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Small, fast 35mm fixed-lens rangefinder
Old 02-01-2018   #1
dmitrizzle
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Small, fast 35mm fixed-lens rangefinder

Hello! Looking for some wisdom and suggestions.

I own a few Electro 35's, FED5 and QL25 for rangefinders. Electors are my favourite of the bunch but I'm looking for something hopefully smaller as I am about to downsize to just one cam that I'll take with me when I travel extensively.

I'm considering Retina IIIC or IIA as I've heard their viewfinders are better than the rest from the line. IIIC is pricey af for my budget and IIA is a bit slow. Plus I've heard that they're not as practical. Although extremely beautiful.

I'd love to hear any suggestions here. Thank you!
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Old 02-01-2018   #2
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The Olympus 35 RC is one of my favorite travel cameras. Meets the small and light criteria; good lens; rangefinder; auto exposure with battery, plus full range of shutter speeds and aperture control should the battery die. Stephen Gandy has a nice writeup on the camera, for reference: https://cameraquest.com/olyrc.htm
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Old 02-01-2018   #3
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Yashica Electro GX. Fast, small and light and aperture priority.
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Old 02-01-2018   #4
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QL17III or Oly XA
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Old 02-01-2018   #5
Timmyjoe
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This is my favorite small 35mm fixed-lens rangefinder.


Kodak Signet 35

You can pick them up for anywhere from $20 to $50, depending on condition.

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Old 02-01-2018   #6
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Another vote for the 35RC. If you get one, order a 43.5mm to 43mm step-down filter adapter. (The 43.5mm native size is poorly supported for filters, caps, or hoods.) On mine it does not block the meter window or affect exposure. Neat little camera.
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Old 02-01-2018   #7
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Although it has a 40mm lens you might consider a Minoltina S or AL-S . The same camera given different names across the globe. Fast f1.8 40mm lens , RF and reasonably bright VF. I'm astonished how sharp the lens is , excellent contrast
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Old 02-01-2018   #8
David Hughes
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Hi,

Olympus XA is high on my list, mostly because of its size and the fact that it takes "normal" batteries but the flash is a bit of a lump but can be left at home etc.

I also like the Konica C35 (not the C35AF) mostly because of the size and tab on the lens. It's a bit bigger than the XA but many would find that an advantage.

Regards, David

PS 35mm film or 35mm focal length?
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Old 02-01-2018   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by splitimageview View Post
Yashica Electro GX. Fast, small and light and aperture priority.
ditto
The GX is a great little camera. Best of the Fixed lens AE models and one of the last produced Electros.
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Old 02-01-2018   #10
Larry H-L
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If you like Yashicas, the CC is smaller than the GSN cameras, and it has a 35mm f1.8 lens that is a bit wider and IMHO, nice for travel.

The Retina IIa has a 50mm f2, certainly fast enough for most lighting situations. I folds up quickly into a small package.
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Old 02-01-2018   #11
nukecoke
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Yashica Electro 35 CC
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Old 02-01-2018   #12
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I sold my Contax T2 and replaced it with the XA. It'd an aperture priority cam that you can over/underexpose using the ISO lever. It's even got a rangefinder. Absolutely tiny too.
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Old 02-01-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nukecoke View Post
Yashica Electro 35 CC
I like the CC.
It takes a readily available battery and works nicely.
The lens is sharp even at wide open and 35mm focal length.
The GX is imo a bit more refined in some way.
The 40mm in the GX is just a sharper lens and it also has a normal aperture shape unlike the CC's diamond shape aperture.
I've seen some ugly ghosts in CC images when stopped down from wide open. The aperture seems to reflect onto an interior lens element.
Not always but sometimes (eventually, it could be the wrong time).
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Old 02-01-2018   #14
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What do you miss in the Canonet you have? Want a faster lens?
By "travel extensively", do you mean several months at a time? If so, the logistics can make shooting film pretty hard, as romantic as it may be. You don't only need to carry it around (which makes the size of your camera a non-issue in that regard), you also need to get it developed in reasonable time. The reliability of an old camera also becomes a more pressing issue when you're away from home for longer time and don't want to carry a backup...
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Old 02-01-2018   #15
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I have a clean Olympus 35RD and it's a lovely bit of kit when it works, but it's also a fickle beast and it's been in for more services than I'd like...

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Old 02-01-2018   #16
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Wow guys! Thanks so much for your advice, this is amazing!
.

Quote:
Originally Posted by retinax View Post
What do you miss in the Canonet you have? Want a faster lens?
By "travel extensively", do you mean several months at a time? If so, the logistics can make shooting film pretty hard, as romantic as it may be. You don't only need to carry it around (which makes the size of your camera a non-issue in that regard), you also need to get it developed in reasonable time. The reliability of an old camera also becomes a more pressing issue when you're away from home for longer time and don't want to carry a backup...
By travelling extensively I mean I'm living as an expat and am about to move to another country with some travel in-between. I know labs in most places I'm planning to go to; if not I'll mail the film in. Had some experience getting film through security without having it x-ray'ed. Nothing is foolproof of course.

For QL25: It's a lovely camera with a great lens, but I'd like to have something faster than 2.8(5) - ideally 2.0 and faster. Also, it weighs and is shaped exactly like a brick. I would definitely choose to keep my Electro35 over it, even if it doesn't let me shoot manual.

..

I've looked into Minolta 7sII, they seem to be very few on eBay and for a lot more than what I think they're really worth; I've also read some negative things about the viewfinders on them...

If the camera is auto I also much rather prefer aperture priority, though the other way around isn't a complete deterrent of course.

For Yashicas I figured that the one that would make the best sense is perhaps GL as it's fairly small, got 1.8 glass and 1600ISO limit which is really important because there's simply no way of shooting anything faster on those cameras unless it's always 500 or 30 shutter speed.

GX's are surely pretty though...

.

I'm still considering Retinas, though IIIC is just too pricey for something that might not even be that useable. Which is important since it'll be the only camera that I'll have in my hand for the next eight months or so. Maaaybe IB would do (has larger finder) though it's 2.8, which I could consider seeing how compact and beautiful that camera is.
.
I'm thinking folding 35mm cameras are starting to become a bit of an obsession for me. Looking at Vitessa L's right now...
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Old 02-01-2018   #17
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Stop playing with toys. Get a Leica CL with 40mm Summicron. Fully manual if the meter fails.
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Old 02-01-2018   #18
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Has to be the Electro GX. Period.
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Old 02-01-2018   #19
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Contax T would be my choice.
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Old 02-05-2018   #20
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Maybe not the fastest, but my XA has filled that role for me for more than 30 years. It started out as my backpacking camera, and has been on many vacations.

If "fast lens" means something faster than f2, then my New Canonet QL17 might fit that role. It's sorta small and light, and faster.

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Old 02-05-2018   #21
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Plus one on the Oly XA. A seriously good camera for travel.

I think the Oly 35RC is a good camera as well. But the XA slips easily into a picket, the lens is sharp, the meter is surprisingly good, and the shutter is nearly silent.

The other camera that meets your specs is the Rollei 35. A 35S has a 2.8 Sonnar that is really good. The Rollei 35 has a Tessar 3.5 that renders beautifully. You would need to learn to deal with scale focus, but with practice it’s not hard. After all, Stephen Shore did a travel book using just a Rollei 35.
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Old 02-05-2018   #22
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Olympus 35 SP. great little camera with a spotmeter built in. Lens is fantastic for the price. I have one but usually have the Leica with me. I should probably sell the oly so someone can enjoy it
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Old 02-05-2018   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EarlJam View Post
The Olympus 35 RC is one of my favorite travel cameras. Meets the small and light criteria; good lens; rangefinder; auto exposure with battery, plus full range of shutter speeds and aperture control should the battery die. Stephen Gandy has a nice writeup on the camera, for reference: https://cameraquest.com/olyrc.htm
+1
My go-to camera. Plus the 42mm focal length, 40-ish being IMO ideal for fixed-lens, but that is personal.
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Old 02-06-2018   #24
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I'm a fan of the Electro 35 GX. Good lens, aperture priority, compact size. Too bad mine has a problem with the light meter and overexposes all the time, which makes any low light shooting a no-go. Electro 35 CC is also nice, but somehow felt a bit more fragile compared to the GX.

You mentioned the Retina IIa. I have one and it is indeed beautiful, but I am selling mine, as it most definitely isn't a fast shooter. And the finder isn't as comfortable as most modern rangefinders.
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Old 02-06-2018   #25
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In the past I had an Olympus 35SP- a reliable camera using common batteries and having a superb 42mm/f1.7 lens. Currently (in this category) I have, and alternately use as pocket cameras in my travels, an XA, a Mju II, and a Rollei 35SE (all with 35 or 40mm f2.8 lenses). With the right film, all are capable of giving excellent 16X12 color prints (and better transparencies if you can find film and a processor).
I cannot recommend one above the others, because they are all designed to be easily carried and actually do give top quality results.
The XA and the SP use easily obtainable batteries, the 35SE battery can be made up from individual button cells, but the Mju II uses a lithium battery which may be hard to come by in 3rd world countries or isolated areas.
Hope this helps.
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Old 02-06-2018   #26
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I have to second the Oly 35 SP. I don't have the money to afford a Leica and the 35 SP has definitely satisfied my want for one for now. Only fixed lens rangefinder with spot metering and once you get the hang of it its a super fast shooter. Huge finder and overall looks great. The whole 35 line is great, make sure the shutter works if you pick up an RD. Best of luck!
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Old 02-07-2018   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dmitrizzle View Post
...I'm looking for something hopefully smaller as I am about to downsize to just one cam that I'll take with me when I travel extensively.
When I need to travel with a small 35mm rangefinder, I carry one of the two:
Contax G1 with 45mm f/2
Canon Canonet with 40mm f/1.7


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Old 02-07-2018   #28
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If all you care about is small and fast then the Olympus Stylus Infinity fits the bill. But it is completely automatic (AF, AE, A flash, which can be turned off and A film advance). It also has the best fill flash for any of the small cameras that I've used.

If you want adjustable, then the Olympus 35RC is a good choice. It isn't a very robust camera and I've had plenty of trouble with mine, so weigh repairs into your choice. Like Roger Hicks says, 'they were only built to run 100 rolls.'
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Old 02-07-2018   #29
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If you're a fan of Electros, I give another vote for the Electro GX. Smaller, lighter, but similar features to the big ones. The CC shutter tops out at 1/250th whereas the GX does 500th. Parallax corrected viewfinder.

I don't actually own one but I'm stalking eBay...
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Old 02-07-2018   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ACullen View Post
Although it has a 40mm lens you might consider a Minoltina S or AL-S . The same camera given different names across the globe. Fast f1.8 40mm lens , RF and reasonably bright VF. I'm astonished how sharp the lens is , excellent contrast
Above is exactly what I was going to say, no battery needed, fast to meter, always ready and sharp lens. Loved mine.
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Old 02-07-2018   #31
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There is a review of this camera over on Casual Photophile

https://www.casualphotophile.com/201...-from-minolta/

Quote:
Originally Posted by ACullen View Post
Although it has a 40mm lens you might consider a Minoltina S or AL-S . The same camera given different names across the globe. Fast f1.8 40mm lens , RF and reasonably bright VF. I'm astonished how sharp the lens is , excellent contrast
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Old 02-07-2018   #32
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Yashica Electro CC (owned)
Yashica Electro GX (not owned)
(Above are a little hard to find... but they're out there esp. the CC)
Konica Auto S3 (owned)
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There are other choices but of the two above I've owned, I'd go with the Konica Auto S3 (and I'm a fan of the Electros). Brilliant little camera. Probably the best of the fixed lens RFs. CC has better build quality but only meters to 400 and doesn't have a hot shoe. Still a great camera with a cracking lens. Either is excellent but that Konica -- man was that a great little fixed lens RF. A little jewel. The GX is supposedly the best of the Electros and is small like the CC. But I never owned one.
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Old 02-07-2018   #33
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Then there's the Olympus XA. It too is a RF and easy to find. It's a bit of a different beast. Also a fine small RF. Lens slower at 2.8 than the others above.

If I had to pick, it would be the Konica Auto S3 though.
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Old 02-07-2018   #34
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I'd take a Fuji X100F so I didn't have to worry about film and processing while traveling. If you are stuck on film, I would cast another vote for the Olympus XA or Mju II.
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Old 02-07-2018   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carey M View Post
I'm a fan of the Electro 35 GX. Good lens, aperture priority, compact size. Too bad mine has a problem with the light meter and overexposes all the time, which makes any low light shooting a no-go. Electro 35 CC is also nice, but somehow felt a bit more fragile compared to the GX.
I feel the other way around. GX feels "hollower" to me. Also the cubic shape of GX is not very comfortable to hold, CC's slightly curved back makes it easier to hold. It's easier to focus the GX though, since it is a bigger camera.
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Old 02-07-2018   #36
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Personally I'd forget the fixed-lens part of the equation and take a Leica CL (in my case, with a VC 40mm f/1.4 Nokton) instead. The body is tiny and you'll have much greater freedom with choice of focal length.
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Old 02-07-2018   #37
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My vote is for the Petri Color 35 - very small, tough, great lens, decent meter!


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Old 02-08-2018   #38
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When I want to travel small and light with only one camera, it will usually be the XA.

I am always surprised that apparently so few people are familiar with the Welta Welti (non RF) or the Weltini (RF and different lenses possible, but not interchangeable). They are good cameras, but not light, especially the Weltini with the RF. The last time I browsed ebay, both models were mostly running at decent prices. Only problem is they are old; can't be sure you are going to get one in excellent working condition. The Welti is a surprisingly compact camera, both are folders.

Both are German, so I think you are more likely to get a working one, but no guarantee. I have four Weltinis. One works very well. The other three need work or use as parts.
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Old 02-08-2018   #39
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Quote:
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My vote is for the Petri Color 35 - very small, tough, great lens, decent meter!


I think you are the only other person I have heard talk about the Petri Color 35. Great little camera!
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Old 02-08-2018   #40
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Quote:
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I think you are the only other person I have heard talk about the Petri Color 35. Great little camera!
It's not a rangefinder though But agreed, a nice little all-manual camera.
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