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rangefinder

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer LCDVF Fader ND Mamiya (8 of 11)

There is almost nothing better than having the benefit of a small rangefinder camera body and the large negative area of medium format film. While this isn’t available yet in a digital edition, lots of photographers want it. But those who want this also know how incredibly good lots of the medium format film rangefinder cameras are.

Indeed, most folks talk about the SLR cameras because they’re cheap; but there are lots and lots of film rangefinders that would possibly make you put down your digital camera and keep it in a box somewhere to gather dust once you see the incredible quality that these cameras are capable of.

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Canon QL17

The Canon Canonet QL17 is a camera that is highly sought after by many film photographers these days. It comes with a 40mm f1.7 fixed lens, an ISO setting only up to 800, and even has a light meter built in. It was very popular, and guess what: it’s a rangefinder!

When you think of rangefinder cameras you could easily think of companies like Leica, Zeiss, Voigtlander, Mamiya, Bronica and even Nikon. Rangefinders dominated the scene for many years until the SLR came about and offered interchangeable lenses, through the lens field of views, and affordability for many professional and hobbyist photographers alike.

As digital photography became the norm, new photographers began to pick up old film cameras in order to experiment and expand their creativity. But beyond that, there were a number of years where photographers couldn’t get a small, mirrorless good quality camera. Indeed, I was a part of this crowd. Now, the world has so many options but very few have the feel of solid rangefinder cameras like the QL17.

Want more affordable rangefinder cameras? We’ve got a full list here. But for even more, the folks at PDExposures have a video after the jump on the camera.

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Image by Lucus Landers. Featured in our post on his new monorail camera.

Image by Lucus Landers. Featured in our post on his new monorail camera.

All images taken from our original interviews with the photographers.

Think that creating your own camera is too much work? It isn’t at all. In fact, creating your own cameras can be fun and can give you an experimental and creative edge that make you think differently about the way that you see images. Most of these cameras can be large format–or as is the case of many of the photographers that we’ve interviewed, a custom format. Before you continue on, you should first check out this video that is an introduction to large format shooting. You’ll see what a photographer needs to do in order to get the photos that they want.

Here are some Homemade Cameras that you’ll get inspired by.

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Konost-full-frame-digital-rangefinder-camera-550x437

For years, Leica was the only camera manufacturer to dominate the digital rangefinder camera space–and while they still are it seems like they could have a contender soon. Meet the Konost FF, which according to Photo Rumors is currently a project happening that aims to create a full frame digital rangefinder.

The camera isn’t using the traditional mechanical rangefinder but instead one that uses electronics overlayed on an optical viewfinder. At the heart is a 20MP full frame sensor, The body is made from an aluminum alloy and in many ways looks like the Leica T camera.

The mirrorless camera world was dominated by Leica for a while then everyone else got into it. With Sony newly entering the full frame mirrorless camera world, it only makes sense that everyone else is going to enter. To be fair, Epson tried to enter the camera world with a rangefinder and failed.

To be fair though, this camera doesn’t seem very traditional rangefinder-like in appearance–and Zeiss and Voigtlander both seem to have better designed bodies with their film offerings. More specs and a video are after the jump.

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Screenshot taken from the video

Screenshot taken from the video

Photographer Mark Wallace recently switched from using Canon DSLRs to the Leica M as his primary camera kit. While many videos like this have been long and thorough, they spend much less time focusing on gear and more time on feature sets–with the most famous being Jason Lanier’s.

Wallace talks about how he is replacing lots of the zoom lenses in his Canon kit with small primes. For example, the 16-35mm f2.8 L is being replaced by the Leica 21mm f3.4 and his 70-200mm f2.8 L IS USM II is being replaced by a 135mm prime. He spends a lot of time talking about weight and size–specifically in regards to how it affects him when he is travelling as a photographer. Wallace cites situations where he is wearing over 60lbs of gear and needs to run for a subway or a cab–which can sometimes be all too much of a reality for NYC photographers.

The majority of the video talks about the gear with only the last couples of minutes getting to the real meat of the deal–and could have been cut down tremendously to just focus on the nitty gritty. Mark explains that in a place like where he is in Brazil, DSLRs can get easily stolen. But a Leica rangefinder on the other hand is ignored somewhat. Indeed, rangefinders can be very fooling and are much more low profile except to those that actually know better.

Mark Wallace’s video for AdoramaTV is after the jump.

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Chris Gampat 20x24 Polaroid camera studios (16 of 17)

While 35mm full frame digital cameras are very much the standard amongst many professionals and enthusiasts, the format was originally created to satisfy the everyday man. Many moons ago (and some even today) professional photographers shot with large and medium format cameras. These cameras were capable of taking photos that the smaller formats weren’t able to.

Some of these cameras are still in use today by folks all across the world. Here are just a few.

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