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Canon Rangefinders - Peter Dechert and Peter Kitchingman Peter Dechert is best known for his Canon Rangefinder, Canon SLR, and Olympus Pen books, the latter two long out-of-print. He was a monthly columnist for many years for SHUTTERBUG magazine, and has contributed to many others. Most recently he has written about the pre-WW2 Zeiss 35mm cameras, but his interests in camera equipment and optics are many and varied. As a pro protographer and honorary life member of ASMP, Peter is also expert in using the gear! Peter Kitchingman - author of Canon Rangefinder Lens book Peter Kitchingman's 'Canon M39 Rangefinder Lenses 1939-71' book is the definitive source on these very interesting optics. His interests also go to the entire Canon Rangefinder system and beyond.

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Which Canon RF camera to use?
Old 08-30-2007   #1
pdek
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Which Canon RF camera to use?

Collecting isn't everything. Many of us USE our cameras. Which Canon rangefinder cameras do you prefer when it comes to actually making pictures?
If I were to choose, it would probably be from one of these:

Canon 7sZ (for the back-loading afficianado)
Canon IVSB2 (for the guy who likes bottom-loading)
Canon VI-T (for whoever enjoys trigger-winding)
Canon VI-L (for a camera that has most of the 7sZ attributes but is smaller)
Canon IIB (for the person who really digs antique user-cameras)

But what do YOU think?
Peter
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Old 08-30-2007   #2
xayraa33
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I will go with the IVSb2 and its kin in the "improved " bottomloader family.
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Old 08-30-2007   #3
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the P (I carry at least one with me everywhere... rain or shine).

Form follows function.

Simple, elegant, precise, indestructible.
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Old 08-30-2007   #4
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They sold a lot of Ps.

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Old 08-30-2007   #5
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My favorite user is the P, followed by the Canon 7sZ
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Old 08-30-2007   #6
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excellent - just what i have been wondering. I'll be watching this thread for sure. thanks.
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Old 08-30-2007   #7
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I've got both a P and 7, and use them both. My P is definitely a "user" model (a number of dings and dents on the outisde, courtesy of a former owner), and is just back from the DAG hospital, with a repaired optic that had gotten loose inside the rangefinder. Don did a great job.

I tend to use the P primarily w/ a 50, or a 28 (add a brightline mini-finder). If I think I'm going to be using my 35 a good deal (e.g., for landscapes), I'll take the 7 b/c I can see the framelines better.
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Old 08-30-2007   #8
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I vote for the P also.
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Old 08-30-2007   #9
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I've done a lot of shooting with both a P and a VI-T (still have the latter) but in this day and age, I think it's hard to take a rangefinder camera seriously for routine use if it doesn't have a projected-frame finder with a decent range of framelines.

That narrows the Canon range down in one fell swoop to the 7-series. I don't think there are any real usability differences among the 7, 7s, and 7sZ (other than the 7 model's lack of an accessory shoe, and that's only a factor for some users.)
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Old 08-30-2007   #10
xayraa33
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I use a SBOOI 50mm finder on my Canon IIF when using a 50mm lens and a 35mm VF on the other IIF with the 35mm lens.
these have squinty finders that are now really bothering my aging eyes.
but I still like the feel and size of these bottomloaders.
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Old 08-30-2007   #11
Bill58
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If you have a P, why would you want anything else? It does everything the unmetered Leica Ms do, except easier to load AND it goes for about $300!
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Old 08-30-2007   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jlw
I think it's hard to take a rangefinder camera seriously for routine use if it doesn't have a projected-frame finder with a decent range of framelines.
Well, with an RF I currently don't use anything except a 35 or a 50.. so the range isn't as big a deal.

Projected framelines are nice. But I've never had an issue with the ones etched into the P. And the 1:1 viewfinder is a clincher for me.

But that's just me and the way i shoot.
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Old 08-30-2007   #13
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IIF2 is the Cadillac of "knob top" bottom loaders.......with a build quality equal to or slightly above the Leica IIIF of the same period

Matched up with the F1.5 50mm lens it`s a real working tool as much as it`s a collectors item

It does takes some getting used to the single view eyepiece (after so many years using a Leica IIIC/IIIF) but the x1 and x1.5 magnification in the viewfinder is really helpful and the rangefinder patch seems much brighter than the Leica`s
(and there`s a built in contrast enhancer in the view finder as well)
with Leica you have to buy that crazy $50+ orange rangefinder filter to give you the same effect

I`ll be shooting with one the FIRST time this weekend, but I`m sure the results will be great, I`ll post some samples at my IIF2 thread

Tom
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Old 08-30-2007   #14
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Well, I had and used a IVSb & a 7 and should have never sold either. Especially the 7... Argh! Another IV with a 50/1.9 (or 50/3.5?) as a pocket camera and the 7 for the rest of my Canon lenes.

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Old 09-18-2007   #15
pdek
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Actually, I thought that I answered the question when I mentioned those five cameras. But a lot of you opted for the Canon P, and I did indeed use a P for quite a while back when it was current. My only objection to it was the multiple finder outlines: I have never liked them unless, as in the Canon 7-types, you're only going to use the innermost of the lines that are displayed. That's one of my big gripes about the later Leica M-cameras: you've always got two sets of lines unless you have your camera modified, and if you do this your choice of lenses that couple to the finder is limited to half as many.
So my answer is any one of the five I listed, depending on your preferences, to which you might well add the P and substitute any of the -2 type bottom loaders if you didn't need as many features.
Peter

Original Question:

Quote:
Originally Posted by pdek
Collecting isn't everything. Many of us USE our cameras. Which Canon rangefinder cameras do you prefer when it comes to actually making pictures?
If I were to choose, it would probably be from one of these:

Canon 7sZ (for the back-loading afficianado)
Canon IVSB2 (for the guy who likes bottom-loading)
Canon VI-T (for whoever enjoys trigger-winding)
Canon VI-L (for a camera that has most of the 7sZ attributes but is smaller)
Canon IIB (for the person who really digs antique user-cameras)

But what do YOU think?
Peter
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I'll second to that
Old 10-06-2007   #16
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I'll second to that

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeicaTom
the x1 and x1.5 magnification in the viewfinder is really helpful and the rangefinder patch seems much brighter than the Leica`s
(and there`s a built in contrast enhancer in the view finder as well)
with Leica you have to buy that crazy $50+ orange rangefinder filter to give you the same effect
Tom
Just what I thought except that I could say the same thing about the IV SB.
My IV SB is great in handling and feeling...alas the shutter curtains need to be changed!
I am just adapting myself to the IIIc's needs and would gladyly use the IV SB that could adapt to my needs.

Best regards from Vienna
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Old 10-06-2007   #17
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I am still using a Canon IVSB(2?) and a P. Both are in user's condition, and both are accordingly "used". The IVSB looks and feels like a Leica IIIc.

I used to own a mint VI-L that was in a beautiful leather case. It just sat there; it was too good looking for use. I traded it for a Leica Standard.
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Old 10-06-2007   #18
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I love using my 7s with the Canon 1.4 50 and various screw mount lenses. If I needed another I would really like the V1-L. The VF in the 7s is superb and I also like the 1:1. Hard to go wrong with these.
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for me
Old 10-06-2007   #19
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for me

1) P
2) IVSb
3) 7
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Old 10-06-2007   #20
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They are all good, goldarn it. I must admit however that I have never been a fan of the bottom trigger winder on some later cameras as I would have only used it (for preference) on a few occasions given my style of photography - my view is that they would have done far far better had they provided both a top lever and bottom wind on these cameras - how good would that have been? I have owned a IVSB2 with a 50mm f1.5 and more recently a IVSB with the 50mm f1.8. Both were nice. I have also owned several Canon lenses including the Serenar 35mm f 3.5, the later chrome and black 50mm f 1.8, the later chrome and black 50mm f1.4, the chrome 85mm f1.8 and both the black / chrome and chrome versions of the 135mm f 3.5. In general I have an extremely high opinion of the cameras and lenses.
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Old 10-06-2007   #21
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For me the choice is simple; I have only the one P - and I love it. Today I was at a football match, carrying two cameras. M8 on the right shoulder, P on the left, loaded with HP5+. Safe and sound? ;-)
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Old 10-06-2007   #22
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The only one I have:



Love this combo.

Roland.
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Old 10-06-2007   #23
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Man, that 105 Nikkor makes the Canon P look tiny. I must say - that is one gorgeous lens.
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Old 10-06-2007   #24
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I have owned three Canon RF cameras; QL17 GIII, IV SB(2, I think, based on your book Mr. Dechert ), and a P.

The QL17 was nice but I'm not such a fan of fixed lens cameras so I passed it along. No regrets.

The P was a camera I really wanted to like but with my particular eyesight, it was difficult to use. I'd got a good deal on a beater and had it re-habbed so it was a good user though a bit scuffed. I sold that one and, once again, no regrets.

But the IV SB...I found an amazing deal while looking for the 85mm/f2; at some small antiques auction site I found the 85 for very little $, bid on it and got an email from the person selling it that they also happened to have "the old Canon camera that this goes with. How about buying the whole set?" I thought about it for a short while and went for it. Got the kit and that set I really liked. Stupid me, I decided that I didn't want to have the camera sit idle while I saved my nickels for the CLA that it did need, so I sold it. That one I miss. The VF was dusty and a little dim but it "fit" me very well and the rest of the camera was just pleasing to me; great size, beautiful proportions, lovely weight in my hands or around my neck, even the bottom loading wasn't as fiddly as I'd thought it might be.
That one I will have again.

Oh yeah, my vote for "Which Canon to use?": IV SB.
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Old 10-06-2007   #25
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Honestly, my Kodak camera passion (which includes demonstrating use of those cameras again after as much as a century) consumes most of my film-based picture taking. But of the Canons I own, the IVSB2 that I bought in high school is my favorite. It's not that I love bottom loading, or even peering into the tiny viewfinder hole with glasses, but this was my yearbook camera, so I love it, not for any particular utility of it, but for the history we share.

Not long ago, I bought a Canon 7 in the expectation that I would find liberation in the outstanding viewfinder in that model. Looks matter, however, and whenever I put my older long lenses on that model, it reminds me of a black plank with a candlestick stuck on the side, unlike the form of the older, more slender models.
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