All the things I wanted to know but was afraid to ask

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by nealjpage, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. nealjpage

    nealjpage multi format master in a film geek package

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    Ok, here's a somewhat silly question: what kind of camera classifies as a "rangefinder"? What range does it find? I realize it's different from an SLR, and also different from my old Kodak Instamatic, but what exactly does one do? Is it perferable over an SLR?
     
  2. Azuth

    Azuth TPF Noob!

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    http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=Glossary+rangefinder&btnG=Search&meta=

    Taken from result 1.

    [FONT=Arial,Helvetica,Geneva,Sans-serif,sans-serif]Rangefinder is the name given to an optical device used to determine distance. It works by superimposing 2 slightly different views of the scene and allowing the user to adjust one until it aligns perfectly with the other. How much adjustment is needed - allows the distance to the scene to be calculated. Rangefinders are often built into cameras and such cameras are therefore known as Rangefinders too. If the adjustment of the rangefinder also adjust the focus, then it is called coupled. If the reading from the adjusted rangefinder has to be manually transferred over to the focus ring, it it called uncoupled.[/FONT]
     
  3. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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    That description is correct. On the front of the camera there is a large viewfinder window and a second much smaller window a few centimetres apart. A pair of mirrors or prisms angled at 45º takes the view from the smaller window and superimposes it in a little patch in the centre of the large viewfinder. In other words, you can see the subject through the viewfinder, and you get a duplicate image of it in the little patch.

    The lens is mechanically coupled to the rangefinder mechanism, so that as you turn the focussing ring the duplicate image in the centre patch moves left and right. When the two images line up, your subject is in focus. There are lenses that aren't coupled to the rangefinder, but these tend to be very wide angle, which means they have so much depth of field that focussing is almost optional.

    The main differences compared with an SLR are:

    1. Much brighter viewfinder, and rather than seeing maybe 95% of your scene as you do with an SLR, you can see beyond the edges of the picture

    2. No mirror flip up when you release the shutter. This means there is less movement going on, which helps you with getting sharp images at lower shutter speeds than with an SLR. I'm happy down to 1/8th of a second handheld with my rangefinder, maybe 1/4. Low light and no flash is rangefinder territory

    3. No mirror flipping up also means that you can see through the viewfinder as the shutter is released. This is especially useful with slow shutter speeds, and some people find it helps them get exactly the moment they want to capture

    4. Accurate focussing is easier. Some people will dispute this, but I use both and I'd say that the rangefinder wins hands down. The big bright viewfinder helps

    5. Most people can't tell a rangefinder from a point and shoot, so you don't necessarily stand out like you would if you were holding an SLR. Combined with the low light/no flash capability, this makes rangefinders popular for candid and street photography

    6. They are fun to use! [edit: not that SLRs aren't fun; rangefinders are just different and unusual]

    This is what I've got:

    http://cameraquest.com/voigtr2ar3a.htm

    Thomsk
     
  4. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    #5 will vary a lot depending on the camera. I'm not too inconspicuous with this one. ;)
     
  5. photogoddess

    photogoddess TPF Noob!

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    Mark - now that's just plain cool. :drool:
     
  6. markc

    markc TPF Noob!

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    My friend has one I borrow from time to time. I love it. You don't want to advance the film while in an unaware crowd though. People might think you were throwing the slide on an automatic pistol. :p
     
  7. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    :lol:

    Gosh, that thing was purty..... :thumbup:
     
  8. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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  9. photogoddess

    photogoddess TPF Noob!

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    That definitely adds to the cool factor for me. :twisted:
     
  10. darin3200

    darin3200 TPF Noob!

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    Another rangefinder advantage is noise. Most SLRs are really loud, and a large SLR with motordrive are incredibly loud. Rangefinders are much quiter. Some use a focal plane shutter which is cloth and quiet. Some popular rangefinders like yashica electros or canon canonets use a leaf shutter. These shutters are small, metallic and inside the lens. The yashica makes nothing more than a little metallic click taking a picture. Its so quiet that I've taken pictures of people 5 feet away from me in quiet rooms and they don't even notice it.
     

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