You may wish you'd spent the extra money for an M2 and a 50/2 summitar at least in the long run. However, the Konica rangefinders are pretty good. My first camera was the Konica I (very good lens) and no collector interest. I second the Canon 7 and P. Good working cameras, but not as sexy as Leica. The Kodak retina I is pretty nice and very pocketable. You could probably find a Leica IIIf but frankly I have trouble seeing through the tiny finder windows. The prominent 50/1.5 is a great lens, but the Prominent camera is really weirdly set up for use. I wouldn't go with that camera.
The problem with the Canon 7 is that there is no accessory shoe for a finder or a meter. If your meter works and you're happy with the finder frames the 7 has, it's a wonderful camera. If not, the add on shoe is impossible to find and expensive. But it's a nice camera.
The Leica CL with the 40 isn't quite as expensive as the M2 and is still my favorite pocketable film camera.
Bill, mine was 20 bucks new seals another 45. 65 well spent dollars witha well built little tank of a camera, even had a case!
Originally Posted by Bill Burk
$45 for new seals? That's way too much. The material costs less than $1, and the biggest factor in replacing them is the time it takes (about 1/2 hour).
Possibilities for a $500 budget:
- (Cosina) Voigtlander Bessa-R2 (or other models) with a 50mm lens. Good value for the money.
- A screwmount Leica with a clean 50mm Summitar.
- Zeiss Ikon Contax II or IIa with a clean 50mm Sonnar (f/1.5 or f/2.0). I sold several IIa models with the f/1.5 Sonnar for $450 -- one of the best classic camera lenses ever. I don't have any for sale currently.
- Nikon S with f/2.0 50mm Nikkor. You might get lucky on price. Always check the curtains for pinholes.
- Konica II or III. Excellent build.
- Among German classic cameras: Kodak Retina IIC or IIIC, Kodak Retina IIIS, Zeiss Ikon Contessa, Voigtlander Vito III, Voigtlander Vitessa, Carl Zeiss Jena Werra 3,
- I'm not a fan of the Voigtlander Prominent. Big, heavy, clunky, not fun to use.
- I think that the 1970s compact fixed-lens rangefinders are overpriced. They're all good cameras. They just aren't that good. But demand always dictates price, and I think that they've become cult cameras. For a while the Olympus 35 RC was going for $75 or more.
Now people will disagree. But my $10 Russian Jupiter-8 50mm f2, (Sonnar clone?). Is really sharp in B&W with smooth out of focus areas. Maybe a bit low contrast wide open. But why cares? If it wasn't a bit harder to handle, I would use it more often than my Summicron 50/2 on my M6.
If you have ~500 put aside for this, I'd save more for a M3 and a DR summicron 50/2. Very versatile and it might be all you ever want from a RF kit...
That said, if you ever think you'd want to use a 35mm lens in RF, I'd get a M2 and DR summicron instead.
Been three months since the start of this adventure. Wondering what Darren might of settled on. I have both a Canonet GIII & Bessa R. Both are fine cameras. Shutter is louder on the Bessa but the vf makes up for the shortfall. The Canon's vf isn't too shabby either & I'm an eye glass wearer, well I'm susposed to.:)
I probably already answered.
If you wear glasses, a lower-cost alternative is one of the Cosina Voigtlander Bessa models, which have excellent viewfinders. And then you can pick up one of the many Zeiss, Voigtlander or Leica lenses for it.
Among fixed-lens cameras, the Konica IIIS has an excellent viewfinder and a very nice Hexanon lens. Also, a working Kodak Retina IIIS with the Schneider or Rodenstock f/1.9 lens is a good choice.
Most of the 1970s-era small rangefinders have good viewfinders.
Look for some of the Voightlanders classics with the Color Skopar lens such as the Vito II. This series of lenses are magnificent and the body is absolutely solid with a chrome finish the is diamond solid.
Another I really like is the Zeiss Ikonta that has folding front. Lens is very good, quite heavy for its size so staple handheld. When folded it fits a shirt pocket.
Neither use meters, purely mechanical cameras. You can pick up a nice Pilot meter with its flash mount and mount it on top. These selenium meters are quite accurate, light, easy to use and I think may still be in production. Used, they are inexpensive. For a bargain otherwise, look for a Western Ranger; a great meter that is just not on most persons' radar screen.