For many people across the world, photography is more than just something that they do in their spare time. Photography is a passion, a way of seeing the world that is different from everyone else. Within this world there are subgroups; people who gravitate toward a particular type of equipment or brand of camera and lenses. The rangefinder camera has its historians, protectors as well as its detractors.
The rangefinder system refers to the method of measuring the distance and focus on the subject of the camera. The rangefinder uses a complex optical triangulation system to allow the photographer to obtain a clear shot of the subject with lighting and composition choices fulfilled. Although there are a variety of formats, the 35mm rangefinder model is the most popular.
The best rangefinder camera in my estimation is the one you feel instinctively comfortable with. My first introduction to the rangefinder was in the early 70s when I had the opportunity to try a wide variety of cameras before settling in on a Yashica Minister D. The owner of the store; a friend of my father’s, patiently allowed me to try every camera that I could hold.
At the time I chose a rangefinder camera because of the way it felt rather than the features that were explained to me. I had not yet understood the intricacies of the built-in light meter or the nuances of parallax correction. Back then I simply knew what felt good in my hands when I pressed the button and barely felt the click of the shutter open and close.
A rangefinder camera can simplify your picture taking in a variety of situations. One of the technical advantages of the RF, is the fact that your image never blacks out when taking the photo. Single lens reflex camera (SLR) mirror flips the instant the shutter button is depressed. This is the exact moment when the composed image is captured permanently.
Although there are many different cameras to choose from in both styles and format, I find that some of my most immediate and spontaneous shots come off the 35mm rangefinder. I love these cameras for taking candid shots in any light conditions.
The 35mm rangefinder camera continues to impress in both style and function. Although the modern version has a lot of interesting features, I find them to be less solidly made or even as sturdy as the classic 60s and 70s models.
I find rangefinder focusing is still the best for both speed and accuracy. Even at my age the eye is still the most amazing device for picking out detail. This is even more appropriate when shooting through glass because autofocus features tend to get confused.
If you have used a rangefinder camera in the past you understand how sharp the lenses are. Some people who are used to working with an SLR find RFs cumbersome and different; others find it a refreshing change. They do have their limitations as most pieces of equipment do.