Originally Posted by matt soul
Budget? the cheaper the better, but it needs to work
needs? durability, function, competant viewfinder, jupiter lens cause the seem like they are better
the reason I want an RF, because my major influence in my photography is Bresson and he used a rangefinder and my mentor uses an old leica so he thought now that I have gotten comfortable with the SLR, I should challenge myself further and start to work with a rangefinder too.
I would not choose a rangefinder because HCB used one, or because my mentor uses one, but because it is a superior tool for YOU for the work YOU want to do. And if that turns out not to be true, then I'd go back to what works best for you. No one says, for example, that Photo A by HCB is superior to Photo B by HCB because it was taken with an RF instead of an SLR. The photo is what matters, yes? No one will care how you got it. It may destroy the dashing mental image of the photographer-as-action-hero
, but it is better to be schlub and fade, fade, fade, into the woodwork. Nails that stand up get pounded down. Just my 2 cents.
Having said that, the rangefinder still offers some distinct advantages over an SLR for street photography. However, many of those advantages require a different way of using the camera.
If you're using a manual SLR, you currently lead with your focussing ring. Life exists in your viewfinder, on a matte screen, in and out of focus as you twist the lens. Peripheral vision does not exist in your world.
With a RF, everything is always in focus to your eye. No blackout when you trip the shutter, of course. And you can train yourself to keep both eyes open if you like. I prefer it when I remember to do it, and it is more like, oh, how do I explain?
Remember the stupid movies and TV shows where someone pretends to be a famous movie director by holding up their hands in front of themselves and making a 'box' shape with their thumbs and forefingers and framing people with that? Well, it's like that. You stop seeing with the camera and start seeing with your eyes. You just place the frame on things and take the shot.
With a manual-focus SLR, your first concern MUST be focus. Because without focus, you can't see to frame your scene. And you must pan around, zoom out, or lower the camera to see what ELSE there is to see in the scene, or use a wide lens and depend on massive cropping afterwards to 'create' your scene in the darkroom or at a computer screen. But you lose precious time focusing first, then you look through a narrow tube at a scene that changes even as you raise your camera to look at it.
With a RF, especially if you can keep both eyes open, your first concern is NOT focus, it is composition & framing. That means you must be (or must become) very comfortable with your camera and it's lens. You must balance f-stop with exposure and DOF to juggle your way into your scene. It becomes a dance - open the lens up as you move into shade, but be aware that your DOF is now 2 feet and not 10 feet on a subject 15 feet away from you, assuming you've prefocused and set your shutter speed. You can, in this situation, change your shutter speed, fiddle with your focus to get your rangefinder patch correct, or work with what you have and move in or out to keep your subject in your new narrower zone of focus. But you have seconds to choose. Best if you can make any necessary changes quickly - even without looking at your camera.
Quick! Which way does your aperture ring turn to open it up? Which way to slow the shutter speed down? What's your DOF at 10 feet and f/8?
I feel that a RF camera allows you be more a part of your environment when street shooting. With an SLR, you are an extention of your lens. With an RF, your camera is an extension of your eye.
I'm not saying that you can't do effective street photography with an SLR - lots of better photographers than I will ever be have done so and done well. I am suggesting that the way in which an RF is naturally used lends itself more towards street shooting than an SLR does.
Whatever tool you choose, master it and your photographs will improve. Fumbling around costs time, and time is not a luxury of the street photographer.
Now, on a counterpoint - I don't much care that Winogrand used a pair of M-4's and shot from the hip or that HCB used Leica cameras as well. What I would care about is why they chose the tools they did, and then decide if their selection criteria was right for me as well. In some cases, they may have chosen their tools because that was the tools their peers used - or that it was what was available then and there are better tools now - or that they just picked up whatever they could find - or they got a recommendation from someone else yet again - etc, etc. Is a Leica a great choice? Sure, no doubt. Is it the right choice for you? Depends on you. If you point a Leica at a pile of dog poop, you get a photo of a pile of dog poop. No "Leica Glow" will change that.
If you use the wrong shutter speed or aperture, or forget to load the film, nothing Leica can do will fix that. Once you obtain a camera that is reliable and takes sharp photos, MOST of what you do with a camera depends on YOU and not the camera. Given the biggest criteria, however, some cameras stand out as obvious choices - bright viewfinder, rapid focus, great lenses, very dependable, can be fixed or replaced in any major city - Leica M cameras have all that going for them. Some others do as well, to a greater or lesser extent. As offshoots of the Leica III's by way of Soviet copy, the Zorkis may have some or all of the capabilities you're looking for, as may the Kievs with their Contax successors. The Kievs would offer faster lens changing and perhaps a quieter shutter. The Zorkis would offer a wider world of lenses and perhaps a tad more reliability. To my way of thinking, both have relatively dim viewfinders compared to more modern RF's, and that can be a problem when street shooting. And I'm fond of neither for speed or ease of film loading, but that can be overcome with practice and dedication.
I hope you find any of this of interest.