View Full Version : Rangefinders

Paul L
04-22-2012, 03:38 PM
I'd absolutely love a Leica M9, but it's far outside my budget - you can almost buy a house for the price those babies sell for. (Heck, I'd settle for one of those semi-rangefinder Fuji X100s.) I've always wanted to play around with a rangefinder camera but have never had the chance. However, I've just bought a vintage 1960s Minolta A5 rangefinder off fleabay for £4, plus postage. I'll have to check the light seals when it arrives, which is something I'm dreading as I've never replaced light seals on a camera before.

Has anyone had any experience of shooting with a rangefinder? Any stories to tell? I'm pretty much used to SLRs but really looking forward to the convenience of having a rangefinder. Heck, it might even persuade me to save up for one of those fancy Leica digital rangefinders ;)


Paul L
04-22-2012, 03:39 PM
Pics or it didn't happen:

03-09-2013, 11:11 PM
Nice camera!

Dom D
03-10-2013, 05:13 AM
Super cool! I move in circles that feature many camera obsessed people and not one of them uses a Rangefinder. Never used one myself come to that. Would love to give it a crack sometime.

Dom D
03-10-2013, 05:15 AM
BTW have you considered a Leica M3? Much cheaper than the 9 but according to this chap the greatest camera ever invented: "Am I worthy to review the LEICA M3? Hardly; nor is any mortal. The LEICA M3 was the most advanced camera in the world when I was born, it is today the world's best 35mm camera, and most likely will be long after I pass from this Earth. "


Paul L
03-10-2013, 06:28 AM
Dom, I upgraded the Minolta A5 for a Zorki 6 and, more recently, a second hand Voigtlander Bessa R which I picked up for a reasonable price. I thought about an M3, but the Bessa is great. The M3 is quieter, but that doesn't bother me too much. I've hardly touched my film SLRs since buying the Bessa. I learned photography from an uncle, who was a part-time artist and had a Nikon F2, so always unquestioningly used SLRs. Using the rangefinder is a much more organic process than using an SLR, I feel. I think it's worth trying one, if you haven't already done so.


03-10-2013, 05:12 PM
A rangefinder is basic photography and I applaud the use of it. Of course the procedure works best with a fixed primary lens. Photography is all in the lens and the focusing.

Do you do your own darkroom, Paul?
Does anyone here?

It's getting harder with each passing month to process film and print from film in the states. Photo-finishing is now scan finishing. The labs charge extra to scan the negatives and print the scan via computer, changing forever the texture of the imagery.

Paul L
03-10-2013, 06:27 PM
A rangefinder is basic photography and I applaud the use of it. Of course the procedure works best with a fixed primary lens.
My favourite (lens) at the moment, which is pretty much permanently attached to my Bessa, is the Jupiter 8. I like the 50mm focal length, and I'm always satisfied with the results of this lens. It took a while for me to get used to the lack of click stops, but now I can see the benefits.

I don't have a darkroom but develop my own negatives in a developing tank. We've got a darkroom at work, but it's pretty much always in use. I'm favouring Ilford's HP5+ at the moment, as it's reasonably easy to get hold of and quite inexpensive. But it's frustrating that it's so hard to buy film now, unless from an online retailer, and it's even more difficult to get it developed - unless, of course, you do it yourself.

03-10-2013, 07:12 PM
What do you shoot generally, portraits? Landscapes? or whatever?

I understand the appeal of the 50mm focal length. The 42-50mm focal lengths mimic how the human eye sees; pretty much the same perspective.

My first wife used to do the photo-finishing for us. She was a superb finisher and much in demand. I still buy 35mm film from BH in NYC. Soon as it arrives it goes straight in the fridge. There's only one lab in Phoenix that processes film and scans the negs without getting weird over the nudes so I'm going there all the time.

Have you noticed a parallax discrepancy in your Rangerfinder, Paul? Minor or significant? Do you compensate by eye? The digital version may have a built-correction for this. I may try a digital Rangefinder if I can marry it to the right lenses (no zooms for me). In 35mm the Rangefinder enables the sharpest focusing and deepest depth of field possible, and I have three primary lenses for it that are as sharp as is humanly possible to make. Somebody offered me an Olympus SLR* with computerized features up the wazoo as part payment for a job and I accepted it. It has the advantage of interchangeable lenses. So I've been using that. But it never seems sharp no matter what I do. Could be I'm too used to the other medium to live with the new. I took it to Monument Valley recently and came back with nothing from the camera I wanted to use. But I get better results under artificial light in a controlled setting. There is a port to feed it in my PC but I haven't done that yet.

*pictured here

Paul L
05-14-2013, 11:13 AM
Apologies for the late reply, Richard. I didn't see your post before

What do you shoot generally, portraits? Landscapes? or whatever?
Anything that catches my eye, really - interesting sights and textures when I'm out and about in the street, portraits now and then when I can get somebody to allow me to take one.

I love the 50mm focal length. I often carry an Olympus OM10 with me, with a 24mm lens as a back-up and because I also like to shoot with a wide-angle lens now and then. But I keep going back to the 50mm.

Re: parallax discrepancy. The Bessa adjusts the framelines when you focus to compensate for this, but it's useless below a metre or so and you have to compensate by eye.

I'd love a digital rangefinder, but they're out of my price range unless I raid my savings account. (When my ISA matures next year, I may buy the new Leica M-E with the interest it's earned over the past few years, however.) However, I did invest in the Fuji X-E1, a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera with an electronic viewfinder that has similar ergonomics to a rangefinder, and operates similarly too (with the shutter speed dial on top and an aperture ring on the lens). I find it much preferable to a digital SLR. Plus it's small and quiet, so can be used on the street without drawing too much attention. Imo, aside from a digital Leica it's pretty much the best camera on the market for someone who prefers the functionality and feel of a film camera. The X-Trans sensor in that camera also operates without an anti-aliasing filter and, in Fuji's own words, 'mimics the structure of silver halide film'. Anecdotally, I'll say the images from this look more 'filmlike' than those from any other digital camera I've used. Here's a few images I took with mine last weekend:

This final one had some post-processing so isn't really representative of the sensor's potential, but I think it's a great image:

Ian Jane
05-14-2013, 11:58 AM
Nice shots, Paul. I like the bird one.

Paul L
05-14-2013, 06:28 PM
Thanks, Ian!