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Fixed Lens 35mm RF This forum is dedicated to the numerous and popular fixed lens rangefinders, including but not limited to the Canon Canonets, Konica III and S series, Minoltas, Ricohs, Vivitars, and so many others. Note fixed lens Olympus , Yashicas, Argus and Retina have separate forums.

View Poll Results: Which Fixed Lens Rangefinder has the best viewfinder?
Olympus 35SP 75 7.32%
Olympus 35RC 52 5.07%
Olympus 35RD 18 1.76%
Olympus XA 49 4.78%
Minolta 7s 27 2.63%
Minolta 7sII 34 3.32%
Canon QL17 GIII 195 19.02%
Konica Hexar fixed lens 195 19.02%
Konica S3 45 4.39%
Yashica GSN 158 15.41%
Other 177 17.27%
Voters: 1025. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 06-11-2006   #41
ErnestoJL
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I have/had/tested some RFs with different features, like fast lenses, shutter or aperture priority automation, etc. but none of those are in the vote for list.
My personal choices and the reasons why are the following (not in order of preference):

Contax II / Kiev 4 : great baselenght and accurate as none other.
Canonet Ql17 (old type) and Mamiya Super Deluxe: far from but closest to a Leica VF.
Vitoret DR: 1:1 ratio and very bright.
GSN: That´s what comes with the camera (but the camera deserves something better).

Fact is that once I had an M6 in my hands, no other VF can compare, but for the price I´ve payed for my RFs... no complaints!

Ernesto
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Old 08-29-2006   #42
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Voted on the Hexar AF.
But the race is very close. There are a lot of good/excellent fixed lens cams.
To me the winner option is that that's the only cam that I could use handheld down to 1/8 sec.

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Old 08-29-2006   #43
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Also a big vote for the Yashica GX!
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Old 08-29-2006   #44
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not sure how to define "best" but of the three i own, i always seem to grab the ql17 first.

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Old 08-29-2006   #45
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Hi Chris,
I don't know where I 'catch' you in your camera detour, but I can speak a bit about mine:

a) Among the cheapo category, there is no overall absolute winner. Thus, for example, cameras with almost all of it have garbage like viewfinders. Cameras with superb viewfinders, like the Yashica GX, miss other very basic features like manual exposure control, without which you cannot use them in bright sunny days.

b) But I arrived to MY best compromise, only after achieving to clear cut define my specific purpose for the camera. Perhaps this may work for you, and save some bucks too.

Cheers,
Ruben

Last edited by ruben : 08-29-2006 at 10:16.
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Old 08-29-2006   #46
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I agree with ChrisPlatt about the "pin-hole" view finder on the Retina 2a. However once one gets beyond that small irritation there is a wonderful F2 Xenon lens. I use Delta 100, TRI-X, Velvia and Agfa films all to a super result.
What a fun camera; the lens is much sharperthat the 40mm F1.7 on my Canon QL17.

Tom Hawkins
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Old 08-29-2006   #47
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A 50mm external finder mounted in the accessory shoe makes a world of difference on cameras that I have with squinty finders.

Also, if the Hexar AF is a possibility, it is hands down the best of the cameras listed. It has a fantastic lens, and it is virtually silent. The viewfinder isn't like a Bessa or M-Leica, but since it is auto-focus it doesn't have to be, and it is better than the other cameras listed. Buy this camera.
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Old 08-29-2006   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by back alley
Just out of curiosity how does the CL compare to the viewfinders on the list? I haven't seen one for 20 years and I can't remember.


the finder on my cl is very bright and easily viewable.
i think it's brighter than the m3 i have.

joe
if in good shape, the CL's RF/RF is better than anything on the list
predictable since it was a much more expensive RF

However my fixed lens vote goes to the magnificent Konica IIIM. built like a tank and about as heavy, great lens, great VF with projected parallax brightlines AND adjusted to the focus distance to show the proper field of view! You don't get that with your $3600 Leica MP or M7!

Stephen
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Old 08-29-2006   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest
if in good shape, the CL's RF/RF is better than anything on the list
predictable since it was a much more expensive RF

However my fixed lens vote goes to the magnificent Konica IIIM. built like a tank and about as heavy, great lens, great VF with projected parallax brightlines AND adjusted to the focus distance to show the proper field of view! You don't get that with your $3600 Leica MP or M7!
Stephen
But you do get it with the Konica Hexar AF.
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Old 08-29-2006   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS
But you do get it with the Konica Hexar AF.
yeah, it's nice for a point and shoot. ain't no RF

Stephen
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Old 08-29-2006   #51
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konica IIIA or M
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Old 08-29-2006   #52
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest
yeah, it's nice for a point and shoot. ain't no RF

Stephen
I'd say it's VERY nice for a P+S!
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Old 08-29-2006   #53
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Of the one's I've used, it's gotta be the Hi-Matic 7s.

I would definitely use my Retina IIa more often if not for the VF, but it's really not that bad.
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Old 08-30-2006   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CameraQuest
if in good shape, the CL's RF/RF is better than anything on the list
predictable since it was a much more expensive RF

However my fixed lens vote goes to the magnificent Konica IIIM. built like a tank and about as heavy, great lens, great VF with projected parallax brightlines AND adjusted to the focus distance to show the proper field of view! You don't get that with your $3600 Leica MP or M7!

Stephen
Stephen,
You deserve my respect, and in several areas, but your advice doesn't work, at least for me. The mentioned Konica doesn't have any means of light metering, meaning that each time you shoot you have to use your hand meter. Time and again. Time and again. For fun, or very occasional shooting, perhaps. Not for people, neither even family.

But, on the other hand, if you could size the opportunity and "leak" us that Cosina is planing, or may consider, a new Bessa with shutter noise lesser than an OM - That will be breaking news for me, and put an end to my hard roaming trip. Or in fact, start a new one.

Cheers,
Ruben
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Old 08-30-2006   #55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ruben
Stephen,
You deserve my respect, and in several areas, but your advice doesn't work, at least for me. The mentioned Konica doesn't have any means of light metering, meaning that each time you shoot you have to use your hand meter. Time and again. Time and again. For fun, or very occasional shooting, perhaps. Not for people, neither even family.

But, on the other hand, if you could size the opportunity and "leak" us that Cosina is planing, or may consider, a new Bessa with shutter noise lesser than an OM - That will be breaking news for me, and put an end to my hard roaming trip. Or in fact, start a new one.

Cheers,
Ruben

From dantestella.com....

"The IIIM also has a flip-up, coupled selenium meter. Coupled meters were very rare back in the 1950s, and this was probably one of the first. The meter readout sits where a self-timer normally would. The IIIM meter was the first-ever coupled meter with FRE (functional resistance element) technology, i.e., solid-state exposure calculation. The IIIM does it with carbon electronic resistors, rather than the mechanical couplings used on other match-needle meters."
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Old 08-30-2006   #56
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But, on the other hand, if you could size the opportunity and "leak" us that Cosina is planing, or may consider, a new Bessa with shutter noise lesser than an OM - That will be breaking news for me, and put an end to my hard roaming trip. Or in fact, start a new one.


NO problem!

Mr. K's future products are all the same as his old products
-- something he likes as a phtographer!

and the new and available now R2M / R3M are the quietest yet.

I already have an appointment with him at Photokina. Time will tell.

Stephen
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Old 08-30-2006   #57
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Unfortunately none of the fixed lens rangefinders has a "hard edged" RF patch like that of the Leicas, Bessas or the Hexar RF. (Why is that? Too expensive to produce?) A big part of the struggle with using these fixed lens cameras is finding the RF patch, especially in low light and/or with a cloudy viewfinder.

I think I'd actually exclude the AF Hexar from this poll, simply because you don't need to do more than place the framelines and focus target properly. The others do need a good focus patch -- and for me, that's really more important than framelines that correct for parallax and field of view, though those are nice features. (But we all know RF framelines are not particularly accurate to begin with, right? So I think people place undue importance on moving framelines.)

I won't vote, simply because I'm not familiar with the Olympus models, but I do think the Canonet is the best of the others on the list. The Konica S2 is very good too.
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Old 09-02-2006   #58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KoNickon
Unfortunately none of the fixed lens rangefinders has a "hard edged" RF patch like that of the Leicas, Bessas or the Hexar RF. (Why is that? Too expensive to produce?) A big part of the struggle with using these fixed lens cameras is finding the RF patch, especially in low light and/or with a cloudy viewfinder..
KoNickon,

I include after this message a very informative post from Jim Williams initially posted on the Rangefinder mailing list (I got the quote from Robert Monaghan's Medium Format Megasite, the reference about medium format). After reading this post, you will understand why so many cameras (including Nikon rangefinders) have a fuzzy rangefinder patch.

Cheers,

Abbazz

Date: Tue, 23 Mar 2004
From: Jim Williams [email protected]
Subject: Re: [RF List] RF tech question

marcus wrote:

> How come most rangefinders have the fuzzy edged RF
> spot compared to Leica and Cosina which have the super
> bright straight edged spot? Is it a much more complex
> accomplishment or what?

Yes, it's much more complex. The recipe:

-- For a basic rangefinder optical system (no viewfinder) all you need
is a fixed, diagonal semitransparent mirror (aka beamsplitter) and a
pivoted fully reflecting mirror (or prism.)

-- For a basic viewfinder (of the usual 'inverted telescope' type) all
you need is a negative lens at the front, to 'minify' the view so it
corresponds with the angle of view of the lens, and a positive lens at
the back to help focus your eye on the image from the negative lens.
(If you didn't mind the camera being 10 or 12 inches thick, you could
dispense with the positive lens entirely, and just have a peep sight to
line up your eye correctly behind the negative lens.)

-- To combine these, all you have to do is stick the beamsplitter
between the negative and positive lenses. Then, to make the rangefinder
image and the viewfinder image focus in your eye at the same distance,
you add another negative lens of the same power somewhere between the
beamsplitter and the rangefinder image. (Sometimes it's in front of the
rangefinder mirror, sometimes it sits crossways in the middle of the
light path -- doesn't matter as long as the viewfinder image and the
rangefinder image have the same total diopter.)

Now you've got the traditional "fuzzy spot" range/viewfinder. The edges
of the RF spot are fuzzy because the edges of the RF window are much
closer to your eye than the apparent distance of the actual viewfinder
and rangefinder images -- so, your eye can't focus on both the edges of
the spot and the actual image at the same time. That's not aesthetic,
but it does make it possible to design a very effective
range/viewfinder without a lot of parts and delicate adjustments.

Now, though, think what happens if you want the viewfinder image, the
rangefinder image, AND the rangefinder patch edge all to come to focus
at the same distance to your eye. Now you've got to have the negative
lens at the front, as before; the positive lens at the back, for the
eyepiece; the extra negative lens to bring the rangefinder image to the
same focus; PLUS a mask for the rangefinder image, to define the sharp
edge, and an additional lens with a hole in it, so it focuses the mask
image WITHOUT affecting the focus of the rangefinder image passing
through it. Again, the trick is to make all the total diopters add up
-- but now you've got to balance three numbers (viewfinder image,
rangefinder image, rangefinder mask) instead of just two.

Add in a parallax-compensated projected frameline, and now you've got a
FOURTH thing to focus, so now you need an extra mirror (to reflect the
framelines into the viewfinder path) and an extra lens (to bring them
to the same plane of focus as everything else.) For an even higher
degree-of-difficulty rating, add a meter readout into the mix!

Of course there are lots of variations on these themes. For example,
Canon's switchable-magnification finders put the whole rangefinder
optic system, including the beamsplitter, in FRONT of the negative lens
for the viewfinder; they pulled off this trick by using a beamsplitter
that was semitransparent only in the middle, for the rangefinder spot,
and clear around the edges. Doing it this way let them switch
viewfinder magnifications (via a rotating optical box) without having
to switch rangefinder magnifications at the same time -- since the
rangefinder was out front, it didn't care what was happening behind it.

But if you look at the basic problem -- bringing objects at different
distances to the SAME focus in your eye -- you can see that the more
things you're trying to focus, the more lenses you need and the
trickier it is to design the system. That's one reason high-end RFs are
more expensive than SLRs with the same mechanical specs
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Old 09-02-2006   #59
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It's a hard vote for me, as I haven't used any of these cameras other than the Yashica GSN. I own 6 Yashica E35 cameras, and looking through the viewfinder, they all look different. Same scene, but all have varying levels of yellow-blue color, brightness/darkness, and the RF diamond patch varies from nonexistent to 'tollerable'....

I just wanted to point out that one person's experience with one 40 year old camera probably can't be taken as 100% gospel ;-)

I use my Yashica Electro-35 GS because it has the best working shutter + RF patch, even though it's got one of the darker viewfinders.


Viva La E35!





I voted initially for the Hexar, since that thing has a good viewfinder haha... But missed the point of the poll. Some year I will find a cheap working Canonet, and will 'see the light' perhaps..
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Old 09-02-2006   #60
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I'm not voting since I don't have most on that list for comparison. I will say by Bessa R with 35mm 2.5 mounted is close to the same height a length as my Yashica Electro's. Width wise it's much smaller than any of them. I never compared the RF patch before but compared to a Yashica Electro 35GS that's apparantly been sitting unused since new and a MG-1 that has been service by Mark Hama, it's a night and day difference. The best Yashica VF I have is barely useable in low light while the Bessa R is better (IMO) than even my best SLR VF. That said, I haven't used my Bessa once since picking up the 70's RF addiction.
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Old 09-02-2006   #61
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Konica Auto S2 -----the absolute best of all................
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Old 09-16-2006   #62
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Yashica GX - great rangefinder patch, contrasty finder with parallax correcting (moving) framelines.
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Old 09-16-2006   #63
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There are numerous fixed lens rangefinders that could make this list. They run from the Konica III of the 1950s to the folding Contessa and the Voigtlander Vito III to the Foca Sport II (which is pretty darn good although not often seen). Others might include the Contessa S 312/Voigtlander VF 101, Rollei XF 35 (although it's not a great camera) and possibly the Retina IIC.
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Old 09-16-2006   #64
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I didn't vote...

However, all in all, if you're interested in taking fast pictures on the fly and in the dark my vote is...

Yashica Electro 35, Olympus XA4

Ya just can't beat 'em for a bright, fairly accurate viewfinder and fast focusing... SNAP !

Hey, are you that one time Chuck A "Chucky Cheese" that had that pizza palace in San Francisco ?

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Old 10-15-2006   #65
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The Konica Hexar AF is the best I have seen...Great camera, the viewfinder is super bright and the lens is a 35 f/2 that is a leica copy and is as good if not better, no personal test here just what I have heard.
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Old 11-11-2006   #66
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George: Fast focusing on an XA4? Well, I spose, if you consider scale focus an RF ...
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Old 11-13-2006   #67
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The one's Ive personally used. Konica S2, Yashica GSN, lynx 5000e, 14e, canonet. The GSN was the best one. Thought the lynx 14e is right there also.
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I like the XA2
Old 11-29-2006   #68
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I like the XA2

I like the XA2 better than the XA. It's much easier to focus since it has zone and not split image focusing. But I also own the XA, and it is certainly nice, too.

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Old 11-29-2006   #69
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I'm a bit surprised by the negative comments about the Oly RC VF. You'll note that Stephen Gandy in his commentary on it, says:

"Rangefinder and Viewfinder are bright when it's cleaned, easily seen by eye glass wearers. These 70's cameras were comparatively modestly priced and not well sealed against dirt. After 30 years, the finders usually fog or haze up. Sometimes a little, sometimes a lot. Do not use one of these on a regular basis without making sure the finder is as clean it gets. Case in point, I thought I had a relatively clean Olympus RC finder. I had it cleaned anyway when I was doing a shutter lubrication. It made ALL the difference, turning an OK finder into a bright very usable finder. .6 magnification."

Mine was cleaned by John Hermanson at Camtech Photo in NY. He used to work for Oly and really knows his stuff. Which may explain why mine is bright, clear and easy to focus.

That said, I voted for the Hexar AF because it's simply better, IMO.

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Old 12-06-2006   #70
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My 14e viewfinder is crisp and clear and easy to focus since the CLA by Mark Hama. Also like the viewfinder in my GSN's. For some reason I've always had problems focusing my XA. But my overall favorite is the viewfinder in my 35SP.
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Old 12-06-2006   #71
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The lone fixed-lens RF I now own (and actually use) is a Konica Auto S3. I like the VF/RF well enough, although the framelines aren't the moveable sort. Of the cameras on the list, I've owned the Hexar AF (which, since it's not, strictly speaking, a rangefinder, puzzles me as to why it's on tihs list), Canon GIII (black...with matching lens hood; time to kick myself again?), Yashica GSN, and Olympus XA (twice). In addition, I've owned a Konica S2 and Yashica 5000E Lynx (used a lot, broke down a lot...sort of like an MGB, but a lot cheaper). The S3 fits my wants/needs very well, even with it being essentially a shutter-priority-AE-only camera (which can nevertheless be tweaked for exposure in a number of ways). Besides the RF/VF, there's that great lens, great flash system, good compact size, and reasonably quiet shutter. Makes a nice "silent partner" to my Hexar RFs.


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Old 12-06-2006   #72
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Jeff: The XA patch is, IMO, too low contrast, so low-light situations give it fits. I have learned to live with that, but a bigger issue, I think, is that my eye position needs to be bang-on for best results.

I agree about the SP, though. It is the easiest to use of all my RFs in low light (though I admit I haven't taken the RC out at night, and I never used the Minolta 7s in low light before I sold it), and I think it is undoubedtly in the top 2-3 of all fixed lens RFs.
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Old 12-06-2006   #73
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First off, I am excited because the 4 of the cameras in the poll are Olys

Secondly, I like the clarity and "snap" of my 35SPn viewfinder, but I find the dimmer one on my XA more useful (coz I don't have to do anything else besides tripping the shutter).

Interestingly, my little Konica C35 is a bit dodgy when it comes to the RF patch, but it produces amazingly sharp pictures.

I've tried a Yashica GSN at a Photo Fair and I'd say the viewfinder RF patch is about par with the 35SPn. I've yet to look at the much-talked-about Canon QL17 viewfinder.
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Old 12-06-2006   #74
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I have a QL17 that is mid-CLA, but I have cleaned up the viewfinder so I could compare it directly to a well-cleaned SP. The C35 is very clear, but the patch is not as good as the 35SP. But that doesn't mean it's bad at all. Given the price of the camera, it is amazingly good!
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Old 01-14-2007   #75
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I reckon my M2 has the best viewfinder of any rangefinder I own ... if I araldite the lens to the body would it qualify?
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Old 01-17-2007   #76
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfox
.... I've yet to look at the much-talked-about Canon QL17 viewfinder.
Hi Fox and everybody,
Where the QL 17 viewfinder has been much talked about ?
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Old 01-19-2007   #77
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith novak
I reckon my M2 has the best viewfinder of any rangefinder I own ... if I araldite the lens to the body would it qualify?
I dare you.
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Old 01-19-2007   #78
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I have limited expirience with RF cameras - kiev, electro, oly 35sp in exactly this sequence. Next be THE best viewfinder RF camera? From those that I mentioned 35sp wins hands down. Btw, since most of the voting public don't have (or at least never played) with ALL mentioned cameras, this vote just specifies destribution of cameras on RFF., probably
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Old 01-19-2007   #79
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The Yashica MG-1 that I have is clearer and larger in the viewfinder than my Canonet 28. The thing is amazing. I would love to find another one.
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Old 01-19-2007   #80
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Igor.Burshteyn
I have limited expirience with RF cameras - kiev, electro, oly 35sp in exactly this sequence. Next be THE best viewfinder RF camera? From those that I mentioned 35sp wins hands down. Btw, since most of the voting public don't have (or at least never played) with ALL mentioned cameras, this vote just specifies destribution of cameras on RFF., probably
In the trade where we count stuff for a living, we call this convenient, self-selection!
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