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First RF buying advice
Old 10-31-2019   #1
ibot
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First RF buying advice

I come from shooting SLR style cameras for about 1,5 years, both film and digital. In spring I bought a Canonet 28 for cheap on a flea market and used it a few times during summer. This was my first rangefinder experience and I now want to buy my first analog exchangeable lens rangefinder.

After extensive research I learned a lot about RFs, but I still don't really know what to buy.

I shoot more wide than tele, so 24 or 28 mm would be great. For the occasional portrait I can probably live with an external finder. I don't need metering or automatic modes, full manual is perfectly fine as I want to experience the moment when shooting. Since I travel regularly, I would love a reliable camera that is not too heavy.

Although not a perfect fit for what I want, I checked out these in more detail:

Leica M4 – I could afford it, not sure if I should though. Seems to be an alright camera I could use, not more, not less. Although I would love to own a Leica for the look.

Canon P or VI-L – Seems reasonable and a good and solid package for me. If I had to rush it, this is probably what I would get right now.

Voigtlander Bessa R2/R2A – I currently crave this the most, although it seems quite expensive for what you get. I tried one and I like it, but I have not much to compare against.

For Analog I only own a Pentax SLR and lenses. This Pentax never built a RF, I am open to any system.

Budget around 1000$ – would be great if this could include body and one lens. I'll spend more if I get obsessed ;-)

Any help is appreciated!
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Old 10-31-2019   #2
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Of the models you mention Canon P handles very nicely but the VF flairs easily. A Leica M2 would be my recommendation for affordable RF body.
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Old 10-31-2019   #3
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If you shoot wides then the Bessa R4M or R4A should be added to your list. 24mm or 28mm would mean accessory viewfinders are needed for framing for almost all rangefinder cameras.
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Old 10-31-2019   #4
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If you could live with a 50mm or 35mm (there are plenty in the $100-300 range), I would suggest a Leica M2 (working copies can be found for $700-900). Alternatively, a Canon P with a Voigtlander 28mm LTM (the f1.9 or f3.5 version) and an external finder could work within your budget. There are other 28mm LTM options too. Bessa's are great but so overpriced these days.

Hope this helps.

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Old 10-31-2019   #5
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If your in it for the wides... easy Bessa L and a 25 Snapshot.

No frills no fuss... but you do gain a built in meter!
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Old 10-31-2019   #6
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You purchased 1k$ camera. Now what?...
Lenses. 24,28 cost a lot. And here is no wide cheapies or zooms in RF.

My advise is to get Bessa R with half-case and Orion-15. It will work with entire VF for framing. And Color Skopar 21 with external VF.

M4 will work with Jupiter 12 just fine, but it is not wide.
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Old 10-31-2019   #7
David Hughes
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Hi,


The M2 might be a suitable alternative to the M4 and cheaper but this (price) varies from country to country and day to day at times. There are also some bargain Leica lenses about like the 35mm f/3.5 Summaron.


Regards, David
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Old 10-31-2019   #8
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umm you could get a Bessa T and a wide lens for less that $1000. A very unusual camera but nice for wide shooting. Modern handling, superb rangefinder, light meter, no viewfinder but since you say you shoot wide I dont think that would be an issue. Bessa T goes for about $300 or less. Voightlander 15mm goes for $300-400. True, it may not suit everyone but a fun camera to use.

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Old 10-31-2019   #9
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I went through this last year and ended up with a Canon P and don’t regret it. I’m happy with 35mm as my widest lens though - if you want 28mm frame lines (and id recommend not relying on an external viewfinder) i’d look elsewhere
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Old 10-31-2019   #10
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Here is mine


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Old 10-31-2019   #11
aizan
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If 28mm is your main lens:

- Bessa R4a
- Konica Hexar RF
- Minolta CLE
- 0.58 Leica M

If 24mm is your main lens AND you don't get a 28mm:

- Bessa R4a
- Anything and everything else if you use an accessory viewfinder!

If you will use a 24mm AND a 28mm:

- Bessa R4a
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Old 10-31-2019   #12
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There’s an m4-p at keh for $950 right now. I’d grab that instantly if I was in your shoes.
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Old 10-31-2019   #13
aizan
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Just an idea:

$450 Leica IIIc, in good, recently CLA'd condition
$350 Voigtlander 25mm f/4 LTM
$100 Voigtlander 25mm viewfinder, plastic

$900
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Old 10-31-2019   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aizan View Post
Just an idea:

$450 Leica IIIc, in good, recently CLA'd condition
$350 Voigtlander 25mm f/4 LTM
$100 Voigtlander 25mm viewfinder, plastic

$900
Great idea Aizan.

Or the OP could pick up the Bessa L complete with 25mm lens and viewfinder for $399 that is available on Ebay right now.

I'm half tempted to pick it up myself except I have a perfectly good 25mm in Contax mount for my Bessa R2C already.
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And why not a Fuji GSW690?
Old 10-31-2019   #15
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And why not a Fuji GSW690?

For less money than a Leica, the Fuji GSW690 will provide a negative five times bigger, a wide field lens (wih a field of view comparable to a 28mm on a Leica) and a large and bright viewfinder with a clear rangefinder patch, in a nearly indestructible body. Of course, it's a tiny bit bulkier and heftier than a Leica but, as they used to say when our planet was still cool and clean, there's no replacement for displacement!

Cheers!

Abbazz
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Old 10-31-2019   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-9 View Post
If your in it for the wides... easy Bessa L and a 25 Snapshot.

No frills no fuss... but you do gain a built in meter!
+1,000

The L and a 25 Snapshot were my favorite combination every. Not an RF, but it weighs almost nothing, world-class glass, bright finder, and a light meter you can see without bringing the camera to your eye.

If you like wide, you will love this combo.

B2 (;->
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Old 10-31-2019   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by B-9 View Post
If your in it for the wides... easy Bessa L and a 25 Snapshot.

No frills no fuss... but you do gain a built in meter!
not an rf

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Old 10-31-2019   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
not an rf


Not too sure that you need RF with the 25 snapshot do you?
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Old 10-31-2019   #19
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Thanks so much for the replies so far!

It never crossed my mind that I could use different cameras for different focal lengths. Right now I am eyeballing a Bessa-L with the 15/4.5 Heliar. Now I have to decide if this is maybe too wide for me ;-)

In case I pull the trigger on it, I could even effort a Canon P at the same time
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Old 11-01-2019   #20
Ko.Fe.
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L is not RF. Make sure to have half case for it. And advance it slow, but steady.
Canon P or any Canon RF is not the best RF, VF and framing experience.
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Old 11-01-2019   #21
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A 15mm is extremely wide. So wide that with a small lens one (me) will often get their (my) fingers in the frame without being aware. I shot the Contax G 16mm lens and gave up using it when I had to wear gloves because that made my fingers too big for the field of view. Too many frames wasted.

Don’t discount a Leica/Minolta CL: compact, repairable, and if a meter isn’t on your list quite affordable. No 28mm framelines, but can use most any M or LTM lens, especially if the meter is out of the picture.

PS: if you end up jonesing for that Pentax glow there is a 43mm Pentax lens in LTM which is a gem, and makes good use of the 40mm framelines on a CL...
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Old 11-01-2019   #22
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The CV 4.5/15 Super Wide-Heliar is an excellent lens. I'd go for a younger Bessa. Prices have gone up. You'll need an external viewfinder.
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Old 11-01-2019   #23
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Personally I would go with the Hexar RF for 28mm.
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Old 11-01-2019   #24
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Or just don’t do it. So much money saved.
Just joking (kind of..)
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Old 11-01-2019   #25
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My rangefinder kit is a Contax iia; Voigtlander SC Skopar 21mm f4; Zeiss Opton 50mm f2 Sonnar; Carl Zeiss Jena 135mm f4 Sonnar (plus a Kiev 4a), viewfinders, filters, etc. Whole kit <$1000 with CLA (I got pretty lucky on the camera itself).

The 21mm f4 is an amazing lens.
https://www.flickr.com/search/?user_...xt=Voigtlander
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Old 11-01-2019   #26
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Speaking of Contax, the Voigtlander 25mm in Nikon S mount is $300 new with the viewfinder on the auction site. The R2s goes for $600.
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Old 11-01-2019   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucadomi View Post
Or just don’t do it. So much money saved.

There is merit to this suggestion. The OP already has a Pentax; a fine camera in my opinion. Does he have a reason for wanting a RF?

I remember why I bought my first RF. It was just to try them, as a gear junkie. There is a certain kind of accomplishment getting perfectly good photos from equipment much older than myself. RF, TLR, leaf shutter, folders... it didn't really matter which. I don't ever recall specifically thinking, "what I really need is a RF".
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Old 11-01-2019   #28
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My advice: Stick with the Canonet and use your Pentax SLRs for the other stuff. SLRs are just better for all practical uses not served by your Canonet. (ex. quiet shutter)

No messing around with finders, easier focusing, etc.

On the other hand, I'm a sucker for fixed lens rangefinders, scale focus cameras, etc. Cheap as chips, truly quiet and inexpensive.
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Old 11-01-2019   #29
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Quote:
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not an rf

Yes, but it's just as much fun. Learing to estimate three distances accuratly, focus as you raise the camera to your eye!

B2 (;->
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Old 11-02-2019   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lucadomi View Post
Or just don’t do it. So much money saved.
Just joking (kind of..)
I see where you are coming from – I was even thinking about that!

Taking photographs and fiddling with gear, that's a hobby for me. Do i need a RF? No, but I want one ;-) SLR may be more general purpose cameras, I think the different handling of a RF will influence my photography in a positive way. If not, I guess I can resell and recover some money.

That being said – I just went with a Bessa/Heliar combo for wide shots and a Canon P with 50/1.4 for the rest. Currently waiting for acceptable weather to run a roll or two through them.
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