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Scale Focus 35's Though not rangefinders, scale focus 35's are 1st cousins. This forum includes such popular gems as the Rollei 35's, Petri 35's, and the Olympus XA-4.

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Hot shoe rangefinder for Rollei 35?
Old 08-05-2019   #1
rob.nyc1
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Hot shoe rangefinder for Rollei 35?

Hey guys,

Most of the time, me and my Rollei 35 are cool with the scale focus.

Unfortunately whenever I want to shoot anything lower than f5.6 on a bright day, I struggle with getting a sharp image.

Does anyone have a good recommendation for useable, hot shoe rangefinder? And probably just as important: where to buy one? eBay prices look out of control, but maybe I'm not good searching for these things.

Thanks,
Rob
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Old 08-05-2019   #2
charjohncarter
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I bought (on Ebay) a Medis Rangefinder for $12 (can't remember the shipping). I use it on a few cameras: Isolette, Nikonos, and even on an SLR with a wide angle lens. It is 2.5 inches long and the body is .75 inches wide (the dial adds more).

Mine is the third, fourth, and fifth, top row:

https://duckduckgo.com/?q=medis+rang...4%5Bekm%5D.jpg
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Old 08-05-2019   #3
aizan
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What's your budget?

There's a nice DeJur rangefinder on eBay for $35. Jump on it:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/VINTAGE-CAM...sAAOSw7MtdQmsO
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Old 08-05-2019   #4
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Personally I would measure out distances and practice guessing them. Kinda like using a light meter to check your exposure guesses. You may be surprised how quickly you start to nail it.
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Old 08-05-2019   #5
rbiemer
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Err, wouldn't you need to look for an Australian version?....






Goodnight, everyone! I'll be here all week, tip your servers...

Sorry, I couldn't resist.

More seriously, you might consider the "Blik" rangefinders. FSU production so they'll read in meters but fairly small and light weight. Not too pricey.

"Watameter" was another brand. Small, and don't seem to be too expensive.

Rob
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Old 08-07-2019   #6
David Hughes
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A small point but...

Some rangefinders have the scale in feet and some in metres and some both. So best to check and seer that the RF chosen matches the scale on the camera and has the same distances as well as the same type of scale.

BLIK ones are interesting in that the scale matches the scale on USSR camera lenses; well, those that I've used have but I've not checked all of them.


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Old 08-07-2019   #7
vagab0nd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
Personally I would measure out distances and practice guessing them. Kinda like using a light meter to check your exposure guesses. You may be surprised how quickly you start to nail it.
This is what worked best for me with the Rollei 35. When I attached a RF onto the hot shoe it had the effect of slowing me down.
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Old 08-07-2019   #8
michaelphoto
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Would'nt it be rather ackward, considering that the flash shoe is located under the camera. The scales would be upside down, which must slow you down a lot.
Maybe it is smarter to use the rangefinder not attached to the camera.
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Old 08-07-2019   #9
rob.nyc1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vagab0nd View Post
This is what worked best for me with the Rollei 35. When I attached a RF onto the hot shoe it had the effect of slowing me down.


My hot shoe is on the top of the Rollei 35 (Classic), but I like the idea of getting better estimating distance to keep the camera nimble in every scenario.

Are you able to shoot wide open with solid focus accuracy? Or do you mostly shoot at smaller apertures?


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Old 08-07-2019   #10
charjohncarter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rob.nyc1 View Post

Are you able to shoot wide open with solid focus accuracy? Or do you mostly shoot at smaller apertures?

I'm not; it is easy on subjects ten feet to infinity. But wide or just wider openings around five feet I can't 'nail it.'
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Old 08-07-2019   #11
rob.nyc1
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Quote:
Originally Posted by charjohncarter View Post
I'm not; it is easy on subjects ten feet to infinity. But wide or just wider openings around five feet I can't 'nail it.'
Ah ok! I'll practice estimating distances close up. If I'm still struggling in a few months I'll try one of the rangefinders above.
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Old 08-07-2019   #12
aizan
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Scale focusing by feel is one of the most powerful but incomprehensibly under-practiced techniques for rangefinders. But for something like the Rollei 35 (and other scale focus cameras like the Olympus Pen), another approach works really well.

Instead of learning how to estimate how far away your subject is, just learn several common framings and what the corresponding distances are, then extrapolate from there.

For example, let's say you take a lot of photos like these:

1) Full length portrait, vertical orientation
2) 3/4 length portrait, vertical orientation
3) 1/2 length portrait, horizontal orientation

All you have to do is figure out three rough distances for whatever lens you have!
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Old 08-07-2019   #13
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I have a Rowi in feet, but if necessary I believe you can get one in meters. It's a nice, balanced looking unit, and is still accurate after all these years.
https://www.google.com/search?q=Rowi...ih=822#imgrc=_
It stays with my Voigtlander Vito II and Perkeo combo.

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Old 08-07-2019   #14
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The best focus tool is the DOF scale on the lens barrel.
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Old 08-07-2019   #15
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You could always try a little handheld laser rangefinder. A generic one is going to be cheaper than a shoe mounted manual one.

I stick with estimates based on my own measurements - arms outstretched, a full pace, two full paces etc. If it’s important and too narrow a DOF I prefer to bash out a few shots as a bracket in less time than it’d take to mess around with another device.

Best of luck finding whatever suits.
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Old 08-07-2019   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by farlymac View Post
I have a Rowi in feet, but if necessary I believe you can get one in meters. It's a nice, balanced looking unit, and is still accurate after all these years.
https://www.google.com/search?q=Rowi...ih=822#imgrc=_
It stays with my Voigtlander Vito II and Perkeo combo.

PF
These look pretty cool, hard to imagine something with a true rangefinder much smaller.
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Old 08-08-2019   #17
vagab0nd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rob.nyc1 View Post
My hot shoe is on the top of the Rollei 35 (Classic), but I like the idea of getting better estimating distance to keep the camera nimble in every scenario.

Are you able to shoot wide open with solid focus accuracy? Or do you mostly shoot at smaller apertures?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
For close ups I try to shoot at 4 to 5.6, but would go 2.8 if needed. My right arm extended is about 3' exactly so I felt pretty confident with those shots. Figuring out between 4 and 10' was the bigger challenge but eventually I got comfortable shooting wide open at those distances as well.

Everyone has their own ways to practice, I used two: 1) I'd walk around with a SLR or TLR that I knew had accurate focus and then I'd guess the distance to an object and see if I was correct; 2) I used a tape measure and masking tape to mark distance to the wall on the floor. I found more value in option 1, but sometimes weather or time makes a walkabout impractical.
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Old 08-08-2019   #18
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I have a couple of rangefinders ... one is a Voigtländer from the 1950s that matches the Vito II body ... but I find I use them only rarely.

With the Rollei 35, in good light I set the camera to f/11 and use the distance scale. All you have to remember, really, is 2m (6') and 6m (20') for near and far subjects. For distances up to 6' with larger apertures, it's easy to measure the distance with your arms and hands (although it might look a little funny... ): learn how long your arm is, your forearm, the width of your hand, the width of your finger span, and use them as rulers. As distances grow between 6' and 18', learn the sizes of common things around you (like flooring tiles, window sizes, the length of a park bench, etc) so you can gauge distance by just looking around you and assessing what things are between you and the subject.

If you do it enough, it all becomes natural and easy. This means: load the camera, shoot 36 photos within a day and remember how you measured the distances, process the film IMMEDIATELY and look at the results even if only on a light table with a magnifying glass so you can confirm whether your focusing method hit or miss. Then learn when you make mistakes and remember it, go shoot another roll the next day, or as soon as you can, and do the same thing.

The focusing problem is greater when I move to 6x6 because of the larger format's much shallower DoF. I practice scale focusing with my Polaroid SX-70 for that format: it's a similar sized format and you find that f/8 to f/16 does not net anywhere near as much DoF at the usual distances so it's easy to see the differences between getting it right and not. Estimate the distance first, then focus the SX-70 using its viewfinder ... check to see whether I got it right.

Having a good RF or tape measure to get critically accurate focusing is nice, but some effort and practice to learn scale focusing and DoF technique can go a very long way and make using the external tools much less of a priority. It's just like learning how to guesstimate exposure...

G
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Old 08-08-2019   #19
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I tried a Watameter rangefinder, but I discovered that I prefer simplicity over sharpness with the Rollei 35.
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Old 08-08-2019   #20
Huss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by petronius View Post
I tried a Watameter rangefinder, but I discovered that I prefer simplicity over sharpness with the Rollei 35.
exactly. I use this and vagab0nd's method. if you need an rf then really a different camera would be better.
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Old 08-27-2019   #21
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What did you end up doing, OP?

I agree that distances between 3' and maybe 20' are difficult.

What I do is remember that my foot is exactly a foot long. That works for very close distances when I have the time to pace it off. Then I imagine a 6' person laying down and look at the ground.

Another thing that helps is to shoot 400 speed film, so you can use the smaller apertures and it's not so critical. I'm finding 400 film is just a perfect compromise. I can still shoot at dusk and hand-hold, and in bright light, f/16 and 1/500 is usually enough. (and if it's close, rely on film latitude )

I have a rangefinder I use for developing my hold-over charts for my airgunning. I think it was about $100, but very accurate. Probably carrying a 25' tape measure a few times until you get the hang of things would be more practical.
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