1st rangefinder recommendations?
I have 35mm, MF and digital but have been thinking about trying a rangefinder.
I know that Leica's are the Rolls Royce but I just want to give it a try without breaking the bank.
What would you recommend for a 1st rangefinder?
Depends on whether you want interchangeable lenses. For interchangeable lens rangefinders that are not too pricy, take a look at the new Cosina/Voigtlander cameras. You can find them at http://www.cameraquest.com/, they carry a large assortment. For a simpler and even cheaper choice, there were lots of nice cameras made from the 60's through the 70's, Yashica Electro 35, Canon GIII QL 17, and Minolta Himatic are all popular and can be found for not too much money. These will have no interchangeable lenses, usually older batteries for which alternatives need to be found, etc. However, they are great little shooters and not too expensive.
Canon 7 or Canon P if you want a classic LTM RF...see http://www.antiquecameras.net/canonrfcameras.html
Bessa R for a modern RF camera....
used these run $ 150-200
Canon Glll. Lots of bang for the buck.
It will give you the rfdr. experience without spending a lot of money.
If you like using it then you can go for an interchangeable lens camera. If
you don't you can get your money back selling it here. Current market is $30-$100+.
If you find one that doesn't seem to work at first glance, see if it's set on Auto. If it is,
and the battery is dead it will not release. Just change the aperture ring to an f stop and it may just work.
It is fully operable in manual without a battery or with a dead battery. Also check the battery contacts for corrosion, if they're all corroded the corrosion may have gotten to the + wire.
what about a Canon Canonet QL17 G-III ???
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I think much depends on your budget. Affordable is relative. For some people, it's $20-$50. For others, it's $150-$250.
The issue with any older camera is finding one that doesn't need to be serviced before you use it.
There are hundreds of different models from all over the world. So, my questions:
1) Your budget
2) Interchangeable lens? Or is a fixed lens OK?
3) Modern-day camera or vintage? (make that, European or Asian)
4) Japanese or German?
Last edited by elekm; 05-20-2009 at 08:16 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Basic Bessa to Bare M3.
For about 2 1/2 years, my film revival was with a Bessa-L, finder and 25mm f/4 lens. I used Delta 100 [at EI 50], and it worked great. Obviously, there are some limitations with only one short lens. Many of those photos will stay with me forever. Zone focusing was a good way to discipline myself into working quickly and confidently. My background was a Rollei 35B and Minox 35 in the late 70s and early 80s [Kodachrome 25], I didn't take to d!g!-stuff.
Then I bought my friend's somewhat tired M3 [he wanted to pay for his 8x10 Deardorff]. I had it fully overhauled [CLA'd] and the [wrecked] vulcanite replaced with modern vinyl, which is great.
After I bought the M3, for about a year and a half, I used Rolleicords almost exclusively [craving the larger negative]. Now, I am well into using the M3 exclusively, with new Summarit-M 50 f/2.5 and Plus-X Kodak movie film stock: b&w 5231, bought by the 400 foot roll. The larger negative is no longer is my obsession; from Tri-X or the Plus-X, I make 16x20 FB prints that delight me.
Summary: starting very modestly worked out great for me. My first 35mm RF wasn't really a RF after all; just a scale-focus delight. Now, I love working quickly and spontaneously with the M3, using Sunny f/11; no meter. Good luck!
If you want a 'real' [leica style] instead of a fixed lens RF, for under $100 CLA'd or in CLA'd condition, you can get a Zorki 4 with a wicked Jupiter 8 from Fekda.com
Screwmount Leicas are not that expensive either, $250 for a IIIc.
The only fixed lens RF I have experience with is the Olympus XA, which is tiny, quiet, aperture priority and has a wicked lens. Best pocket camera ever
I would want interchangable lenses
The main choices then are the Bessa/Leica/Zorki/Zeiss Ikon cameras.
Bessa is pretty well built, not as good as Leica, but its not too expensive, and a good way to get into it. It uses M lenses, unless you get the original R, which takes Leica screwmount, just like the Leica III and Zorki.
The zorki is pretty nice, though more rough feeling than the smoothness of a Leica, or even a bessa. Remember to only change shutter speeds after winding with the Leica screwmount cameras and Zorkis. Otherwise you'll probably break the shutter.