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Recommendations for fully mechanical RF?
Old 01-18-2017   #1
Arbitrarium
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Recommendations for fully mechanical RF?

Hiya,

Any recommendations for a tough, small, fully mechanical rangefinder? I'm after something that I can have in my bag and never have to worry about it breaking or running out of batteries etc. Rangefinder not essential, zone is fine.

This would just be a backup camera, so don't go suggesting Leicas... under $100 please

Ta
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Old 01-18-2017   #2
Jake Mongey
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Canon Model 7 - mechanical, reliable, stainless steel shutter and a non electronic (selenium) meter also cheap
Can be quite big though
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Old 01-18-2017   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
Rigid or Folder?
I had a Voigtlander Vito IIa that was fun, but seized up and got progressively less fun.

The extra moving parts in a folder are asking for trouble, but I'd consider one. Not one of the Retinas where it has to be reset to infinity before you can close it though. Dreadful design flaw.
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Old 01-18-2017   #4
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Leica IIf is fully mechanical, with collapsible I-22, 50 it is small. And this kit doesn't cost more than 150$ today.
If you can follow instructions on Fedka for Zorki re-haul, you could get one under 50$, plus 25 for shutter cloth. This one will lasts forever with DIY CLA every five years.
Rollei 35 (the little brick) doesn't need batteries for picture taking and often considered as backup.
FrankS gave me once Akarette. This thing is all metal and small, but heavy.
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Old 01-18-2017   #5
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Oly Trip 35...
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Old 01-18-2017   #6
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Konica C35v. Zone focus, lovely lens (38mm f2.8). Looks like an rf. Very cheap, should be able to get one for $25, even on e bay. Not fully manual, though.
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Old 01-18-2017   #7
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Retina IIa?
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Old 01-18-2017   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arbitrarium View Post
Hiya,

Any recommendations for a tough, small, fully mechanical rangefinder? I'm after something that I can have in my bag and never have to worry about it breaking or running out of batteries etc. Rangefinder not essential, zone is fine.

This would just be a backup camera, so don't go suggesting Leicas... under $100 please

Ta
Olympus XA ?
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Old 01-18-2017   #9
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With a little patience you should be able to find a tidy Minoltina AL-S within your budget. Small, light, fantastic lens, and fully mechanical; and if you're really lucky the selenium meter will still work.
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Old 01-18-2017   #10
ray*j*gun
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Nikkormat since you said it didnt have to be an RF. They can be had for a song including a fine Pre Ai lens.
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Old 01-18-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arbitrarium View Post
I had a Voigtlander Vito IIa that was fun, but seized up and got progressively less fun.

The extra moving parts in a folder are asking for trouble, but I'd consider one. Not one of the Retinas where it has to be reset to infinity before you can close it though. Dreadful design flaw.

I don't think its a dreadful design flaw at all. Given the small size and quality of construction its a small effort to make.
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Old 01-18-2017   #12
benlees
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It's somewhat common for folders to have to be set to infinity before closing.
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Old 01-18-2017   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mabelsound View Post
Retina IIa?

Another vote for Retina IIa. Excellent sharp glass, cute retro look, reliable rugged build, small enough to carry on your pocket when folded, and, best of all, pretty cheap nowadays

A pleasure to use.

Regards.

Marcelo
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Old 01-18-2017   #14
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Quote:
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Another vote for Retina IIa. Excellent sharp glass, cute retro look, reliable rugged build, small enough to carry on your pocket when folded, and, best of all, pretty cheap nowadays

A pleasure to use.

Regards.

Marcelo
Never mind, didn't read your complain about Retina's. (Although I don't think reset to infinitum a particular flaw, mostly a folder requirement to keep the small size)

Would suggest Voigtlaner Vitessa T, Leica IIIf, or Olympus XA.


Regards.

Marcelo
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Old 01-18-2017   #15
David Hughes
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Hi,

No batteries means Olympus XA1 or Trip35. The XA1 needs 400 ASA film to get the best from it (and to fiddle +2 EV for back lit shots).

Tough rules out RF's as a knock can kill them for a while.

But my favourite pocket camera for dog walking, and getting knocked about, was the Olympus XA2 and mju-1 but both need batteries. Both are cheaper than they should be for the lens. XA2 is zone focus and mju-1 is AF.

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Old 01-18-2017   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arbitrarium View Post
Hiya,

Any recommendations for a tough, small, fully mechanical rangefinder? I'm after something that I can have in my bag and never have to worry about it breaking or running out of batteries etc. Rangefinder not essential, zone is fine.

This would just be a backup camera, so don't go suggesting Leicas... under $100 please

Ta
If you are ok with something super-basic but sturdy, a Ciro 35 or Bolsey B2 are practically indestructible, just keep them in their every-ready cases and throw them in your bag.

If the RF doesn't matter, then a Smena 8m kept in its case should fit the bill. I'd be worried about it outside of its case because the body is plastic and I must assume it could be cracked with a careless blow or other abuse. But it is simple and works.

Another small sturdy camera is an Exa (except the II), an M42 version should be plenty cheap.

Fed 2 and Zorki 6 would also fit the bill I think.
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Old 01-18-2017   #17
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A Leica II/IIIF is not an ideal choice (ignoring the OP said NO Leica) to bang around.

Also, idk where you get a 150$ Leica IIf that doesn't require another 120$ worth of servicing?

For 100$ I would likely buy a FED/Zorki from Oleg at Okvintagecamera.com

He repairs and services them, so your getting a looked over rig at FSU price.

If you want a fixed lens RF, there are literally a plethora, Ricoh 500ST can be used in "A" with batteries or just leave them out and select your own speed. Zone focus and takes the quirky and rare Ricoh Clockwork winder. I have one with the winder and it's fun albeit a little loud winding on.
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Old 01-18-2017   #18
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I would look at some of the Retina rangefinder cameras. The Retina IIIc can be found for not much money. Gorgeous cameras.
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Old 01-18-2017   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arbitrarium View Post
I had a Voigtlander Vito IIa that was fun, but seized up and got progressively less fun.

The extra moving parts in a folder are asking for trouble, but I'd consider one. Not one of the Retinas where it has to be reset to infinity before you can close it though. Dreadful design flaw.
The Welta Weltini resets itself as it is closed. They are relatively small, about bout like the Retinas I suppose, but no interchangeable lenses. The Weltini is heavier than the Welti because of the RF. Both the Weltini and the Welti are very pocketable, especially the Welti. Some of the Weltinis can be found with 50mm f/2 lenses, more common in f/2.8, and often in f/3.5. I have only seen f/3.5 in the Weltis, but they may also have come with faster lenses. Lenses I remember having seen are Zeiss, Schnieder/Krausnaut, Xenon and maybe a couple more. No batteries in either one.

Just like all the others mentioned here, I have no idea how to tell you to be sure you are getting a good one. But it you do, I am sure you will be happy. Worth a look.
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Old 01-18-2017   #20
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Olympus 35RC or olympus XA
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Old 01-18-2017   #21
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Yashica Electro 35 MC. It uses battery like the Oly XA though.
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Old 01-18-2017   #22
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Another vote for the Olympus XA2 or XA3. They are still fairly cheap, take great photos and are wonderfully compact. I have a piece of paper stuck to the back of mine showing the distances for the three scale focus settings. It's a nice quick reminder. I rarely have an out of focus shot now.
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Old 01-18-2017   #23
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You say zone-focus is OK? You want a findercam? small, light and durable?
For me that is the exact application for a little Rollei 35!
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Old 01-18-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-9 View Post
A Leica II/IIIF is not an ideal choice (ignoring the OP said NO Leica) to bang around.

Also, idk where you get a 150$ Leica IIf that doesn't require another 120$ worth of servicing?

For 100$ I would likely buy a FED/Zorki from Oleg at Okvintagecamera.com

He repairs and services them, so your getting a looked over rig at FSU price.

If you want a fixed lens RF, there are literally a plethora, Ricoh 500ST can be used in "A" with batteries or just leave them out and select your own speed. Zone focus and takes the quirky and rare Ricoh Clockwork winder. I have one with the winder and it's fun albeit a little loud winding on.
I'd second a FED/Zorki. Here's another website with a good rep: https://www.fedka.com/catalog/

I got a J8 from them I've been very happy with.
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Old 01-18-2017   #25
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Last week I saw a beater Rollei 35 (looks like it has been through Apocalypse) from a US seller on eBay with $200+ price tag.
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Old 01-18-2017   #26
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Zeiss Ikon Contessa (the later, rigid version from the 1960s) - 30 bucks for a fabulous Tessar lens
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Old 01-18-2017   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
Where do you find Rollei 35 that cheap?
Well on Ebay Germany there are plenty of Tessar Models in good condition sub 100. And in Europe prices are including all taxes... so its about the same as USD without Taxes...
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Old 01-18-2017   #28
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The OP asked for mechanical RF.

My suggestion would be the Konica Auto-S, the battery is only for the light meter. It is usually well below 100.
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Old 01-18-2017   #29
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I suppose would vouch for a FSU, being Fed2 or zorky 4.
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Old 01-19-2017   #30
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Cheers folks.

I'm liking the look of the Akarette, looks like it could be drop-kicked into the side of a bus and survive.

XA, C35, Trip 35 etc. all rely on some level of electronics so they're out.

I'll look into some of the Zeiss models and see what's smallest/toughest. If they've got a Pronto(r) shutter I'm comfortable in repairing a knackered one too so might be a good choice.

Thanks all
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Old 01-19-2017   #31
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One camera I'd like to own again in a better working copy (sold mine since the film advanced would jam occasionally) would be a Ricoh 500. Fully mechanical, no batteries, reasonably fast lens (though you could go with the Ricoh 519 for the f1.9 lens).

I'll put in my usual vote for something by Argus. The Argus C3 and C44 all have what you want and more, and at a reasonable price. They both have interchangeable lenses, so you can go wider to 35mm if you want. The C44 comes in knob wind and lever wind versions, and the lever wind isn't too much more. The body's made of metal vs the bakelite C3, so it's lighter and more drop resistant.
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Old 01-19-2017   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radi(c)al_cam View Post
Where do you find Rollei 35 that cheap?
I have bid on a few of them (perhaps just to see what all the fuss is about) and always get outbid - usually by quite a lot. Seems demand sure outpaces supply!
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Old 01-19-2017   #33
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Another vote for an Olympus 35RC.
Battery for meter only, can be operated as fully manual.
Compact. if you set it down next to a Rollei 35 it is not that much larger.
Set up for use; order from one of those HK vendors on ebay a 43.5mm to 43mm step down filter adapter. Then you will have a standard filter size easy to find filters, lens caps and hoods for. The adapter does not block the meter eye.
Usually can be found in good shape for less than $100 although you may have to replace light seal foam if thats never been done. Order a kit from Jon Goodman.
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Old 01-19-2017   #34
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I have a Retina 1a that has ridden in a flight bag for almost fifty years. It is a folder, occupies very little space, has a great Schneider lens and is totally mechanical. It lives on a diet of TRI-X or HP5. A viewfinder only camera so you have to estimate the distance or use the infinity rule. Last year it went to Chris Sherlock for a CLA and repairs and it is traveling with me again.

Last edited by thawkins : 01-19-2017 at 06:19. Reason: spelling
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Old 01-19-2017   #35
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For some reason I assumed the Olympus 35RC relied on electronics for the shutter. If it can be used battery-less I might consider one. People go berserk for them on the 'bay and prices are all over the place though.
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Old 01-19-2017   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arbitrarium View Post
Hiya,

Any recommendations for a tough, small, fully mechanical rangefinder? I'm after something that I can have in my bag and never have to worry about it breaking or running out of batteries etc. Rangefinder not essential, zone is fine.

This would just be a backup camera, so don't go suggesting Leicas... under $100 please

Ta
The price is pretty darn limiting. Many/most of the recommendations already given take you over this limit.
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Old 01-19-2017   #37
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For some reason I assumed the Olympus 35RC relied on electronics for the shutter. If it can be used battery-less I might consider one. People go berserk for them on the 'bay and prices are all over the place though.
The similar sized Olympus 35EC and 35EC2 are auto only and are, in my estimation not recommended. If the electronics fail they are useless lumps. The higher spec Olympus RD and SPn have 5 blade shutters that are prone to getting gummed up and are described by Olympus repair expert John Hermanson as "time pits" to clean and repair. The 35RC has a much simpler 2 blade shutter that is found working much more often.
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Old 01-19-2017   #38
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The similar sized Olympus 35EC and 35EC2 are auto only and are, in my estimation not recommended. If the electronics fail they are useless lumps. The higher spec Olympus RD and SPn have 5 blade shutters that are prone to getting gummed up and are described by Olympus repair expert John Hermanson as "time pits" to clean and repair. The 35RC has a much simpler 2 blade shutter that is found working much more often.
Aye, I've used an EC/ECR that I quite liked but need big horrible batteries and have a nasty shutter button. Also had a DC with everything dead. But yeah I've heard the RC is much more reliable. Hmmm
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Old 01-19-2017   #39
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Aye, I've used an EC/ECR that I quite liked but need big horrible batteries and have a nasty shutter button. Also had a DC with everything dead. But yeah I've heard the RC is much more reliable. Hmmm
Our very own Head Bartender, Stephen, has a write up on his Cameraquest site about various compact 35mm RF's including the 35RC. Good stuff, you should check it out if you haven't yet.
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Old 01-19-2017   #40
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Some great suggestions here already.

I'll second the suggestions for the Retina IIa or Zeiss Ikon Contina. The Contina's a little more fiddly to use, but both are sturdy, well made and feature great lenses. They're also small.

Similarly, you could do well with an Agfa Karat IV or Agfa Karat 36 (or an Ansco Karomat, which is a re-branded Karat 36). Again... well made and with great lenses.

I'll also second FSU cameras provided they come from a reputable source like Oleg or Fedka. A Zorki 4 or 6 with a collapsible 50mm industar or FED lens could fit the bill very nicely.

If you don't mind the larger size of fixed-lens Japanese RFs from the 50s, they're pretty much all good and all inexpensive. Konica III, for example, is a great camera. I have a Petri 1.9 Color Corrected Super (a $10 flea market find) that is absolutely fantastic.

Lastly, if you want to shoot 120, a Seagull 203 or an Iskra in good condition would make a great coat pocket camera. They can both be a little rough around the edges, but they're both small and they both take good pictures. For a step up in 120, look for a Konica Pearl III.

All of the above can be found for under $100 if you're patient.
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