5 Sub $200 USD 35mm RFs w/ Lightmeters: "Poor Man's Leicas"

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by pale_blue_is, Nov 11, 2016.

  1. ciniframe

    ciniframe Member

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    Why a built in meter? Lots of fine RF's without one. Regardless, I have the RC and the Canon QL17 GIII, (the GIII is out of service until I replace the light sealing foam). I like the compact form factor of the RC. One negative note about the RC is it's very silly and hard to obtain 43.5mm filter thread size. This I solved by obtaining a 43.5 to 43mm step-down ring from one of those HK shops on ebay. It does not block the meter eye and 43mm filters and hoods are much more easy to obtain than the 43.5 size. The shutter release on the RC is long and somewhat high tension because the metering is a 'trapped needle' type and the aperture is set as you press down on the release. However, with a little practice you can learn to smoothly and repeatedly take up the slack and then, when you are ready, depress the shutter button that one last millimeter to take the shot.
     
  2. craigclu

    craigclu Subscriber

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    What are opinions on the Olympus SP optics? I used to collect/use all of those listed. I went through 3 of the SP's based on others' positive comments and none of mine had lens performance that was inspiring... I kept at it because I liked the spot metering abilities. I assumed that I couldn't have that bad of a streak of luck, but? I recall a Hi-Matic E with a spectacular lens, some S3 Konicas that were all in that class and felt the Canons were just a notch below them. A lynx was very good and I rather liked the winder arrangement. The Konica S3's felt like they were from Hasbro or Mattell with a loose feeling lens assembly but performed very, very well. Also recall liking the GN flash system on them that allowed for quick fill-flash duty. This was in a time of experimenting and lens testing for me so I was wringing out optical behaviors back then. In fairness to all of these, the fact that they were designed for hand-held duties and camera stability would easily impact their typical use more than hair-splitting optical differences.
     
  3. elcabezagrande

    elcabezagrande Member

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    I think what sets the Yashica GSN apart is its metered low-light capability, something that the others can't match. Otherwise, the GX is the standout from Yashica, with its just-right intermediate size, CDs cell in the lens barrel, slightly wider 40mm lens, and overall better fit and finish. The Vivitar ES 35 should also be considered.

    But the best lens that I have ever personally used on a fixed-lens rangefinder is the 50/2 Solagon available on the Agfa Super Silette, Ansco Super Memar, and Agfa Karat IV, although to be fair, I have not really used the Ultron on the Vitessa enough to really compare. And this is not in any way a scientific comparison, just going by the images that have pleased me the most.
     
  4. Dinis Figueira

    Dinis Figueira Member

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    Wouldn't the Voigtlander Bessa-R (the first one) allegible to enter here?
     
  5. thuggins

    thuggins Member

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    That's an interesting selection of cameras to pick from. Although the 35 SP can be got for less than $200 these days it is really not in the same class as the others you list. Olympus generally marketed two lines of cameras, professional and consumer (or "economy" as their advertising sometimes described them). The 35 SP was the flagship of the professional line that came out in the late 60's/70's. It is widely considered one of the best rangefinders ever made, combining spot metering, a fully metered manual mode, and a sublime seven element f1.7 lens. It is also a big camera (by Olympus standards) with a long, stiff shutter release due to the trapped needle metering. I find this especially challenging in low light situations as you are never sure the exact point in the release travel where the shutter will fire.

    The RC, on the other hand, was part of Olympus' "economy" line from the same period of time. It is also very highly regarded and is perhaps the smallest rangefinder with automatic exposure and manual override ever produced. It is also an absolute joy to use. Although the 1/15s shutter speed may seem limiting, there is a Bulb setting and with a little practice you can easily use this for 1/4s or slower. With negative film there is more than enough leeway for this. Although the SP is a remarkable camera, if I had to pick one as a carry around user, it would be the RC.

    As for the other cameras in your list, they all fall into the NO category (Not Olympus). ;-)
     
  6. OP
    OP
    pale_blue_is

    pale_blue_is Member

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    From a quick eBay search I can't find one in usable condition with a lens for less than 200$.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    pale_blue_is

    pale_blue_is Member

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    Because personally, when I think rangefinder, I think of a quick and easy camera I can use quickly; don't want to fiddle with an external light meter. There is always a shoe mount light meter, but I'd rather the camera simply come with one. That's just my opinion though; one less person looking for non-metered RFs for you to compete against :smile:.
     
  8. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Subscriber

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    Sorry, to interrupt.
    I smell something fishy in OP.

    M6 is TTL metering. Those old RFs aren't TTL.

    And to OP to learn about RF cameras - Bessa R is same as M6. It is TTL camera and it is well bellow 200$. Even NIB Bessa R3A is well bellow 1000$.
     
  9. flavio81

    flavio81 Member

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    ... until you hold the RC and the SP at the same time and feel the RC more solid and with a less "clunkier" shutter release.

    Seriously, the 35SP is way too overrated....
     
  10. 1L6E6VHF

    1L6E6VHF Member

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    It's foolish to compare these early seventies rangefinders (fine as they indeed were), with Leicas. Leica is best known for making rangefinder cameras with interchangeable lenses that were expensive (today insanely so), the others in this thread have "normal" lenses solidly built into the camera, so one will be stuck with that focal length (Note that Japan did produce some excellent interchangeable lens RF models, The Nikon SP and Canon VII to name two, but realized circa 1963 that an SLR made more sense for a camera to be used with an extensive choice of lenses).

    Those cameras with the f2.8 lenses are worth considering. They are obviously more compact, and tend to be more reliable (those with f1.7 lenses also have a larger and more complex shutter - I've seen tons of them at camera shows and thrift stores with their shutters rusted shut - make sure the shutter works!). One inexpensive fixed lens RF camera I would add to the list is the Ricoh 500G.

    BTW - "more elements make a better lens" is not a universal truth. While a good four-element lens will outperform the single meniscus lens, many lenses have more elements in their design to make the lens more versatile, Not sharper. f1.2 lenses are rarely considered to be sharp, even though their designs are quite complicated to squeeze every last bit of light out of the scene. Many zoom lenses are full of elements to achieve their broad zoom range, though zoom lenses, as a class, are generally lower in contrast, lower in sharpness, higher in aberration, higher in distortion, and higher in flare, than prime (one focal length) lenses.

    In other cases, a lens manufacturer may need to design a lens with more elements to work around their lack of access to very high index optical glass materials.

    This is not to say zoom lenses are bad lenses. However, excellent zoom lenses ARE NOT CHEAP.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  11. flavio81

    flavio81 Member

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    +1 on the post above regarding lenses.
     
  12. Dinis Figueira

    Dinis Figueira Member

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    Just to make a quick question like I said before. Wouldn't any Voigtlander Bessa L/T - R under 200$/€ beat any of this fixed lens cameras?
     
  13. flavio81

    flavio81 Member

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    "Beat" in which sense? It depends on what do you want from a compact camera... I, for example, would not trade my jewel-like, compact Kodak Retina for the Bessa!
     
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  15. Dinis Figueira

    Dinis Figueira Member

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    Spec wise with a accurate lightmeter and 2000 max shutter speed. The only downside is the plasticky (but sturdy) back and usually the rf disalignment (usual problems from what I've heard).
     
  16. frank

    frank Member

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    Bessa L body for less than $100, great for lenses 35mm and wider.
     
  17. flavio81

    flavio81 Member

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    I usually don't need a meter and no camera meter is more accurate than a handheld incident light meter... As for the 2000 speed, i rarely use even 500...
     
  18. 1L6E6VHF

    1L6E6VHF Member

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    About the Yashica Electros:

    The switch coupled with the shutter release plunger that turns on the AE/shutter system tends to tarnish on the inside, which could cause the shutter to fail to open, even whilst tripping the DEP, resulting in the loss of one frame of film.

    Best to exercise the shutter release with the camera unloaded until each trip of the shutter results in the shutter actually opening and closing.

    The good news is that you don't have to search for the 5.6V mercury battery. The six volt battery used in the Canon AE-1 and a wad of foil will work (no change in exposure when I tested it).

    EDIT: The battery substitute is the 4LR44.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2016
  19. OP
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    pale_blue_is

    pale_blue_is Member

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    The reason I haven't added the Bessa R is because I can't readily find a body and a lens in good working condition for under 200$. I want people to be able to refer to this list as a way to get a complete RF setup for under 200$, and while I suppose that is possible by getting Russian copy lenses, that pricing still seems like a stretch to me personally. I'm thinking about making a sequel to this, though, or adding on to it, because there are some canon, nikon, bessa, and rollei options around the 500-600$ price range that start getting closer to the Leica territory.

    As far as the Kodak Retina IIIC, I think it's very different from the other cameras I mentioned in the list; different era, vastly different design, different specifications, etc. but I'll add it nonetheless. From the reviews I've read on it, it seems to be a "love it or hate it" kind of camera, but I'll let the reader decide on what they think.

    EDIT: Is there a time limit to changing a post on this forum? Can I not add the Retina IIIC to the original post?
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Yes there is a fairly short time limit for edits. It is there to stop people from rendering meaningless subsequent responses.
     
  21. Dinis Figueira

    Dinis Figueira Member

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    You can get a complete RF setup under that. But - with the russian lens. A better idea would be a Canon P/7/7s. You can get them even with a Canon lens very well under the 200€, and they are sturdy. Downsides is, there is no proper light meter. Only the 7s has a cds light meter.
     
  22. R.Gould

    R.Gould Member

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    All the canon 7's have a light meter, the first madel 7 has a selimiun cell meter, I have one and it is working perfectly, correct to within 1/2 stop when checked against my Sekonic which I use for studio, spot on against any of my westons, also, I can suggest a werra, perhaps a werramatic, you can easily get them for well under £100, another built in meter, selinuim cell, but In have as yet to find one with a bad meter, with meter usable via the viewfinder, and accurate, plus you can get a 35 and 100mm lens for them, also the Vitessa, another sel meter, I have 2 and both accurate,
     
  23. Dinis Figueira

    Dinis Figueira Member

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    I didn't quoted the 7, since it's a selenium meter and many of them are already dead.
     
  24. R.Gould

    R.Gould Member

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    and just as many are still alive,, in fact in my Classic camera collection I only have one dead meter, that is the Contessa folder, and I think that is a connection fault as it does sometimes work, and when it works it is accurate, I have a good few with the selenium meters and all are fine and accurate, I check each one before I take them out and they work fine, so fine indeed that when using the metered cameras I rely on the in built meter, also I have some old canon SLR's with CDS meters and they are both dead, and not the battery's or conections, I have had them checked by our local repair person and I am told they need new cells
     
  25. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Subscriber

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    In 2012 August I purchased Bessa R with perfectly matching Jupiter-8 on it for 250 CAD (CAD is bellow USD) locally. Used hell a lot of it across Canada and USA, daily, hot sunny days and freezing winter. Sold for 175$ at RFF after couple of years in 2014, it was worn out cosmetically, but absolutely working.

    Those old single lens RF cameras you are pushing here as under 200 are actually under 100, BTW. Most of them will have issues due to their age and old electronics. And to be honest, they are something what I look at and don't even want to get into my hands. I prefer Leica IIf with (reshimmed) Industar-22 for under 200

    _MG_6409.JPG
    and FED-2 with Jupiter-8 for well under 100$ (and 100% DIY serviceable) with free exposure meter in the phone solution to non-TTL meterring cameras you are wikipediing here.

    Yes, if you are poor man it is still possible to have true Leica under 200$, not just something with RF and somewhat lightmeter in it.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  26. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    One thing I noticed in the original list: having a minimum aperture of f/22 isn't a significant feature. With the 35mm format, shooting at f/22 will degrade image quality due to diffraction. The sweet spot for many lenses is f/5.6: optimal resolution and nice bokeh in the background. Usually staying within f/4 to f/8 will give you the best resolution.

    If you really are depending on depth of field to ensure things are reasonably in focus, I still think f/11 or f/16 would be adequate, especially with the wide-normal (~40mm) lenses on these little cameras.

    What may be more significant are the relatively fast lenses (e.g. f/1.7). - resolution wide open may not be great, but it may be the aperture you need to get the shot in low available light conditions.
     
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