View Full Version : The banal 'which camera should i buy'
Warning: this is a long post. Please bear with me.
After much deliberation, I am ready to throw my thoughts at you. Opinions will be highly valued. Even if you are hypothesizing, I'm pretty sure you know better than me.
First, let me tell you that I have a few other cameras (and lenses of course :) ). A couple of SLRs (35mm, 6x6) and a pseudo-rangefinder (6x4.5). Don't ask me why I got all those and I'll tell you no lies. Naah, it's no big secret. I thought much before every purchase but ultimately it was just gearlust.
Second, let me tell you why I want a rangefinder (35mm). It's small and easy to carry (weight has never been much of a consideration, but size is). It's also unobtrusive. So I believe I will take more pictures than I normally do. Which is an important thing. Besides, there are so many occasions when I have just wanted to take a picture (like at a send-off gathering for someone) and just didn't take any of my cameras because the moment I take it out people around me are going to feel like.. 'now what are we going to be subjected to'.
I like the idea of carrying a camera with me as much as I can, but I only have fast lenses for my 35mm SLR and they're not so small as to make this idea very appealing. I also think fast lenses are more versatile than slow ones. You might say they don't usually perform as well but for my needs I'm sure they're good enough. Besides, when I go out on a trek and want to capture great landscapes I'm probably better off with a 6x6.
That's a lot of background for anybody. Thanks for being with me so far. I've done my research. I can't afford too much and don't want to sell much of what I already have. So I've ruled out Leicas (the M's that is). Besides, I'd be constantly worried about damaging them and it'll only be counter productive. Even the Hexar RF is too expensive.
I have narrowed it down to one of 4: Bessa R2A, Bessa R3A, Bessa T and Minolta CLE. You can notice that I want AE. I'm not afraid to manually meter or anything, just that for the intended uses of this camera AE would be very useful. I'm aware that the Bessa T does not share this, but there are other interesting points about it. I'll also straight away betray my deepest desire :D , the CLE.
One of the R2A and R3A is easily eliminated. I need your advice here.
The focal lengths I'm interested in are definitely wider than normal but not superwide (24-50 or roundabouts). I'm not going to hate anyone who says 21 or 75 :angel: . I'm specifically attracted to a 28/40 combination. I'll begin with only one lens and add another later. The R3A has no framelines for anything wider than 40 and some say even 40 is difficult. That means an external finder. The R2A goes to 35, but how much wider than 40 is that after all. So for a 28 or wider I need an aux. finder anyway right? So which would you value more, the increased width or the magnification?
I find the T curious. Useful if I want wides no? Gotta have an external finder anyway, so what the hell. The one thing I'm totally in the dark about is, what is the magnification of these auxiliary finders? I don't see it mentioned anywhere. The T becomes worthwhile if these finders offer great magnification.
Last, I just love the look and sound of the CLE. Has adequate framelines. Hope some users can tell me about ease of operation, which is also an important thing for this genre of cameras. Also, I've heard reports of failed circuit boards and what not?
Finally, I could just skimp out of the 2-lens thing and make it a 1-camera/1-lens combo. In which case, I'll go with a single 40 or 35.
On lenses, I'm pretty sure my first (and maybe only unless I succumb to GAS yet again) will be a 40/2 M-Rokkor, a 40/2 Summicron-C or a 40/1.4 Nokton. Will only go for the Summicron if I get a great price. The 35/1.7 Ultron is also a contender.
Phew! Since you've read all of this, you might as well reply :D .
Well, let me start the ball rolling,
How about an R2a with a 28 and 50? Use the entire viewfinder area to compose with the 28 and don't worry about the lack of 28mm framelines.
Option two, higher priced option, wait a few months and pick up the new Zeiss Ikon with very useable 28mm framelines with a 28 and 50.
if you are ok with the risk of an older camera, the cle and it's 40 were truly made for each other.
i loved that set up and was a fool to sell it.
the camera is easy to use, feels great in the hand (i have small hands) and i never lost a shot because of the finder or framelines.
except for the bessa r i have no experience with cv bodies. their lenses are very good, at least the classic 35 and the 75 which i had were good lenses. the r was a great little camera.
if i could ever afford it, i would not hesitate to get a cle w/40 again.
Bessa R and 35/2.5 Pancake. They're for sale at B&H for $499. Excellent gear, good photo taker, light and wide enough...
That, or a Leica M2 with a 50mm lens of any kind. Let me assure you: through the viewfinder, you re-discover the 50mm focal length.
Lotsa fun shopping! :D
Thanks for the quick replies.
Rover, am I right in understanding that the whole R2A VF is approx. 28 angle of view? 28/50 combo is good too. I must think about it. In my short time here, I've already become aware of your attachment to 50s. But I've got to let you know that I sold off 2 50s I had for the SLR. There, I'm now on your blacklist. Zeiss Ikon is simply out of my range. Not that I couldn't wait and save, but even if I did, it wouldn't be justified (being a student and all...). Plus, I'd be more worried than anything else, same as the Leicas. Not to mention the lenses which I will be tempted to buy at the price of an arm and a leg.
Joe, I have no problem with buying used or old cameras. None of the camera equipment I have was bought new (with the exception of some lens hoods and filters) so I'm used to it. I also have a Nikon F3 that is an old camera and like it very much. These things are pleasurable to use and make mechanical sounds that are somehow satisfying.
SolaresLarrave, the 35/2.5 sounds like an option. The R sounds good too, except I wouldn't have AE. Now if I were to step into that category there must be dozens of possibilities. Hmmm... more confusion. Price sounds tempting.
Now, now, you people have got to stop recommending M2s and ZIs. I fear unwise actions. He He.
I think Rover might have been on the right path - the R2a answers most of your questions and a 28/50 or 35/75 combo would serve you well. I have the R3a and have had no complaints - the R2a's framelines might be more convenient for you, though.
I have a Bessa T as well and love it - I basically use it for wide angles like the 28 Ultron and now a Canon 35/2.8 that rose from the dead this past weekend. I really enjoy the camera, but I think it makes a great second body and not necessarily your prime user. The quirks, (no viewfinder or AE), would lead me to rank it 4th of the four on your list.
I know the T sounds unlikely. It was the 4th on the list and a remote one at that. It's just that I thought since the VF was anyway external, the design would not be constrained by the camera body and having to accomodate only one angle of view (frameline) it may be of really high magnification. I hope someone has a number for this. In any case I'm already tending to push it out of the race. It's a curious camera, but curious is probably not what I want.
After shooting with my Bessa R for almost a week now, I can heartily recommend it and the super sharp Jupiter 8 AND Industar - 50 lenses. I think think my example of Industar -50 may be sharper (as well as VERY cheap).
The T has a 1.5x magnified RF base, plus built-in eyesight adjustment, and consequently is the easiest Bessa to focus accurately.
Consider the 28/35 mini-finder on an R3A if you want automation: the finder adds virtually nothing to the bulk or weight.
I've owned the Cron-C, and currently own the later M-Rokkor and the MC Nokton. The CL/CLE lenses are slightly smaller, and have a warmer rendition than the MC Nokton. For a lens with a warm and very appealing signature, I'd rather pick up one of the Sonnar F1.5's than the Cron-C
The Bessa-T is a handy little body that I like, but to me, it is somewhat sabotaged by the fact that I can't get a minifinder in my preferred main focal lengths (40 or 50). The 28/35 minifinder looks great if your preferred focal length is 35mm. The M-Rokkor and Cron-C are supposed to be pretty close to the 35mm frame sizes (the Nokton 40 is actually longer?).
A Bessa-T with a Cron-C/M-Rokkor (or the 35/2.5) and the minifinder would be a great little package: compact with great optics. It is a little idiosyncratic - focusing and framing with separate finders really slows you down. But if you are okay with that, it could work.
No experience with the R2a/R3a. I had an R2, and it was a good camera. Didn't hold a candle to the Hexar RF (which you can often get used for only a little more than the new R2a).
It is said that the entire field of the R2a's finder is approximately that of a 28mm lens.
For the 40, if you insist on feeding your non-50 attitude :), would be to use the 40/2 Rokkor with the 35mm framelines. I had a Rokkor CLE for a while, an excellent lens. I used the 35mm framelines in an R2 with it. Simply keep in mind that what is outside the lines will NOT be on the film and you will be fine.
I got you back to 28 and 40. I personally like the CLE a lot too, but, they are now 20 years or so old, and when a new similar body is offered for @ the same price I think a R2a is a better choice.
From your post I gather than portability is important to you. Have you considered the Olympus XA or XA2? They have very fine and fast 35mm lenses. They offer no real manual controls (except focus and ASA), but they are fast in operation because of it. The small clamshell bodies make it easy to have the camera with you at all times, and they make very little noise.
Good luck with your decision. Sometimes I think that half the fun of photogrpahy comes from collecting the equipment!
EDIT: Oops - I forgot that the XA allows you to select your aperture. The XA2 does not.
Crap, cBass...now I will be looking for an XA. :bang:
I've been using a 40 & 28 on a Rollei 35 RF & like this combination very much. The 35 RF has the same viewfinder as the R2A but with 40 mm frame lines in place of 35. The full viewfinder works well with a 28 mm lens as long as you're not concerned about precise framing.
I hate external viewfinders - just a personal thing - so, I would support your interest in the CLE. It's made for this lens combination. Any other camera is an attempt to "make-do." However, I would suggest that you be very carefly in such a purchase, given the age of the camera & the difficulty getting replacement parts. I'd buy from a reputable dealers, preferably one with some kind of warranty.
Your other choice in a moderately priced AE camera with 28 mm frame lines is the Konica Hexar RF. The problem here is no 40 mm frame lines, but you could learn to work with the 50 mm frame lines & a 40 mm lens.
Go and get what you want to have, a CLE. I have only handled it in a store and liked it a lot. Would be ideal with a 28 and a 40 lens and it is a small and nice little camera.
I have a T, and the advantages of it is that you get a bright uncluttered (external) viewfinder and good focusing precision, but those viewfinders protudes a bit and it is nicer to have it all within the camera.
If you want 28 and 40 framelines, the CLE is basically the only choice (the CL probably also has it).
Yes, the CLE is a bit old today and you are running a risk going that route, but you only live once and if that is what you want, why not go for it?
The R2A does not go wider than 35, the R3A 40. The alternatives if you want to have 28 framelines are the Hexar RF or Zeiss Ikon (since you ruled out Leica), but neither have 40 framelines and at least the Zeiss Ikon will be a bit pricey today.
If you want 28 and 40 framelines, the CLE is basically the only choice (the CL probably also has it).
I agree with hth. Just to note . . . the CL does not have 28 mm frame lines. :(
Nwcanonman, as far as lenses are concerned there are going to be endless possibilities. Considering the large degree of compatibility, I'm sure I will consider the Industars and others soon. Maybe for a 50.
Roger, I'm a little confused here. I'm not sure what the magnification of the baselength translates to for the user. I understand the focusing issues, but what I was asking about was VF magnification. As in, is the auxiliary 40mm Voigtlander finder (assuming there's one) a 1:1 finder or what? Am I even making sense? Not sure.
On the 40mm/50mm thing, I'm not too hung up on 40. If I make a camera choice without 40 framelines I will just work with a 50. I've had 50's with an SLR before and found myself wishing for extra width. I have a couple of 35s (or equivalents) for non RF cameras and like that angle. Assuming the need for a wide angle, that brings me to a 28/40 or 24/35. But going to 24 or 25mm means a slow lens. For the RF camera that I intend to acquire, lens speed (not slower than f/2.8 for real wides and f/2 for normals) is important. I hope this explains my line of thought.
Sychan, I like the idea of a f1.5 Sonnar too. That would be a 50/1.5 right? Also, the Cron-C was my last choice among the 40s.
News flash for everyone :D : I have decided to forego external finders in favor of simplicity. That means no Bessa T. It also means no R3A because that wont go with a future plan of a 28. Things are now getting simpler.
Rover, you're saying the M-Rokkor is closer to a 35mm than a 40mm? Hmm...
Chris, no aperture control on XA2 rules it out. XA looks all right except it's got the fixed lens that isn't very fast. I have actually considered all these things and omitted them largely because being my only (or should I say first) RF I would rather not be restricted by these. Thought about the Hexar AF also for a while.
Huck, you have some interesting recommendations. I'll have to research the Rollei 35 RF. Don't know much about it. Suddenly the Hexar RF is re-emerging. But please clarify one point: is it completely compatible with all M-mount lenses? The fast choices with the Hexar seem to be a 50/2 and a 35/2. I would like the 35 but suspect it's going to be expensive and rare.
When Chris mentioned portability he hit the nail on the head. That and the elegance of the CLE attract me to it. But none of the other cameras mentioned here are big for that matter.
Hth, do you mean that the CLE is to be considered a risky camera? As an update, it's down to R2A, CLE and maybe Rollei 35RF and Hexar RF.
No, I am saying the 35mm framelines in the Bessas are close to 100% coverage of the 40mm lenses field of view. Remember, the framelines only show @85% of the lenses coverage, therefore, they are narrower than the actual lenes field of view. I don't know the math off hand, but 85% of the 35mm lens' field of view is about the field of view of a 40mm lens.
Huck Finn is the expert in this scientific stuff.
LP, I was not recommending the Rollei 35 RF because it does not have AE; it's all manual. My point in mentioning it was just that I'm using the 28/40 combination on it & that I like this lens combination a lot. Also that the R2A viewfinder (which is the same as the Rollei) is usable with a 28 mm lens as long as you don't need precise framing.
Regarding the Konica Hexar RF, there have been numerous posts that the Hexar RF is fully compatible with all Leica M-mount lenses. The only question seemed to be with early versions with serial numbers below 1400 & even this claim was disputed. You might contact Greg Weber (www.webercamera.com), who is a premier Hexar RF tech. for his opinion. The rangefinder mechanism, however, seems to be a little delicate & needs maintenance in some cases.
LP, in researching the Konica Hexar RF, here is a thread from photo.net that should be helpful. The comment by Kevin Mendenhall seemed to be an especially good explanation.
Thanks Huck. So RF misalignment may be the reason for some people's complaints. There seem to be various instances of this on the web. There is one for sale on ebay right now and the owner admits to having a misalignment problem. Now I dont know anything about misalignment, but I'll assume it's an easy fix.
Rover, I now fully understand your point about 35 framelines and 40mm.
It's officially down to R2A/CLE/Hexar RF.
While we're on the subject, I suppose I can focus the 40 Nokton and 35 Ultron on the R2A without problems? I mean baselength-wise, this is the worst of the three. Also, would any of these lenses (or the 28 Nokton) unbalance the CLE or block its finders in any way?
One more question for CLE owners. I have seen two webpages on this camera, one of which says it has manual metering with 1-stop increments in shutter speed and the other says no metered manual. Which is correct?
Folks. it looks like I'm going to be an intern for the summer so maybe I can afford to buy the Hexar. But then I'm thinking if I were to spend anything extra should it not be on a lens? Thanks. I need to scour the web for average prices of these cameras.
The Ultron is a gem to use. I really liked it.
Check here for the limits of rangefinder baselengths.
The 40/1.4 may be pushing it with an R2a. I don't know that as a fact, but check.
THis thread is mis-titled. It should read, "Which camera should I buy next."
I had browsed through that page earlier Rover. I think there's some discrepancy somewhere. Going by Erwin Puts' calculations, you need only 25mm effective baselength to focus the 50/1 Noctilux accurately (based on his point distance discrimination table). Which means both the R2A and the CLE (at least the latter with around 28mm EBL) can focus the Noctilux. Stephen Gandy at Cameraquest 's Bessa T intro page however says that with the T, for the first time an inexpensive M-mount camera can focus the Noctilux. Isn't something wrong? I suspect 25mm is not sufficient to focus the Noctilux. Of course I'm only speculating (and I don't mean to get a Noctilux), but it appears that the table on Erwin Puts page is a little optimistic.
Robert, sorry, I don't understand. I'm a little slow sometimes.
LP, the effective base length (EBL) necessary to focus a lens depends on several factors. Two of these are the focal length & the maximum aperture. A third factor is the degree of precision required. In his book, "Leica Lens Compendium," Erwin Puts gives two different EBLs for each lens. The second, more conservative number would put the Noctilux out of the range of the R2A & the CLE (32.5 instead of 25). He recommends the more conservative estimate for slides or when really big enlargements are planned. Even using these more conservative numbers, there should be no problem focusing either the 35 Ultron or the 40 Nokton on any of the cameras you are considering. This is because of the increased depth of field on lenses wider than 50.
Another factor in deciding focusing requirements is the ease of focusing desired. A longer base line will always make it easier & quicker for any lens to clearly snap into focus.
Beyond this is the issue of tolerances. Even if a rangefinder is theoretically capable of focusing a given lens, every individual camera rangefinder is not perfect & varies a little around its targeted specificationss. With a longer base line, these variances will be less significant than they will be on a camera with a shorter base line.
Makes sense Huck. I feel more confident about what I'm doing now.
I'll also straight away betray my deepest desire :D , the CLE.
I think you answered your own question. :D All the gear you mention is good but if the CLE is what stirs your heart then my suggestions is to find a good one and go for it!
One more question for CLE owners. I have seen two webpages on this camera, one of which says it has manual metering with 1-stop increments in shutter speed and the other says no metered manual. Which is correct?The CLE is a wonderful little camera, long a favorite. Its manual metering (which some claim it doesn't have!) works like this: Move the shutter speed dial to the A position. Point camera at the subject and note the shutter speed next to the lit diode. Using that as a guide, move the shutter speed dial to whatever shutter speed you judge is best. That's it. Some would still deny this constitutes manual metering. :D
Alternately, in the viewfinder, rotate the aperture dial until the diode next to the shutter speed you want is lit, then set the shutter speed dial to that speed.
Frankly, I just leave it on Auto. Sometimes I use the exposure compensation settings. Rarely, I choose a manual shutter speed based on readings I see in the diode readout (this as a way around the lack of AE lock) or from a separate incident meter.
Yes Doug, I thought of that workaround too. Maybe it'll slow down operation a little, but what the hell. One can't be too picky. I think I'll stay away from a separate meter for this camera. I have a handheld spotmeter (pentax digital) but don't bother with it except when I take the 6x6, which is the same as saying, very rarely.
So its like this. I'll get the CLE if I get a good deal. Otherwise I'll opt for the R2A. After all if I can have a new camera for about the same price as an old one with the same capabilities (or worse) it's a reason to think. Hexars do seem to be rare and still a little expensive. Although I do wish they didn't have electronic film advance and so many framelines. Thanks all. I am going to post a WTB right away.
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