I've got several rangefinders, but in general I prefer SLRs. My thoughts on my rangefinders:

  • Canonet QL17-GIII -- This is a nice and compact rangefinder for when I don't want to lug around a lot of gear. Unfortunately, mine's got some fungus in the lens. Fungus-free Canonet QL17s are very sharp.
  • Sokol 2 Automat -- This is the Soviet Union's answer to the Canonet and similar Japanese fixed-lens rangefinders of the 1970s. It's got features such as a rangefinder with automatic parallax adjustment and an exposure meter with automatic exposure control. The Sokol is bigger, heavier, klunkier, and just plain weirder than its Japanese counterparts, though. It's got a frame counter on the bottom of the camera, a film-rewind crank on the side, and a shutter release on the front, for instance. It's got a very sharp lens, though. Despite its weirdnesses, I kind of like it.
  • FED 2 -- I bought this one because it's got a collapsible lens, which makes this camera very compact and easy to carry, by rangefinder standards. It has no meter, though. It's an old model, and mine's got some quirks that seem to be age-related, such as a rangefinder whose image appears slightly below the main image, which complicates focusing. In part because it's such an old design, it's got a limited range of shutter speeds (1/25s to 1/500s, IIRC). For the most part, I've been using a Canon point-and-shoot and a FED 50 compact (with manual focus but no rangefinder) as compact-carryable cameras rather than the FED 2.
  • FED 5 -- This camera's got a meter, but not automatic exposure. On paper, it's got the sort of features I like, including long shutter speeds and the meter. I just find it awkward because the 50mm Industar-61L/D lens focus is very stiff and using other focal lengths requires use of an auxiliary finder, which complicates matters. The stiff focus on the standard lens is definitely a lens-specific issue, although reportedly a common one with this lens. One of these days I'll clean it out, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.


The FED 2 and FED 5 both take LTM39 lenses, and I've got a couple aside from these cameras' standard lenses. I particularly like my 35mm Jupiter-12.