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Fixed Lens 35mm RF This forum is dedicated to the numerous and popular fixed lens rangefinders, including but not limited to the Canon Canonets, Konica III and S series, Minoltas, Ricohs, Vivitars, and so many others. Note fixed lens Olympus , Yashicas, Argus and Retina have separate forums.

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A Rugged Fixed Lens RF, Opinions Please
Old 10-12-2016   #1
bayernfan
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A Rugged Fixed Lens RF, Opinions Please

As the title states, seeking a rugged fixed lens 35mm rangefinder to use with little regard for wear and tear.

Requirements:
1. Fully manual operation, (MIGHT consider shutter-speed priority)
2. Very durable (can sustain some light knocks here and there)
3. A good to excellent lens. 28mm to 40mm, f/2.8 or faster
4. A relatively high eye-point (can see all frame-lines with glasses)
5. If not mechanical, uses modern (non-mercury) batteries

Let me know what you recommend!
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Old 10-12-2016   #2
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I suggest a Nikonos II or III, fitted (sorry, it is not a fixed lens) with the superb Nikkor 35mm f2.5.
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Old 10-12-2016   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayernfan View Post
As the title states, seeking a rugged fixed lens 35mm rangefinder to use with little regard for wear and tear.

Requirements:
1. Fully manual operation, (MIGHT consider shutter-speed priority)
2. Will more than likely survive a 4ft drop onto concrete.
3. A good to excellent lens. 28mm to 40mm, f/2.8 or faster
4. A relatively high eye-point (can see all frame-lines with glasses)
5. If not mechanical, uses modern (non-mercury) batteries

Let me know what you recommend!
I don't know of any 35mm RF cameras that fit that bill. Especially surviving a drop and the RF not being out of whack afterwards.

But I do know of one interchangeable 35mm zone focusing camera that easily does apart from having an RF. The Nikonos V. Auto + manual operation with a manual speed for battery less use. Best high eye point VF ever, that is over the lens axis. Incredible zone focusing scales. Indestructible. Seriously, I took a major fall with mine while skateboarding and it did nothing to the camera.
Waterproof so you can use it in the rain etc. Also dustproof. The standard 35mm lens is excellent. Uses modern batteries.

Also, it's cheap! About $150 in excellent condition w/ lens.

Available in orange or green:





I prefer the second one as nothing rhymes with the first one.
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Old 10-12-2016   #4
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Funny - 1st two replies mention the Nikonos!

FYI I'm not selling mine in case it seems like an ad.
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Old 10-12-2016   #5
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+1 for the Nikonos. IMHO no other should fit you guidelines.
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Old 10-12-2016   #6
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Also, take a look at Olympus Tough. Not sure if it will suit you and if it will survive a 4ft fall tough.
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Old 10-12-2016   #7
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That's a tough list. Not sure anything ticks them all.
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Old 10-12-2016   #8
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Has anyone recommended Nikonos yet

No more rain, sand or sea spray concerns.

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Old 10-12-2016   #9
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Fujica HD-1 meets everything but the rangefinder part.
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Old 10-12-2016   #10
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Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far. The nikonos is indeed a cool camera, but i'm leaning towards something a bit more discreet. I'd also like to have a rangefinder. Is there a traditional fixed lens rangefinder that stands above the rest in terms of durability?
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Old 10-12-2016   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greyscale View Post
Fujica HD-1 meets everything but the rangefinder part.

Doesn't seem to have any manual exposure control and has a teeeny weeeny little VF. The VF on the Nikons looks about 10 times as large.
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Old 10-12-2016   #12
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I try not to test mine with four foot drops onto concrete. I would suggest deleting this requirement...there is little practical difference in build quality with most fixed lens RFs. Some have known issues that might need addressing such as the sticky shutter issue on the Oly 35RD.

Older cameras can be retrofitted in many ways for modern batteries, also.

I don't wear glasses so have no input in that regard.

Regarding manual operation: metered or is unmetered acceptable?
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Old 10-12-2016   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayernfan View Post
Thanks everyone for the suggestions so far. The nikonos is indeed a cool camera, but i'm leaning towards something a bit more discreet. I'd also like to have a rangefinder. Is there a traditional fixed lens rangefinder that stands above the rest in terms of durability?
Also.. The shutter on the Nikonos is the quietest out of any non leaf shutter film camera that I have used. The thick metal body muffles everything. So it makes it discrete in that way, and some paint and/or tape can disguise the rest...

But good luck with finding an RF camera that can survive drops onto concrete and still be able to focus correctly etc. I am curious as to the suggestions.
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Old 10-12-2016   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
I try not to test mine with four foot drops onto concrete. I would suggest deleting this requirement...there is little practical difference in build quality with most fixed lens RFs. Some have known issues that might need addressing such as the sticky shutter issue on the Oly 35RD.

Older cameras can be retrofitted in many ways for modern batteries, also.

I don't wear glasses so have no input in that regard.

Regarding manual operation: metered or is unmetered acceptable?
yes, i suppose will need to relax the four foot drop requirement.

unmetered is completely acceptable. i use an M2 and M4 every day without a meter.
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Old 10-12-2016   #15
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I recommend not dropping it 4 feet onto concrete.

Now I recommend any of the fixed lens RF's, the Canon QL17, but I'm not that up to speed on alternatives.

I'd also recommend a strap of some sort, it'll help with the not dropping the camera problem.

EDIT: Just saw your last post, why not just a 40 summicron or the canon ltm 2/35 for your M2 or M4? Both excellent lenses. You're not really gaining anything by going to a fixed lens.
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Old 10-12-2016   #16
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looking for something i don't have treat nicely. the Ms are too nice to beat on or use in crazy weather. funny enough, i own a 40 m-rokkor and canon 35/2.
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Old 10-12-2016   #17
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Had been looking for a "rugged rangefinder" as well...but such segment doesn't seem to exist before the AF age.

Camera bodies can be built rock solid but the rangefinders inside generally don't like knocks, even light ones. The mechanism easily pops out of adjustment. The SLRs are much better in terms of reliability - heavy as bricks too.

For my multi-day hikes in recent years (this summer it was 3 weeks in Newfoundland) I had to make do with an Olympus mju2. 35/2.8, Splash and shock proof, very light. For the 200+ rolls exposed it performed well enough.
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Old 10-12-2016   #18
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Wink

I don't think there's anything that fits even the reduced criteria, especially the combination of rugged/rf. But if the scale focus Nikonos gets consideration for its ruggedness, why not a Rollei 35t/s where you can essentially palm the whole camera if you slip and break your arm instead of it?

I'll also mention the Olympus XA with its protective clamshell, and the Minox clamshells, and why not investigate some of the earlier metalbodied clamshell fixed lens RFs that are usually inexpensive? Though if the desire is for ruggedness in the shooting mode, some of those lens doors are probably easily bent...
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Old 10-12-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhl-oregon View Post
I don't think there's anything that fits even the reduced criteria, especially the combination of rugged/rf. But if the scale focus Nikonos gets consideration for its ruggedness, why not a Rollei 35t/s where you can essentially palm the whole camera if you slip and break your arm instead of it?

I'll also mention the Olympus XA with its protective clamshell, and the Minox clamshells, and why not investigate some of the earlier metalbodied clamshell fixed lens RFs that are usually inexpensive? Though if the desire is for ruggedness in the shooting mode, some of those lens doors are probably easily bent...
Rollei 35t/s are scale focus not rf, but great cameras and good idea. minox may be the best bet.
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Old 10-12-2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayernfan View Post
As the title states, seeking a rugged fixed lens 35mm rangefinder to use with little regard for wear and tear.

Requirements:
1. Fully manual operation, (MIGHT consider shutter-speed priority)
2. Very durable (can sustain some light knocks here and there)
3. A good to excellent lens. 28mm to 40mm, f/2.8 or faster
4. A relatively high eye-point (can see all frame-lines with glasses)
5. If not mechanical, uses modern (non-mercury) batteries

Let me know what you recommend!
Bolsey B2.
1: Fully mechanical.
2: Very durable, body is cast aluminum and about as solid as anything ever made (disassemble one, it's pretty impressive).
3: 3.2/44mm, not quite to your specifications, and not really that great, buy hey.
4: Can be used with glasses, just checked mine.
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Old 10-12-2016   #21
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Canonet QL17. Probably the most robustly built fixed lens RF. Don't know about glasses but the viewfinder is tops, with parallax correction unlike most others.

I have a few of these, some not so gently used. Pretty much all of them cleaned up and work great. Cameras of this era will usually need seals if you don't buy one that's already serviced. I set mine up to use 1.5v silver oxides.
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Old 10-12-2016   #22
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Does it have to be a rangefinder? If not, one of the tough mid-80s slrs such as an F3 with pancake 50mm might do the job.
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Old 10-13-2016   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bayernfan View Post
looking for something i don't have treat nicely. the Ms are too nice to beat on or use in crazy weather. funny enough, i own a 40 m-rokkor and canon 35/2.
A used Bessa then will be less "pretty" than your Ms, and fits the criteria. You could even get 40mm framelines, or a screw mount for the canon.
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Old 10-13-2016   #24
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Well, the Olympus XA might be somewhat close - no manual mode, though, and very low eyepoint. And while it is fairly resilient to knocks, many have failing electronics after all these years...
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Old 10-13-2016   #25
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olympus 35rc, I've used mine since 89 and it still works
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Old 10-13-2016   #26
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I put on some sunglasses and can see just outside the framelines on the QL17.

Love the 35RC, 35SP and 35RD also, but haven't checked those viewfinders yet. Later today...
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Old 10-13-2016   #27
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With glasses on! I cannot even use my M4-2 with glasses on. Hard enough with glasses off to put my eye close enough to see the whole 35mm frame. With 35mm RF and a slightly wide lens I 'see' a frame hanging in mid air around the the subject, after a quick peak in the VF.
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Old 10-13-2016   #28
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this is the camera you want



might not look like much, but the Zuiko on the half frame is very capable







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Old 10-13-2016   #29
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I try to protect my cameras in use as I am sure everyone does. My Canon QL 17 has held up well as has my Olympus XA. Some have complained about the RF image, and on my XA the RF image seems a little off center, but knowing that, it is easy to use. With glasses, I can't compare either since I don't wear glasses for photography, only reading. The XA can be useful for its 35mm lens, and I think the XA3 has a 28mm lens.
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Old 10-13-2016   #30
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35RC: can see the entire frameline with my sunglasses (these don't fit very close to my face so it's probably a worst-case test)

35SP: have to move the eyeball around or reposition to see the entire frameline
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Old 10-13-2016   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zuikologist View Post
Does it have to be a rangefinder? If not, one of the tough mid-80s slrs such as an F3 with pancake 50mm might do the job.
I use a F3 with the 45/2.8P AIS.

The 45/2.8P is a simple Tessar and works great on a F2 also with DE-1 prism. There are no "Rabbit Ears" so for use on a F2 or "F" the eye level prism is the way to go.

The F2 with DE-1 is actually slighty smaller in (I forget) width or height than a M-body if you discount the small hump of the eye level prism.

Also another compact lens to consider is the highly regarded 28/2.8 AIS that can be found for under $300.00. It offers compactness, and a macro like close focusing of one foot with CRC, and is Nikon's most highly corrected lenses.

The F, F2 and F3 are all on the cheap and are known for legendary durability. In my case I use a F3P and F3 HP as my "throw away" camera that I would use for street fighting.

A Nikon allows for flexability: a wide and a normal.

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Old 10-13-2016   #32
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RFs are not rugged. They are somewhat fragile.

I don't know what the OP expects there to be, but this thread has given me Nikonos V GAS.
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Old 10-13-2016   #33
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The Contax T (original RF model, not the AF T2, T3 or TVS) is pretty tough, but it won't handle a fall.

The Olympus Mju / Stylus Epic is probably the best bet: fairly robust, and inexpensive to replace.
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Old 10-13-2016   #34
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I don't know what the OP expects there to be, but this thread has given me Nikonos V GAS.
Me too.

All I need is a Nikonos with an amphibious 28mm lens.

As far as Rangefinders go maybe consider a MD or MD2 like I have and go with an ultrawide like a 21 SEM or 24/3.8 Elmar.

On my MD2 I currently have a black Canon 28/3.5 that has the distance scale marked in feet only. The way I use it is at either F5.6 or F8.0 with Tri-X at 800 ISO. I currently use a Zeiss 25/28 VF'er that offers a mucho bright view. Scale focus, Zone focus and use as a point and shoot.

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Old 10-13-2016   #35
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this is the camera you want



might not look like much, but the Zuiko on the half frame is very capable







The Pen "F" is a very capable camera. Very discreet.

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Old 10-13-2016   #36
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How often you are getting knocked to your chest? Use camera bag, not hipster bag to carry on camera in it. Use neck stripe to use camera. Slide it on the side or on the back if it is going to be rough.
Or get Oly XA. It is true RF (just have to find one with fine RF patch) and very small, easy to be protected.

Personally, for though and rough I prefer Konica-Off road camera. Which was specifically designed for off-road, construction sites use. It looks like slightly large classic fixed lens film P&S.
Mine has grey color body. Using available at regular stores battery.
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Old 10-13-2016   #37
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The toughness of true rangefinder cameras will be limited by the very focusing system from which they get their name.

The toughest is probably the old Contax II rangefinder. Even better would probably be a Kiev 4, since the rangefinder design used in those cameras was probably a little more resistant to damage from small dings and or drops. Maybe not 4 foot drops but the Contax II (the predecessor of the Kiev) was regularly used by photojournalists back in their hey day. Kiev 4 cameras are a Russian version of the Contax and they are far cheaper to buy in usable condition.

I have used a number of the old metal, mechanical slr cameras that could absorb quite a bit of punishment, but when traveling, hiking, skiing or boating it may make just as much sense to just pack an inexpensive camera that can easily be replaced if they succumb to the abuse.

I currently use the GA645i for hiking because I prefer the 6x4.5 negative to 35mm. I know it has worked quite well in hiking situatioins including cold weather (keep the batteries warm), snow, rain, dust/dirt, etc. It is fixed lens and it works in a similar fashion to a rangefinder. I have not yet taken it to the beach so I'm not too sure how well it would work in that environment. It is also not as inexpensive to replace as the older metal slr cameras or the Kiev would be.
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Old 10-13-2016   #38
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Quote:
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The toughness of true rangefinder cameras will be limited by the very focusing system from which they get their name.

The toughest is probably the old Contax II rangefinder. Even better would probably be a Kiev 4, since the rangefinder design used in those cameras was probably a little more resistant to damage from small dings and or drops. Maybe not 4 foot drops but the Contax II (the predecessor of the Kiev) was regularly used by photojournalists back in their hey day. Kiev 4 cameras are a Russian version of the Contax and they are far cheaper to buy in usable condition.
Not sure if it's toughest, but I must say, my Kiev 4a seems to be a tank. Haven't tried bashing it around, but I bet it could be used as a weapon at least as effectively as my Nikon F2 / F5.. Have been trying to sell one actually, now that I found a earlier copy to keep. But there doesn't seem to be too much markets for these anymore. Then again, it's not fixed lens camera, so bit out of the OP:s needs.
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Old 10-13-2016   #39
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An alternative approach (though not my favorite) is to find a low cost fixed lens camera and by a half dozen of them.

When you get to two left working buy another half dozen (odds are at a lower cost then).

Rinse and repeat........

B2 (;->
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Old 10-13-2016   #40
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How about a WWII gun camera?

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