Iíve been playing around with a Konica Auto S2 that I found from my local thrift store. It is in great condition mechanically except that the viewfinder was out of whack.
Iíve tried adjusting it many times to various targets but canít seem to calibrate it properly. That or the yellow patch is too dim for me to properly focus... Either way, my focus points are always off.
Anyways, this had me thinking about rangefinders in general. Iíve played with the idea of purchasing a voigtlander bessa R camera but hereís what Iím thinking: Iíve come to realize that one of the problems that may creep up with an RF is misalignment. This scares me because I could shoot an entire day or few not knowing that my rangefinder is misaligned and get shots that are not focused properly.
1) Is there a way to tell misalignment before it happens?
2) Do rangefinders get misaligned often?
Appreciate the feedback!
2) Not in my experience.
A properly calibrated RF should remain that way, for decades. Banging the camera around could knock it off, tampering, etc.
Unless you KNOW (as opposed to thinking you know) how to recalibrate it, it's best to send it to someone who does.
...half my rangefinders have come out of alignment, one from dropping my bag, one from getting hit by a car and another from tampering. If you're careful, they shouldn't come out of alignment. Also, is this vertically out or horizontally? If it's vertical it's not a big deal. I have one with a slight vertical misalignment and I live with it and it doesn't affect my shooting or get on my nerves. Hoizontal would be a different story. The Konica should be relatively easy to adjust if you can find instructions.
1) Basically, with the lens set at infinity, look through the RF at something far away and see if it's "in focus". Doesn't tell you if the close-range adjustment (if the camera has it) is off, but it does put you in the ballpark and is a pretty good way of verifying accuracy.
2) Not that often: depends (hard knocks and airplane-type vibrations don't help), but some of my RFs are many decades old and spot on...
If the images overlap at infinity it is unlikley for just the close focus to be off
+1. Align the rangefinder at infinity and it will be OK.
It is better with all cameras (especially rangefinder type) to avoid any kind of shock. Yes I can say that it happened to me more than once the rangefinder of my camera (usually old type rangefinder, like Balda Super Baldax or Certo 6) to loose it's alignment after a ride in the bag of my motorcycle. I learned this lesson very well...
A simple trick for aligning a rangefinder on the bench, without relying on an exterior image...
Take a piece of white foamcore and scribe two crosses on it, one with a horizontal line and a vertical line, the other at 45į.
The trick is to space the centers of the crosses EXACTLY equal to the center-to-center distance between the two rangefinder windows.
Set the camera up on a tripod, focus set at infinity. Support the X target in front of the camera, parallel to the film plane, and well illuminated.
The actual distance from the camera to the target does NOT matter.
Align the X target so the direct (non-rotating) rangefinder view is centered on one cross.
Adjust the rangefinder infinity setting until the centers of the two crosses overlap horizontally. A vertical adjustment can be set if available.
Shorter ranges should be focused correctly if the rangefinder has only an infinity adjustment.
If it has adjustments for shorter distances (like the Kalart), additional steps are needed.
This technique will work with any rangefinder that uses a movable mirror.
Thanks for the tips, folks. I'll definitely give the re-alignment thing another whirl. I thought I had it properly aligned to infinity but seems that I'm still off! Will have to revisit again.
Good to hear that it's not exactly a common thing for misalignment to happen. I guess testing a new/used camera with the infinity test oughta do it?
Well, just ran a quick test roll and WOW... I finally have this thing tuned properly and my images are... intact!
I think there's a bit of vertical alignment (not major) but I've finally got the horizontal alignment down. Thank you, everyone!!
Curious... is it easy to adjust the alignment on the Bessa RF's?