A Kodak retina II or III may be a good choice. Folds easy to carry, the 50mm lens is very good. I have a IIIC big that was given to me in 1965, the light meter is still spot on, takes a while to get use to the controls, the EV system that links the shutter to the apature can be a pain, dont waist your money on the 35mm or 80mm. I am taking it to Iceland this summer. Some like the Retina S better, I have not used one so cant comment. Another to consider is a Petri 7S with the fast 50mm 1.7 prime.
I have one of these and bought it because I thought it was a very interesting design. However, I have never really used it as it is a bit like trying to take pictures with an Imperial Typewriter with a Legal Carriage.
Originally Posted by Darren Guy
I have both a Canon Canonet QL-19 and a Voigtländer Vito CLR. The first seems to me to have a better lens (besides being "faster").
The second one has a way better viewfinder - rangefinder, but is not as small as the Canonet. For a glass wearer the Vito CLR is probably better. A CLA is probably mandatory for whatever bought second hand, add $40 or so for the CLA to your cost estimation.
A more expensive alternative would be to look for a Minolta CLE or a Leica CL. Those are small, fairly inexpensive, mount Leica M lenses, have good overall quality. The Minolta CLE needs a battery (probably the Leica CL as well).
A Konica Hexar RF is another alternative I would take into account.
If you don't have a large collection of cameras which you use now and then, that is, if you use "only" one or two cameras, then batteries should not be a problem, just keep spare ones with you always, they are cheap after all and should never be a problem to have spare one with oneself.
A very good comparison of compact rangefinder cameras of the seventies can be found at:
A Canon 7 or Canon P would both be good choices. They offer larger viewfinders than many of the Barnack type cameras or Soviet copies. The Canon rangefinder cameras are relatively inexpensive, and they are usually fitted with very good quality 50mm lenses. 35mm and 28mm lenses were also produced, or you can use LTM lenses made by Leica, Voigtlander, Nicca, etc. You can easily find a clean Canon 7 or Canon P with a 50mm lens for less than $500
The trigger wind canons are quite beautiful. I have been playing with my new vi-t and the small 50mm 1.8 serenar and it's a great combo. I also have the older vt and that's a great camera too except there are two speed dials. Both are more well built than the later versions such as the 7 or P, like a brick lol. If you like trigger wind style it is the cheapest option, I see leicavit and bessa trigger winders cost more than the cost of a canon vt or vit body.
Konica IIIa. Quiet, superb lens, and an amazing finder.
Agreed on the P at least. (I haven't got a 7.) There are many threads on rangefinderforum.com comparing the viewfinders of these two cameras (and other models), such as this thread. I studied such things before settling on the P. I have thick eyeglasses for nearsightedness, and the 50 mm frame lines in the P's VF work well enough for me. The 35 mm ones are absolutely useless to me as they are way out at the edges of the VF. But you won't care if you're getting only a 50 mm lens. :)
Originally Posted by sangetsu
The P is a really nice camera. I bought a QL17 first, as my rangefinder gateway drug, but the P is a whole different (higher) level of quality and makes the Canonet feel plasticky by comparison. The major advantage of the QL17 is the QL: I love that fast, foolproof film loading. Oh if only they had invented that early enough to put it into the P! The P of course is all mechanical, no meter. Get a Sekonic L-208 and bung it in the accessory shoe, if you need metering.
I got a P with the 50/1.8 lens (both in excellent cosmetic and mechanical shape, no CLA needed) for USD 300.
You'd pay much more with the 50/1.4, and the gain of 1/2 stop (or whatever it is) is not that crucial. I've heard the 1.4 is brilliant, and I'm sure that's true, but the 1.8 is a really good, unheralded lens and does less damage to your budget. Start with it, then move up to the 1.4 later if you come into more money and get lens lust.
Leica M3 and a Rigid Cron, nuff said.
One mightn't disagree, except the OP said he had USD 500 to work with. :(
Originally Posted by kivis