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Reflex vs. Rangefinder
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 12:07 am    Post subject: Reflex vs. Rangefinder Reply with quote

I am curious to know what is your feeling and approach when using reflex or rangefinders (in case you have both of course).
Does your attitude/expectations with regards to photography, change?
Or you keep the same approach?
In other words does the inabilty to view DOF in the viewfinder affect your approach to photography, or it is just the same and you bend the different cameras to your own way of working?


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 1:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use both and rather than imposing my will on the cameras (as I intuitively
know they are smarter than I am) I try to "be at one" with whatever camera
I'm using! Laughing

Differences between: I've had better luck with my rangefinders than the
SLRs as far as sharpness in the images, but I've used them more than the
SLRs, so will see if things even out after more practice. One thing that helps
the rangefinders is there's no mirror slam to contend with, one of the reasons
I will probably be selling my Kowa Six is because of its killer mirror slam. Not the
Excalibur I thought it would be, and will have to live vicariously through Hacksaw's
Kowa's images. When using SLRs I can go panorama or do closeups, with fixed-lens
rangefinders that close focus to roughly 3 feet, precludes closeups, at least the kind
I like to do. I like the big bright focus screens in my rangefinders, and the ease in focusing
with those type cameras.

Bill


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I will try and comment on this topic. For me the style of shots I take with a rangefinder is quite different from when using a slr.

When using a rangefinder:

Usually for street/snapshot type shooting where I want the camera to be very unobtrusive and easy to have with me.

I almost always have B+W film in the camera that is developed at home.

Never use a lens longer than a 50mm usually a 40mm or 25mm. I don't currently have a camera with a long baseline so close focus with large aperture and long lens is not as accurate or dependable.

Zone focus 75% of the time and only "line up" frame composition thru the viewfinder. DOF composition has to do with subject I'm never really going for sexy Bokeh shots.

Don't normally show the work I do with rangefinder. This is for me mostly as a kind of Diary. Shooting monochrome lends well to this. There is a real Pen and paper feel from my view. If I feel there is something others will enjoy I share it. Maybe later in life I will share more.

When using SLR:

I take much greater care with composure, focus, and background often using a tripod and bracketing exposure/ and sometimes DOF.

Shoot with wide angle and mid tele more than with "normal" (50ish)

Tend to favor faster lenses however seldom shoot wide open. For a portrait shot in close (within 10' with say a 85mm) usually I like to be in the f4-5.6 range and will occasionally open up a bit. Landscapes almost always @ f8.

Often use the camera for recording my jobs. The lens is usually a 35mm (normal minus) for this I always shoot stopped to 5.6 or 8.

Rangefinders are best for crowded streets or similar situation. For wide lens landscapes and architecture they are also very effective. I can't think of a single reason to use one for Portraiture whether it be plants, animals, or people. For macro or close focus forget it. Both formats have their reall advantages and should be explored by any serious photographer.


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, a major difference is the location of my 'eye' in the picture taking process.

With an SLR, especially the more automated ones, I'm fully inside the process. I manipulate and select from within the photograph itself. In many ways this seems more natural for me as I've spent most of my life with SLRs.

When I got my Yashica GSN, I immediately noted how my 'eye' started to be outside the photograph. I was more aware of the controls on the camera from an external pov, of the beautifully engraved DOF markings on the lens, and so on. It felt good, rejuvenating. I found my style of shooting is different with the range finder - I'm more aware of the environment, of the surroundings, the larger picture. I then select and manipulate based on this externalized view.

I feel doing this brought me back some of the wonder I'd lost with the SLRs, and I was able to apply it to SLR photography as well.

Since then I've gone even more primitive, with folding cameras where even focusing is done without aid, and the light meter is the one you carry in your head or hand. This caused me great anxiety, and it still can. But it brings a sense of the organic robustness of the image making magic - it reminds me how the modern conditioning on perfect exposure, perfect visibility, perfect focus really removes an aspect of blood and guts (or chemistry and medium) from the entire process.

I can see how each incremental feature or ability of the camera has addressed a source of pain, failure and unreliability. Yet, add up all these improvements and while you get a much more reliable and democratic photography process, you also have insulated yourself from something basic...


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies.
The reason why I have made this question, is:
I often find that many people including myself, when composing a picture with a SLR, rely a lot on the DOF as a compositional element.

In other words, I have noticed that many SLR users tend to pick subjects for their work, that allow them to use this kind of composition.

Very rarely, in these last years, I have noticed on this and other forums a consistent presence of photos taken with a SLR and the minimum aperture
Yes, the usual landscape and it's ok, but I never saw that used in shorter scenes.

In other words again, I have the sensation that the "bokeh", and the aesthetics related to it, have become dominant in the last years in the attitude of SLR photographers.

On one side, this has opened the door for very interesting images, and have driven the photograpers towards a more "Pictorial" attitude, because to blur a background more or less, is equal to give less or more importance to details in a painting. While traditionally the composition in the photography relied almost exclusively on the balance of the elements.

On the other side, however, this could be a risk of stylization. I see the risk of photographers getting trapped in the "bokeh enchantment" and lose sight of the subject, which should always be the most important thing in a photograph, be it a SLR or RF photograph.

I have noticed that Range Finder photographers stay much more focused on their subjects. THeir photos have often a directness that is rare to find in a typical SLR shot.

What do you think about this?


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree a lot of the SLR shots (at least the ones that get posted) are shot wide open with an emphasis on the background bokeh, I have been guilty of this myself. In most of my photo sessions, I shoot at multiple aperture settings. I will usually shot wide open and continue to stop down until the available light does not easily allow a hand held shot. When reviewing the photos the wide open shot is usually the most interesting, so it is the one that would get posted. I have the G2, but have only shot one roll through it and it was basically just a test session. Last week I received a Yashica Electro 35, so hopefully I will see what 'style' I end with when shooting with a RF camera.


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The curious thing for me is, it wasn't really this way some years ago.

I have books of photos taken in the 70s and 80s with SLRs, and while there surely was the use of bokeh, it was not so dominating as it is now.

The lenses and the cameras are the same (well, they are for us at least! Laughing ), but evidently, it is our taste that has changed.


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another interpretation could be this: the world has become so uglier around us lately, that we need more and more open apertures to blur out the ugly things and not let them show in our photos! Laughing


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would agree that there has been a trend toward the shallow DOF type shots a you have referred to. This trend has been more with amateur photogs and not with pros. The work I've seen from magazine and fine art photographers is still in a tradition of what is needed to express the scene. The reason I think we see it more from amateurs is that the DSLR has made more people interested in Photogrphy. For many folks having a DSLR is the first intuduction to a camera you control. Maybe before this purchase they had a P&S with a tiny sensor and a 7mm-24mm f4 lens that gave a wide to tele equivalent. Use of shallow depth of field is not really an option with such an arrangement. The risk of photography and it's "culture" getting stuck in a rut is small at worst. Eventually peoples fascination with bokeh will move to something else that they have yet to discover. Don't be surprised if there is a pinhole trend coming right around the corner. A whole new group will have a pinhole body cap on their DSLR sitting on a tripod. One thing since we are on the subject of trends and bokeh is mentioned. I have never actually heard the word spoken in a sentence. I've only seen it written. Please could someone tell me how to pronounce it. Embarassed


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The major thing with the bokeh movement is this: once something is named, people have something to rally around. Bokeh wasn't named back in the day, at least not in the West.

I've seen similar things go on in the high end audio world: once someone influential enough names a particular aspect of sound, people become obsessed first with being able to identify it, and then to reproduce it.

In the case of bokeh, it has come to represent a sort of quality/expertise level that certifies a photographer as having a level of sophistication beyond snap shots.

Also, I think it has something to do with the 35mm and now the aps size image - back when what we now call medium format was lumped in as miniature format, it was the large formats' natural DOF perspective that set the stage for a lot of photography, whether through the f/64 movement, or via many of the portrait photographers. And you've always had the 'just the facts' school, Weegee on out.

A funny thing, I seem to be a source for a movement of sorts, the fake TTV layering thing. They are by far my most visited photos on flicr. The technique essentially involves grunging up a photo, giving it an instant flavor not dissimilar to true TTV or Holga.


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BTW I don't think these types of trends are a bad thing always. I have overheard a couple (a real couple they are married to each other) of my friends who shoot pro complain that everyone thinks they are a photographer now. This trend can only increase awareness and appreciation for the craft. Although it may seem to have a short term effect of watering down material. I think in the long term more people with hidden or previously unknown talent will be caught in the net. This will improve the content on furums like this as well as others.


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Karen Nakamura has this comparison SLR vs Rangefinder:

http://www.photoethnography.com/equipment.html

Pretty much what Andy and others have to say about it. I tend to put a
little more thought into each picture be it SLR or rangefinder for the simple
fact that I'm using film. Lamentably, it is not always reflected in the
picture! Laughing


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

F16SUNSHINE wrote:

BTW I don't think these types of trends are a bad thing always. I have overheard a couple (a real couple they are married to each other) of my friends who shoot pro complain that everyone thinks they are a photographer now.


That goes back a century. That damned Eastman fellow has a lot to answer for Smile
As you say, there has been a lot of talent come up from the pool of amateurs and hobbyists who would not otherwise have surfaced and that's all to the good for everybody. Thousands of people who would never have known they have a talent for it got the chance to express something within themselves because it was available for everybody. A minority of pros get awfully precious about perceived intrusions into their little world, but it's not an exclusive club. I'm glad to say that most pros I've met are fairly workmanlike about it - to most, it's just a job at the end of the day, but they get to play with some nice toys.

Katastrofo wrote:
Karen Nakamura has this comparison SLR vs Rangefinder:

http://www.photoethnography.com/equipment.html

Pretty much what Andy and others have to say about it. I tend to put a
little more thought into each picture be it SLR or rangefinder for the simple
fact that I'm using film. Lamentably, it is not always reflected in the
picture! Laughing


(ding!) I tend to machine-gun far too much on digital, but slow down hugely on film - largely because of cost. MF is costing me a quid per frame all told and that's not supportable at any sort of fast shooting rate. On film I now just relax and enjoy the setup and like to take the time to get it right - one shot, that's it. Two if I want to make sure.


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 7:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Farside wrote:

(ding!) I tend to machine-gun far too much on digital, but slow down hugely on film - largely because of cost.


Yes, me too. And this is a very true remark you made. Digital is diseducative because the fact that we can shoot at no cost can make us too "unselective".
The fact that we have to control our expenses with film makes of it a good "photographic self control" trainer.
And ultimately, this ends up in a higher quality percentage of frames.


PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes me too. I think the term "machine gun" for digital is perfect. You can make a hundred shots and trust one of them will be the killer. In comparison, using film is like a sniper's rifle with one silver bullet.


PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well , after that adventure with the Vitomatic I said STOP . I'll remain with SLR but again, who knows. May be I'll find some very cheap RF. To me they seem more complicated than the SLRs (mostly the alignment ot the RF or calibration). More, I cosider that the leaf shutter woulb a better choise being more quiet.
Here are some tests with a VERY faulty (massive light leak) Smena 8M - I must say that you can get close to the people, much much closer that with a dSLR and even if you are saw people don't give you importance Wink :











PostPosted: Tue Jun 24, 2008 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, this is really bad leak!

You have raised a sensible issue. I wonder which is the most quiet rangefinder. Perhaps better to open a thread about it.