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Rangefinder Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Classic Models & Marques' started by Fishboy, Jan 7, 2016.

  1. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Jeff,

    See http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subscription/leicaphilia.html

    But beware: "...try one. Either you'll like it, or you won't. But be warned: if you do, you'll probably like it quite a lot, and won't be happy until you have one. Or two."

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  2. PeteE

    PeteE Well-Known Member

    That shop may have one of those 'Rather nasty FED 4's ' as mentioned by a previous member BUT I was given one and it is very good and takes just as sharp snaps as my Leica M6 --- see my video about it on YouTube --
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFumyiEeMLU
     
  3. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    Thank you for that Mr Hicks - I found it both informative and entertaining...and now I've got to have a Leica!
     
  4. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    With the same lens it would. But it still wouldn't be as nice to use. And you can't really pretend that pre-war Zeiss designs, made with wobbly Soviet quality control, can compare with good Leica lenses designed decades later and made properly. On-screen pictures give no idea of quality at all: it would be quite hard to take a picture that wasn't sharp enough for 800x1200 pixels.

    I've had several Feds and Zorkiis over the last 40+ years, including new ones, and the ones that have worked have delivered quite good quality, but NOT comparable with Leica.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  5. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Jeff,

    It saves time in the long run -- and probably money too, once you allow for all the other cameras you'd otherwise buy on the way to eventually buying a Leica.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  6. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Indeed. I believe pre-war Zeiss lenses were generally better than their Leitz equivalents, and good Russian versions can be really rather good, but not a patch on modern Leica glass. And although my FED 2 is pretty smooth, every 4 I've tried is pretty rough. Mine works fine, the lens is reasonable, but it's just no fun to use.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Nick,

    Disputable. As a rule they were contrastier, but less sharp. Once coating was introduced, Leica took the advantage. But then, post-war Contax designs tended to be very old fashioned, with the exception of the 21mm Biogon.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  8. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    Secondhand M6s are now in the £500-£650 bracket that recently were occupied by much older, meterless, more fiddly loading, M3s and M2s, when s/h M6 were £750-£800+. There's still a bit of a shortage of lenses but there are plenty of s/h Voigtlanders (new stocks also still available) or should you find a good Russian S39 lens you can fit it with an adaptor to a M.

    Some years ago I tested my three Leica f2 fixies (35/50/90) against their Olympus equivalents on Kodak's finest grain film: the Zuikos were good but even with a 4x magnifier, it was obvious that the Summicrons were superior - in resolution, field flatness and contrast, both at full aperture and stopped down a couple of stops.
     
  9. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    Some Steve geezer keeps beating me to suggestions. Harrumph!

    I must confess to hankering for a Barnack Leica (too much time over on RFF, all the bo*eh talk has got to me, I think), but I'd have to have a NOOKY.

    Just because.

    Adrian
     
  10. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    You could try one of the 1970s/80s Ricoh 500 range - should be able to get one for next to nothing on fleabay - to see how you get on with a rangefinder. If you don't like it you haven't wasted anything that way. Mind you, you might not like the camera - very much built to a price!

    Adrian
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Adrian,

    This is my fundamental objection to "see how you get on with a rangefinder". It's a bit like saying "Buy the cheapest sausage you can get to see how you get on with sausages" or "Buy a Schwinn [or other lead-pipe special with back-pedal brakes] to see how you get on with bicycles".

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Adrian,

    Having tried both, repeatedly, over many years, I can unreservedly recommend nooky over NOOKY.

    Have you seen my bokeh piece? http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subscription/bokeh.html from which I take the following:

    Bokeh is one of those things like grey cards and the Zone System in that while it is very useful in its place, it attracts fanatics and people who think they know a great deal more about photography than they do. Many are inclined to attribute everything good in photography to their pet hobby horse, much like those who believe in gurus. Don't be intimidated by bokeh, and don't overrate it if it's not important to you. If it is important to you, then the very best of luck to you, but remember that others may not share your opinion of its importance.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  13. filmlover

    filmlover Well-Known Member

    A former pro colleague who used Leica (an M2 I think) years ago, reckoned that Canon screw thread lenses were superior to their Leitz counterparts at the time. I once had a look at a Canon 7 rangefinder, excellent viewfinder but the design seems to prevent a separate viewfinder attachment to facilitate lenses wider than 35mm.
    I've read earlier Canon models (VT, VL? etc.) are highly rated and can take separate viewfinders, but have no experience of them.
     
  14. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    This is very true, Roger - it suits a compulsive muddler and junk accumulator like me, but probably not a lot of other people!

    As for bo*eh... well, I don't think I knew what it was before I encountered RFF, and I think the only time I've ever posted a picture solely because of its bo*eh was because the square aperture of a Trip 35 make it truly stunningly awful, like big square pixellation.

    I'll take you word for nooky vs NOOKY, and hope that no-one has ever confused the two.

    Now... how confused is poor Jeff (?) (Fishboy) after all our submissions? I can understand his feelings about Leica now - for years I was put off by the obsessives (anyone who knows me will have a good smirk at that), but when I handled one for the first time my views changed utterly. A friend, who is genuinely a good photographer, was also an Anything But Leica man until he handled one, and he now uses an M2 when he feels like 35mm (he tends towards MF and LF). My bitsa MDa doesn't have the same charm, but it does feel superb in the hand.

    Enough blathering...

    Adrian
     
  15. Fishboy

    Fishboy Well-Known Member

    I think I said in my first post that I know very little about rangefinders so I've found the replies I've received to be very useful.

    I had an idea in the back of my mind that there might be something out there for very little money that was universally acclaimed that I'd never heard of:

    "Yes Jeff, you need to get yourself a 1968 Spiegelei C4 - you can pick one up for around £75 and they're excellent!"

    To be fair, I should have known better.

    I think I need to revisit my budget on this and see if it'll run to a Leica M(something) and a nice lens. I've not bought any photographic equipment so far this year (I know, it's the 10th January!!!) so spending a few bob is probably something I can justify to myself.

    Unfortunately some unexpected work-related stuff is going to have to take priority over the next few weeks (in fact I'm setting off for our UK head office in Ramsgate, Kent this afternoon for a week of meetings). I'll be keeping an eye on what's for sale whenever I can but realistically I can't imagine that I'll be parting with any of my hard-earned until at least February.

    Thanks again for all of the replies and recommendations.

    Cheers, Jeff
     
  16. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    Would anyone like to discuss the advantages/disadvantages of M vs screw and Summicron vs Elmar? Apart from fiddliness and price, is there anything major?

    S
     
  17. gray1720

    gray1720 Well-Known Member

    I suspect that advances in coatings might be a major difference - so better colour reproduction and less flare? But Brian or Roger are the men here for the real low-down on Leica stuff.

    Adrian
     
  18. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Well-Known Member

    Dear Steve,

    Fiddliness and price ARE the major considerations. Screw Leicas are delightfully compact but have squinty viewfinders for 50mm only (Ms have at least 3 frames) and separate rangefinders, along with twin shutter speed dials for low and high speeds. Loading requires a long tongue on the film, which you have to cut yourself.

    Late coated Elmars are very good indeed but 1-2/3 stops slower than Summicrons. Early uncoated Elmars are once again wonderfully compact but... well... fiddly.

    After I bought my first M in about 1974 I rapidly stopped using screw-mount Leicas and indeed sold them all except my original 1936 IIIa, bought in 1969, which I kept for sentimental reasons. Arguably my 1950s Retina IIa is a better camera.

    I've had or used quite a lot of Leicas: A, Standard II, III, IIIa, IIIb, IIIc, IIIf, IIIg, M2, M3, M4-P, M6, MP, M8, M8-2, M9, M typ 240. I've also had or used many other Leica-fit cameras and fixed-lens rangefinders, quote apart from Contax-compatibles. That's why my advice, if you want to take pictures, is to cut out the piddling about and go straight to an M or at the least a Voigtländer R2.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  19. steveandthedogs

    steveandthedogs Well-Known Member

    Thanks for that Roger. Very useful!

    I had a M3 for a year or so many years ago, but had to sell it. I've been thinking rather wistfully recently about another, possibly a IIIx or possibly a M2 or M4. I've never handled a screw mount, so have no idea about them at all, and your advice is useful. A Mx it will have to be!

    It would have to be - dare I say it - the cheaper end, money not being as plentiful as it used to be, but now is the time to start saving.

    Out of interest, how do you distinguish between early and late Elmars?

    S
     
  20. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I've also used a lot of rangefinders, and although I really like quite a lot of them in many ways, for actual usability, it's hard to argue with Roger. The Contaxes and copies were technically more advanced than their Leica equivalents before the war (higher shutter speed, longer base rangefinder, bigger viewdinder, bayonet mount), but less pleasant to use.

    The ones I've enjoyed using most have been my dirt-cheap FED 2 - reasonable finder, very easy to use; my Canon 7 - very much like an M Leica in all but mount; my Bessa R2 - pretty solid, good features, just does what it should; Leica CL - very compact and effective; Leica M3 - most tactile 35mm camera I've ever owned; and Leica M6, close between this and the R2 for most practical, thanks to TTL metering.

    Still love my IIIf, though, despite all the foibles.
     

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