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View Poll Results: What is the Best Under $50 Ebay Make of Rangefinder for Newbies?
Argus 27 2.61%
Canon 137 13.26%
FSU Former Soviet Union 184 17.81%
Kodak 20 1.94%
Konica 83 8.03%
Minolta 63 6.10%
Olympus 187 18.10%
Yashica 270 26.14%
Other Make European 31 3.00%
Other Make Japanese 31 3.00%
Voters: 1033. You may not vote on this poll

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What's the Best UNDER $50 Ebay Rangefinder?
Old 08-09-2009   #1
CameraQuest
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What's the Best UNDER $50 Ebay Rangefinder?

What's the Best UNDER $50 Rangefinder?
I get a lot of emails from people wanting to buy their first rangefinder on the cheap to find out if Rangefinder Photography is for them.

I'm curious what the RFF consensus is for the best under $50 rangefinder -- based upon average Ebay selling prices.

Let the voting begin ..

and speak up if other candidates should be added to the poll.

Your vote will be PUBLIC.

Besides voting, you are welcomed to explain why you made your choice, and your favorites of that make within the price range.

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Old 08-09-2009   #2
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Without a doubt for me it would be the Yashica GSN. I paid 13 dollars for mine on the bay and it was so great I bought another, the only time I have ever bought two of the same camera. In my mind it is the best combination of fast sharp glass with a great ability to meter light correctly even if you are a bit of a metering slacker. A great and very easy to find gem of the sub $50 cameras.
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Old 08-22-2009   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Avotius View Post
Without a doubt for me it would be the Yashica GSN. I paid 13 dollars for mine on the bay and it was so great I bought another, the only time I have ever bought two of the same camera. In my mind it is the best combination of fast sharp glass with a great ability to meter light correctly even if you are a bit of a metering slacker. A great and very easy to find gem of the sub $50 cameras.
Agreed!!

Just got a color film back from my 10 € GS and hey, forget about all the digital sub 1000 € cameras - this lens is a real hit!
Up to 24 x 30 cm Print size I don't see any difference to my Nikon 1.8/50.

But then, the Kiev 4 with that venerable J-8 I bought for 12 € is the most stunning performer of all my cameras... pure magic that Sonnar...
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Old 08-09-2009   #4
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gotta be Yashica GSN with Yashica lynx 5000e a close sencond for me
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Old 08-09-2009   #5
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The Retinas are going cheap.

Many fine models can be had for under $25..
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Old 08-09-2009   #6
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I'm going to say the Yashica GSN as well. They are quite easy and usually quite cheap. It has an excellent sharp lens and aperture priority with a limited manual exposure speed.
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Old 08-09-2009   #7
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I don't particularly like the camera as I believe it's over rated but the GSN seems to be the one. I have a couple that cost me around $50.00 each and they perform flawlessly!

I just can't get along with them though so they spend all their time in the cupboard ... the size and the ergonomics spoil them.
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Old 08-10-2009   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keith View Post
I don't particularly like the camera as I believe it's over rated but the GSN seems to be the one. I have a couple that cost me around $50.00 each and they perform flawlessly!

I just can't get along with them though so they spend all their time in the cupboard ... the size and the ergonomics spoil them.
Agreed. Though I've never had one that works perfectly. I spent about 200-300 dollars going through multiple ones, including cheapos and expensive "works perfectly" ones from ebay, and all of them either broke or didn't work. In the end when I realised I could have just bought a Bessa R body brand new with that money I just cracked it and now I have somewhat of a vendetta against the electros. I did have a minister III though that worked well and had a gorgeous lens.

I want to like the Electros.... I saw Colin's (Avotius) photos from china with one and they took my breath away. Truly a world class lens in the right hands.
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Old 08-09-2009   #9
Brian Sweeney
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The Canonet QL17L and GIII can be had for under $50. It is a mechanical camera, and most are working. Like any 35+year old camera, it will probably need some work. Same is true of the Yashica Electro's, Retina's, and others. The Canonets are easiest to work on, and plenty of help threads for it.
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Old 08-10-2009   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Sweeney View Post
The Canonet QL17L and GIII can be had for under $50. It is a mechanical camera, and most are working. Like any 35+year old camera, it will probably need some work. Same is true of the Yashica Electro's, Retina's, and others. The Canonets are easiest to work on, and plenty of help threads for it.
Canonets are great cameras, but they don't really average under $50, especially after you add the cost of new seals. Additionally, you don't want to send a newbie to get a fixer upper.
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Old 08-10-2009   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris00nj View Post
Canonets are great cameras, but they don't really average under $50, especially after you add the cost of new seals. Additionally, you don't want to send a newbie to get a fixer upper.
If you count in the cost of a CLA and seals there are no cameras that sell for under $50. The Auto S, Auto S2, Olympus 35S, Olympus 35RC, and Yashica G-series all have two things in common: they are very easy to work on and there are illustrated tutorials on cleaning them all over the web. A $10 set of seals, a can of lighter fluid and a box of Q-tips after you get them, and they are as good as new, even for a newby (although the idea of repairing his first camera will probably give him a few anxious moments).
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Old 08-10-2009   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris00nj View Post
Canonets are great cameras, but they don't really average under $50, especially after you add the cost of new seals. Additionally, you don't want to send a newbie to get a fixer upper.
Most of these 35+ year old Ebay cameras are going to require some work. Again, most being more than 50%. I've gotten lucky, but more times than not- some work was required. The "pad of Death" and electronics of the Yashica GS, GT, GSN, GTN are a problem: expect about 1/2 off of Ebay to require work beyond just seals. All of mine (four) did. Expect the RF patch of the Lynx 14 and exposure meter to need work. Two of my three did. The Konica S2: exposure meter problems, two of my three had problems. As for the Canonets and cost: look for the Ql17L model rather than the GIII. Made in Japan, better quality control, lower price. I've picked up three going between $10 and $40. My Hi-Matic 9 has not given problems since 1980.

Best advice for a Newbie: stay away from buying old cameras on Ebay unless you know how to repair them yourself. Buy cameras from a forum SUCH AS this one or nelsonfoto where the seller has actually used and tested the camera, or at least states it is in unknown working condition. My "unknown condition" GIII was $10 at nelsonfoto, a flood cleaning brought it back to life. It would have been an "Ebay mint, I see know reason why this camera will not work" auction. As for prices of Canonets on this forum, they range from $40 to $80+ after replacing seals, cleaning the viewfinder, and testing with film. At least that is what I sold 8 or so of them for.

Last edited by Brian Sweeney : 08-10-2009 at 12:15.
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Old 09-02-2012   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chris00nj View Post
Canonets are great cameras, but they don't really average under $50, especially after you add the cost of new seals. Additionally, you don't want to send a newbie to get a fixer upper.
If you want to save $, go for the Canonet 25, with the slower 45/2.5 lens and 1/4 shutter speed. Good enough for most outside street shots. It was my first real camera, but I haven't taken it around the block in years. I've got some new Wein cells, and may do it soon.
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Old 08-09-2009   #14
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Colyn is right. The Retina II series cameras are dropping in price and they are wonderful cameras. Avotius is also right in that the Yashica GSN/GTN cameras are great. One of those was my first rangefinder and it got me hooked. However, I think the Konica Auto S series slightly edges them out. For $50 and under, it is just awfully difficult to beat a Hexanon lens.
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Old 08-10-2009   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto View Post
Colyn is right. The Retina II series cameras are dropping in price and they are wonderful cameras. Avotius is also right in that the Yashica GSN/GTN cameras are great. One of those was my first rangefinder and it got me hooked. However, I think the Konica Auto S series slightly edges them out. For $50 and under, it is just awfully difficult to beat a Hexanon lens.
The Retina II is a scale focusing camera as I recall - not a rangefinder
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Old 08-10-2009   #16
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Quote:
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The Retina II is a scale focusing camera as I recall - not a rangefinder
The Retina II is a rangefinder camera. The earlier model I's were scale focus..

Below is a Retina II..

iia.jpg
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Old 08-10-2009   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David Murphy View Post
The Retina II is a scale focusing camera as I recall - not a rangefinder
The Retina I is a scale focusing camera:
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...8045.SEQ.0.jpg

The Retina II is a rangefinder:
http://www.rangefinderforum.com/rffg...5889.SEQ.0.jpg
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Old 02-25-2011   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FallisPhoto View Post
Colyn is right. The Retina II series cameras are dropping in price and they are wonderful cameras. Avotius is also right in that the Yashica GSN/GTN cameras are great. One of those was my first rangefinder and it got me hooked. However, I think the Konica Auto S series slightly edges them out. For $50 and under, it is just awfully difficult to beat a Hexanon lens.
Agree agree agree!
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Old 08-09-2009   #19
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Yashica Electro 35 GSN
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Old 08-09-2009   #20
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I have only used the GSN and Oly 35sp, and in that case the GSN won for me.
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Old 08-09-2009   #21
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I voted 'Other make japanese' because I think it is as close as makes no difference to a tie between the Yashicas and the Canonets, the biggest deciding factor being whether you prefer shutter priority (for freezing or blurring motion) or aperture priority (for depth of field control). Both methods are highly useful for rangefinder photography, and both are fantastically well built cameras. Really though, with the exception of the Minolta FLRFs that I have seen, it is hard to go wrong with any of the Japanese FLRFs. The Olympus, in particular, has a number of really nice features, but I have never gotten my hands on one.
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Old 08-09-2009   #22
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I have both the Canonet ql17gIII & Yashica GSN. The Canonet was my first rangefinder camera & is still used quite a bit. The GSN is heavy & feels cheap made. The handling is bulky compared to the QL17. The lens is quite good but the rest of the camera lacks IMO. I also have a few FSU cameras. The VF is pretty crappy even compared to the Yashica or Canonet. So I have to say that I would recommend the Canonet. This camera probably inspired me to purchase a Bessa R more than any other.
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Old 08-09-2009   #23
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What ... no votes for the Argus yet?
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Old 08-09-2009   #24
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Quote:
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What ... no votes for the Argus yet?
For a newbie? For a newbie, I'd go with the GSN. Simple, easy, good results. Tends to draw 'em in. Worked on me, anyway.
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Old 09-05-2009   #25
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Originally Posted by bmattock View Post
For a newbie? For a newbie, I'd go with the GSN. Simple, easy, good results. Tends to draw 'em in. Worked on me, anyway.
.... but the Argus is used by ace reporter Polly Perkins.

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Old 08-09-2009   #26
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What ... no votes for the Argus yet?
With careful shopping you can get 3 lens Argus outfits for $50

its difficult to get that with other makes.

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Old 08-09-2009   #27
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Minolta 7s for me. Stellar lens, good metering, great viewfinder and bright RF patch, parallax correcting framelines, optional AE if you want it, etc, etc. Big & homely, but a great performer.

I recently got a Fujica V2 which is similar in size and features and may have an even better lens.
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Old 08-10-2009   #28
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Quote:
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With careful shopping you can get 3 lens Argus outfits for $50

its difficult to get that with other makes.

Stephen
Good point. Some of the Argus lenses are German-made as I recall.
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Old 08-09-2009   #29
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i like the olympus 35rc. small, cute, well made.
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Old 08-09-2009   #30
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Yashica Electro35 GSN - although I have enjoyed using Minolta Hi-matics. I bought a new GTN for $60 when I was in the Air Force in the early 70s.
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Old 08-09-2009   #31
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Konica C35. Great lens, and much smaller than the Yashicas. IF, and it's a big if, you can get a good Fed 2 w/ the collapsible Elmar 50 copy, that's a better picture taker, but that can sometimes take several tries. And you'll need a light meter. The Konica has a meter and unlike the Yashica, it's viewfinder gives you shutter and aperture info. The camera has an AE lock too.

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Old 08-09-2009   #32
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I voted minolta because I quite like the hi0matic 7s and 9. But the yashicas are good - even the slower ministers.
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Old 08-09-2009   #33
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Canonet GIII QL17 or Konica AUTO S - great cameras and superb lenses.
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Old 08-09-2009   #34
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I agree: either the Yashica GSN or Canonet GIII QL17 (or whatever the order of those letters/numbers is)
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Old 08-09-2009   #35
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I recently got an Argus and cannot speak for the other rangefinders, but I have a lot of fun with my brick.

And, today is Argus day.
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Old 08-09-2009   #36
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Yashica Electro GSN I bought 3 for less than $20 each.
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Old 08-09-2009   #37
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Yashica Electro GSN....plenty available. Pick and choose the one with some kind of warranty to be working. Some suffer from Pad Of Death (POD), which renders it unusable. Nonetheless, they are easy to fix, check google.
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Old 08-19-2009   #38
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Last year I picked up an Olympus Ace E with 45mm f2.8 lens, this was at a thrift store. This was my first rangefinder. Being an Oly freak, in the last 90 days on ekbay I have purchased the following.
1) Olympus 35 IVa 40mm f3.5 lens. $31.51. The lens does need cleaning.
2) Olympus 35 LC 42mm f1.7 lens. $29.60. Sharp lens.
3) Tower 18 aka Olympus 35-S II 42mm f1.8 lens. $49.02
4) Olympus 35-S I 48mm f2.8 $35.01

I am having fun trying out how photographers of the 50's & 60's worked. All these are fully mechanical cameras and apart from the lens on the IVa. I have no problem, So it is possible to get a good rangefinder for under $50 plus a modicum of luck.
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Old 11-24-2009   #39
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My first RF was a Minolta Hi -Matic 7SII bought from an eldery gentleman in 1989 for £20, that camera was brilliant and really got me hooked on RFs so it gets my vote. The Yashica's have a great lens but often don't work when bought from ebay and I personally don't like the brick like handling. My Minolta is now kaput so my RF of choice just now is a Ricoh 500g, not the best on the list but you can buy it in the UK on fleabay for under a tenner!
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pocket rangefinder Olympus XA
Old 11-24-2009   #40
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pocket rangefinder Olympus XA

The olympus Xa is a very stealthy small rangefinder. I love the size and sliding cover and the controls are nice. 35mm f2.8 zuiko pancake lens. fun little range finder I got one on ebay for 25 dollars a while back
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