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. OP
    OP
    pale_blue_is

    pale_blue_is Member

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    I'm sure you did get the Bessa for that price, but it's not readily available for that price. To find one for that involves waiting out for a chance to find one in perfect condition, that's not what this list is about. And similarly I'm sure it's possible to have a Leica M for under 200$, but it's very very rare to see one with a lense in great condition for that low of a price. That's insane. Similarly, it's possible to see a IIf for under 200$, but it's not readily available in good condition.

    The reason I have the price set at 200 is because the cameras i mentioned in this list that are in great user condition tend to be above 100$, and are readily available.
     
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2016
  2. jazz

    jazz Member

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    I had Electro, Hi-matic, Canonet QL17 III, RC..I sold all when I found Konica Auto S2 (and S3) couple years ago.
    Hexanon lens on Auto S2/3 is superb, sharp and good rendering (feel 3D). I compared 45/1.8 Hexanon with my Leica Sumicron Ridgid, I like 45/1.8 Hexanon more.

    The cons of Auto S2 is the size slightly bigger compare to other fix lens RF.

    ~ron~
     
  3. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    I have used all of the cameras Ron talks about above and many others. One of my all-time favorites was the Konica III rangefinder camera with a 48mm f2 lens from years back. That lens was outstanding and the camera was built extremely well. Of course back then it had no built-in meter. Another is the Agfa Super Silette with the Sologon that's mentioned above. That lens is better than the Xenon on my Retina IIa and that's a pretty high standard. My very first 35mm camera was a Minolta Hi-Matic 7 that I bought brand new from the PX in Vietnam. It was also a very fine camera and I never complained about the end results from that one either. But my all-time top pick for lens rendering and ease of use is the Yashica GSN. I shunned this camera for years because it was to automated and no manual override. Then I stumbled onto one (given to me as a gift) and I decided to honestly give it a fair shake. I was super impressed with the results and now I use it when I don't want or need the interchangeable lenses of my Contax G system. I adjust my exposure now by rotating the ASA/ISO dial and it works perfect as long as I remember to dial it back, which I have so far. The ability to do long auto exposures is another plus that most of these older cameras just don't have. It works great on the GSN. But the real icing on the GSN cake is the lens itself. Use a hood and you have one of the best ever made. What surprised me was just how good, not just good, but excellent it is when shot wide open. I have 35mm SLR lenses this same speed and can honestly say this lenses is better than almost all of them wide open. Maybe I just have an exceptional copy, but I think other folks are saying pretty much the same thing. The Electro series cameras do have a couple of Achilles heals, but with a little help from folks on the Internet you can fix those yourself. One is the "pad of death" and the other is the very thin wire coming up through the body for battery power to the meter. I repaired both on mine with just a little required skill. The only two things I would have loved to see Yashica do with this camera as an upgrade would have been to make it just a little more compact and add a real manual over-ride, but I guess I'll just have to make do with what I have and be happy.
     
  4. elcabezagrande

    elcabezagrande Member

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    Electro 35 GX is more compact.:smile: Plus, metered exposure using filters, and no POD.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Wait! Is that a roll of PanF+? You can't use that in the Electro GX since it has a Color-Yashinon DX lens. This is a model I have never tried, but if I come across one at the right price................it will be mine.
     
  6. elcabezagrande

    elcabezagrande Member

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    I don't know if this one was ever marketed in the US, but they are pretty easy to find from Japanese sellers on eBay. The GL is basically the same camera, but with the 45mm lens, and it is larger.

    The GX in size is somewhere between the Electro 35 G and the Konica C35. Just right.
     
  7. flavio81

    flavio81 Member

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    I had the GL, the GL has a 40mm lens. The GL is really well built, but the viewfinder distorts the image. While in the GSN the viewfinder shows no distortion. Thus i preferred the GSN.
     
  8. mklw1954

    mklw1954 Member

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    The biggest problem is finding something really reliable and you can lose the shipping money returning a few ebay cameras; if they can be returned, it's usually only for 14 or 30 days. Four years ago I bought a Konica Auto S2 from Greg Weber for $200. It was CLA'd and in near mint condition, with a 6 month warranty. It's an excellent camera (naturally, having a Hexanon lens) and it meters in manual, unlike many of the others. To me, this approach is worth the money.

    I also have a Minolta Himatic 7S, which I was just lucky to find on local Craigslist in near-mint condition for $30 (it must have been serviced at some time). Also an excellent camera, meters in manual. An advantage of buying this way is that you can inspect and handle the camera.
     
  9. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    That Oly 35RC was my favorite fixed lens RF.

    Though depending on where you look, it seems somewhat possible now days to score both a Canon P plus a FSU/Russian lens for under 200, or in the low 200s. (but that's not lightmeter supporting, though the Canon 7 I just got was close to 100 with a working meter, then I paired it with an Industar-61L/D 55/2.8).

    The Canonet QL17 GIII was the other that came to mind when thinking fixed lens.
     
  10. Colorado CJ

    Colorado CJ Member

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  11. Ces1um

    Ces1um Member

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    Have you given any thought to a Voigtlander R series camera? They were only recently discontinued about a year ago and you may still find a NEW camera on the shelf somewhere. The guys at downtown camera in Toronto told me they're like 70% of the way towards being a leica without the accompanying cost (which is likely a point of debate but let's stay focussed here). I personally find my R3M a lot of fun to use and it's really quite a nice camera. That being said, it's still more money than most of those cameras on your list.
     
  12. OP
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    pale_blue_is

    pale_blue_is Member

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    Yeah, the Bessas are the "next step up" and I'm thinking of making a list of sub 500$ or so Leica-likes, and the bessa would likely be the primary contender on that list.
     
  13. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    Canon P/7 don't content? (or we talking bout with good meters and what not?)
     
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  15. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I own and use the following rangefinders:

    Leica M6 35mm rangefinder with 35mm f/1.4 Zeiss ZM lens; cost way over $200 (the genuine German Leica)

    Fuji GW670 III 6x7cm medium format rangefinder with 90mm f/3.5 fixed lens; no built-in light meter; cost over $200 (also known as the Texas Leica)

    Fuji GSW690 III 6x9cm medium format rangefinder with 65mm f/5.6 fixed lens; no built-in light meter; cost over $200 (great for landscape photography)

    Canon Canonet QL17 G-III 35mm rangefinder with 40mm f/1.7 fixed lens; built-in light meter; cost less than $200 (also known as the poor man's Leica)

    Minolta Hi-Matic 9 35mm rangefinder with 45mm f/1.7 fixed lens; built-in light meter; cost less than $200

    Argus C3 35mm rangefinder with interchangeable lenses; no built-in light meter; cost less than $200 (also known as "The Brick")

    [​IMG]

    Rangefinders by Narsuitus, on Flickr
     
  16. OP
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    pale_blue_is

    pale_blue_is Member

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    The Canon P and 7 would also be on that list. I have it written out somewhere all the cameras I was considering to add on the list. Just haven't gotten around to making it, and considering the mixed reviews this thread got from the community I don't know if it'd be worth the research.
     
  17. rpavich

    rpavich Subscriber

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    I own an M6 and the yashica, and a couple not mentioned and for me, the thing that sets Leica apart is the amazing bright RF patch. Using a camera with a dim, almost nonexistent patch is no fun.
    Having said that, I'd not discredit any of these choices, they will all get the job done. At the moment my favorite Leica-substitute is my Oly trip35! No, its not a RF, but with its zone focus, the experience is the same and better.
     
  18. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    I like my Canon QL17 GIII. It has a great lens and is sort of a "fun size" camera, so it's easy to take along when I'm out and about. But I have a couple of other favorites too. The Oly XA is a great little compact rangefinder. And so is the Oly Trip 35. I have a black one that I picked up for next to nothing. Well, the Trip 35 isn't really a rangefinder. It uses sort of a zone focusing method. But it works very well. Another one of my favorites is my Kodak Retina IIc. It's not a III, but I don't care. It's still a beautiful little camera with an excellent lens. No meter, though, but so what?
     
  19. kb244

    kb244 Member

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    :tongue: What's funny is that will show the Fuji and Leica brand in front, but not the Canon's.
     
  20. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    The RF patch on the M6 is indeed bright and contrasty. It is effortless to tell when you're in focus.

    I thought it was the best viewfinder / rangefinder ever -- until I looked through that of a Mamiya 7II. Wow. That one is even better.
     
  21. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    For the photo, I should have taken the black tape off the front of the Canon but the tape had been there so long that I had forgotten it was there.
     
  22. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    Frankly, if you want a good 'user' camera at the fraction of the cost of a leica, just about any SLR will do.
    Why bother with an over-priced, consumer-grade camera with a fixed lens and questionable reliability?
    For dirt cheap, you can get a Nikon 8008s (I literally cannot give them away!)

    If you want to actually take photos, why play around with these toys?

    If you want to wax on about some ephemeral magic imbued into a block of meteorite by a Tibetan monk, then there is no substitute for a Leica, is there?
     
  23. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Yes, the 8008s is dirt cheap. When it came out I was using a Nikon F2 and a Nikon FE2, but I really wanted to make that move toward a camera that could do everything and I lusted for a 8008s. Now I have two and they don't get used. Still, this was one of Nikons best featured cameras ever made at a price that many folks could afford. Just a great underrated camera like some many others.
     
  24. cooltouch

    cooltouch Member

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    While what you say is true -- for example a clean Nikon N80, an excellent camera, goes for about $40 on the used market -- if you want to affix an AF lens to the front of your AF camera, especially a normal lens, such as a 50mm f/1.8, you'll end up paying substantially more just for the lens than you did for the camera. Check it out if you don't believe me. A clean used Nikon 50mm f/1.8 AF D-series lens sells in the $100-120 range, up to three times the price of a typical N80. A G-series goes for substantially more. I find it somewhat ironic that a plain-Jane normal AF lens sells for more than a very good film-based AF SLR, but oh well. So by the time you tally up the actual cost of your AF SLR with a lens, that "over-priced, consumer-grade camera with fixed lens" is no longer so over-priced, methinks.

    However, I don't disagree with what you say in principle. Referring again to the N80, which I consider to be an exceptional amateur to advanced amateur camera and a much nicer camera than the N8008, this particular camera is an excellent choice. Its shutter, mirror actuation, and film advance are so quiet that it rivals the leaf shutter on one of these "over-priced" fixed-lens cameras. I'm so fond of the N80 that I currently own two and I wouldn't hesitate using one for street photography, or other situations where quiet is important.
     
  25. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    Only a few years ago, a factory new 50/1.8 AF-D was about $130 - just a bit more than Canon's 50/1.8 EF II (at least that's what I paid at Pro Photo Supply in Portland).

    Still, the size and handling of a rangefinder is why many find them attractive (yes, I know how small a Pentax ME is). Having something like an Olympus XA or Canonet in my pocket just feels better than a small SLR.
     
  26. John Wiegerink

    John Wiegerink Member

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    Yes, I agree that the N80 is even a notch or two above the N8008s, but so are many other makes and models out there. That's why I said in the post above, "Just a great underrated camera like so many others". The reason the lenses are more than camera bodies is the fact that they also work extremely well on certain digital cameras. Until the mirror-less digitals came along the Canon FD lenses were really cheap. If I wanted to used my Canon FD glass on my 5D it took an adapter that had a lens built in in order to work. Not the best optical situation. With the new cameras that lens in the adapter is not needed. Yup, now Canon FD glass is starting to increase in value. When some folks buy these new fangled "D" cameras there sometimes isn't much money left for lenses so they buy an adapter and use their lenses or buy some cheap(compare to new digital glass) on the auction site.
     
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