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Tom Abrahamsson of RapidWinder.com It is almost never that an inventor improves on a Leica product so that it is better than the original Leica product. Tom holds that distinction with his RapidWinder for Leica M rangefinders -- a bottom mounting baseplate trigger advance. In addition Tom manufacturers other Leica accessories such as his very popular Soft Release and MiniSoftRelease shutter releases. Tom is well known as one of the true Leica rangefinder experts, even by Leica. IMPORTANT READ THIS: CWE Forum hosts have moderation powers within their forum. Please observe copyright laws by not copying and posting their material elsewhere without permission.

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Musings about using Nikon Rf's
Old 08-31-2010   #1
Tom A
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Musings about using Nikon Rf's

On July 1 I started what I thought would be 30 days of shooting only with Nikon Rf's. The idea was to use all my Rf bodies (15!!!!) and compatible lenses (47 - and dont ask!).

Like any project it took longer than anticipated and consumed 500 ft of film (100 ft APX 400, 200 ft Tri X and 200 ft of Arista Premium 400). Multitude of developers were tried, from Rodinal/HC 110/Beutler/FX37/Stoeckler and more.

I did not expect to find anything conclusive about the shoot - just what worked well and what didn't. Two bodies have issues, a S4 decided that exposures are not necessary and resolutely decided to cap the shutter at all speed, a S2 has shown a bit of a light-leak, either the back door or the mount.

Interestingly enough, I did not have to reject a single negative due to inferior performance of lenses and considering that the lenses ranged from a 1931 Zeiss Tessar 50 to the latest C-Sonnar 50f1.5 and the SP 2005's 35f1.8 somehow proves that even the old lenses are good. Also, we are always fretting about the condition of lenses. A couple used were less than pristine, a 35f2.5 looks like it has been used as a skating rink, one 85f2 looks like a minor jungle inside!

As all of the lenses did what they were supposed to, picking favorites is difficult, but a couple of them performed beyond the "call of duty".
A venerable Zeiss Planar 35f3.5 is astonishing in its tonality - and of course built like a brick outhouse!

The VC 50f2.5 Color Skopar is stunning, great contrast, very sharp and good handling. It is also very compact.

Of course, the Nikkor 50f1.4's all work well (all 8 of them!). Some are slightly less contrasty (earlier ones) - but the later ones rivals anything from Leica and Zeiss - even today.

I also found out that I really like the S3's. usually Nikoholics extol the virtue of the SP as the holy grail and though they have a place (28/85 frames) - the S3 were my favorites. I did add a black S3 Olympic to the "stash" at the beginning of the test - and somehow, it became my favored camera, followed by the Millennium black S3 (still the smoothest rangefinder I own - even compared to Leica's and Canon's).

From a practical point of view - all rangefinders stayed in place and shutter speeds were within tolerances - though with 400 iso bl/w that is not super critical.

One lens that keeps surprising me is the Nikkor 35f2.5 - even with some fogging (1), some scratches (another one) and 2 that are nice and clean - it is a very good lens, compact and sharp.

If you are slightly masochistic - you can go to our Flickr site, click on the "July Nikon Rf Month" set and put it in "slide show mode" and see all 778 pictures ( edited down from about 3000 shots). If nothing else, it will show what I did in July and parts of August and probably make you fall asleep.

Of course you miss some stuff - I forgot about my 135f3.5's - but I save those for another Nikon Rf Month!
Tom
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Old 08-31-2010   #2
Juan Valdenebro
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Oh, that will be cool to look at! Thanks for sharing!

Cheers,

Juan
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Old 08-31-2010   #3
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Wow, fascinating report. 15 bodies and 47 lenses. Double wow.

Interesting to hear you say the S3 was your favourite, over the virtues of the SP, with its parallax-compensating viewfinder. I don't find a lot of difference in usability between the S3 and SP.

regards
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Old 08-31-2010   #4
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were you listening helen?

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Old 08-31-2010   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
were you listening helen?

Sweet isn't this...Joe
Man am I in Tune or What
I recently acquired
The LUST for the
S3 MILLENIUM

PURRfect of You Tom
now I'm on Fire
BrainFever DELIRIUM
XO- H
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Last edited by helenhill_HH : 08-31-2010 at 15:58.
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Old 08-31-2010   #6
johnnygulliver
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great article Tom - thank you for that. I've always been fascinated with Nikon rangefinders, being a pre-curser to my beloved old F, after my M2, of course.
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Old 08-31-2010   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalintrigue View Post
quench your lust:

http://bit.ly/bXWAN1
THANK YOU for another gas Attack...
Now I am a Ruined Woman....both in Purse and Reputation
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Old 08-31-2010   #8
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as 'Maddoc' says "its a nikon VIRUS '"
spreading FAST
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Old 08-31-2010   #9
back alley
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that camera is so beautiful!!

ALMOST makes film attractive to me again...
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Old 08-31-2010   #10
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Quote:
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that camera is so beautiful!!

ALMOST makes film attractive to me again...
hehehe
its NOW Bitten YOU tooooooo !!!
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Old 08-31-2010   #11
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Thanks Tom,
Now I know why my wallet is missing - must be another GAS attack.
cheers- eric
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Old 08-31-2010   #12
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hehehe
its NOW Bitten YOU tooooooo !!!
i was bit a while ago...

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Old 08-31-2010   #13
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I SEE YOU BOUGHT 'Her' in the Red Light District...Quite a Seductive Pose...lol


Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley View Post
i was bit a while ago...

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Old 08-31-2010   #14
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i gussied her up myself...
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Old 08-31-2010   #15
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Tom, nice report !! Personally, I found that it takes some time to get used to Nikon RF cameras but it is rewarding. The SP is my favorite, 1:1 VF for 50mm (and longer, with selectable frame lines) and a separate VF for 35mm and 28mm. It is like having an M3 and a 0.58x M combined in one camera.

Helen, if possible you should try before you buy ...
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Old 08-31-2010   #16
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Thanks Tom,
Now I know why my wallet is missing - must be another GAS attack.
cheers- eric
... .... ....
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Old 08-31-2010   #17
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Quote:
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Helen, if possible you should try before you buy ...
That's very good advice! Especially for someone used to Leica finders and focus patches.
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Old 08-31-2010   #18
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Thumbs up

I used to use M Leicas but once my older brother starting telling me about all the Nikon rangefinders he had back in the 60's and early 70's that stirred my curiosity and so a few ago I bought my first Nikon a vintage S3 and even though the rangefinder patch is not as bright and crisp as that of a Leica I have had no problems adjusting myself to using it and have not missed using Leica M rangefinders and only the other day I was fortunate enough to purchase an SP from jonmanjiro and am eagerly awaiting it's arrival
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Old 08-31-2010   #19
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I think we should start peppering this thread with Nikon RF pOrn

How about this one for starters

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Old 08-31-2010   #20
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Although I love my SP Tom's musings make me miss my S3 Millenium. To me it's about the prettiest camera ever made.

I will say that I get more "keepers" when shooting my Nikon RFs than with any other camera.

Here's the one that found a new home.
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Old 08-31-2010   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
I think we should start peppering this thread with Nikon RF pOrn

How about this one for starters

you should make them spell something...
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Old 08-31-2010   #22
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Goodness, gracious, jonmanjiro! I didn't even know there were that many lenses available in Nikon RF mount. Or maybe you have multiples of the same lens?
These are actually Tom A's lenses. I just linked his photo from flickr
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Old 08-31-2010   #23
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Quote:
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that camera is so beautiful!!

ALMOST makes film attractive to me again...

Reminds me of looking at pictures of my ex wife before she gained forty kilos!

oops ... was that politically incorrect?

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Old 08-31-2010   #24
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Thanks Jon, I still haven't figured out how to do that!!!!
I did find the 15f4.5 in F-mount that was missing - it was in a Leica drawer. I also forgot my Zeiss Opton Sonnar 50f1.5 when I stuck all the lenses on the table.
I have just gone back to shooting with some Bessa R4's and R3's as well as some M2's - keep turning the focus the wrong way.
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Old 08-31-2010   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom A View Post
Thanks Jon, I still haven't figured out how to do that!!!!
I did find the 15f4.5 in F-mount that was missing - it was in a Leica drawer. I also forgot my Zeiss Opton Sonnar 50f1.5 when I stuck all the lenses on the table.
I have just gone back to shooting with some Bessa R4's and R3's as well as some M2's - keep turning the focus the wrong way.
No problem, Tom
I just found the photos of yours that I intended to post the first time! Gear porn shots taken on film (with a Nikon F no less).







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