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04-07-2011, 08:14 AM   #1
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Good Rangefinder Camera

What would be a good and affordable Rangefinder camera apart from the ridiculously priced Leicas?
What is it to look for in these cameras to get a good one?
Did Pentax make any?

04-07-2011, 09:04 AM - 1 Like   #2
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To get the best performance at the lowest price, look to the 70s large fixed-lens rangefinders. My favorite is the Konica Auto S2, though the Yashica Electro GS(N)'s have a large following, and are excellent as well. Minolta and Canon made some good ones as well. The main issue with these for current day usage is many used mercury batteries, and thus need adapters or wein cells or hearing aid batteries or ISO adjustments to meter correctly. Slightly older ones, without meter, are also good: look for the major Japanese makes.

If you want interchangeable lenses, then your basic choice is one of the Russian range finders, either the Leica screw mount ones, or the Contax clones, at the absolute cheap end; then I think some Canon rf's and the newer Bessas won't break every bank.

Pentax never made one.
04-07-2011, 09:21 AM   #3
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Classic Camera Profiles - Rangefinder Buys

Hi Gerry: Stephen Gandy's Camera Quest is frequently a great source of information - even the dated pages have good recommendations.

This link goes to a very dated review of Rangefinder camera qualities, but the information is still valid. Copy/Paste text from the page:
"Favorite Fast Lensed Compacts: The Olympus RD, Canon G-III 17, Konica S3, and Yashica Electro 35CC, in no particular order. The RD has a great AE flash system and overall design. The G-III has parallax compensation and the soundest construction feel. The 35CC has the most useful 35/1.8 lens and very nice VF/RF. The S3 has the most advanced GN flash system built into a compact RF, and a very nice viewfinder / rangefinder."

"Favorite 70's Super Small Camera: Auto Exposure only category: Olympus XA or XA4. Manual over-ride category: Olympus RC and Petri Color 35. "I own and use the Olympus XA - probably more often than any individual film SLR I own. At the time it was known as the pocket camera professional photographers carried.
Rangefinders are a ton of fun and easy to acquire on eBay - but each has its signs of age so you should learn first what to look for and, if possible, have an expert technician to do a CLA right away. If you do that the camera will likely last longer than (unfortunately) film does.
04-07-2011, 09:24 AM   #4
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I seriously looked into the fairly well-regarded Voigtländer Bessa. It is not extremely cheap when new, but nowhere near Leica land.

04-07-2011, 10:40 AM   #5
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I have made soem fantastic pics with the canonet 28, it is a fixed lens, but a very good one.
04-07-2011, 12:44 PM   #6
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I have been having great fun with a FED2 with an Industar 26m and Jupiter 11 lenses. Russian rangefinders often have problems but if you buy one from a good retailer (e.g., Boguslavsky at Fedka) you can have great fun for very little money.

Look at my flickr account (http://www.flickr.com/photos/31364196@N04/) for some example images.

K.
04-07-2011, 12:54 PM   #7
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FEd's are fun and certainly cheap. the jupiter 12 35 2.8 for the feds is an amazing little lens. lot's of cheap but decent ltm glass for them. and the lenses can move up to a bessa or leica body easily enough (if needed you get an ltm to m adaptor)
new the bessa is a hell of a value but not cheap
in between there are lots of old RF but most are pretty pricey due to collectors and most will also need a good CLA (which can take a while as the good RF mechanics are rare and heavily booked. Pop over to RFF there's loads of info there, and good stuff in the marketplace like here
04-07-2011, 12:56 PM   #8
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What do you mean by 'Affordable?' To some people, that's a Voigtlander R3, and to some, that's lower-rent than even those by an order of magnitude.


(Actually, I have one, that the world's stubbornly-refused to adopt, so I might sell or trade, basically the same camera as aforementioned Canonet 28, (Really: A35F) only black and with a popup flash, (if you don't mind hands-off automated exposure, apart from an ASA ring) ... all functional but for a few back seals I can and probably should replace, and needing the usual battery adapter for the metering, which in this case means any exposures at all. Works on a Wein cell, though.)

Also for less panache, a far better lens, and normal batteries, I've got a copy of the coveted Canon AF 35ML, which can run on AA's, has a 40/1.9 (but a red 'L' stripe on the bezel,) a blown flash tube, and primitive zone AF. As well as of course surface pieces copied from the A-1 and 'New F-1.'

Is actually a rangefinder, only you can't touch any controls but the ASA ring.

04-07-2011, 01:05 PM   #9
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+1 for the Yashica Electro GSN, It produced very sharp picture and with fast aperture at f1.7. I especially like the silent electronic leaf shutter; it gives only an inaudible “click”!

David
04-07-2011, 01:14 PM   #10
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My apologies to other forum members who have already seen these two videos:

http://http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/11/03/so-you-want-to-buy-a-rangefinder/

http://http://www.stevehuffphoto.com/2010/11/05/so-you-want-to-buy-a-rangefinder-part-2/
Now that the laughter has died down, I can do nothing more than to echo the comments above by other users. To reiterate:
  • Fixed-lens 70s-80s Japanese rangefinders are a huge value. I would consider Yashica models, Canonet QL-17 GIII, as well as various offerings from Olympus (not just the XA), Ricoh (500G is tiny!), Minolta, and Konica. Sadly, Pentax was not a player in this space. Prices are highly variable. Shop carefully and you will not be disappointed.
  • Current 35mm options are limited to offerings from Leica, Zeiss, and Voigtlander with Voigtlander being the most reasonably priced
  • The best value for interchangeable lens (LTM and M mount) would be with Japanese models of just about any vintage. I have a Canon P (ca. 1960) that is quite simply the smoothest and best built camera I have ever handled. (Yes, even nicer than a Pentax SV.)
  • The Voigtlander R2c (used or new) might be an interesting option in that it is a robust modern body that supports legacy lenses for the Contax/Kiev mount. Those lenses are often excellent and relatively inexpensive (a rare combination).
  • FSU (Former Soviet Union) LTM and Contax/Kiev bodies cater to bottom feeders. Best case is that you get a fairly spartan functional and solid camera that performs its duties in a distinctly utilitarian fashion. Worst case is that you get something that smells bad and literally falls apart in your hands. I have three FSU bodies (Zorki 4K, FED-2, and Kiev 4A) and am very fond of all three.
Outside the 35mm world, there are a host of medium format options. These should be considered in that many of them are not significantly larger/heavier than a 35mm camera and many (various folding cameras) are much smaller!


Steve
04-07-2011, 01:50 PM   #11
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In a fixed-lens, the Petri models are generally wunderbar, especially the early mechanical ones. The Ricohs are quite good as well, and are often approximately the same price. My "carry camera" is usually either my Ricoh 500 "jet" (Long and slim, it fits well with my notebooks) or my Petri Color Corrected 2.8 super, which is small, blocky, and nearly as heavy as my spotmatic. Both are good cameras and are usually fed either cheap ISO 100 B&W or whatever CN is short-dated or on sale.

The bessas are supposed to be quite nice, as are the Zeiss Ikons, although the Ikon is quite expensive.
04-07-2011, 02:50 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChrisPlatt Quote
I recently paid about $450 total for a real nice used Bessa R black body and CV 35/2.5 lens.

Chris
As I said above, I came close to getting a Bessa. Bought one of the lenses instead.
04-07-2011, 06:59 PM   #13
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Original Poster
Wow! I never knew there was a lot of users here of Rangefinders too since what I always read about are the 35mm SLR's..maybe because also Pentax never made any Rangefinders being the reason for the SLR's being discussed more.
Keep it coming 'coz this is interesting and I will be looking out for some of those mentioned and see what suits me best in terms of features and price.
Thanks for the links since they are of course still current!
Keep it coming guys!
Do we have a club like this here at the forums like a Rangefinder club much like the lens clubs?
I think somebody should start one to show what these little boxes can do.
04-07-2011, 08:05 PM   #14
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I like Contax G2. Sometimes you can get one cheaper than MZ-S.
04-07-2011, 08:08 PM   #15
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I will totally second Steve regarding the Canon P. The Canon lenses are also very affordable and very good.
I have a set with 35/2.8 (my favorite), 50/1.8 and 100/3.5.
I have the hood that fits both and inexpensive series VI, yellow, orange, red and polarizer.
All that fits into a small Domke bag and it perfect for the photographer "on the go".
I enjoy as much the Canon P as the Pentax LX.

Cheers,

Luc
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