The rangefinder is not for everybody

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
I'm afraid I might belong to the TTL camp after all :oops:

Frankly I don't know how to write about this without going to kiloword-long rambles. Feel free to ignore if you don't like rambles. Especially when this all boils down to me not having enough M-time after a busy January. Maybe I'll try to contain myself to the RF / EVF / OVF discussion for now.

The OVF of a rangefinder is not as bright as the EVFs, the mirror setup inside eats considerably more light than I anticipated. Not a dealbreaker but I like bright.

The OVF offers a zero-lag view, this I kinda appreciate. I notice I can time my shots with absolute ease.

But I do love the WYSIWYG nature of an EVF. No more picture review or anything like that. (Although I should be reviewing -- many of the casual people shots end up with the subject with eyes closed!) I guess the modernest EVF cameras with 100 Hz are better in this regard. I don't mind the 60 Hz panels outside this timing issue, which I found to be an issue after going to OVF.

Maybe it's just the OVF of M240 that I don't really like. If I stand straight and look through the VF, the 35 framelines are good. When I'm crouching somewhere and focusing at infinity, it's not as easy to see the lines. If I ever got 28 mm lenses, I should probably go for an external VF. I hear the M10's longer eye relief distance would be a thing that helped me with my problem but my finances absolutely forbid me to even think about it.

The RF is absolutely the best wrt manual focusing (well maybe some clever (Fujifilm) solutions with their EVF cameras are on-par), especially when you go wide you don't want to be focusing those lenses manually if you don't have a rangefinder.

But there are plenty of inherent issues: long MFDs feel a hindrance (of course it should actually just fuel your creativity as you're given a rather trivial constraint) and the promise of "seeing outside the frame" doesn't fill unless you shoot 50mm or longer. I also value the fact that I can preview the effects of flares and preview the effects of DOF before firing the shutter. The predefined sets of framelines also make me avoid the "nonstandard" FLs even if there would be so many exciting options. I guess I'm not the most adventurous kind -- another sign I may not "get the Leica".

Yeah I'm a d-bag for fully knowing that I should take my issues with the camera to the streets. :) You know, use it more and collect actual problems to complain about. I get (I guess most people with GAS) these issues with my current gear when I'm not shooting. Shoot more, work out the kinks.

We had a gorgeous January but after that it's devolved into a typical winter bs -- gray skies and things like that. So I haven't been out much with the camera and of course that's the recipe for getting thoughts like these. I'm still aiming to keep my promise I made to myself about keeping the system for a year and shooting at least 10k frames before making any decisions. Me starting to plan those decisions 3 months into "the challenge" is sadly nothing new to me.

BTW it was probably the marvelous featured thread on Pentax images that probably was the last confirmation that I kind of like the TTL.
 

rayvonn

All-Pro
Jan 19, 2015
124
A rangefinder camera is a bit of a luxury. I don't mean in terms of cost, but the time/ preparation/ imagination required to operate one. It's worth this sacrifice. However, it would never be my only camera. More of a treat to enjoy when you have the spare time.
 

BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
I bought my first rangefinder, a Minolta Hi-Matic 9, in 1969 when I was 12. Bought an SLR a year later. AF-SLR in 1989. Bought my first Interchangeable Lens RF in 1996. When Nikki came along 20 years ago, I found focus and framing easier with the RF. I bought the Olympus EP2 with the EVF in 2010. The Optical Viewfinder of the Rangefinder camera allows seeing outside the frame- which I rely on. I shoot mostly 35mm through 135mm on the RF. Shooting a much wider angle lens would lose the see-outside-the-frame advantage, and I would grab the Nikon Df for use with my 20, 24, and 28. Someday I'll revisit Mirrorless with EVF, probably a Sony A7-II or later- just for ease-of-adapting obscure lens mounts.

Use the type of camera that gives YOU the best results for your shooting style. But also know the strengths and weaknesses of each, and when to select the right camera/lens combination for a particular situation. If your style requires an SLR or EVF, not a rangefinder- no reason to shoehorn it into your style.
 

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
Thanks for good replies everybody.

I swore DSLRs off after my first EVF camera but now that I've again shot through one, I'm mildly fantasizing about one. But I'm not one to collect bodies in a closet just to use them once a month so it's probably not happening. :)

RF wasn't my main reason to go into Leica M, it was the Leica glass, compactness of system (for FF) (could ramble about this one too some day) and the forced learning of some manual aspects of photography. Or maybe the RF aspect enters the picture as a big factor once I decide to go for a manual-focus camera, but anyway.

And once I get to move, I think I'll have time to do some actual street shooting -- something the Leica M is made for. I probably forget all the problems in a click of a shutter.
 
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christilou

Legend
Jul 13, 2010
164
Sunny Frimley
I would say you win some you lose some with the rangefinder. There are times when I get into the swing of the M10 and other times that I just delete everything! I would never have it as my only camera though. There are times when af is just easier!
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
124
Lexington, Virginia
Steve
The height of manual focus for me was the Pentax 645 (film) with the 75 2.8. Huge bright OVF, a split prism in the center, a lens with great tactile feedback, and me with great eyesight. I could get the exact place I wanted in focus. Most of those conditions are gone now with my current system so I rely on AF. I have only tried RF on a friend’s camera on occasion so no real experience there.
 
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MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
Interesting thread - it only goes to show that everyone has their own preferences, and that's understandable and totally fine by me. I'm completely infatuated with rangefinders - so much so that after caving in and buying the M10, I wanted something cheaper that I could use as an EDC - hence the M8. For me, RF photography is pure, simple and essential, regardless of the technology used to register the image.

That's not to say I have anything against other ways of framing; EVFs and SLR OVFs are fully usable as well, though I'm still struggling when having to use a screen exclusively (the only notable exception being the GR - up to a point, i.e. in very bright light and/or confined spaces where working at arms length isn't really feasible). If accuracy and control are key, nothing beats TTL methods, of course - and 100% coverage; even cheap EVFs and LCDs offer that, whereas only a few enthusiast (D)SLRs are this well spec'd. But only RF cameras allow for framing with context - something I love to do; it doesn't only allow for better timing, but also for finding the best composition. That said, the same can be done - up to a degree - with zooms; it's just a totally different, more "physical" process (zooming in and out, adjusting your framing while doing so).

However, and this may sound funny to some, being restricted to a single focal length feels liberating to me; you can "get your eye in" and pre-visualise very effectively after a while. It's much closer to a flow state than fiddling with lots of options and toolsets ...

A little story: Today I was walking with the Z6 - a camera I really like, btw. - and the M8, both with 35mm(-e) lenses attached. The Z6 came out once because of difficult lighting that favoured framing and previewing via the EVF. And it was an advantage; I had tried the shot with the M8 before, and while it worked, it was much harder to control and achieve. After that shot, I went on using the Z6 instead of the M8 I usually carry in hand (if I don't carry the M10 ...), but I actually missed a couple of shots because I couldn't prevent myself from trying to adjust a thing or two, and because the camera is still rather new to me, I fumbled a couple of key presses (including the joystick). Pilot error, of course, and something that probably won't continue to happen after a couple of months - but still, something that wouldn't ever occur with a RF because even trying something like that would be futile; so, you'd just zone (i.e. pre-)focus, and maybe even preset everything or else use aperture priority; then it's lift, frame and fire, done. No "optimisation" possible/sensible that might cost time and, hence, shots.

All true RF cameras I'm aware of favour that kind of handling. In more controlled environments, a modern mirrorless camera like the Z6 would certainly allows for much more predictable and probably technically (though maybe not optically) better results; but even a seriously dated digital RF like the M8 makes quick shots a much more natural thing to accomplish. Who'd have thunk it ... (it's almost a cliche, I know - but it's one thing to read or hear about it and to experience it first-hand).

M.
 

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
Good stuff :)

I've been shooting 35 mm for a long time but curiously enough it was only soon after getting the M + 35mm Summicron that I started to see the 35mm frame before me, without having to raise the camera on my eye.

The M also teaches many valuable lessons, all of which are not related to the RF mechanism itself. Even though I forked over a big lump of change to get the system I'm learning a lot. So it won't be a waste of time and some money if I do decide to sell it some day.
 

drd1135

Zen Snapshooter
Jul 13, 2011
124
Lexington, Virginia
Steve
Interesting thread - it only goes to show that everyone has their own preferences, and that's understandable and totally fine by me. I'm completely infatuated with rangefinders - so much so that after caving in and buying the M10, I wanted something cheaper that I could use as an EDC - hence the M8. For me, RF photography is pure, simple and essential, regardless of the technology used to register the image.

That's not to say I have anything against other ways of framing; EVFs and SLR OVFs are fully usable as well, though I'm still struggling when having to use a screen exclusively (the only notable exception being the GR - up to a point, i.e. in very bright light and/or confined spaces where working at arms length isn't really feasible). If accuracy and control are key, nothing beats TTL methods, of course - and 100% coverage; even cheap EVFs and LCDs offer that, whereas only a few enthusiast (D)SLRs are this well spec'd. But only RF cameras allow for framing with context - something I love to do; it doesn't only allow for better timing, but also for finding the best composition. That said, the same can be done - up to a degree - with zooms; it's just a totally different, more "physical" process (zooming in and out, adjusting your framing while doing so).

However, and this may sound funny to some, being restricted to a single focal length feels liberating to me; you can "get your eye in" and pre-visualise very effectively after a while. It's much closer to a flow state than fiddling with lots of options and toolsets ...

A little story: Today I was walking with the Z6 - a camera I really like, btw. - and the M8, both with 35mm(-e) lenses attached. The Z6 came out once because of difficult lighting that favoured framing and previewing via the EVF. And it was an advantage; I had tried the shot with the M8 before, and while it worked, it was much harder to control and achieve. After that shot, I went on using the Z6 instead of the M8 I usually carry in hand (if I don't carry the M10 ...), but I actually missed a couple of shots because I couldn't prevent myself from trying to adjust a thing or two, and because the camera is still rather new to me, I fumbled a couple of key presses (including the joystick). Pilot error, of course, and something that probably won't continue to happen after a couple of months - but still, something that wouldn't ever occur with a RF because even trying something like that would be futile; so, you'd just zone (i.e. pre-)focus, and maybe even preset everything or else use aperture priority; then it's lift, frame and fire, done. No "optimisation" possible/sensible that might cost time and, hence, shots.

All true RF cameras I'm aware of favour that kind of handling. In more controlled environments, a modern mirrorless camera like the Z6 would certainly allows for much more predictable and probably technically (though maybe not optically) better results; but even a seriously dated digital RF like the M8 makes quick shots a much more natural thing to accomplish. Who'd have thunk it ... (it's almost a cliche, I know - but it's one thing to read or hear about it and to experience it first-hand).

M.
Can’t you just pre-focus the Z6 and set it to MF? I’m not sure I see why the RF was an advantage in these situations.
 
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BrianS

Super Moderator
Apr 3, 2013
124
Spring is finally coming around. This Canon 100/3.5 is tiny.
195605
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At F4 with Y2 filter, someone posted an old test of this lens which indicated stopping down to F4 gave 80lp/mm resolution. The lens is from 1960.
 
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MoonMind

Hall of Famer
Dec 29, 2013
124
Switzerland
Matt
Can’t you just pre-focus the Z6 and set it to MF? I’m not sure I see why the RF was an advantage in these situations.
I said it was pilot error - but anyway, I sure could have done that, but I doggedly tried to make it work with AF. Of course, it's possible to do the same thing (i.e. zone focus) with the Z6, but it didn't occur to me; maybe it's easier to understand if I state that I have the same kind of handling down pat with the D750, but want to learn to use the Z6's joystick - I'm just not fast enough yet and have changed the setup recently as well, so I make additional mistakes. It's all about setting the AF point ... Anyhow, what I was trying to get at was how intuitively things work with RFs, whereas I'd have to actually change settings on more full featured cameras that I tend (and want) to use with AF.

M.
 
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davidzvi

Top Veteran
Apr 18, 2014
104
Boston Burbs
David
I like RF style bodies for most things, but it's more the smaller form factor as I've actually been using the EVF less and less as the years go by. I'm finding I take more time to frame my shots when I can see the scene and adjust.

In my case part of it is I'm a right eye dominant lefty that sees mainly monocularly. My left eye only really sees the peripheral. It could be corrected if I were to loose vision in my right. But a lazy eye with astigmatism means if my glasses fully corrected my left eye, I'd see two of everything, the images don't converge. My glasses have wha't called a balance lens and no doctor will try laser correction on the right because of it.

I do find that tracking subjects I do better with an SLR style body, whith is why my "big" body and lens setup is the E-M1 mkII.
 

Archiver

Top Veteran
Jul 11, 2010
103
Melbourne, Australia
The TTL experience is something I miss from rangefinders, but one thing I don't miss is unreliable manual focus. Focusing a rangefinder through, say, a dirty window or between fenceposts or bars is much easier and more reliable than trying to AF or manually focus a DSLR, or mirrorless camera with an EVF. Then there's the ability to put tiny lenses on a very compact full frame body, which is impossible with current mirrorless cameras.
 

mike3996

Top Veteran
Apr 2, 2018
104
The TTL experience is something I miss from rangefinders, but one thing I don't miss is unreliable manual focus. Focusing a rangefinder through, say, a dirty window or between fenceposts or bars is much easier and more reliable than trying to AF or manually focus a DSLR, or mirrorless camera with an EVF. Then there's the ability to put tiny lenses on a very compact full frame body, which is impossible with current mirrorless cameras.
Yeah whenever somebody says FF systems are large or even that M4/3 setups are the most compact, I chuckle to myself and think of Leica.

I agree that if you want fast and accurate MF focusing, the rangefinder is the absolute best. If you don't need to be fast, the EVF + magnifier is just as accurate.

Of course you can adapt M39 or M glass on a very compact MILC body but you either have crop factor or very smeared corners. Sad that nobody dares to make a thin coverglass / aligned microlens sensor like the Leica M. Sony with a Kolari mod comes close so it's a danger zone out there.
 

S Noel

All-Pro
Oct 5, 2010
124
Casey County, KY (Liberty)
Stephen Noel
Speed and photography are not possible for me, with any camera, to get the shot cleanly. with my left eye having only peripheral vision, and my hands with old man tremors. I have found the solutions that allow me to continue with a life-long photography passion. (although it is waning with the various handicaps.)
Enter the EM-5. With the good image stabilizing and the self timer set to 2 sec, manual focus lens and focus magnification, I can still get it. Using a steady rest on something, or a tripod, takes it up another notch.
Not fast, but not out of the action either!
Yes I also use preset focus sometimes, but still with 2 second delay. Pushing the shutter release always causes a camera movement, hence the 2 sec delay.
Whatever works. Just get on with it. :thumbup:
 

Kevin

Code Monkey 🐒
Nov 3, 2018
104
Pennsylvania, USA
Pushing the shutter release always causes a camera movement, hence the 2 sec delay.
Steve, do you have a smartphone (iPhone, Android)? If so you might be able to use the Olympus "Image Share" app for a remote shutter release instead of relying upon the timer. I'm not an Olympus owner so I don't know if it is compatible with the EM-5 but if it is then the remote capabilities of using your phone might allow you a bit more flexibility in your shooting.

 

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