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Affordable, first rangefinder camera?
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 8:32 am    Post subject: Affordable, first rangefinder camera? Reply with quote

Hi there,

I'd like to try a film camera. I currently have a Nikon FM2
I like the camera but I'd prefer something more compact and with the viewfinder on the left rather than centered.
The budget is very limited as I don't know how much I will use it (it's difficult to give up to the digital comfort zone) so I don't want to spend too much at the moment, let's say less than $90.
Can I get something nice for that price?
I have old lenses which I'd love to use on the rangefinder if it's doable (I don't know about the mounting system): Yashica lenses, Nikons, Olympus, Minolta.

Thanks for any insight!

Best


PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

An interchangeable lens rangefinder is not going to take any of the lens mounts you mention. You basically have two mounts to choose from: Leica thread mount (aka LTM or M39) and Leica M (for the M3 and later Leica M cameras -- definitely not a sub-$90 outfit).

The Leica Thread Mount system will be the way to go for a interchangeable lens rangefinder camera. But even this system will not be something you can do for less than $90. Probably the least you can spend on such a camera and lens in reasonably good condition will be around $200. And that's about the cheapest you'll ever see it. For $200 we're talking one of the Canon rangefinders and probably a Canon LTM (aka M39) lens.

Now if you don't have to have an interchangeable lens rangefinder, then you have more possibilities that will fit within your $90 or less window. The Canon QL17 GIII, Olympus XA or RC35 (I think?), Minolta 7s, Yashica Lynx or Electro 35, and several others.

You'll get lots of suggestions I suspect so you'll have plenty of cameras to choose from. But I think most will agree that the two best choices at your buy point are the QL17 GIII and XA. Well, the two Yashicas are also excellent, albeit a bit problematic when it comes to finding a battery for it. (You'll end up using a battery with some sort of adapter).


PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Olympus SP35, left side viewfinder, spot metering, and a beautifully made camera. It is fixed lens, but the 42mm f1.7 Zuiko is fabulous. The camera really is very good indeed.

Great review of the 35SP
https://emulsive.org/reviews/camera-reviews/olympus-camera-reviews/olympus-35-sp-by-matt-parry


PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 10:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lloydy wrote:
Olympus SP35, left side viewfinder, spot metering, and a beautifully made camera. It is fixed lens, but the 42mm f1.7 Zuiko is fabulous. The camera really is very good indeed.


A nice camera, but is it more compact than an SLR?


PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:26 am    Post subject: Re: Affordable, first rangefinder camera? Reply with quote

cgustav wrote:

I have old lenses which I'd love to use on the rangefinder if it's doable (I don't know about the mounting system): Yashica lenses, Nikons, Olympus, Minolta.


I think that is difficult/impossible with film cameras, I once hacked a Helios 44M lens to a Kiev body but the results were not that good.

How about Sony a6000? You can mount almost anything to that.

https://www.dpreview.com/reviews/sony-alpha-a6000


PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2018 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A good compromise for your small budget may be the Olympus XA which is a real range finder camera in a very compact size; i.e. pocketable. The viewfinder is centered but due to the overall small size that doesn't matter.
However, it's equipped with a 35mm/F2.8 fixed lens.
Here you find everything about it: http://www.diaxa.com/xastart.htm


PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all for the valuable information.

The Olympus seems to be the best option, but I understand exchanging lenses with this budget is not an option.

Then let's put it this way. Like I said, I like my Nikon FM2, but I don't like the DSLR format.
Does an old, 35mm film camera exist with the viewfinder on the left and a K2 focusing system?
Because if it does, I could easily forget about the rangefinder.
I don't have a deep knowledge of the history of cameras and I'm asking this purely because I'm used to modern solutions, as the splendid Fujis that give us the option of a rangefinder style type of camera and therefore I wonder if in the past other brands did something similar with a 35mm camera.
Well, I had to ask Smile


PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

most af compacts have the flash on the left side and viewfider is centered?

http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Japanese_35mm_autofocus


PostPosted: Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kansalliskalaCafe wrote:
most af compacts have the flash on the left side and viewfider is centered?

http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Category:Japanese_35mm_autofocus


I guess at this point it doesn't need to be compact, especially considering that if there's a 35mm with those characteristics I'd like to use the lenses I already have.


PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cgustav wrote:
Then let's put it this way. Like I said, I like my Nikon FM2, but I don't like the DSLR format.
Does an old, 35mm film camera exist with the viewfinder on the left and a K2 focusing system?
Because if it does, I could easily forget about the rangefinder.

I don't have a deep knowledge of the history of cameras and I'm asking this purely because I'm used to modern solutions, as the splendid Fujis that give us the option of a rangefinder style type of camera and therefore I wonder if in the past other brands did something similar with a 35mm camera.
Well, I had to ask Smile


I'm not sure I understand what you mean by a "K2 focusing system." But when it comes to 35mm cameras with a viewfinder on the left side, most of those compacts already mentioned have this: the Canon QL 17, the Minolta 7s, and the Oly 35SP. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. Petri made a nice-looking one too, but I don't know anything about Petri, so I can't comment as to quality. There are others too, I'm sure. If you prefer a camera with left side viewfinder that takes interchangeable lenses, you're looking at some LTM camera or Leica M-series. Given that the Leicas are very expensive, you're left with LTM cameras. One of my favorites is the Canon P. It has a very large, very clear left-side viewfinder and its focusing aids work well. As for lenses, well any of the LTM lenses will work. Some of them get rather pricey, but I've personally found them to be top-notch optics, thus worth the price.


PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cgustav wrote:
Thank you all for the valuable information.

The Olympus seems to be the best option, but I understand exchanging lenses with this budget is not an option.

Then let's put it this way. Like I said, I like my Nikon FM2, but I don't like the DSLR format.
Does an old, 35mm film camera exist with the viewfinder on the left and a K2 focusing system?
Because if it does, I could easily forget about the rangefinder.
I don't have a deep knowledge of the history of cameras and I'm asking this purely because I'm used to modern solutions, as the splendid Fujis that give us the option of a rangefinder style type of camera and therefore I wonder if in the past other brands did something similar with a 35mm camera.
Well, I had to ask Smile


If by K2 focusing system you mean a split-image rangefinder spot surrounded by a micro-prism ring, then we are talking about range finder cameras which have a similar system to measure the actual distance from the camera to the object; i.e. you are able to see in the finder if the right distance is chosen on the lens.

Other than that you just have a viewfinder and might have to guess or measure by other means the distance and simply turn the distance scale on the lens to the measured distance. That's rather cumbersome and tricky, particularly if you are using longer focal lengths at wider apertures.

Another issue to observe: Old and cheap rangefinder cameras with interchangeable lenses are rather heavy and full manual; mostly even without light metering system and 100% mechanical without any battery. You may get such a camera, particularly a Russian one, within your budget. Maybe even with a second lens. Although the achievable quality is rather excellent with such a camera (e.g. Zorki 4), you have to be aware that it's not as easy to use like a more modern range finder camera with fixed lens like e.g. the Olympus XA.

A real nice rangefinder camera with integrated TTL metering for LTM and Leica-M lenses is hardly to get for little money. It starts approximately at 500 USD/EUR without lens (like my Avatar, the Voigtländer Bessa R2).


PostPosted: Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

cooltouch wrote:
cgustav wrote:
Then let's put it this way. Like I said, I like my Nikon FM2, but I don't like the DSLR format.
Does an old, 35mm film camera exist with the viewfinder on the left and a K2 focusing system?
Because if it does, I could easily forget about the rangefinder.

I don't have a deep knowledge of the history of cameras and I'm asking this purely because I'm used to modern solutions, as the splendid Fujis that give us the option of a rangefinder style type of camera and therefore I wonder if in the past other brands did something similar with a 35mm camera.
Well, I had to ask Smile


I'm not sure I understand what you mean by a "K2 focusing system." But when it comes to 35mm cameras with a viewfinder on the left side, most of those compacts already mentioned have this: the Canon QL 17, the Minolta 7s, and the Oly 35SP. I don't think you can go wrong with any of them. Petri made a nice-looking one too, but I don't know anything about Petri, so I can't comment as to quality. There are others too, I'm sure. If you prefer a camera with left side viewfinder that takes interchangeable lenses, you're looking at some LTM camera or Leica M-series. Given that the Leicas are very expensive, you're left with LTM cameras. One of my favorites is the Canon P. It has a very large, very clear left-side viewfinder and its focusing aids work well. As for lenses, well any of the LTM lenses will work. Some of them get rather pricey, but I've personally found them to be top-notch optics, thus worth the price.


Thank you, cooltouch, these are great tips I think you put me on the right track.
I'm looking at the Canon P and it's indeed affordable. Also, it has a cool aesthetic. From my understanding, the only thing that's missing in that camera is an internal metering.
What about Canon Model 7? Could that be another option?
As far as lenses go, any M39 will do?
Because if that's the case, then I have lots of options.

Thanks.


PostPosted: Fri Feb 16, 2018 3:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, the P can use pretty much any M39 lens. There may be an oddball or two that won't work, but those are rare exceptions.

The P does not have an internal meter, true. I just sling my Gossen Luna Pro around my neck and I'm good. Canon did make a meter that clips onto the cold shoe, and some P cases are even configured to house the P with this meter attached -- I have one.

Here's one of those meters on eBay. The seller claims it works, which isn't all that uncommon, but accuracy is usually questionable.
Click here to see on Ebay

Here's a Canon VIT (another one of the great late-model Canon rangefinders) with the meter attached.


Here's a P with the meter:
[img]https://d1ro734fq21xhf.cloudfront.net/attachments/00ZjK1-423993584.jpg[/img

You know, tb_a mentioned peripherally a group of cameras I have totally overlooked, but it's worth mentioning at least. That is, the Russian rangefinders that take M39 lenses. I don't have any experience with them, although others here do, but this might be something for you to consider -- or at least be aware of. I started a thread asking about cheap Russian rangefinders recently. You might want to read through it. Lots of good information there. Here's a link to that thread:

http://forum.mflenses.com/best-cheap-russian-rangefinder-t78469.html