5 of Our Favorite Film Rangefinder Cameras (One for Everyone)

If you’re really looking for a solid film rangefinder camera, you should know that you don’t need to spend a whole lot.

When I went on my journey to grow as a photographer, some of the best tools that I had were film rangefinder cameras. I’m still very much of the belief that any and every photographer should shoot film and use cameras that don’t have metering built in to become better. They’ll move slower, they’ll have a lot more intent with their images, and they’ll create something much more unique to them. So we went into our reviews index to find some of our favorites film rangefinder cameras. And here they are!

Mamiya 6

Who is it for?: The photographer who wants a really compact interchangeable lens medium format rangefinder.

What makes it so great?: Mamiya 6 is in my opinion one of the single best square format rangefinder cameras. It fires a 6×6 sized image and keeps things really compact. Its biggest advantage over the Mamiya 7 and Mamiya 7 II is the fact that the lens system is collapsible and therefore the entire package can become smaller when you’re transporting it around. Then consider the beautiful lineup of lenses–which there are really only a few of.

In our review we say:

“The Mamiya 6 uses a rangefinder that is modestly bright. It focuses in low light, but you really have to be careful, slow, and thorough. Plus, I wouldn’t really use this camera for zone focusing and street photography unless you’re determined to look through the viewfinder and get the focusing perfect. Otherwise, it just isn’t really worth it. However, that still means that the Mamiya 6 is great for documentary work providing that you can go slow and careful when shooting with it.”

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Fujifilm GW690 III

Who is it for?: The photographer that wants one of the largest medium format image size options out there while having a compact camera.

What makes it so great?: I think that some of the best things about the Fujifilm GW690 III are the fact that you’ve got a number of options when it comes to the fixed lenses on the camera. Plus there are both horizontal and vertical shutter releases. It’s fully mechanical and lightweight too, so it’s really tough for it to fail.

In our review we say:

“This camera was mostly designed for landscape photographers, but my version has the 90mm f3.5 lens– and to me that makes for an awesome wide portrait option. Overall, I really can’t complain about this lens and the camera’s image quality. If you’re an experienced photographer who works incredibly carefully with the scene, knows the film you’re working with, and has a creative vision for each shot you take, then you’re going to love it.”

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Leica M4P

Who is it for?: The photographer that wants the ultimate analog Leica camera.

What makes it so great?: The Leica M4P is mostly the Leica M6 except that it was made in Canada and it’s fully mechanical with no electronics inside. That often makes it more affordable than its highly sought out younger sibling. Newer cameras like the Leica M-A have come after it, but they’re far pricier.

In our review we say:

“Before I go even deeper into this review, I feel the need to seriously expand upon why, in 2018, I’d go ahead and buy another Leica. Why? I wanted one. I still like film and quite honestly there are films out there that when paired with the right lenses can deliver a look that digital simply can’t. There are still labs that develop it and film overall makes you create and shoot in a different way than digital lends itself to. It’s easy for a seasoned digital photographer to sit there and take one photo right after another and be so convened to simply take another shot. But with film, when you really, truly understand what’s happening, you go through a different mentality that you later bring to digital. In addition to that, there’s even reasoning beyond this.”

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T-Max P3200

 

 

Yashica GSN Electro 35

Who is it for?: The photographer that’s broke but wants something that they can grow with.

What makes it so great?: I think that one of the best things about the Yashica GSN 35 Electro is that if you get a good copy, it can be a camera that surprises you over and over again with its fantastic 45mm f1.7 lens or the just-the-right-amount of control it gives you.

In our review we say:

“Most photographers that use this camera will most likely keep it stopped down as the manual focusing will mean that you’ll need to take extra time to get the photo. To take the maximum advantage of this camera, you’re best off stopping it down when outside and often being aware of how far you’re focusing out at all times. When you see a scene that you love, just get right up to it and snap it.”

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Leica CL

Who is it for?: The photographer that wants their first Leica.

What makes it so great?: I started out with a Leica CL and when I turned 30, the camera came back to me after I had sold it in college for money. Naturally, I have a soft spot for it in my heart. The Leica CL though can work with electronics or with the fully analog design that it has. There are Minolta and Leitz Minolta variations too. The shutter dial is a bit weird, but this is one of the most compact Leica cameras you can get your hands on while still using their fantastic lenses.

In our review we say:

“The ease of use really has to do with two big things: whether you want to use the meter or not and if you know how to use a rangefinder. This isn’t a camera for beginners, but if you’ve got experience then I’ll recommend staying with it for a while. If you’re going to use the light meter then know that it’s essentially spot metering. And if you’re going to use the rangefinder, then just be careful that you don’t block the light going into it.”

“You’re best off using this camera with both Sunny 16 and zone focusing in mind.”

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Kodak Tri-X 400