Ultimately, I’d never like to prescribe the use of a rangefinder to anyone for any type of photography any more than I’d prescribe the use of any other type of camera – the variables are simply too great. But, what I can say is this, for the right type of photography, for the right type of photographer nothing comes close to the experience of using a rangefinder camera.
My friend and fellow photography blogger, Hamish Gill of 35mmc.com, has a much more focused approach to his camera gear than most of us. He is a dedicated rangefinder enthusiast and has produced a magnificently detailed guide to the rangefinder that Macfilos readers will love. In the above quote, Hamish reaches his conclusion. It’s one I would agree with.
Most readers of this blog are familiar with rangefinders. It’s Leica in the main, although David Babsky and others have had more extensive experience of non-Leica rangefinders, as he demonstrated in his article yesterday. But for a whole generation of digital photographers, the rangefinder is an oddity. Quite often, I meet people who have never used a rangefinder and have no concept of focusing a picture by aligning two images. We know it’s a satisfying experience, but try explaining that to someone who has always used a digital camera or, for that matter, a smartphone photographer.
As Hamish explains at the outset:
For many photographers rangefinder cameras are some of the most simple, easy to use, unimposing and inconspicuous cameras available. Yet for those who don’t get on with them, they can distract from the process of photography and feel unnecessarily difficult and indeed limiting in use. Of course, there’s no right and wrong here, it’s all subjective and comes down to people’s simple preferences. But there are good reasons why both sets of opinions exist.
Hamish sets out to unpick some of this with his little guide to the rangefinder camera — which is definitely worth reading in full.