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  1. #1
    Nathan Riehl's Avatar
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    Nikon FM2n - Switching to Rangefinder

    I currently shoot mostly with my Nikon FM2n with my 50mm 1.8D and a Sigma 90mm 2.8 macro, but I had the chance to shoot with a FED 5 and I've seen a Konica Hexar RF in action and honestly, I'm much more impressed with the rangefinder systems. I'd love to get into it, but I feel like I might not like the switch if I choose the wrong model. Is there any model I might like in switching from one to another? And would it be worth trading one of my SLR cameras for a rangefinder camera? I've been the Bessa cameras and they look great. I'm also impressed by the Contax G-Series cameras.
    Check out my website!

    Yashica T4, Yashica Electro 35 GTN, Yashica-D.

  2. #2

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    What is that you like about the FED 5 that you didn't like in the FM2?
    Since you were impressed by the FED 5 why wouldn't you get that model?

  3. #3
    Nathan Riehl's Avatar
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    I had the FED 5 and I loved the way it functioned, but it felt cheap. Which is a notorious quality of Russian rangefinders from what I've heard. I love the FM2, it's one of my main shooters. I use my Yashica T4 more, but the FM2 is my go-to SLR. Although, I have my Pentax KR-10 Super with a 50mm 1.7 and a 28-105 2.8... which I like a little better lens-wise, so I think if I got a nice rangefinder and shoot with my Pentax, I'd be happy. I'll soon have an Olympus OM-1 for a mechanical body as well, so I'm not shy of SLR equipment, I just don't have a lot of access to interchangeable lens rangefinders. Almost picked up a fixed-lens QL17 III, but it was gone before I had the chance to test it out. I want an interchangeable lens body anyways.
    Check out my website!

    Yashica T4, Yashica Electro 35 GTN, Yashica-D.

  4. #4

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    I have a FM2 and for a while I also had a Leica M4. What I particularly missed when using the M4 was the obvious lack of a depth of field button and also the limitations of close focusing. I did like the relatively small lenses, mind.
    Steve.

  5. #5
    darkosaric's Avatar
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    Go for Leica - they are not that expensive (you can find M body and LTM elmar 5cm/3.5 for ~500 euros). Then you will have best rangefinder. Nobody argues that Leicas are the best - they just argue that they are overpriced.

  6. #6
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    In my opinion at the bottom of the whole rangefinder enthusiasm is the simplicity of gear and the freedom that comes with this. Good lenses and accesories are expensive, so instead of thinking what new piece of equipment to buy next week you just take pictures with the small kit you've chosen.

    If you can feel to be one with your Nikon, there is not much you would gain by buying into an RF system. But go to a place where you can handle the cameras.

    If you can sacrifice for a considerable amount of time, buying a new MP with a 35 mm ASPH Summicron, 50 mm (non-ASPH) Summicron or Zeiss Biogon/Planar or a second-hand Leica in good condition will help your work gain more focus. At the end you can still sell it and think about the money you've lost as the price you paid for valuable experience.

    Stick to your Nikon for a couple of months and lock your other cameras away in a box. After that ask yourself if you still wish for a rangefinder, they will be around at that time, too.

  7. #7

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    Rangefinders excel in street photography. The bodies are mostly compact and the viewfinder is always 'in focus' except for the rangefinder patch, unlike SLRs which have to be focused. For other forms of photography SLRs have a lot going for them.

    Optically, there's little difference between a good rangefinder lens and equivalent SLR glass. The difference is in price. In my opinion pre-M series Leicas are fiddly to use and load, negating some of the advantages of a rangefinder, and lenses of the era are either worn (soft glass and scratched) or hideously expensive for what they offer photographically. M-series Leicas are just expensive. Whether your budget deems them good value or over-priced is a matter for you and your bank manager.

    One compromise is to use, say, a III series Leica body and Russian glass. It's not a logic I advocate as the real advantage of a Leica is in the best lenses. Don't expect to find 'bargain' Leica lenses and you won't be disappointed. If you're not sure a good way into rangefinder photography is a fixed lens Japanese camera such as a Yashica. The lenses are surprisingly good and you'll either like the type and trade up to a rangefinder system, or discover it's not for you. I think quality autofocus point and shoot cameras covered most, though not all, the rangefinder's territory, but if you're seduced by brass and chrome, and have the funds to drop on one, nothing else will fill a Leica shaped gap. It won't make your photography better but if you enjoy using it, who cares?

  8. #8

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    I use both Nikon SLR's and S2 rangefinder camera kits. Each has its own area of strength.
    Ideally use the SLR for Micro lenses or telephoto, and the rangefinder for 21-50mm.
    Nikon S2's are generally available at reasonable prices— you might even go for an SP.

    On a negative note: I sold off my FM2n after a few years. As it happened, it failed me twice and I didn't trust it.
    But primarily I found the idiot-proofing on the shutter lock a damned nuisance. Nikon had gone "one bridge too far".
    I still use my 1972 Nikkormat on a regular basis, supplementing my F2 with plain DP-1 prism. ( Nikon's last "Adult" camera.)

  9. #9

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    If you enjoy shooting 50mm and 90mm lenses, there js nothing on the planet more exquisite, accurate, and pleasant than a Leica M3. I am just a 50mm shooter, and using an M3 safeguards you against the feeling of the need to upgrade to a better camera.

    With a Voigtlander Heliar 50mm f/3.5 or a Summilux-ASPH (pricey!) you will be at the pinnacle of what is possible with 35mm film, with a small camera that never has to leave your side.

    Used to have a very extensive Olympus OM system, but for most types of photography suited to 35mm, the M3 makes me happier than ever. Focusing speed and accuracy is unbelievable compared to an SLR.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by philosomatographer View Post
    Used to have a very extensive Olympus OM system, but for most types of photography suited to 35mm, the M3 makes me happier than ever. Focusing speed and accuracy is unbelievable compared to an SLR.
    That would be interesting to put to the test.

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