Forgive me this silly, silly question, but...

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by LaFoto, Jan 31, 2006.

  1. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    ...what exactly are "Rangefinder"-cameras?

    My dad's 40-year-old (?) Leica M5, which I am using right now (not too frequently, it confuses me for most of the time, but I try, I am too pampered with automatic functions... :roll: ) would be a "Messfeld-Sucherkamera" in my language. Nice word, eh?

    Now I would just assume, but only assume, that this is what is represented by the word "rangefinder" in English. But I don't really know. Hence my question.
     
  2. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    There are a few different kinds of rangefinder, but essentially they all employ the same system - 2 views of the scene are projected onto the viewfinder and you twiddle the focus until they are superimposed. It differs from an SLR in that instead of projecting the image through the lens mirror and focussing screen, there is a separate viewfinder which allows for no mirror noise and less vibration.

    Leica fans would have it that rangefinders are better at achieving critical focus as it's easier for the brain to superimpose two images than work with the slightly strange ground-glass process in an SLR. Many rangefinder users exhibit a level of dedication which is suspiciously close to extreme religious fervour! ;)

    Leica are pretty much the champion of rangefinders.

    Rob
     
  3. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    Oh, and you need a new viewfinder for every lens.

    Rob
     
  4. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    The viewfinders are brighter normally as well!
     
  5. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Do I really need a different viewfinder for different lenses?
    Christiane gave me that Leica with the standard 50mm prime and a 90mm, which my dad bought himself as a "telephoto lens" way back then. And I have interchanged them (not often, I prefer the 50mm for the time being) and nothing bad happened :scratch:
     
  6. Torus34

    Torus34 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    There are no silly questions! There are some mighty silly answers, though.

    'Range' refers to the distance from camera to subject. To 'find' the range is to determine the distance. Rangefinder cameras do this the same way as our eyes do -- they 'look' at the subject through two windows spaced a few cm apart. The view from one window is slightly different from the other because it is off to one side. A mechanism in the camera turns a mirror or prism to adjust the view through one window until the image of the subject coincides with that seen through the other window. As the adjustment is made, the mechanism changes the focus of the lens so that it is correctly focussed on the subject.

    Film cameras come in three basic types: no focussing mechanism [old Kodak box cameras], rangefinders [pre-1950 Leicas, Contax, Kiev I through IV, etc.] and through-the-lens [Pentax K1000, Olympus OM1, Konica T3, etc.]

    Please ask further if I've given a silly [unclear] answer.

    Regards.
     
  7. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    Hmmm, not sure about the viewfinder on that, I deduce from this that perhaps the 35, 50 and 90 are interchangeable on this model. I'm out of my depth here though, the only Leica I've got is ancient and has NO features! Mitica will probably know. And Graham is bound to as well.

    M5 has the M4's 35/135, 50, 90 finder, with shutter speeds and meter needles added.
     
  8. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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    You deduce correctly. On my Voigtlander Bessa R2a (a modern rangefinder for people who can't afford Leica or the new Zeiss Ikon) there is a switch on the top for 75mm, 35/90mm and 50mm lenses. This puts different sets of brightlines in the viewfinder, the 35/90 position having both sets in there. You can't focus accurately with a rangefinder much over 90mm and at wider than 35mm you can either get a separate viewfinder that goes in the flash hotshoe, or you don't bother at all - Voigtlander make some nice wide angle lenses with focal lengths of 21mm and less where you really don't need one.

    http://www.cameraquest.com/voigtr2ar3a.htm

    [​IMG]
     
  9. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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    The M5 was made from 1971 to 1975:

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leica

    There is one on eBay right now for £1,300 (€1,900), with no lens.

    Thomsk
     
  10. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Oh. OK.
    So he got that one later in life.
    Then the M2 and M3 must be the older ones.
    Yes, I remember saying to my sister when she asked "Which one do you want to have - one of those that show you NOTHING (with regards to aperture and shutter speed), or the one that offers you at least something", so - pampered as I am - I said, "Oh, better SOMETHING! Else I am all lost."
     
  11. Mitica100

    Mitica100 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Corinna, the M system uses a self-adjusting frame finder, so if you put on a 90mm lens then the frame in the viewfinder adjusts automatically. I believe this is valid for the following lenses: 35, 50, 90, 135.

    A simple test would be looking through the viewfinder withouth having any lens on the M5 and while looking, attach one of the lenses. Look at the smaller frame inside the larger one. It should change. For 35mm it will disappear, while for 135 you will see a smaller frame in the middle. What's amazing about this, it's also self-adjusting for parallax. If you focus on a nearby subject (as in 1-3 meters) you'll see the frame adjusting itself.

    M5 is a gem! Keep it and learn to shoot with rangefinders, you have the perfect model for that. Rob is right, owning a Leica is like discovering God. :)
     
  12. ThomThomsk

    ThomThomsk TPF Noob!

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    I've just checked, and mine does that too. Probably not as accurately as a Leica, but then I didn't pay £2,000 for it...

    Thomsk
     

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