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rangefinders and such

1878 Views 4 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  SquishyPanda
I'm happy with my Olympus E-3 which I use often for serious stuff. But lugging around an E-3 with grip, 11-22mm, 14-54mm and the 50-200mm plus the od flash or two becomes a drag.

I was thinking less is more. Altough I also have the smaller E510 I bolted an Ownuser grip on that as well and with the 14-54mm attached it's not that small anymore. So some time ago I dug out my Olympus XA and pushed some film through it. That little camera served me well years ago as a small backup to my Olympus OM-4ti but now the lightseals are gone and the viewer has lint inside. The rangefinder is a bit off and the optics seem less sharp than I remember.

I tried using the 4ti again but either the diopter is screwd or I'm addicted to autofocus but focussing seems harder than focussing with the legacy glass on the E-3. What I did like was the feel and handling of real aperture and shutterspeed controls. I'm still adjusting to turning wheels and pushing buttons on a digital body. Chimping is nice though.

Anyway, the past few weeks got me hunting for something smaller with an analogue feel to it. My search led me to the Panasonic LC1/Leica Digilux 2 twins. I settled for the Panasonic. Both are virtually the same camera but the looks of the Panasonic is more to my liking. Besides the Leica is almost twice as expensive.

It's a real fun camera. Only 5mp, the average cellphone has more pixels nowadays, but you do get some quality glass. The 28-90 zoomlens is fixed to the body. Actually the lens is 7-22.5mm but the equivalent to 28-90 in terms of 35mm film. It's nice that they put these markings on the barrel. Everybody is talking cropfactor (1.3/1.5/1.6 or 2.0) and it gets real confusing as to what field of view you actually are looking at when buying lenses.

Manual aperture control via a ring is what I miss the most on the E-3 and such. Maybe I should have gone to the PanaLeica 4/3 camp. The PanaLeica lenses still have an aperture ring on the lens. Pitty though it does not work when mounted on Olympus. But hurray, the LC1 has the good old aperture ring on the hefty lens. I'll keep the review to this here. If you'd like to know more about this camera, the link above will give you a tour around all the nitbits.

So while researching somehow the Leica bug crept in. Maybe it's the rangefinder styling or the use of the XA that kept me looking for something more. Low and behold the smallest M-mount AE camera is the nifty Minolta CLE.

What a fantastic little camera this is. I got hold of a complete mint set. Body, three lenses and a flash plus the original leather bag to hog all this stuff. Man, this kit is small. The 3 lenses (28-40-90mm) plus body together wheigh less than my 50-200mm zoom!

No chimping. It's almost 30 years old and takes film but was some 20 years ahead of the Leica M7, haha.

Leica? I think I'll pass. Well maybe when the M10 comes around in 5 or 10 years I can pick up a used M9 for 1/3 or less. Digital in style.

So now I've my E-3 kit for proper stuff, the Panasonic LC1 to grab and go (no lenses to choose) and the Minolta for streetshooting and oldfashioned fotowalks.

Now to end this, here's a group shot.

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I like that panasonic. The convenience of digital but easily-accessed manual controls. :-! Think I'm gonna look for something like that as my carry-around to save actuations on my DSLR, but with better image quality than my waterproof.
I used to be in the same boat, lugging all my lenses, flashes etc around BUT I've now rectified this by:

1. Embracing manual focus, I replaced my focussing screen with a split prism screen, MF nirvana!
2. Buying loads of cheap, fast MF glass. Old Pentax SMC glass is dirt cheap and has great build and IQ, I purchased a 50mm F1.7, 28mm F2.8 and 100mm F2.8 for less than £100.

The 50mm F1.7 stays on my camera 90% of the time, it's fast enough for just about any lighting conditions and the IQ is great so instead of zooming I can just crop (or zoom with my feet!). My DSLR body with the 50mm lens is fairly compact and unobtrusive and is now my grab and go combination of choice. As an added bonus since I'm not using AF my battery life is now around 700 shots per charge, so no need for a grip etc, just a spare battery stowed somewhere.

I do like my legacy Zuiko glass and get great results. But stopped down past 4.0 the focussing screen gets pretty dark. I know to focus wide open and to stop down to take the picture but still. My 50/1.4 or 50/3.5 macro I use wide open or stopped down to about 2.0 for portraits.

But at times when reach or focussing speed is called for I'll use the 50-200SWD

I like to use grips in portrait mode because of an old wrist injury. The grip permits me to keep my wrist strainfree with "heavy" equipment.
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I've been looking for one of those LC1's and they seem to be pretty thin on the ground :( And I definitely can't afford a Leica Digilux 2. I'm going to be borrowing a Panasonic FZ28 today from a friend to test out before I decide to buy it off him. It shoots raw, has 18x zoom, and Leica glass. If the manual controls are fairly easy to operate, it should scratch my itch for a "serious" P&S.
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