Rangefinder Questions

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by curiouslyadrift, Dec 22, 2004.

  1. curiouslyadrift

    curiouslyadrift TPF Noob!

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    I have a few rangefinder questions:

    What are some decent, reasonably affordable rangefinders? (older models are fine since they tend to be cheaper, but no huge cameras)

    How do digital point-and-shoots compare to film rangefinders of similar cost?

    I've heard SLRs are much better for nature photography, but are rangefinders decent for landscape-type shots?

    Is there a technical reason that lenses aren't made with a longer focal point than approximately 135mm, or is it just practicality?
     
  2. Jamie R

    Jamie R TPF Noob!

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  3. curiouslyadrift

    curiouslyadrift TPF Noob!

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    Awesome, thanks Jamie.
     
  4. Jamie R

    Jamie R TPF Noob!

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    No problem. That'll keep you busy ;)

    Here's a summary:

    Reasonable cheap affordable rangefinders:

    Russian - Kiev 4; FED 2s; Contax IIIa copies; Leica IIIf copies

    (around $20-50 max unless you're going for a limited edition Reid - a Leica copy)

    Japanese - Konica I, II, III, S, S2, S3 (up to around $100 max)
    Yashica Electro; Minolta 7sii; Canonets

    English - hmmm....my English compatriots have got to be good
    at something other than cricket...it'll come to me.

    And others... such as medium format rangefinders (these are way cool!) - Voigtlander Bessa IIs; Perkeo IIs etc

    -->How do digital point-and-shoots compare to film rangefinders
    of similar cost?

    Imagine chickensh*t instead of turkey for Christmas dinner?


    --> I've heard SLRs are much better for nature photography, but are rangefinders decent for landscape-type shots?

    Old wives come out to play - come to www.thephotoforum.com to be educated!

    --> Is there a technical reason that lenses aren't made with a
    longer focal point than approximately 135mm, or is it just
    practicality?

    There is a window within a window (the viewfinder) of a rangefinder called a 'patch' on which overlapping images indicate the correct focus. The normal screen is around 50mm usually. To view 85mm, the frame lines shrink to less than 70% of the full viewfinder frame. By the time you start looking at 150mm, you can just about work out the area for composing the 150mm perspective on a 50mm viewfinder - it barely occupies 30% of the screen. That's really unpleasant to work with for most amateurs. Some expensive rangefinders have shifting framelines to automatically correct; others don't. So you use the same patch to focus the camera, and then use an extra viewfinder (usually hotshoe mounted) to focus. Some like it, some don't....
     
  5. curiouslyadrift

    curiouslyadrift TPF Noob!

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    Thanks again.

    I suppose I should have clarified by "reasonably affordable" - I meant around $500 or less. But if I can start with a $100 camera that will still produce good results, I might as well begin with that.
     
  6. Jamie R

    Jamie R TPF Noob!

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    $500 is a lot of money. You could get a really decent vintage rangefinder for that price, or even a modern one.

    If I had $500 to spend, I'd get a medium format rangefinder (Bronica RF645) which is discontinued probably. If my $500 didn't stretch and I really wanted a medium format one, I'd get a second-hand one since these are built like bricks. I'd probably get a vintage one with a sharp Heliar lens from Voigtlander. But that's really too obscure for someone just starting off in photography.

    Decent manual rangefinders like the Voigtlander series are fantastic - the Bessa T, L and R are all great cameras with excellent lenses. I've made 24x16" blow-ups of these on Tech Pan film which are fantastically sharp. Alas - 35mm is too small for my work nowadays; I only use 35mm to shoot snaps ;)

    The Konica S3 is around $100 for a great working condition one. Get it - low risk and you can save the other $400 for later when you're sure of where you want to put your money...

    I'd recommend getting used to a standard lens (around 40mm - 50mm) rather than having loads if you're seriously into photography....cheaper too. The rest you can add later.
     
  7. doxx

    doxx TPF Noob!

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    Location:
    behind the viewfinder
    if you want something new:
    www.cameraquest.com

    there you find everything about the (great) Voigtlander
    rangefinders. I have used a Bessa R with several lenses
    myself and was very pleased with it...

    In general rangefinders are better for short focal lenghts
    28mm to 90mm, 135mm is pushing it - since the frame
    in the viewfinder gets so small (it uses a small part of
    the viewfinder only) that it's extremely hard
    to focus accurately (especially wide open)
     

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