Is it easy to use a Leica rangefinder?


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jtan4

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I've been using a digital SLR for some time now... I can't say I'm excellent at it, but I'm actually thinking of trying to see if I can try out a Leica rangefinder (one of those old ones).

Is it easy to use it? Anyone can offer some opinion?

The other alternative of course is just to go get a manual film SLR and try it out...

Any feedback would be much appreciated!

TIA
Jinny
 

tkbonz

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I'd suggest you go to the library or the net to do some research on rangefinders first. What are their operation, limitations and what not. I can safely say that the usage will be very different from an automatic DSLR.
 

Dream Merchant

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Leica rangefinders are know to be very intuitive and speedy to use, or at least that's what I heard.

The film loading and unloading might be a little bit fiddly though, but best to check with a Leica RF user, or you could pop by the row of shops at Peninsula Shopping Center near the big open concept cafeteria. One of the shops there have several Leica RFs for sale IIRC.
 

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But one thing for sure, there is no review after the shutter is clicked. So, it pays to know your stuff (exposure & composition).
 

csisfun

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I've been using a digital SLR for some time now... I can't say I'm excellent at it, but I'm actually thinking of trying to see if I can try out a Leica rangefinder (one of those old ones).

Is it easy to use it? Anyone can offer some opinion?

The other alternative of course is just to go get a manual film SLR and try it out...

Any feedback would be much appreciated!

TIA
Jinny
Hi Jinny,

As a DSLR user yourself, I would say that you'll find Leicas a bit unintuitive. It's really back to basics with them. No autofocus, no autoexposure (unless you really fork out the cash), sometimes no meter (<M5), and you probably can only afford a prime lens, which is quite weird for a person who uses zoom (if that's your case).

It does provide you with the "feeling of greatness" :bsmilie:, and "power of Leicadom" :bsmilie:and other euphemisms which Leica users always talk about. No matter the nuance, the feeling really is there. The silent shutter is there too, but how silent depends on your camera condition.

In my opinion, you should get a manual SLR. Save your money, because what you can shoot with a Leica is pretty much what you can shoot with a manual SLR.
 

Parchiao

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Hi Jinny,

As a DSLR user yourself, I would say that you'll find Leicas a bit unintuitive. It's really back to basics with them. No autofocus, no autoexposure (unless you really fork out the cash), sometimes no meter (<M5), and you probably can only afford a prime lens, which is quite weird for a person who uses zoom (if that's your case).

It does provide you with the "feeling of greatness" :bsmilie:, and "power of Leicadom" :bsmilie:and other euphemisms which Leica users always talk about. No matter the nuance, the feeling really is there. The silent shutter is there too, but how silent depends on your camera condition.

In my opinion, you should get a manual SLR. Save your money, because what you can shoot with a Leica is pretty much what you can shoot with a manual SLR.
Rubbish advise. Manual SLRs and rangefinders are not even close. A better alternative would be to get a cheap vintage Japanese rangefinder like the Yashica.
 

gohaj

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Nov 9, 2005
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if shoot at 1/8s is what u need, then rangefinder is for you! ha. There are other advantages as well and of coz disadvantages.
 

csisfun

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:dunno:

Rubbish advise. Manual SLRs and rangefinders are not even close. A better alternative would be to get a cheap vintage Japanese rangefinder like the Yashica.
Actually, if you are referring to my last sentence, it wasn't my intention of comparing Manual SLRs with rangefinders. Don't get me wrong. I'm saying that both can take pictures. In fact, the TS actually asked if a manual SLR is a better alternative, so that's my opinion, in relation to the question asked.Review my last post, then refer to the TS's question, and I think I have given the TS quite some things to think about, as a DSLR user with reference to entering the Leica world. I don't think it's very fair to pass my advice off as "rubbish", if there's disagreement over what I said, I think diplomacy can sort it out better.
 

benny

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Nov 13, 2002
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Look for chiif. He's one of the members here and he goes to Peninsula almost every weekend. You can ask him for advice and a hands on session to gauge for yourself. By the way, only the Leica M8 is digital, the other 7 are film based. But I'm sure you already knew that.

Cheers
 

headfonz

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Apr 6, 2006
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i think it would be easy provided that you have understood and is able to apply all the basics (e.g. exposure, dof, shooting techniques) without modern aids that you would find in your dslr or any modern slr even.

even if you don't know the basics, you can always pick up a cheap used fixed lens RF like a yashica mg-1 and learn the application of the basics the hard way.
 

Zohan

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Leica rangefinders are know to be very intuitive and speedy to use, or at least that's what I heard.

The film loading and unloading might be a little bit fiddly though, but best to check with a Leica RF user, or you could pop by the row of shops at Peninsula Shopping Center near the big open concept cafeteria. One of the shops there have several Leica RFs for sale IIRC.
Dream Merchant is right. I used an M6 extensively for work for a few years. A few points:

1. Manual focusing in low light is unparalleled. No other SLR can compare to the speed of focusing. That said, for moving objects you have to prefocus, no choice.

2. The size of the rangefinder makes easy to hold and use. Controls come pretty intuitively after a while. Weight is a plus point, good for 1/8 or 1/4sec shots.

3. I used lenses from 21 to 90. Personally I felt 21 to 24mm I couldn't get the horizon straight unless I had an external viewfinder. Lenses from 75 to 90 were not intuitive for the M and I finally settled on just a 35. Seems that the M viewfinder is most usable on a 35 or 50. I also had a few accessories like winder, etc but sold them ALL off. I got used to the M + 35 1.4 alone. It's perfect in hotel rooms with 1/4 sec at 400iso bw film.

4. Yes, the film loading/unloading is a huge pain. You have to pray that you don't drop the plate every time it's taken off.
 

trucatus

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Jan 3, 2005
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#13
If you fish, you will are most likely to us e a reel. SLR is like a multipier reel. Different way to cast the bait (Focus). Different speed in reeling back (multi-shoots) and different way it weighs.

So if you learn both, you know one more tools. Both catches fish.
 

#14
If you fish, you will are most likely to us e a reel. SLR is like a multipier reel. Different way to cast the bait (Focus). Different speed in reeling back (multi-shoots) and different way it weighs.

So if you learn both, you know one more tools. Both catches fish.
I prefer to us a drag net... :bsmilie:

kidding... anyway, it's hard to describe all the nice-ness of Leica or Bessa or any RF bodies. One thing for sure, I seldom bring out my FE2 or Nikonmat to shoot anymore. I have DSLR bodies, but they never see sunlight, only use them to shoot products. Rangefinders are the ones that I bring out to shoot & for holidays nowadays.

Was testing the Lucky ISO 200 colour film the other day on the 7th storey hotel the other day. Was pretty dark at the common area & with the limitation of my 35mm/f2.5 lens, I still managed to hand hold and shoot at 1/4s and the picture still turn out usable:



Personally, rangefinders are great for available light photography, where flash is not an option and you do not want to alarm your subjects. That's what make is a great street shooter!

I believe SLR/DSLR are great for specific use, macro, products, models... age is catching up, so I prefer something lighter and smaller to bring & walk around. :)
 

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