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Larry Kellogg
03-10-2005, 14:32
Hello,
I have a 20D with a few good lenses, the 35mm f/1.4L, the 10-22 EFS lens, the 50mm 1.4 and a 70-200 f/4 L. I love the camera and the images it produces. Why am I not happy? Well, even though I have tried as hard as possible to come up with a minimal setup, it is still too heavy to carry while traveling or walking around, even if I take just the 35mm lens and the body.

So, I tried out an R-D1 yesterday. I have to admit that I had some trouble with the user interface, especially pulling up the film knob, pushing it back, and hitting the enter button a number of times to erase pictures or change settings. I think I could get used to it, even if it is a little awkward.

The shutter was a little disturbing as well. I don't know how to describe that metallic shreeek. Have people found that it attracts a lot of attention when shooting in public?

I have spent some time coming to grips with the limitations of this camera, the problems with the viewfinder lines, the problems with the wide angle lenses, separate viewfinders, etc etc.

Yet, even with all the issues, I'm still intrigued with the idea of shooting with this camera. I'm not an old film guy, I gave up trying to learn photography with film after paying for a lot of processing of bad photos. ;-) I got back into digital photography after digital cameras got better.

I live in New York City. I want a camera which will allow more spontaneity in my photography. The 20D just seems like too much to be a good street shooting camera. I love the lack of blackout in a rangefinder and the viewfinder is to die for, compared to the 20D. Is the shutter speed as fast as it seems from my limited time with the camera? Can you really focus that thing in all lighting conditions?

So, help me get started. What one or two lenses would you recommend for the R-D1? I'm new to all of these Leica type lenses. How much are these lenses going to run me? I guess I want something close to a 50mm lenses with the 1.5x factor but I'm open.

Is it realistic to think that I could replace my whole 20D kit with this camera? I'm not into flash photography but sometimes it is necessary. It is also nice to have a wide angle lens.

Regards,

Larry

P.S. To the guy who equated the R-D1 to knowing something about Stanley planes and woodworking. If you give me a mint #1, I can see an easy way to buy this camera!

simonclivehughe
03-10-2005, 14:55
Larry,

The main question is " Is it realistic to think that I could replace my whole 20D kit with this camera?". The short answer is not really. The reason is because you'll only get to just over 100mm (using a 75mm lens) and that's a big difference from the effective 300mm you get with your current lenses. On the wide end, with the CV 12mm lens you'll get to 18mm equivalent (and it's a super little lens). So, to recap, what you'll potentially miss is the long telephoto and the macro capability you had before. Using the R-D1 (as with any rangefinder) forces you to think differently about how and what you photograph.

I've had my R-D1 just a couple of weeks and, like you, I had a DSLR setup (D2H, and glass from 10.5mm up to 300mm), so I know the feeling. I jumped ship for exactly the same main reason, getting really tired dragging around 40 pounds of gear! So far, I LOVE the R-D1. I had/have the same issues with the GUI, but you get used to it and the picture quality is simply wonderful (and I'm shooting all CV glass).

For lenses, I'd recommend (based on what I have) the 28 f1.9 (42mm on the R-D1), possibly the 35mm f1.7 (53mm on the R-D1) and maybe the 50mm f1.5 (75mm on the R-D1). These three lenses will work for you with on the camera without having to get an external viewfinder. Later, you could go with the 12mm for wide shots.

Focusing is a whole new ball game after using the AF DSLRs, and it may take you some time to become fast and really proficient, but I find the viewfinder to be almost as bright as the M7 I had for a while.

Hope this helps,

ijonas
03-10-2005, 15:00
Hi Larry,

I'm a current owner of 10D with a 50/1.4, 24/2.8, and a 85/1.8, so I guess I'm kinnda in the same ballpark as you. I'm going to sell all this gear. Why ? Because I can't get my head around the 1.6x crop factor and how it affects my street shooting/pre-visualisation. What I pre-visualise is not what ends up on the photo. Even with the 24mm, which x1.6, is supposed to look like 35mm-ish (the natural street-photo lense), looks wrong (can't put my finger on it).
Beyond that, its too bulky and heavy, although the 20D is a slight improvement. That said, the 10D is a great camera, and so is the 20D.

My biggest issue remains with that 1.6x multiplier. And you can't get rid of that with the RD1... it remains. Although Voigtlander makes some great affordable wide-angle lenses, such as the 15mm Heliar, I think entering the world of range finders goes hand in hand with getting some traditional lenses such as a tack-sharp 50mm or a tack-sharp 35mm.

So I'm not sure if you'll experience that much more difference compared to the 20D, unless you go for a film-based RF like the Bessa R2 (which I started out on).

I've just bought my second RF, a Leica M6, and I'm developing my own film again. I'm going to sell my 10D + lenses. The two RFs really work for me, as most of the photography I enjoy is informal portraits, street photos, and travel photography. I've got a little Canon A95 as digital which I'll hang on to for those times when I need "instant" results.

Just some thoughs, your mileage may vary,
Ijonas.

pfogle
03-10-2005, 16:26
Hi Larry,

I have had the R-D1 for a couple of weeks, not enough time to really get to grips with it, but I am already very excited by the possiblilities.

I also use a 20D, mainly using the R-D1 for normal lens (28mm) b/w, where it complements the reflex perfectly.

I'm pretty much locked into digital, so I'm happy to have an RF, whetever the cost.

jlw
03-10-2005, 18:49
So, I tried out an R-D1 yesterday. I have to admit that I had some trouble with the user interface, especially pulling up the film knob, pushing it back, and hitting the enter button a number of times to erase pictures or change settings. I think I could get used to it, even if it is a little awkward.

I dunno, I don't find it awkward. You hardly ever have to pull up the knob during image review -- only if you want to magnify the image on the LCD. You can erase images by pushing the bottom button (unless you've programmed it for something else) and then the enter button. I think that once you've used it a bit more you'll find it isn't awkward, just different from what you're used to.


The shutter was a little disturbing as well. I don't know how to describe that metallic shreeek. Have people found that it attracts a lot of attention when shooting in public?


The sound doesn't strike me as being either metallic or especially loud. It's just a nice, crisp click. It's sharper than a fabric-curtain RF camera, but I don't find it attracts a lot of attention, possibly because it doesn't last very long. An SLR with a motorized mirror action, such as your 20D, produces a lower-pitched noise, but it lasts longer. I guess it's a question of what's obtrusive in what situation -- there are some situations in which ANY camera is going to sound agonizingly loud!

I live in New York City. I want a camera which will allow more spontaneity in my photography. The 20D just seems like too much to be a good street shooting camera. I love the lack of blackout in a rangefinder and the viewfinder is to die for, compared to the 20D. Is the shutter speed as fast as it seems from my limited time with the camera? Can you really focus that thing in all lighting conditions?

If by 'shutter speed' you mean time lag, yes, it really is that fast. When I first started shooting action with the R-D 1, my timing was always 'way too early. I found that I had subconsciously taught myself to press the release earlier to allow for the lag of my Nikon D100; the R-D 1 has drastically less, so I didn't need nearly as much lead time. The fact that you can SEE the peak action (vs. an SLR, where the finder blacks out when the mirror flips up) is a huge advantage also. And yes, you can focus it accurately in very low light, although the "lock-in" isn't quite as positive as on some other RFs with longer-base rangefinders.

So, help me get started. What one or two lenses would you recommend for the R-D1? I'm new to all of these Leica type lenses. How much are these lenses going to run me? I guess I want something close to a 50mm lenses with the 1.5x factor but I'm open.

Well, it should be easier for you than most because you're already accustomed to using a camera with a crop factor. That's a huge adjustment for longtime 35mm shooters that you don't have to make. All you have to get used to is the difference between an RF and an SLR... but it's still a pretty different world.

Because of that, I'd say start out with ONE lens that you think would be the most useful, learn how you work with that, then go on from there. Having to use auxiliary viewfinders is, frankly, a pain in the butt (yes, I do it, but I don't enjoy it) so I would strongly suggest starting out with the focal lengths for which the camera has finder frames. Which ones? Well, for example, if you like a 35 on your 20D (1.6x crop factor, right?) a 35 on the R-D1 will be similar but a bit wider.

If you'd prefer a wider view for street shooting, a 28 would give a bit more angle (Sean mentioned in his review that he really liked that 28/1.9 Voigtlander lens.) Personally, I haven't gone in this direction yet because I wear glasses, and I can't see all of the 28mm finder frame at one glance. Most of my shooting is done with a 35, a 50, and an 85 (with @#$% auxiliary finder) and of the three, I use the 50 the most. But I do a lot of studio and theater photography, so a longer focal length works for me. A lot will depend on what kinds of photos you like.

Is it realistic to think that I could replace my whole 20D kit with this camera? I'm not into flash photography but sometimes it is necessary. It is also nice to have a wide angle lens.

Logic would say no. You've got a good range of lenses in your 20D kit, including very long focal lengths that would be almost impossible to duplicate with the R-D 1, and an SLR is always going to be more versatile for close-ups, grad filters, etc. Like all rangefinder cameras, the R-D 1 is really good at a relatively small range of things, while an SLR is fairly good at almost everything. By far the best option (if you can swing it financially) is to keep your SLR setup for its versatility, and add an R-D 1 and one or two lenses to take advantage of its specialized talents.

Having made that very logical statement, though, I have to admit that since getting my R-D 1, I have not taken my Nikon D100 setup (which includes 20/2.8, 35/2, 50/1.8, 85/1.8, and 70-200/2.8 lenses) out of the cabinet even ONCE, and lately I find myself looking at it and thinking, "Hey, if I sold all this stuff, I could buy some more R-D 1 lenses!"

But I wouldn't advise anyone to quit SLRs cold turkey. After all, you've already got it, it's not costing you any money just sitting there, and it's good to have a backup.

Larry Kellogg
03-10-2005, 19:00
Hello,
Thanks for all of your responses! I really appreciate the advice you've given me. I had the feeling that I wouldn't be able to replace the 20D, in terms of it functionality, focal lengths, etc. The real question, to my mind, is whether I'm going to enjoy photography a lot more with the rangefinder than I will lugging around all of the Canon equipment. This is an open question.

I wish I could keep both cameras but I don't think I can justify it in terms of the cost and the hassle of trying to decide which one to take when going out or traveling. I think I'm going to go through a trial period with the R-D1 to see if it is a better fit for me. I think it will force me to think more like a photographer. The 20D is so automatic that it doesn't feel like photography after a while.

So, where is a good place to buy this camera and the lenses mentioned in review? Of course, I live in New York so I am well aware of the perils of shopping at B&H, Adorama, and Calumet. ;-) That's where I bought all my equipment.

Regards,

Larry

David Kieltyka
03-10-2005, 20:36
I have a Canon 20D outfit in addition to the R-D1. I basically use the 20D with two zooms: 1785 & 70300mm. I have other lenses, including Canon's fast 24 & 50mm, but mostly I stick to the zooms. I use this outfit mainly for nature & some wildlife photography. (Thus my Avatar, not taken with an RF camera.) There are many fine parks and wilderness areas near where I live.

For me the R-D1 & other RF cameras encourage a choice of different subject matter and a different style of shooting. I almost always go with a single lens over the course of a photo outing, working within that lens' capabilities. I tend to stick with focal lengths in the "normal" range. I prefer urban environments with an RF camera...NYC is one of my favorite haunts in fact. :cool:

I have to say I'm really enjoying the different fields-of-view of familiar focal lengths compared to their behavior on 35mm cameras. The R-D1's 28, 35 & 50mm framelines are all variations of "normal" to my eye. It's as though the camera were tailor-made for my way of seeing.

-Dave-

driggett
03-10-2005, 20:40
Larry,
Since you live in NYC then go to the store and make sure of the following things before you buy.

Try out the camera from the box before you pay for it.
1) Check to see if the rangefinder frames are square and level with the sensor. Check that they match.
2) Focus the lens at the wides f stop and see if the pictures are in focus.
3) Check for spots or scratches in the CCD.

You may want to bring your laptop and a sd card reader to the store to do this. Tell them that there have been reports of these defects.

Have fun with the camera.
Cheers,
Chris

DaShiv
03-11-2005, 01:02
Is it a rangefinder that you want, or just a smaller size? For instance, the new Rebel XT plus the new Sigma 30/1.4 will give you a nice, compact, and versatile combination for the times the 20D and an L lens is too big to lug around.

I wouldn't say the R-D1 is "easy" to use under low light, because the rangefinder patch can be hard to see sometime when it's dark. But since it's manual focus and it has no mirror slap, it works much better in dark conditions where autofocus fails (without the tell-tale AF assist light from an external flash).

I find my 20D to be a great supplement to the R-D1 -- with a 16-35, 24 prime, or similar lens on it, you can have a nice wide angle in a hip bag or dangling off your shoulders without having to worry about external finders or swapping lenses. But because of the R-D1's price, maybe a smaller body/lens combination will be all you need as a substitute instead. Deciding between the 20D and the R-D1 would definitely be a Sophie's choice for me!

mfs
03-11-2005, 03:32
I am in the same boat. I hava a 20D, and a collection of fine Canon lenses accumulated over the years.

The advantages to me of the RF style of use is light weight camera, and lenses, fast response (no focus hunting), size of additional lenses, and more spontaneous style of use.

The advantages of the SLR system is wider choice of focal length lenses (longer lenses, zoom lenses, macro lenses), more automated style of use - point and shoot mentality.

So the choice is yours!! Pick the system based on what style of use more closely matches your style. I personally have a problem since I shoot varied subjects - from wildlife (long lenses - SLR better) to city shots (RF better).

I have a Leica M5 with a couple of great lenses, and frankly the additional time needed to frame out, and adjust the exposure has yielded a much higher percentage of "keepers." It will be interesting to see if a digital RF continues that trend for a higher yield of "keepers."

Also remember - no zooms for the RF camera. Many of us are so accustomed to using zooms that reverting back to single focal length lenses may be a bit daunting.

Martin

tamerlin
03-11-2005, 04:56
Hello,
Thanks for all of your responses! I really appreciate the advice you've given me. I had the feeling that I wouldn't be able to replace the 20D, in terms of it functionality, focal lengths, etc. The real question, to my mind, is whether I'm going to enjoy photography a lot more with the rangefinder than I will lugging around all of the Canon equipment. This is an open question.


I'm in almost exactly the same boat as you, but with less SLR gear so far -- and
yet it's already enough gear to make lugging it around a bit of a drag!

But I think that most likely I will end up using the rangefinder more than the
Canon (Digital Rebel in my case) just bcause it'll be much easier to carry, which
means that I'll have it with me almost all the time, unlike with the Rebel.

I don't think I'll give up the Rebel though, because of the fact that it has some
advantages that rangefinders don't, but hopefully in a week or so I'll be able to
try out shooting with a rangefinder and find out for sure :)

Sean Reid
03-11-2005, 04:57
You have some great advice here already and I must really hand it to jlw especially for a reply which is full of excellent advice. I think one aspect worth thinking about is what focal lengths and distances you normally work at. As has been pointed out in this thread, a rangefinder is not the best camera for close-up work and long telephoto work. It's wonderful for everything in between. I do some of the former and almost none of the latter. Ideally, it is good to have both a rangefinder and an SLR but if you have to choose for now to keep within a reasonable budget, consider keeping the digital version of whichever camera you use most often. For example, you could have the R-D1 and a film SLR or the 20D and a film rangefinder. I don't use film any more but film cameras are an inexpensive option, especially for only occassional use.

Regarding shutter noise, the R-D1 is louder than the Canon 10D but quieter than the 20D or 1-series bodies. In actual use, I haven't found the shutter noise to be an issue at all for most work. It's not that loud in the grand scheme of things, just louder than notably quiet cameras like the M7, E-1 and 10D.

jlw's advice to start with just one lens is a great idea. My primary cameras now are the R-D1 and the Canon 1Ds. I use the latter for professional architectural work, close-up work or any professional project where I need maximum file resolution. I use the R-d1 professionally as well.

Sean

Larry Kellogg
03-11-2005, 07:11
Thanks for all of the advice. I don't think I want to go with another DSLR, like the Rebel XT, because it would still be too big and bulky. Unfortunately, sometimes just the 35mm lens is too big to carry around, nevermind the body!

I'm thinking that the Ultron 35mm 1.7 would be a good starter lens. I like shooting at 35mm (effective 52mm). I think the 50mm would be a little too long for the way I like to shoot. I tried various lenses on the 20D and have found the 35mm to be a pretty good compromise in terms of focal length. So, what do people think of the Ultron? Is it better than the older Leica lenses (Summicron)? I know most of photography is in getting a good lens so I don't want to have a nice camera with a poor lens and wind up being disappointed in the results. Does anyone have some galleries shot with the Ultron?

Well, you people are right about keeping both the 20D and the R-D1. Now, if I could just convince my wife of this logic. I heard a great quote from Jay Leno who said, "Most men in Hollywood have many women and one car. I have one wife and many cars." ;-) I could say the same thing about cameras.

Regards,

Larry

rover
03-11-2005, 08:42
I am a big fan of both the 35 Ultron and Summicron. Sean's review here though will address your questions regarding their performance on the RD-1 specificly.

http://luminous-landscape.com/reviews/lenses/rd-1-lens.shtml

jlw
03-11-2005, 10:01
If you've got money to spend and time to wait, you might also want to hold off until the M-mount 35/2 Carl Zeiss Biogon makes an appearance.

CZ claims all their new M lenses have been designed with digital camera usage in mind. So far I've only seen a few sample pictures from the 50/2, but those looked pretty impressive.

vincenzo
03-11-2005, 10:17
Hej! Where did u see the sample images? im salivating over the 2.8/15 and 2.8/21 but keen to see/sample any of the new zeiss line.
ZM shipment arrive at your door yet sean?

David Kieltyka
03-11-2005, 10:21
I like the 35mm Ultron better with the R-D1 than with my film RFs. (Same goes for the 28mm Ultron.) I guess this is mainly because I've been moving toward narrower fields-of-view over the past few years. To my eyes the lens has a pleasing character: sharp but not harsh. Histograms tend to show a full distribution of brightness values. It's very good value for the money IMO.

-Dave-

David Kieltyka
03-11-2005, 10:23
Vincenzo, maybe the Zeiss 50mm sample shots in question were mine.

http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00BRQ8

-Dave-

Sean Reid
03-11-2005, 10:24
No Zeiss lenses, probably early next week. David K. posted some nice Zeiss 50 samples.

As far as 35s....the 1.7 is very good and so is the 2.5. The latter is lighter and more compact so if you don't need the fast aperture, it's a great choice.

Sean

vincenzo
03-11-2005, 10:46
From my perspective the perfect photo-journalist rd-1 lens combo would be ZM 15/2.8, VC 28/1.9, LEICA 50/1.0
Nothing more/less. Small M bag, spare batteries and Epson P2000 - a marvel)
Now can anyone lend me a few grand to get the 15/2.8 and noctilux?)

driggett
03-11-2005, 11:22
David,
Where did you get the lense? Is there a good online dealer for theses?
Thanks,
Chris

David Kieltyka
03-11-2005, 12:00
Chris, I got mine from Sam Shoshan at the Classic Connection. Sam is a long time Leica dealer (among other brands) and I've purchased (used) lenses from him before. He knows his stuff and is a pleasure to do business with.

http://www.leicasam.com/

-Dave-

tamerlin
03-11-2005, 13:14
I talked to him this morning about my order... he said that the one m7 that they had in stock had been opened
up and had a fingerprint on it (!), so he had Leica drop-ship mine out to me!

This is obviously someone who's looking to get repeat buyers to come back to him.

It doesn't hurt that he has good prices, too. :)