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  1. #1

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    getting a start with rangefinders

    Hi all.
    I usually shoot digital, but recently started to explore the analog world with an old Spotmatic and a bag of Takumars. Since then I'm in love with film, have fun developing b/w negs etc.
    Now I'm really intrigued by rangefinders for wide-angle and street work.
    I've found a (imho) good offer for a new bessa r4a with an new Zeiss 35 2.8 biogon (both with warranty) that I'd like to have some opinions on.

    Is it an sensible start to rangefinders in general or is there anything I should be aware of concerning this combination?
    Like its not a good lens, or it's not a good fit for the r4a for whatever reason?

    I liked it because it felt wonderful to handle and because I like 35 on my Spotmatic. I plan to get a wider lens in the future like 28 or better 21/24 (and a 50 if funds allow). I don't plan to go tele.

    rgds...

  2. #2

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    If you liked handling it and shooting with it, that's good enough reason to buy it in my book.

    Others will tell you it's a poor substitute for a Leica, or any of another hundred reasons why their choice would be different and better, of course.

  3. #3
    Terry Christian's Avatar
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    It sounds great to me! I myself have a Bessa R2 and use assorted FSU lenses on it -- I can't afford a Zeiss currently!
    Enjoy, and be sure to post photos you take with the combo. And if you aren't already a member, I'd suggest you peruse some of the forums on rangefinderforum.com. You'll find many more discussions on rangefinders, including the Cosina Voigtländer Bessa series.

  4. #4

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    Thanks guys.
    Cant afford a L... and this set is way less than one grand...

    So I think I'l give it a try!

    edit: oh and thanks for the rff link!

  5. #5

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    A Spotmatic is a terrific camera--all you'll ever need in a 35. And the Takumars are terrific lenses. No need to get interested in another thing. Enjoy.

  6. #6

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    I have 3 Bessas and love them.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  7. #7
    David Allen's Avatar
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    I think that the key thing you need to consider is what works best for you. Many fine images have been made with every type of camera ever made. The key thing with using a rangefinder is that it is simply a different way of working. SLRs give you a very accurate idea of what you are shooting, you can directly see the effect of polarizer filters, they are much better for working with long lenses and give a better indication of any (apparant) distortion when working in close with wide angles.

    Personally, I have always preferred using rangefinder cameras. Why? - with a rangefinder you have a camera that is generally inherently quieter, it is easier to make excellent lenses for them, they are light and (even at 6 x 7) much less bulky than SLRs. However, for me there are four crucial points why I personally prefer rangefinders:

    • The image is not interrupted when you fire the shutter (no moving mirror).
    • Generally, you can see beyond the frame (i.e. see what is coming into shot or what you are excluding but which might actually be important to the image).
    • As I generally zone focus, the image remains completely clear whereas with most SLRs (excluding the original Leicaflex / Periflex / etc) using zone focussing results in one having to view a slightly blurry image.
    • I personally can hand-hold at slower speeds than an SLR and this is important to me as I generally want front to back sharpness.



    Hope this helps you with your choice.

    Bests,

    David
    www.dsallen.de

  8. #8

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    There just seem to be SLR people and rangefinder people, and the only way to know which one you are is to try 'em out. The Bessae are undoubtedly good cameras at the price point---you might end up saying "nope, this just doesn't feel right for me" and go back to your Spotmatic, but you won't say "ugh, this camera is junk and I didn't learn anything from trying it".

    The Voigtlaender 21/4 is an extremely fun lens, by the way. I think there's a newer 21mm in M mount now as well.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  9. #9

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    I personally have never found rangefinder vs SLR to be an either/or proposition and I am very comfortable switching from one to the other. The advantage that rangefinders have is the lack of time parallax. You can see the subject even at the moment of exposure. To use an SLR one must be able to anticipate what is going to happen in the next half second. Not everyone is able to do this.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  10. #10
    cliveh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gerald C Koch View Post
    To use an SLR one must be able to anticipate what is going to happen in the next half second. Not everyone is able to do this.
    I can't and would prefer a rangefinder. Unlike an SLR it allows you to see the moment of capture, together with many other advantages already mentioned.
    Last edited by cliveh; 09-07-2013 at 05:00 PM. Click to view previous post history.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

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