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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.

View Poll Results: Which Fixed Lens Rangefinder has the best viewfinder?
Olympus 35SP 75 7.33%
Olympus 35RC 52 5.08%
Olympus 35RD 18 1.76%
Olympus XA 49 4.79%
Minolta 7s 27 2.64%
Minolta 7sII 34 3.32%
Canon QL17 GIII 194 18.96%
Konica Hexar fixed lens 195 19.06%
Konica S3 45 4.40%
Yashica GSN 158 15.44%
Other 176 17.20%
Voters: 1023. You may not vote on this poll

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Best fixed lens RF viewfinder?
Old 06-08-2006   #1
Chuck A
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Best fixed lens RF viewfinder?

Hi All.

I haven't tried very many of the fixed lens rangefinders and I am interested in trying some of the others. I have tried the Oly SP and RC. While neither of them were impressive the SP was definitely better.

While I don't expect any of them to have a viewfinder like a Leica M, I am interested in you opinions on which ones have the best viewfinder. I am interested in clarity, focusing speed and useability. I have included a list of the ones that I am interested in but I am sure that there will be others. If you have another just vote for other and explain it in a message.

I am sure that others would benefit from your experience. Thanks in advance.
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Last edited by Chuck A : 06-08-2006 at 14:51.
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Old 06-08-2006   #2
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EDIT: Oops. Misread your question. The Hexar probably has the best VF on that list.




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Old 06-08-2006   #3
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Are these comparable at all? The Hexar is about a hundred times larger than the XA, no wonder it has a better finder. The XA's finder is actually quite amazing for its size, if you get one with a contrasty rangefinder patch.

Philipp
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Old 06-08-2006   #4
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I have a few of these, and leaving finder magnification aside, I find the easiest to use are those with a clear and contrasty rf portion.

I have found that the better ones I have (QL17, Konica C35) have a frosted glass illumination window. The worse ones have a translucent corrugated plastic piece to illuminate the framelines/rf. (Minolta 7SII, Oly 35RC)

I have cleaned the viewfinders on all of mine, the Canonet ( which got my vote) when clean is really pretty good, the Minolta looked great without the topplate (and its plastic piece) on, but as soon as its back together its back to 35RC standard, which itself is not great, but I love its size and handling.

Of course none are up to Leica standard, and if dirty all are low contrast and flarey.

EDIT: Never seen through the Hexar RF, but I would expect it to be good, its in a different price range to the others you posted!

Last edited by ben lloyd : 06-08-2006 at 16:00.
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Old 06-08-2006   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd
Are these comparable at all? The Hexar is about a hundred times larger than the XA, no wonder it has a better finder. The XA's finder is actually quite amazing for its size, if you get one with a contrasty rangefinder patch.

Philipp
I probably shouldn't have included the Hexar here. I have never seen one and didn't realize it might be in a different class from the others.

It has been a long time since I have seen an XA. I didn't remember the VF being any good, but that was 25 years ago. I would love to see one now.
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Old 06-08-2006   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben lloyd
I have a few of these, and leaving finder magnification aside, I find the easiest to use are those with a clear and contrasty rf portion.

I have found that the better ones I have (QL17, Konica C35) have a frosted glass illumination window. The worse ones have a translucent corrugated plastic piece to illuminate the framelines/rf. (Minolta 7SII, Oly 35RC)
I didn't know this. It is a good tip. I was thinking about getting a 7sII to see if the viewfinder was better than my RC. I may hold off on that now.
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Old 06-08-2006   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck A
I didn't know this. It is a good tip. I was thinking about getting a 7sII to see if the viewfinder was better than my RC. I may hold off on that now.
Just been looking through both, the 7SII is a little lower in vf mag (ie. everything appears smaller), but the rf image is ever so slightly more contrasty, and lacking the slight yellow tint of the 35RC, hope it helps.
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Old 06-08-2006   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben lloyd
Just been looking through both, the 7SII is a little lower in vf mag (ie. everything appears smaller), but the rf image is ever so slightly more contrasty, and lacking the slight yellow tint of the 35RC, hope it helps.
Sure does Ben. It is such a help to have you folks to get advice from. The rf patch on my RC seems pretty dim. I have trouble seeing it in low light. It was cleaned before I bought it but who knows if it was done correctly.

I really like the size and portability of the RC. I wish the vf was a bit better.
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Old 06-08-2006   #9
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OK, now I 've been squinting though them all one after the other.

VF mag: (there's not a huge amount between them but here you go...
Biggest>Lowest:
Canonet>35RC>7sII>Konica C35

Rf patch: subjective best to worst:
Canonet > C35 > 7sII > 35RC
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Old 06-08-2006   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ben lloyd
OK, now I 've been squinting though them all one after the other.

VF mag: (there's not a huge amount between them but here you go...
Biggest>Lowest:
Canonet>35RC>7sII>Konica C35

Rf patch: subjective best to worst:
Canonet > C35 > 7sII > 35RC
Thanks for the info and don't get a headache from all that squinting.
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Old 06-08-2006   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck A
I really like the size and portability of the RC. I wish the vf was a bit better.
I hear that!
On the street its prefocus and shoot, but I had a bad time trying to do low light gig photos with it once.

I'd love to know about others though, my samples may be duff ones of course, but I really shouldn't be looking for more 70s compact rfs!!!

Last edited by ben lloyd : 06-08-2006 at 16:29.
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Old 06-08-2006   #12
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For the most part the 70s rf are inexpensive and fun. (Unless you go for a Canonet in black, which seems to bring a fortune) They have their drawbacks though: No manual metering, small viewfinders, etc.

Mostly I like the sizes. Most of them are smaller than the current crop of rangefinders. Also, most of them are much quieter. The RC is whisper quiet. I have thought about getting a Bessa R,R2,R2A,R3A, for the better vf and metering but keep thinking I should wait. They are fairly large and are not all that quiet. The Leica Ms are almost as large but they are quieter. But they are pretty pricey. I really would eventually like to get an M6, but for now the 70s rangefinders will have to do. I do miss that M2 I sold many years ago.
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Old 06-08-2006   #13
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Many on your list have manual metering. Of those you've listed, I have the SP, C35, 7s, RC & XA. I'd rank them in roughly that order; I think the SP is great, but maybe that's because its what I use the most.
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Old 06-08-2006   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trius
Many on your list have manual metering. Of those you've listed, I have the SP, C35, 7s, RC & XA. I'd rank them in roughly that order; I think the SP is great, but maybe that's because its what I use the most.
While it had a nice viewfinder the SP that I had was quite a bit louder than my RC. Also, while it has manual metering it was always a pain to use. IMHO that is. Many people really like it.

What other have manual metering? I guess the Hexar probably does, which others?
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Old 06-08-2006   #15
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Man, have you guy's missed the boat! If you're talking FIXED lens RFs, consider Konica's Auto S2 for 35mm cameras or Fuji's 645 RFs for medium format. Why? Because in addition to auto parallax correction, the frame lines shrink to also correct for field size as you focus close up. I think the Konica Hexar AF also did this as well.
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Old 06-08-2006   #16
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Chuck: Yes, the SP shutter is louder, but that wasn't part of the original question/poll. As far as metering goes, the EV system on the SP is different, but if you get used to it, it's not a pain ... for me.

The RC, as I have used it, has manual metering. Some people don't believe it, and the manual doesn't mention it. But if you depress the shutter release half-way, voila. At least it has worked for me.

The 7s has manual metering. Again, it's EV system, so you may not like it.

awilder: Well, I've never had an S2, but would probably like it. From what I've read its size may not be to my taste, so the S3 might be preferable for me, though I'd lose manual metering.
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Old 06-08-2006   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awilder
Man, have you guy's missed the boat! If you're talking FIXED lens RFs, consider Konica's Auto S2 for 35mm cameras or Fuji's 645 RFs for medium format. Why? Because in addition to auto parallax correction, the frame lines shrink to also correct for field size as you focus close up. I think the Konica Hexar AF also did this as well.
I have been seriously looking at the Fujis since my Yashicamat bit the dust.
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Old 06-08-2006   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trius
Chuck: Yes, the SP shutter is louder, but that wasn't part of the original question/poll. As far as metering goes, the EV system on the SP is different, but if you get used to it, it's not a pain ... for me.
I know that some people don't mind it and I guess that is no more of a step than using a handheld meter.

Quote:
The RC, as I have used it, has manual metering. Some people don't believe it, and the manual doesn't mention it. But if you depress the shutter release half-way, voila. At least it has worked for me.
I don't understand. When I put my RC into manual mode and depress the shutter release halfway it just shows me the aperture and shutter speed that I have set. It doesn't meter correctly. As I change the aperture and ss it changes in the vf. Perhaps we are not meaning the same thing by manual metering. Let me know.

Quote:
The 7s has manual metering. Again, it's EV system, so you may not like it.
I have heard good things about this camera and may try one.

Anyway thanks for the reply.
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Old 06-09-2006   #19
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Chuck: I will pull out my RC and check; you may be correct.

PM on the way regarding the 7s.

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Old 06-09-2006   #20
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I think the GSNs, the hi-matics and the canonets are very close.

The hexar is better but you'd expect that for its price and size. It's a different category.
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Old 06-09-2006   #21
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My Hi-Matic 7s was definitely a lot better than the Yashicas (Minister & Electro 35 series).
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Old 06-09-2006   #22
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None of them are great, but the Olympus SP is pretty good for a fixed lens.

The lens is also pretty stellar
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Old 06-09-2006   #23
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Old 06-09-2006   #24
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What elements make for a bright viewfinder? My Canonets (QL17) are the best I have in that class but even they are very difficult to use in low light. My Lynx 14E, which I bought for low-light work, turned out to be almost impossible to use even after a CLA by Hama but I think it is because the patch itself is faded or something. The patches are so difficult to see in low light that my rangefinders are actually substantially slower in focusing than an SLR.

I've never even held a modern Leica so I'm not sure what the gold standard viewfinder actually looks like in practice but I was wondering why manufacturers didn't try to make the finders substantially larger and brighter with oversized windows and glowing patches or something. Were there any aftermarket solutions to increase brightness and contrast substantially?

These days I use the Hexar AF for inside clubs and such and have just skipped the squinting entirely.
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Old 06-09-2006   #25
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I've only used two of the cameras on your list, a Minolta Himatic 7s and an Olympus XA. I didn't vote because I don't know if either one is better than the rest on your list.

If you're planning on buying one, you can download free manuals here:
http://www.kyphoto.com/classics/instructionmanuals.html
or
http://www.butkus.org/chinon/
and research the features of each camera.

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Old 06-09-2006   #26
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I have 1/2 that list. Konica S2 is my choice, but beware that many have loose barrels.

The Bessa R VF is _much_ better.
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Old 06-09-2006   #27
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AFAIK the Olympus 35RC is unique among compact 35 rangefinders
in that it displays both aperture and shutter speed within the finder.
There's never a need to look away to change an exposure setting.

Viewfinder brightness and rangefinder are pretty good too, if serviced.

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Old 06-09-2006   #28
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Konica IIIa has big bright clear amazing 1:1 viewfinder with parallax correction. I don't think that "Konica Hexar" in the listing means this particular Konica.
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Old 06-09-2006   #29
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I was looking forward to trying out the camera that would win the vote for best VF, but I must admit I'm not familiar with "other".
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Old 06-09-2006   #30
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Of the ones I've owned, I find the Canonet QL17 GIII the best of the bunch -- better than the Oly 35RC I once had and better than my Yashica Electro 35. The rangefinder patch is easiest to see on the Canonet. All three are pretty good though.

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Old 06-10-2006   #31
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I just bought an Oly RD to try out and I may get a Canonet QL17 GIII as well. When the RD comes I will let you know if it is better than the RC. I think the Yashica is too large for me. For some reason I am really attracted to smaller. There are lots of votes for other but some didn't post to tell what camera they are voting for.

I guess in the end if I am looking for a really good vf I will have to go with a Leica or a Bessa. The fixed lens viewfinders are good but not in this class.

Just out of curiosity how does the CL compare to the viewfinders on the list? I haven't seen one for 20 years and I can't remember.
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Old 06-11-2006   #32
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I carry the Hi-Matic 9 with me everywhere I go. The viewfinder is a bit squinty to me, but not much worse than any other I've used (very bad eyesight and very thick glasses, so viewfinders in general are a problem). The VF is clearer and the focusing is easier than on the 7sii, which I also own (both been cleaned).

I'd say that the glass is better, as well, though I know that wasn't part of the original question.
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Old 06-11-2006   #33
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Just out of curiosity how does the CL compare to the viewfinders on the list? I haven't seen one for 20 years and I can't remember.


the finder on my cl is very bright and easily viewable.
i think it's brighter than the m3 i have.

joe
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Old 06-11-2006   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisPlatt
AFAIK the Olympus 35RC is unique among compact 35 rangefinders
in that it displays both aperture and shutter speed within the finder.
There's never a need to look away to change an exposure setting.

Viewfinder brightness and rangefinder are pretty good too, if serviced.

Chris
i had my original, to me, 35rc cla'd a few years ago and the finder brightened considerably.

joe
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Old 06-11-2006   #35
tkluck
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Owned or fiddeled with most on the list none compare with my Minox.
...and no problem with the RF patch (the chain works, even with pasta sauce on it)
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Old 06-11-2006   #36
Wimpler
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I don't want to sound like an ass, but why does everybody care that much about the viewfinder?

I have 2 minolta hi-matic 7s and 1 minolta hi-matic 7. They are my most used cameras. I have 25 rangefinders and probably 60+ cameras, so I think that does mean something.
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Old 06-11-2006   #37
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not so much that i care but the question was asked...
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Old 06-11-2006   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wimpler
I don't want to sound like an ass, but why does everybody care that much about the viewfinder?

I have 2 minolta hi-matic 7s and 1 minolta hi-matic 7. They are my most used cameras. I have 25 rangefinders and probably 60+ cameras, so I think that does mean something.
Why would someone care about the VF?

It makes shooting more pleasant when you can see things clearly. The difference between my old Fuji 35mm P&S and my RF645. . . enormous. I can't walk around with my eye in the viewfinder of the Fuji, but the RF645 is very easy on the eye. It makes composition, focusing, and just looking through the viewfinder more comfortable.
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Old 06-11-2006   #39
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Voigtlander Vitomatic- bright 1:1 w/ brightlines w/ an OK spot when cleaned. No paralax compensation, though.
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Old 06-11-2006   #40
Chuck A
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wimpler
I don't want to sound like an ass, but why does everybody care that much about the viewfinder?

I have 2 minolta hi-matic 7s and 1 minolta hi-matic 7. They are my most used cameras. I have 25 rangefinders and probably 60+ cameras, so I think that does mean something.
I asked because I am curious. A good viewfinder really makes the photo experience more fun for me. I know that the Leicas and Bessas have better viewfinders but I am curious whether these less expensive cameras have viewfinders that can come close.

I have an RC with a cleaned viewfinder and I am not totally happy with it. It is pretty good but not great. So I figured I would ask those who own the other fixed lens rf cameras to help compare the quality of the finders. Most of the fixed lens rf cameras are smaller and quieter than their larger cousins.

I didn't ask about these so that things wouldn't get too confusing. The other qualities of a camera that are important to me are shutter noise and size. These are 2 things that I love about the RC. The Bessas seem to fall short here, but I am only speculating as I have never handled one. I owned an M2 (sold it in a moment of weakness years ago.), but the RCs shutter is a whisper compared to the Leicas. I live in a small town pretty far from any large camera shops that might have rf vameras on hand. So I am relying on the good folks here to help.

Sorry for rambling. Have a lovely day.
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