I think with _all_ lenses for _all_ systems, there are good and bad ones. At the very least, the very best lenses from brand X on system Y are about as good/as good as/maybe a bit better than the very best lenses from brand A on system B. I would not, therefore, say that "all" RF lenses are better/sharper/faster than lenses for, say, your Nikon system.
The RF lenses of the same aperture "speed" will effectivley be faster than on an SLR becuase you can use slower shutter speeds on an RF than on an SLR, but I have not noticed a consistent aperture speed increase with RF lenses as compared to the same focal length brethren for SLR's. At most, you're talking about less than a stop difference (I'm not familiar with _that_ many RF lenses myself, but that's what I've noticed from what I have run across).
Anyway. Basically, there are sharp lenses for RF systems out there. If you get one with interchangeable lenses, then there is plentiful information here and on other sites about which lenses are better than others. If you're getting one with a fixed lens, there is also quite a bit of info out there about whether that lens is sharp or not. I have generally found that the majority of these types of fixed lens RF's do have sharp lenses, though.
The ideal situation would be to find a Leica user in your area, and see if they'd let you try it out. QUOTE]
Hey, I live in San Jose, too!
I really like my rangefinder, but I think that using a Leica would make me too worried about the cost of the camera to enjoy the shooting. The Canonet is nice in that regard.
However, if I am to get anything better, I will have to spend significantly more than for the Canonet.
Last summer I managed to drop my wife's brand new Nikon D70 into the stream at the base of Yosemite falls. I felt like I was going to throw up. I did manage to get some snapshots of the day with my Mockba, though...
Thanks very much Allen and everyone, this has been a very informative thread.
'Last summer I managed to drop my wife's brand new Nikon D70 into the stream at the base of Yosemite falls.'
A Leica would survive that easily! Leica would probably do a free CLA for you. They did when I dropped an M6 into the Strait of Malacca.
Originally Posted by MattCarey
I'm up in Redwood City. Not that I have a Leica, but I have a couple of the older, built-in RF systems (Canonet, Yashica Electro GSN, Konica S2). I'm having fun with the Canonet a lot lately.
Not sure if it would hep at all, but just letting you know I'm in the area, too.
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Oh, wait. You already have an RF. I think I got myself turned around in this thread. Sorry I"m a moron.
Originally Posted by MattCarey
I agree, Claire, 35mm rangefinders have a clear set of limitations, and for many applications an SLR is really the better, or at least more flexible, choice. In the past, Leica produced a number of interesting innovations, such as the Visoflex, in an effort to overcome the inherent limitations of rangefinder design. But, some of those innovations now seem a bit Rube Goldberg-ish. I use the older 135/2.8 lens on my Ms that has a (permanently-attached) set of "eyes" to magnify the view with the 135mm framelines. Unfortunately, this lens is rather large and heavy (at least by Leica standards), and is no longer manufactured. But, it's an excellent lens and the shallow DOF at 2.8 (at which it is still very sharp) is great to work with. Here is a sample image of the 135 Elmarit at 2.8.
At the other end of the spectrum, macro, rangefinders are again limited. The older solution from Leica was the dual-range (DR) Summicron that shifts to a closer focusing range with the addition of the "eyes". But, the DR only focuses to 17" or 19", depending on the model. Absent the eyes, though, the DR Summicron is still one of the sharpest 50mm lenses available, and has a wonderful signature. Here's a sample image with the DR in normal range, taken on a foggy morning at the old graveyard in Natchez, and another in close-up mode with the eyes. Here's another image with the DR that shows its sharpness at more conventional distance. Although I'm not particularly good at "street" photography, that and candids are where rangefinders are probably at their best due to size, quiet operation and general stealth.
At least with Leica, and probably Zeiss rangefinder lenses, too, another distinction is that they perform very well wide open, whereas many 35mm SLR lenses really need to be stopped down at least a couple of stops before they perform well. Plus, the light weight of a rangefinder tends to allow hand-held shots at considerably lower shutter speeds. This shot, for example, was done at 1/15 at f/2.8 on FP4+ inside an old battleship.
Each person, I believe, needs to make their own decision based on their personal style, what they shoot, and what they are looking for. I like the Leica for its small size, light weight and stealth - but mostly for the distinctive signature of Leica lenses. But, I still use my Nikon SLRs when I want auto-focus, flash sync at higher speeds (the M only syncs at 1/50 or below), real macro, or very long lenses. The Leica M also tags along when I'm out with the 4x5 or 8x10, as its light weight and small size allows me to document other elements of the LF shoot or locale conveniently.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
The camera wasn't soaked. There was definitely some water in the electonics, as the shutter was misfiring.
Originally Posted by Helen B
Nikon told me they would repair camera and lens for $350. After much waiting, they sent back the camera with a note that it was unrepairable. The camera was definitely in worse shape after being returned. The electronics were totally dead.
The lens had some fog, but wasn't soaked. As a Nikonos shooter I was been taught that the lens shouldn't dry--it is easier to clean before the gunk dries onto the lens. I sent it carefully packaged. Nikon returned it dry as a bone, with a nice coating of crud now stuck on the lens. I wish I had sent it to Subaquatic right away...
This was only the second time I have really dropped a camera. The first time was about 25 years ago, when I dropped my OM1 in the cafeteria at Isomata (music camp). Small dent, no problems. The D70 fell out of the case literally the first time I got near water.
1) don't borrow my wife's camera!
2) don't use camera cases.
I dropped a Nikon F down a mountainside at 4:30AM. 200 feet of bonk bonk bonk. 200 feet of me climbing down $%^#%VC!@^%^%!!!!! the whole way.
Picked up Nikon. Filter shattered off the front lens element. Metal lens hood bent. Cap (tupperware) nowhere to be seen. Pushed shutter button.
Film wound okay, so I used the camera for another two weeks before coming back in out of the wilderness. All a-okay when I got back to the shop.
Now I use my Contax for all photo tasks that I think are the least bit rough -- the DSLR has already seen its share of the inside of the service department!
Sorry to hear about the D70. That old 'camera falling out of the case' accident is a bummer. I once had one of those 'slow-motion' moments when I saw an Arriflex movie camera tumble out of a case onto concrete as someone picked the case up, the case being unlocked. I bet the assistant who failed to close the latches will never make that mistake again.
I became hooked on rangefinders very early - I got a Zorki 4 in the late 60's, a few years before I got an SLR. It really is just personal preference. I find that there is a distinct difference in the way I compose on a ground glass screen and through a direct viewfinder. That is actually the most important difference for me.
One is a sort of detached, studied, abstracted view and the other is an immersed, involved connection. I hope that doesn't sound too artsy. Pretentious, moi?
The technical capability-based choice between an SLR and a rangefinder is straightforward. As Ralph mentioned, if you only need a limited macro capability on rare occasions there is the 50 mm DR, and now there's also the rather nice 90 mm f/4 collapsible macro.
The Visoflex, Focuslide and especially the Reprovit all have their uses, and they all use a rangefinder body to hold the film. It's just that those uses are limited, specialised.