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Ruvy
10-18-2008, 13:10
I have ran across a photog who wants to sell his RF because he shoots only with a digital slr now. It looks like a nice and small camera and easy to use. RF is one type of a camera i have not used and I feel attracted to it without understanding the logic of my attraction. At the present I am using DSLR and occasionally I'll shoot my Rolleiflex. My questions are these:
For what type/subjeccts of shooting RF is best? what makes it best?

Al Kaplan
10-18-2008, 13:25
Things it's NOT good for: Long telephoto lenses, close-ups, pictures where you need precise framing and lining up of background with foreground objects.

Things it IS good for: photography in dim light, whenever you need a very quiet camera, use with wide angle lenses, any sort of quick unobtrusive shooting, flash photography.

Roger Hicks
10-18-2008, 14:08
Al's right, but it's like religion: if you have to ask, you'll never understand.

On the other hand, it's like religion: the mere fact that you ask means that you already understand.

(Sorry, Grasshopper).

Try it. With a secondhand camera, it won't cost you a fortune if you're wrong. Small, light, fast-handling cameras with minimal automation; good focus in poor light; if you already feel the pull, it won't cost you too many shekels to see if this is the path for you.

Cheers,

R.

user237428934
10-18-2008, 14:15
Things it's NOT good for: Long telephoto lenses, close-ups, pictures where you need precise framing and lining up of background with foreground objects.

Things it IS good for: photography in dim light, whenever you need a very quiet camera, use with wide angle lenses, any sort of quick unobtrusive shooting, flash photography.

Fully agree except flash photography.

Sonny Boy Havidson
10-18-2008, 14:59
Other advantage: the use of filters like 80A, color filters for B&W as you donnot look through the lens.

oftheherd
10-18-2008, 15:29
I'm curious, what camera are you talking about? Although you already mentioned Rolleiflex, I expect you are talking about 35mm. Even so, there are fixed lens and interchangable lens, and differences amoung those.

Maybe not to others, but to me, those things make a difference.

kshapero
10-18-2008, 16:33
Al's right, but it's like religion: if you have to ask, you'll never understand.

On the other hand, it's like religion: the mere fact that you ask means that you already understand.

(Sorry, Grasshopper).

Try it. With a secondhand camera, it won't cost you a fortune if you're wrong. Small, light, fast-handling cameras with minimal automation; good focus in poor light; if you already feel the pull, it won't cost you too many shekels to see if this is the path for you.

Cheers,

R.
Agree, great place to start: CV Bessa R3A/M w/CV 40mm/f1.4

cubastreet
10-18-2008, 16:48
Fully agree except flash photography.

Good for daylight fill flash - a lot have diaphragm shutters and synch right up to 1/500

Al Kaplan
10-18-2008, 18:24
Good for ANY flash situation. 1) You KNOW if the flash fired. 2) With an SLR the mirror blocks the viewfinder when the flash fires. 3) many people blink from the sound of the mirror going up, just in time to be photographed by the flash with their eyes closed.

mh2000
10-18-2008, 18:59
honestly, I think that SLRs are better at pretty much everything (getting ready to duck and cover!), but that's how I feel... still I am often drawn to shoot my rangefinders and find satisfaction doing so. Logic? Nah... Buy the RF and find satisfaction in it! It is a different shooting experience and required different thoughts which I think can add depth to some people's shooting.

The Good: Mostly smaller and quieter, some good lenses and cool bodies. If you use filters you don't have to look through them.

The Bad: Mostly inaccurate finders, no DOF preview, different (harder?) critical focusing (I prefer a good course micro prism), either expensive or old. No close focusing. No zooms (well, I hate zooms, but some people seem to like them).

You may love it!

:)

-doomed-
10-18-2008, 19:21
Coming from DSLR usage , i enjoy rangefinders more. The slr works well for anything, but the shutter is louder than on my R2A and my Canonet.There is something to using a small camera that doesnt attract attention like my canon 20d with my 70-200 hanging on it.

I agree in saying its like a religion , i got into it without any idea what the attraction was other than these things are interesting and you look like the average joe schmo wandering around with a rangefinder instead of an slr.
I feel more comfortable walking around my town with a rangefinder anyday.

italy74
10-18-2008, 23:28
Hi Ruvy
I thing one thing is really missing here, and it's OUTSIDE the camera itself.
It's a completely different way to approach your shooting. With DSLR you shoot what you see in that moment (you are "limited" by the lens angle of view) that is whatever DSLR you have, you start shooting a moment AFTER something is going on, no matter how fast is your af or manual focusing. with RF you can see the surroundings of your image and understand if something interesting is going to happen a moment BEFORE it really happens and use frame lines to get it IN THE MOMENT it happens.
However, in certain war areas, being stealthy with a RF can be vital to survive

Ruvy
10-19-2008, 01:01
Thank you all very much!!!

Reading your posts and visiting all galleries gave me just a vague reply. I think the most logical insight is to test it myself which is what I am going to do next.

The analogy to religion in nice in terms of dedication but its often comes with a cult connotation separating itself from other... I think that the dedication part is true for photography as a whole. However for most of us religion is something we are born into and die with - just a few lucky or unlucky persons are into it in sufficient depth to make a choice. Because where I now is a process of selecting a new tool and just adding it to existing tools the analogy to religion is very different from my this current experience.

If I understand you guys correctly, because its size and relatively quiet operation the camera is most suited for shooting things like candids or as its called now street photography however considering most come with 35-50mm lenses that mean I will have to get a lot closer to my subjects that I am used to with the DSLR. Isn't one contradicts the other?

At the moment I have a clear attraction with some reasoning that are not enough. The compact and silent nature is a part of it, love of gear that the quality is screaming out of every part of it is another reason but neither one makes any photographic sense when it comes to image quality which at the end of the day the only thing that makes me happy (on those rare occasions I get it).

When i am trying to look deeper into my attraction to this type of cameras few questions come to mind. Am I doing it just for my interest of controlling many tools? am I looking for it due to momentary poor subjects or lack of inspiration? Is it just a toy fancy? Again, I'll have to try RF to realize its creative offering.

Thanks again

Ruvy

Al Kaplan
10-19-2008, 01:48
Put a wide angle lens on a rangefinder camera and you CAN get close to your subjects, but they don't bite. It gives a sense of immediacy, of BEING there, that you don't get with a longer lens. Looking at the photograph you don't have the impression that you were shooting from across the room or across the street. The small camera doesn't appear threatening in any way, and once you learn to handle it instinctivly you'll almost "dissapear" while you're photographing. http://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/6344/1997/1600/Al%2023%20e.jpg is a photo that I can't imagine shooting with a big zoom lens on an SLR.

This was shot with a Leica M4 equipped with a 50mm f/1.4 Nikkor lens and printed full frame. Don't believe anyone who tells you that you can't frame precisely enough with a rangefinder camera. They probably can't get a decent composition wth an SLR either.

mfogiel
10-19-2008, 02:16
Ruvy
All what has been said above is true. apart from what mh2000 said - SLR's are not best at everything, and I can say that with confidence, because i shot SLR's all my life.
BUT, there are 2 factors that make the rangefinders really special:
- the focusing and framing of your image is much faster and easier than in case of SLR's - I am talking about normal range photography, there are exceptions
- the ratio between the size of the camera and the quality of the images it can deliver is such, that you truly feel like you can start "wearing" your camera every time you get out of your home, thus multiplying your photo opportunities

Roger Hicks
10-19-2008, 04:02
We may be in danger of over-intellectualizing this.

Either RFs suit you, or they don't. It doesn't cost much to find out, especially if you buy second-hand. Five hundred euros (or even dollars) should see a camera + lens, and if you sell it in 6 months you're unlikely to lose more than a hundred or two: cheap entertainment.

Cheers,

R.

MacDaddy
10-19-2008, 04:10
It's more about involvement with your surroundings to me. With a RF, I'm part of what is going on as I photograph it; with a SLR there is a "disconnect" from the process.

MarkoKovacevic
10-19-2008, 04:18
I don't know why RF. I took my Zorki out yesterday. It wasn't really comfortable to use, and I missed the color meter/AF/comfort of my F5.

Michael I.
10-19-2008, 04:29
Thank you all very much!!!

Reading your posts and visiting all galleries gave me just a vague reply. I think the most logical insight is to test it myself which is what I am going to do next.

The analogy to religion in nice in terms of dedication but its often comes with a cult connotation separating itself from other... I think that the dedication part is true for photography as a whole. However for most of us religion is something we are born into and die with - just a few lucky or unlucky persons are into it in sufficient depth to make a choice. Because where I now is a process of selecting a new tool and just adding it to existing tools the analogy to religion is very different from my this current experience.

If I understand you guys correctly, because its size and relatively quiet operation the camera is most suited for shooting things like candids or as its called now street photography however considering most come with 35-50mm lenses that mean I will have to get a lot closer to my subjects that I am used to with the DSLR. Isn't one contradicts the other?

At the moment I have a clear attraction with some reasoning that are not enough. The compact and silent nature is a part of it, love of gear that the quality is screaming out of every part of it is another reason but neither one makes any photographic sense when it comes to image quality which at the end of the day the only thing that makes me happy (on those rare occasions I get it).

When i am trying to look deeper into my attraction to this type of cameras few questions come to mind. Am I doing it just for my interest of controlling many tools? am I looking for it due to momentary poor subjects or lack of inspiration? Is it just a toy fancy? Again, I'll have to try RF to realize its creative offering.

Thanks again

Ruvy


Shalom,Ruvy!

While logic says otherwise,RF is ideal(for me) for 35 and 50 lenses.
I love the fact the lenses are small,the shutter unobtrusive(while not nescessary quiet) and the camera doesnt look threatning.

I also like the fact the whole vf doesnt change focus liek in slr.

robbert
10-19-2008, 04:31
It's more about involvement with your surroundings to me. With a RF, I'm part of what is going on as I photograph it; with a SLR there is a "disconnect" from the process.

+1

When I'm out with my EOS people are aware and stare. With my RF I am just one of the people and not the photographer.

Ruvy
10-19-2008, 09:50
We may be in danger of over-intellectualizing this.

Either RFs suit you, or they don't. It doesn't cost much to find out, especially if you buy second-hand. Five hundred euros (or even dollars) should see a camera + lens, and if you sell it in 6 months you're unlikely to lose more than a hundred or two: cheap entertainment.

Cheers,

R.

You are right on both account. I have this tendency but as I have said earlier, the true solution to my question is in trying it. Will know better after playing with a RF camera.

Thakns

Artorius
10-19-2008, 20:28
Ruvy,
Don't know which part of Israel you are, but there are a few RFF members there. Seek one out and beg/borrow one for a while, if they would be so kind. Won't cost you more than a couple rolls of film, and maybe a lunch/dinner for him/her.
I started my career with range finders, transitioned to SLR's, then digital, and now, 30 years later, RF again both film and digital. It felt good to be back to my photographic roots. Still have the DSLR's, but they don't seem to get the same usage, except where an RF doesn't work for me.
Good luck in your endeavors.

mh2000
10-19-2008, 21:31
I didn't say SLR's were best at "everything," just "pretty much everything," which I guess could be watered down a little, but there is a reason that RF's became a small niche market after SLR's became widely available (and remember, there was a fairly long period where Japanese rangefinders were still offered as cheaper alternatives to SLR's, so it wasn't the high cost of Leicas that killed them).

I guess one reason that I like shooting RF's as a SLR alternative is that they somehow feel much more casual... when I'd feel like a geek carrying around a SLR I can carry around almost any RF and feel fine... I guess I don't have the religion in me, but I still really like shooting my modest RF collection (Retina IIa, Leica IIIc, OLY XA & ECR, and a bunch of FEDs and Zorkis)... but for serious shooting I will always prefer a SLR (for the DOF preview which is useful for composing, as is the exact frame VF instead of the really inaccurate RF VF's).

>>... All what has been said above is true. apart from what mh2000 said - SLR's are not best at everything,

Roger Hicks
10-19-2008, 22:53
. . . but for serious shooting I will always prefer a SLR . . . ,

What is 'serious shooting'?

I use a DSLR for pack shots and soft focus, and SLRs generally for long focus lenses. In the days when I shot food, I used 6x7cm and 4x5 inch; I still own MF and LF cameras.

But the vast majority of my 'serious shooting', whether for publication or for pleasure, is with RFs, and has been for decades.

Cheers,

R.

Ruvy
10-20-2008, 06:42
Ruvy,
Don't know which part of Israel you are, but there are a few RFF members there. Seek one out and beg/borrow one for a while, if they would be so kind. Won't cost you more than a couple rolls of film, and maybe a lunch/dinner for him/her.

Good luck in your endeavors.

Thanks!
I live near Tel Aviv and I have done today just what you, Roger and other have suggested - got a RF camera loaned to me by a friend and started shooting. Still shooting my first roll but first impression is that I have a very hard time connecting to the feelings of ease and versatility expressed above in this thread. Hope its just a matter of getting used to the big differences in focusing, metering and composing and not an issue of things like my eye glasses, difficulty to accept change and as such.

mh2000
10-20-2008, 06:53
for me, I mean serious shooting when the point of the moment is nothing but photography...

then things like the ability to frame precisely and at close distances makes for more reliable image making for *me*.

>>What is 'serious shooting'?

Roger Hicks
10-20-2008, 08:21
for me, I mean serious shooting when the point of the moment is nothing but photography...

then things like the ability to frame precisely and at close distances makes for more reliable image making for *me*.



Para 1: Yes...

Para 2: Just as for me, the immediacy, smaller size, contrastier lenses, reduced obtrusivenesss, greater ease of holding steady, greater ease and speed of focusing, lack of mirror backout, etc., make it more reliable; again, for me.

The term 'serious shooting' may be seriously misleading here.

Cheers,

R.

oscroft
10-20-2008, 20:34
I don't really have much of a religious attachment to either - I use both SLRs and RFs, and I think different situations are best approached with different kit. However I am relatively new to RFs, and I am more and more beginning to appreciate one advantage they have...

If I'm walking around and want to be able to "grab" shots without wanting to spend too much time focusing and framing, I'll preset the focus according to DOF and can then rapidly raise the camera and shoot at anything that I know is going to be within the DOF.

I find I just can't do that with SLRs. I know focus and DOF work the same, but with an SLR if it's not critically focused it looks blurred and I just psychologically can't take photos that look out of focus - I raise the camera, and instead of firing the shutter I instinctively start to refocus, and lose the moment.

Artorius
10-20-2008, 21:45
If I'm walking around and want to be able to "grab" shots without wanting to spend too much time focusing and framing, I'll preset the focus according to DOF and can then rapidly raise the camera and shoot at anything that I know is going to be within the DOF.

I find I just can't do that with SLRs. I know focus and DOF work the same, but with an SLR if it's not critically focused it looks blurred and I just psychologically can't take photos that look out of focus - I raise the camera, and instead of firing the shutter I instinctively start to refocus, and lose the moment.

I guess I am just lucky. In my early days with RF M2, M3 and SLR days, F1, F2, FTN, FM3A, F5 & F6, I used the prefocus/hyperfocal distance reguraly. With the advent of auto-focus most people don't even bother, let alone what it means. Like most of us oldies, we know how to focus without the auto mode.
With the Leicas, know your ASA/ISO, set the f siop, set your hyperfocal distance, and shoot away.

itf
10-20-2008, 23:40
Oh man, I ask myself this all the time. Why RF? I consider selling my Leica every week. I only own an M4-2 and a couple of (relatively) cheap lenses, and for me that seems a lot of money tied up in a camera when I could get a film SLR and lenses for much cheaper and spend the change on film.

Then I pick up an SLR with a 28 on it! I don't like the diameter of the lenses and how much they stick out, the blackout, the way you see your focus. They're the main things but its enough to make me keep my rf for another week, every week.

I think I'm a bit strange though; I also love using external finders for wide lenses (wider than 35mm). As oscroft said, the temptation is to focus with an SLR even if the dof covers it, I find the same problems with moving framelines sometimes! The simpler, the faster, the better. For me that is.

However, for me, that these cameras are film is not a problem. As with SLRs, every now and then I think I have to start with digital. Then I realise that it may save me money, time, etc, but the trade off would be that every time I got the shot I'd be devastated it wasn't on film.

Ruvy
10-21-2008, 00:55
Oh man, I ask myself this all the time. Why RF? I consider selling my Leica every week. I only own an M4-2 and a couple of (relatively) cheap lenses, and for me that seems a lot of money tied up in a camera when I could get a film SLR and lenses for much cheaper and spend the change on film.

Then I pick up an SLR with a 28 on it! I don't like the diameter of the lenses and how much they stick out, the blackout, the way you see your focus. They're the main things but its enough to make me keep my rf for another week, every week.

I think I'm a bit strange though; I also love using external finders for wide lenses (wider than 35mm). As oscroft said, the temptation is to focus with an SLR even if the dof covers it, I find the same problems with moving framelines sometimes! The simpler, the faster, the better. For me that is.

However, for me, that these cameras are film is not a problem. As with SLRs, every now and then I think I have to start with digital. Then I realise that it may save me money, time, etc, but the trade off would be that every time I got the shot I'd be devastated it wasn't on film.

Thanks. When I am looking at your gallery and read your rational they speak same language spoken form the heart.
So far it seems like I am trying to focus the RF really like a slr + measure light and adjust it. Compared to DSLR, end result for me so far is lesser immediacy and less attention to details/intimacy with the subject photographed. I hope its about getting used to it. I am at my first roll and am going to try 2-3 more rolls befor I can tell. I wish you lived closer so I can lend you my DSLR and let you see how diffrent things are when you are used to it. If you do decide to try it go for Sigma sd14 or the sd15 that coming out soon. Its the DSLR closest to film you can find

itf
10-21-2008, 02:45
Ruvy, thank you very much for your kind words. I did start out using a basic film SLR (no auto exposure or auto focus), and at first I would adjust exposure and focus for every photo. I found this didn't work for me (for much the same reason you are currently struggling with the RF).

After a while I got used to adjusting exposure only when I needed to (setting exposure for the light I was in and changing it only when the light changed or I moved), and with a 28mm lens I would keep it as much as possible on f8 with the focus at about 2-2.5 metres. This gave enough dof to cover most photos I would take, so I could react as quickly as possible to most situations. If I needed to adjust focus, a small twist one way would move it closer, the other way, further (I would only usually adjust focus after already taking a photo, a slightly unsharp picture is better than the missed moment).

Using an SLR in this way was ok, but I thought there must be something with the viewfinder of a compact but the controls of an SLR. I hadn't known what an RF was, but turned out to be what I was after. It was easy to switch to RF, but not so easy to go back to SLR.

I started using RF coming from the opposite direction to you though, from my (limited) experience with DSLRs I can understand the confusion and difficulty in the change. Give the RF a go, then use what works for you :). Good luck.

Whew, massive post, didn't mean to share my history:o.

PS. There are also some reasonably cheap fixed lens RFs with auto exposure that may work for you, or make getting used to it easier.

JohnTF
10-24-2008, 07:05
Thanks!
I live near Tel Aviv and I have done today just what you, Roger and other have suggested - got a RF camera loaned to me by a friend and started shooting. Still shooting my first roll but first impression is that I have a very hard time connecting to the feelings of ease and versatility expressed above in this thread. Hope its just a matter of getting used to the big differences in focusing, metering and composing and not an issue of things like my eye glasses, difficulty to accept change and as such.

I envy the folks who have the muscle memory and experience to be totally at ease with a camera with little or no automation. I was close to that in my Crown Graphic days as a kid shooting sports when I had to turn on the flash, cock the shutter, pull the slide, stash the slide, focus, frame, shoot and dodge the on coming player.

If you were shooting a formal, there was no expectation of someone jumping around shooting like Arnold at Predator, so you took a bit more time.

I did shoot candids with a zone focus 35mm, and I think I was just about the only one, bigger camera meant more professional then, and it was a blue collar area, only doctors owned Leicas. Still, I got a totally different perspective in the shots with my Signet 50, which among my peers was certainly a change.

A possible transition to the feel of the focal lengths, size, and feel of RF's might be the Contax G series. I just saw one at a camera show for $300 asking price with normal lens, and that is a lot of camera for the dollar. You have the option of automation and the feel of RF. Excellent images, Zeiss glass, and I do not think you would have trouble selling it, or keeping it for a back up if you decide to take a step in to M Leica Land.

Just a thought.

Regards, John

NathanJD
10-24-2008, 11:11
Being someone who came from DSLRs to RFs it was the challenge, the grittyness and non-uniformity that I fell in love with. You really have to get bitten by the bug to 'get' RF photography I think, and one thing's for sure - the user's gallery here on RFF is unlike any user's gallery i've seen on any other photography forum on the web - infact the kind of pic I aspire to; the kind that get's lapped up here is absolutely lost to the crowds of 'sunset this and macro that' folks in the rest of civilisation.

shadowfox
10-24-2008, 13:48
In addition to the technical advantages described earlier in the thread....

An RF style of shooting is a like a familiar and comfortable shoes you wear for taking a walk in the park.

To most people, you look like a tourist, idly snapping pictures.
To most photographers around, you look like a harmless, clueless guy/girl with a small camera, snapping pictures.

But when you meet the perceptive ones, most likely they shoot RF themselves, you feel that instant bond, a knowing wink, a faint thumbs-up...

It's really cool :)