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  1. #1

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    Any suggestions for a compact rangefinder?

    As a lot of you will know by now, I do a lot of archaeological air photography. A private pilot has recently offered to take pictures for me at times when I can't fly and I want to lend him a fairly decent film camera in preference to his own less than brilliant 4MP digital. I offered an old EOS 650, but he thinks it too big, but is prepared to take something like my Canonet QL-17 GIII. I'd lend it happily, but the 40mm lens is a bit too short to give good images of small features from 1500 - 2000 feet. Can anyone suggest something like this camera: a compact rangefinder with a good, fairly fast lens and shutter priority auto, but with a slightly longer (more 50 than 40mm) lens and a maximum shutter speed of at least 1/500th? I'd prefer a rangefinder, but auto focus would be OK so long as you can switch it off and still focus on infinity (from the air everything is at infinity, except bits of the aircraft).

    David.

  2. #2

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    You mentioned no bugdet. If one can be procured at a price reasonable to you a Konica Hexar RF with a 50mm lens would make a very nice choice.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  3. #3

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    I don't think the Hexar has shutter priority auto and it is probably still a little bit big, but thanks anyway.

    David.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Woolliscroft
    As a lot of you will know by now, I do a lot of archaeological air photography.
    David.
    I know aerial photography, specifically mapping. I cannot respect any effort that is limited to anything short of 4x5. You wanna get serious, then let's change the platform. 35mm has been dead in that area for decades.

  5. #5

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    Sorry, you are right. The auto-exposure is aperture not shutter priority. The weight with batteries is 22 ounces. In its favor is 2.5 frames per second motor drive and a shutter topping out at 1/4000th second and motor rewinding. The ability to change focal lengths may turn out very handy in the future. The camera has been discontinued and may possibly be had a bargain basement price.

    Good luck with your search.
    Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)

  6. #6

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    If you can fit a 4 x 5 with a motor drive and still get it in a pocket fine. I am looking for something a private pilot can use without lumbering himself with intrusive equipment. He is flying for fun, but has been kind enough to volunteer to help me at the same time, so I need a camera where he will get the best detail for the least trouble. 35mm will still outclass his digital and he just won't use anything bigger. I use 6 x 7 myself with a bit of 35mm colour. I don't know any archaeological flier that uses large format. You just can't take pictures fast enough. Mapping work is often done around 10,000 feet and covers large areas on a relatively small number of frames, shooting vertically, often in specially modified aircraft. We work between 500 and 2,000 feet, covering details as obliques by just shooting out of the window of little light aircraft like C-150s and I can easily take 200 pictures an hour, often in intensive bursts. It just can't be done with large format. As for getting serious, well have a look at my books or TV stuff: it keeps me in work.

    David.

  7. #7

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    Hmm I think most fixed lens rangefinders come with 35-40mm lenses. P&S mostly comes with 28-35mm lenses. That leads to the leica/contax/konica/woigtländer cameras.
    How about the Bessa L with a 50mm ? Do you need the rangefinder when shooting from a plan ?
    regards Søren

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soeren
    Hmm I think most fixed lens rangefinders come with 35-40mm lenses. P&S mostly comes with 28-35mm lenses. That leads to the leica/contax/konica/woigtländer cameras.
    How about the Bessa L with a 50mm ? Do you need the rangefinder when shooting from a plan ?
    regards Søren
    Quite true, you don't need a rangefinder in the air as everything is at infinity. The main problem in this case is exposure control. I am dealing with someone who is not camera savvy and so needs something fairly point and shoot. At the same time, light aircraft vibrate badly so we need fast shutter speeds, hence the need for shutter priority auto: and 1970s era rangefinders were mostly shutter priority. I have an assortment of other small cameras I could lend him (up to a Leica MP) with manual or aperture priority auto, I just don't think they are suited to this pilot, at least not yet. Basically anything with a lens longer than my Cannon's 40mm will be a plus.

    David.

  9. #9

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    I've done a bit of this myself (MF and 35mm) shooting B&W, color and false color IR.

    My (rather expensive) 35mm solution would be the Contax G2 with either the 90mm Sonnar or 45mm Planar lens. The G2 provides auto exposure and your choice of auto or manual focus. The G2 is capable of shooting single shot, 2 fps and 4 fps. It will also auto bracket exposures.
    Tom Hoskinson
    ______________________________

    Everything is analog - even digital :D

  10. #10
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    Not that I've seen one in real life, but have you considered the Nikonos Calypso or the Nikonos III? They were available with a long 80mm lens, have an uncoupled? range finder, shutter speeds up to 1/500th, are/look sturdy enough to to handle some vibration and have a wire frame winder on top. It's maybe an odd suggestion, but why not? They come cheap these days on the second hand market places.

    (And, please do correct me if this is nonsensical advice)

    Cheers,
    me-fo-no

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