Hey guys, I'm researching rangefinders as the final piece to my analog camera trifecta. I've done a LOT of reading and think I know what I'll be getting, but before I make any decision I wanted to present my case to you all and see what suggestions are made. Here's a break down of where I'm at:
Good lowlight performance
Small (QL17 GIII or smaller)
Konica Auto S3
Minolta Hi-Matic E
Minolta Hi-Matic 7SII
So there you have it. Would like to hear your thoughts/suggestions.
I don't consider the Konica S3 pocketable. Nor the Canon 7 if you mean the classic screwmount RF. That's not saying they aren't fine cameras, just "big" fine cameras.
Does the Hi Matic E have manual control? If it doesn't, is that an issue?
One of my problems is I've never held any of these cameras, I was just guessing on size based on online photos. I've updated the list. I would like something as small as or smaller than a QL17 GIII. That's a RF I've actually used (and replaced light seals before I sold it).
No manual controls I'm fine with. It's a camera I'll be using more for quick shots, not dwelling on every detail. That's what my Mamiya 645 is for. :)
The only one on your list that's larger than a GIII QL17 is the Canon 7. The Konica S3 fits in nicely with the rest. The Olympus XA is much the smallest. Olympus RC is also worth considering.
The XA is the odd one out - in addition to being much smaller/lighter, it feels and handles very differently from the others. Some like it, some find it fiddly and hard to handle. It's also more dependent on electronics and as such is more vulnerable to a failure that can't be repaired.
My favorite of the lot is the Hi-Matic 7SII. But I use it manually. What I don't like about the '70s-to-early-'80s-vintage compact rangefinders with mechanically-governed shutters is that their exposure automation is shutter-priority, which as I'm sure you know means the aperture gets set automatically. That's not OK by me, since the aperture determines what's going to be in focus and thus what the picture is going to look like. The XA is the only one on your list which has aperture-priority AE, with an electronic shutter.
Canon 7 is quite large, especially if you add a lens that isn't a collapsible/slow 50mm. Even the small/light late black rigid Canon 50/1.8 makes it quite a bit heavier than any of the rest. Most would not consider the 7's meter to be accurate, and my sample's meter is DOA. For quick shots, I'd much prefer a QL17 over the 7, unless it was in very low light or you absolutely needed wider/longer lenses.
@Oren - YES! I really want an aperture priority RF. I guess if I buy a XA and don't like it I can always sell it again as there seems to be a steady demand.
So I bought a QL17 GIII at a local pawn shop for $15. Like any greedy bastard I fixed the light seals and sold it for a bit profit. I wish I had kept it.
Besides the Minolta 7SII there's the copy Vivitar 35ES. Thoughts on that?
EDIT: how about a Contax IIa?
Oly RC. Smallest full manual rangefinder with aperture priority that can run without batteries if needed.
well that sounds like a great idea! Thanks Newt!
One question - how does the camera fair in low light? I know the lens isn't the fastest but with RFs you can hand hold at slower speeds.
No - the 35RC is shutter priority. These compacts that have mechanically-governed shutters use trapped-needle AE systems that control how far the aperture is stopped down.
Originally Posted by Newt_on_Swings
There is a small number of cameras of that vintage with electronically-controlled shutters that have aperture-priority AE - look among the Yashica models.
IIRC the Vivitar does not have full manual controls - it's shutter-priority AE only.
Originally Posted by dsiglin