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Small rangefinder with Zeiss/Leitz-alike lens
Old 08-26-2015   #1
lrochfort
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Small rangefinder with Zeiss/Leitz-alike lens

Hello all,

Over the past couple of years I've owned a Minolta 7SII and an Olympus XA2 in an effort to find a small camera. Unfortunately I don't like the images from those lenses, I find them too contrasty and and "harsh". I also realised I don't like zone focus cameras.

Could you please suggest small rangefinders with lenses that produce results similar to Zeiss and Leitz lenses? Ideally around 35mm focal length. A built-in meter and maybe some auto-exposure would be helpful, but not at all essential. Definitely rangefinders though, no zone focusing.

I suppose I'm looking for a Rollei 35 with a rangefinder and aperture priority auto-exposure!! And a partridge in a pear tree.

Thanks all!
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Old 08-26-2015   #2
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I've not owned the Minolta but did own the Olympus. I certainly wouldn't call the Olympus lens contrasty. It's a simple lens with single coatings and imagine the Minta to be similar. For sure single coated.

Are you shooting B&W or color? My guess is it's more a function of film choice, processing, printing or scannng or a combination of these.

I'm not sure you'll find a less contrasty alternative in a modern coated lens.
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Old 08-26-2015   #3
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A little larger, but Leica CL? Maybe too similar but the Olympus XA and lower contrast film?
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Old 08-26-2015   #4
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I find images from my Rollei 35S contrasty as well, so what's a "Zeiss-and-Leitz-alike lens" remains subjective.

As far as some fixed lens rangefinders with automation are concerned, the tiny Zeiss Ikon Contessa S 312 (later rebadged as Voigtlander VF101), the last of the Zeiss Ikon, is as German as you could get; it shoots with a 40/2.8 Tessar in aperture priority. Whatever kind of result it gives it must be "Zeiss like".

You can also try the Agfa Optima Sensor 1535, which also has a Tessar type 40/2.8 lens. Program mode only though.
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Old 08-26-2015   #5
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The Olympus 35RC is SMALL. Very small. High-quality 42mm lens, extremely sharp, but not contrasty. Easy to focus, small enough to fit in a jacket pocket. It also has built in metering and mechanical AUTO exposure and a self-timer. Takes a single 1.5V battery but it lasts forever. The battery only powers the AUTO metering, so the camera will still work without any current. If you're looking for a small fixed-lens rangefinder I highly recommend it.

Here's a photo of mine:




And a sample photo taken a couple years ago. Kodak 400UC film.

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Old 08-26-2015   #6
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Zeiss Tenax II with 40mm Sonnar. Awesome square format camera.

STANDARD LENSES:[5]

Carl Zeiss Jena ... Tessar 1:2,8 f=4 cm
Carl Zeiss Jena ... Sonnar 1:2 f=4 cm
ACCESSORY LENSES requiring a separate top mounted Van Albada type finder:[6]

Carl Zeiss Jena ... Sonnar 1:4 f=7,5 cm <Dechert, Peter. "Tenax" Zeiss Historica,(spring 2006, Vol. 28, No.1>
Carl Zeiss Jena ... Orthometar 1:4,5 f=2,7 cm
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Old 08-26-2015   #7
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If you are looking for that beautiful look that prints made in the '30s have, it is going to require use of lenses with a little more flare, simple coatings, and more importantly printing that highlights the lower contrast you want.

Low contrast papers, toning, etc are still available. But all "modern" lenses are going to be very similar in contrast due to coatings, sharpness of course will vary and does overlap what the eye sees as contrast.

I am always amazed about how the style of printing has changed, when I go to a museum like MoMA (NYC) where so many years of photo history are all in the same room.

If you cannot do it yourself, there are pro printers who can do beautiful work.
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Old 08-26-2015   #8
btgc
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Thin layer of vaseline over lens will drop contrast and deliver moody look. It's reversible mod. And costs pennies.
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Old 08-26-2015   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsrockit View Post
A little larger, but Leica CL? Maybe too similar but the Olympus XA and lower contrast film?
Actually what I had was the XA not the XA2. Still don't think they're what I'd call contrasty.

I currently own my second CL. The one I bought new in the 70's had meter problems and the one I bought last year has meter problems. The meters in the are very problematic so if you buy one be prepared to use an external meter. It's my understanding meter parts are no longer available.

You didn't give much information about what you're doing. Color negative film has gotten more and more contrasty over the years. For some reason people equate contrast with sharpness and manufactures have pushed up contrast and saturation to appeal to the masses. Color papers also have gotten more and more contrasty to the point I think they're unpleasant looking.

B&W film is another matter. Color is processed to a specific specification where as B&W processes can be altered dramatically to adjust for contrast. Different films and developers have different contrast characteristics. Kentmere films are very contrasty as per recommended development IMO and Ilford and Fuji are lower contrast. It all depends on your technique or the person processing, developer and scanning or printing.

If you're finding your images too contrasty it's most likely not your lens but rather film, development, printing or scanning. The cameras you mention are not known for contrasty lenses. I can't remember a vintage lens I would call particularly contrasty. Consumers keep crying for contrasty lenses now without understanding what they're asking for and the manufacturers respond sometimes. IMO some of the new Leica glass and CV glass have gotten to the point they look artificial and plastic. High contrast isn't always desirable. If you live in an area where it's overcast most of the time then contrast is fine but if you live in the south west then you won't like contrasty lenses. Be careful what you wish for.
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Old 08-26-2015   #10
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Another option is a canon or leica screwmount body.
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Old 08-26-2015   #11
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Thanks for the suggestions all.

The Tenax now has me curious about something I didn't even know I wanted! I love the square format on my Hasselblad so I'm intrigued!

I'll definitely look at the two Tessar cameras.

I take the point that film and printing have a lot to do with it. However, my main 35mm camera is a FED-2 with a Jupiter 12 and when comparing that lens with these cameras using identical film, taken at the same time and processed at the same time, there was a marked difference.

Colour film and paper has definitely changed in the last 15 years. I used to work at a Kodak lab and mostly was dealing with Kodak Gold film and Kodak Royal paper optically printed. I think that modern laser printing onto optical paper may have a lot to do with it. I actually went out of my way to find somewhere that prints onto Kodak paper rather than Crystal Archive because I find the latter pretty horrendous looking.

The FED and J-12 is already a pretty small combination that I like, I just have a hankering for one of these fixed lens rangefinders.
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Old 08-26-2015   #12
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You might consider a late model Kodak Retina. They'll be RFs with uncoupled meters and either Schneider or Rodenstock 50mm lenses lenses. They're not super small, but are folders so they store very compactly.

Alternately, a Leica CL (match needle metering) or Minolta CLE (aperture priority auto w/ manual) and an 35mm Summaron, M-mount or adapted LTM, or other '50s vintage lens.
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Old 08-26-2015   #13
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Here is no cheap substitute if you are after Zeiss, Leica character in images.

I was never impressed with XA lens. Next to No-Name lens.
Rollei 35 simple Tessar single coated 40mm lens was more impressive and Minox 35, first version of its lens is amazing.
But if you can't deal with scale focusing even at 35mm, skip all "like" Leica-Zeiss, where is none and get what jsrockit recommended first.
CL with Leica or Zeiss will give it all to you.
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Old 08-26-2015   #14
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Take a look down the page to the info on the XA2. The lens is basically a 4 element Tessar. Your Hasselblad lenses will be much more contrasty than the Tessar. There's something wrong with your processing, film or scanning / printing. Tessar lenses aren't known for contrast. I've used Tessar and Xenar's for fifty years and never seen one that was particularly contrasty.
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Old 08-26-2015   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btgc View Post
Thin layer of vaseline over lens will drop contrast and deliver moody look. It's reversible mod. And costs pennies.
Nose grease is even cheaper.
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Old 08-26-2015   #16
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Minolta CLE. Tiny, interchangeable Leica M mount lenses (which are tiny). Auto exposure + manual.

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Contax T2
Old 08-26-2015   #17
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Contax T2

I had one of these. The lens was stunning. Have more than 1 12x18 framed on the wall from this camera.

Yes it's not a 'rangefinder,' but has manual focus that never let me down
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Old 08-26-2015   #18
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Yashica GX or CCN will be small, probably more punchy and contrasty than you seek, but they have great lenses, tiny body, true RF, and auto-exposure (aperture-prefered). GX is 40mm, CCN is 35mm, both f/1.8.

I like my GX very much.
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Old 08-26-2015   #19
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I'm with x-ray on this one - the problem is most likely in another part (processing, scanning, printing) of the OP's process. The XA is perfectly capable of low-contrast results with a vintage flavor...

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Old 08-26-2015   #20
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Minolta Minoltina AL-S.
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Old 08-26-2015   #21
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Hi,

Much as I like the Jupiter-12 I don't think it could be described as a contrasty lens and so more modern ones will look contrasty beside it.

BTW, I did a series of test of the XA and Leica Summaron (both lenses are 35mm and f/2.8) side by side with the same film, processing etc and I can't say I noticed much difference.

Regards, David
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Old 08-26-2015   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Minolta CLE. Tiny, interchangeable Leica M mount lenses (which are tiny). Auto exposure + manual.

It looks sexy with that 90mm.
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Old 08-26-2015   #23
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Rollei XF 35, it has a Sonnar lens.

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Old 08-26-2015   #24
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https://www.cameraquest.com/com35s.htm

Stephen's page on compact RFs. (Raise your hand if you have NOT ever visited this page, all.)

Almost as small as anything mentioned, and usually in great shape, is the Hexar RF. Especially with a pancake 35 Skopar. The Retina II's fold into your pocket, but are 50mm and a bit squinty.

I'll go further left afield (to the halcyon days of the GDR!) to applaud Werra. I've had a decent Werramatic and now have a wonderful Werra III. Great VF, reliable meter, Zeiss 50 2.8 Tessar, and the coolest cocking mechanism ever. Too bad the RFF gallery doesn't allow searches for Werra as brand, but you can find a few Werramatic images. I'll also plug the Baldamatic, a sweet little 60s RF with a 45 2.8 tessar-like Baldanar--and let others chime in with their fave 50s-60s German compacts...
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Old 08-26-2015   #25
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Yashica GX. 40mm f1.7

DX coated Yashinon is perfect contrast for B+W film.
AE with a pair of modern Silver 1.5v batteries.

It's inexpensive and seriously a nice tiny machine.
I have a silver and Black one. Gave a black on to my Niece that I bought here for $75 lat spring.
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Old 08-26-2015   #26
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Another vote for Retinas. Especially a IIa with a Heligon.

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Old 08-26-2015   #27
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The Xa's lens is a lot different than the XA2's which has more contrast than almost anything.
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Old 08-26-2015   #28
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Contax T. I have the T2 with the same lens.

Contrast is matter of taste and processing. If you shoot b&w, the choice of film, developer, scanning technique etc have more influence than lens.

Quote:
Originally Posted by lrochfort View Post
Hello all,

Over the past couple of years I've owned a Minolta 7SII and an Olympus XA2 in an effort to find a small camera. Unfortunately I don't like the images from those lenses, I find them too contrasty and and "harsh". I also realised I don't like zone focus cameras.

Could you please suggest small rangefinders with lenses that produce results similar to Zeiss and Leitz lenses? Ideally around 35mm focal length. A built-in meter and maybe some auto-exposure would be helpful, but not at all essential. Definitely rangefinders though, no zone focusing.

I suppose I'm looking for a Rollei 35 with a rangefinder and aperture priority auto-exposure!! And a partridge in a pear tree.

Thanks all!
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Old 08-28-2015   #29
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Contax T is a high quality rangefinder that fits comfortably in a shirt pocket. If you cannot find one or it is priced to rich for your blood (both are a distinct possibility.) then the Retina IIa is the way to go.
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Old 08-28-2015   #30
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The Werra III is about the same size as any 70s RF, but has a much longer effective base length. Normally comes with a Zeiss 50mm Tessar 2.8 which has quite low contrast and old school coatings. Is actually interchangeable in spite of it having a leaf shutter but the other lenses are rare and expensive. Very underrated camera that IMO has a build quality actually better than the Rollei 35. Some versions come with a selenium light meter, but all are fully manual I'm afraid and are a little quirky in operation.

Honestly I think the Leica/Zeiss look is a bit of a myth, I would look at lenses individually rather than basing decisions on brand name alone. I have a great condition Canon QL17 GIII that goes toe to toe with my Zeiss and Rollei lenses, just with a touch lower contrast. I would say that any 70's RF would make a good choice and giving results practically indistinguishable from far more expensive kits (and often with more features at a smaller size) providing it is in good condition.
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Old 08-28-2015   #31
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Hi,

I think a lot of the old lens myths are probably based on various peoples' interpretation of the meter reading; the age and condition of the lens; development and printing and so on. All highly variable and liable to affect the results.

I often wonder what state older lenses are in when photo's showing "the look" are put up on forums. Given the number of people who believe that top of the range models from top makers don't need any maintenance, I wonder what would happen if their lenses and cameras were serviced by the factory and restored to the original specification...

Just my 2d worth.

Regards, David
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Old 08-28-2015   #32
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A 3rd vote for the Contax T. Has a Zeiss Sonnar 38mm F2.8 lens, Aperture priority, RF focus, metal body, and lens that fold into body. It was the "Rolls Royce" of compact cameras when it came out in the mid-1980s.

Check Dante Stella's excellent review.
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Old 08-28-2015   #33
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Very small - I will second the Olympus 35RC.

Small - again, got to go with the Minolta CLE and the tiny 40m Rokkor-M. You will not find a better baby Leica. Plenty of cheap Canon/CV screw and M lenses to add wider or smaller focal lengths (28mm and 90mm being ideal).

I use both as travel cameras regularly.

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Old 06-10-2016   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrochfort View Post
Hello all,

Over the past couple of years I've owned a Minolta 7SII and an Olympus XA2 in an effort to find a small camera. Unfortunately I don't like the images from those lenses, I find them too contrasty and and "harsh". I also realised I don't like zone focus cameras.

Could you please suggest small rangefinders with lenses that produce results similar to Zeiss and Leitz lenses? Ideally around 35mm focal length. A built-in meter and maybe some auto-exposure would be helpful, but not at all essential. Definitely rangefinders though, no zone focusing.

I suppose I'm looking for a Rollei 35 with a rangefinder and aperture priority auto-exposure!! And a partridge in a pear tree.

Thanks all!
You will have to define what you mean with "similar to Zeiss and Leitz". I mean, what look do you want. By the way, not everyone believes that Zeiss and Leitz made the best lenses of all time, i would say that Agfa and Schneider did some impressive lenses; in america Kodak made some really really really good lenses and japan has lots of legendary lenses.

If you want results that are not "harsh" you will have to define if you want high resolution with low contrast or if you are looking for smooth bokeh.

Many of the 35mm fixed lens rangefinders have excellent lenses, but their qualities differ.

What i'd say it's a yardstick would be the lens on the Yashica Electro 35 series, the 45/1.7 Yashinon-DX. Maybe not the best, but a good benchmark.

As for the Rollei 35, it is an overrated ergonomic nightmare. I was glad to sell my german-made zeiss-equipped Rollei 35 to a collector. There are many better cameras than it for actual shooting.

As for the Oly XA, the lens was always going to be compromised in some way or another due to the requirements of making it too compact.
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Old 06-10-2016   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nongfuspring View Post
The Werra III is about the same size as any 70s RF, but has a much longer effective base length. Normally comes with a Zeiss 50mm Tessar 2.8 which has quite low contrast and old school coatings. Is actually interchangeable in spite of it having a leaf shutter but the other lenses are rare and expensive. Very underrated camera that IMO has a build quality actually better than the Rollei 35. Some versions come with a selenium light meter, but all are fully manual I'm afraid and are a little quirky in operation.
This. The Werra 3 is a good alternative to the Rollei 35. Another would be the Minox 35 series, although they are a bit delicate.

Actually i didn't find the Rollei 35 build quality "high"; i was expecting better build quality from a Rollei camera -- Rollei i consider the best of all the german makers in terms of build quality. The vitomatic cameras have higher build quality, as well as the german Kodak cameras.
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Konica Auto S2
Old 08-01-2016   #36
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Konica Auto S2

I post a thread couple year ago, to get input from RFF member.

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ghlight=Konica

I bought Konica Auto S2, love it. The Hexanon on S2 is amazing lens.

I bought the S3 as well, this camera has same lens but smaller body.

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Old 08-01-2016   #37
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Konica Hexar AF, the 35mm f2 is stunning and nearly identical to teh Leica f2 summicron (v.IV).

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Old 08-02-2016   #38
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Rioch 500GX or Chinon 35eeII - both about the same size as the Oly RC, metered manual and shutter or aperture priority respectively. Cheap as chips. I always found these both produced relatively muted colours and lovely tones with fast film indoors.
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Old 08-02-2016   #39
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Second the Hexar AF.

My copy is dead but will convert the lens to M.

AF is dead accurate but only 1/250 top speed means ND filter.
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Old 08-02-2016   #40
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What you need is an Industar 26m lens mounted on a Fed 2 or an early Zorki 4.
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