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Old Mar 19, 2006, 4:50 PM   #11
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Hi Nick,

As I'm pretty new in this forum -not Steve's perhaps but in Panasonic Forum- we haven't met before. I use this oppurtunity for not only to say a warm hello to you but also to ask a question -or curiousity actually- about "rangefinder"s.

At home, we've got a very old FED 4, one of those Russian Replica ones alike Leica. Since I dunno anything about rangefinders before, after reading your thread, I found out this old Russian lady is a "rangefinder" as well (am i right?). Well, it's not a big invention maybe, but your post was the reason why Ilooked forit deep inside of one cupboard and examined more detailed than ever before.



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Old Mar 19, 2006, 5:06 PM   #12
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Hi Fred!!! Great to hear from you. Hope you are well. 35 years!!! Yeesh! Congrats... : ) Yeah, I read about the Epson, Fred. It's a beauty but too rich for my blood.


Harry, I will (promise) post some MF pics - I have a ton of them, along with the GSN/CC35 stuff. I have to get busy scanning them. I actually prefer the 35CC somewhat but it is very rare. I got amazingly lucky. The GSN is pretty common (and cheap!)

I think you get it, Harry. The digitals are great, and I don't want to get into the whole (tired) digital vs. film thing...

BUT, I think a film rangefinder is a great inexpensive solution for certain shooting situations where digitals may not be your best choice. Specifically, natural light and ambient light candids. Why ask your camera to do something it's not designed to do? Truthfully, I'm "amazed" at how low the light can go - even with 400 speed film, without a flash. And if you like black and white but don't want to futz with developing your own, the Ilford XP2 and Kodak C41 process stuff (iso 400) is VERY nice, as good as the "real" stuff, imo, and can be developed anywhere.

Shooting with a rangefinder takes a little getting used to, but I can see why a lot of people prefer it. If the rangefinder has been cleaned they're very bright. The GSNs compensate for parallex error, and they show you MORE area than what the taking lens will capture. They don't black out when you release the shutter like SLRs. They are very fast to focus once you get the knack, and can focus in nearly any lighting situation.

When you need a high iso, or want to shoot no-flash abient light stuff, why force your camera to do something it's not designed for? Just use a different tool - a classic rangefinder.

If you (or anyone) is interested in picking one up, I can "turn you on" to an eBay seller who restores them or "consult" with you on the best models. (Yashica, Minolta, Canon, and Konica made some killers. The Konica Auto S3 is a compact with lens specs that match the Leicas, literally. But most all of them were right up there with Leica in terms of quality glass... That's how good the lenses on these things are...) The two I won at auction cost $40-45 (not including shipping) and are fully functional.

Hell, camera bags cost more than that.
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Old Mar 19, 2006, 5:52 PM   #13
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Hi Mert, greets to Turkey : )

Yep, that old Fed is a rangefinder, alright. The Fed and other Russian rangefinders have a cult following all their own. The best of the Russian rangefinders from what I understand is the Kiev 4, a nice Contax copy. They are quite cheap on eBay.

The knock on the Russian cams, is they didn't exactly embrace quality control, but were pretty well designed, and CHEAP but also very good, but with a higher percentage of lemons than the Japanese makers. They also use focal plane shutters, instead of leaf shutters like the fixed lens japanese rangefinders (but the Leicas also used focal plane shutters as well. Leaf shutters are built in to the lens, instead of the camera body...) I don't think the finder is "coupled" (but don't quote me), so you transfer the distance to the capture lens from the finder. You also have to have a finder that matches the focal length of the lens you're using.

Here's some specs for the Fed 4...

[align=center]TECHNICAL SPECIFICATION[/align] [align=center]Camera Type 35mm Rangefinder
Curtain shutter a la carte Leica
Selenium exposure meter
Flash sychronizer
Self timer 9 to 15 seconds delay
Picture size 24x36mm
Film Loading by removable back
Lens thread is M39x1
Interchangeable lens typically
1963-80 Industar-61 f2.8/52mm(52.4mm)
Filter thread size M40.5x0.5
Diameter for sun shade is 42mm
Shutter speeds: B - 1s to 1/500s
Combined viewfinder and rangefinder
Focusing: 1 metre to infinity
[/align] [align=center]500000 Produced[/align][align=center]----------------------------------[/align]http://www.btinternet.com/~stowupland/index.htm

(One of many sites devoted to the Russian cameras. Other popular ones are the Zorkis and the Keiv 4. Google around and you'll find a ton of information about these and other russian cameras.)

The Fed's claim to fame is the M39 thread mount. This is an interchangeable lens system, different from the fixed lens ones I mentioned. The claim to fame of the russian rangefinders is because of the M39 thread size. Can't afford a Leica body? Buy a Fed in good condition for $50 US, and pick up a used Leica M39 lens on eBay. Viola. Leica rangefinder quality images on the cheap.

Other manufacturers also made excellent M39 glass. However, don't discount the Russian-made lenses. Some are junk but many are absolutely wonderful. High quality glass at low prices. The optics can be excellent but the fit and finish is usually not up to par with their Western or Japanese counterparts. So, the lens specs are right up there, but perhaps they don't gently glide into the f-click stops (who cares?) Most of my medium format lenses are Russian made and they range from good to outstanding.

One of my favorite lenses is the Russian made 90mm/F2 Jupiter 9, a simply brilliant Zeiss copy made by the Russians. It has a gorgeous 15 blade(!) aperture and renders lovely bokeh. It's just a nice, fast, well-made 35mm portrait lens that is almost "too" sharp past f 3.5. I have this in M42 (Pentax screw mount).

PS - It's doubtful that the selenum meter still works. The newer meters use "CDS" cells.
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Old Mar 19, 2006, 9:58 PM   #14
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Nick old Chap !!

It seems that you and I have been on the same path. After you sparked my interest to return to film, I also found rangefinders! Evil Bay has lots of 'em:-)
My collection so far is :
Yashica Lynx 14
Yachica Electro 35 GS
Canonet QL 17 GIII
Kiev 4A (1973 model) Jupiter 8 and Heilos 103 glass

I really love them. I can have the film developed at a local lab negitives only (C41) for $1.99 a roll. I then scan them on an Epson 3170 flatbed. Slides ,35 mm and medium format.Then print what I want after PhotoShop on my iMac.
Speaking of Yashica, I have a mint condition 124-G TLR.(med.format)
Nick, check out the home of all things rangefinder at http://www.rangefinderforum.com
Lots of info on restoring these fine old cameras. Also, a forum member that does CLA for very reasonable cost.Some folks have been asking for rangefinder photos to be posted here. Because this is a Panasonic forum I will not upload any, however, I will post a link to my gallery on the RFF site for those interested in looking at them.

Great to hear from you sir, and I hope to see you around the RFF !
I have the same avatar there as here.

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Old Mar 19, 2006, 11:51 PM   #15
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Good to see you back on the forum. My first start in 35mm was also with a rangefinder. The first primitive one I used was a freind's Argus C-3. Remember that one? Then in 1967 I bought an Olympus rangefinder at a military BX for about $25 or so. This one had the little pink square in the middle of the viewfinder image which you would align with the main image. The result was always 100% spot-on focus. This camera had a little button on the back right below the film advance lever which you would depress with your right thumb to activate the meter. There was a match needle visible in the viewfinder so you could set the exposure without removing your eye. Like, your Yashica, it also had a meter visible on the top of the camera so you could use it on a tripod.

This one was shutter priority. You would set the shutter speed (on the lens barrel on this one). and then turn the aperture ring until the needles matched up in the viewfinder. This one also had a hot shoe on top, and I found a small foldable flash unit that could be stored in a small case that was attached to the camera strap. It used AG-1 bulbs, the old jelly-bean sized flashbulbs that at the time were about 12 cents apiece, and it also had a leaf shutter so it could use X flash sync at up to its max shutter speed, which I think was 1/500. It also had the B sync so I could use bulbs as well. When I transitioned to SLR a few years later, I gave this one to my nephew. He still has it, and he says it still works well. He prefers it to the digital equipment his wife uses. He did get a small strobe unit to use with it, because flash bulbs are getting scarce. But this camera has a 1.7 lens, so with 400 speed film , he rarely, if ever, needs to use the flash.

All in all, this was a great introduction to 35mm photography for me, and I think I'm going to have to check out that site you referenced to take a look at some rangefinders. Thanks again for the post, and welcome back!
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 7:53 AM   #16
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Hi Charles!

Yes, I lurked on the rangefinder site. That's "Steve's" or DP review for rangfinder enthusiasts. Great site, though I've not posted yet. We both have the same taste in cameras it seems. I even have the same scanner! The Epson 3170. And you're an FZ1v2 shooter as I remember, like me.

You have quite a collection of rangefinders! I don't feel so bad. I have so many cameras now, I almost feel gluttonous. After the Yashica Lynx arrives, that's it for a while. I wanted to get a Russia, perhaps the Keiv 4, but then that will prompt another lens buying binge : ) These are great little cams, aren't they? I see you're into medium format too. I take it you're doing your own black and white?

Who's the guy that does the CLA? I was thinking of sending the Yashica CC out to Hama (You know who he is, the guy who lives in Georgia who used to work in the Yashica factory in the 60's?) Is that who you're talking about? If not, do me a favor and shoot me a pm with the member's name? I am not expecting the 14 to be functional upon arrival.

Did you post any pics there? I'll look you up next time I visit.

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Old Mar 20, 2006, 8:23 AM   #17
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How are you buddy? It sounds like you had the Olympus RD or RC? They're another sought-after model these days. A good one in working condition can fetch a decent amount of money. If it was the RD - the compact one with manual override, they really command a premium in working condition.

People - like me and Charles, are re-discovering them because of their ambient light capability. The ones with manual override command a pemium because you can load really fast film - 800, 1000, 1600, 3200 ISO and shoot hand-held under nearly any condition. People use these cameras to do some night-time black and white street photography with a hand-held meter.

Most of these old rangefinders are shutter-priorty, and the Yashicas are aperture priority, but they limit, due to their speed setting dial to IS0 400, 800, or 1000. But truthfully, as you point out, 400 works surprisingly well well in ambient light. That extra stop on the aperture, and extra stop of film speed really makes the difference. A 1.7 lens lets in nearly twice as much light as f2.8, and 400 speed lets in twice as much light as 200 iso. Although digicams have a 400 speed setting, most avoid it. But 400 speed film is just fine. So between the the speed of the lens and the speed of the film, you're letting almost 4X as much light over the f2.8 and iso 200 capabilities of most digicams.

And, because just not as obtrusive in appearance, you can get some nice ambient light candids. Digitals are great and all (though I prefer film) but they're not best suited for this kind of photography. Even DSLRs are imposing to subjects - big cameras with big protruding lenses... try sneaking around taking candids with a Nikon D70.

Again, they're great cameras to compliment your digital gear. They were designed for the things digitals - especially digicams, don't do very well. So, when the next crop of digicams comes out that gives you higer ISO (and they are already), instead of plunking down another $400 to $700, and having your two year old $400 to $700 camera sit in a closet... or "moving up" to a DSLR for their low-light capabilities...

... keep your camera, and pick up a fully functional Yashica GSN (or one of the other ones, many good ones made) for $40-$60. Although these cameras aren't "Leicas" they're very, very good - and you get another type of photographic experience in the deal.

...worth a thought.
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 8:40 AM   #18
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Thanks for information. I did not really understand the differences between rangefinders and SLRs before. Your explanation is very clear.

Having read your post, I've decided that if I ever decide to dabble with film I will probably look at a rangefinder. After all, if I want a SLR, I have a host of digital SLRs from which to choose.

Again, excellent post. Thanks a million.
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 1:13 PM   #19
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You're welcome, Ladyhawk. Thanks for reading my rant. The only reason I posted this is because imo rangefinders excel at exactly the things that are weaknesses of digitals - lowlight candids without a flash. I think a good digital - especially the compact super zooms like the Panasonics, AND a functional old rangefinder for candids and low-light situations goes a long way toward covering your photographic bases.

It's an "outside the box" solution. No camera ever designed "does everything" but this combination gives you great flexibility. Use a functional old rangefinder for ambient light candids, your FZ1,5,10,20,30 (what have you...) for everything else.
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Old Mar 20, 2006, 6:19 PM   #20
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Nick! Welcome back!!!

Just one question...why the new handle???


P.S. You are a visionary...someday electricity will be gone, the 'net will be gone and you will be seen as a visionary, every pun intended!
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