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View Poll Results: What is the Best Under $50 Ebay Make of Rangefinder for Newbies?
Argus 25 2.57%
Canon 130 13.35%
FSU Former Soviet Union 175 17.97%
Kodak 16 1.64%
Konica 74 7.60%
Minolta 60 6.16%
Olympus 175 17.97%
Yashica 259 26.59%
Other Make European 29 2.98%
Other Make Japanese 31 3.18%
Voters: 974. You may not vote on this poll

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What's the Best UNDER $50 Ebay Rangefinder?
Old 08-09-2009   #1
CameraQuest
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What's the Best UNDER $50 Ebay Rangefinder?

What's the Best UNDER $50 Rangefinder?
I get a lot of emails from people wanting to buy their first rangefinder on the cheap to find out if Rangefinder Photography is for them.

I'm curious what the RFF consensus is for the best under $50 rangefinder -- based upon average Ebay selling prices.

Let the voting begin ..

and speak up if other candidates should be added to the poll.

Your vote will be PUBLIC.

Besides voting, you are welcomed to explain why you made your choice, and your favorites of that make within the price range.

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Old 08-09-2009   #2
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Without a doubt for me it would be the Yashica GSN. I paid 13 dollars for mine on the bay and it was so great I bought another, the only time I have ever bought two of the same camera. In my mind it is the best combination of fast sharp glass with a great ability to meter light correctly even if you are a bit of a metering slacker. A great and very easy to find gem of the sub $50 cameras.
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Old 08-09-2009   #3
pesphoto
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gotta be Yashica GSN with Yashica lynx 5000e a close sencond for me
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Old 08-09-2009   #4
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The Retinas are going cheap.

Many fine models can be had for under $25..
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Old 08-09-2009   #5
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I'm going to say the Yashica GSN as well. They are quite easy and usually quite cheap. It has an excellent sharp lens and aperture priority with a limited manual exposure speed.
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Old 08-09-2009   #6
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I don't particularly like the camera as I believe it's over rated but the GSN seems to be the one. I have a couple that cost me around $50.00 each and they perform flawlessly!

I just can't get along with them though so they spend all their time in the cupboard ... the size and the ergonomics spoil them.
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Old 08-09-2009   #7
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The Canonet QL17L and GIII can be had for under $50. It is a mechanical camera, and most are working. Like any 35+year old camera, it will probably need some work. Same is true of the Yashica Electro's, Retina's, and others. The Canonets are easiest to work on, and plenty of help threads for it.
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Old 08-09-2009   #8
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Colyn is right. The Retina II series cameras are dropping in price and they are wonderful cameras. Avotius is also right in that the Yashica GSN/GTN cameras are great. One of those was my first rangefinder and it got me hooked. However, I think the Konica Auto S series slightly edges them out. For $50 and under, it is just awfully difficult to beat a Hexanon lens.
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Old 08-09-2009   #9
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Yashica Electro 35 GSN
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Old 08-09-2009   #10
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I have only used the GSN and Oly 35sp, and in that case the GSN won for me.
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Old 08-09-2009   #11
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I voted 'Other make japanese' because I think it is as close as makes no difference to a tie between the Yashicas and the Canonets, the biggest deciding factor being whether you prefer shutter priority (for freezing or blurring motion) or aperture priority (for depth of field control). Both methods are highly useful for rangefinder photography, and both are fantastically well built cameras. Really though, with the exception of the Minolta FLRFs that I have seen, it is hard to go wrong with any of the Japanese FLRFs. The Olympus, in particular, has a number of really nice features, but I have never gotten my hands on one.
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Old 08-09-2009   #12
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I have both the Canonet ql17gIII & Yashica GSN. The Canonet was my first rangefinder camera & is still used quite a bit. The GSN is heavy & feels cheap made. The handling is bulky compared to the QL17. The lens is quite good but the rest of the camera lacks IMO. I also have a few FSU cameras. The VF is pretty crappy even compared to the Yashica or Canonet. So I have to say that I would recommend the Canonet. This camera probably inspired me to purchase a Bessa R more than any other.
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Old 08-09-2009   #13
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What ... no votes for the Argus yet?
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Old 08-09-2009   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
What ... no votes for the Argus yet?
For a newbie? For a newbie, I'd go with the GSN. Simple, easy, good results. Tends to draw 'em in. Worked on me, anyway.
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Old 08-09-2009   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
What ... no votes for the Argus yet?
With careful shopping you can get 3 lens Argus outfits for $50

its difficult to get that with other makes.

Stephen
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Old 08-09-2009   #16
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Minolta 7s for me. Stellar lens, good metering, great viewfinder and bright RF patch, parallax correcting framelines, optional AE if you want it, etc, etc. Big & homely, but a great performer.

I recently got a Fujica V2 which is similar in size and features and may have an even better lens.
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Old 08-09-2009   #17
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i like the olympus 35rc. small, cute, well made.
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Old 08-09-2009   #18
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Yashica Electro35 GSN - although I have enjoyed using Minolta Hi-matics. I bought a new GTN for $60 when I was in the Air Force in the early 70s.
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Old 08-09-2009   #19
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Konica C35. Great lens, and much smaller than the Yashicas. IF, and it's a big if, you can get a good Fed 2 w/ the collapsible Elmar 50 copy, that's a better picture taker, but that can sometimes take several tries. And you'll need a light meter. The Konica has a meter and unlike the Yashica, it's viewfinder gives you shutter and aperture info. The camera has an AE lock too.

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Old 08-09-2009   #20
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I voted minolta because I quite like the hi0matic 7s and 9. But the yashicas are good - even the slower ministers.
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Old 08-09-2009   #21
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Canonet GIII QL17 or Konica AUTO S - great cameras and superb lenses.
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Old 08-09-2009   #22
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I agree: either the Yashica GSN or Canonet GIII QL17 (or whatever the order of those letters/numbers is)
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Old 08-09-2009   #23
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I recently got an Argus and cannot speak for the other rangefinders, but I have a lot of fun with my brick.

And, today is Argus day.
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Old 08-09-2009   #24
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Yashica Electro GSN I bought 3 for less than $20 each.
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Old 08-09-2009   #25
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Yashica Electro GSN....plenty available. Pick and choose the one with some kind of warranty to be working. Some suffer from Pad Of Death (POD), which renders it unusable. Nonetheless, they are easy to fix, check google.
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Old 08-09-2009   #26
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Konica Auto S2: very, very sharp lens; bright vf w/ moving framelines to adjust for parallax; and both manual and semi-auto mode. Got mine in pristine shape for around $46, including shipping.
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Old 08-09-2009   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
...the GSN seems to be the one. I have a couple that cost me around $50.00 each and they perform flawlessly! [...] I just can't get along with them though so they spend all their time in the cupboard ... the size and the ergonomics spoil them.
It shouldn't be so, but I find myself in the same boat as Keith. I have a nice GTN, which can "do the business" just fine. But if I'm using a fixed lens rf, it's the Konica Auto S3 that gets all the work, despite not being in as good condition. I voted accordingly.

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Old 08-09-2009   #28
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Every camera now has a vote except for the Argus ... surely someone thinks it's the one!

It's American for gawd's sake ... have you lot got no loyalty?
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Old 08-09-2009   #29
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Probably a Kiev 4 or 4a which one can occasionally snare with a J8 for that amount. It's not the ideal camera, but if you are lucky to find a light-tight one in reasonable repair, you have a good beginners system rangefinder.
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Old 08-09-2009   #30
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Yashica Lynx 5000 - proper lens, proper size and weight, proper exposure controls, excellent shutter release. Recommend it because I have one for use and another as spare. No doubt after CQ recommends any make, it will drive up second market, though I hope not to shop for them.

Konica Auto S and S2 - everything is nice, especially lens and large'n'bright viewfinder, though shutter release isn't up to standards of perfect snapshot kamara. It's long travel and stiff, no fun to use without soft release.
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Old 08-09-2009   #31
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Quote:
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It's American for gawd's sake ... have you lot got no loyalty?
Yes, but for stuff we are proud of.........the box never did anything for me.

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Old 08-09-2009   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
I don't particularly like the camera as I believe it's over rated but the GSN seems to be the one. I have a couple that cost me around $50.00 each and they perform flawlessly!

I just can't get along with them though so they spend all their time in the cupboard ... the size and the ergonomics spoil them.
Agreed. Though I've never had one that works perfectly. I spent about 200-300 dollars going through multiple ones, including cheapos and expensive "works perfectly" ones from ebay, and all of them either broke or didn't work. In the end when I realised I could have just bought a Bessa R body brand new with that money I just cracked it and now I have somewhat of a vendetta against the electros. I did have a minister III though that worked well and had a gorgeous lens.

I want to like the Electros.... I saw Colin's (Avotius) photos from china with one and they took my breath away. Truly a world class lens in the right hands.
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Old 08-09-2009   #33
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Guess i would go for the Electro too but only if you can find a good one, i got mine from an auction site and it goes klunk like something broke and the front element is ugly. Not sure if it will take reasonable pictures but the soon to be developed test roll will be interesting.
A good one would be a jewel ... if only i could find it !

I would love to nominate the OM-1 but i hear it's not a rangefinder ... go figure.
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Old 08-10-2009   #34
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Quote:
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Colyn is right. The Retina II series cameras are dropping in price and they are wonderful cameras. Avotius is also right in that the Yashica GSN/GTN cameras are great. One of those was my first rangefinder and it got me hooked. However, I think the Konica Auto S series slightly edges them out. For $50 and under, it is just awfully difficult to beat a Hexanon lens.
The Retina II is a scale focusing camera as I recall - not a rangefinder
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Old 08-10-2009   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest View Post
With careful shopping you can get 3 lens Argus outfits for $50

its difficult to get that with other makes.

Stephen
Good point. Some of the Argus lenses are German-made as I recall.
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Old 08-10-2009   #36
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Actually the Zorki 4 and 4a are sometimes obtainable for less than $50. A lot of them are useless without a CLA, but I've bought acceptable ones for under $50 and they use LTM lenses - a big door opener to quality optics.
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Old 08-10-2009   #37
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Konica Auto S2... the cat's meow.
If you're on a $10 to $20 budget go for the Petri 2.8 Color Corrected Super.
Kuribayashi rules ! The original red dot.

BTW: Argus = pure junk.
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Old 08-10-2009   #38
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The "best" buy is any one of them that actually works. With fairly minor differences, any are decent cameras, I think.

As I have said in the FSU forum, I think it matters much more who you are buying from than which specific camera.

That said, I think either any of the Canonettes or the Vivitar 35EE or ES are very good starting points.
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Old 08-10-2009   #39
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I'd have to agree with those saying the Yashica, although I got the GT model (similar, but more expensive). You can't really go wrong with them - fast sharp prime lens, great bright viewfinder, and they look really cool. But now I'm selling mine on eBay because I've got my Bessa R kitted out with all the lenses I'll ever need, so it's surplus to needs
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Old 08-10-2009   #40
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a little fed2 and a table for the "16 rule": simple, easy to use, affrodable and reliable, with a really precise rangefinder. Or a good old Kiev: even better RF, but more difficult to find in perfect working condition
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