Hey, I use a GE PR-2 also.
Are Argus C-3's that bad that no one else suggested them? I had a Yashica Electro 35 given to me, used it & gave to to someone else just before getting GAS.
I like the C-3 and C-3 Matchmatic. As much as some people hate the RF on them, it's easier/faster than my Kodak Medalist. (The Medalist has a magnified RF window, so it really does focus sharply, but the 15 degree eye drop from the viewfinder window is eaily overshot, then the magnification is disorienting, for me anyway, and I have to hunt for something to focus on).
I have 3 Arguses (whatever plural is for Argus). They are all easy to focus, and the only cameras with one other exception I've acquired that have healthy shutters.
The Argus C3 was the camera Tony Vaccaro used for his WW2 frontline photography.
Anáil nathrach, ortha bháis is beatha, do chéal déanaimh.
I think jazz bassist/photographer Milt Hinton did a lot of work, at least his earlier 'insider' work with one too, according to an interview excerpt I heard before a book was published.
Even with an interest in MF/LF I like the C3 variants
I agree that the Oly OM cameras are small and the Zuiko lenses are good. One thing you will notice in the side-by-side with the Bessa is that the OM lens is quite a bit larger than the CV lens. SLR lenses have to be larger than RF lenses to accomodate the automatic aperture mechanism as well as the optical designs required. Some of the 50mm RF lenses I have are as small or smaller than the 50mm enlarging lenses in my darkroom.
Cheap entry into rangefinders...
I strongly agree with the 35RC recommendation. It gives you complete manual control if you want it, but autoexposure if you don't. One of the best features is its 'off' switch, which few rangefinders had, and which helps preserve battery life immensely. The 35RC has a 2.8 lens; the RD has a 1.7 40mm, but is a lot harder to find and costs significantly more. A 35DC is the full-auto version of the 35RD, and has the same fast 1.7 lens. It's an awesome camera and doesn't usually cost too much. The 35RC really is an amazing little camera that has an amazingly sharp lens and is very compact. You'll quickly become addicted--trust me.
Originally Posted by sun of sand
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I use a few of the various fixed lens RFs that have been mentioned, so here's a short comparison between the ones I use and know most well:
Olympus SP - quite light but larger than many of the 'CRF' cameras other than the Yashica Electros (see exceptions below.) The 42mm f1.7 lens is one of the best you will find on any 35mm camera, and the spot meter is very nice to have. Exposure is either programme or metered manual - I wish there was an aperture priority auto option as well but that isn't a major complaint. Mercury battery and 'always on' meter, so keep it in the case when not in use or you'll drain the battery. The 35RC and RD are both smaller and will cost less, but they are less flexible and their lenses are good but not as good as the SP's.
Konica Auto S3 - small and feather light, with a superb 38mm f1.8 Hexanon lens. Shutter priority only however. The system for balancing fill-flash is very clever, if you need that.
Yashica Electro 35CC - this and the 35GX are both smaller than the other Electro 35s but they are surprisingly heavy: lots of brass. The CC has a rather nice lens 35mm f1.8 lens, so its angle of view is a little wider than most of the other CRFs. Aperture priority only. The GX is another very nice camera, but without that slightly wide lens (though may be preferred to the CC by anyone who wants to use flash with it, and it adds a parallax correcting viewfinder.) Top film speed setting is only ISO 500. The CC is hard to find, and both it and the GX are nice but I feel are over-priced when compared to something like the Konica S2 or S3.
Ricoh 500 RF - this is the outsider in this group with a 40mm f2.8 lens that is not as good as the others listed. But it's not at all bad, and the camera is small and light with a really nice and intuitive control layout. Shutter priority or metered manual. These are a bargain. I believe the 500 ME is the same but adds multiple exposure capability. Both take a rather cute clockwork winder which is fun rather than being especially useful.
Rollei XF 35 / Voigtlander VF135 - these two cameras are identical as far as I can tell. Very lightweight, excellent 40mm f2.3 lens, but programme only exposure. The Rolleis can be pricey, but the Voigtlander versions can be a bargain and these are so light that they make very nice back-up cameras.
To the suggestions of an Olympus OM1 as an alternative tool for street photography, I would add the Pentax MX as a similarly sized SLR that works well in this role. With the 40mm f2.8 'pancake' lens it is very pocketable indeed, and you still have the choice of other lenses: for street work the excellent Pentax 50s and some nice 35s are well worth a look.
Probably for daylight street photography the Olympus 35SP is my favourite from this list, followed by the Yashica Electro 35CC. In lower light I like the Konica better. All are nice and they all have their own 'character'. Actually, character is one of the reasons that these rangefinders can get so addictive..
For a cheap entry into a bit more than point and shoot types, I echo the comments about the Kiev IV. It is a lot of bang for the buck. At different times, I owned both an original Contax II and the Soviet Kiev IV clone and sold both. I regretted selling the Kiev more than the original.
For an amateur camera, the Canonet GIII with the 40 mm 1.7 lens cut a very sharp image, as has been mentioned also. The mercury battery for the meter/exposure control system is no longer a problem.
John, Mount Vernon, VA USA
Oh, I forgot. If you do not mind the rather largish size, the Konica Auto S2 also cut a very sharp image.
Going very. very basic
I use Retina II and IIa rangefinders, and have recently been delighted with a Voigtlander Vito B (which is not a rangefinder, but more about that below).
Using a meterless camera is more challenging, but using an analog light meter (like my Gossen Luna Pro) is very educational. Light meters teach you about light. With proficiency, I can take a couple of readings on the street, and then adjust the camera as I move from sun to shade and back. The lightmeter allows me to slow down and use precision when the shot calls for it.
I don't rely on the rangefinder function much. I use depth of field and decent estimates of distance. It's especially easy with the Vito B.
My suggestion would be to read about rangefinders (tons of postings and books/magazine articles) and dip your foot in slowly. While I do use fairly high end digital SLR equipment, a film fixed-lens camera in my coat pocket is a good feeling. Especially when I come to the end of the roll.
"A full-time job seriously interferes with photography."