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-   -   Contax IIa vs Leica IIIa as P&S for street. (http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=167002)

Ste_S 12-06-2018 04:20

Contax IIa vs Leica IIIa as P&S for street.
 
Considering picking up a classic rangefinder for street to use as a P&S (zone focus, set average exposure and let film latitude take the strain).

Screw mount Leica or Contax are within my budget, M Leicas are more than I would like to pay for a camera.

In particular a Leica IIIa w/ 5cm f2 Summar or Contax IIa w/ 5cm f2 Sonnar are within my reach at the moment. Both from reputable retailers with 6 month guarantee.

However the Contax is reported as having sticky slow shutter speeds whilst I'm always put off by the faff of having to trim the film leader with the Leica. Not so convenient if I need to buy fresh film when I've run out.
With both cameras I'm also wary of them becoming repair/service money pits, especially with the Contax where servicing may be a problem here in the UK.

Thoughts ?

Filter Factor 12-06-2018 04:46

Hello,

Have you considered other camera models besides the ones you have listed? I too would worry they may become money pits. Contax servicing is available throughout Europe but not inexpensively.

In your shoes I would consider the later screw-mount Canons, or the earlier Leica-clone Canons, or other LTM clones. Or perhaps even an SLR.... Is being a rangefinder a must-have? I use my F6 for street photography and it is a tremendous tool and a great bargain in today's market.

Cheers, Robert

Larry Cloetta 12-06-2018 04:52

Everybody has a free opinion, worth the price, but here’s mine as an owner and user of both. They would both be fine, and the downsides you mention are more theoretical internet chatter than real obstacles, imo.
The 50/2 Sonnar is sharper than the Summar, and yields a nicer result, imo. Lenses were the one biggest advantage Contax had, in the referenced time period. But, it’s a personal preference.
Trimming leaders is both easy, really easy, and takes only a few seconds. Then you’ve got 36 more frames to shoot. If that’s a problem, it’s one beyond my understanding. Has always sounded more like a feeble whine for help.
Slow shutter speeds on the Contax II being problematic in real life on a working camera, that’s news to me. Both these cameras work without issue if they have been maintained, and neither one works if they haven’t, so nothing to choose from there.

Servicing might be an issue if trying to get it done locally. Best to get one that’s recently had it done, and done correctly, than buy one and find out it had been cheerfully misrepresented by the seller. Been there. Either camera, if it’s in good shape, should stay that way for a long time.
Good luck, and have fun, no matter what you decide.

Ko.Fe. 12-06-2018 04:57

Check if C lens has visible distance scale and you could focus by lens.
Or you might end up telling stories here how street is done at f11 and by fixed focus.
:)
I'm with 50mm lens on my Leica right now and it is not street lens, IMO.

Ste_S 12-06-2018 05:04

Quote:

Originally Posted by Filter Factor (Post 2852958)
Hello,

Have you considered other camera models besides the ones you have listed? I too would worry they may become money pits. Contax servicing is available throughout Europe but not inexpensively.

In your shoes I would consider the later screw-mount Canons, or the earlier Leica-clone Canons, or other LTM clones. Or perhaps even an SLR.... Is being a rangefinder a must-have? I use my F6 for street photography and it is a tremendous tool and a great bargain in today's market.

Cheers, Robert

Funnily enough I use an F4s at the moment. It's perfect for night - the heft/dampening of it means I can get away with shooting slower shutter speeds than I can on other SLRs, and the matrix meter never misses a beat.
However one of the plusses of the F4s - it's weight and size is also one of it's downsides.

Fancied using something a bit lighter, especially on longer days in daylight hours. I could just use another SLR (my sensible head is telling me to just use a Nikon FE/FM series), but fancied trying a rangefinder as I've not used one before.

Arbitrarium 12-06-2018 05:08

I'm currently enamoured with my Canon VI-L so I'm going to recommend that.

Fastest rangefinder I've used so far, so a good choice for street. The viewfinder is parallax corrected and 1/1 scale so you can frame with both eyes open. I've got a really smooth Jupiter 8 attached that I can focus with one finger, making the whole thing a one-handed operation if needs be. Finder can switch to 35mm view if you want a more standard street FOV.

Both Barnack and Contax finders are likely a bit too pokey for quick street photos if you ask me. Not forgetting how heavy Contax are too...

xayraa33 12-06-2018 05:23

All are good, the Contax IIa and Leica IIIa were first class 35mm cameras of the 1930s and 1950s and both will do the job.

Things to consider is parts availability and the cost of a CLA down the road, and classic lens pricing (German and Japanese classic lenses) should you need to add some lenses later on.

The Barnack Leicas have the Contax IIa beat on these two factors.

presspass 12-06-2018 06:11

I can't speak about the Contax since I've never shot one. I do shoot a iiia regularly with a Summar and it's fine. You will probably need an auxiliary finder, either the Leica one or the one sold by Voightlander. With zone focus, the auxiliary finder truly makes it a point and shoot. You will also need a lens hood. The adjustable one works as well as the big Summar-specific hood. No matter what you buy, you are at the top of a very slippery GAS slope.

mpaniagua 12-06-2018 06:56

I own and use Leicas LTM. Don't own a Contax but a Kiev with 35/50/85 lens.

Thinking about them as a street shooter, I would go the Contax route. I think Contax/Kiev are faster than Leica because the rangefinder/viewfinder are one window. Ergonomics may need some adjustment but they are a joy to use after a couple of hours.

Best regards

Marcelo.

Sarcophilus Harrisii 12-06-2018 07:02

Leica didn't catch up with Contax until the M3 was released 20 years after their II/III. The M3 surpassed Zeiss in certain respects, in a few respects (Eg rangefinder accuracy) Leica have never surpassed Contax. You should bear in mind the very strong pro-Leica stance of most forum members here, objectively Contax hosed the Barnack Leicas in usability and optical performance. Why do you think Amedeo Contax adapters for Leica are so popular?

By all means get whichever camera you find easiest to use, it's a personal preference of course. Perhaps unusually, I came to top flight rangefinders via Contax, first. Lately I've been using a IIIg a bit and, yes, it's a lovely little camera but my Contax IIs kick its butt for ease of use (the separate window for focusing is small and pokey and a PITA). Separate dials for slow speeds. Rotating shutter dial. Loading one's a joke.

There are good reasons why the M3 fixed all these issues.

I'd take a II over a IIa personally, but a IIa over any screw mount Leica unless I had to fix it. I don't mind working on IIs, the IIa has some retrograde features...

David Hughes 12-06-2018 09:09

I'll second that comment about the Leica II and add that the Summar is the hardest to find in good to very good condition. Also, do you really want an uncoated lens for street work?

FWIW, I own and use, from time to time, a pre-war Contax II and I've spent so much on it that I shall probably take it to my grave, as the alternatives losing hundreds if I sold it...

Regards, David

Pioneer 12-06-2018 12:44

I have used the Leica III a lot on the street and have enjoyed using several different lenses. This includes the Nikkor 3.5cm/2.5, the Color Skopar 35/2.5 and the old standby, the Elmar 50/3.5. They all seem to work very well but I would recommend going with a later, coated Elmar if you decide to go that direction. Obviously both the Nikkor and the Color Skopar are coated. Of them all the Color Skopar is the newest and is also the most resistant to flare.

I have also recently begun using a Kiev 4 along with a Color Skopar 35/2.5 or Jupiter 8, and find it to be just as nice on the street. If I find one at the right price I may give the Jupiter 12 a try as well. I also own a Snapshot Skopar 25mm lens but am not as comfortable with that field of view as I am with the 35mm.

lxmike 12-06-2018 13:27

i shoot regularly with a IIIg and a IIIc, strangely l prefer the IIIc especially when combined with SBOOI

Peter Jennings 12-06-2018 14:07

Whichever camera you choose, pair it with a good external finder like the ones from Leitz or Voigtlander. They make framing easy and pleasurable.

Archlich 12-06-2018 14:15

A Canon P is much easier to use , much cheaper and still very nicely built.

JeffS7444 12-06-2018 14:22

Wonderful thing about the Leica is that it's small and it handles pretty good all things considered. Either trim film leaders in advance or carry a small pair of scissors; you don't need to be precise about it.

Rob-F 12-06-2018 14:28

Quote:

Originally Posted by Peter Jennings (Post 2853085)
Whichever camera you choose, pair it with a good external finder like the ones from Leitz or Voigtlander. They make framing easy and pleasurable.

I second this. An external finder makes things a lot better with a Barnack. Aside from the obvious benefit of having a much better finder, it also lowers the camera so it doesn't hide your face, which I think is less disturbing for the people passing by.

Secondly: It is an RFF tradition to suggest an entirely different camera than the one being asked about. So: how about a Minolta CLE with 40mm or 28mm Rokkor? You will get auto-exposure--off the film, no less--and a better viewfinder! And a 40 or a 28 is better than a 50 for street work. Of course, it's not a Leica . . .

Bingley 12-06-2018 15:46

I've got a Leica IIIc and a Canon IVSB2. Both are really nice for street photography. I don't have a Summar but if the sample you're looking at is fairly clean there's no reason not to use it.

I recently acquired a post-war Contax IIIa with a Zeiss Sonnar 50/2.0 lens. The slow speeds on the camera are slow but the rest are OK. In use, I'm finding the Contax a little fussy compared to the IIIc, although that may simply be my lack of familiarity with the Contax. But what really blew me away was the Sonnar that came with the camera. What a beautiful lens!! I love the way it renders (I'm kind of a Sonnar fan anyway) and my sample is very clean. I like the lens so much I bought an Amedeo adapter so I can shoot it on my M mount cameras.

goamules 12-06-2018 16:53

Continuing the tradition of recommending something other than what you asked, did you consider a Retina? Their viewfinders are bigger in some models, their lever wind is fast, their leaf shutter quiet, they fold up and stick in your pocket. I shot a roll through a new IIc with the 50/2.8 and captured my running dog. Not sure I'd get it with the tiny Barnack viewfinders.


presspass 12-06-2018 17:18

Don't worry about the uncoated lenses. They are excellent with black and white film - good shadow detail and the lower contrast helps keeping the highlights from blocking up. A clean Summar is an excellent lens. Pair it with the amazingly tiny 35 3.5 Elmar and a very available 90 4.0 Elmar and you have a very portable outfit that will serve you for decades.

Ste_S 12-07-2018 01:20

Thanks for the replies folks. Not too worried about uncoated lenses especially with B&W. Have had a lot fun in the past shooting a Zeiss Ikon Nettar with B&W film with zero issues.
At the moment, tempted by the Contax as it appears in nicer condition and comes with a six month guarantee. Need to speak to the retailer about if first and then search to see if there's anyone in the UK who services them first though...

Quote:

Originally Posted by Archlich (Post 2853087)
A Canon P is much easier to use , much cheaper and still very nicely built.

Funnily enough, a Canon P is also an option, with a Canon 50mm f1.8. It's about the same price as the Contax IIa and Leica IIIa though.

Dralowid 12-07-2018 02:42

In one form or another the Leica/Contax debate has been going on since the 1930s. Warms the heart to see it revived.

From my perspective the Contax is a fabulous camera but the Leica seems to have the knobs and buttons in the right places.

Erik van Straten 12-07-2018 03:01

No prewar rangefinder is better built and faster to use than a Leica III with a SBOOI (for 50mm) or SBLOO (for 35mm) mounted. The Leica III is the strongest, but also smoothest and best built camera there is and is a much more practical camera than a Contax. And as a bonus it is by far the cheapest Leica in black paint too.

Compared to a Leica III a Leica IIIc is a toy. It is as if you compare a Land Rover with a 2CV.

I have two of them: one I got for free and the other was EUR 165 if I remember well.

Erik.



David Hughes 12-07-2018 03:28

Traditional RFF Digression...
 
Yes, there's a lot going for the 2CV; comfortable seats, fuel economy (56mpg), road holding even in snow and ice, cheap to run and practical. And you get a starting handle...

Regards, David

Erik van Straten 12-07-2018 04:06

I have seen a 2CV blown by the wind.


Erik.

Erik van Straten 12-07-2018 04:08

Quote:

Originally Posted by David Hughes (Post 2853175)
Yes, there's a lot going for the 2CV; comfortable seats, fuel economy (56mpg), road holding even in snow and ice, cheap to run and practical. And you get a starting handle...

Regards, David


Yes, and?


Erik.

leicapixie 12-07-2018 04:17

My choice, though I love my Leica M's is a SLR., usually no meter,
Most older are all mechanical (Except Canon A series but very reliable).
Purchased nice condition Pentax Spotmatics, KM, Nikkormat(mint),
Nikon F; Were all priced from $10~~$80 (Nikon-f with 50mm f2.0.
I love my Canon Ae-1p (free), the Av-1 and lenses were easy..50mm came with body and 28mm Canon purchased for $40.


The LTM Leica are a pain to load unless you really research..
A Business card helps in loading!
Using fall-off added viewfinders not my idea of fun!
The Contax and Kiev worry is servicing..

Street photography has NO rules!
The 50mm (my personal favorite) but love using longer or wider..

Ste_S 12-07-2018 04:23

I have made a purchase !

The Contax was perhaps the romantic choice, but in the end practicality won out and I've purchased the Canon P. Looking forward to it arriving !

Quote:

Originally Posted by leicapixie (Post 2853183)
Street photography has NO rules!
The 50mm (my personal favorite) but love using longer or wider..

Same, 50mm works well for me. Always end up having to crop 28mm photos as I'm not close enough ;)

goamules 12-07-2018 04:56

The Canon P is a good choice - light compared to an M3 too. I was just looking through my black Leica II, sitting in my dim office. You can't find the rangefinder patch until you move the focus back and forth several times and spot it. then you have to move your eye to the tiny, pinhole viewer. Extremely slow and cumbersome. Sure, they used them for street and action shots in the 1930s, but they had lots of practice. The Canon P with it's huge viewfinder and lever wind will be better.

p.giannakis 12-07-2018 23:44

Quote:

Originally Posted by Erik van Straten (Post 2853172)

Compared to a Leica III a Leica IIIc is a toy.

Erik.


Hi Erik,

I always thought that the IIIc was released as an improved version of the III.

BTW, that III looks beautiful.

Larry Cloetta 12-08-2018 04:18

Quote:

Originally Posted by p.giannakis (Post 2853398)
I always thought that the IIIc was released as an improved version of the III.

.

And so it was.
Though it is worth remembering that no manufacturer ever released a succeeding model touted as “unimproved, perhaps even not as good.”

Ko.Fe. 12-08-2018 05:01

Quote:

Originally Posted by leicapixie (Post 2853183)
My choice, though I love my Leica M's is a SLR., usually no meter,
Most older are all mechanical (Except Canon A series but very reliable).
Purchased nice condition Pentax Spotmatics, KM, Nikkormat(mint),
Nikon F; Were all priced from $10~~$80 (Nikon-f with 50mm f2.0.
I love my Canon Ae-1p (free), the Av-1 and lenses were easy..50mm came with body and 28mm Canon purchased for $40.


The LTM Leica are a pain to load unless you really research..
A Business card helps in loading!
Using fall-off added viewfinders not my idea of fun!
The Contax and Kiev worry is servicing..

Street photography has NO rules!
The 50mm (my personal favorite) but love using longer or wider..

Everything works for street, indeed. With my EOS 300 and 16-35 f2.8 lens I see zero reason in mechanical cameras. They are as fetish as Leica is :).
I purchased classic, original 50 1.8 EF to match it with EOS 300.
And all metal tele zoom lens to match Nikormat :).

As for loading, no card or else is need if Leica, Zorki was assembled properly after CLA and film is cut as it must. If both factors are present, then cassette, spool and film on them just slides in, without dancing with bells and whistles. And it advances film smooth and no issues by very first frame.

IMO. 50 mm is very limiting if you are open to catch everything which happens just in front of you. It is focal lengh for something in the distance and doesn't really moving. Maybe it worked in HCB time with much less population and life been slow, but to me GW has proved it. His earlier photography is with 50mm, but only.
I mean, I'm not too shy person on the street and with 50mm I just can't frame all I need in the frame and been close.
It took me years, but with 16-35 2.8 EF AF zoom I was able to get what they are saying about taking it as close as people thinking it is not picture of them been taken. IMO.

:)

Ste_S 12-08-2018 10:03

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. (Post 2853431)
Everything works for street, indeed. With my EOS 300 and 16-35 f2.8 lens I see zero reason in mechanical cameras. They are as fetish as Leica is :).

Yeah absolutely. I mostly shoot with Nikon F4 or F801, matrix meter, program mode, auto focus. Never misses a beat.

Sometimes though it's just nice to try something else ;)

Re 50mm vs 28/35mm. I've not really had any issues fitting everything into the frame - it's just how far you stand off from your subject

santino 12-08-2018 11:14

The IIa is the smoothest mechanical camera I've ever used. Its a pity that it is so hard to service but its a real jewel. Wish it had a larger vieefinder.

markjwyatt 12-08-2018 11:36

Quote:

Originally Posted by santino (Post 2853553)
The IIa is the smoothest mechanical camera I've ever used. Its a pity that it is so hard to service but its a real jewel. Wish it had a larger vieefinder.

For street purposes zone focusing and either an optical viewfinder or sports finder should suffice.

Ste_S 12-10-2018 04:06

The Canon P turned up today and fired a few frames off with it a lunch. Viewfinder is excellent, nice bright frame lines and patch works a treat.
Slow speeds are draggy, 1sec kind of just hangs until your move the shutter speed dial. Will probably need a service, but not too bothered about the slower speeds at the moment.

On the whole, quite impressed with the P. Also came with a Canon yellow filter as a bonus.

On a side note, shooting today is starting to confirm my opinion that Sunny 16 should be Sunny 11 (at least) in the UK. Heavy overcast today and I was metering 1600ISO at f5.6 1/500s

Dralowid 12-10-2018 04:12

We dyed in the wool old Leica types use sunny 12.5...

leicapixie 12-10-2018 04:30

HCB used 50mm for earlier work..
Refer article by Ernst Haas, HCB used the 35mm as much as 50mm.
See HCB's Japan portfolio, many shots only possible with a 35mm..

I respect using electronic cameras, enjoying my Canon Ae-1, Ae-1P, Av-1.
The only possible problem is servicing.. my Canons and EOS are OK.
I have an almost for nothing cost EOS SLR that I will soon run a roll thru..
Battery costs C$40.00 so use before dead!

The use of early Leica is the different look of images.
A beautiful softness, low contrast that most pleasing to my eye..
A friend cut his leader with a "guide" and even so in a rainy "Santa Claus"
Parade, it took him 40mins to reload!
I would have kicked camera into street..anger non-management.

Truthfully any film camera can be used except really noisy units..
In the noise of modern cities, traffic, building, demolition and even rioting, even noisemakers like Bronica, Hasselblad and Mamiya RB67 can be safely used..
Load film, enjoy, shoot..

willwright 12-10-2018 06:16

you might take a look at a IIIb..retains the tiny size of the IIIa and has the all in one finder of the later IIIc add a Summitar, (huge improvement on a Summar!) and you have one terrific street shooter!

charjohncarter 12-10-2018 07:43

I've always found focusing with a Barnak or any focusing camera a real slowing down of the process. So recently with a SLR I put on my 28mm @ f 8 and set to 10 feet. The DOF gauge said a little less than 5 ft to infinity. Pre-select a shutter speed, now just view and shoot. How much nicer it would be with a 28mm on my IIIf.


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