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Monday, 29 March 2010


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It's amazing how interesting camera news can trump a visit to H & R Block practically every time. Now if you walked away with some found money, you're back in business.

"If Canon comes out with a digital rangefinder..."

I don't see the word "digital" anyplace in the quoted tweet, so let's not jump to conclusions.

In parsing this tweet one has to take into account that a significant majority of photographers define a "rangefinder" as any interchangeable lens camera that's not an SLR. Even so, the rumor sites are abuzz, with PhotoRumors.com suggesting that:

The standard lens is suppose to be 35mm f/1.2 and there are two more lenses. The rangefinder is full frame with magnesium alloy electronic shutter and supposedly with very good AF (I guess this will not be a classic manual focus rangefinder).

Who might the manufacturer be? Could Zeiss and Cosina-Voigtlander have actually produced the digital ZI that Zeiss has repeatedly denied any interest in making. CV already make a 35/1.2 but somehow an AF lens just doesn't seem like a Zeiss/CV product. On the other hand, Zeiss must be looking at Leica's inability to produce enough M9 to meet the demand.

Or could it be a Zeiss-Sony co-production? That seems even less likely, given that Sony -- rather than wanting to leverage its relationship with Zeiss -- seems to prefer to limit the number of Zeiss lenses available in Alpha mount. And I don't believe that Sony is sufficiently aware of (or interested in) the potential target market to produce such a camera on their own. Pentax? Insufficient resources. Olympus? Too attached to their Four-Thirds system. Nikon? Strong rumors suggest that they are already working on a mirrorless system with a smaller than m4/3 sensor. That leaves Panasonic and Canon. I agree with Mike that it'll be manger mon chapeau time if Canon comes out with a digital rangefinder.

So, if it's not a digital ZI, here's my guess: a mirrorless full-frame auto-focus camera with a high-quality EVF and a lens mount that would allow the use of Leica R lenses with an adapter. Remember the promise made by Leica's Stefan Daniel that "there will be no R10 from Leica, but there will be a good solution that allows us to use our R-lenses on a digital body."

Voigtländer Bessa R4D.

This has serious bombshell potential. I have read Ascough's blog consistently for a while now and he is firmly in the Canon camp vs Leica now. The Canonet QL 17 GIII was one of the most fun cameras ever. A digital version? Whoa....now that would be something exciting.

Maybe the M9 has generated enough interest to revitalize the rangefinder system? That would be my dream come true. Although honesty I feel spoiled just to have Zeiss and Cosina making products that suit my style of 35mm photography.

Canon or Nikon making a triumphant return to the mirrorless photography game? Digital Nikon S? I dare not dream...

I notice that forum discussion seems to be circling the presumption that it's a digital rangefinder... is that necessarily so?

I think you crashed rff!

Far-fetched rumours department at CNET's Crave: They think it might be a Canon, but "we stumbled upon a Singapore photography forum talking about two rumored Fujifilm shooters, one of which has an APS-C-sized image sensor and possibly incorporating a Leica M mount for lenses."

And they've connected both rumours.

It seems more probable that it's a full-frame mirrorless camera, not necessarily a real rangefinder, since he mentioned autofocus. Well, it's the habit of rumours to leave us in the dark ...

According to what some people claim to have seen on his (protected) Tweet, the new "rangefinder" is full-frame, has fast AF (huh?), a very quiet shutter, and comes with a 35mm f1.2 lens. That sounds almost too good to be true. I hope it is, but I rather think it's a long-winded April fool's prank.

Mike, it's probably an M9m. My 'back of a beermat' calculations suggest that removing the colour filters from the sensor will triple the resolution of the camera, and give 2-3 more stops of sensitivity with around 14 stops of DR. With no anti-aliasing filter, the resulting actutance will be comparable to a Phase one P65+, finally testing the leica lenses to close to their limits. How much is that worth! (I'd sell the car for one). P.S. would Ctein do the math properly for a bit of fun...

story so far: it's full frame auto-focus rangefinder with 35mm f/1,2 standard lens and 2 more lenses on it's way; he said that it's not Leica and probably it's not Nikon either

Haha, April Fools' Day. He even twittered as much (AF working great).
Feel free not to post this comment so my fellow readers can find out for themselves!
Best, Nick

"I don't see the word 'digital' anyplace in the quoted tweet, so let's not jump to conclusions."

I don't see the word "Canon" quoted, either....

Or "April Fools," either, for that matter....


I don't think we should expect a rangefinder à la Leica, but rather an EVIL-type camera. Also, a Canon employee has said Canon is working on such a camera: http://photorumors.com/2010/03/22/canon-working-on-a-mirrorless-camera-evil/

Given that Jeff Ascough is a Canon ambassador, this could very well be related.

Ger, your theoretical M9M might have an extra couple of stops of sensitivity, but that's about it (and you'd have to start carrying around colour filters again).

As far as I know, the existing M9 lacks an AA filter. Luminous Landscape (testing a B&W MF back) recently demonstrated, fairly surprisingly and fairly convincingly, that there is no great difference in resolution between a sensor with a Bayer filter, and one without, in the absence of an AA filter.

The DR shouldn't change at all, I think.

AF=April Fools?

"I want to believe" has never been more true. :P

AF=April Fools does seem like a possibility.

And no, there's no absolute guarantee that, if it's real, it's digital. But I don't believe any major company would introduce a major (as opposed to super-specialized or toy) new film camera, so I think digital is very strongly the way to bet. If you're not betting on April Fools.

But I don't believe any major company would introduce a major (as opposed to super-specialized or toy) new film camera

Other than the new Fuji/Voigtlander folder?

The rumours take off...

Some people over at 43rumors claim it could be a successor to RD1. :)

This seems pretty elaborate for a hoax:


Be it manual focus or autofocus, it is the optical viewfinder that defines the "rangefinder" type camera. The Contax G1 and G2 were autofocus cameras. I suppose any camera with live-view, could be defined the same, as you do not see the subject in a single locus plane as with SLR viewfinders.

From a post on FredMiranda, a more complete list of tweets:

1.) Week 2 with the new stealth camera. I am under NDA at the moment as to who makes it but I can tell you that it is a brand new rangefinder.

2.) I am using the standard 35 1.2 lens but there are two others on the way to test.

3.) Ok - I can't tell you everything but it is full frame, magnesium alloy electronic shutter, and the AF is very good

4.) I have some testing to do tomorrow and then I will ask to see if I can blog about it. I doubt I will be able to use images.

So many buzzwords in just a few tweets? Stealth camera? Brand new rangefinder? 35 1.2 lens being standard? Full frame? Magnesium alloy? Electronic shutter? Very good AF? If only one of those were true it would already be newsworthy, but all of them at the same time? And such a respectable photographer as Jeff Ascough spilling the beans?

Please pardon my skepticism, but that "cat" in the bag smells fishy. Very good AF seems true, though... very good April Fools joke! Congrats Jeff ;-)

The Fuji/Voigtlander folder was announced two years ago, wasn't it? Or fall of 2008; 1.5 years ago? Things have changed even since then. And this hypothetical other thing hasn't even been announced yet.

Doesn't the bit about "pull the images as the traffic caused my server to crash" give away that this is a prank? His blog is hosted by TypePad, isn't it? They'll be able to deal with a few gearheads following a rangefinder rumor. Plus, it's on the same server as his normal blog which uses photos all over the place.

another nail in the leica coffin

I don't buy it either. (And even if were not an April Fools, I wouldn't buy it.)


Dentist class for the masses.

Olympus teased us with a covered pictured of their new offering 'pen'.

What better way to stop us spending money on a new M9 (read next digital camera) ...... cos just maybe?

Could be some good PR work going on behind the scene... I find it hard to believe the 'maker' is 'unaware'

In the words of our esteemed moderator

I'm just saying..........

"standard 35 1.2 lens" "full-frame magnesium alloy shutter"

It's an April Fool's joke.

Even though all cameras are technically "full-frame", the reference to full-frame is typically reserved for use with sensors that are the size of a 35 mm film frame. In that case, a "standard 35 1.2 lens" wouldn't follow.

Besides, a "magnesium alloy shutter"? Why? I'm no metallurgist, but magnesium alloy doesn't seem like an appropriate material for a shutter.

Have you seen his posting about the "HCB/Tri-X mode"?


That should make it clear to everyone that it's a lame prank. Is it common in the UK to start with April Fool's jokes days ahead of time, or is this a particular case of praecox?

@Benjamin and others: Assuming this isn't a hoax (I'm not saying you should assume that, I'm just making the basis for the following statements clear), the latest post at http://jeffascough.typepad.com/af_rangefinder_blog/ makes it clear that the camera is indeed digital.

@Dave: I don't think the statement was meant to be read as "magnesium alloy shutter". It seems you left out the word "electronic" and I think there is a missing comma. I think the statement should be read as confirming that (1) the sensor is full frame (i.e., 35mm), (2) the body is made of a magnesium alloy (i.e., not plastic), (3) the shutter is electronically controlled, and (4) the autofocus is [according to the source] very good.

As for the supposed 35mm f/1.2 standard lens, I think this can go either way. I agree that a 35mm lens is more "normal" on an APS-C sensor camera, but a lot of people used anythinig from 35mm to 58mm as their "normal" lenses on 35mm film cameras. Moreover, it seems that the source didn't refer to the 35mm lens as "normal", but rather as "standard". This could just mean that it is the "kit" lens.

Best regards,


"Voigtländer Bessa R4D" No please Bessar R3D should be the one. In fact it is exactly R2D2 we are waiting for i.e. a Epson RD1 with an updated chip (APS-C but D300 spec.) with international support.

Not even Zeiss Ikon D is good enough. It should have 1:1 view finder so that you can open both of eyes and frame the world. Also, every setting can be seen without any LCD looking. Like a Nikon F4 not F5/F6. In fact Epson RD1 with a Voigtlander T meter light and an upgraded sensor. I would be get it even if it is $3k!

R2D2 pls

From an update on Jeff Ascough's af rangefinder blog: "The camera uses a system which the manufacturers call Luminance Optimized Optical Framelines. . ." And LOOF spelled backwards is . . .

He did have me going for a while, though.



"The camera uses a system which the manufacturers call Luminance Optimized Optical Framelines"

Also known as Framelines Optimized for Optical Luminance (FOOL).

"The framelines and AF are the biggest thing for me. The camera uses a system which the manufacturers call Luminance Optimized Optical Framelines."


That's a bit obvious isn't it?

After reading the latest entry on the AF RF blog, it's definitely a hoax. :(

According to his latest blog post, it has a HCB/Tri-X mode. So, it must be an April Fool hoax...

I love the "Luminance Optimized Optical Frameline".....now look at the phrase reversed, and the first letter.....FOOL.

If this is a hoax, it sure fell flat for him.

From Jeff's blog:

"Luminance Optimized Optical Framelines"

FOOL backwards.

What a naughty man. Will I get my deposit back?

Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer my April Fool's jokes funny.

He sure seems to have fooled quite a few people. The lesson is, of course, to laugh along with him. Clearly a guy who doesn't take himself too seriously.

This pretty elaborated April fool joke and the amount of traffic and discussion that it has generated is very interesting.

It shows what many photographers want. What they want is not a Canon 1D or a Nikon D3. They want:

* A small full frame camera
* Metal body
* Fast prime lenses
* A good AF

I'm not sure that people want a rangefinder camera though.

The success of the M9, the GF1 and E-P1 backs this up IMHO.

Are Canon and Nikon listening?


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