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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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Petri Color 35
Old 02-24-2007   #81
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Petri Color 35

The distance scale in the viewfinder of the Petri Color 35 is
*much* easier to read than the average rangefinder patch.

Add to this match needle manual exposure set by controls
conveniently placed close together on the top deck, snazzy
retractable lens and truly pocketable size. It's a real winner!

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Best fixed lens RF viewfinder
Old 02-26-2007   #82
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Best fixed lens RF viewfinder

I can't attest to the validity of what has just been written about any but 2 of the aforementioned fixed lens RF cameras.
I used the Minolta hi-matic 7, the Canon ql 17 g111 and while the Canon has features I like. .. The best [for myself and many others] for brightness of VF, ease of focus as well as its uncanny accurate metering especially in very low light situations and quietness of shutter is the one camera that screams out by it's very ommission from this assessment and that's a pity. I can't imagine encountering brand snobbery from this august panel of photograhers. nooo.
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Old 02-26-2007   #83
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geezer, how about naming the toy instead of being suspicious about anything? There are so many choices... I had quite some of these cameras in my hand (and other fixed lens RFs) but e.g. never had any Olympus versions!
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Old 02-26-2007   #84
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Guess it was just a combimtion of the frustration of 7 hour computer crash, the late hour and my normal cranky disposition. I just read my reply and it was too barbed. My apologies to all.
Hmmmm now it's telling me tht my message is too short too post.
I may have to return when my all of my crankiness for the morning has been worked out in private. a few more cups of coffee will help.
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Old 02-26-2007   #85
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I'm guessing that geezer preferred the Minolta... I had a Himatic 7s and have to say, the vf is quite nice.
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Old 02-26-2007   #86
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My Hi-matic 9 is no slouch neither./..but lately the shutter acts funny. At least when a flash is attached.
I guess the flash-hating-rf-gods are punishing me
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Old 02-26-2007   #87
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Actually gang my preference is the Yashica 35 gsn. I did like the minolta hi-matic size and weight. The rokkor lens is no slouch either. The Canon ql17 g111 is nice with a great little lens and fits easily into a vest pocket but it's too small for my hands. I do like its little peg that aids in focus..
However, the size, weight, amazing metering, the quick focus ability, the quiet shutter all bring me to the 35gsn. For a fixed lens RF it's my personal favorite.
I can be a scant 4 feet away from a scene in a cafe or an outside event [even at night] shoot and no one hears a thing...often that scene required a long exposure. It has never disappointed me yet.
All of the camera's listed are good cameras and each has it's following..mine just happens to be the gsn.
I do own a nikon fe that i'll never part with but, still and yet, i carry the gsn almoct everywhere I go.
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Old 02-26-2007   #88
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The gsn is not ommitted from the list. It is right there, rightfully there.
I also like it very much. I had two but i sold one to a forum member - it's so reliable that i realized one is enough
So...
Now you really confused me.
What ommission were you talking about??
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Old 02-26-2007   #89
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Looking at the numbers, I bet more people have the Canonet GIII QL17 than any other. We can only really vote for the ones we've experienced, right?

From this list, I've got a GIII, an XA, and a Yashica GS. (w/o the N)

If you have both, you know that the viewfinder on the Yashica simply puts the Canon's to shame. Canon includes apertures, but they're hard to see half the time. They're both parallax-corrected.

Yes, the XA is amazingly good for being so small. But the bigger, older models are probably going to have the best viewfinders in general. (think 1960s) You have already discovered this with your Olympus SP vs. the RC.

The newer ones are more compact, but the older ones generally have faster lenses and bigger, better viewfinders. (not to mention better build quality)

In the 1970s, rangefinders had become the point & shoot equivalents of today, since SLRs were taking the world by storm as the serious cameras.
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Old 02-26-2007   #90
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Jeremy,
That was an oversight on my part. All part of the 8 or 9 hour computer crash frustration and other sundried irritations, the early hour etc. Those are no excuse for the rudeness I displayed [for which I have apologised] After having made my comments I scrolled to the top, read the list and was duly chagrined.
Can I just put it off to advanced age?
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Old 02-26-2007   #91
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I'm with Stephen. Another vote for the Konica IIIM. And the 50/1.8 Hexanon ain't no slouch, either. Now if I could only find the half-frame mask.
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Old 02-27-2007   #92
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I have a Leica M3 and a Konica Auto S2, and I have to say that the Konica viewfinder and rangefinder patch are the equal of the M3.
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Old 02-27-2007   #93
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my 2 cents, My Contax T has a nice VF. My 1956 Mamiya 6 is real @#$% bad.
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Old 02-27-2007   #94
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeremy Z
If you have both, you know that the viewfinder on the Yashica simply puts the Canon's to shame.
i have both and totally agreed to that
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Old 03-02-2007   #95
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Don't know if this is a valid comparison. The "best" viewfinder/rangefinder is on the camera that was serviced/cleaned. I have a bunch of these things (Lynx 14, Konica Auto S3, Yashica CC, GSN) and find them all fine in this regard. Of these, however, if I had to rate them, it seems the CC is the "best" followed closely by the Auto S3, the GSN, then the Lynx but have no trouble whatsoever with any of them, it's really splitting hairs.
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Old 03-22-2007   #96
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Vivitar 35ES...
Sharp f/1.7 lens, beautiful black (enamel, laquer?) brass body, very satisfying viewfinder (at least, when cleaned up), And... Ive seen them sell as low as $20 in awesome condition. Though, would more realistically count on finding one for around $50.
Its everything I wanted from my leica CM; rangefinder focusing, manual film advance/quiet(er) operation, even faster lens-- and for 1/12th the price. Really, if it had full manual operation and slightly more sensitive metering, it would be the perfect/ultimate pocket cam. in my opinion.
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Old 03-31-2007   #97
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This is a tough poll because it's doubtful that everyone has all these cameras - obviously, to compare and the "serviceability" of the VF probably has more to do with the condition of the camera than differences between the models.

First off, a cleaning goes a long, long, long, way. All my FLRFs have been professionally CLA'd . They are all just fine, the extent to which I really don't know why folks say its worth it spend the money on pricier cameras because the finders are brighter or easier to focus. I can focus any of these cameras in near darkness with very little effort. Bighter would be nice, I suppose, but it's really not an issue. If I had to rate the cameras I own, though:

Electro CC/Konica S3 tied for first
Electro GSN - very, very close second
Lynx 14e IC - third but bright enough/not a problem.
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Old 04-29-2007   #98
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Add me to the list of Konica IIIM lovers. But to be frank (as I am always honest), I have not used a lot of those listed.

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Old 04-30-2007   #99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by black_box
Vivitar 35ES...
Sharp f/1.7 lens, beautiful black (enamel, laquer?) brass body, very satisfying viewfinder (at least, when cleaned up), And... Ive seen them sell as low as $20 in awesome condition. Though, would more realistically count on finding one for around $50.
Its everything I wanted from my leica CM; rangefinder focusing, manual film advance/quiet(er) operation, even faster lens-- and for 1/12th the price. Really, if it had full manual operation and slightly more sensitive metering, it would be the perfect/ultimate pocket cam. in my opinion.
Black box - spot on. The 35ES is excellent - especially the lens. I have wondered about the metering. The vf needle sometimes seems slow, but the exposures are good.
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Old 05-03-2007   #100
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I have a lot of these cameras and find the Minolta Hi-matic 7s, Olympus SPn and Konica Auto S and Auto S2 all have great viewfinders. But suprisingly the clearest and best viewfinder I have is a Petri Racer. Super clear and bright, strong rangefinder patch, good space around the framelines (great for those of us who wear glasses) but alas no parallax compensation. It takes great photos too!
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Old 06-07-2007   #101
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Of those I own:

1. Konica Auto S3
2. Yashica Electro CC
3. Yashica Electro GSN
4. Yashica Lynx 14e

Comments: All cameras were professionally CLA'd except the CC. All cameras are very, very close. All cameras are very usable in low light. I have no quibble with the viewfinder on any of these camera. The Lynx 14e has the clearest viewfinder, which gives less contrast to the patch. The others have a tint and therefore a more contrasty patch. The biggest factor, I think, is a cleaning. The Auto S3 is definitely the "clear" (heh) winner here but it's not reflected in the this poll, probably because fewer people own this camera.

Last edited by NickTrop : 06-07-2007 at 18:26.
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Old 06-08-2007   #102
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Did anyone mention an Iskra or Argus. I wish my Electro GT viewfinder was as good as my Zorki 4 or my Iskra 2. The old Argus C3's were not too shabby. Regards.
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Old 06-21-2007   #103
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WOW, I never expected this thread to go on this long. It is a tribute to these wonderful cameras.

I am sorry that I left some cameras off the list. It was my own lack of thoroughness not any prejudice toward any camera.
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Old 06-21-2007   #104
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I *finally* get a hold of a Yashica Electro GS (CLA'd) and guess what... the viewfinder on my Olympus 35 SPn (not CLA'd) is still much better, so my vote hasn't and will not change
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Old 07-04-2007   #105
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I own about 50 RFs mostly fixed lens and the best viewfinder by far is the AIRES 35v followed by konica all the rest are about the same the worst are the retinas
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Old 07-20-2007   #106
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Two or three not mentioned here, The Fed 35A, The Junost and the Sokol automat. Both the Fed and the Sokol have coupled paralax correction and the Junost has a viewfinder seperate from the rangefinder. I prefer the viewfinder of the Fed 35A, but use all three cameras regularly oops, forgot my Zorki 10, which has a great viewfinder.

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Old 08-14-2007   #107
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Konica IIIA. 1:1 magnification, parallax and field-of-view corrected, and bright and clear to boot.

Doesn't hurt that the camera is absolutely gorgeous too.
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Old 08-14-2007   #108
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I just got a Konica IIIM, which is identical to the IIIA except for the meter. I am exited to get such a good looking camera with such a super lens and viewfinder.
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Old 08-21-2007   #109
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Just scanned a lot of film I shot with my 7s...damn I love that thing! Best $20 I've ever spent in photography.
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Old 09-02-2007   #110
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The VF of the Konica IIIM (or A) is brighter than the Leica M3 VF!
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Old 09-26-2007   #111
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WOW, When I started this thread I never dreamed it would last this long. It is a testament to these lovely, durable and practical cameras. They just don't make em like they used to IMHO. Thanks for all of the responses and keep em comin.
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Old 11-21-2007   #112
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Hi-Matic 7S, GSN, Lynx 5000/5000e/14/14e, the Agfa Isolette III and Ansco Speedex Special R all have nice bright viewfinders.
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Old 12-04-2007   #113
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I can't believe I haven't voted in this poll yet. I recently got an Oly SP back in my stable, after foolishly selling off an SPn I had previously owned. Turns out (mostly due to this forum) that I got a great deal on the current camera; fantastic condition and mechanics.

Still, and probably always, my favorite fixed-lens RF. I'll pass it on to my children someday.


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Old 12-05-2007   #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planetjoe
SNIP!

Still, and probably always, my favorite fixed-lens RF. I'll pass it on to my children someday.
Hopefully they'll be able to get film and processing!

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Old 12-05-2007   #115
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I also have an Oly SP, although my favorite fixed lens is my Yashica 14e despite the flare issues. My eleven year old granddaughter already has asked for the 14e. She's been been shooting with a GSN I gave her for her 9th birthday. She claims to like the heft of the 14e. Go figure!

She recently gave a middle school presentation on her photography and why she likes film. Hopefully, she's not just humoring grandpa!
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Old 12-17-2007   #116
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My very first camera, a Konica S II (not to be confused with S2) had a large viewfinder, vivid rangefind square, and adjusted for parallax.

I just used a non-rangefinding Voightlander Vito B with a lrge, bright viewfinder that is exceptional for that time -- or maybe even this time.
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Old 12-17-2007   #117
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What amazes me is the poll result. Have those who voted for Canonet or Yashica Electro *ever* seen the Olympus 35 SP viewfinder?

I have all those three and Olympus 35 SP viewfinder is the brightest and easiest to use of the three.

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Old 12-18-2007   #118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
What amazes me is the poll result. Have those who voted for Canonet or Yashica Electro *ever* seen the Olympus 35 SP viewfinder?

I have all those three and Olympus 35 SP viewfinder is the brightest and easiest to use of the three.

Well, I am pretty sure most of the people who voted have not used all of those cameras, at least not extensively. I certainly haven't and that's why I didn't vote at all. The Olympus FLRF's seem to be a lot less common than the Yashica Electros or Canonets, which means that the more common models will win this kind of poll almost automatically.

Incidentally, that is the reason why polls like this have no scientific value, although they can be a lot of fun and raise some good discussion.
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Old 12-19-2007   #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
What amazes me is the poll result. Have those who voted for Canonet or Yashica Electro *ever* seen the Olympus 35 SP viewfinder?

Nope, but then there are a lot of different cameras I have never tried. If we are just talking about brightness, have you ever seen the viewfinder on an Agfa Karat 36? It is certainly bright, but split image rangefinders are not for everyone.

Then there is the condition of the rangefinder mirror to take into consideration. Most of the ones I got on ebay were really dim and (when I felt competent to do it) I replaced them. A new semitransparent mirror gives you a much brighter image.
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Old 12-20-2007   #120
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Of the fixed lens RF's that I have (or have had), the order is:

1. Hexar AF. 0.7x, parallax compensated motorized brightlines with distance indication (brilliant). Very nice focus cross in the middle. Probably doesn't qualify though cause it's actually AF.

2. Voigtlander Vito CLR. Clear bright finder with 1x magnification, but the RF spot isn't stellar (with fuzzy edges there's no vernier focusing). Overall: reasonable.

3. Petri Auto Rapid. A bit on the dark side, and too much barrel distortion for my taste. RF spot a tad better than the Vito though. All in all, reasonable.
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