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My Rangefinder Journey


I’ve probably been asked these questions a million times.
- From the normal folks & friends. “What is that camera?”
- From the shutterbugs. “Why a rangefinder?”
- From both. “Still shooting film?”


Oh well, I’m a lover of vintage stuff & if they are mechanical, it would be a big plus for me.

Rangefinders do sort of fulfill these little criteria of mine & you just cant doubt its sexy lines & solid construction.


I did read up about rangefinders previously before owning any of them & had a couple of tries here & there from friend’s Russian Zorkis & Feds.
My first rangefinder actually came to me by luck. I found my late Great Uncle’s Yashica GS at my Great Aunt’s place, she was kind enough to actually give it away to me.


Through Google, I managed to find a couple of manuals on the Yashica GS & did my own DIY modifications to the battery compartment to accept in modern day batteries in contrast to the mercury batteries it used back in those days. After shooting it for quite a few weekends, I got used to the “unique” way a rangefinder camera focuses. I really like the silent shutters & the ability to actually handheld shots of shutter speeds at 1/8 of a second due to the absence of a mirror slapping around.
Over the months, I really fell in love with rangefinder photography & decided to take it a step further by getting a proper modern made rangefinder where I can actually see the focusing patch clearly without squinting my eyes. The old rangefinders like the Yashica GS were notorious for the faint focusing patch.


My first proper modern rangefinder that I owned was the Voigtlander Bessa R3A paired up with the Voigtlander Nokton 40mm F1.4 lens. Voigtlander as we all know is currently made by Cosina in Japan. The clarity of the viewfinder & the focusing patch was a welcomed change in comparison to the dusty faint viewfinder of the Yashica Electro GS.

I must say the joy of shooting with a clean viewfinder with a clearly visible focusing patch made me fell deeper in love with rangefinder shooting. I did however felt the frustrations of shooting with the Bessa R3A.
Being a spectacle user & a newbie, I didn’t exactly went to read up on viewfinder magnification! The x1 viewfinder magnification on the R3A actually causes me to be unable to see the frame lines of the camera properly………….


To cure me of this frustration of not being able to see the frame lines accurately, I went to do my research on cameras similar that I can jump on the bandwagon to. After a couple of searches on Google here & there, I came across the Konica Hexar RF. I believe it was introduced in 1999 & discontinued in 2003. It had viewfinder magnification x0.62 which was perfect! Even with spectacles on, I was able to see the widest frame line of the camera which was the 28mm frame line. The Hexar RF brought my shooting to another level of love with rangefinder cameras it brought me pain as well when it was stolen in Sanya, China while holidaying & I had to buy another replacement the moment I got back to Singapore. I’ve done a review on the Hexar RF here. In my humble opinion, if you can put branding aside, the Hexar RF is still the most advanced M mount rangefinder built to date. Yes, it does put the Leica M7 to shame……..


After having the 3rd camera or rather 4th rangefinder camera if you count in the replacement Hexar RF. I decided to take the plunge to go in for a Leica M2. It was like making an executive decision for me as I’ve all the while only been shooting strictly on AE cameras & I’ve never used the manual override functions although they were available. I was very dependent on the in build exposure system & the camera to select my shutter speed. I was doubtful of myself if I can actually pull this off but in the end, I managed to cast all doubts aside & just dive in for it.


Well the end result wasn’t too bad I would say. A little bit of fumbling here & there at the start but I started shooting normally again once I had it all nailed down right.
These days my rangefinder obsessions are taken to another level. I’m a complete die hard fan of silver chrome everything. The body has to be silver chrome, the lens has to be all the way down to even the lens filter, I would hunt down silver chrome filters to match them in. Oh yes, exotic skins as well for my lovely rangefinders. Tan cognac, grey snake skins & more to come.


Here are some pictures taken on my rangefinder journey all the way from the start with the Yashica GS, Voigtlander Bessa R3A, Konica Hexar RF, Leica M2, Leica M3:



Article Contributed by: Gary Wang



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