Saturday, August 06, 2005

Rangefinder Cameras

The other night I met with some die-hard film camera buffs, members of an internationnal online forum, called (RFF). We met in a bar & grill. It didn't take long before we formed an offline/real world bond, an extension of the same one we have online, centering on our passion for rangefinder cameras. We laid some of our personal camera collection out on the table, and talked for a couple of hours about lens quality, camera handling, personal perferences for gear, and our personal RF wish list.

For instance, I got a chance to handle a Canon 50/1.4 lens, a gorgeous example, and a lens I've always be curious to own. The owner of this lens, Rich, expressed that the lens was his personal favorite (and this guy had some nice lenses!). I've always wanted to try one out, so I ended up buying 50/1.8 this week from a RFF member. It's not the same thing, but I'm eagerly awaiting its arrival.

Rangefinder cameras are unique, and some assume that an appreciation of them is an acquired taste. That's probably true; they certainly aren't for everyone. If you've never shot with a rf camera, you should. Beware, they are addicting, so you may seldom return to using your slr, or your digital camera.

Interest Piqued? Read below for a little more...

While some would recommend starting out with one of the many cheap (price-wise only) fixed lens cameras, such as, a Canon QL, or a Yashica GSN, IMO, to really appreciate a rf camera, you need to be able to change the lens. If you are strictly an SLR shooter you will flabbergasted at both the size of an rf lens, and the quality of the images. I have a Cosina Voigtlander 28/f3.5 lens, is about the diameter of an Oreo cookie and as long as about 3 or 4 Oreo cookies stacked atop one another. The construction of this lens is incredible, and the weight of this little bugger speaks directly to its quality build. It is a very sharp lens. When combined with my Minolta CLE, this deft little package is an unbelievable street-shooting kit.

As a first camera to try out, I suggest the Voigtlander Bessa R, combined with any one of the many CV lenses. This is a good low-cost package, with a good resale value (should you decide rf cameras aren't for you). If you can get one used, even better. For new cameras check They have some great R packages/prices. To learn more about rf cameras try CameraQuest,, and of course my beloved You can also feel free to leave me a comment/question. I'll be glad to help out where I can, or at the very least, point you to someone/some place that can.