Don't bid over $15 or so. If you don't like it, you're not out much...
I own and use the following rangefinders for street photography:
1. Argus C3 with 35mm, 50mm, and 100mm interchangeable lenses
2. Canon Canonet QL17 G-III with fixed 40mm f/1.7 lens
3. Minolta Hi-Matic 9 with fixed 45mm f/1.7 lens
4. Fuji GW670 III with fixed 90mm f/3.5 normal lens
5. Fuji GSW690 III with fixed 65mm f/5.6 wide-angle lens
All are useable for street photography; however, the Canonet is my personal favorite because of its small size and fast 40mm lens.
If money were no object, I would also consider the Leica MP, Leica M6, Leica M2, Mamiya 7, Voigtlander, Zeiss, and Contax rangefinders.
Do keep in mind that if you buy any Japanese camera from the mid-1960s and later, you will need to replace the foam seals, unless someone has already done that for you.
There are some very usable rangefinders. If you are looking for something with a battery-powered meter, the Canon is a good choice. Also, the Olympus 35 RC.
The Rollei XF 35 is a decent little camera but autoexposure only. Same goes for the Konica C35 Automatic and Vivitar 35CA.
If you move backward to the 1950s, your choices really open to include the early Konicas (I, II and III, although the II is overpriced).
Also, a number of German cameras, including Agfa, Zeiss Ikon, Voigtlander, Braun, Balda and others.
The search is endless. Take a look on my site for a handful of reviews. Good luck. You can buy some very good cameras without breaking the bank.
What about the R4A? I've been thinking about a rangefinder for a while as well and these models look interesting.
Originally Posted by giannisg2004
Another RF newbie question - how are the Voigtlander lenses?
The CV lenses are excellent but only a few on the M mount ones are available single coated. The screw thread ones can be cheaper even allowing you will need an adopter.
If you could tolerate a screw thread system camera each of the Canon VI, CanonP and Canon 7 series are fast handling system cameras with easy maintenance.
You then have the option of Canon or CV or other third party lenses which will couple to the rangefinder eg Leica.
As late as 20 years ago these cameras used to be cheap but not any more, they are still cheaper than Leica M's from same epoc.
My normal kit
CanonP user 150 GBP
CV 35mm /2.5 as new 160 GBP
note no foam in a P or VI
Last edited by Xmas; 06-25-2014 at 08:30 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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I'm going to throw the oddball choice out there in the form of a Leica III series. I don't know how much experience you have with RF's (or film in general) but a III is probably at one end of the extreme in terms of hard to use.
The biggest challenge you would have with it, as a newbie to RF, would be its separate RF and VF windows. Basically you have two little windows next to each other, one to focus and the other to compose. This is challenging because it slows you down (or rather requires you to be quicker), as you have to swap windows when shooting. In addition to this other specs of the III series slow you down more, from its separate slow and fast shutter dials, to winding on film (with a little knob that makes it hard to wind-on with it to your eye) instead of the more modern crank wind.
So why am I recommending it?
Well for one thing, the separate RF window means it can be a 1.5x mag RF which makes it easier to focus with, especially when starting out.
But mainly I am recommending these cameras are absolute characters. I, and many other owners, instantly fall in love with the nice looks and simple use of these cameras. You mentioned you wanted to do street photography? Well this is the camera Bresson used and excelled with. I think that is mainly because these cameras are absolutely tiny! Coming from a DSLR you will be shocked something so small can make a picture, and in street photography this is invaluable. With a collapsible 3.5 50mm, you can easily fit this into your front pocket, and this not only makes it inconspicuous but also means you could take this camera anywhere with you (don't underestimate the power of convenience). It is literally like taking a slightly larger phone with you everywhere you go, instead of a full-fledged camera.
In terms of cost, if you go to an auction you will find there are tons of these series popping up all over the place and they are quite cheap, sometimes as little as £100 for a set with a lens. Screw mount lenses, by the way, are gorgeous and you can definitely count them as investing in the Leica system as they are useable in their own right on the M system (or any system for that matter) with an adapter.
If you want to try the street with RF - Olympus XA.
35mm 2.8 OM.Zuiko lens is sharp and good at b/w and very pleasing with color.
AV priority is big advantage. Normal batteries available everywhere and cheap in price, and they last for one year or more.
Compact size, next to miniature, closing shelf makes it true camera for the pocket. Camera body is metal.
RF patch isn't brightest one, or should I say, visible one, but for the street with 35mm lens it isn't necessary, yet, RF is still usable for precise focusing.
With wrist strap it is one hand camera.
The very best rangefinder I've ever used is the Bronica RF645. A modern, electronically-controlled shutter with a fabulous viewfinder, spot-accurate focus and easy to use manual exposure, plus aperture-priority autoexposure. It's about the same size as my EOS 3 35mm camera but a bit lighter. The only downside is limited lens selection - 45mm, 65mm and 100mm (and the vary rare 135mm), and they are a bit pricy (~$800 with 65mm lens).
A few medium to low price recommendations:
Canon 19QL (relatively large one) and GIII 19QL (smaller, but more expensive).
Olympus 35RC (small, reasonably priced)
Canon 17QL GIII (higher priced, fast lens)
Minolta HiMatic 7sii (even higher priced, fast lens)
All priced from $20 to $160 depending on their condition.
Another bit of food for thought - a Kodak Retina. They came in a variety of versions, but probably the best overall combination of size and features is a IIa. They're a little quirky, but you get an all-manual camera with a decent enough sized rangefinder/viewfinder window, a nice Schneider or Rodenstock f2 lens and a leaf shutter with speeds up to 1/500th.