A Bessa R and any of the great FSU lenses would be my recommendation. I love those cameras. Build quality is NOT Leica-like, but they have an excellent meter, are reasonably priced, the shutters go to 1/2000, and the viewfinders are big and bright. Very reliable. Buy this kit and invest in a ton of Tri-X w/ the money you'd save over a Leica.
OR Less expensive and easier to carry around...
Kodak Signet 40. Around 10 bucks.
If you don't like it or it breaks, no big deal.
Canon made quite a few rangefinder cameras in the early days. At present I only own one rangefinder camera, that being the Canon IIS2. I previously owned the Canon III, and consider both of these to be fine cameras.
Here's a list of those early Canon rangefinder cameras.
Many of these can be found on eBay in excellent condition, and at a reasonable price.
Last edited by DannL.; 03-28-2014 at 11:20 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Sort of seconding Steve T above, get a Kodak Signet 35. It focuses down to 2 feet and has an Ektar lens, 44mm f3.5 IIRC. The shutter has only 4 speeds and is the weak point of the system but the pictures are great. As a rule of thumb, any lens that Kodak called an Ektar will punch way above its weight.
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I have a IIb, it's like having a Barnack Leica with a better viewfinder - one window and three(!) magnifications. Lovely little cameras, alas mine is in such nice condition I wouldn't use it for day-to-day walking around with. The build quality of these cameras is superb.
Originally Posted by DannL.
My recommendation would be to find one of the CV (Cosina Voigtlander) Bessa 35mm rangefinders. They are all great cameras and they are current so you are not trying to work with cameras that are 40 to 60 years old. The Bessa R takes the older threadmount (Leica Screw Mount - LTM) lenses, though Cosina Voigtlander has built new versions as well. The rest, Bessa R2A & M through Bessa R4 use the Leica M (bayonet) mount.
I personally work with the Bessa R, the Bessa R2C (uses the older Contax mount) and the Bessa R2M. They are all great cameras and, if you keep your eyes open, come up on E-Bay as well as the Rangefinder.com forum classifieds, on a relatively frequent basis. Prices are usually around $300 for the Bessa R, and a bit more expensive for the R2 or R3.
Of course there is always the older models of Leica, Nikon and Canon, not to mention fixed lens models that were put out by Kodak, Agfa and others in the 50s, and Japanese manufactured fixed lens versions from Konica and the like in the 70s. All good cameras and all are lots of fun.
Personally, my favorite is the Agfa Ambi-Silette rangefinder that was produced in the fifties. It was known as the "Poor Mans Leica" and has one of the best viewfinders I have ever seen. There were 4 lenses built for it.
Good luck with your search and have fun.
The simplest tools can be the hardest to master.
Some cheaper RF cameras I've used that are well built with decent lenses are the Konica Auto S2 and the Ricoh 519. For compactness do not forget the Olympus XA. Great lens.
I've read the Jupiter-12 rear element will make contact with the Bessa internals so that FSU lens would not be an option. I have one I use on my Zorki's though and I like it. At ~$100 avg for a good copy with caps it isn't bad for the price.
To the OP: I just got into RF's a few months ago and decided on Zorki RF's for some of the same reasons of economy you state. I'm an SLR guy and I just wanted to play around with RF's and see how I like them. I didn't, and still don't, want to invest a ton of money into an RF system. I did entertain the thought of getting one of the LSM Canon's but decided finish out my Zorki collection and stay with all FSU equipment. Word of warning about the FSU RF's though. I've purchased 4 Zorkis, one was for parts, one was 100% functional, the other two have slow speed shutter issues and some rear curtain speed issues, but they still take great photos. In my opinion you need to be mechanically minded and able to perform some minor maintenance on these things to keep them working and be able to work around minor problems. That being said, I am told that once these things have undergone a full CLA they work like a charm again. I have contacted Fedka to set up a CLA for at least one of my older ones to see if I can't get it to functioning at 100%.
Links to photos with my Zorki's (lens info on each photo):
'56 Zorki 3S: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9565031...7642781383815/
'61 Zorki 4: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9565031...7642780888575/
'71 Zorki 4: http://www.flickr.com/photos/9565031...7642783363733/
Originally Posted by momus
Last edited by Lamar; 03-28-2014 at 06:24 PM. Click to view previous post history.
If you're patient, you can get a Nikon S2 with a 50 f/1.4 lens for less than $500.