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Thursday, 01 April 2010


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>I heard an insider rumor a year or two ago that a big manufacturer >was fairly far along with plans for just such a camera

It's not a rumour; I tested an alpha prototype. I hadn't heard that it was Leica that killed it, only that development had been stopped. I blamed the GFC.


Actually, I like rangefinders because my M8 is the only digital camera that I can use without having to be putting on and taking off my reading glasses.

Oh to be young and not need glasses for reading! Seeing as I can't turn back the hands of time, I'll stick with my M8, thank you.


If "they" made a digital version of the original AF Konica Hexar, I'd buy two.

If they made one with a 35mm and one with a 24mm or 20mm lens, I'd buy four.

But, I'd be just as happy if the camera were one of those Panasonic 4/3rds things, except with the lens glued on. I think interchangeable lenses are overrated.

I was initially hoping it wasn't a joke, but it soon became obvious that it was. Now, with Jeff's explanation, I can kind of understand what he was getting at.

I hear this all the time when I express a hope for a digital rangefinder: "Just get an M9!" as if that were even remotely possible. It's not even really a digital version of the wonderfully proportioned M3/M6: anyone who's held both can tell you that the digital M's are larger, bulkier, top-heavy and more awkward than the film versions.

Here's waiting for the M10...make that the M11 or M12, by which time the M10 might have entered the realm of possibility, price-wise.

After numerous problems with Leica M and R cameras, the death of Leica is all I wish for.

I think that Jeff needs to realise that an April fool joke perpetrated several days before April 1 is rather wantonly pointless. A cry for attention, possibly?

Anyway, it's just cruel to raise hopes among folk whose only hope is for a new product with a list price slightly more modest than a Somalian pirate's ransom demand.

And let's not forget New Coke. People who were in a blind taste test said it tasted better. Coke's mistake was in assuming that people wanted the drink that tasted better. Maybe they did, but not in the same sense in which they preferred New Coke in the test.

Same with political polls and other forms of surveys and market tests. People are not at all accurate about what they say they will do in the future.

Apple, being a very smart marketing company, knows that what people are saying about the iPad (nearly all positive) is an accurate prediction of the success of its launch, which is already going well, but says nothing at all about its long term success.

Back to cameras: I don't like EVIL cameras, and hate to ever give up my SLRs, but I'm also convinced that EVIL is absolutely the way cameras are going. I only hope that, when Nikon and Canon stop making SLRs, EVIL viewfinders will be an improvement. Today, they are not.


I've been begging for a digital Mamiya 6 for years. The disadvantage of a rangefinder is that you have parallax issues at closer than six feet but a live view screen would resolve that. I'm still waiting, and waiting. Sigh!

If Leica were to go out of business, in a way that might be the best things to ever happen to rangefinders. I mean that in a not so light way. The Leica cameras are very good (even great) and yet there is a part of me that thinks the company has lost its way. I think a lot of people believe this. This is not to say the M9 is not a nice camera, I’m sure it is – it is so far off my radar to use as a tool for making art that I don’t even think about it.

The rumor that was all over the place about two years ago was that Nikon had a rangefinder pretty much ready to go. I wonder what that product would look like. Moreover what innovation could come forward (I don't mean bells and whistles that don't matter) It would be very interesting to see what Nikon could have done with a digital rangefinder. It would have been nice to have a company that can make an affordable camera like that.

I think the mythology of Leica is so far forward in both forming the development of, and end results of - the final product that it has actually crippled the company. If you look at the current offerings of it’s latest flagship camera – it is only now starting to deliver what other camera companies have been delivering for the last number of years.

I would miss Leica (for a number of reasons – I actually like the company) but I wonder what the future might look like without it.

*The counterpoint to this argument is, if Leica went out of business would anyone even bother to make a new rangefinder since conventional wisdom would argue that the market wouldn’t support even one company that made rangefinders. There is also the argument about cost - but that is a can of worms I can't wrap my head around this AM.

People probably want rangefinders the same way they want 5-cent popsicles. That is, they want them to exist, they don't want to actually eat many of them.

If rangefinders are so desired, why didn't they sell better in the 1980s and 1990s, the time when AF film SLRs were hitting their stride. This isn't a digital-centric topic. Digital is just an excuse to talk about it some more.

Gee i wish the Japanese companies had been a little nicer to Kodak, Graflex, B&J, Wollensak over the years!

from Rochester

If Pentax nailed a digital RF or even a RF-like digital to compliment their new MF digital then they would rule the arty amateur serious tog market. You know, the 400,000 photo majors who graduated from colleges over the last generation....

Just play a few days on a newly acquired Pentax 67 II plus a few lens and loved it. Selling M8 and CV lens. I think if they give me a R2D2, I might still in. If nothing, save up to 645D instead.

At the risk of falling into the "we know you're out there" pre-emptive trap, I found that using a Ricoh 500G bought for cheap on ebay is the only way I can like 35mm C41 film (and I do like it, quite a bit). That doesn't necessarily mean I'd like a combination of rangefinder with digital, though.

I recently bought a D700 to do all the things my M8 won't. But after several weeks shooting to get used to the beast I went back to carrying the M8 as my "go to" camera. The D700 is now reserved for telephoto work and weddings.

I don't know who Coke tested the "new Coke" on. But I do know that I and friends have participated in several organized "Coke tastings", and that none of us got any surprises -- when tasting blind in well-controlled conditions, we all found we liked what we thought we liked. So I am deeply suspicious of this theory that people 'really' preferred new Coke, but reacted against it for unspecified other reasons; it's definitely not true in the cases of which I have first-hand knowledge.

I am not too sure about the preference of the Leica brand over the desire of using another brand of rangefinder. The Contax G series has been popular int last few years of film popularity, probably more than the Cosina/Voigtlander/Zeiss Ikon of recent past.It showed a new design, albeit imperfect. I did use it a lot and like it.

I would be, like so many photographers, very curious about a new digital rangerfinder camera, designed with the usual care and cleverness of Nikon or Canon. If it does ever exist, it should be interesting and challenging.

In the meantime, I will use my new M9, for work and for personal work. It is an excellent camera.

Jeff Ascough might have been bluffing, but for a couple of days I thought I had confirmation about a new Leica I'd been told privately was soon to be announced.

I felt as annoyed as many other people that Jeff's story wasn't real, but I still think (hope!!!) my source is legit.

Aren't April Fools jokes supposed to be unveiled on April 1st? So maybe Jeff Ascough's statement today was THE joke. Maybe he's really testing a new rangefinder. Hmm....

Very depressing news. I was believing this right up until 2 minutes ago when I read this post.

It ruined my day.

"Can I also just point out here that people often say" that people don't like something when they really mean that they don't like it.

Not that I'm accusing you of that Mike ... I'm just saying...

Bought the Leica X1 with the very precise Leica viewfinder (wich is a must!) and after two weeks begin to know how to use it...
I love it!
I wanted to come back to the essential with a "not easy" camera with no zoom and a clear viewfinder...and I'm very happy!
Aperture, speed, forget the ISO, DNG mendatory, Af one point H is not bad at all...Zone focus is another solution or a complementary one...and you can shoot instantly
What else?
Dials are too loose,with too small characters, so check frequently...
Great in low light!
I wait for the handgrip...
Lenscap can be slimer! I have to find one what fits, because I'm going to lose this one...
It's not really a pocket camera, It's not a full frame, but it's perfect in between!!!

Dear psu,

So why not buy a Panasonic or Olympus mu-4/3 with the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 or Olympus 17mm f/2.8 lens, and just never take the lens off?

If you're assuming that doing away with the interchangeable lens ability would make the camera cheaper, that's not necessarily correct. Camera price depends a lot on camera volume, and a fixed lens camera (everything else being equal) would sell fewer units, so it might not save you money.

You can mix and match, by the way (I'm using the P lens on the O body). Both are good lenses; the 20mm gets you 1.5 extra stops, but otherwise they're similar performers. (i.e., the image quality of the 20mm at f/2.8 is about the same as the 17mm at f/4.8).

The 20mm is somewhat larger, but still pretty small-- the 17 is downright petite.

Note, for the record, that no mu-4/3 camera is ever going to be a true 'rangefinder'-- the design specs for mu-4/3 preclude that. These are compact, non-direct viewfinder cameras.

pax / Ctein

Just as a bemused observer, I was astounded at the traffic that a single twit generated over on the Rangefinder Forum; something like 15 pages of comments before they got the joke.

A fullframe, digital rangefinder less than $3K is just about all I want in the whole world. After the fury of interest in fast zooms and AF and all kinds of other camera developments, I'm back to using just primes on my A900, and a cheaper than Leica rangefinder would be my next step. Please build it, someone!

My M3 had a better viewfinder than any of my early SLRs, and it was easier to focus, especially in dim light (the superimposed image area was the brightest area of the finder). It was also very nice to be able to see the flash go off through the viewfinder (pc cords were never very reliable). A beginner would probably have objected to the lack of light meter, though (I already had a separate meter at that point, so I just used it). The lack of precise framing was not critical when I mostly shot B&W negatives and made my own prints in the darkroom. Also, in 1973, a 35mm f/2 lens wasn't a common SLR item, and a 90mm f/2 lens even less so.

The SLR wins on close focusing (including macro) and long focal lengths (200 and up; though people actually using 135 on rangefinder cameras seemed rare to me). And zoom lenses are not usable on (that vintage) rangefinder cameras. Most photographers (and especially beginners and amateurs) try all aspects of photography, so the SLR, being more flexible, tends to win. It was also cheaper (my M3 used, nearly 20 years old, cost almost exactly what a new SLR with a lens a stop faster cost at that time).

Most of us didn't know at the time that the SLR actually focused more accurately much of the time.

So, I'd put myself very solidly in the "liked my rangefinder a lot" camp. I used it much more often than my SLR while I had it. (They both got stolen out of my house; I used the insurance money to replace the SLR first, in hopes that the current generation of SLRs would do the rangefinder job adequately. I found that my Nikon FM was much better for low-light focusing than my Pentax Spotmatic; not as good as the M3, but good enough that I never quite got around to replacing the rangefinder side of my old dual system.)

With autofocus not only ubiquitous but actually useful (I left Olympus to go back to Nikon for AF in 1994, based on rental time with an N90; I found that I got definite benefits for my kind of photography from AF), the choice is more complicated. With digital issues with oblique rays, the choice is more complicated.

I would not, on balance, say "I want a rangefinder system" now.

I do not, of course, know what causes other people to say the (nice, or nasty) things they say about rangefinder systems; but I can at least provide a rough account of how it was for me.

I find the rumor hard to believe. With all their dignity and spirit, the Germans can't be begging for mercy from anyone.

The thing is, if I were the boss of Leica or one of their engineers, I couldn't be more excited about a Japanese digital rangefinder. I would love to see if it is in any way superior to the M9.

It sure would be nice if Leica themselves got off their high horse and made a CL-D (APS-C) to compliment that investment banker priced M9.

What a concept. They would probably sell a trainload of them and be back in the black for the first time in a few decades.

Mike is right. Most of the demand for rangefinder cameras is based upon the Leica brand, as opposed to rangefinders per se. What market there is for Zeiss Ikons and Voigtlanders is largely the "halo effect" cast by Leica. That's not to say that there aren't those who use them because they're practical for their work, but there are an awful lot of people who buy them because they're "the best", then find them frustrating and never use them.

There is no voracious pent-up demand for an expensive camera with no autofocus and no zoom. What demand there is for what Leica offers (compact size, excellent lenses) can be easily met by micro 4/3 cameras.

If you want a full-frame digital rangefinder, my advice is this: wait. Don't wait for someone other than Leica to introduce one. Just wait for digital depreciation to bring down their price. At some point -- sooner than you think -- an M9 will cost less than an M3.

Ctein: I have spent a lot of time considering the question of whether to pick up the Panasonic or Olympus m4/3rds cameras, but I can't convince myself to do it just yet. I find the cameras ergonomically fussy. But that's not really enough of a reason since I use a Panasonic point and shoot that works basically the same way. The lenses are also not quite right. Not quite the right field of view. Not quite the right depth of field.

I also happen to like the Hexar's fixed optical viewfinder. But I like shooting off of the LCD screen almost as much.

So the answer is: I really don't have a reason not to buy an m4/3rds camera ... except that the camera that exists is never as good as the mythical camera that hasn't been made yet. And the "digital hexar" is that camera. :-)

(It also does not help that I caved and sprang for a D700 this year)

Oh, and my desire for a fixed lens is more just one of simplicity than cost. If the lens is fixed then I am forced to not fixate on which lens to use. Which is helpul for me.

Robert, you're exactly right, now that I think of it ! My reaction was "hey, I'm one of those people who like rangefinders !" (Which I didn't post because Mike knows I'm out here). But while I "like" them ... and thoroughly enjoy using one (I have two old compact fixed lens RFs that I haven't used since getting a DSLR) I doubt I would actually buy one. My RFs were cheap ... one was free and one ended up costing $150 after CLA. I can spend that kind of money once in a while on something for fun. I don't know how much I'd actually use it. Manual focus with a rangefinder is easier than with a DSLR by a mile, but I rely on AF. I'd probably choose an EVIL before a rangefinder. But I do like rangefinders.

I sold all my Canon gear last year and went with Leica not because it's Leica, but because it's a rangefinder implemented in such a way that the camera doesn't get between me and the subject; I paid an obscene premium for Leica not because it was Leica, but rather because Leica is the only choice for a digital rangefinder camera.

If a Contax G3 were to be produced with AF which actually works and Zeiss lenses, I'd sell my M9 and Leica lenses in a heartbeat and switch over to the new platform.

The one thing I will never do is go back to the big, bulky, awkward, unergonomic dSLRs - I'd give up photography before putting myself through that hell once again.

"—there seems to be a massive pent-up desire for one of the bigs—or, at least, somebody other than Leica—to build a digital rangefinder."

I find it difficult to believe that after all these comments, no one even mentioned the Epson RD-1/RD-2?? Flaws and all, it IS an M-mount digital rangefinder, and was released at a time that Leica was publicly stating that a digital rangefinder was impossible.

PSU wrote: "If "they" made a digital version of the original AF Konica Hexar, I'd buy two."

I would like to see a digital Micro 4/3's with the the AF's infrared focusing system. My major complaint with using the LCD only is the slowness and problems with low light focusing.

My Hexar AF can focus fast and consistently
regardless of the light level, which makes it my "go to" camera...if only it had interchangeable lens it would be Leica hands down!!!


Right. An M9 costing less than an M3. Ha!

Have you costed out used Leicas recently? An M3 was only $500, with every iteration after that costing more. An M3 but with (ahem) an unlimited film stock costing less than an M3? HA!

During the film era, I tried Contax, Nikon, Canon,Pentax, R-leica, Hasselblad, m-leica and some more. I really like the simplicity of m-leica and it made me able to take photos in low light environment.

I am not using film any more because I am allergic to the developer. And also the cost per frame is high.

When I went digital I compared m8 and Canon. It would cost me about the same, since I already had some m-lenses. The trouble with m8, made me go Canon.

The choice has made me leave portrait and documentary style of photography to nature. It is fun as well, but it feels like I am missing part of my soul.

I am using Canon 5DII now, but find it heavy, bulky and slow on focusing in low light environment. I am looking for an alternative. Sony and Nikon is in the same league as Canon far as I can see. I find M9 way to expensive. M3/4 is the hottest candidate, but it lacks some of features as would be the tipping point. I find X1 interesting, but missing the optical viewfinder. I find Samsung interesting, but hesitating about their lenses, since I have not read any tests about them. I am now waiting for Sony's competitor to m3/4. They have the Konica engineers and patents.

I know I would be pleased with m9, but it the price (and lack of service) as make me look for alternatives. The camera brand is definitely not the most important.

I love my Epson R-D1s except that it is a bit fussy. I recently had the focus / rangefinder adjusted but after a lot of use, it seems to be out of whack again.

Batteries for the Epson are available all over the place, as are chargers. So the sd chip isn't all that big - just buy a few as they are cheap.

My M6 was just cla'd but I haven't used it since it came back from the shop because I love the color rendition of the Epson sensor.

ME want Leica to go out of business??!!?? Just so I could have a NiCanonOlytax RF???? Perish forbid!!!

I need the dSLR for close up work, but I personally don't need it to be bloated with ten FPS and AF. But for more discreet snapping, I'd love a FF/MF dRF. If I had made the same money in 2009 as I made in 2007 and 2008, I'd have a M9 already. But, Nikon or Canon would do it better(more reliable, less quirks, not slaves to a previous design concept) than Leica and at less cost. Oh, and the lenses would almost necessarily have "slightly lower imaging quality", which would be an excellent antidote to the current 'flawless correction' optical design style of the newer Leica lenses.

I came very late to the Rangefinder field with a Kiev 4 I bought off of eBay last year and found myself amazed by the way it worked and how much I like it (not to mention how small it is) and promptly bought a Contax G1 (G2s got too quickly too expensive).

I am still heavily invested (and will continue to be) in film and as such there is still a wide variety of rangefinders for me to chose from (at decent prices).

The problem with most digital cameras for me is that there are no more viewfinders on them. I find it utterly hard to focus a digital point & shoot and it just feels completely awkward for me to try and use it (I have a small Panasonic Lumix I was given and altough it is a fine, small camera in it's own right, the lack of a viewfinder is what annoys me the most).

Would I buy a digital Rangefinder from Canon or Nikon? Possibly, depends on the lenses and price point and if they would give it a damn viewfinder.

So - why is a secondhand Voightlander Bessa 3A (actually made by Cosina) worth twice as much as a secondhand Canon EOS 3? People have something for rangefinders, sensible or not.

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