Suggestions for cheap but decent rangefinder

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by jamie_robertson|2, Sep 19, 2009.

  1. I'm a Canon 5D2 user but fancy shooting a few rolls of film for old times sake. I like street/candid photography and the 5D2 can be a bit too in yer face at times.
    I welcome all suggestions for a cheap 35mm rangefinder. That obviously means a used camera and most probably something from decades ago. I don't fancy shelling out on a Bessa R and matching lens so forget the modern Voigtlanders. Likewise forget anything by Leica.
    I already have an Olympus XA but it can be a bit too fiddly at times. The ones I have thought of so far are:
    Canon G-III QL17
    Yashica Electro 35
    A fast lens is preferable but I'm not interested in interchangeable lenses. Anything from a 35mm to a 50mm fixed lens would be fine.
    Any ideas?
  2. Based on what you just said (what NOT to suggest), I think you nailed it with your two options. I have the Canon QL17 you mentioned, and it is a fine RF. Small as can be and it has a good lens. It also has some handy features like exposure lock, a film motion indicator, a hot shoe, and "Electric Eye" settings. And wow, oh so cheap! Not sure you could spend >$150 for one if you tried. Heck, for that money, get a couple and load different film (BW and color) in them.
    The only bummer is the 1.35v mercury cell battery but I expect you know there are several alternatives for those.
    Good luck. Let us know what you buy and post some pics.
  3. Lok at the post below, please. (Contax G2 .. hint)
  4. Yashica Electro GX or MG-1, amazing cameras.
  5. Bessa R2, R3, R4 in either Auto (A) or manual (M).
  6. I can't be bothered with the AF nonsense of the Contax G2. I need good manual focus. Besides, you definitely can't grab a G2 for under a hundred quid.
    Sounds like my initial ideas were near the mark.
    By the way, do any of you know what the difference is between the Canon G-III QL17 and the standard Canon QL17?
  7. "Bessa R2, R3, R4 in either Auto (A) or manual (M)."
    See original question: I don't fancy shelling out on a Bessa R and matching lens so forget the modern Voigtlanders.
  8. If Bessas are beyond your budget, the Yashica Electro 35 is a fine choice. Also check out the Minolta Hi-Matic and the various Olympus RFs. Try to get something in good condition. These are all old cameras and repair could be problematic.
  9. Yashica Electro GSN. Canonet is nice, smaller but it's different (shutter priority) camera. It depends what You prefer but seems like some people don't remember that they can set GSN for Flash symbol and have 1/30 for low light photography:) I compared those cameras. Yashica lens is much better wide open and after f4 sharp as hell.
    When it comes to shutter priority my favourite rangefinder is Minolta Hi Matic 11, Lens and the build quality are excellent.
  10. Not sure why you don't fancy a Bessa R. Nice little shooter w/ a great meter and takes all sorts of inexpensive LTM lenses. I would recommend a Fed 2 w/ collapsible Industar 50 lens. I sold my Elmar 50 3.5 because the Industar was noticeably better. The Yashica cameras will drive you nuts if you want an all manual camera because they set the shutter speed on Program and there is no way to override, nor does the camera tell you what shutter speed it has decided to select. They are hardly compact either. My other suggestion would be a Konica C-35 w/ sharp Hexanon 38mm lens. Usually found under $40.
  11. I have a Olympus 35RC and a Minolta HiMatic 7s, $20 and $35 respectively. The meters are non-functional on both, the but cameras work fine otherwise. Just learn how to shoot without a meter. Not a big deal with negative film.
    The 35RC is very small, but has a relatively slow f2.8 lens.
    The 7s has a nice, fast f1.8 lens but the camera is big and heavy. If you're truly after just a shooter, most 80's vintage manual focus SLR's are no bigger and most certainly lighter.
  12. I will flick you one from the grassy knoll. If you can find an old Petri 7s, you won't be disappointed. Manual focus, manual metering, speeds from 1 sec to 1/500 plus B, and a 45mm f1.8 fixed lens with a leaf shutter so quiet it's not even a whisper.
  13. Hi Jamie
    I picked my QL17GIII up at a camera fair for 60GBP. Creat piece of kit!
    The GIII is the latest and smallest version of the QL17.
    One small word of warning - they're designed to take PX625 (?) Mmercury batteries, so you might need to look at an alternative battery. Check Google for solutions.
  14. SCL


    Here's one which rarely comes to people's mind...really inexpensive, but fast to use and sharp...totally manual...the Ricoh 500
  15. Sacrilege in this forum, I know, but does it have to be a rangefinder? Tiny, lightweight SLRs like the Olympus OM-1 and Pentax ME-super go for about 80 quid on ebay. A Yashica FX-D or FX-3 (+ 50 f/2) with tatty but easily & cheaply replaceable leatherette can be had for under 50 quid. All including a 50mm lens, f/2 or faster, and no more noticeable for candids than the QL17.
  16. The inexpensive Konica Auto S2 has a very good 45mm f/1.8 lens (often with built-in shade). It offers shutter priority autoexposure or manual. It meters in manual (which many do not) ... provided the meter works, of course.
    However, it's neither as small nor as light as several of the others mentioned above. So if "tiny" or "nearly pocketable" are important to you, the Auto S2 is the wrong camera.
  17. If you want excellent value, don't laugh.... a FED-2 and brand new Industar 61LD could be had for cheap. Here is an example photo I shot:
  18. Thanks for these extra suggestions, many of which I had never considered.
    Please stop suggesting Bessa Rs. I do like them, yes I would like one, just as I would like an M7. I don't want to spend that amount of cash on something that won't be used very often. It must be a rangefinder with manual wind on. SLRs are no good. I need quietness and discreetness. If I want to shoot with an SLR my 5D2 will do the job nicely.
    I just missed a beauty of a G-III Q17 in the rare black colour for £50 on FeeBay this afternoon. I think I can rule out the Olympus RC, f2.8 is too slow.
    The Konica ones sound nice, I'll have to Google those. I saw a beautiful Konica Hexar in a shop window today but no point in having a look at it. Way out of this budget.
  19. I used to have a Petri rangefinder when I was a teenager, though I don't recall the model number. It was my only camera for 10 years, and had only one breakdown in that period which resulted from an impact to the camera. The shutter was wonderfully quiet.
    The lens was susceptible to severe flare when shooting such that the sun was shining onto the lens. One shortcoming of rangefinders is that you can't shade the lens with your own hand while taking a photo, something I routinely do with my SLRs when the need arises. If you can find a lens shade for whichever rangefinder model you choose, that could be helpful.
  20. Well, I've just bought a Yashica Electro 35GT for £28 GBP on FeeBay. Looks good. Can't wait for it to arrive. The thing that attracts me most to the Electro 35 are the metering lights on the top plate. That way I can preset the aperture/shutter for the correct exposure without having to lift the camera to my eye. That's far better for sneaky candid photography. I'm also hoping the shutter will be nice and quiet. If it works OK I will post some pics.
    Thanks folks.
  21. Consider a good pocket point & shoot like the Yashica T4.... Zeiss glass, weatherproof, and doesn't scream "photographer!" at people.
  22. Thanks Bob. I have the Olympus Mju II (Stylus Epic) for that task but I want a camera without the loud whirring motorwind to disturb people.
  23. Perhaps an Olympus 35RD? Like the RC, only with more slow shutter speeds, and a fixed F1.7 lens.
  24. Yes, I am considering buying an Olympus RD too. I may just buy a handful of these old classics and keep whichever one works out to be the best. They are cheap enough after all. I had crazy thoughts of buying an M6 last night but common sense prevailed.
  25. Good luck finding a working RD as cheap as any Canonet.
  26. The Konica Auto S2 has dual meter readouts: one in the finder and one on top. Mechanical shutter of 1 to 1/500 second with shutter priority and manual exposure. Still have and use one that I bought brand new in 1974. Also, for a few dollars more, there's the Konica Auto S1.6. Faster lens, plus a hot shoe. If battery is exhausted, the camera can be used manually without them. Still, I think you will enjoy the Yashica. Just mentioned the Konica in case you want something with more manual control
  27. Many thanks. The Konica S1.6 looks fantastic. I'd never heard of that camera before, looks hard to get hold of though.
    Just got the Yashica Electro 35GT today. Needs new light seals (no surprise) and the viewfinder cleaned out but other than that it's actually better then expected. It's also larger then expected. Nice camera. Looking forward to using it.
  28. Late into this thread... sorry. I'm astounded no one has suggested one of the big finder Retinas (IIc, IIIc, IIIC). I've had for several years (over a dozen, I'm sure) a Retina IIIc with Xenon 50/2.0 that used to belong to my father-in-law. It's a superb -pocketable- street shooter. The Xenon is every mm as good as a late non-asph. Summicron (yes, I know, I own one). The controls on the Retinas require a little using but they are quite logical and although the film transport requires some pampering, you can find a wealth of cheap parts should you, for example, strip the advance rack, which I once did.
    Furthermore, they have a quite decent rangefinder patch, which almost none of the above mentioned cameras have. Canonets, Yashicas and Olympus XA are equally bad in this respect. The Retinas, while not in the Leica M, or even Bessa R league, are a way above the others. Exception would probably be one of the latter FEDs.
    I just checked on -bay and found several going for as low as US$100, all the way to $500 for the more sought out models, like the IIIC (big C). Don't know about the rest but I frequently pocket my IIIc wich I keep loaded with Tri-X and take to the streets. BTW, even the light meter works fine.
  29. Heck, for less than 100 rupees get the Olympus Epic f/2.8 lens. Load up with 800 for the Blues Club.

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