I should add that the Konica III is in a different class. It's a premium camera and on par with great German cameras in its build quality and choice of materials. The Konica S and later cameras were a step down in terms of quality.
I'm trying to think whether there are other fixed-lens rangefinders that fit into the high-end category. Although it enjoys an excellent reputation, I probably wouldn't put the Yashica/Kyocera Contax T cameras into this group if for no other reason than the amount of automation. But maybe I should.
The folding Zeiss Ikon Contessa is an excellent camera, as is the prewar folding Zeiss Ikon Super Nettel with a Tessar. I'll keep thinking about it. Interesting question, for sure.
I rather enjoy my Kodak Retina IIa. Fits in my pocket, and has superb glass. When I fancy a medium format pocket camera, my Agfa Isolette III finds its way into my pocket. Is a single focal length limiting? I suppose, but we each have our stylistic preferences and I've found that the overwhelming majority of what I enjoy shooting gets shot with a normal lens. My LR3 catalog well documents that fact from even before I started shooting film. The overwhelming majority of my images having been taken with my 50 1.4.
Really, this comes to a matter of preference and means. If one cannot afford a Leica but would like a 35mm rangefinder there are several alternatives. All of them will do their job if the photographer does theirs. If the rangefinder is accurate and the lens is clear it's unimportant, to me, who made the kit.
Hexar AF is my choice. After I got it all other fixed lens rangefinder cameras I have started to look like redundant (yeah, I know It's not a rangefinder but I use it in lieu of them).
Last edited by mablo; 05-11-2011 at 03:53 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I sold my hexar AF and bought a bessa R2. It's nice to have control again. I really liked the hexar, the lens is nice and all. But I don't miss it really. I usually take my R2 instead of M6, I feel I don't have to worry about scratches and resale value with the M6.
I used to do quite a bit of travel/street photography with a Minolta Hi-Matic 7s---broadly similar to the Auto S2, though if I remember aright the latter doesn't have a metered manual mode---and it was a terrific camera functionally. The ergonomics clearly weren't those of a Leica or even a Voigtlaender, but for US$30 I didn't expect them to be, and I see no fundamental difference in quality between shots from that camera and shots from a Bessa-R with a Nikkor 50/2 (my usual normal-lens rangefinder kit). I'm sure the Nikkor, or any of a number of good Leitz or Zeiss lenses, would outperform the Rokkor on technical criteria in a lab environment, but who shoots rangefinders in a lab environment?
That summary neglects matters like bokeh and "glow", which are intrinsically subjective and come down to "everyone likes the lenses they like".
With that in mind, I don't see any real problem with using this sort of FLRF for "serious" work, provided the particular lens you have performs to your satisfaction, and it sounds like in this case it does. Weddings give me a bit of pause, though, because normally you'd want some fairly tight portraits, and with a normal lens you'll have to get pretty close to do that. That's a concern with the focal length, though, not the camera system as such.
One thing to worry about is sudden death of the electronics. My first 7s decided one day to quit firing the shutter---it metered, it cocked, it made a little click, but the blades weren't actually opening, and I didn't know that until I got the blank roll back. I think every roll I shot with the second one included an out-of-focus closeup of my eyeball, peering into the lens and saying "Is this thing really firing?"
(I eventually gave the 7s to a friend who's taken up shooting film and seemed like she could use a good camera with an auto mode. I'm travelling less and shooting less 35mm lately, and I'd gotten to where I had more 35mm RFs than I could really use.)
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I heard about the Hexar from a buddy of mine Apparently a really nice camera. Something I may consider in the future if I go that direction. The cool thing about fixed lens RF's is that there's so many flavours to choose from... And if one can find a working model, it's quite a bargain. I may go Bessa or Leica in the future if RF's really work for me.
Thanks for all the feedback. I tend to use my cameras in manual mode and hand held meter, so I generally aim for RF's that run without batteries (batteries just power meter). This means that I've still got a working camera if the battery dies, or an available battery-powered in-camera meter backup if my handheld meter dies for some reason. Atleast that's what I'm thinking.
I thought the Minolta Himatic 7S can work without batteries? (Maybe it's the 7S II)
I figured the image quality was not going to be a huge diff between interchangeable lens and fixed lens RF's. My scans from negatives taken with my the Konica C35 (auto everything practically) and the Konica Auto S2 have been really good actually. They also have that "look" I'm going for when I combine it with Tri-X 400.
The other part I wanted to mention is that I have a 645 Bronica ETRS for the non-documentary stuff (detail shots, portraits, etc.) where this seems to excel incredibly well. Digital Pentax DSLR for backup of everything
My main concern is "firing blanks" as was mentioned in the previous post. I can see this being a problem with electrically-powered shutters, but what about manual shutters? I'm guessing if it isn't working, it's not going to click and I can figure it out without downing a whole roll, or an entire wedding event??
I don't know about doing weddings with them, but fixed-lens rangefinders are great cameras when you want to travel light and shoot things that don't require a lot of special preparation. I recently got an Olympus 35 SP and I love it. The meter or auto mode doesn't work since the battery door is jammed, but I don't care about that and use it in manual mode. The shots look great because it has a wonderful G-Zuiko 42mm f1.7 lens and gives some contrasty images and very mellow bokeh. I love using it also because it is so light and fun to handle. I've used it as a "travel" camera a few times now and it has been a joy to use. I would also like to get something like an Olympus XA or a Trip 35 just for fun and to have a different flavor of this camera style.
Yes, I have gone this route.
Originally Posted by dugrant153
I would love to own a Leica rangefinder with a fast normal lens. However, I find it hard to justify the high price of the Leica when my Canon Canonet QL17 G-III 35mm rangefinder with a 40mm f/1.7 fixed lens and my Minolta Hi-Matic 9 35mm rangefinder with a 45mm f/1.7 fixed lens meet my needs for a fraction of the cost of the Leica. When I need quality that is higher than my two rangefinders and the Leica, I use a Fuji 6x7cm rangefinder with a fixed normal lens.
Also, one feature I really love is that all three of my rangefinders do not need batteries to take a photo.
I have several fixed lens rangefinders, both 35mm and 120, mainly German and English from the 40's and 50's from Voightlander, Zeiss Ikon Kodak Nagal Retina's, both 11C AND 1 and English Ensign, and I use them all at variours times, and I love them all, I prefer using them to my modern Slr's, bot MF and 35mm, they are small, have great lenses,take great pics, are easy to use, although not always light, but they are solid,well made,and none of them need batterys, and with a CLA will last a lifetime,
I recently purchased a Konica III and I agree--it is a truly fine camera. It looks and feels solid, and takes excellent pictures.
Originally Posted by elekm
It is true that having only the fixed lens is limiting, but I figured if I bought a Leica, I'd never be able to afford more than one lens anyway, if even that, so that is limiting too. And the Konica only cost me $100.