Your experience with (cheaper) RF gear?
I'd like to hear some opinions on the (cheaper) RF gear you've used (35mm and medium format). Pros, cons, peculiarities, etc.
I don't want to hear about Leica - I know about it, but it's waaaay beyond my price range :-(
The reason why I'm asking is that I do use some RF regularly (from Russian Kiev 4 and Zorki 4 to Koni Omega), and for each of them there are things that I like and those I dislike.
So far, Koni Omega can't be beat (for the price of $120 on that auction site - Koni Omega and Hexanon 90/3.5). RF is perfect, vievfinder clear, easy to focus (my eyesight is not what it used to be). And the benefit of large negative size is obvious. And the ergonomics are great - once you get used to "funky" way it's handled.
Also, I like the bokeh on Hexanon 90/3.5. Almost nothing about Koni Omega that I don't like. However, the size and weight is a limiting factor sometimes when I want to travel light.
I also like my Kiev 4 with its Jupiters (50/2 and 35/2.8) - it would be a perfect (cheap) 35mm RF if it weren't for the squinty viewfinder. However, the quality of photos I get from it makes me forget that viewfinder trouble :-)
Zorki 4 has a better viewfinder (large and bright), but the rewind knob is a PITA :-((
Winding film to the next shot is definitely painful :-)) Jupiter 8 (50/2) in LTM mount on my Zorki is also quite OK.
Lately I've been using my RF gear more and more - the RF is easier to focus (particularly in poor light) than my 35mm manual Nikon gear, and all of the above gear gives me better bokeh than most of my (consumer-grade) Nikkor glass.
I can recomend the Bessa R2, it's a good camera and the lenses are also very good value. If I hadn't got an M6 for a bargin I would use it as my main 35 m camera.
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The only "cheap" rangefinde I have any experience with is a FED-2. It is, quite simply, exellent! The rangefinder has a very long baseline, making very precise focussing possilbe with a good lens. Even shots at full aperture (f:3.5) with the FED collapsible lens have been spot on.
The viewfinder is small, but the dioptric correction goes all the way to -4, whih means I can use it without my glasses. I can then get close enough to the viewfinder to see through it properly, which is a first for me.
I also have a Bessa L, but that has no rangefinder or even viewfinder at all...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
My first decent camera was a Yashica RF (forgot the model, it had a 2.8 lens and uncoupled lightmeter).
The fact was, that most of the times I could not see the diference in photos taken between it and the (then) brand new Spotmatic.
Curitiba - nice place to live, if you don't care about the weather...
My “cheap RF” is a Kodak Medalist. This 6x9 camera uses a fixed 100mm 3.5 Ektar lens, with helical focusing. The lens is very sharp and contrast is good. The camera is built like a tank, very heavy, and can be used as a weapon if need be. The Medalists were issued to US Navy photographers in the early-mid 40’s. The Medalist uses 620 size film. Since 120 is the same size film (spools are bigger on 120), I just roll 120 film onto 620 spools. J&C & others sell 620 film, but it is rather expensive. I bought mine on ebay for $100.
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My Kiev and Jupiter, which I realigned myself, outperform my Contax IIIa and Zeiss-Opton 50/2 Sonnar that I had CLA'd professionally for several hundred dollars. For a user I'd keep the Kiev anyday.
Someone always beats me to the punch. I have a QL17 Canonet like jdef and if I don't want to lug along my lenses, I take a small bag if any at all with this camera and film. nothing else. I also have a fold out bellows type MF handheld made post war by a company in Germany named Wirgin. Fantastic camera. Local auctions for about a total of $15 for the two cameras. Makes for a lighter load sometimes. Or for nostalgia's sake.
"Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti
I also have a Canon QL 1.7, I have owned mine for 30 years has never let me down. I also have a Mamyia Universal with 3 lens, another work horse, and a Retina 3 with a few lens. When working with 4X5 I often carry the Canon as my only 35mm.
Ok I'll probably get flamed but I actually liked using an Argus c-33. It's fun to use, has different lenses, and takes pretty good pictures for dirt cheap.
But if not an argus, look here. I think I tried almost all of these. I like the Canon and Olympus cameras best. and the yashica g cameras take great pictures but don't fit in my pocket.
I've got several rangefinders, but in general I prefer SLRs. My thoughts on my rangefinders:
- Canonet QL17-GIII -- This is a nice and compact rangefinder for when I don't want to lug around a lot of gear. Unfortunately, mine's got some fungus in the lens. Fungus-free Canonet QL17s are very sharp.
- Sokol 2 Automat -- This is the Soviet Union's answer to the Canonet and similar Japanese fixed-lens rangefinders of the 1970s. It's got features such as a rangefinder with automatic parallax adjustment and an exposure meter with automatic exposure control. The Sokol is bigger, heavier, klunkier, and just plain weirder than its Japanese counterparts, though. It's got a frame counter on the bottom of the camera, a film-rewind crank on the side, and a shutter release on the front, for instance. It's got a very sharp lens, though. Despite its weirdnesses, I kind of like it.
- FED 2 -- I bought this one because it's got a collapsible lens, which makes this camera very compact and easy to carry, by rangefinder standards. It has no meter, though. It's an old model, and mine's got some quirks that seem to be age-related, such as a rangefinder whose image appears slightly below the main image, which complicates focusing. In part because it's such an old design, it's got a limited range of shutter speeds (1/25s to 1/500s, IIRC). For the most part, I've been using a Canon point-and-shoot and a FED 50 compact (with manual focus but no rangefinder) as compact-carryable cameras rather than the FED 2.
- FED 5 -- This camera's got a meter, but not automatic exposure. On paper, it's got the sort of features I like, including long shutter speeds and the meter. I just find it awkward because the 50mm Industar-61L/D lens focus is very stiff and using other focal lengths requires use of an auxiliary finder, which complicates matters. The stiff focus on the standard lens is definitely a lens-specific issue, although reportedly a common one with this lens. One of these days I'll clean it out, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.
The FED 2 and FED 5 both take LTM39 lenses, and I've got a couple aside from these cameras' standard lenses. I particularly like my 35mm Jupiter-12.