1. BADGER.BRAD

    BADGER.BRAD

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    I recently posted looking for a replacement for my completely manual Praktica SLR, I initially was looking for another SLR but as I'm still looking at different cameras/camera types on my photography journey I've thought about a rangefinder instead ( most likely Russian). What would be the advantages/disadvantages of a range finder in your opinion ?
     
  2. simon ess

    simon ess Keeper of The List

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    Speaking personally, I use an SLR with auto focus but I find manual focus much easier with a rangefinder.

    They also tend to be smaller and lighter.
     
  3. Slyelessar

    Slyelessar

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    Rangefinders can be quicker to focus/ nail shots ala zone focus. You can do with with SLRs, but I have found that the scales on rangefinder lenses more accurate.

    Rangefinders shutter is much quieter, which I love for street photography. There is also a certain fun feeling when using a CLA’d rangefinder that is calibrated.

    As cool as the Russian rangefinders are, they can be a bit more fiddley than say an Olympus 35RD or a Yashica rangefinder. Rangefinders in general can be much smaller as well, and come with fantastic fixed prime lenses.

    The main disadvantage is shortest focusing distance. A lot of SLR lovers can struggle to warm to rangefinders, as you need to spend time with it to get used to it. I have found friends I have lent them to shoot it once and just put it down.

    Above all, I find they are a lot more fun to shoot!
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2018
  4. john.margetts

    john.margetts

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    If you get a rangefinder with a leaf shutter they are totally silent in use. Downside is the lenses are not changeable.
     
  5. Kevin Allan

    Kevin Allan

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    My only rangefinder experience has been with fixed-lens rangefinders such as the Olympus XA and 35RC. I have never purchased an interchangeable lens rangefinder but that is not by accident.

    With an SLR, when you change a lens and look through the viewfinder then you see the correct field of view for that lens. Put on a wide lens and you see a wide view. Put on a telephoto and you see a narrower view. This is so obvious with SLRs that we might take it for granted. However that's not the case with interchangeable rangefinders. As I understand it, if you put a longer lens on a rangefinder (and they don't seem to go longer than 135mm) then you will, at best, have some illuminated lines showing you just the central part of the viewfinder. Therefore you are trying to compose and focus using a small area. With a wide lens, you will reach a point where the field of view is wider than can be shown in the viewfinder, hence you need an external viewfinder, which can cost as much as a lens.

    At this point I may need to step away from the keyboard and avoid an avalanche of indignation from owners of interchangeable lens rangefinders. I realise that some of the most famous images in the history of photography have been taken taken with rangefinders and no doubt there are loads of photographers that love them. But I'm happy to stick with SLRs, and TLRs, and view cameras, and fixed-lens rangefinders.
     
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  6. ChrisR

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    Almost 10 years ago, Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer blog wrote a post: The Leica as Teacher. In it he proposed that budding photographers should use One Camera, One Lens and One (black and white) Film for One Year (plus a few other bits about printing and reviewing your images). What's more he suggests using a rangefinder to do it. You'll see this idea referred to sometimes as OCOLOF or OCOLOY. Dean (@Strappy) and I both did 6-month versions of this, and it was certainly very interesting and instructive to me, and greatly helped me get my "black and white eye" back.

    In a later post he suggested a digital variant; however, he also included this paragraph:

    "I argued that it would improve one's photographic chops in many ways. It would make you stop thinking about camera and lens options; the use of the one camera you were using would become second nature; the "transparent" nature of the RF viewfinder makes the finder image less seductive, less easy to get lost in (view camera photographers know how easy it is to get enthralled by that gorgeous image on the groundglass); the minimal shutter lag and mechanical responsiveness of the Leica encourages you to learn the benefit of timing the moment of exposure exactly; the necessity of developing film tends to make you more conservative and thoughtful and avoid shooting too much; and learning to see in B&W is a good foundation even for color photographers because color can't substitute for meaning, and value (tones) comprises the structure of many good photographs, even ones in color."

    By the way, he also suggested that, contrary to the belief that Leicas are expensive, he suggested that they are free, or nearly so, in that demand means prices are static or rising, so after your year, 6 months or whatever, you can get your money back! Not quite my experience; theoretically I got my money back for my little Leitz Minolta CL, but in practice a quarter went to Ffordes for the sale, after fruitless attempts to sell it on here and fleabay.

    So as you can tell, I didn't stick with my rangefinder, though I di enjoy it enormously, and still hanker after another one from time to time. One of the reasons I gave it up was the near order of magnitude greater cost of expanding the lens collection over the sweet 40/2 M-Rokkor the camera came with, compared with lenses for my Pentaxes. But I think a rangefinder is about the only non-Pentax 35mm camera I would consider buying, these days!

    Voigtlander Bessa R3A and R4A are very good choices, BTW! Go on, give it a go... :D
     
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  7. ChrisR

    ChrisR

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    Yes I think you're right, outside the range of roughly 28-90 mm, many rangefinders are pretty problematic. But there's also something to learn, really learn, about angles of view from the experience you describe, that is much harder with SLRs. The image you look at with your wide and tele are the same size, in the same place, it's easy to forget which lens you have...

    The other great advantage most rangefinders have, assuming you're not using the widest lens possible, is that there is space outside the framelines where you can see what's about to enter the frame, or what you need to keep out of the frame. So you should have much less chance of getting photobombed, and it's easier to get that precise "person walks into scene" shot.

    Darn it, I'm feeling tempted myself again... no Chris, you've just bought LF, don't be daft!
     
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  8. woof woof

    woof woof

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    It's just a different way of doing it.

    With the RF you don't see through the lens and you don't see the field of view which some see as an advantage as you'll also (very probably) be seeing an area outside of the scene you'll be capturing, which could be an advantage. Getting the focus more or less there manually is done differently too but in a way which could lead to alignment issues and trips to the specialist repairer, if you can't do it yourself.

    Disadvantages could include not being able to move the focus point. The lens intruding into your view. Not being able to focus closely and / or not being able to frame or focus accurately at very close distances. Not being able to focus accurately with longer lenses.

    Mostly though I think RF's and their lenses are just nice things and you can pretend it's 1954 or whatever.

    Personally I've done my time with RF's and these days I'd go for a Sony A7, and I did. IMO they're a relative bargain and you can manually focus with ease using peaking and the magnified view with just about any lens you can find and of course you're not changing the film after 36 exposures.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  9. soeren

    soeren

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    Well there is Bronica RF645 and Mamiya 7(and 6)
     
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  10. Lindsay56

    Lindsay56

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    It's a fine question and topic. I struggle a bit with getting the hang of rangefinders but as I have inherited a number of them, I want to learn to use them. In particular I have a Leica iiia and a iiig, with standard lenses but I also have a telephoto lens for them too. As I understand it, and I have seen them, you can get special telephoto viewfinders for Leica's too, to match the lenses, so that is in fact possible to see the field of view of the lens in the vf. I don't have a telephoto one but I do have a separate vf attachment that I don't understand the purpose of at present.

    What I do know is that many of the best images of the past were captured on rangefinders - Leicas and Contaxes - by the great photographers of the 30s-60's, so it's worth the work to see what I/we can do with them.

    Go for it Brad.
     
  11. Peter B

    Peter B

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    I'm just not a rangefinder person, and I say that even though I've tried to be with a Leica M3, Bronica RF645 and a Fuji GSW690, as well as an Olympus XA. I still have a Kiev lVa which was dragged out for the Soviet camera challenge last year, but never again since that. I like to see that what I'm shooting is in focus and fully framed, and I just wasn't getting that with rangefinders. Zone focusing is what I did on my first Olympus Trip (still got it), and I'm not keen on spending a fortune on Leicas, Mamiyas, Bronnys or whatever to do the same. Obviously it doesn't matter so much for a static subject when you can take your time, but I also find my eyesight isn't the best for rangefinders. (should also say quietly that the Fuji rep couldn't understand why I didn't even want to try the XPro2, but it just isn't for me)
     
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  12. FruitFlakes

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    I find rangefinders a lot easier to focus compared to SLRs, especially once the light gets low. The lenses are generally smaller too.
     
  13. stevelmx5

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    The separate viewfinder is normally fitted to the hotshoe and matches the focal length of the lens in use (not all rangefinders have all framelines present). You then compose with the hotshoe viewfinder and focus using the internal VF of the camera. Telephoto viewfinders do the same thing, neither options add additional views to the internal viewfinder on the camera though.
     
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  14. stevelmx5

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    This thread is in the F&C section Alan so they're talking about a film rangefinder ;0)
     
  15. woof woof

    woof woof

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    I know they're talking about film RF's and that's what my comments are about. All those things about lens intrusion in the viewfinder, parallax, focusing with longer lenses, RF alignment issues and seeing beyond the captured frame are indeed film RF positives and negatives, I know as I had them for years. I possibly shouldn't have added the A7 bit at the end but there you go... I was focusing on the using old lenses and manual focusing and photography aspect rather than on the camera format they're mounted on and giving a little extra bit of perspective and an alternative that can be ignored. That's why it's tagged on the end and not my opening suggestion.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
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  16. stevelmx5

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    Personally, I've tried a range of rangefinders and have only really found a couple enjoyable for the photography I do;

    Leica M2 with collapsible 50mm - The first 35mm film camera I used after getting back into photography. Borrowed off a friend. As an engineer, I found the mechanics lovely and it was very smooth. I only shot one roll as I didn't have it for long.

    Leica CL with Nokton 35/1.4 - I borrowed this a few weeks ago from a friend of mine as I've always had an itch to try one. Like other Leica's I've used, I found the engineering/mechanics of it very nice but didn't really 'bond' with it.

    Kiev 4 - Bit of a brick but I actually quite liked the handling (with the Contax method to keep your finger away from the VF!) and results. A cheap option to try out.

    Olympus XA - Tiny but with a surprisingly bright viewfinder. Results from it are very good but felt a bit too much like a plastic compact for me, mainly because that's what it is!

    Fed 1G with Industar 61- The most basic RF I've used but I think one of the most challenging/enjoyable for me. It has separate focusing/composing windows so it's a two-stage process. Whilst being slower to use than a combined VF, it worked to slow me down more and think about my shots. The results from it were actually pretty good too in the right environment. I've almost been tempted to pick up another one but I'm being good!

    Olympus 35RC - Definitely my favourite rangefinder, I've actually got one on my shelf at the moment with some Cinestill 50 loaded. They're tiny, really easy to use and deliver excellent quality results. I think I've had 5 now as I buy them, put a few rolls through, decide I don't really 'work' with rangefinders and sell them....then buy another one! I took one with us on holiday to Florida last year and actually enjoyed using it instead of my digital kit on a few days....maybe I should use it more!

    Edit - Forgot the Yashicas!

    Yashica 35GT/Lynx 14 - The 35GT(N) are excellent cameras. Solid, pretty well made and very nice lenses. Viewfinder was pretty bright once cleaned and can be picked up quite cheaply. A little larger than they appear in photos so be aware! I also had a Lynx 14 which has an F1.4 lens. Heavier than the GT, mainly because of the glass, but the body feels similar size to the GT. Personally, I'd go with another GT over the 14 as they're cheaper, easier to find and at 1.4 the lens isn't exactly 'stellar'!

    On the whole, I'm either photographing my kids, who don't stand still, or landscapes.. I can manually focus faster using a split prism SLR/TLR and I like to see the effect of ND grads/polarisers through the viewfinder so as a result, rangefinders don't really suit my own personal needs. However, on days where I get time to slow down and just walk around, I think they're excellent (hence the 35RC).
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  17. stevelmx5

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    Fair point, I should have clarified that I was referring to the comments about pretending it's 1954 (this is the F&C section where it literally is still 1954 ;)) and not changing film after 36 shots. Whilst I shoot digital too, many people still enjoy using film (also me) so the OP was asking about a film RF/SLR.
     
  18. Mr Badger

    Mr Badger

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    Has anyone mentioned yet that there are two main types of rangefinder camera: coupled and uncoupled. The uncoupled ones have a built in rangefinder that is not connected to the lens focus mechanism, so you have to obtain the distance by using the rangefinder then manually set the focus on the lens to the distance indicated. With a coupled rangefinder, it's connected to the focus mechanism so the focus is set automatically when the rangefinder/focus is operated. Both types have to be in calibration to work properly.

    Then there's the sperate rangefinder accessory, this usually attaches to the camera's flash shoe mount (if it has one). Like the uncoupled built-in rangefinder this is simply a device for measuring distance, you read the distance with the rangefinder then set the lens focus distance to match.

    As for many of the photos between the 30s and the 60s being taken with 35mm (or 120) rangefinder cameras, this was probably because that was the best technology available at the time, so it could be argued that many of these great photos were taken despite the use of rangefinders! Joking aside, in their day, a rangefinder camera was about the only really portable way to nail focus accurately and quickly with a shallow depth of field if you were taking shots of anything that wasn't totally static. Hence rangefinders being favoured by a number of street/social documentary photographers, who found the portability (and stealth) of a 35mm rangefinder was more convenient that using something like a medium format TLR.

    Once 35mm SLRs became available (and more affordable) rangefinders fell from popularity. However, some people had got good with them and were used to them, so they stayed with them, particularly if they'd got a rangefinder of really good quality. This seemed to develop a bit of a cult following for the RF, with people perhaps copying the habit because their 'photographic hero/heroine' used one... and, more recently, probably an element of nostalgia and traditionalism in using a high-quality mechanical camera fitted with a lens that gave a certain subtle characteristic look to the resulting photos?

    Would I use a rangefinder regularly for things like street photography with film? Not these days, I have a fairly compact and quite autofocus 35mm SLR with eye-selectable focus points for that, this gives me a better chance of getting the photograph I'm looking for, which is the only thing most people will look at in the end. If I want a trip down memory lane then it can be fun to use an RF, just as it can to use a totally manual folding camera, a TLR or a box camera, etc.. I'm not knocking rangefinders, I'm just saying that progress in film camera technology gave us better tools for the job, and many of these are currently a heck of a lot cheaper to buy than a good quality RF.
     
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  19. Mr Badger

    Mr Badger

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    Very funny, you know it's not 1954 until January... so stop playing tricks, you know how Brian will worry if he reads something like that!
    :D ;)
     
  20. Asha

    Asha Blithering Idiot

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    Yeah you'll have him going to his local newsagent with a shilling in his hand for a packet of fags!:D
     
  21. excalibur2

    excalibur2 Loretta

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    ..and to one of my fascinating\scintillating stories o_O My grandfather's mother gave him a shilling in a purse before he went back to the trenches in WW1, the time he got back his mother had died and he kept the purse (and shilling) in loving memory and he gave it to me with the story not long before he died.
     
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  22. mdjchat

    mdjchat

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    It doesn't add a great deal but I'll repeat that a RF is just a different way of doing things. I use them because they're fun. For the last few months I've been trying to find the right SLR for me so I have neglected my RF's. Last weekend I picked up my M2 and was reminded just how much I love it. It doesn't focus close like an SLR and it isn't as convenient having no light meter. But the viewing and composing experience is much different and I find it easier to work on framing a scene inside the brightlines. I also like that I can zone focus and then shoot away without being distracted by out of focus areas in the viewfinder (because everything is in focus obviously).

    I wouldn't recommend beginning with a Leica. The screwmount cameras are affordable but hard work (still very fun). The most useable cameras at the lowest cost (for an interchange lens RF) are the likes of the Canon P or Canon 7. Having brightlines in the viewfinder really makes a difference and they are more likely to be trouble free and work straight out of the box than a Russian RF. The Russian cameras are good fun but it can take luck to find one that has been kept in good working order.
     
  23. ChrisR

    ChrisR

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    One quick caveat, if you buy a rangefinder without a (TTL) meter, you're going to get a lot of blank frames (I mean a LOT, unless you're very disciplined) at first. Just remember to take the lens cap off. Of course, the viewfinder doesn't give you any clue that it's still on.

    Or maybe this was just me? ;)
     
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  24. Mr Badger

    Mr Badger

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    Glue a lolly stick or similar to the cap and make sure it sticks into the path of the viewfinder each time you put the lens cap on! :D
     
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  25. Kevin Allan

    Kevin Allan

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    It wasn't just you, there was a photo on the net of Eric Clapton holidng up a Leica to his face, with the lens cap on.

    EDIT - found it here - http://leicaphilia.com/eric-clapton-forgets-to-take-the-lens-cap-off-his-leica/
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
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  26. BADGER.BRAD

    BADGER.BRAD

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    Thanks everyone , I should have pointed out I have a number of SLRs,view finder compacts and even some and I say this quietly and with a really nasty taste in my mouth digital cameras ( yuk yuk yuk !) This collection means I always have a number of cameras with part used rolls of film ( not in the digital's of course) and when I use them I sometimes I forget their little oddities and limitations, I would be better off doing what was suggested and using one camera and mastering it !
    With this in mind and the fact I have a number of smallish cameras which I also like to use and their relative low cost on line I think I'm going to go for a Olympus 35 RC or XA and then maybe move up if I enjoy the experience , are these metered ?
     
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  27. Peter B

    Peter B

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    The XA certainly is, and I'm pretty sure the RC will be as well. Quite a bit of info on compact rangefinders on the Cameraquest site. https://www.cameraquest.com/com35s.htm
     
  28. simon ess

    simon ess Keeper of The List

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    I have one of each and I'm not looking to move up. They are brilliant!

    They are both metered.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018
  29. excalibur2

    excalibur2 Loretta

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    So true... in doing a rotation of my cameras I forget little things like how to rewind the film in the F90x, well the F4 I was playing is I suppose sensible? but laughable in that to rewind you have to operate two little levers, and with the OM it's no good looking for the rewind button on the base plate...and I haven't got round to many other things in operating the cameras :sleep:
     
  30. joxby

    joxby

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    I think individual mileage is gonna vary on this one, its certainly true that RF's aren't for every one.
    I personally don't give a second thought to any of the caveats mentioned so far, I dunno if I'm just used to them and accept the limitation(s) without question or I don't put myself in a situation where a limitation becomes relevant.
    There are things that SLR's do better than RF's, and vice versa, I suppose it depends how and what you intend to shoot...:)
    I sometimes wish my RF could focus closer than Veronica, or that longer lenses were available for the RF, but on the whole the RF goes with me all the time whereas Veronica only goes if I have a specific function for her....:)
     
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  31. Asha

    Asha Blithering Idiot

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    It's just you Chris! :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::exit::D
     
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  32. ChrisR

    ChrisR

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    The XA gets round the lens cap problem by having a sliding door that covers both the lens and the viewfinder. It's a staggeringly compact camera, a marvel of engineering... provided you're happy with auto-everything-but-focus, IIRC.

    I also think you need to try a RF "in the flesh" as it were. The focus patch (or whatever it's called) can be a bit marmite in some cameras. Don't know about the 35RC and it's years since I used a XA.
     
  33. Nomad Z

    Nomad Z

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    I find the RF patch in both my XA and 35RC a bit so-so, although it's hard to say how much they might have faded over time (they both do work). My Leica IIIf is a fair bit better, and the M2 is head and shoulders above the lot.

    I don't find the XA much fun to use. It is brilliantly compact, but it doesn't really represent the typical rangefinder experience - it's all just a bit too small and compromised for easy handling, and the feather-touch shutter release annoys me. The 35RC has much better handling, although the aperture ring can be a little fiddly. It has a meter, but needs a mercury battery or modern equivalent, which basically means I treat it as a camera with no meter (it'll work mechanically without a battery).
     
  34. Peter B

    Peter B

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    The Oly Trip 35 only has 2 speeds, 1/40 and 1/200 as I recall? It does have a red flag that pops up in the viewfinder if it is too dark to take a photo on auto, and this includes when the lenscap has been left on as the selenium meter surrounds the lens. Zone focus and use iso 400 film and you're all set. ;)
     
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  35. stevelmx5

    stevelmx5

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    That’s a different camera, and not a Rangefinder ;0)

    The Olympus 35RC is an auto/manual Rangefinder.
     
  36. niko

    niko

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    well I have a load of film slr's and also an oly xa, oly trip and oly xa2. sold a voit bessa, and two different "red dot" rangefinders, as believe it or not I prefer to use the olys to the posh rangefinders. but the glass was stonking
    mind you still love my slrs and fancy a good point and shoot 35mm:eek::p
     
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  37. moomike

    moomike TPer Emeritus

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    I absolutely love my Yashica Electro 35 GSN - I usually reach for that over any of my 35mm cameras. It's got a bright viewfinder and the lens is ridiculously sharp. Only problem I found with it is that it does everything for you - all you need to do is set the aperture and it works everything out itself. The light meter in this thing has never let me down (even in really difficult shooting situations where I was convinced it would) I'd definitely recommend one if you can find one that doesn't need the pad of death (dun dun duuuuuuuun!!!!) or the white wiring sorting (the earlier models are notorious for it)

    If I had to choose between an older, soviet style RF and an SLR, I would reach for the SLR (I love my FED4 but just hate the focusing screen being so dim)

    I have a Kyocera Yashica Zoomate 120SE I was going to put up on eBay but I would rather it went to a good home, so if you would like it then you can have it for free mate (y)
     
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  38. niko

    niko

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    wow that's an amazing offer thank you, id love to give it a go. drop me a line and we can sort something out if your really sure.
     
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  39. moomike

    moomike TPer Emeritus

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    You are welcome mate, I'll drop you a PM tomorrow (y)
     
  40. niko

    niko

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    @moomike hi mike thanks again for that amazing offer, but thinking overnight I don't think I would use a zoom compact much (its a fixed lens auto focus I will look out for) and it would be such a shame for it to just sit here.
    So I think someone else could offer it a better home than me, thanks again mate nik
     
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