Lost in a sea of rangefinders! Help!
Tired of my clunky SLR while being leashed up it TTL metering I've finally decided to go rangefinder. And now I'm at a loss of what to get. So my criteria is that it fits into my pockets and no metering/electronics. It cannot be a fixed lens camera and the body must cost less than $600. I also have glasses and I've been told it may be problematic other than the fact that I can't see haha. I'm damn tired of searching around and rather hear the opinions of experienced users. Thanks!
35mm I presume. Well what about one of the early bessas.
Stephen Gandy's website www.cameraquest.com has some used bessas which may meet your needs: it also has a wealth of information on classic cameras.
(I have no financial interest in camera quest)
Sea of 35mm mechanical rangefinders? Since 1970 it has been pretty much only Leitz and Cosina and perhaps some oddball thing I have forgotten.
This one is not going to be easy.
You already know about the screw-mount (M-39 or LTM) Leica bodies that will just meet your financial specification. At the risk of being yelled out of this thread, I also point out that there are several copies and derivations of the Leica LTM camera bodies made in Russia and Ukraine that will also do the job for you, while also costing significantly less. Even the FSU lenses should not be overlooked. Yes, many of the Kiev, FED, Zorki, and other similar bodies probably will need a CLA, but even a Leica IIIf or IIIg also will need one by now.
I do agree that the FSU cameras do not have the finish nor the smooth operation of a Leica or Contax, and they have the quirk of requiring that operation to be performed in a very precise order each and every time to avoid possible need for repair to put things inside back in order, but they certainly can do the job when we see what is on the print.
And, while I do not have a Leica, I do have a Zorki-4, a Zorki-4K, and a FED-2c. The lenses include the Jupiter-8, Industar-26m, Industar-61, and Helios-44-2. You did say that you wanted to hear opinions of experienced users. I prefer the Jupiter-8 and the Helios-44-2 on the Zorkis, but the FED does have that long base rangefinder that helps when you have the lens and camera adjusted together.
The other rangefinders here include fixed lens models from Minolta, Yashica, and Konica, although there may be some that I have failed to list. My favorites in those are the Minolta Hi-Matic 9 and the Yashica Lynx 1.4.
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If you want compact, I'd suggest looking at the Barnack style rangefinders. Those from Leica and Canon are probably the safest bets. Throw a collapsible lens on and its about as small as you're going to get.
You could probably find a wonderfully serviced one for in the $300 range. Throw in a Elmar 50mm 3.5 for another $200 or a Russian copy (some of which are very good but can be hit and miss) and you've got small, rangefinder, unmetered, etc. You'd need an external finder for wider than 50mm but thats the tradeoff for the small body.
If slightly larger works, I'd suggest looking at a Canon P or Bessa.
Second hand Bessa T. Mechanical shutter, TTL metering (if you want), conventional loading and lighter than a Barnack but almost the same size.
Either Bessa T or Barnack will work best with accessory viewfinders matched to the lens focal lengths that you want to use (the Barnack viewfinder is only 50mm and is squinty and often clouded.
Rolleiflex(s) 2.8/80, 4/135, 4/55.
Good point, some of these cameras may be difficult to use with glasses.
You said you don't want a fixed lens camera - what focal lengths do you want to shoot? Do separate focusing and composition windows bother you? And how big are you pockets?
Drop that and get a nice used Bessa (R 2/3 M/A). Use the money you spare for a good lens.
Originally Posted by Ngothien
Dioptres for the Bessa are the standard circular Nikon type.
Don't worry about baselength or build quality, electronics included. These Bessas go forever even on alkalines (unless it gets really cold). I've never had focusing issues with my R2A, not even at 50mm f2.
A Bessa L for $100. No rangefinder/viewfinder but fit a 12 or 15mm lens to it and you won't need one. You can get a good Russian 35mm or 50mm collapsable lens with an accessory rangefinder and you have a nice pocketable camera.
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