Rangefinder vs SLR

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  • 10-09-2004, 12:10 PM
    92135011
    Rangefinder vs SLR
    Well I guess this is an age-old battle, but im thinking about getting into a rangefinder
    You guys think its worth it?
  • 10-09-2004, 12:30 PM
    Franglais
    Rangefinder and SLR
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 92135011
    Well I guess this is an age-old battle, but im thinking about getting into a rangefinder
    You guys think its worth it?

    I have both. I don't see it as being a battle. Each type is suited to particular types of work.

    I find rangefinders better for getting inside a situation. The camera is small, discreet, looks inoffensive. I tend to work close to people (less than 10 feet) with a limited range of focal lengths (35, 50, 90mm). It's easy to carry around my kit in a little bag which I can live with all day.

    SLR's are more versatile, easier to use (metering systems & autofocus are really useful). But its like you're shouting at the subject HERE I AM I'M A PHOTOGRAPHER and it changes the relationship.

    Having said that there's nothing mystical about the rangefinder. If I use a modest SLR combination like my F75 with 50mm f1.8 then I can work pretty much like with the Leica.

    Charles
  • 10-09-2004, 12:51 PM
    Clemmie
    Re: Rangefinder and SLR
    Well stated, Charles. There's no notable difference in image quality between a well built Rangefinder and a well built SLR of comparable age.

    The leading difference between the two, to keep in mind when shooting, will be to allow for the Parallax differential between the viewfinder and lens views - this being much more critical on close-ups than in distance shooting.

    As the modern market has been more supportive of SLR development, I expect that the absolute best optics would be found on a modern SLR. But it is also true, that some of the 'great masters of the past' did their prize work with the Rangefinders of their day - proving that the Photographer does make a difference, and equipment isn't everything. When 'what you see' ain't necessarily 'what you get', you must compensate by knowing your equipment's characteristics on a more intimate level, than what one can get away with on an SLR.

    Is it worth it? is the 'eternal question' here - and is one that each must answer for themselves. I dumped my last Rangefinder, in favor of SLR's, some years ago - so the SLR is clearly MY preference. Is that the right or wrong answer for someone else? Again, each much decide for themselves. If the camera allows you to obtain the results you desire, that is what matters.
  • 10-09-2004, 06:06 PM
    92135011
    Re: Rangefinder and SLR
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Clemmie
    Well stated, Charles. There's no notable difference in image quality between a well built Rangefinder and a well built SLR of comparable age.

    The leading difference between the two, to keep in mind when shooting, will be to allow for the Parallax differential between the viewfinder and lens views - this being much more critical on close-ups than in distance shooting.

    As the modern market has been more supportive of SLR development, I expect that the absolute best optics would be found on a modern SLR. But it is also true, that some of the 'great masters of the past' did their prize work with the Rangefinders of their day - proving that the Photographer does make a difference, and equipment isn't everything. When 'what you see' ain't necessarily 'what you get', you must compensate by knowing your equipment's characteristics on a more intimate level, than what one can get away with on an SLR.

    Is it worth it? is the 'eternal question' here - and is one that each must answer for themselves. I dumped my last Rangefinder, in favor of SLR's, some years ago - so the SLR is clearly MY preference. Is that the right or wrong answer for someone else? Again, each much decide for themselves. If the camera allows you to obtain the results you desire, that is what matters.

    I've read about some advantages about rangefinders.
    Could you guys please verify?

    1) no camera slap so that you can handhold down to lower speeds
    2) at smaller focal lengths ~35 and less, they are more accurate due to the extra space the SLR needs to provide for the mirror

    Recently, I dropped by at a camera supply to buy my girlfriend a Digi cam. Hadnt been to a camera shop for a long time, so I thought I would check out some lenses and some digital SLRs. To this point I have never used rangefinder cameras.
    I then made a little comment about Leica's camera's retaining it's old fashioned look without really progressing in style. The sales guy looked sorta offended and decided to change my mind about the thing, so he brought me over to the Leica section and handed me the Leica M7. I was initially attracted by its solid feel and overall seemingly good quality. At the moment I'm a little interested in the MP, which is fully manual, all metal, and hand made. This camera looks like I would be able to use it for a very long time without it messing up too badly on me. Leica's reputation with the M3 (which the MP is similar) is alluring. Many M3s these days are still working fine it seems and there is still a cult following such model. You guys think this is a way to go?
  • 10-09-2004, 07:29 PM
    Clemmie
    Re: Rangefinder and SLR
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 92135011
    I've read about some advantages about rangefinders.
    Could you guys please verify?

    1) no camera slap so that you can handhold down to lower speeds
    2) at smaller focal lengths ~35 and less, they are more accurate due to the extra space the SLR needs to provide for the mirror

    Recently, I dropped by at a camera supply to buy my girlfriend a Digi cam. Hadnt been to a camera shop for a long time, so I thought I would check out some lenses and some digital SLRs. To this point I have never used rangefinder cameras.
    I then made a little comment about Leica's camera's retaining it's old fashioned look without really progressing in style. The sales guy looked sorta offended and decided to change my mind about the thing, so he brought me over to the Leica section and handed me the Leica M7. I was initially attracted by its solid feel and overall seemingly good quality. At the moment I'm a little interested in the MP, which is fully manual, all metal, and hand made. This camera looks like I would be able to use it for a very long time without it messing up too badly on me. Leica's reputation with the M3 (which the MP is similar) is alluring. Many M3s these days are still working fine it seems and there is still a cult following such model. You guys think this is a way to go?

    Point #1 - isn't 'camera slap', but refers to 'mirror slap' - where the mirror directing the image to the viewfinder, flips up just before the shutter opens.

    I have never heard of, or encountered, this mirror movement being an issue in handheld exposures. In a tripod setup for a longer exposure, mirror-induced shake can be a factor - but most better SLR's now offer a 'mirror lock-up' setting to get around this.

    Most newer SLR's are being designed with such low-mass mirrors, that it's hardly an issue even without a 'lock up' setting. My Maxxum 7, for example, has a lock-up setting - which I always forget to set whenever it *could* make a difference in a shot - yet I have had no problems.

    Point #2 - I haven't heard before, and I've been shooting SLR's for 25 years. Sounds to me like something invented by an eager Leica salesman.;)

    I personally don't care much for a Leica. I think they're rather overpriced, and sorely lacking in modern features - but that's just my opinion.

    If you're wanting a solid camera, built in the 'Old European' tradition, that will probably outlive you......and aren't that concerned about having 'all the modern conveniences'......and the price isn't an issue......THEN, a Leica is probably - quite seriously - 'the only game left in town'.

    And their enduring 'cult collectible' status, means they hold their market value better than probably anything else in current production. So if you take the plunge on one, and later change your mind, there's a fair chance you can bail out without taking too big a loss on the deal.
  • 10-09-2004, 08:55 PM
    Franglais
    Re: Rangefinder and SLR
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 92135011
    I've read about some advantages about rangefinders.
    Could you guys please verify?

    1) no camera slap so that you can handhold down to lower speeds
    2) at smaller focal lengths ~35 and less, they are more accurate due to the extra space the SLR needs to provide for the mirror

    ...I then made a little comment about Leica's camera's retaining it's old fashioned look without really progressing in style. ...

    ..At the moment I'm a little interested in the MP, which is fully manual, all metal, and hand made. This camera looks like I would be able to use it for a very long time without it messing up too badly on me. Leica's reputation with the M3 (which the MP is similar) is alluring. Many M3s these days are still working fine it seems and there is still a cult following such model. You guys think this is a way to go?

    1. I've never noticed any difference between (modern) SLRs and rangefinders in terms of low light holding ability. I use the rangefinders because of their small size.

    2. Can't say there I've noticed a difference between equivalent Nikon & Leica lenses (remember my Leica lenses are 25 years old and my Nikon lenses are 5 years old). I actually have more confidence in the autofocus of my Nikons than in the focussing of my rangefinders, particularly with telephoto lenses. Focussing a 90mm using the 24mm view of the Hexar RF is difficult.

    3. The one thing they should not change in the Leica is the style. Its perfectly functional. Everything is in the right place.

    4. I have an M4P which is meterless like the MP and a Konica Hexar RF which is automatic like the M7. Most of the time I use the Hexar. Its really tedious getting a meter out, keeping an eye on the lighting all the time. I mostly use the Leica in low-light situations when the Hexar's meter might be fooled.

    The M4P (and the MP) is packed with clockwork and it needs regular adjustment. Mine goes in for a service every 2-3 years. It will probably outlast the Hexar - because spare parts will always be available (unlike the electronic components on the Hexar).

    I think that the MP is really silly with its knurled rewind knob - a camera made for collectors, not to take pictures with, in my opinion.

    Charles
  • 10-10-2004, 12:29 AM
    92135011
    Re: Rangefinder and SLR
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Clemmie
    Point #1 - isn't 'camera slap', but refers to 'mirror slap' - where the mirror directing the image to the viewfinder, flips up just before the shutter opens.

    I have never heard of, or encountered, this mirror movement being an issue in handheld exposures. In a tripod setup for a longer exposure, mirror-induced shake can be a factor - but most better SLR's now offer a 'mirror lock-up' setting to get around this.

    Most newer SLR's are being designed with such low-mass mirrors, that it's hardly an issue even without a 'lock up' setting. My Maxxum 7, for example, has a lock-up setting - which I always forget to set whenever it *could* make a difference in a shot - yet I have had no problems.

    Point #2 - I haven't heard before, and I've been shooting SLR's for 25 years. Sounds to me like something invented by an eager Leica salesman.;)

    I personally don't care much for a Leica. I think they're rather overpriced, and sorely lacking in modern features - but that's just my opinion.

    If you're wanting a solid camera, built in the 'Old European' tradition, that will probably outlive you......and aren't that concerned about having 'all the modern conveniences'......and the price isn't an issue......THEN, a Leica is probably - quite seriously - 'the only game left in town'.

    And their enduring 'cult collectible' status, means they hold their market value better than probably anything else in current production. So if you take the plunge on one, and later change your mind, there's a fair chance you can bail out without taking too big a loss on the deal.

    Yes mirror slap, I typed it wrong.
    According to some people who have made photo galleries on websites, they were able to take down to 1/4 sec speed without blur. I have been successful at 1/15 with SLR if I was lucky.
    The sales guy said nothing about the whole focal length thing. Also read that somewhere that was comparing SLR with Rangefinders. That deal was talked about in about in a few sources, so that's why I'm verifying.
    I'm interested in the MP mostly because its fully manual (or else I would be more leaning toward the M7). Also, if there were to be any nuclear blasts and Im not dead, I can still take pictures after everyone elses camera got fried ICs. YAY
  • 10-10-2004, 12:33 AM
    92135011
    Re: Rangefinder and SLR
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Franglais
    1. I've never noticed any difference between (modern) SLRs and rangefinders in terms of low light holding ability. I use the rangefinders because of their small size.

    2. Can't say there I've noticed a difference between equivalent Nikon & Leica lenses (remember my Leica lenses are 25 years old and my Nikon lenses are 5 years old). I actually have more confidence in the autofocus of my Nikons than in the focussing of my rangefinders, particularly with telephoto lenses. Focussing a 90mm using the 24mm view of the Hexar RF is difficult.

    3. The one thing they should not change in the Leica is the style. Its perfectly functional. Everything is in the right place.

    4. I have an M4P which is meterless like the MP and a Konica Hexar RF which is automatic like the M7. Most of the time I use the Hexar. Its really tedious getting a meter out, keeping an eye on the lighting all the time. I mostly use the Leica in low-light situations when the Hexar's meter might be fooled.

    The M4P (and the MP) is packed with clockwork and it needs regular adjustment. Mine goes in for a service every 2-3 years. It will probably outlast the Hexar - because spare parts will always be available (unlike the electronic components on the Hexar).

    I think that the MP is really silly with its knurled rewind knob - a camera made for collectors, not to take pictures with, in my opinion.

    Charles

    The MP has a TTL meter, but no TTL for the flash. (i think)
    I wouldnt be able to stand taking out a meter every time either
    Dont think its all that accurate anyways...

    The rewind is small problem, but one that isnt that big of an issue for me. I am rarely in a rushed situation anyways.
  • 10-10-2004, 01:37 AM
    Clemmie
    Re: Rangefinder and SLR
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 92135011
    Also, if there were to be any nuclear blasts and Im not dead, I can still take pictures after everyone elses camera got fried ICs. YAY

    Cute! Of course, with even a little bit of Radiation around, all of the Film is gonna be 'toast', too. So just WHAT do you propose to shoot on?

    A classic quick-test for Radioactive Fallout: snap a picture of the sky with a Polaroid. If the print comes out all splotchy looking, you've got radioactive fallout - and are in deep doo-doo.
  • 10-10-2004, 11:49 AM
    Franglais
    Re: Rangefinder and SLR
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 92135011
    The MP has a TTL meter, but no TTL for the flash. (i think)
    I wouldnt be able to stand taking out a meter every time either
    Dont think its all that accurate anyways...

    The rewind is small problem, but one that isnt that big of an issue for me. I am rarely in a rushed situation anyways.

    You're right, the MP has the same metering system as the M6. When I wrote my piece I thought you said it had no meter, but it seemed strange.

    The M6/MP meter is almost a spotmeter. Its an accurate system - as long as you know which part of the image to meter. Just like the rest it requires practice, skill and constant concentration to get the best out of the camera.

    Charles
  • 10-10-2004, 01:36 PM
    another view
    Re: Rangefinder vs SLR
    Great images have been taken on both. Rangefinders are usually used for almost their own style of photography, and if that style interests you then you should try it.

    You don't have to spend a lot of money to do it though - Get a Canonet GIII QL17 - a nice one will set you back about $50. Make sure the light seals have been replaced or plan to have it done. Wein makes a zinc air battery to replace the mercury battery it originally used. This camera has a fixed 40 f1.7 that's very sharp, and a shutter priority auto mode. ISO up to 800, hot shoe and PC socket if you wanted to use flash with it (although most don't). There are a couple others out there too, but this is the one I bought. Honestly I haven't used it much since I bought it, I'm not sure it's my thing (wish it metered up to 3200 film). For the price, you can't go wrong though.