View Full Version : Gift idea? Fixed lens RF with light meter or AE.
I'm converting people around me to film shooters (and to Mac users ;)). My GF enjoys OM-1 that I gave her.
Now, my good friend's birthday is coming up, and I'm thinking of giving him an RF camera with fixed lens.
He is quite a bit of technical guru when it comes to computer science, enjoys learning how things work, shoots Ricoh GX-100, and enjoys photography in general.
I'm thinking of a fixed lens rangefinder with built-in light meter and/or AE mode. Budget is under $100, more like $50-$75 area as I don't want to put him into too much of obligation over this "thoughtful" gift. :p I'm somewhat anti-lomography so no toy cameras with little to no exposure control.
I'm personally too much into full mechanical, non metered cameras. OM-1 is the most technologically advanced camera I have, maybe next to SX-70 which has electrical shutter control (wow!) so I need your help!
Do you have any suggestions? What camera would you give to your photography loving, yet digital-only-so-far friend?
I'm thinking of either Yashica or Canon RFs. Something just practical and easy enough so you'd carry it often while you can learn film/manual photography.
I think FED cameras are cool.
Hey Sug, I think the Canonet QL 17 is actually a great camera for anyone who likes mechanics. Works manually and automatically in such a tiny size.
i would suggest gsn or gtn my own preference is gsn but i love a bit of bling,plenty of time latr for mechanical gear the feel of these cameras is very reassuring.larger and heavier than most but nonetheless easy to use and technicly supberp hope this helps:o
Really can't go much wrong with any of the compact Japanese rangefinders but be prepared to replace the light seals, unless you want your friend to get up close and personal with a sticky black mess the first time he puts film in his BD gift.
I really like the Ricoh 500G and replacing the foam with black felt is easy on that one. Mine doesn't rewind properly, I have to unload it in the dark. No idea if that's a common problem.
If you want to blow him away with build quality on a budget, though, go 60s German. A Vitomatic or Vito CLR should be in your range. Just make sure the selenium meter still works. Everything else on these is overbuilt and rarely breaks. Match needle metering, a little slow but dead easy.
You can't go wrong with a Konica AutoS-2. Finding one in your price range might be a little tough but it has a built-in meter, fast manual focus, and a fantastic lens.
I would vote for either the XA or a Konica S2. An S3 would be better but not sure of the current costs. Any of the XA family would be great but the XA was in many folks opinion the top of the line.
If you have a bit of time, read the pages off of here:
Hey, Sug, I have a Konica Auto S2 which you're welcome to for the low price of a drive down the peninsula to pick it up. I am happy to donate it if it helps create another film user. Send me a message if you're interested and we can talk offline.
but the old Polaroid pack cameras, like the Automatic 250, are great little rangefinders. They take the still manufactured Fuji pack film, can be had for pennies, have a Zeiss rangefinder and are a lot of fun to use. And your friend will not have to drive all over the place looking for labs to get his film developed.
They have very limited manual control, however. About +-2 stops with the lighten/darken dial and a few apertures to choose from by changing film speeds and scene selection.
The smaller 1970s Japanese rangefinders are pretty cool and usually only need new foam seals.
A lot of the Japanese rangefinders from the 1960s will need to be serviced.
Also within your budget:
-- The Kodak Retina IIS -- non-folding fixed lens with Xenar lens and coupled rangefinder and coupled selenium meter.
-- Voigtlander Vito CLR -- usually has a Skopar.
-- The Pentax K1000 -- not a rangefinder but Pentax made zillions of these, and everyone who holds one seems to like them
-- Agfa Optima-Parat -- one of the coolest half-frame cameras ever. Zone focus, unfortunately.
-- Rollei XF 35 -- Rollei's answer to the Japanese 1970s rangefinder. Has a Sonnar lens.
-- Lomo -- The 1990s cult camera. Zone focus.
WOW. Thanks all for great advice and suggestions. QL 17, XA, and Auto S2 were coming up in my mind.
I didn't think of FED as I was only familiar with Fed-2 era stuff, but that's a fun thought. Maybe I'll give a Fed-2 next year and convert him to Leica in the future. (< insert evil laugh here)
And wow Randy, WOW. That is so generous of you. I'll PM you in a bit. That might be the best camera for the guy.
Ahh, gotta love RFF community. I was visiting and reading threads for several years without registering, but I'm glad I started to participate. :D Thanks again everyone for the input. I'll definitely checkout other cameras suggested as well.
I would suggest a yashica electro 35 GX. It's nice and compact, and aperture priority like the bigger GSN ones. The drawback of the konica S2 and similar cameras is the 'full size' body. They are to large to take with you all the time. Just a wild suggestion: buy him a rollei 35, a minox, or a petri color 35.
That said, a working konica auto S2 is by far the best fixed lens rangefinder around. The hexanon lens is wonderful, and the viewfinder is great. It has moving framelines that compensate for parallax and shrinkage of field. I like the rectangular rangefinder patch. It's a tool you can work with.
If you do get an S2, make sure you buy a minty one with a working meter. The meter is hard to repair. Also make sure the focusing helical is firm and there is no wobble if you handle the front part of the lens.
I once rewired an auto S2. I know it inside out. A broken meter and a wobbly lens are the biggest deal breakers to me. The beamsplitter (half silvered mirror) it quite durable in the S2, and the rangefinder is easily adjustable.
I got a Canonet 28 to give away. They are really inexpensive, and this one is pristine. Being all automatic might be a deal-killer for some of y'all but for a gift, I wanted something that worked and didn't cost an arm-and-a-leg. There's no point in getting something too fancy and having the recipient decide to keep it in a drawer, unused.
The camera is so pleasant to use and in such good quality, it's all I can do to go ahead with the deal. ;)
I've been looking for a QL17 for myself, but it's more than I want to spend on myself, much less to give away! :)
I would suggest a yashica electro 35 GX. It's nice and compact, and aperture priority like the bigger GSN ones. The drawback of the konica S2 and similar cameras is the 'full size' body.
While GX can be pricey, I can suggest Yashica Electro 35 MC - it's scale focus, though look at it as bonus not drawback. Runs on common 6V battery (4SR44 or 4 stacked SR44 cells), no adapters or conversion needed.
And it's small! This is far more important than RF focusing or array of features. And Av is so easy for starters. And price....can't go wrong.
KAS2 and such are great cameras though normal people will not carry them around. They need small camera, at least while they don't have account on RFF :)
If there floats working GX around your budget - sure, it's great choice, just costs more.
I met with Randy yesterday, and I brought his Auto S2 home after good camera/photography/GAS talk and shooting around the local festival with him. :D
My friend's birthday is in November (I was planning ahead!), but I'll report back how it turns out. Auto S2 is a large camera, but so is my Irish friend. ;) And it is great that the camera has full manual control (to learn), basic metering (to enjoy) and great Hexanon (to be pleased). I think this is definitely the right camera for my friend to get into film photography.
And thanks everyone for suggestions. I have several more friends I want to convert to film user, so those recommendations will come in very handy quite soon. I should probably stock up nice little fixed lens RF cams from camera swaps and shows so I can give them as gift when someone's birthday comes up.
And I'll chime in if someone here is looking for a camera to convert someone. I might be able to donate one for a great cause next time.
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