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  1. #21
    gnashings's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by srs5694
    re: Focusing rangefinders vs. SLRs



    That varies a lot with both types. I just checked a few of my cameras and lenses, and my Canonet QL17 rangefinder does have the shortest throw from closest to farthest focus of those I checked, but the next-shortest was a Zenitar 16mm SLR lens, then a Tamron 24mm SLR lens. The standard 50mm Industar 61L/D lens on a FED 5 rangefinder has roughly a 180-degree turn for full focus range, which is similar to that on my Fujica ST-801 SLR's 55mm standard lens.

    The bottom line: If you like lenses with short (or long, for that matter) movement for the full focus range, check the lens; don't assume that you'll get what you want because the camera/lens is of a particular type.
    I am not assuming anything - I just looked at the three rf's I have in the house- a canter beauty, a QL17 and a Bell&Howell Canonet 19. I have handled/shot/played with countless others - but I do not have them on hand. All have close to standard lenses (40mm - 50mm range) and all have no more than a third of a turn "lock to lock" with the QL 17 being about 1/4 of a turn. All the lenses in that focal length range I have (a Nikon, two Canons, one Helios and a Minolta) range from almost a full 360 deg to 3/4 of a turn. I would say its safe to venture a generalization like the one I put forth, since in most cases, it will be true. I never claimed it was a hard and fast rule - but something the average person will find in the average 35mm rf.

    edit for ridiculous typos.

  2. #22

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    Gnashings, it may be true of your three rangefinders, but that's hardly a very wide sample. My (similarly small) sample turned up a much weaker correlation.

  3. #23
    gnashings's Avatar
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    I am not trying to be argumentative (I know I come across as such sometimes) - perhaps its the cameras I have nadled, as you say. On the other hand - perhaps this is more correct way to phrase it - while there seems to be some correlation on the higher end, I don't recall anything in SLR lenses taht dos a 1/4 turn, like the QL for example. It was just one of those things that struck me as a user when the RF's where new to me - and I am quite willing to concede that it may be largely a personal reaction based on the cameras I was used to.

    Either way, all the best!

    Peter.

  4. #24

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    No one has really answered the question of what are rangefinders good for. Really anything in general photography, other than macro work, where the parallax problem becomes serious. They tend to be quite a bit lighter than SLRs so are easy to carry for long periods, which helps with landscape work and they are less noisy and conspicuous than an SLR which makes them great for candid people shots and street photography. There is no mirror shock, so they are easier to hand hold at low shutter speeds in low light. They can also be easier to focus in low light, although I notice that some people don't agree. Finally, lens designs can be simpler, especially wide angles, as there is no need for retrofocus systems to keep the rear element clear of a moving mirror, so the lenses can be less compromised and so sharper.

    David.

  5. #25

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    I use rangefinders for general photography with focal lengths from 28mm to 90mm. They are particularly useful for short lenses, although accessory viewfinders may be needed. Depending on the camera, lenses longer than about 135mm may not be practical due to focussing difficulties. Most rangefinder enthusiasts use 35mm or 50mm as their normal lens, although 28mm and 40mm are also common. The controls on a typical Leica rangefinder are very similar to those on mechanical SLRs such as the Pentax K1000 or Nikon FM. However, rangefinders have an altogether different "feel" which may be due to the viewfinder. It is like looking through a window directly at the scene, giving a sense of immediacy. There is almost no sense of the camera being a barrier between the photographer and the subject. Some people like this very much (I do); others may find it disconcerting. Unfortunately, on rangefinders without TTL metering, there may be a tendency to take pictures of lens caps.

  6. #26

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    The current "normal" lens on my 35mm RF is a 21mm. Haven't taken a picture of the lens cap with it - yet.

    I find that with my big RF (Century Graphic) I occasionally take a photo of the dark slide. Of course, I've done the same thing with my 8x10...
    Tom Hoskinson
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  7. #27
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    Rangefinders are mostly used for photographing people. People tend to think that the larger camera you have, the more proffesional it is. Rangefinders are typically small. atleast the ones for 135-format, so people are more relaxed in front of the camera and tend to pose less. Beeing photographed is not a natural thing. Small rangefinders typically have the viewfinder placed far left on the camera. This means you're not covering your face behind a large bulky SLR while you're shooting. In other words, the person getting photographed is not staring into a machine but at the photographer.

    Another story is that of Leica. Rangefinders would probably not be used a lot if it wasn't for Leica. Many famous photographs have been shot with Leica such as the portrait of Che Guevara, the d-day invasion of normandy and the little girl running away from napalm in Vietnam. Photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson, Elliot Erwitt, Ralph Gibson, Sebastiao Salgado, Reni Burri, Anton Corbijn, Robert Capa and many others all used/uses Leica.

  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by gnashings
    I don't recall anything in SLR lenses taht dos a 1/4 turn, like the QL for example.
    They do exist. Examples in my camera bag include a Zenitar 16mm and a Mir-47K 20mm. A Tamron 28-70mm takes just barely more than 1/4 turn, and a Tamron 24mm is a bit more than that, but I'd guess a bit less than 1/3 of a turn.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by cvik
    Rangefinders are mostly used for photographing people. People tend to think that the larger camera you have, the more proffesional it is. Rangefinders are typically small. atleast the ones for 135-format, so people are more relaxed in front of the camera and tend to pose less.
    The other side of this is that in medium format, a rangefinder is (or at least can be) a LOT cheaper than an SLR or TLR. The RF mechanism is less expensive than another lens the same size as the main one, and a LOT cheaper than all the doodads that make an SLR work. It's also relatively easy to make a rangefinder camera fold, which is handy if it's 120 film and a 105 mm lens (the downside of folders is that bellows are labor intensive, which makes them costly in today's world -- hence the demise of the folder in the 1960s and 1970s). And if you're shooting 6x9 cm on 120, there aren't many choices for SLRs or even TLRs anyway. But there are always the thousands of old Moskvas and Super Ikontas, and then one shouldn't forget the Fuji "Texas Leica".

    I use my Moskva-5 for everything I do in photography (except that it doesn't fit in a shirt pocket like my Minolta 16s do). Very good lens, as robust as a folder will ever be, fits in a pocket (well, the ones on cargo pants or heavy winter coats, anyway), and I can focus on my own feet with confidence they'll be sharp if I don't move the camera during exposure. I don't use the Moskva excluslively because I like variety, and sometimes want either a different negative format or a smaller, lighter camera.
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  10. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by cvik
    Rangefinders are mostly used for photographing people.
    I use my rangefinders for general photograhy, landscapes, and occasionally I use my rangefinders for people photography. My Fuji GS690 II rangefinder is actually fairly obtrusive - as is my Century Graphic.
    Tom Hoskinson
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