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  1. #1
    stradibarrius's Avatar
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    Rangefinder question?

    Why are rangefinder camera so popular? I know some are very expensive.
    I ask this question because I am completely ignorant when it comes to rangefinders.
    "Generalizations are made because they are generally true"
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    Barry
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  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Because rangefinder focusing is very accurate, the shutters quieter, lenses often optically better particularly wide angles - these can be purer designs rather than retro-focus to allow room for the mirror. Much easier to hand hold at slower speeds. Lastly they are really easy and fast to use.

    Ian

  3. #3
    Andy K's Avatar
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    Just off the top of my head a few reasons are their small size, they are generally quiet, you don't lose sight of the subject when the shutter fires, you can use opaque filters but still see through the viewfinder to compose your photograph. Some say they can be used at slower shutter speeds than SLRs, but to be honest I also use the same slow shutter speeds with my SLRs with no problems.


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  4. #4

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    For the most part I agree with what Ian and Andy have said; however, some of those items are subjective judgments and/or they aren't always true. For instance, speed of use is determined by many factors, and specific rangefinders might not always win out over specific SLRs on this score. As an example, you might need to focus using something other than your viewfinder using a rangefinder, or change auxiliary viewfinders when changing lenses. This will slow down rangefinder use under some circumstances.

    SLRs also have their advantages, such as access to longer lenses, easier use for macro photography, better ability to judge depth of field, etc.

    In the end, it turns into a question of choosing the right tool for the task, with a strong helping of personal preference thrown in to the mix.

  5. #5
    stradibarrius's Avatar
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    What arew their limitations compared to an SLR?
    What are some example of good rangefinders?
    "Generalizations are made because they are generally true"
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  6. #6

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    I mentioned some of the limitations of rangefinders in my earlier post. IMHO, those are the most important, although there are others. For instance, you can't see the effects of special-effects filters (star filters, polarizers, etc.) in the viewfinder. (That can cut both ways, though; as Andy mentions, dense filters, such as thick ND filters, can make an SLR difficult to use.) Parallax is an issue with close subjects -- that's a good part of why rangefinders are poor choices for macro work, but parallax can become an issue even in close but non-macro photography. (Some rangefinders have parallax correction marks in their viewfinders, but this isn't universal.)

    As to examples of good rangefinders, that's a hard one to answer. Leicas are often considered the "gold standard" in rangefinders, but they vary a lot in age and capability. Most Leicas support interchangeable lenses, as do some Contaxes and clones of both of these lines. Other rangefinders are much more basic, but still very capable for what they are. In the 1960s and 1970s, small fixed-lens rangefinders like Canon's Canonet line were very popular cameras. These cameras had automatic exposure and were generally easy to use, but lacked the flexibility of an interchangeable-lens Leica. Some of them had very good lenses.

    If you say what you want to do with a rangefinder, I'm sure you'll get more specific suggestions.

  7. #7
    Andy K's Avatar
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    Regarding the use of polarisers on rangefinders. I use a polariser regularly on mine. It came with a matching auxiliary polarised viewfinder which sits in the hotshoe. You turn the hotshoe polariser, read the vernier scale, then match it on the lens polariser.


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  8. #8
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Wirelessly posted (BlackBerry9000/4.6.0.167 Profile/MIDP-2.0 Configuration/CLDC-1.1 VendorID/102 UP.Link/6.3.0.0.0)

    Mine is a pipular camera with me because it gives me the option to not lug half of a studio with me if I want to shoot.
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  9. #9
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Stradibarrius, most of the limitations of range-finder cameras are really dependent on the type of photography you intend to use one for. I always enjoyed the freedom working with my leica M3 and just a 50mm Summicron lens.

    You really need to see and use onwe before deciding whether to go down the rangefinder or SLR route, I do use both mainly because I need greater flexibilty for commercial work, but I'd be happy to use inly a range finder camera for 35mm personal work.

    Ian

  10. #10

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    Many years ago I would have not considered rangefinders. A few years ago I inherited two rangefinders and now I love them.

    Jeff

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