I borrowed a rangefinder camera from a friend a couple of weeks ago. The camera is a Canonet QL17 G-III. I've gone through one roll on it and it's been fun to use so far. I had been using SLR cameras until now and the rangefinder is quite different in operation. The major difference being that the image viewed through the viewfinder is not the same as the one that is seen by the lens. In an SLR you see through the lens, so it's more of a WYSIWYG interface. Here are some of my impressions with using this camera.
- It's a little bizzare to see the lens through the viewfinder, but I got over that pretty soon.
- It is well known that rangefinders are quiet because they don't have a moving mirror. Even so, I was surprised by the quietness of the mechanism.
- The shutter priority operation threw me off for a while because I'm used to shooting with aperture priority. It makes me think in terms of time, while I'm used to thinking in terms of depth of field, or rather not thinking much in terms of either by setting the parameters once and not messing with it unless really needed.
The hardest thing to do was the focusing. The viewfinder has a very small area to check the focus accurately, and its not something I could manage to do quickly. I found myself pre-focusing most of the time by reading the distance marking on the lens. So, I used the viewfinder only for framing, just before taking the picture. I like the speed of such operation, but have been reluctant to do pre-focusing before now. This camera kinda forced it upon me and I'll try to do it more often. I think it is a good skill to have for street photography, especially when using a manual focus mechanism. There is usually no time to focus.
It's been raining again for the last week, so I haven't had any chance to shoot more with this camera. Hopefully things will clear up next week!