not. A rfdr is not tied to the lens, nor the ground glass.

    Not opinion, simple fact. Schwalberg did a neat study back in the '80s that gave numbers. Suffice it to say that a Leica has the accuracy of a nikon F2 with a 135/2 lens. SO, every lens, 21, 50, or 135/4 on the Leica benefits of the inherent ability of the rfdr to discern between sharp and not sharp. The shorter the lens on an SLR, the more depth of field, and the true accuracy is muddied. The shorter the lens on an SLR, the less precise the focus. With a rfdr, the more precise. Basically, depth of field works with you on the rfdr, an SLR, against.

    AF muddies it even more. You've got the right song, but have to sing the whole question to your SLR:

    "Is you is or is you ain't my baby?
    The way you're actin' lately makes me doubt
     
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  15. david b

    david b Member

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    If I was in the market for this type of camera, I could easily buy it. The features are nice and the glass is superb. The money saved on buying this and not a Leica would buy a lot of film.
     
  16. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    Don't I have the right to say I don't like a camera (or something ABOUT a camera) ? I am accused of Trolling because I dared saying that I didn't like the plastic FEEL this camera left me ?

    I AM sorry if I wrongly made someone understand that this camera is ENTIRELY made of plastic, but I only wanted to say that it's got a plastic FEELING (and several plastic parts, too)... But I think that I really have the right to express my (negative or positive) opinion on a product, whether it might be a camera or something else.

    I also asked the other users to express their personal views on the subject, but I won't harass anyone that has a different opinion from mine.

    Thanks for the offense, though...
     
  17. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Timeo danaos et dona ferentes.
     
  18. T42

    T42 Member

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    Hello Forum.

    Interesting thread, especially about the differences in focusing between RF and SLR.

    As an owner and user of both SLRs and RFs, I will offer an opinion. The RF has a very limited list of areas where it excels, but it is a killer solution for some of those applications. The SLR is far more flexible overall, but at the expense of some baggage that the RF is free from. Each has its place, possibilities, and limitations. When I go on a shoot, I ask myself whether or not the shoot can be done well with an RF. If so, the SLR stays home. Anytime the RF will do the job, it's my first choice.

    Who says a toolbox must have only one tool in it? Each tool for its purpose, I say.

    When I got into this hobby in 1960s, the Leica was all but pronounced dead by young TTL SLR whippersnappers like me. A few old timers said things like "Cameras come and cameras go, but the Leica remains." I thought they were crazy. I was wrong. It took years and years to understand why.

    The Leica M is a profoundly basic and simple instrument. It has exactly what some seasoned photographers want for making good images, and precious little else. After a couple of decades of chasing silver bullets, I realized that my limitations could not be solved with better gear, longer feature lists, electronics, microprocessors, etc. Every one of my shortfalls fell within the domains of "seeing" and "execution of a vision."

    Anyone who measures the merits of a camera by the length of its feature list will be miserably disappointed with a simple basic instrument, whether it be from Leica or anyone else.

    I am quite pleased to see the revived interest in classic rangefinders in recent years. I am delighted that the president of Cosina is a life long Leica enthusiast. So far, and from what I read, the only thing about the Ziess Ikon RF that I don't particularly like is that the shutter will probably be louder than that of the M Leicas. I hope the Zeiss Ikon RF turns out to be a strong competitor. It appears to be a for-real classic rangefinder, and not another P&S automatic with Zeiss or Contax badging.

    Henry
     
  19. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    NOT RF vs. SLR please

    I'd like to make clear that I was being a little facetious when I said I'd choose an F100. I wasn't making any comment about any alleged superiority about either type of camera. For every argument from the RF camp the SLR camp would have another.

    I use and love both kinds of cameras. My comment/amazement was more about the cost of interchangeable lens rangefinders. I am just not convinced that they cost anywhere as much to produce as what they sell for. The point was that an RF system shouldn't be that much costlier to make than a comparable SLR system - at least I can't see why it should.

    So, to say that a 50 year old Leica can do things an F6 can't is entirely beside the point. I know that. I am only commenting about cost.

    -Anupam
     
  20. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    See Henry Ford and the $600 family car built on an assembly line. Come to think of it, is the F6 available in any color as long as it's black? :smile:

    I can come up with a few reasons for the cost difference. First is economies of scale. Assuming all else is equal, the more of something you build or produce and then sell, the lower the production cost per unit and the lower the selling price can be while still being profitable. Interchangeable lens rangefinders are a rather small market compared to SLRs. The Canon AE-1 sold a quarter million units in it's first 24 months, slightly higher than Leica M sales for the same period (...facetious not an actual sales figure). One reason that the older Cosina Voigtlander Bessa rangefinder models cost relatively little is that they are built on the same chassis as cameras they built as low end SLRs for other marques, so Nikon, Olympus, Vivitar, and others paid for that R&D, not Cosina per se.

    Second, the Leica and Zeiss offerings are spec'd higher than most SLRs, and have metal rather than polycarbonate shells, and those things mean much higher production and quality control costs. In some instances you're also looking at a difference between mechanical and electronics based cameras, and the cost of producing mechanically based cameras is much higher than electronically controlled ones. A gear train to time shutters is much more expensive than an IC.

    It was the electronics and automated assembly that put the aforementioned AE-1 at a feature and price point that allowed it to completely dominate the SLR entry market for a couple of years. Although it's perhaps less true than in earlier years, Leicas are still much closer to hand-built and tuned. A Cosina built Zeiss Ikon is likely somewhere in between, as is its price.

    Lee
     
  21. T42

    T42 Member

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    Hello Anupam.

    I understand. Sorry that I missed the point of the humor. It looked like SLR vs RF to me when you said F100. Great SLR, BTW.

    Lee's comments about economies of scale seem on the mark to me. I used to wonder why things are seemingly high priced for what one actually holds as an end product sample. I now believe that product planners evaluate a marketspace for its potential to return a profit for any given venture into that market. There is overhead for the product's creation, manufacturing, and marketing. There is the unknown of how many units can be sold and for how long. There is the unknown of what the market will bear in terms of price. There is the unknown of what paradigm shifts might change the whole scenario, and which could cause investment failure, e.g. technological redirection, declining interest in or availability of film, or whatever.

    I suspect it is with individual samples of these RF cameras somewhat as it is with individual samples of many other products. The price is not in the incremental cost of making one sample, but rather in the R&D, risk, and pricing potential of the market at large, for that product, as perceived by the investors or company which launches the enterprise. Given that hoards will not swarm to buy an RF, then the price has to be higher, maybe even much, much higher per unit.

    It would not surprise me to learn that the incremental cost to manufacture one Zeiss Ikon RF were not less than $300. But to sell it for that would deny suitable recovery for R&D, and would deny the fullest possible return on investment. This for not pricing at a level extracting the fullest market potential from the product venture.

    Henry
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2006
  22. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    That makes a lot of sense. But I wonder if this leads to a potential vicious cycle where the market gets smaller precisely because of the abnormal cost and the cost keeps skyrocketing because only a small clique of photographers would buy it.

    Imagine if Nikon made only the F6 (well, absurdly that's what it does now!!, but let's keep the whole digital thing out of this). I suspect if the F6 or F5 were the only bodies, Nikon SLRs wouldn't be that popular. A few dedicated advanced amateurs and professionals would buy it, but it would be a niche market and maybe the cameras would cost even more than they do now. But what keeps Nikon going is not the F5/6 but the N55 to N80 and beyond to the F100. When I was looking for a first SLR I bought the N80 because it was a camera I could afford from a brand I could trust. The N80 was full of compromises on the F6's quality, but an average camera in my hands is way better than a fantastic camera in the showroom! So I bought the N80 and more importantly bought into the F-mount and bought into the SLR system - for 99% of users, this is what they will stay with for ever.

    Now why didn't I buy a Leica? Simple - Leica only seemed to make an F6 (well M7, but you get my point) for $3495. Are you kidding me? Here I was not knowing which ring to turn to focus and unsure if I'll even like photography. So I don't buy a Leica. By the time I learn to appreciate things like retrofocus, and mirror-slap I already have a tonne of Nikon gear. I'd say out of a hundred photographers who find them in this situation, only one might take the plunge to own an RF along with their SLR system.

    If a cheap body was available from a major manufacturer that would take Leica lenses then people might actually consider it. Cosina is not the answer, people need to know about it and they know and trust Canonikon - and Leica too. So, what I am saying is, a Leica N80 would be nice - may be without the legendary precision and not quite built to last a century - but hey, my Olympus XA is still chugging along fine for $50!

    Okay, please don't flame me as a Leica heretic. I am just trying to figure out how they function because at times they look hell bent on making themselves extinct. For me personally, I simply can't afford either a Leica or an F6 - so that's settled :smile: - but I do appreciate rangefinders and their advantages so I use every fixed lens rangefinder I can get my hands on. In fact my SLR is almost strictly my welded-to-the-tripod camera. For all handholding I use RFs.

    Anyway, end of rant. When I'm rich and famous, I will buy a Leica - promise!:smile:
    -Anupam
     
  23. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    Thank you all (Anupam, Lee, Henry) for all your positive and constructive views on the subject. My humble opinion is that Leica holds a historical (for its longlasting efficiency) design patent (the M-series rangefinders) that is still able to sell to some (enough, maybe) people around the globe that can afford it. It surely is expensive, but it is an expensive-to-build machine and an absolutely amazing and extremely charming camera to hold in your hands. The feeling, handling, sound and smooth working of a Leica has not yet found (IMHO) its rival in the camera world (the Rolleiflex TLR is close, though). I own a 1959 SS M3 and love to hold it (even if I don't make pictures with it) and I know that the M6 (or the MP, that I haven't tested yet) is even better. I know, it's a drag to load the film, but you eventually get used to it.

    I am sorry to say that although Cosina's effort to enter the M-mount rangefinder world might be a well-meant initiative, I wouldn't ever accept a camera that has this kind of plastic button to lock-unlock the swinging back... Of course, the cheap-product philosophy is an acceptable one, as long as the product is a decent one. I hope the cosina cameras will last for a time period that will justify their cost. On the other hand, second hand M3's can be found for less that 1500 bucks (with lens) and: A. they will not lose their value as time passes and B. they probably will go on serving their masters for a long period of time, even if they ask for a small repair every 30-40 years or something.

    Dan, I don't really find your (concealed behind Homer's poetry this time) offenses so nice. Furthermore, a Trojan Horse in computer langueage is some kind of a virus... What does a virus have to do with my posts on APUG ?
     
  24. SchwinnParamount

    SchwinnParamount Subscriber

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    For what it is worth, I did not think your post was trolling at all. My take was that you felt that a manufacturer was charging too much for a camera which did not feel as substantial as you would expect for the price. This is an honest opinion which you have the right to express. I've not seen the camera in question. I might go try one out now... just so I can back you up or deny the merits of your claim. :D
     
  25. rfshootist

    rfshootist Member

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    How can we know that you spoke about the feel ? THAT is what you said:

    Just this afternoon fiddled with the new Zeiss plastic rangefinder (made in Japan by Cosina)... I have mixed emotions... Zeiss lenses (3 biogons WAngles), Leitz M lens mount, ugly plastic body with ugly shutter noise

    Mixed emotions ? Where was the positive part ?
    Of course you have the right to say that you do not like a camera, even if the facts are all wrong and your perception is obviously "out of alignement". (BTW If you can't keep magnesium alloy separated from plastic, what for do you need a Leica then to fondle ?)
    And it's your prob solely that you don't hesitate to embarrass yourself with such kinda ridiculous soapbox rubbish.
    Forget the Zeiss Ikon, you could not afford to use anything else than Leitz, you know what I mean ?

    bertram
     
  26. elekm

    elekm Member

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    In general, longtime Leica users will be disappointed with the Zeiss Ikon, because it often becomes a feature vs. feature comparison of how the Zeiss Ikon measures up (or doesn't measure up) against a Leica.

    Carl Zeiss AG may or may not be aiming at the Leica users. I suspect the target audience are those users who want more than a Bessa, want a new camera and not somebody's 40-year-old crapper that probably needs serviced and doesn't want to pay the current price of admission to the Leica club. It also is aiming at those who prefer the "Zeiss look," reigniting the Zeiss vs. Leica debate from the 1930s-1960s.

    As such, at less than half the price of an M7, the Zeiss Ikon compares favorably. Very solid construction with minimal use of plastic. Good design and uses a modified metal-bladed shutter. (Keep in mind that the digital M apparently will use a metal-bladed shutter). Excellent viewfinder and excellent shutter release. One thing that's always irked me about the M6 is that the release point for the shutter is near the bottom of the travel distance. Sure, you can buy a soft release, but that's simply compensating for poor design.

    The Zeiss Ikon, and any camera, should succeed or fail on its own merits and not how it compares with the Leica, whose shutter you describe as "sweet music" -- first time I've ever read that description of a shutter. I did read one Leica user describe advancing the film as a religious experience -- another case of an overzealous Leica user.

    Your initial comments are ill-informed and inflammatory, and I would tend to ignore anything else you had to say on any topic.