Little rangefinders (there can’t be only one)

In 2006 I went back using my analog Nikon F100 because my aging Nikon D100 didn’t give me much fun anymore. I never really liked the D100 and would have never bought the Nikon F80 it was based upon but the Nikon D1x or the huge Kodak DCS 760 (F5 body) where a bit out of my reach at the time with their €5000-6000,- price tag.

While I was looking for a small analog camera for my girlfriend at a camera fare we stumbled upon a gorgeous looking Minolta V2 from 1958 with a 45mm/2 lens. Within minutes she decided the V2 was nothing fo her but I was immediately hooked by its simplicity, sleek design and precise workmanship.

Minolta V2

The little V2 loaded with Kodak BW 400 CN became my companion. It was kind of a sacrileg not using Tri-X or Kodachrome 64 (rest in peace) with this 50-year-old beauty but the overall ease to use an all mechanical camera with a film that provided a kind of ‘analog ISO automatic’ between ISO 200 and 800 and was easy to scan kept me using it.

A wiser, stronger man would be happy ever after and kept shooting. Unfortunately I am neither of that. Soon I was searching the web for a similar camera from this period with a fast 35mm lens.
There was only one that fit the bill. Olympus came to the rescue of the photographic community in 1957 with the Olympus Wide-S, essiantially a variant of their Olympus 35 S II sporting a 35mm/2 lens. And Ebay came to my rescue 50 years later. 😉

Olympus Wide-S

You may imagine where this was heading, every couple of weeks I found an other ‘white whale’ to hunt down. Soon the Aires 35-III L followed, unfortunatly the shutter blades didn’t open and when I tried to repaire it I found out somebody stupid had a go on it before and used some glue reassembling the lens. I never put the poor thing back together…

After a little while a Yashica Lynx 14E crossed my sights followed by a Lynx 5000E, a Yashica Electro 35 G arrived together with a sad and dead Minolta Hi Matic 9 and the unavoidable Olympus 35 RC met a Ricoh 500 GX.
As a kid I used a Olympus XA2, now I had to get the Olympus XA, a great little camera with a 35mm/2.8 wide-angle telephoto lens (a slightly mind-boggling idea, to say the least).

Olympus XA

I kept them all and used them for my Stolpersteine project. Every one of them that was in working order had to give me at least one really good picture before they could rest and look pretty in my cupboard. Give the ol’ ladies a chance to shine at least once if they never had before. That was the ‘deal’.
I only sold the Canonet QL17 GIII after a while. Shutter priority is not my cup of tea.

Canonet QL17 GIII

The hardest to find was the Konica IIIm from 1959. It was the most expensive of the bunch but came in splendit condition complete even with its original box, manual and half frame mask. Sure the selenium meter cell is dead. The 50 year old shutter blades are a bit sticky but after two exposures the shutter speed is fine for a while. It is overdue for a professional CLA but sadly never got one. The little beauty looks absolutely gorgeous and never got the chance to give me a good picture apart from modeling in front of other cameras.
The IIIm gives me the uneasy feeling that I’ve become a camera collector. Shame on me.

50 years apart – Konica IIIm (1959) and 13″ MBP (2009)

When the Nikon D300 arrived, my rangefinder frenzy was pretty much over and not very long after that shiny manual Nikkor lenses arrived at my doorstep.
But at least three of the rangefinders are loaded at any time, ready to roam the streets and do some art. 😉

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2 Responses to Little rangefinders (there can’t be only one)

  1. As you know, Marc, the lenses can be taken off and glued to an adapter for one of the interchangeable compact digitals for that old time look!

  2. Aside from not even contemplating doing that crime and hack the lens of one of this little gems off, I don’t even know a decent compact digital camera that would fit me. There is none yet as far as I’m concerned.

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