In praise and a critique of rangefinders:
Rangefinders are great. Personally I have a lot of fun shooting rangefinders (f8-f16) both on digital rangefinders (Leica M digital) as well as on film rangefinders (Leica M6, film Leica MP). The experience of shooting with a rangefinder is unique in photography … but is it the best experience? I say no.
Avoid the hype and mystique
I’m quite certain 99.99% of the appeal of shooting with rangefinder cameras are mystique, hype, and overglamorizarion of the “retro”, past and “design”. Many people consider the Leica M rangefinder as the apex of camera design (I think it is, that and the RICOH GR design). But does the best design mean the best camera to make the best photographic artwork? No.
Not a price issue
For Leica cameras made in Germany, the quality, craftsman, and construction are apex. The price of Leica cameras are proper. They are not “overpriced”.
Ricoh GR3 is a superior camera for shooting when compared to Leica M cameras, even the Leica M10. Why? Macro functionality. Most Leica lenses are only .7 meters for close focus.
When are rangefinders good?
If you’re out shooting literally all day, during the day time, and focused on street photography.
Don’t shoot wide open
Rangefinder cameras were not designed to be shot wide open. This seems to be a silly thing.
“I want to be like Henri!”
But this is silly. It is like using the same pencil as Albert Einstein in order to get his same mathematical insights and thoughts. Or like buying the same iPhone as Kanye West in order to make raps like Kanye West (apparently Kanye raps into his iPhone microphone when recording when he has thoughts on the go, and these audio files make it into his final mastered songs!)
Too big and heavy
Contrary to popular belief, rangefinder cameras are both heavier *and* bigger than expected. Thus to get a rangefinder camera in order to ‘always carry it with you everywhere you go’ is not an effective strategy. If you want a ‘carry with you everywhere you go’ life camera, RICOH GR III is supreme.
More innovative angles and compositions and perspectives with LCD screens and live view
I’ve been able to make more interesting compositions with cameras with LCD screens (live view). For example, the ability to hold out your RICOH GR III (or other point and shoot camera) with more unique angles and perspectives. When you shoot with a rangefinder, you can only really shoot with your camera to your face. This means, your ability for compositions are far more limited, unless you plan on lying on the floor with your rangefinder to your eye, or perhaps shoot with holding your rangefinder camera high in the air, pointing and looking down.
Yes it is possible for the new digital Leica rangefinders to do live view, but the problem is that it is far too slow, and a bit cumbersome to use that way.
Just try it for yourself!
You never know whether you will like the rangefinder experience or not, just test it out for yourself and see if you like it!
Test it out in person at a Leica store, or perhaps just order one on BHPHOTO (or Amazon) and try it out, and return it if you don’t like it.
Also another option:
If you really like the rangefinder experience, buy a used Leica M9 or for film cameras, a used Leica M6 with a Voigtlander Color-Skopar 35mm f/2.5 P II Lens.
As for me, RICOH GR III is king.
There is no “perfect” camera. Don’t fall into GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and falsely believe that buying a new camera will make you a better photographer.
- WHY YOU MUST BUY RICOH GR III
- The Best Equipment is The Equipment You Already Have
- The Best Camera is the One You Shoot with the Most
- Why RICOH GR III is the Best Camera
- Use and Abuse Your Gear!
- RICOH is the new LEICA
- In Praise of Banging around Your Camera
- Electric Cameras
- Why the RICOH GR III is Better than the Leica Q2
- Buy a new Ricoh GR III, not a New iPhone
- The Best Headphones are In-Ear Monitors
- Are Point-and-Shoot Cameras the Best Cameras?
- Gear Adaptation Syndrome
- What is the Benefit of “Standalone” Digital Cameras?
- All Cameras are Good Cameras
- Why The Future of Photography is Software
- RICOH MAFIA
- Use and Abuse Your Gear!
- Why RICOH GR II is the Best Street Photography Camera
- The Best Photography/Vlogging Equipment Setup
- My Favorite Travel Street Photography Equipment
- Zen Body-Hand-Mind Connection with the Camera
- Why It Doesn’t Matter What Camera You Shoot With
- What is the Best Camera and Lenses for Street Photography?
- The Best Travel Street Photography Equipment 2018
- 6 Lessons I’ve Learned After Shooting All the Expensive Cameras
- How to Make Good Photos on a Shitty Camera
- Why I Shoot With One Camera and One Lens
- My Travel Equipment, Winter 2017
- What is the Perfect Camera For You?
- What to Consider When Buying a Camera
- Why Digital Medium Format is a Game-Changer for Color Photography
- The Upsides and Downsides of Digital Medium Format Photography
- Fujifilm GFX 50R and 45mm f/2.8 Lens First-Impressions Review
- Review of the Pentax 645Z and Digital Medium Format Photography
- 7 Reasons Why I Love Digital Medium-Format Photography
- My Experience Shooting Digital Medium Format in Street Photography
- My Experience Shooting my Friend’s Wedding on Digital Medium Format
- Why Digital Medium Format is the Future of Photography
- Is Digital Medium Format Worth It?
- 7 Lessons I’ve Learned Shooting Fashion For the First time on Digital Medium Format (PENTAX 645Z)
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Smartphone Photography
- Benefits of Shooting Street Photography With a Smartphone
- In Street Photography, The Smaller the Camera, the Better
- Film Street Photography Manual
- What I Learned Shooting 100 Rolls of Black and White Film
- What I Learned Processing 164 Rolls of Film
My favorite camera: RICOH GR III
Currently my favorite camera is the RICOH GR III:
- Why the RICOH GR III is the Best Travel Photography Camera
- Why the RICOH GR III is Better than the Leica Q2
- Why the RICOH GR III is the Best Street Photography Camera
- The RICOH GR III (3) is the Best Camera Ever Made.
Best Equipment by ERIC KIM
This is a list of my personal favorite equipment in photography, computers, and life:
Of course, this list probably won’t apply to you — but this is advice I would give myself (if I needed to buy stuff):
If you’re new to shooting film, pick up a copy of FILM NOTES.
Best film rangefinder
Leica MP + Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron Lens
Best affordable film rangefinder
Leica M6 + Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 Lens
Best compact film camera
Best medium-format film camera
Best black and white film
Best color film
Best film scanner
For medium-format/35mm: Epson v800: $800
For 35mm: Plustek OpticFilm 8100: $270
Best camera shoulder bag
Best camera backpack
Fits 13” Laptop and Camera: Thinktank Perception 15 (black): $120
Best photography neck strap
Best photography wrist strap
Best photography inspiration website
Best photography news blog
Best photography software
Best video editing software
iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro X ($300)
Best educational photography book
Best black-and-white photography art book
Best color photography art book
Best photography handbook
Best philosophy book
Best digital tools
Maxed-out 13” MacBook Pro (Refurbished)
Best Mac Apps
Best writing app
IA Writer (for writing)
Best screen recorder
Best image resizer
Outlier NYC Black Merino Wool Socks
Merino Wool Leggings (black)
Best entrepreneurial tools
Best blogging platform
Best paid online services
Best cloud storage
Diet & Nutrition
Deadlifts (one rep max) + squats + dumbbell press + chin-ups + pushups
Of course this is just a list of stuff that work for me. It probably won’t work for you.
But I got inspired to make this list– because it took me about 10 years to figure out the best equipment for me. And this works for me, and I hope it can help simplify your purchasing decisions (at least in photography and some other details).
I’ll continue to do articles and videos related to equipment– because I do believe (up to a certain degree) having the ‘right’ equipment in life makes life easier. But the problem is falling victim to GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) where we are buying stuff for the sake of it (has happened to me).
If you already have a bunch of equipment that works for you– stick with it. But if you need some help, I hope this list helped you.