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Nikon RF vs Leica RF
Old 06-10-2013   #1
LChanyungco
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Nikon RF vs Leica RF

what's up my nikkors ? i've always been attracted by Nikon RF camera's aesthetics but what are they like to shoot ? Leica M bodies and lenses are like second nature to use. how easy would it be to adapt to a Nikon ?

thank you !
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Old 06-10-2013   #2
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They focus the opposite way. Aperture controls as well.
You can use a Nikon RF one handed and control focus (with the 21, 25, 28, 35 and 50mm lenses.)
Most SP bodies had titanium shutter blades that wouldn't be burned through by the sun. The shutter blades and assemblies of the SP/S3/S4 are interchangeable with the Nikon F.
The RF mechanism is in its own chassis and is incredibly robust.
The lenses are way cheaper than the equivalent Leica offerings.
The 1:1 finders are awesome.

It's a different way of doing things, that's all. I happen to love it. I have both a Nikon SP and a Leica M4. I prefer the 1:1 finder of the SP since squinting over a long time will give me headaches. I'm a left eyed shooter anyway and have learned to just block out my right eye with the camera body so that doesn't matter as much.
For day to day shooting, I prefer the Nikon but I'm not getting rid of my Leica.

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Old 06-10-2013   #3
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From time to time, I have the same urge to try Nikon RFs.
But then I come to my mind, and realize it's only GAS talking in my feeble head.
I'm reasonably happy with Leica's, so unless a Nikon falls in my lap by chance, I don't think I'll spend cash in that direction.
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Old 06-10-2013   #4
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Ditto Phil. The 1:1 VF is very very nice if you shoot 50.

I'm just getting used to an S2, and the biggest adjustment for me is changing aperture-- the lens barrel wants to move focus while I switch from f2.8 to 5.6, e.g. You can hold down the focus wheel to deal with this, but that's the sort of adjustment facing a leicaphile. But the machine is beautiful enough in design and handling to justify your desire, so give in. It's not a steep cost unless you have to have black, SP, etc.

In fact I was shooting an M5/35 2.8 Biogon and the s2/5cm earlier this evening--using the M to meter/ get wider shots, switching to the S2 for tighter angles and to take advantage of its "Sonnarity" at f1.4-2.0. Shooting them together may help you sort out their minor functional differences.
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Old 06-10-2013   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LChanyungco View Post
what's up my nikkors ? i've always been attracted by Nikon RF camera's aesthetics but what are they like to shoot ? Leica M bodies and lenses are like second nature to use. how easy would it be to adapt to a Nikon ?

thank you !
> what are they like to shoot ?

Compared to Leicas, they're a bit clunky and slow but definitely fun to shoot!

Besides those mentioned above, some other points to be aware of are:

* All lenses have a veeeeery long focus throw to match the 270 degree rotation from infinity to MFD of the focus helicoid built in to the body.
* Almost all lenses have a single helicoid design which means the aperture mechanism rotates as you focus (the only exception I can think of is the 50/1.1), so changing apertures on the fly can be a bit of a PITA.
* Loading film requires completely removing the back from the camera like on a Nikon F.
* The focus patch is a fuzzy blob that you'll either love or hate.

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Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
Most SP bodies had titanium shutter blades that wouldn't be burned through by the sun.
FYI the changeover from cloth to titanium shutter curtains happened around s/n 6214000 which probably means about 60% of SPs have a cloth shutter and the remaining 40% have a titanium shutter.
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Old 06-10-2013   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LChanyungco View Post
what's up my nikkors ? i've always been attracted by Nikon RF camera's aesthetics but what are they like to shoot ? Leica M bodies and lenses are like second nature to use. how easy would it be to adapt to a Nikon ?

thank you !
They are very different. My advice is not to use a Nikon RF with a Leica M mindset. Don't compare. Just get one and shoot. My experience is that you need to spend substantial amount of time to know the camera well. After that, I find it a breeze to shoot with and appreciate the Nikon RF as it is.
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Old 06-11-2013   #7
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thank you gentlemen. i wasn't really going to switch systems now but was just curious about how they feel. they look like such mean machines saw these today at the photomall near Shanghai Rail Station.

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Old 06-11-2013   #8
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Beautiful cameras in the picture. I will agree with all of the above. The 1:! viewfinder also makes telephotos a real joy to shoot -- 85/105/135 are all easy to frame and focus, and you develop a real sense of the relationship between lenses. Also, 35mm lens is pretty interesting to shoot using 1:1 finder on the S3. Shooting both eyes open is a real advantage.

Changing lenses on a Nikon is clunky at best, a bit dangerous to lens if done incorrectly.

I will agree that the differences make it hard for a long-time user to switch systems. I'm the opposite. I used Nikon RFs daily for several years, then tried a Leica. I didn't like the difference -- reduced image viewfinder, lenses and aperture turned in opposite direction, the RF focus patch was too well defined and therefore distracting.

The cameras are fun, but very different. It really probably makes sense to stick with Leica due to much wider range of available lenses (including some Nikkor lenses in LTM).
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Old 06-11-2013   #9
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I had an S2 for a bit, nice camera, I adapted easy enough, but then I find it easy to switch between cameras in general.

The S2 is a nice camera and can be good value so long as you don't want to build up a big lens collection.

I like the little focus wheel too.
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Old 06-11-2013   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LChanyungco View Post
saw these today at the photomall near Shanghai Rail Station.
So that's where they all are
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Old 06-11-2013   #11
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I have not used a Nikon RF camera yet, but I bought recently a Nikon S3 (2000), so that I try it out. A camera is a camera, and after having used many different cameras, I have no problem with using a non- Leica camera, say.
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Old 06-11-2013   #12
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So that's where they all are
The rest are here


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Old 06-11-2013   #13
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Not much to add, but my take is that the Nikon RFs are basically improved versions of Zeiss Ikon's Contax RFs, which puts them on the high end of the spectrum between the old "Barnack" thread mount Leicas & the M system in terms of overall usability. To echo others, the high-magnification VF is nice, especially if you shoot 50s & up, & mechanical reliability is high, but VF/RF are not up to Leica M standards. The essential usability is that of a professional system of the 1950s, which is very usable, indeed.

For me, the difference in focusing direction, etc. is not a big deal, but I started out using Contax equipment before ever getting a Leica, so I was accustomed to the basic form factor & ergonomics. I now switch between Leica/Leica copies/compatible, Contax RF, Nikon RF, & Nikon F equipment all the time & have various adapters that let me mount most of my Zeiss & Nikon lenses on LTM & M bodies.
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Old 06-11-2013   #14
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Hi,
I was a long time Leica rangefinder user, which I still like.
but I got a Nikon S3 at a great price and jump on it, I really
enjoy using it. You have to get used to the differences, like
making sure the lens is set at infinity when mounting wide
angle lenses but other than that it great to use that I don't
miss my Leicas at all. The lenses are great even the Cosina
ones and the cameras are built. I did use mine this weekend in NYC
and one of the street vendors said wow your the fourth person
I saw with a film camera and I said yep where still around it's
just more fun. You don't see to many of them around except
in the pictures above wow!

Range
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Old 06-11-2013   #15
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I think I'm in love...
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Old 06-11-2013   #16
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Yes, but how would we pack all these Nikons into a camera bag?
Imagine the weight!
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Old 06-11-2013   #17
Vincent.G
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LChanyungco View Post
thank you gentlemen. i wasn't really going to switch systems now but was just curious about how they feel. they look like such mean machines saw these today at the photomall near Shanghai Rail Station.

Lem, you don't have to switch systems. Nikon RF and Leica RF can coexist peacefully together.
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Old 06-11-2013   #18
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I`d love to give the Nikon`s a go (I did use a sp years ago) but no parallax correction kills it for me. And in the sp, with the correction, the squinty wide finder. . . un-corrected for parallax. This doesn`t seem to bother the thousands of people who use them.
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Old 06-11-2013   #19
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I use both systems, rarely together though. The Benefit of the Nikon's lies mainly in the compact lenses (and reasonably priced lenses).
The long focus throw takes a while to get used to - but it also allows for very precise focussing. The finders are OK, a bit squinty but works. Rangefinder cameras are not meant for precise framing anyway. The Nikon's are also lighter, I can pack 3 of them in my bag without falling over.
The lenses are good, in some cases as good as anything from Leica at a fraction of the cost.
My personal favorite is the S3 - great finder with the 35 and 50. OK, no parallax compensation, but you quickly learn how to adjust "mentally".
Loading is easy, but just like with Leica, you really need three hands to do it - or hold the baseplate (Leica M) or the whole back (Nikon) with your teeth.
I have shot M's for 50+ years and Nikon's for the last 12-15 years. I usually switch between them for a change of pace. If you haven't tried one yet, do it - but give yourself time and some rolls of film to get used to it. Well worth the effort. With some careful shopping, you can get your hand on a S3, a 35f2.5 and a 50f1.4 for less than a used M6 with no lens.
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Old 06-11-2013   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fred R. View Post
no parallax correction kills it for me.
The S2 doesn't have parallax correction either, but I've never missed it. The viewfinder is very close to the optical axis of the lens (much closer than on M-Leicas) and the frame is surprisingly precise.

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Old 06-11-2013   #21
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not on my budget they can't


Quote:
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Lem, you don't have to switch systems. Nikon RF and Leica RF can coexist peacefully together.
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Old 06-11-2013   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Erik van Straten View Post
The S2 doesn't have parallax correction either, but I've never missed it. The viewfinder is very close to the optical axis of the lens (much closer than on M-Leicas) and the frame is surprisingly precise.

Erik.
Same here. The lack of parallax correction is not a problem. And the Leica M (and Nikon SP) parallax correction system can't be compared with a 100% SLR viewfinder as for precision, because it's not tridimensional. Better than nothing, but it has its weak points too.
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Old 06-11-2013   #23
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The rest are here
How would you choose? I'd be there all day, then come back the day after
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Old 06-11-2013   #24
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Never used Leicas, because I was scared off by the price and turned off by the hype. But the one thing I do like about them is their very strong rangefinder spot. I shoot with Nikons and like them very much. They're rugged, reliable and affordable with a good selection of available lenses, but the diffuse, indistinct rangefinder spots are their biggest shortcoming, in my opinion.
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Old 06-11-2013   #25
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Quote:
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the diffuse, indistinct rangefinder spots are their biggest shortcoming
The rangefinder spot of the S2 is the best, in my opinion. When clean, it is very clear and because it is 1:1 it is incredible precise.

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Old 06-11-2013   #26
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I use both and switch back and forth. I was surprised at the ease I found switching. I don't imagine it's that way for everyone. I spent two weeks on vacation last summer switching continuously between an M2, M8 and S2 and didn't find myself as flummoxed as I expected. Perhaps, I am equally clumsy with either system. Even the different focusing directions/methods don't bother me.

The Nikon feels as natural in my hand and at my eye as an M. Not better or worse; just different. They are both solid, well-built machines.
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Old 06-11-2013   #27
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I started out with Nikon , still the s2 with a 5cm 1.4 lens can be had for $450-$550 .
The nikkors in Leica screwmount are quite a bit more , any large aperature leitz lens is very costly now .

The Nikon s2 is a very basic camera with a good finder , bright rf spot , and accurate focus .
It can not beat the Leica m series , the leicas parrelex corrected finder is nice , if you shoot the 35 focal length - well the m2/m4 finder is better than a sp or s3 . Just an opinion - I've used both . The s2 with a brightline 3.5 shoe mounted finder is better but slower .

The leitz lenses focus quick with the finger lever and reduced rotation .
The nikkors have a longer throw . The advantage is the nikkors single focus helicoid with coupling ring , most leitz lenses have two helicoid s in the lens with a key way - in time they wear . The nikkor hold its flatness to the film plane .


The Nikon s2 is my favorite rf camera - perhaps since I started out on it in 1974 . A Leica was a lot more money and most had 3.5 aperature elmars .
So I bought the black dial s2 with the 1.4 lens .
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Old 06-12-2013   #28
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Quote:
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Never used Leicas, because I was scared off by the price and turned off by the hype. But the one thing I do like about them is their very strong rangefinder spot. I shoot with Nikons and like them very much. They're rugged, reliable and affordable with a good selection of available lenses, but the diffuse, indistinct rangefinder spots are their biggest shortcoming, in my opinion.
Actually what is "strong" with the rangefinder spot of the Leicas are the rangefinder patch edges, and the rangefinder patch contrast in comparison with the rest of what you see in the viewfinder.

BUT the Leica rangefinder patch is so bright that it works well for very contrasty subjects with very defined vertical lines so that you can focus quickly.

The shortcoming of the Leica rangefinder patch is that you don't really see what is inside the patch if your subject isn't contrasty.

And the Leica M4-2 / M4-P / M6 rangefinder patch flares very badly in any contrejour situation, making focusing almost impossible.

OTOH the Nikon rangefinder patch has fuzzy edges and less contrast versus the rest of what you see in the viewfinder, but allows you to see what is in the patch very clearly, so that you can focus on an eye iris for a portrait with no problem. Added to the 1:1 viewfinder, this makes close-up portraiting a breeze. Just try this out with a 0.72 Leica...

The main shortcoming regards the original Nikon S3 viewfinder, which can flare a lot due to desilvering over time, hence a RF patch with so little contrast than focusing gets very difficult if the subject isn't very contrasty.

As Erik said, the Nikon S2 rangefinder patch might be the best you can find on any RF camera, period.

Some people like to remove the square mask off their Nikon RF camera rangefinder secondary front window. I tried this out but didn't find that it brought any improvement.
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Old 06-12-2013   #29
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From the M3 forward, in my experience, there are simply no VF/RF's that come close to Leica. Once you get used to the lesser clarity/brightness of other RFs, the Nikons are quite beautiful. I would also posit that the 50/1.4 S is the best 50mm of its era (among the Leica SUmmitar and Summicrons and SUmmilux, the various Canons, the Zeiss Sonnars). A really stunning lens. Sonnar fans would disagree. I had the 35/2.5 Voigtlander S mount which is also kickass. Same with the Voigtlander 90mm. The Nikon 85/2 is legendary and the 105/2.5 , if possible, is even more so.

In all -- go for it.
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Old 06-12-2013   #30
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The thing I like about the Nikon RF patch is that, once something is in focus, the rangefinder patch effectively disappears and you can concentrate on framing or waiting for the right (errr ... decisive ... ) moment to take the picture.
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Old 06-12-2013   #31
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Any system that you're unused to using will feel clunky at first. As for usability of Nikon RF cameras - they must be pretty solid since they were used to shoot the Korean War.
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Old 06-12-2013   #32
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Regarding parallax error and correction, I agree its not a big deal with the Nikon RFs, because they just don't focus close enough for it to be much of a problem.

To explain further (and hopefully I'm remembering correctly)...

The minimum focus distance of Nikon RFs is 0.90m due to the design of the focus helicoid on the body (which all lenses must slot into regardless of focal length).

From infinity to about 1.30m to 1.20m, there's almost no parallax error so little correction is needed.

From about 1.30m to 1.20m down to 0.90m, there's some parallax error but not that much so its fairly easy to correct for.

From about 0.90m down to 0.65m to 0.70m (on rangefinders that focus that close, not the Nikon RFs of course) the frame movement to correct for parallax error is very pronounced. That's because the required parallax correction increases exponentially as you get closer so most of the correction happens in that last 20 to 25 cm or so.

Quote:
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I would also posit that the 50/1.4 S is the best 50mm of its era (among the Leica SUmmitar and Summicrons and SUmmilux, the various Canons, the Zeiss Sonnars). A really stunning lens. Sonnar fans would disagree.
Sonnar fans would disagree that the Nikkor-S 5cm f1.4 (which is a sonnar optical design) is the best 50mm lens of its era? I'm a little confused there...
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Nikon vs Leica
Old 06-12-2013   #33
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Nikon vs Leica

I have a Nikon S2 and a Leica M2. The Nikon seems to me to be an old Leica with a contax mount. The shutter is a bit noisy but the viewfinder lovely. The M2 however has a sweet, quiet shutter, viewfinder nice but weight more than the Nikon. What a choice!
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Old 06-12-2013   #34
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Sonnar fans would disagree that the Nikkor-S 5cm f1.4 (which is a sonnar optical design) is the best 50mm lens of its era? I'm a little confused there...
Well the Nikkor-S 5cm f1.4 is a Sonnar optical design but it might have been tweaked so that it opens at 1.4 instead of 1.5.

Actually none of the several Nikkor-S 5cm f1.4 I used to own (I still have one) proved to be as good as my Zeiss Opton Sonnar 50mm f1.5 T.

The Nikkor vignettes while the Sonnar doesn't ; and from 1.4 to 2.8 the Sonnar is noticeably sharper in the corners... and the overall sharpness gap is still in favor of the Sonnar at f/4 and above.

The Nikkor-H 5cm f/2 is another story as it blows all my Sonnars 5cm f/2 away (and the Sonnars are excellent nonetheless !).

And this is a Sonnar design too...
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Old 06-12-2013   #35
jonmanjiro
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Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
Well the Nikkor-S 5cm f1.4 is a Sonnar optical design but it might have been tweaked so that it opens at 1.4 instead of 1.5.

Actually none of the several Nikkor-S 5cm f1.4 I used to own (I still have one) proved to be as good as my Zeiss Opton Sonnar 50mm f1.5 T.

The Nikkor vignettes while the Sonnar doesn't ; and from 1.4 to 2.8 the Sonnar is noticeably sharper in the corners... and the overall sharpness gap is still in favor of the Sonnar at f/4 and above.

The Nikkor-H 5cm f/2 is another story as it blows all my Sonnars 5cm f/2 away (and the Sonnars are excellent nonetheless !).

And this is a Sonnar design too...
Oh I agree with you Nicolas! I just understood that comment as saying in a round about way that the Nikkor-S 50/1.4 is not a sonnar, when of course it actually is a sonnar

It took me four tries to find a Nikkor-S 5cm F1.4 that performs to a level I'm happy with. Center sharpness is amazing (a shade better than my now sold Millennium even) and corner sharpness is pretty good too. Noticeably better than the other three samples I tried. The bokeh is still the same old busy ni-sen bokeh as the other samples but I can live with that.
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Old 06-12-2013   #36
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Actually what is "strong" with the rangefinder spot of the Leicas are the rangefinder patch edges, and the rangefinder patch contrast in comparison with the rest of what you see in the viewfinder.

BUT the Leica rangefinder patch is so bright that it works well for very contrasty subjects with very defined vertical lines so that you can focus quickly.

The shortcoming of the Leica rangefinder patch is that you don't really see what is inside the patch if your subject isn't contrasty.

And the Leica M4-2 / M4-P / M6 rangefinder patch flares very badly in any contrejour situation, making focusing almost impossible.

OTOH the Nikon rangefinder patch has fuzzy edges and less contrast versus the rest of what you see in the viewfinder, but allows you to see what is in the patch very clearly, so that you can focus on an eye iris for a portrait with no problem. Added to the 1:1 viewfinder, this makes close-up portraiting a breeze. Just try this out with a 0.72 Leica...

The main shortcoming regards the original Nikon S3 viewfinder, which can flare a lot due to desilvering over time, hence a RF patch with so little contrast than focusing gets very difficult if the subject isn't very contrasty.

As Erik said, the Nikon S2 rangefinder patch might be the best you can find on any RF camera, period.

Some people like to remove the square mask off their Nikon RF camera rangefinder secondary front window. I tried this out but didn't find that it brought any improvement.
I added a clear transparent piece of blue Lee filter gel behind one window in my S3 with the most indistinct patch and it improved the contrast of the image.
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Old 06-12-2013   #37
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Not sure I agree w/the 1st statement, though I have experienced the patch flare mentioned in the 2nd sentence in my M6 TTL & M7 before having the flare-reduction parts installed by DAG. Aside from the patch flare on those models, I haven't had any more of a problem seeing what's inside the patch on any of my M bodies (M3, M2, M4, M5, M digitals), even w/low-contrast subjects, than I 've had w/any of my Nikon RFs (S2, S3 2000, SP, & SP 2005).

Now if you're referring to the contrast between the RF patch & the rest of the VF, I think that's a wash as it works better for some people to have that contrast, not so much for others (including myself). Personally, I like the untinted VF like on the modern M bodies & S3, but if you prefer a tinted VF, like on an M3, Contax II/IIa, or S2, you can always add a gel per rbsinto's post (#37) (IIRC, jonmanjiro did the same w/his S3).

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Originally Posted by Highway 61 View Post
The shortcoming of the Leica rangefinder patch is that you don't really see what is inside the patch if your subject isn't contrasty.

And the Leica M4-2 / M4-P / M6 rangefinder patch flares very badly in any contrejour situation, making focusing almost impossible.
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Old 06-12-2013   #38
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I've mentioned it before in another thread, but I've experienced a lot more sample variation in the S mount version of the 5cm/1.4 Nikkor-S than in the LTM version (had experience w/3 LTMs, 4 S mounts). Not sure why, but perhaps Nippon Kogaku upped the quality-control for the LTM versions because they were marquee/export products?

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Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
It took me four tries to find a Nikkor-S 5cm F1.4 that performs to a level I'm happy with. Center sharpness is amazing (a shade better than my now sold Millennium even) and corner sharpness is pretty good too. Noticeably better than the other three samples I tried. The bokeh is still the same old busy ni-sen bokeh as the other samples but I can live with that.
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Five a Second. Chicago's Bell & Howell Co. (cameras) announced that it would put on sale this fall the world's most expensive still camera. Its "Foton" will take five 35-mm. pictures a second, sell for $700. Bell & Howell, which has found that "families of both low and high incomes now spend over $550" for movie equipment, hopes to sell 20,000 Fotons a year.
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Old 06-12-2013   #39
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Originally Posted by rbsinto View Post
I added a clear transparent piece of blue Lee filter gel behind one window in my S3 with the most indistinct patch and it improved the contrast of the image.
For those who wouldn't find that old thread by themselves :

http://www.rangefinderforum.com/foru...ad.php?t=74127
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Old 06-12-2013   #40
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I have a Nikon S2 and a Leica M2. The Nikon seems to me to be an old Leica with a contax mount. The shutter is a bit noisy but the viewfinder lovely. The M2 however has a sweet, quiet shutter, viewfinder nice but weight more than the Nikon. What a choice!
That's two of the reasons I sold my S2, it was noisy with that wack of
the shutter and the spinning shutter dial kept getting in the way of my
fingers, it's a great camera but I like the S3 more.

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