Need a Primer on Rangefinder Cameras

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by chris c, Oct 6, 2002.

  1. I am about to venture from SLR land into the an area I know little
    about, Rangefinder Camera Bodies. I have reviewed the various threads
    relating to M6 vs M7 etc, But I am looking for someone to help me
    better understand the various rangefinder combinations. What is the
    difference between .58 .72 ,85 magnifications? I have always been
    more inclined towards the wider angle lenses. I am expecting that due
    primarily to the cost I would not venture below 24mm or above 90mm in
    focal lengths. Given this I am open to suggestions on what
    configuration I would be looking for. Also Open to suggestions on
    Body models. M6TTL or M7. What Leica over G2 etc.
  2. a site by Stephen Gandy.

    The best introductory site, you won't need any other to figure things out. Go into "classic camera profiles" section and read.
  3. Another source of information on selecting an M camera is Erwin Puts' web site: ERWIN
    To read an article by someone who changed from Contax G to Leica M, see: BECKERMAN
  4. Sorry, that didn't work, despite trying to follow Tony's instructions! The links should be <br><br> <br><br> and
  5. If your eyesight is okay, I suggest you go for the 0.72 VF. It's the one that gives the more
    options. That is, unless you shoot exclusively with either wide angles or teles.

    As for Leica over G2, that's a good one. I own both, and they feel so completely different it's
    incredible. Of course the G2 is autofocus, auto-advance, auto-rewind, and I tend to use it in
    situations where I need to shoot quickly, or just feel lazy. Optically it's ALMOST, mark,
    ALMOST (there guys!) as good as the Leica glass. It's ALMOST as strongly built. It's definitely
    cheaper. G2 is a practical choice, and a very nice one, make no mistake.

    But nothing compares to a Leica. Shooting with a Leica M is an experience in itself, beyond the
    quality of the photos themselves, which has been comprehensively documented over
    decades. Hard to explain. So strong, yet so soft. The weight, the solidity, the proportions of the
    body, the smoothness of everything, the quietness of the shutter release, the oily frame
    advance lever... The inner peace while framing and focusing,

    And you will have many more different lenses to chose from.

    Now, unless price is a factor, I don't see why you would go for an M6 instead of an M7, which
    basically is an M6 plus AE, DX coding and electronic shutter. What's wrong with that?
    Reliability? There seems to have been a very few minor gitches with early production models
    (though not with mine... so far) but I don't think they really count.

    One final word: if you're on a budget, don't go the RF way without first thoroughly testing and
    trying it if you can. It's so different from SLR, you might actually not like it. It's happened before.
  6. I had been saving for a M6 but some unexpected costs and my daughter's tuition reduced my savings dramatically. So I decided to keep my Contax G1 and add a few lenses.

    I have a Nikon N80 with 80-200 2.8, 50 1.8, 85 1.8 and 18-35 3.5-4.0 and a Mamiya 645 sytem and after reviewing my images My Contax with its 45 Planar provides me with the best results. The Nikon is superior for wedding candids and formal portraits but I seem to use the Contax more for personal use. I carry it with me at all times in a small Domke bag.

    I had a chance to use the M6 with a 50 'cron. I found that for what I photograph (mostly children) I need the speed that the Contax affords me. I simply could not use the M6 in low light with children, refocussing every time the child moves is difficult and slow. Perhaps in time after getting used to the camera my speed would be faster. I also must that the Contax Lenses are every bit as good as their Leica equivalents with the exception of the 35mm lens (it can not touch the 35 Summicron) .

    One quick note about the Contax autofocus. Despite what others say it is very very reliable ONCE YOU LEARN HOW TO USE IT. I never have an out of focus shot but my wife can shoot an entire roll out of focus. It very simple but you have to be mindfull of what you doing and where the camera is focusing.

    My contax system includes the G1, with 28/45/90 and total cost to me was $1085 and I use my Nikon Sb 28 with it for when a flash is needed.

    A similar Lecia system would cost in the neibhorhood of $3000

    Having said all of this I admit that I still have the Leica bug and if I could afford one I would purchase it.

    Bottom line is that if cost is a problem and need the speed of autofocus Get a Contax. If you have the money get a M6

    Just my 2 cents.
  7. On the other hand there's no telling what a used Contax and 3 lenses will be worth in 10 years (if the electronics still function!) but a Leica M6 with 3 lenses will certainly be worth more than what you paid for it and then some. Once a chip is out of production and out of stock there's nothing anybody can do.
  8. I used to own a G2 w/ the 45 & 90, the lenses are the best thing with that system. I sold it and quickly went back to Leica M cameras. The viewfinder on the G2 is small and dim, the AF focus confirmation is a bit of a guess work - mind you AF is great to have at certain times, but at other you cannot beat the manual focus. then add the fact that the lenses park themself at infinity after each shot plus...

    In my book, most photography will go digital, so the Leica M system will be my only all manual basic 35mm film system. A Leica rangefinder might not be the perfect choice for everyone or every occation, but once you learn how to use it properly it is a great experience using it. If the photograph comes out as you envision it, you have yourself to thank, not some AF, matrix, bracketing, high speed etc. (I do love those aids at certain points as well)

    On body selection. If you have tons of cash sitting around, sure pick up a M7, a Summilux 35/1.4 and 'Cron 50/2 and 90mm something. Otherwise, you'll do fine to start with a minty M6TTL for around $1,200 and a minty 50/2 for ~ $600.
  9. I was waiting for the "resale value" comment. If your main objective is to buy a camera and then sell it a year later I would have to agree that the Leica will give you a better return on your investment. If you main objective is too take good photos either will do. As for the electronics giving out in ten years all I can say to that is what a load of crap! I had a Tv that lasted longer than 10 years along with a Vcr's, Cars etc. Not to mention several cameras such as the Mamiya M645 that I have and use that is more than twenty years old.

    Chris, in time you will have to make your own decision but make it with the facts. Resale and electronics are bulS**t arguments that leicaphiles use to justify the vast amounts they spend on their gear. I might also remind everyone that the M7 has a electronic shutter. Will an M6 outlast a G2? Probably, but Im pretty sure that either can be fixed in the future. Its not like the G1 or G2 is out of production already. My advice is simple, get the most camera you can for your money. If that means settling on something else for a while do it.

    And I do agree that everything will go digital but not in my lifetime. I really hope not because I enjoy working in the darkroom.
  10. Quick comment on resale value. If you are a user/abuser of your gear and you tend to use it and throw it away, Leica becomes very expensive. If you are unsure about how your photography will develop over the years and you think that you might grow into medium format, digital, a brownie camera... resale value is a point to consider.

    Initial cost/spending is not as important as total life cycle cost of your equipment, and truth be told, Leica M gear will keep its value way better than any other camera equipment (I have yet to take any real loss on any Leica gear I've owned/traded/bought).

    But at the end you want to take great photos, so all other points are secondary. Try/rent a few rangefinder systems and it will come to you.
  11. I own a G2, and 4 Leicas. I love the Leicas but I dont use them much because Im afraid of banging them up, getting them stolen etc. The G2 I throw in the bag and go.

    The Leicas have a wonderful 'something' about them which is impossible to define or quantify. The G2 certainly doesnt have it; however, i USE the G2 and it takes beautifully sharp pictures.
  12. Tim,
    I hope this question is not found to be offensive....

    But, you say, "The Leicas have a wonderful 'something' about
    them which is impossible to define or quantify. The G2 certainly
    doesnt have it; however, i USE the G2 and it takes beautifully
    sharp pictures."

    If the Leica's "magic" were of a significant value, why to you
    "USE" the G2? Aren't you concerned about missing that certain
    'something?' I would have thought that the reason for having
    either of these systems is because you/we believe strongly in
    the pursuit of some manner of magic that superiour optics can
    capture. But, if you have both systems and have firsthand
    experience with the differences, why would you use the 'inferiour'
    system the majority of the time? Is it because the Leica is a less
    'friendly' camera and that the G2's convenience outweighs the
    Leica specialness?

    I had a (black) G2 system, and rather liked it. But, i never found
    any magic in it. It certainly looked and felt beautiful, but i sold it
    when i got into digital with a D60. Now, i regret not having a more
    'carryable' system, and i'm looking (back) to rangefinders.

    Thanks for your (or anyone else's) further comment.

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