70's Rangefinder camera choice?

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by parasko_p, Jun 7, 2005.

  1. Can anyone help me to select a rangefinder?

    I have culled my selection down to 3 fixed lens cameras:
    1. Olympus RD
    2. Olympus RC
    3. Canon QL 17 G-III

    These all fall within a similar price range, so money is not an
    issue. But I would like to know about lens quality, the most
    reliable exposure system and the most rugged build.

    I am veering towards the RC just for its portability but I'm
    concerned that lens quality may not be as good as the other 2.

    This camera will be used as a second camera (and my only film
    camera) to photograph street/people photos and to generally have a
    camera with me at all times. So I am after something small.

    My main camera is a Canon 1Ds (Mk1), which is very impractical for
    such photos and scares the hell out of everyone I point it at.

    Thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. ..I forgot to mention..ease of focusing is imperative as I wear glasses.
  3. I don't think you can go wrong with any of those. The RC is the clear winner in the size category, and I think the lens is second to none. The other big strength of the little Olympus is the shutter-priority CdS exposure which makes it a very fast and reliable shooter. The meter is also very easy to adjust if it has drifted off a bit over the last 35 years. I would rate the viewfinder/rangefinder as only average for a '70s compact. Using the camera in fully manual mode is a little awkward unless you have very small hands, but I very rarely find that necessary. Here is one recent example showing the contrast and sharpness of the lens. There is another in my Mesilla folder.

    Mandraki Morning
  4. You left out my favorite, the Minolta HiMatic 7SII...

    I don't have that much experience with the Cnon QL-17 GIII (only used it in RFF's 'Pass the Camera' project) - the lens is good, but the camera does not feel very solid, and I simply don't like its aesthetics (the winding lever is soooo ugly ;) ); also, due to its cult status, it is a bit overpriced.
    I've never used an Oly 35RD, but I assume that its lens is very good (like most Olympus glass) - it is a bit larger than the others.
    Now, the 35RC is really compact, the lens is good - but it is slow (1:2.8), and the camera does not feel very solid (that slit in the back for the wind-lever, etc.)

    The Minolta HiMatic 7SII has it all, though: almost as compact as the 35RC (a matter of mere millimeters), very sleek streamlined design with no design flourishes, feels very solid, both manual and auto modes, and a great 40/1.7 lens (that is sometimes rumoured to be the blueprint of the 40/2 Rokkor for the CL and CLE).
  5. I have and use the Canon GIII QL-17, the Oly RC, Vivitar ES and the Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII. The Canon is a fine camera, but nowhere near the lens quality of the other ones. My choice would be the Oly RC or Minolta. The Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII and the Vivitar ES, share the same lens. It's a very good lens too. F/2.8 is plenty fast enough with these little cameras. Keep in mind, that there's no "mirror-slap" in them. The Oly RC is a very well designed and built camera with a great viewfinder.

  6. Hi Roman,

    Yes I liked the specs of the Minolta but this model is hard to find and so probably more expensive when found...unless you are willing to sell me yours maybe? just kidding.
  7. I would handle before buying. I have owned two 35 RC's and sold both because they didn't feel solid. The 35 ED's feel much better to me but don.t have any all manual option. I am slowly restoring a 35 DC which is similar to the RD and also feels solid. I have also owned a QL GIII which seems to have a very bad reliability record which caused me to sell it while it was still working. All of these cameras are 30 years old which is old for electronic equipment. You might be better off with an all mechanical camera and a hand held meter if you need one. Leica, Kiev, Kodak, Agfa, Voigtlander, etc.
  8. Someone criticizes the Canon QL17 saying it is overpriced.... then recommends the Himatic 7SII... go figure? The Sears 35RF is a great little camera, all black, with a very good lens, pretty inexpensive too.
    russ_butner|1 likes this.
  9. David, I don't know about price levels where you live, but here in Europe (I'm talking about German & Austrian Ebay, mostly) you can get about 2 to 3 7SII for the price of a QL-17 GIII.
    The Canon is rarely found below 100 Euros, rather for around 150, whereas the Minolta usually goes for around 60 to 80 Euros (mine cost 40 Euros, and was REALLY mint (except for decomposing light-seals) - according to the old lady to whose passed-away husband it belonged, the UV-filter never left the lens from the day he bought it; came with a mint 'never-ready' bag, too; BTW, I found it on Austrian Ebay, and few people look there, maybe that's why it went for such a good price.

    Strangely, even the Revue 400SE - another rebranded version of the 7SII goes for at least 20 to 30 buucks more than the original, usually...

    The 7SII is just a well-kept secret here, whereas everybody knows the QL-17 GIII as the 'poor man's Leica'.
  10. That Sears 35rf is a nice looking compact. Looks like it could be a Ricoh or a Konica.
  11. Well, I have two Minolta 7sII and a Olympus 35 RC. I tested the 35 RC against the 7sII and the 7sII won for sharpness, color, and contrast. But the Oly wasn't that far off and is much cheaper than the Minoltas. I paid $180 for one 7sII and $70 for the other, where as I picked up the 35 RC for $24. I'll post and example from each camera from my test for you to see. These are crops from the 100% image that was scanned from the negatives with no post processing.
  12. Mike

    The Sears rf, is the last version of the Ricoh 500. And was made by Ricoh. I have one, and it's pretty good.

  13. Yep, I have an earlier version, the Ricoh 500 G, which seems to have the same lens; funny, on mine the glass that covers the VF and RF window is missing, I know of someone else that has exactly the same probleme, and on the Sears pictured above, I can see a crack in the glass, too - seems to be a common problem.

    BTW, on rereading the original question, another option came to my mind - an Olympus XA - excellent lens (OK, there is slight vignetting wide open), good exposure system (and it uses modern batteries, so you don't have to work around the dreaded mercury battery problem), more compact than any of the other options, and very rugged build (people who only have seen pics of it assume that it is made from plastic - well, it is not - most of the shell is black-painted metal!). A 35RC might be cheaper, but an XA will be more affordable than a 35RD or Canon QL17. Of course, the XA is slightly OT here, since it is a Classic, but not pre-'70s...
  14. You have a lot of good answers but the only real trick is to get a good example of whatever you choose. Like Russ i have had a Canon GIII QL-17, an Oly RC, and Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII. The only one I still have is the Canon GIII QL-17, because the lens quality of my example just blew the other two away. At least the Oly and Minolta that "I" had. My Canon was the sharpest rangefinder I had used until I found a real clean Konica Auto S2 but It's definitely not on the compact side.
    My real recommendation would probably be go with Roman's suggestion of the Olympus XA.
    As Russ said that Sears 35rf is definitely some form of Ricoh 500.
  15. Steve

    We're you aware that you're Konica Auto S2, shares the same lens as the Vivitar ES, Revue 400SE and Minolta Hi-Matic 7sII ? The lens design is a Minolta-Leitz collaberation. Those cameras were made by Cosina, per their designs. I really like my Vivitar ES. Very good lens.

  16. Russ<p>I had no clue. The 7SII I had could not come close to my Auto S2. That kinda shows me you can get a good or bad one of any of them.
  17. I think youll love the Konica S2 but its not a compact RF
  18. If you can, handle these cameras first, and see which one suits you. Personally, I find the 35RC the easiest to focus of all the rangefinders I have used, including Leicas and Canon 7 and P. Just fits my eye better, I guess.
  19. Russ,

    I think you mean the Auto S3, not the Auto S2. That's not a compact camera, the lens is very different.


  20. Unfortunatly I've never owned Oly. So I could not give a side by side comparison. But I owned total 5 QL 17s and two of them still in my bag.

    It is an excellent and quite sophisticated camera. I would put several points why I like this camera:
    1. very FAST lens and quite sharp lens (I don't thing you can get anything better for the same amount of money)
    2. paralax correction
    3. Devoted coupled flash (you don't need to adjust anything while shootig with devoted flash(Canolite D). Exposure is set automatically according to distance you set. Flash set high so no red eye).

    FYI, this camera also has shutter priority mode and quite accurate CdS exposure metering (with LR44 batteries).

    I had a couple of Yashica range finders also but I prefer QL17.

    I guess hype around QL17 has reasons:) and I wouldn't agree that the QL17 is overpriced instead I would say that other RF cameras a bit underpriced :).

  21. I can really recommend the Minolta 7s. I never seen a 7sII, but the 7s does just fine - over here in Europe they're not too expensive.

    Another camera that is up to par with the Minolta and the Canon is probably the Yashica GSN. Surprised it has not yet been mentioned.


    (My favorite is the Minolta though)
  22. I second the Electro. Cheap, quiet and the lens is ok.
  23. I choose 1st Canon QL17 a compact complete automatic when used with Canolite D, about $50.00 - $70.00
    2nd Yashica Electro GSN, about $20.00 to $40.00.
    I have a Canon QL17, an Olympus RC, a Minolta 7s, a Ricoh 500, a Petri 1.8 and a Yashica GSN. All are excellent but I myself prefer
    the QL17 and GSN. Minh
  24. My choice is Yashica GSN and Minolta HiMatic 11, different philosophy but both lenses are excellent performers. I would like to have Canonet GIII QL17 as everyday camera, because I don't love it like cameras mentioned above :) M.

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