Getting into RFs
Hello. I want to get into RFs. My experience is with 35mm (Canon EOS3) and LF (Sinar F2) cameras. I like to do portraits and street photography/documentary style stuff. So what would you recommend that I get? I really don't know what these cameras cost. I know Leicas tend to be expensive. I also know they're not the only ones who make RFs, but they are the most popular. So, let's use three categories to base the recommendations.
Whatever recommendation, for any category, should be a good, durable camera. A good bang for the buck, so to speak.
- Low: something inexpensive to experiment and see if I like the format (under $100).
- Medium: now that I am interested, let's try something better (around $100-$200).
- High: I'm hooked (have at it ...)!
Thanks. I look forward to read your recommendations.
Beware of the addictive potential.
Low: Japanese fixed-lens rangefinders from the 70s (Yashica Electro, Minolta Hi-Matic, etc.) or Soviet rangefinders (with all the complexities and weirdnesses thereunto appertaining). The Japanese cameras can be *very* good, but they generally aren't optimized for manual control, you have the restriction of a fixed lens, and repairs are generally impractical. I used to do a fair amount of street shooting with a Minolta Hi-Matic 7s.
Medium: There's not actually much in this range that I can think of. You might find a Voigtlaender Bessa-R (Leica-compatible screw mount) under $200; it's an excellent camera at the price point. Some plastic in the construction, rangefinder base only medium, and no automated bells and whistles. But you have to buy lenses, and your $100-200 will burn up mighty quickly on those.
High: Leica, obviously, but at a lower price point there are the new/recent Voigtlaender cameras and a whole line of lenses. You could go in for the old Zeiss Contax rangefinders---I think the 50/1.5 Sonnar is my single favorite 35mm lens on the planet. I don't know much about the modern Contax cameras. There are some very good medium-format rangefinders, but your profile says 35mm...
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Photography in general, don't you think, NT?
Originally Posted by ntenny
Thanks for your recommendations.
I recently saw a Kodak 35 selling rather cheaply. Are these good, or are they just "cheap"?
forgot to say, the ability to change lenses is a requirement too. Thanks.
A Canon P may be something to look at in the medium range. You could probably find one in user condition with decent shutter curtains and a 50mm f/1.8 for, oh, $300.
No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Kodak 35, it's capable but slower to operate than others. It has a two-window rangefinder. You find the range distance with one window then shift to the other window to compose and take.
If you can get a Canonet QL17 GIII - by all means get that. It's fast to operate, and has parallax-corrected framelines.
Parallax-corrected framelines will help you avoid "cutting people's heads off" which is a common rangefinder mistake when you get close to the subject.
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Getting into RFs
The irony is that a Used Mamiya 7 MF RF will be cheaper than a Leica M-# but you did say 35mm (the Mamiya does take 35mm but for panoramas only).
There's no mid grade RF it's cheap fixed lens or super pricey.
However the used resell price is pretty steady so you could just buy ok ebay and then if you don't like it sell it for the same price (or more). Research prices, check seller's feedback, ask questions and you'll get something good. Sell it later if you don't like it.
The Noteworthy Ones - Mamiya: 7 II, RZ67 Pro II / Canon: 1V, AE-1 / Kodak: No 1 Pocket Autographic, No 1A Pocket Autographic
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How about an Agfa Ambi Silette? I have one in very good condition with 3 lenses that I do not use since obtaining a Leica. I think I paid $200 for the kit.
Do your research. Don't get too hasty in your decision. Most soviet & fixed lens RF camera's are worn out & not worth the price of a CLA. Find a camera store that can let you hold one. Are you a 50, 35, or wider type of shooter? Knowing what monies you have to spend is a determining factor also. My 2 main Rf cameras are a Bessa R & Canonet QL 17GIII. I love them both.
For low end, look at Petri cameras too. My first "real camera" was a Petri Racer that gave me years of good service, and was easy to repair yourself. I even removed the blades once and gave it a full cleaning with only basic tools. The camera came to its end when it fell overboard on a canoe trip, I still miss it. Ebay is full of them for well within the low end budget, just try to find one that works.
Low/medium CanonQL1.7 Glll battery is power for ONLY the meter/auto mode and the camera has a full manual mode.
Olympus 35RD,35RC(?) tiny, manual mode, battery only for meter/auto mode.
Prices vary from under $100 to $100.+ No interchangeable lens, but very compact.
Olympus 35SP/n Just about Leica size, fits my hands better. Full manual, battery for meter/auto mode. Ranges $100-$200+
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