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View Poll Results: What is the Best Under $50 Ebay Make of Rangefinder for Newbies?
Argus 25 2.55%
Canon 130 13.28%
FSU Former Soviet Union 175 17.88%
Kodak 17 1.74%
Konica 74 7.56%
Minolta 60 6.13%
Olympus 178 18.18%
Yashica 260 26.56%
Other Make European 29 2.96%
Other Make Japanese 31 3.17%
Voters: 979. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-10-2009   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spiderfrank View Post
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
I prefer Zorkies 3/4/4k to the Fed 2 as they have a larger brighter viewfinder and less annoying diopter adjustment. That's why I sold my FED-2, and you probably don't agree and that's why you bought it from me.

Someone mentioned the C35 in a post above, and I think for 50$ you could get both an EE-only camera like it (or my favourite the Mamiya 135EE, or one of the ultra-cheap Konica EE-Matic, etc.) *and* a manual rangefinder. I would probably wait for a decent Agfa Super Silette with Solinar lens to surface, or if you are really lucky a Super Solinette which is pocketable.
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Old 08-10-2009   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Murphy View Post
The Retina II is a scale focusing camera as I recall - not a rangefinder
The Retina II is a rangefinder camera. The earlier model I's were scale focus..

Below is a Retina II..

iia.jpg
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Old 08-10-2009   #43
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I like the Oly RC (manual control, full information viewfinder) or Vivitar 35ES (fast glass).

The Fed 3 with industar is also dirt cheap and fery capable. Compact, good viewfinder and excellent dioptre adjustment. Quite Leica-esque.
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Old 08-10-2009   #44
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I voted for Canon but honestly almost any of the Japanese RF of the '70's is going to be a great camera.
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Old 08-10-2009   #45
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Yashica, of course. My favorite is my big Lynx 14 (a $17 buy). The 45mm F/1.4 lens is great and it comes with a parallax compensated viewfinder. Best of all, the Lynx 14 has a really usable autoexposure feature: you set the aperture and the camera adjusts the shutter speed according to the scene illumination. I don't like the Canonet and those rangefinders where the autoexposure goes the other way round, resulting in the aperture being chosen by the camera. I think the user should retain full control over the aperture!

Cheers!

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Last edited by Abbazz : 08-10-2009 at 05:29.
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Old 08-10-2009   #46
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I would say that a Konica Auto S2 or a Yashica GSN are difficult to improve upon for $50 on ebay. There seem to be more followers of the Yashica cameras than Konica cameras, but both camera types are "cheap Leicas" from the perspective of lens quality. As long as a camera works without batteries, and it has a first quality lens, go for it.
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Old 08-10-2009   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abbazz View Post
Best of all, the Lynx 14 has a really usable autoexposure feature: you set the aperture and the camera adjusts the shutter speed according to the scene illumination.
What a symbiosis with camera! You even didn't notice yourselves setting speed - so natural Lynx is in use I agree honestly.
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Old 08-10-2009   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney View Post
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.
Canonets are great cameras, but they don't really average under $50, especially after you add the cost of new seals. Additionally, you don't want to send a newbie to get a fixer upper.
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Old 08-10-2009   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Murphy View Post
The Retina II is a scale focusing camera as I recall - not a rangefinder
The Retina I is a scale focusing camera:
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...8045.SEQ.0.jpg

The Retina II is a rangefinder:
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...5889.SEQ.0.jpg
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Old 08-10-2009   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Abbazz View Post
Best of all, the Lynx 14 has a really usable autoexposure feature: you set the aperture and the camera adjusts the shutter speed according to the scene illumination.
You're confusing the Lynx with the GSN. The Lynx has no automatic features. The GSN has auto exposure only, with no manual control.
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Old 08-10-2009   #51
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Konica S2 hands down for me.

And I do have flawlessly working Yashica GSN and Oly 35Spm and have used hi-matics and some russian leica clone (FED).
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Old 08-10-2009   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris00nj View Post
Canonets are great cameras, but they don't really average under $50, especially after you add the cost of new seals. Additionally, you don't want to send a newbie to get a fixer upper.
If you count in the cost of a CLA and seals there are no cameras that sell for under $50. The Auto S, Auto S2, Olympus 35S, Olympus 35RC, and Yashica G-series all have two things in common: they are very easy to work on and there are illustrated tutorials on cleaning them all over the web. A $10 set of seals, a can of lighter fluid and a box of Q-tips after you get them, and they are as good as new, even for a newby (although the idea of repairing his first camera will probably give him a few anxious moments).
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Old 08-10-2009   #53
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Quote:
Originally Posted by btgc View Post
What a symbiosis with camera! You even didn't notice yourselves setting speed - so natural Lynx is in use I agree honestly.
Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto View Post
You're confusing the Lynx with the GSN. The Lynx has no automatic features. The GSN has auto exposure only, with no manual control.
Of course both of you are right. Sorry for the confusion. I definitely ought to use my Lynx 14 more (in fact, it's a Lynx 14e). Well, in fact, as stated by btgc, the exposure control is so intuitive that I never realized I had to turn a ring to set the speed.

Cheers!

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Old 08-10-2009   #54
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For 50 bucks I would just avoid RFs and get a classic SLR with a fast 50mm lens.

That being said my Oly XA (20 bucks in a garage sale) is still going strong. Very good lens.
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Canon/Canonet QL17
Old 08-10-2009   #55
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Canon/Canonet QL17

I was able to get one of these for $29 on ebay and found it was immaculate upon receipt... They frequently go between $10 and $45. You can make your own light seals for about $2.25.

With the quickload setup and the crisp f/1.7 lens this is one that is hard to beat.
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Old 08-10-2009   #56
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I choose other Japanese brands, since I prefer several Japanese cameras which are highly alike.

They are:
Konica Auto S3
Vivitar 35ES
Revue 400SE
Yashica 35 MC or GX

Most of them have a 40mm f1.7 lens and manual control of aperture and shutter.

With the recession, prices are in the bin for these and I'm pretty sure you can get a hold of one under USD 50.

If you specifically want to check out the RF focussing and care less about manual control, get a Konica EE-matic Deluxe, it has a viewfinder brightness and RF-patch that matches up to a Leica. I sold mine for EUR 15 a while ago and it was hard work getting it sold for that much, too... Ridiculous!
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Old 08-10-2009   #57
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FED-2. Dozens available for $39,95 including CLA at the place I got mine. There are no foam seals to decay and the thing is so simple it won't need adjustment for a long while.

There are good tessar-type lenses as standard, and a 39mm mount to put an exotic CV lens (15mm maybe?) on the front if you want.

The loading is easy with a removable back. Plus a very contrasty RF with adjustable dioptre-correction. And the camera is within a millimetre or two of the dimensions of the M3, so is decently comfortable to hold and use.
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Old 08-10-2009   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris00nj View Post
Canonets are great cameras, but they don't really average under $50, especially after you add the cost of new seals. Additionally, you don't want to send a newbie to get a fixer upper.
Most of these 35+ year old Ebay cameras are going to require some work. Again, most being more than 50%. I've gotten lucky, but more times than not- some work was required. The "pad of Death" and electronics of the Yashica GS, GT, GSN, GTN are a problem: expect about 1/2 off of Ebay to require work beyond just seals. All of mine (four) did. Expect the RF patch of the Lynx 14 and exposure meter to need work. Two of my three did. The Konica S2: exposure meter problems, two of my three had problems. As for the Canonets and cost: look for the Ql17L model rather than the GIII. Made in Japan, better quality control, lower price. I've picked up three going between $10 and $40. My Hi-Matic 9 has not given problems since 1980.

Best advice for a Newbie: stay away from buying old cameras on Ebay unless you know how to repair them yourself. Buy cameras from a forum SUCH AS this one or nelsonfoto where the seller has actually used and tested the camera, or at least states it is in unknown working condition. My "unknown condition" GIII was $10 at nelsonfoto, a flood cleaning brought it back to life. It would have been an "Ebay mint, I see know reason why this camera will not work" auction. As for prices of Canonets on this forum, they range from $40 to $80+ after replacing seals, cleaning the viewfinder, and testing with film. At least that is what I sold 8 or so of them for.

Last edited by Brian Sweeney : 08-10-2009 at 11:15.
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Old 08-10-2009   #59
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my choice is a Petri 7s. they can be had for $20, has a built in meter, and takes really beautiful looking photos.
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Old 08-10-2009   #60
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for 50 bucks you can get a very nice Kodak Signet or a Voigtlander Vito B. the Vito is technically a viewfinder camera, but the lens in it is great. the Signet is all but bullet proof, it was developed for the military. it also has a great little lens in it.

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Old 08-10-2009   #61
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I have lots of these, they must be breeding when I am away or something. One of the nicest is the Minolta Hi Matic 7sII, and I also like some of the older ones, the Ricoh with the trigger wind, some of the Petri's-- some are quite solid, simple, with good looking glass. The Petri Color 35E is a gem, though I cannot get it to work, but the size and design look good.

I also have a dealer friend with perhaps a hundred -- non working -- fixed lens RF's.

Reminds me of the cameras I could not afford when I was young, when you settled for cameras you could make work, regardless of their design. ;-) I made the Signet 50 work, though no RF, slow lens, and who could figure out the meter design. Clear VF though.

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Old 08-10-2009   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DrLeoB View Post
I was able to get one of these for $29 on ebay and found it was immaculate upon receipt... They frequently go between $10 and $45. You can make your own light seals for about $2.25.

With the quickload setup and the crisp f/1.7 lens this is one that is hard to beat.

I think you can get a "I don't know anything about cameras" version for about $45, which will probably need at least a $10 lightseal kit.

Don't get me wrong, I like the camera, but it has obtained a degree of popularity pushing the price above $50.

Recent Ebay sales of the Canonet QL17 GIII:

$75 - bin
$81 - 21 bids
$38 - broken shutter
$104- 20 bids
$56
$36 - no battery cover, or battery tester.
$140 - new seals
$80
$69
$25 - has lens fungus
$100
$47
$45
$45
$76
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Old 08-10-2009   #63
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I really recommend to get almost any other $10 FL RF instead of Canonet - just because price which can jump near $100 which I count as nonsense as other FL RF's will do same job for much less. So why pay more?

Some people even suggest original Canonet is better built than QLIII, though latter costs much more. Is there reason? Same GSN costs more than early G model. What's up - better lens, or something else? No, build quality of GSN's is below early model (my statement). Good luck. Cool black GTN with plastic rewind knob, selling well even when obviously broken? Good luck. Konica C35 running on 1.35V battery. Hmmm, those later C35's on AA's costs nothing and take same pictures - except they don't have RF focusing and miss hot shoe (as if anyone use it with C35).

You see, most cults are just what they are - misconceptions and stumblings of mind. Cult cameras in most cases are disappointments - especially when one reads on Net how good it is for a months, then looses five and more auctions, then bites bullet and puts out mega bid - to discover week or two later that legend arrived in package is old camera like many others, needing work and after it's fixed - that it takes same pictures as cameras one already owns. What a discovery, camera takes pictures!

Mostly, personal feel of camera, ergonomics and such nuances are what tie people to certain cameras. I doubt QLIII nuts will tell difference between two pictures made with early Canonet and late QLIII. Or with any other camera as long as field of view and apertures are not too different.
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Old 08-10-2009   #64
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I guess the Konica Hi-Matic F should be under $50 and is a fine shooter. I luv mine.
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Old 08-16-2009   #65
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Well, it depends... fixed lens: Yashica GSN or Olympus RC.
interchangable lens: FED 2

So I just cannot vote.


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Old 08-16-2009   #66
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The Canonet QL17 G-III has gained a lot of popularity, as they are tough to get for under $50. Even those that have had little testing typically go for that much. (I've been watching the auctions for a while now.) And from what I've read, they often have oil on the shutters or apertures, so I've been a bit gun-shy to buy one, fearing paying too much to turn around and have to get it fixed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by LChanyungco View Post
my choice is a Petri 7s. they can be had for $20, has a built in meter, and takes really beautiful looking photos.
These definitely can be had cheap, but in working condition? I contacted a couple of sellers, and it didn't sound like the meters worked on them. I bought one (from yet another seller), and it mostly works, but it has oily apertures (which normally wouldn't be a big deal, in and of itself for this camera) and I'm a bit concerned about a spot inside the lens (may be a tiny patch of oil?). So, the price is right, but buying any of these old cameras is kind of like playing some sort of lottery.

I finally got what seems to be a perfectly working camera in beautiful condition, with shipping, for just over $20. It's a Canonet 28. Not the 1.7 lens that would be more desirable, but a perfectly acceptable f/2.8 lens. It doesn't have manual mode either, which may be another deal-killer for some. (The Minolta F mentioned above is similar in these respects -- 2.8 lens and all auto, as far as I know.) Ironically, it's the perfectly-working camera that I'm planning to give away, but that's another story...

So, it really comes down to the feature list. Out of the cameras you have to choose from, certain "hot" cameras are going to sell for more. The Canonet QL17, of course, but the Minolta 7sII and Konica Auto S3 sell for astronomical prices (compared to similar cameras). After a while, you can tell that the word is out on a few of the models. (Although, I do think the QL17 price is still "reasonable" compared to the Minolta 7sII or Konica Auto S3. This is probably because there are so many of them out there. A rare camera it is not.) It is true, the older QL17 often sells for slightly less than the G-III, but not enough for me to bite.

But yeah, if you can get a working Petri 7s, I don't see why that wouldn't be a good camera. (I haven't finished the first roll with mine yet!) It's just larger than the above-mentioned three, and not as automated. I've also read that it's common for Petris to have problems, but I don't know why that was said. Is it true or just someone's personal bias? The Petris are less common, but are clearly not popular, except for one model (35 color?), which does sell for over $50, for reasons I do not understand.

I think there is a high degree of popularity for the smaller size of, say, the Minolta 7sII than the older Minolta 7s. I'm not sure if 45mm vs. 40mm is enough of a difference to matter. But the Minolta 7s is often a bargain. Perhaps size explains the popularity of the Petri 35 that sells for more?

Before I got any rangefinders, I had read about them, and thought I could get an Olympus RC for cheap. I eventually did (because it was flawed), but generally they are bid up very high on the auction sites. Then I found out that Ken Rockwell did some article praising it, and some people said maybe that created a lot of demand. So, if price is an issue, first make sure no famous reviewers have praised a particular model in several months.
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Old 08-16-2009   #67
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For 50 bucks I would just avoid RFs and get a classic SLR with a fast 50mm lens.
....
For Minolta AF, the 50/1.7 typically sells for well over $75, generally over $100, now. But point taken. You can probably set sights a bit lower and get an SLR with a slew of cool features and a zoom lens for < $50. I haven't priced other models...

But it seems like a different experience than using a rangefinder. Although, I happen to have a Minolta SLR next to me with a 50/1.7, and it doesn't seem all that much larger than the larger rangefinders. What is unique about rangefinders and probably responsible for some of the popularity is you can get them in a much smaller package. That Oly RC is tiny!
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Old 08-19-2009   #68
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I use the Canon QL17 Giii rangefinder, the Minolta Hi-Matic 9 rangefinder, and the Argus C3 rangefinder. However, I would not recommend any of them for a “newbie.” When these three cameras were brand new; they may have been fine for a “newbie” of that time period. However, these cameras are too difficult to be used by a modern “newbie.”

I did not vote because I am unfamiliar with the other cameras in the list.
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Old 08-19-2009   #69
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I voted for the Yashicas but honestly use my Konica S1.6 more often. I like the built in hood and abilty to go manual. The Electro series has maybe the best of all worlds for a beginner. Contrasty RF (if maybe dark but that's why so contrasty), AE , Bulb option, Long exposure automatically. It is a great entry into creative photography without being confusing for a newbie.
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Old 08-19-2009   #70
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Olympus 35 RC

great lens, great shutter priority AE, but full manual if needed, great automatic flash with non-automatic flash (!), sturdy, well built, aperture and shutter speed in viewfinder.

Every time I see the slides coming out of my RC, I wonder why I use other cameras at all.

The RC needs an adapter or has to be adjusted for current batteries, though, as it was built for use of mercury cells.
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Old 08-19-2009   #71
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Last year I picked up an Olympus Ace E with 45mm f2.8 lens, this was at a thrift store. This was my first rangefinder. Being an Oly freak, in the last 90 days on ekbay I have purchased the following.
1) Olympus 35 IVa 40mm f3.5 lens. $31.51. The lens does need cleaning.
2) Olympus 35 LC 42mm f1.7 lens. $29.60. Sharp lens.
3) Tower 18 aka Olympus 35-S II 42mm f1.8 lens. $49.02
4) Olympus 35-S I 48mm f2.8 $35.01

I am having fun trying out how photographers of the 50's & 60's worked. All these are fully mechanical cameras and apart from the lens on the IVa. I have no problem, So it is possible to get a good rangefinder for under $50 plus a modicum of luck.
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Old 08-22-2009   #72
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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.
Agreed!!

Just got a color film back from my 10 € GS and hey, forget about all the digital sub 1000 € cameras - this lens is a real hit!
Up to 24 x 30 cm Print size I don't see any difference to my Nikon 1.8/50.

But then, the Kiev 4 with that venerable J-8 I bought for 12 € is the most stunning performer of all my cameras... pure magic that Sonnar...
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Old 08-22-2009   #73
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Oly 35RC or XA.

That said, I've not seen or tried the Yash GSN

Ooh... by the way, anyone want to pay $250 for a GSN?

http://shop.lomography.com/shop/main.php?cat=&pro=yas
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Old 08-25-2009   #74
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I would vote for the Olympus 35-S (The 4.2cm f/1.8 version)
It can be found on ebay for under $50US, although some sellers believe they can get several hundred for one...most, if not all, will have a problem with the shutter not firing...
Oil on the shutter blades will cause the shutter to not fire or trip very slowly...if it does fire and you keep on tripping it it will loosen up but once it sits for a bit it will mis-fire again...cleaning the blades isn't a big deal to do and once done it's a GREAT camera with a beautiful lens...all metal body, no batteries needed and some will have the original leather case...did I mention it's a great little camera ???
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Old 09-01-2009   #75
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...I think for 50$ you could get both an EE-only camera like it (or my favourite the Mamiya 135EE,) ...
Wow I thought I was the only person in the world with a Mamiya 135EE! I got mine for $10 on EBay in mint condition, not knowing what it was. Amazingly it is a killer small fixed-lens rangefinder like the Canonet QL or Konica S3, with nice ergonomics and a super-sharp lens.
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Old 09-02-2009   #76
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I voted Russian out of sentimental reasons. But I would honestly have picked 'whatever you can buy cheap that get's you hooked' if that option had been available. In my case the first camera was more like a downpayment. On all the other cameras I've gone on to buy.

This poll reminds me of how many good cameras there are out there though. Good news!
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Old 09-02-2009   #77
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If you want interchangeable lenses I'm with the FED-2 crowd; throw in a $10 Industar-61 and you have a lens that is hard to beat in the 50mm range, for that price anyway.

If you want fixed lenses then I've tried the Yashica GSN, the Ricoh 500GX and the Canonet GIII-QL17 and all in all my favourite is the Canonet, for lens speed, compactness and availability of manual settings (if without metering).
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Old 09-02-2009   #78
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I voted Russian out of sentimental reasons. But I would honestly have picked 'whatever you can buy cheap that get's you hooked' if that option had been available. In my case the first camera was more like a downpayment. On all the other cameras I've gone on to buy.

This poll reminds me of how many good cameras there are out there though. Good news!
I take it all back - I'm seeing heaps of worn-out looking FSU cameras with crazy postage costs. If I were looking for a cheap rangefinder I'd go for any, probably Japanese, camera and start looking for a poorly described example listed on the 'Bay in my own country. I'd cut replacement seals out of a mousepad or the like. This works surprisingly well (as in no light leaks) and for a sub 50 dollar camera saving money should be the aim.
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Old 09-05-2009   #79
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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.
.... but the Argus is used by ace reporter Polly Perkins.

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Old 09-20-2009   #80
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kodak retina Ia beautiful camera !
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