Newer/Current RF Cameras?
I am seriously considering a RF, but outside of Contax and Leica I don't know of any other newer bodies.
So what's a newer RF?
My top choice as of now is the Contax G2.
The most important thing is TTL and I would like a camera that is no more than 10 years old.
If you are considering the G2 then I guess you want AF, is that so?
If not necessarily, then check out the Zeiss Ikon, that is a very nice piece. About $1500. As I recall the ZI is a high end product from the same company that makes the bessas, which are nothing to sneeze at. The bessa r3a in particular is very interesting if you want a 1:1 viewfinder.
I ditched most of my 35mm equipment and went to a mamiya 6, that is my current favourite RF. I love square format.
The Cosina-Voigtländer cameras are nice too - I have a Bessa-L (no rangefinder) and a Bessa-T (rangefinder). Neither of the two have an incorporated viewfinder, so a separate finder is necessary. These come with the very- to ultra-wide CV lenses, and I've got a Russian revolver finder for the longer focal lengths.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
The Bessa R series do have viewfinders, very nice ones. All models have through the lens metering and some have aperture priority automation. This is a really good time to be shopping for a rangefinder.
My favorite rangefinder is a Plaubel Makina 6x7. Very simple to use. Should you find one send it to Nippon Photo Clinic, 920 Broadway #705, NYC, NY 10010. for a thorough cleaning and repairs if need. I had to replace the advance, focusing and was cleaned fully for $745. Believe me it was worth it. Will last another 25 years; by then there will be no one left to repair it.
Nippon: 212 982 3177.
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The Konica Hexar RF is a capable well made viewfinder/rangefinder camera.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
The Mamiya 7 II, which is medium format. Very nice lenses, with some available used at reasonable prices. There is also a kit to allow using 35mm film in the camer, with the result being long panorama type shots (like a Hasselblad XPan). Normal shots are 6x7, with 10 shots per 120 roll film, and 20 shots for 220 roll film. It is definitely larger and heavier than any 35mm rangefinder camera, though not bad at all for hand held usage.
A G Studio
If you are looking for TTL metering, all modern rangefinder cameras have that. But if you are looking for TTL flash, only the Leica M7 offers it among RF cameras in current production. The only other RFs that offered it were the Contax G/2 & the Leica M6 TTL, neither of which are in current production although the Contax G2 can still be purchased new & service is now provided by ToCad. If you hunt, you may be able to find a new M6 TTL, but if you can't, there are plenty on the used market.
Besides Leica, which currently offers both the M7 with AE and the all mechanical MP - both with 3 choices of magnification, there are two other rangefinders currently in production, both of which use M-mount & can therefore use not only their own lenses but also each others' & Leica's.
The more recent is the Zeiss Ikon, which became available for sale a year ago. It is a Leica style camera with a long base rangefinder & with aperture priority autoexposure, designed by the Zeiss optics company & contracted for manufacture under Zeiss supervision & quality control to Cosina. It is warranteed & distributed by Zeiss except in Japan. It is accompanied by its own set of lenses & auxiliary viewfinders. You can find more information about it at www.zeissikon.com, at www.zeiss.de & at www.elekm.net/zeiss_ikon/. The best prices in the USA are at www.popflash.com where it sells for about $1250.
The other is the Bessa series of rangefinder cameras, also manufactured by Cosina but under their own Voigtlander label and with their own distribution & warranty. First introduced in 1999, the Bessa series today offers 3 variations each with a mechanical version & an AE version. The Bessas have a shorter base rangefinder than the Zeiss Ikon and the Leica M7 or MP. The R2 has standard magnification, the R3 high magnification for longer lenses, & the R4, newly announced for April, lower magnification for wide angle lenses. The Voigtlander Bessas are accompanied by a full line of lenses & other accessories. You can find more information at www.cameraquest.com, a USA distributor. You will also find the best prices there as well as at www.photovillage.com, also a USA distributor. They sell for about $550.
No longer in production but still available new is the Rollei 35 RF, designed & manufactured for Rollei by Cosina starting in 2003, & accompanied by two classic Rollei lenses. It is an M-mount clone of the Bessa R2 but with 40/50/80 frame lines rather than the 35/50/75/90 frame lines of the R2. For fans of 40 mm lenses it offers a viewfinder with standard magnification, making the frame lines easier to see than on the high magnification Bessa R3, the only Bessa camera to use 40 frame lines. It is available at www.bhphotovideo.com for about $550.
The other modern rangefinder built within the last 10 years is the Konica Hexar RF, introduced in 1999. It is a Leica style long base rangefinder. It was only built in a low magnification version. It has AE & is the only manual focus rangefinder camera with motorized auto rewind. It comes with its own M-mount lenses. The Hexar RF is an excellent camera, but because Konica discontinued camera production after it merged with Minolta, there have been reports that it is a problem to obtain parts, so service may be a problem. If you want to inquire about the current status of service issues & parts availability, contact Greg Weber (www.webercamera.com), who is the top service/repair tech in USA for this camera. It is available new at www.photostop.net for $1999 in kit form with 50/2 lens, flash, & case & is occasionally available used. Konica also made a fixed lens Hexar AF, which is very highly regarded & is also available at Photostop for $950 new.
Best of luck with your search.
Last edited by Biogon Bill; 11-20-2006 at 08:37 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Thanks for your very detailed reply.
Form this and the other research I have done, I am now thinking of the Bessa R3A.
I had a Bessa R2 and really liked it, until it was crushed under a tree. The insurance company gave me money to buy a second hand Leica M6, and even though I like it better in most ways, I still miss the Bessa sometimes. After getting about 200 kg of tree on it the shell of the body was actually unharmed, unfortunately the lens was pushed inside the body though. Only thing I didn't like about it was that you cut the film at the holes when cutting between the frames. Difficult to describe and of cource not important at all. Funny though, I wonder why it worked like that.
I would buy an R2M if I bought a new one. But I like mechanical.