I have several (cheaper sort) rangefinder cameras.
Originally Posted by lilmsmaggie
The first thing I'd like to say is that rangefinders -in general- all appear to have a rather limited set of applications: essentially, they are useful for photographing human to building sized objects and some scenics.
Secondly, unless one is using hyperfocal distance or zone focusing, they are hell to focus and it is easy to forget to focus altogether or simply to leave your lens cap on.
Focusing is a curse, because the little diamond or square-shaped focusing patch can be very difficult to see (dirt, poor contrast), and the rangefinder itself can be grossly out of adjustment. If you wear glasses, unless you are exeptionally careful, the lens of your viewing eye will be scratched to hell.
Close-up and Macro are near impossible.
Unless it is an interchangeable lens model, the one lens you get is the one lens you have: for everything!
Other than that, they are just brilliant (easly hand-held at very slow speeds, e.g. 1/8th sec; unobtrusive, very quiet shutter; "full frame"; flash synchro at all speeds if with a leaf shutter, and very fast to use if pre-focused or using zone focus!
Just two things I have noticed: be very careful to check out the rangefinder and that all the shutter speeds are in functioning condition as these are the more common problems with used rangefinders (other things include light seals and the lightmeter, if there is one)
Last edited by Galah; 09-22-2010 at 07:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Let us know your budget, desired photography style and location.
I have changed my password and changed my email to a random email. This is forum seppuku. Good bye!
There are several options:
1) Interchangeable lens camera. Could be the most expensive option. You have classic German (Leica, Zeiss Ikon, Agfa, Voigtlander, Kodak Retina, Braun and others) to Japanese (Canon and Nikon). One of the best values is the Kodak Retina IIIS. Excellent build quality with excellent Schneider or Rodenstock lenses.
2) Fixed lens camera. These are divided into several subcategories:
a.) Classic German folding cameras from Zeiss Ikon, Agfa, Voigtlander, Welti and others. You probably could include the Kodak Retinas (made in Germany).
b.) Later German cameras from Zeiss Ikon, Rollei, Balda, Kodak Retina and Voigtlander.
c.) Early Japanese models (1960s) from Fujica, Canon, Konica, Minolta, Yashica, Olympus and Petri. These tend to be larger cameras.
d.) Later Japanese models (1970s) from Yashica, Olympus, Canon, Konica and Minolta. These tend to be smaller cameras.
3.) Recent offerings from Cosina Voigtlander, Carl Zeiss, Leica and Konica. These probably involve a considerable investment of cash for a body + lens. Anywhere from $600 to $3,000.
The Cosina Voigtlander Bessa cameras are very good value. I still think that Cosina needs to put some R&D money into developing rangefinder components that don't fall out of register. The earliest models used a lot of plastic. The plastic vs. metal ratio swung increasingly toward metal with each model that it released.
Schneider, Rodenstock ... Mmm
Originally Posted by elekm
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I went through a similar process, first buying a Leica IIIf (nostalgia kick and it was affordable as an experiment) and soon realised that camera ergonomics had moved on so I bought a Bessa R3A with Nokton 40/1.4 lens. A great combination with aperture priority or manual exposure facility, good range of interchangeable lenses (including old Lietz glass with adaptors), but framelines no wider than 40mm and eventually I graduated to using more wide angle lenses. So I bought a second hand R4A body to add to the kit.
Recently I bought an M6. Mainly because I'm about to turn 71 and thought I should have an M-series Leica before I died! Feels lovely in the hand but honestly it doesn't do anything the Voigtlanders won't and they even do some things better for my purposes.
I'd recommend the R series Bessas. The only thing you have to watch is that each model has different framelines and you need to choose the one that will best fit what you expect to use.
The R3A has 40/50/75/90
The R4A has 21/25/28/35/50
The R2A (which is often overlooked) has 35/50/75/90
Early on, I had a little Konica C35 Automatic. I traded that for some albums and then bought a Pentax MX, which I later sold to my brother so that I could buy into Nikon SLRs.
Fast forward another 25 years, and I bought a Bessa-R with the pancake 35mm Color-Skopar. I loved that camera. I then started getting into classic cameras, which included everything from a Leica IIIf and M6 to the Zeiss Ikon Contax (I, II, IIa) to the news Zeiss Ikon.
I sold the Bessa-R and M6 and in between added the Rollei 35 RF (Bessa-R2 clone) with its 40mm Sonnar. Lately, I've been shooting with the rigid-front Zeiss Ikon Contessa, which I think is a great little camera.
Regarding the M6, I bought it from a camera store owner who wanted to buy up to an M7. I liked the camera but found it to be a bit too large, despite having sort of large hands and long fingers. I sold it to a fellow who really wanted an M, and I think that he put it to better use than me. Excellent camera, however, but it wasn't for me.
While not the right forum, don't rule out a TLR for street use. Remebering Vivian Maier (sp?) who died with a zillion rolls of unprocessed film because she liked the shooting part so much.
Which is a stern warning to photographers: never forget that it's about the image. Not the process.
Originally Posted by jp498
So... how does she using a TLR speak against rangefinders and in favour of using TLRs?
I'd get a Yashica Electro 35. They are a dirt cheap way to find out if you even like shooting with a rangefinder. I have two of them, for which I spent five dollars total. I just had to buy a 6V a battery for each and make an adapter for each, and I was shooting. I got exceptionally lucky, but they are generally sub-$30 cameras on the used market.
Not only are they perhaps the cheapest way to figure out if you like shooting with a rangefinder, but they also can be very useful for making pictures. (Imagine that!) They have a very good 45mm f/1.7 lens, and if you can get used to tweaking things to get the best out of aperture priority automatic exposure, they can take some very technically sound pictures in all respects.
My first RF was a Leica IIIc. These are great, but a different animal, featuring two teenie-weenie peep holes, as opposed to a big, bright combined viewfinder and rangefinder. They have a dedicated viewfinder and a separate dedicated rangefinder, which gives quite high magnification for focusing. The Electro 35 is more like M series Leicas. There is a big, clear viewfinder with superimposed automatic parallax-compensating framelines, and the rangefinder is just a little patch in the middle of the frame. I like both types for different things. I find the separate peep holes and high-magnification RF easier to use for static objects, and the combined VF/RF better for moving objects.
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