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10-14-2021, 12:36 AM - 3 Likes   #1
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The love of Range Finder

Hi there,

Wonder how many of you are shooting with, or interested in Range Finder cameras, there is one good thing about RF is the focusing system. RF does not see thru' the shooting lens, instead it focus via a seperate window, and it is clear and bright, range finder design make it easy to shoot in any lighting condition if you can get use to it, here I want to share my limited experience with you, in particular Russian copies of Leica and Contax.

I did own an used Leica M2 for a short while, but I can not afford the system so I sold it and bought couples of Russian copies instead. In comparsion the Russian copies have much louder and heavier shutter, smaller and dimmer view finder, but in exchange of much easier film loading system design. There are 2 Russian made copies I particually like, namely the Fed 2 and the rare Leningrad auto winder, they are not simply copies, but have improvement over the original design.

Fed 2 was produced around the 50s, it still is the most pretty and reliable Russian RF I've ever used. I also got the newer models such as the Zorki 4 which regarded as the best Russian RF ever made, and the Fed 5 with built in meter, both were made in the 70s, but both shutter curtain broke after a short while, that's the weakest part of Russian RF, but my Fed 2 still ticking today that's amazing !

On the otherhand I also owned a Kiev 4, a Russian copy of Contax, it has a very complex design compared with the Leica copies, and very hard to repair, quite hard to find one with working shutter today, and there are very few lenses made for it, to find one in good condition even harder, I did not enjoy using it and sold the whole set after a short while.

Here I attached some photos of my 2 working Russian RF, the Fed 2 and the Leningrad. Please note I paired the Fed 2 with the Industar 61 instead of the Jupiter 8 normally came with it, the Industar is known to be very sharp but slightly radioactive like the Takuma.

There are 2 special design on the Leningrad that still innovative today.

The Leningrad has a spring loaded auto film advancing system for rapid shooting, it wasn't the first model with this design but still very rare to see.
Another unique feature is the split screen RF focusing, it works much better than the commonly used yellow superimposing image design, my copy has a mis-aligned veritical RF that easy to fix by adjusting a screw. This is my 2nd Leningrad, my first one has a broken film pressure plate due to shipping, it was made with ceramic instead of metal for smooth high speed film loading but quite fragile.

If you are new to Rusian RF, here are some tips for you.

1. Don't look for the most current models, some of them has simpified design to save cost that won't last.

2. Russian RF does not have parallax correction built in, you need to repostition the camera slightly to the left after focus.

3. NEVER change the shutter speed before the shutter clocked or you will break it, some said newer models has fix that problem, but better don't do that !

4. Some but not all Russian RF has diopter built it, on the Fed it is the lever on the rewinding knob, on other models is the collar of the eyepiece if it does have the feature.

5. Early models has large screw thread on the tripod mount I believe is for media format, you will need an adapter to mount it on standard tripod.

6. Use a seperate meter or Sunny 16 even the camera has one built it, never trust the old Selenium meter it won't last after so many years.

That's about it, please feel free to add your bits !

Attached Images
             

Last edited by lotech; 10-14-2021 at 01:16 AM.
10-14-2021, 05:34 AM   #2
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If you want easier film loading you should try a Zorki 6.
10-14-2021, 09:22 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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Hello,

I own 2 classic rangefinders: a 1947 Argus C3 and a 1957 Ricoh 500



I have never used a Leica or any of the Leica "copies" and I grew up with SLRs. So my first experience with rangefinders was late into my photography life.
Probably my favorite feature of rangefinders is the quietness of the shutter compared to SLRs. That is a leaf shutter characteristic, not a rangefinder feature in itself.
I find the rangefinders themselves to be intuitive, so I can go back and forth between RF and SLR with ease. While not exactly lightweight (especially the C3) these are compact and easy to handle. I like the fact that with leaf shutters you can sync flash at any speed, but I rarely use flash if ever. Leaf shutters can only go so fast, usually top at 1/500s.
Coming from SLRs first, I don't like that I'm not seeing exactly what the lens is seeing in terms of framing and composition, which is not necessarily a big issue. Also, for critical focusing in challenging DOF situations, a bright SLR viewfinder is unrivaled.
But I consider both of these RF to be very competent and adequate for most situations, easily portable and fun to use.

Thanks,
Ismael
10-14-2021, 09:45 AM - 4 Likes   #4
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I actively shoot several rangefinders too and post results from them. They have their pros and cons. One is a digital M9 and these are the others.


Fuji GSW690III and GW690III
by tuco, on Flickr



Wista 45 Rangefinder
by tuco, on Flickr



Pacemaker Crown Graphic
by tuco, on Flickr

10-14-2021, 10:19 AM - 2 Likes   #5
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A few from the collection...























10-14-2021, 11:15 AM   #6
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Yes...I have a few...(all but three fully usable and those three, near working order)

Yashica: Lynx 5000, 1962 to mid=1960s and Lynx 1000, 1960 to mid-1960s




Zorki 4K, 1974




FED 2, ca 1963




Kiev 4A, ca 1961, shown with matching turret viewfinder




Canon P, ca 1959




Bessa R3M


Strangely, I don't have a formal portrait of the R3M, here shown sporting an adapted Contax/Kiev mount Jupiter-12 35/2.8


Minolta Hi-Matic 9, 1966-1969, here posed with Lynx 1000




Mamiya-Six, 1955-1958




Favorites?
  • FED 2: falls easily to hand and a pleasure for street photography
  • Canon P: smooth, quiet, precise, elegant and easy to use with few quirks
  • Mamiya-Six: unusual design (film-plane focusing) and fun to shoot...almost as old as I am

Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 10-14-2021 at 11:41 AM.
10-14-2021, 11:22 AM   #7
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I currently own and use CV Bessa R and Canon P ("Populaire") interchangeable lens 35mm rangefinder cameras.
I also have collected and occasionally use a dozen or more fixed lens models.

My only venture into FSU models was a Zorki 4K with I-61 LD lens, which I later sold or gave away.

In the past I owned and used Bronica RF645 and Fujica GS645 models as well.

I prefer rangefinder and other viewfinder (non-TTL viewing) type cameras
when using colored filters for black and white photography.

Chris

10-14-2021, 02:33 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by lotech Quote
Hi there,

Wonder how many of you are shooting with, or interested in Range Finder cameras, there is one good thing about RF is the focusing system. RF does not see thru' the shooting lens, instead it focus via a seperate window, and it is clear and bright, range finder design make it easy to shoot in any lighting condition if you can get use to it, here I want to share my limited experience with you, in particular Russian copies of Leica and Contax.
My first two “adjustable” {I could adjust both shutter speed and aperture} cameras were Japanese-made rangefinder cameras. I used them for ten years, but then switched to SLR because I wanted more “flexibility” - ability to use lenses of different focal lengths. I missed the quiet of the leaf shutters on those cameras, but did appreciate the flexibility I gained. I used a camera like a rangefinder when I first went digital - but was quickly reminded of the “flexibility” issue - and gave it to my daughter after nine months, declaring it to be a “failure” for me. I found the view through the SLR viewfinder to be brighter and more clear than even what the Canon rangefinder gave me.
10-14-2021, 11:25 PM   #9
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Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
If you want easier film loading you should try a Zorki 6.
Yes I am just looking at 'the Bay' !

---------- Post added 10-15-21 at 02:37 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Yes...I have a few...(all but three fully usable and those three, near working order)

Yashica: Lynx 5000, 1962 to mid=1960s and Lynx 1000, 1960 to mid-1960s




Zorki 4K, 1974




FED 2, ca 1963




Kiev 4A, ca 1961, shown with matching turret viewfinder




Canon P, ca 1959




Bessa R3M


Strangely, I don't have a formal portrait of the R3M, here shown sporting an adapted Contax/Kiev mount Jupiter-12 35/2.8


Minolta Hi-Matic 9, 1966-1969, here posed with Lynx 1000




Mamiya-Six, 1955-1958




Favorites?
  • FED 2: falls easily to hand and a pleasure for street photography
  • Canon P: smooth, quiet, precise, elegant and easy to use with few quirks
  • Mamiya-Six: unusual design (film-plane focusing) and fun to shoot...almost as old as I am

Steve
My first Russian RF was the Zorki 4, unfortunately the shutter curtain broke very soon, so did my Fed 5, both are great camera by design. Also got the Kiev 4 with the turret viewfinder, but it was not "falls easily to hand and a pleasure for street photography" especially due to the super wide base line, it was hard not to block the window while shooting, gave it up.

---------- Post added 10-15-21 at 02:42 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by boriscleto Quote
A few from the collection...























The "Sun shade" on the AGFA is a nice touch to block stray light from the top, wonder why no other manufacturer did that.

---------- Post added 10-15-21 at 02:48 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Yes...I have a few...(all but three fully usable and those three, near working order)

Yashica: Lynx 5000, 1962 to mid=1960s and Lynx 1000, 1960 to mid-1960s




Zorki 4K, 1974




FED 2, ca 1963




Kiev 4A, ca 1961, shown with matching turret viewfinder




Canon P, ca 1959




Bessa R3M


Strangely, I don't have a formal portrait of the R3M, here shown sporting an adapted Contax/Kiev mount Jupiter-12 35/2.8


Minolta Hi-Matic 9, 1966-1969, here posed with Lynx 1000




Mamiya-Six, 1955-1958




Favorites?
  • FED 2: falls easily to hand and a pleasure for street photography
  • Canon P: smooth, quiet, precise, elegant and easy to use with few quirks
  • Mamiya-Six: unusual design (film-plane focusing) and fun to shoot...almost as old as I am

Steve
Japan produced lot of very pretty and easy to use RF, wonder how reliable the leaf shutters are compare with Russian shutter curtain.

---------- Post added 10-15-21 at 02:55 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
Yes...I have a few...(all but three fully usable and those three, near working order)

Yashica: Lynx 5000, 1962 to mid=1960s and Lynx 1000, 1960 to mid-1960s




Zorki 4K, 1974




FED 2, ca 1963




Kiev 4A, ca 1961, shown with matching turret viewfinder




Canon P, ca 1959




Bessa R3M


Strangely, I don't have a formal portrait of the R3M, here shown sporting an adapted Contax/Kiev mount Jupiter-12 35/2.8


Minolta Hi-Matic 9, 1966-1969, here posed with Lynx 1000




Mamiya-Six, 1955-1958




Favorites?
  • FED 2: falls easily to hand and a pleasure for street photography
  • Canon P: smooth, quiet, precise, elegant and easy to use with few quirks
  • Mamiya-Six: unusual design (film-plane focusing) and fun to shoot...almost as old as I am

Steve
The only bellow I got was a Minolta swing and shift/tilt (??) macro attachment, and btw the Mamiya is not range finder, or how does it work ? film plane focusing sounds like the Contax AX
10-15-2021, 12:53 AM - 1 Like   #10
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My love : Suzuki Optical Co. Press Van (1953) • Asahi Kogaku Takumar 1:3.5 F=75mm



My second love : Plaubel Makina 67 (1978)



My third love : Agfa Super Isolette (1953-1958) • Agfa Solinar 75mm F3.5 (same as Tessar)



My little loves : Leica CL (1973-1975) • Voigtländer Nokton classic 35mm F1.4 VM and Agfa Optima 1535 Sensor (1978) • Paratronic Solitar 1:2.8/40



And finally a design comparison of the Big one and the small one, both produced 1978.


Last edited by fs999; 10-15-2021 at 01:02 AM.
10-15-2021, 10:05 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lotech Quote
and btw the Mamiya is not range finder, or how does it work ?
BTW...I own and use the camera. See the little window on the left? That is for the rangefinder. It works using a thumb wheel and a combined viewfinder/rangefinder.

https://www.120folder.com/mamiya_six.htm

As for the Japanese leaf shutters, they are typically Seikosha with reliability and serviceability typical of the brand.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 10-15-2021 at 10:35 AM.
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