Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by mattvillano, Jan 24, 2004.
This is probably a stupid question but what is the difference between a rangefinder and 35mm SLR?
SLR stands for single lens reflex. A reflex camera is a camera that shows you in the viewer almost exactly what will be exposed on the film. It does this using mirrors. This is handy for precise focusing and composition. Most 35mm SLRs have a mirror that moves out of the way as the shot is taken (notice your viewfinder goes black at the moment of shutter release), and have a focal plane shutter behind the mirror.
Rangefinders do not have the mirrors, so you are not exactly getting what you see through the viewfinder. Because they don't have the mirror, rangefinders tend to be smaller. They also usually have leaf shutters which are quieter and have a high flash sync than focal plane shutters.
Rangefinders also have a shorter distance between the lens and the film plane which provides for a sharper image. The leaf shutter also helps in the image sharpness because there is no mirror to cause vibrations when it flips up.
Definately the leaf shutters cause less camera vibration. But the above statement doesn't make sense to me. The distance between the lens and film plane is determined by focal length of the lens. If you shorten the distance between the lens and the film plane you would need a wider angle lens or you would be out of focus.
From the B&H photo on the voigtlander rangefinder (based on a leica screwmount rangefinder)
"They have a smaller distance between the film and the lens mount than SLRs, which makes for inherently sharper lenses"
Ah, the distance to the lens mount. That doesn't require a change of distance to the lens, which was what I found strange, as that would change focal length.
I'm still wondering why this would increase sharpness?
Speculation: It's probably not a huge difference. But vibrations are amplified the farther away the lens is from the film plane.
edit: doesn't look like my speculation was correct.
Oh, and I was just doing some research and came across a post at photo.net
that's good to know, i wasn't aware of that. !
that light travelling through a shorter path thing sounds kida ify to me. i don't doubt the sharpness thing, but i do wonder if this is the real reason
I have to agree with tr0gd0o0r. There's no way to directly compare the two as the glass for each is ground so different from the mount and focal length to the film plane. In other words, what difference does it make if the lens is 1/4" or 1 foot from the film plane as long as each is ground so the image is focused to exactly cover the 35mm area on the film? In fact, to use my (extreme) example, sharpness would be the least of your problems... what about distortion?
As for vibration, I'd think you're 1000 times more likely to induce "vibration" with either camera from just natural human movement whie the shutter is open or jerking the camera when you mash the shutter. All modern SLR's have dampening mechanisms in them to cancel out vibration from the mirror flopping up and down.
IMHO, neither of these things are worth worrying about and, put side-by-side, it would be impossible to choose which picture was taken by which kind of camera.
ksmattfish answered the original question best. Basically the SLR lets you see through the actual lens itself ("what you see is what you get"), and allows you to change lenses (wide-angles, telephotos, zooms, etc.). Rangefinder cameras, in addition to what ksmattfish said, usually do not have interchangable lenses.
Bottom line: smaller/cheaper/limited verses larger/more expensive/more versatile.
Yeah but when you get your camera on a tripod for slow shutter speeds it's not going to be moving is it? dampening mechanism or not the mirror still makes a vibration. That's why higher end SLR's include a mirror lockup.
I'm afraid your bottom line is wrong. Most high end rangefinders are more expensive than high end SLR's. Leica, Hasselblad, Rollei... Also most rangefinder systems do have interchangeable lenses.
I certainly agree that if you had both cameras on tripods set on bedrock with a laser mounted on them hitting a spot 1/4 mile away you could easily see the SLR moves more when the picture is snapped. But can you tell the difference in the pictures? I doubt very, very seriously you could tell the difference (all else being equal, now) even under a magnifying glass. To say that, in general, RF pictures are "sharper" than SLR pictures because of SLR's "vibration problem" is silly- considering all the other things that can have a much larger effect sharpness.
My point is you couldn't tell in pictures between the two unless you're in lab conditions- if then. If sharpness and detail is such a concern, you need to be shooting medium format cause this dinky little 35mm stuff ain't gonna cut for you!
My "Bottom Line":
Sorry, I'm sticking to my guns on this one. Of course high-dollar RF's cost more! You know I was speaking of RF's and SLR's "in general". And most RF's didn't have interchangable lenses. What I will admit is that most of the cheaper RF's have fallen by the wayside lately and there's mostly the very expensive RF's that might have interchangable lenses left on the market. (I haven't compared the number of brands/models and sales figures of RF's to SLR's.)
Anyway, if you want to know about RF's compared to SLR's, go here: http://www.hprob.com/Weblog/archives/000062.html
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