What Film Rangefinder To Test The Waters Cheaply But Not Break The Bank?

Discussion in 'Equipment & Media' started by Robert Pavich, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. Robert Pavich

    Robert Pavich New Member

    I have been curious about film shooting. I've been 99% digital, except for the usual "kodak 110" stuff in the 70's like everyone.

    I've been especially curious about budget film rangefinders....I've seen them well under 100.00 US.

    What would be a good "starter" budget rangefinder (read $80.00 or less US) just to get my feet wet and see if shooting film will appeal to me. I would like something where the lens wasn't a piece of crap...and even fixed focal length non-interchangeable would be fine.

    Just wondering...I'm very unfamiliar.
  2. Chris Dodkin

    Chris Dodkin West Coast Correspondent

    Hi Robert - you've come to the right place

    Plenty of folks on here shooting film, and rangefinders too.

    I've enjoyed shooting with the Yashica's from that era - they have great lenses, so you can do some nice creative shooting with shallow depth of field etc.


    Plenty to choose from on EBAY - well within budget.

    I've got some great film results with them


    I did a review here: http://realphotographersforum.com/forum/threads/yashica-electro-35-gt.10266/#post-85250

    Worth a look - note I cover the battery requirements in the write-up, which is always something to get yourself up to speed on with older film cameras.

    Lots of other good models to look at, but worth some consideration for sure.
  3. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    $80 with a lens is going to be a push for anything that isn't Russian if you want to change lenses?
    My Russian RF is a zorki that @David Mitchell gave me ... It was basically on its last legs and had to be serviced which is a common story with regards to FSU (former Soviet Union) cameras.

    Fixed lens wise, there are many! Dan just picked up two and a slr for £10! Both represent the entry level ...

    A couple of classics:

    Maybe a Yashica electro 35 gsn, little bit of automation and a cracking lens!

    I have a olympus 35rc ... A real classic! Very small, auto and fully manual, great lens!

    Something a little more modern would be the olympus xa ...

    There are many many more!
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
  4. Robert Pavich

    Robert Pavich New Member

    Thanks very much! Good info.
  5. Robert Pavich

    Robert Pavich New Member

    I guess I should have mentioned; either a fixed lens, or a body only. I have a Zeiss Planar 2/50 ZM that I can use if necessary.

    Thanks also for this good info!
  6. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    Planar ZM? What, just knocking around?? :)

    The M-mount limits your options to these http://www.cameraquest.com/leicaMcameraList.htm

    The Leica CL being the least expensive possibly followed by the voigtlander R2 ... the voigtlander bessa t can be had cheap but it doesnt have a viewfinder
  7. Robert Pavich

    Robert Pavich New Member

    Lol...no...It's for my X-Pro1 but I just thought I could use it. :)

    Edited to add: Yikes! that really makes the price of rangefinders go up...I guess I'll stick with a fixed lens cheapie for now....
  8. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

    ... Aaaah ... that makes sense!
    With a lens like that to hand, i'd def be looking at an m-mount camera!
    Not much more cash and you could have an Voigtlander R2a or a Konica Hexar RF ... A little bit more and you are in Zeiss Ikon ZM territory ... or even a "real" leica
  9. Robert Pavich

    Robert Pavich New Member

    Man...that R2a looks really nice...I was salivating just this morning...Though I liked the R3a also for the viewfinder.
  10. Hamish Gill

    Hamish Gill Well-Known Member

  11. Robert Pavich

    Robert Pavich New Member

    Great! thanks for the review.
  12. David Mitchell

    David Mitchell Active Member

    Don't forget that you can easily get a good SLR for not much money as well, cheaper than a film RF.
  13. Dave Young

    Dave Young Active Member

    Thanks for starting this thread Robert. I've been looking at a rangefinders since Dan got hold of his couple of bargains a couple of weeks ago. Just missed out on an eBay bargain tonight for the same Yashica. :(

    I've not shot a film camera for quite awhile now, and even then I wasn't very good at it, however the prettiness of these and the lure of exploring more about going back to basics excites me to try and get hold of one.

    Any info/advice gratefully received :)
  14. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore Moderator

    Hi Robert,...

    • I agree wholeheartedly with @Chris Dodkin's Yashica advice. The Yashica Electros are excellent cameras with excellent glass and you are sure to have money left over if you shop carefully. One caveat, however,...try to ascertain from the seller that the camera is fully functional. The Yashica Electro can suffer from a deteriorated fiber insulator deep inside the bowels of the camera. This insulator is commonly referred to as the "Pad of Death" ("POD" for short) because when deteriorated it causes the battery to drain very quickly. The meter can't work then, and you lose variability of shutter speeds as a result. You can still take pictures, but the camera defaults to a shutter speed of 1/500 and that's your only choice. (The POD can be fixed by the away, and instructions are available on line to help you do it yourself if you're so inclined. However, best to clear up in advance if you can whether the POD is good or bad.)
    • I also agree with @Hamish Gill's Olympus XA advice. However, be aware that the XA is very small and albeit a rangefinder, sometimes its hard to perceive the split screen lining up, especially in low light conditions. Also, there are several varieties of XA. Only the original XA is a rangefinder. The XA2, XA3 and XA4 are zone focus. The XA1--another caveat: some people believe this is the original XA. Its not, its very different and indeed is a cheapy model--is a mere viewfinder camera. Nevertheless, the XA is a fine camera. I have one with me almost always (usually the XA3 these days) since it is so pocketable and easy to use and also performs well in low light conditions.
    Good luck, Robert!
    Dan Cattermole and Pete Askew like this.
  15. Dave Young

    Dave Young Active Member

    I've been offered a Ricoh 500G in very good condition (inc the light seals being done) for £35.00.

    Does this sound like a good deal to anyone? I'm tempted to give film a go... but not sure where to start :D
  16. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore Moderator

    I don't have experience with the Ricoh 500G, @Dave Young, but I think its considered a pretty good little camera. And if its had its seals replaced and is in the condition its described to be then 35 quid seems a good price to me. Below are links to a couple of opinions of the camera.


  17. Dave Young

    Dave Young Active Member

    Thanks for the info Brian :)

    I didn't buy that one in the end... however, I missed out on a sale from a well known auction site, but the buyer got in touch and asked if I was still interested. So, we've done a deal on this little beauty...


    It's cost me the princely sum of just over £10.00 quid, although I think the light seals may need doing. OK, so what are they and how do I do them :eek::D

    I'm really chuffed as it looks in pretty good condition and hopefully it'll be a nice small winter project for me.

    So, be warned. Lots of really stupid film questions coming up soon :p:D
    Dan Cattermole and Pete Askew like this.
  18. I was going to suggest an Olympus 35 ECR, which seems pretty good so far (and it's nice and small) - but it seems I was too late...

    I've nearly bought one of those Ricohs before, but never seen them quite that cheap :-(
    Dave Young likes this.
  19. Brian Moore

    Brian Moore Moderator

    Congrats, Dave.

    I picked up a Canon Canonet 1.7 GIII for half what the person wanted for it. I explained that the light seals were bad,...which they were,...such that they were disintegrating as I touched them. Anyway, I decided to run some film through it before fixing the seals--my theory being that even with light leaks I could determine if the camera was basically functional before investing any more money or time into it. Well, to my delight, the camera functiuons excellently, with no light leaks so far.

    So I guess the moral of the story is, you may want to run a roll of film through it before you do anything.
    Dave Young likes this.
  20. Dave Young

    Dave Young Active Member

    Thanks chaps, it was a bit of a steal. I was a bit surprised that the guy offered it to me at the price he did!

    I'll have a look when it turns up Brian, I have a feeling from the original description that the rear door lining may be missing completely. Will just have to suck it and see...

Share This Page