6 Best Rangefinder Cameras 2021- Complete Buying Guide 

Although these days most people are using DSLR cameras which come with a lot of advanced features, the rangefinder cameras have been present for a long time and are still being used because of their higher image quality and unique functionality.

The rangefinder cameras have been used in production and street photography for decades. They give you control and quality that the SLR cameras are unable to give. These cameras are quiet, have no shutter lag, and have passive focus ability in the dark but don’t have lasers to identify the actual range.

In this article, we will share with you the 6 best rangefinder cameras that you can get today to enhance your photography experience.

6 Best Rangefinder Cameras in 2021

6 Best Rangefinder Cameras in 2021
Film Type
Lens
Vintage Argus C335mmCintar 50mm
FED-3 USSR35mmIndustar-61 52mm
Voigtlander Bessa-R3A35mm--
Contax G2 Camera Body35mmIndustar 50mm
Camera ZORKI-4K35mmJupiter-8 52mm
MiNT InstantKon RF7035mm3-Element, 93mm

1. Vintage Argus C3—Best 35mm Rangefinder Camera

Film Type: 35mm
Vintage Argus C3

 

★★★★★

BRAND:
ARGUS CAMERAS INC

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: Argus C3
  • Type of Camera: Rangefinder Camera
  • Build Material: Metal
  • Lens: Argus Coated Cintar 50mm
  • Viewfinder: Optical

The Vintage Argus C3 is one of the most popular and successful American-made rangefinder 35mm cameras of all time. This camera lasted over 30 years in production because of its superior features and image quality.

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The camera has a simple and robust construction that has allowed it to survive for almost a century now. Moreover, it is also easy to repair. There is a considerable portion of these cameras available today.

Important Features You Need to Know

The camera comes in a unique and stunning design because of which is called “The Brick”. It is nicknamed because its size and shape match that of a brick. This camera remained in the production houses from 1939 to 1966.

The camera lasted so long because of its simplicity, rugged dependability, and relatively low price. The camera also has the ability to change lenses, which was rare in rangefinder cameras of the time.

This rangefinder camera has coupled rangefinder and flash synchronization. The camera initially had a shutter speed of 10 points which was later improved and reduced to 5 speeds. Moreover, this camera has relatively simple controls for controlling shutter speed.

Adding to this, the rangefinder and the viewfinder are in separate windows that prevent the viewfinder from blacking out. The shutter of the camera is armed prior to firing, allowing you to capture double exposure.

Additional Technical Specs:

  • Flash: Synchronized with Shutter
  • Dimensions: 9 x 7 x 4 inches
  • Weight: 2.79 pounds

 

What We Find Good

  • Magnified Rangefinder View
  • Quality Focus
  • Flash Sync with Shutter
  • Separate window for rangefinder and viewfinder
  • Interchangeable Lenses
  • Vintage Design
  • Enhanced Shutter Speed

What We May Not Find Good

  • No Self-timer
  • No Double Exposure Prevention

Final View

Considering the factors and history of this rangefinder camera, it is one of the best ones in the market that every good photographer has to try.

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2. FED-3 USSR—Best Rangefinder Camera for Beginners

Film Type: 35mm
FED-3 USSR

 

★★★★★

BRAND:
FED UKRAINE

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: FED 3 Type-B
  • Type of Camera: Rangefinder Camera
  • Build Material: Metal
  • Lens: “Industar-61” 52mm
  • Viewfinder: Coupled with Rangefinder
  • Flash: Synchronized with Shutter

FED is a rangefinder camera that was manufactured in USSR in the 1960s. This was an affordable camera and considered a copy of famous Leica cameras. The FED-3 was the third model by the company and had a lot more features than FED-2.

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The camera is large in size and a bit heavy, but it is very easy to use. If we focus on the basic design of the camera, it has an interchangeable lens, with a rangefinder focus assist and a viewfinder.

Important Features You Need to Know

This rangefinder camera has an amazing shutter speed of 500th of a second that allows it to capture perfect moments in both street and professional photography. Moreover, the flash synchronization with shutter is 30th of a second.

The camera is equipped with coated lens “Industar 61” which is one of the sharpest Soviet lenses and a copy of the famous ZEISS TESSAR. The lanthanum coating provides perfect light transmission through the lens.

The aperture has 6 blades that provide a very accurate shape. Moreover, this rangefinder camera also accepts a whole range of M-39 LTM Lecia Lenses. The rangefinder is combined with the viewfinder, whose sharpness can be adjusted by the special ring around the eyepiece.

The device is also equipped with a self-timer. Hence, you have the ability to set the camera on mount and capture time-delayed pictures. Adding to this, the head of the shutter cocking knob has a special scale that helps you remember the sensitivity of loaded film.

Additional Technical Specs:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/500th
  • Dimensions: 137 x 90 x 35 mm
  • Weight: 25.4 Ounces

 

What We Find Good

  • Amazing Shutter Speed
  • Affordable Copy of Famous Leica Cameras
  • Impressive Sharpness of Lens
  • Compatible with Leica M-39 Lenses
  • Adjustable Sharpness of Viewfinder
  • Self-Timer
  • Special Scale for Sensitivity

What We May Not Find Good

  • Doesn’t come with Reel
  • Only used available for purchase

Final View

This device is a close clone of Leica rangefinder cameras and comes with amazing mechanical features. It is an affordable version that beginner photographers can use.

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3. Voigtlander Bessa-R3A

Film Type: 35mm
Voigtlander Bessa

 

★★★★★

BRAND:
VOIGTLANDER

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: Bessa-R3A
  • Type of Camera: Rangefinder Camera
  • Build Material: Metal
  • Lens: No Lens Included
  • Focus Mode: Manual
  • Viewfinder: Split image

It is one of the best modern classic film cameras, that is both unique and admirable in its own way. The grip on this camera is effective and the ergonomics are at their best. The R3A’s frame lines are both well made and well priced.

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This rangefinder camera is a classic and although a bit expensive, it’s totally worth it. The camera is coupled with a rangefinder and viewfinder and is for film type 35mm. Moreover, it allows you to shoot pictures with both eyes open.

Important Features You Need to Know

This camera was one of the best of its time and features many mechanical upgrades that were rate at the time. There is a right thumb rest at the back of the camera, that proves to be very functional.

The viewfinder’s frames are manually selected by a lever on the top left of the camera. Many professionals who use the camera believe that the viewfinder is as bright as the Leica M6, while some also suggest that it’s better.

The camera allows you to keep both eyes open while composing a photograph. The camera accepts almost all Leica M-mount lenses made by Voigtlander, Zeiss, and Leica. Moreover, with an external adapter, you can also use most M-39 LTM lenses.

This is a light and obtrusive camera that is ideal for handheld and low-light conditions. The camera has a small and compact design that adds efficiency to its portability and there is less distance between the lens and the films that allow for more sharpness. Have a look at the best rangefinders binoculars.

Additional Technical Specs:

  • Flash: Hot Flash Shoe (Mounting)
  • Shutter Speed: 1/2000th
  • Power Source: Two 1.5-Volt LR44 alkaline batteries
  • Dimensions: 5.4 x 3.2 x 1.4 Inches
  • Weight: 1 lb.

 

What We Find Good

  • Center-Weighted Metering
  • Exceptionally Bright Viewfinder
  • Compatible with Leica M-mount Lenses
  • Lightweight Camera
  • Shooting with both eyes is possible
  • Lifesize finder with Variable Frameline
  • Control Layout is Simple and Easy

What We May Not Find Good

  • People who wear glasses have difficulty with viewfinder
  • The shutter is a bit noisy

Final View

The Voigtlander Bessa-R3A is an upgraded version of R2A that is lightweight and ideal to use in low-light photography. The camera is electronic, and the shutter speed is amazing.

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4. Contax G2 Camera Body—Best Rangefinder Camera with Autofocus

Film Type: 35mm
Contax G2 Camera Body

 

★★★★★

BRAND:
CONTAX

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: G2
  • Type of Camera: AF Rangefinder Camera
  • Build Material: Metal
  • Lens: Contax G Mount
  • Focus Mode: Manual, Auto Focus
  • Built-in Flash: No

This is a premium Auto-Focus rangefinder with interchangeable lenses. This model is upgraded and contains much more features than the G1. This rangefinder combines the flexibility of SLR with the probability of a rangefinder to give exceptional results.

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The Contax G2 has become one of the most important cameras in the professional photography industry and is still growing. The camera is compatible with a variety of lenses and provides exceptional functionality.

Important Features You Need to Know

The camera is equipped with a zooming viewfinder that provides an appropriate viewing angle for the installed lens. Moreover, the camera is able to use all seven of the exceptional Carl Zeiss lenses.

There is a very small distance between the film panel and the lens mount in the camera. This results in better wide-angle performance with less distortion than comparable professional SLR lenses with similar focal lengths.

The G2 is known for its quietness in both the shutter operation and the auto-focus feature. This camera provides an extended baseline on a hybrid autofocus system, which is one of the most innovative features of rangefinder cameras.

The G2 has improved features than G1, which allows for clear parallax correction. Adding to this, the viewfinder of G2 is also brighter and larger. The manual focus ability is enhanced by relocating the wheel to a more comfortable spot.

Additional Technical Specs:

  • Shutter Speed: 1/6000th
  • Self-Timer: 10-second delay
  • Power Source: Two CR2 3-Volt lithium batteries
  • Dimensions: 5.5 x 3.2 x 1.8 Inches
  • Weight: 1.24 lb.

 

What We Find Good

  • Electronic Auto-Focus
  • Motorized Advanced and Rewind
  • Compatible with 7 Exceptional Lenses
  • Superior Wide-Angle Performance
  • Quiet AF and Shutter
  • Larger and Brighter Viewfinder
  • Improved Manual Focus Wheel

What We May Not Find Good

  • A bit noisy
  • Manual Focus is a bit tricky

Final View

This device is a beautiful, well-designed, and convenient camera that is fully automated. It has rangefinder type AF, auto-film advance, and rewind. Totally worth the price.

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5. Camera ZORKI-4K—Best Vintage Rangefinder Camera

Film Type: 35mm
Camera ZORKI-4K

 

★★★★★

BRAND:
ZORKI

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: ZORKI-4K
  • Type of Camera: Rangefinder Camera
  • Build Material: Aluminum, Metal
  • Lens: 38 LTM
  • Focus Mode: Manual
  • Flash: Mechanical Sync 1/30 seconds

This is one of the affordable Russian rangefinder cameras that is cheaper than Leica 2 analog. Many professionals suggest that it is one of the best vintage cameras that were made in the USSR.

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The reviews of this amazing camera are very positive. This camera is well-balanced and lightweight, which makes it easier to carry around. The camera has a simple design and also contains the feature of a self-timer that was rare in cheaper models.

Important Features You Need to Know

This camera has versatile compatibility. Along with the basic lenses, it is also compatible with Leica L-Mount lenses. Moreover, the camera has a smooth focus that many users admire.

The camera has a classic and simple design and the construction involves aluminum with a metal sheet on the top. Adding to this, the camera also has a function self-timer, that allows you to take time-delayed pictures.

This device is mountable on a stand for increased stability and perfect shots. The pictures taken by this camera have clarity detailing and visual sharpness, which makes them exceptionally good.

This rangefinder camera is very cheap and easy to use. It comes with it carrying case, lens cover, and a couple of other necessary accessories. It is one of the finest of the USSR, which was praised by many of that era

Additional Technical Specs:

  • Self-Timer: Yes
  • Dimensions: 133 x 67 x 66 mm
  • Weight: 18.3 ounces

 

What We Find Good

  • Classical Design
  • Easy to Use
  • Self Timer
  • Aluminum Construction
  • Lightweight and Compact
  • Affordable Price
  • Compatible with Leica L-mount Lenses

What We May Not Find Good

  • Shutter Noise
  • No Auto-Focus

Final View

Considering the price, this is one of the best Russian rangefinder cameras that comes in a classic design. It is lightweight and compact, and also easy to use.

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6. MiNT InstantKon RF70—Best Instant Film Rangefinder Camera

Film Type: 35mm
MiNT InstantKon RF70

 

★★★★★

BRAND:
MINT

Technical Specifications:

  • Model: RF 70
  • Type of Camera: Film Rangefinder Camera
  • Lens: 3-element, aspherical glass lenses
  • Focus Mode: Manual
  • Shutter Speed: 1/500s seconds
  • Flash: Built-in electric self-regulated flash

This is an advanced rangefinder camera with a truly classic design. It is equipped with advanced features that allow you to take unique high-quality pictures. It contains a large lens that enables it for the perfect bokeh.

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The camera features both focusing and framing windows that allow you to first focus and then compose your picture. The framing window also compensates for parallax in close-up shooting.

Important Features You Need to Know

This camera allows you to shoot in 4 different modes. The first one is Aperture priority mode in which the built-in light meter chooses the correct shutter speed for any to give aperture setting.

A light in the back informs you if the exposure is correct by half-pressing the shutter button. You can compensate for exposure by a single stop. Hence, the exposure mode allows you to control and check the exposure.

In the bulb mode, the shutter stays open while you press the shutter button for almost 30 seconds. Once you are done taking the picture, you can manually eject the shutter by operating the film eject lever.

You can also press the shutter button multiple times for indefinite multiple exposures. Double pressing the shutter button activates the self-timer mode that delays the pictures for 5 seconds. Moreover, the flash can be triggered in rear-sync mode.

Additional Technical Specs:

  • Self-Timer: Yes
  • Power Source: 2 AA batteries
  • Dimensions: 2.52 x 7.17 x 4.8 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 Pounds

 

What We Find Good

  • Advanced Features
  • Premium High-Quality Pictures
  • Both Focusing and Framing Window
  • Aperture Priority Mode
  • Auto-Exposure
  • 5 Second Self-timers
  • Built-in Flash

What We May Not Find Good

  • Expensive
  • Less Durable

Final View

The advanced features of this rangefinder camera make it unique from the rest. The camera also has built-in flash and Auto-exposure. A recommended choice for professional photographers.

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Top 3 Picks

We have provided you with a list of the 6 best rangefinder cameras. Each of these cameras has some unique features that make it special among the rest. However, choosing one from the 6 can still be confusing.

Hence, we will provide you with the list of our top 3 choices, that we consider being the best of the best. This will narrow down the choice for you, as you will have the gist of their special features.

Here is the list of our top 3 rangefinder cameras:

1. MiNT InstantKon RF70: because this rangefinder camera is equipped with advanced features that enable it to perform a variety of functions.

2. FED-3 USSR: This is an affordable copy of famous Leica cameras that comes with impressive quality.

3. Contax G2 Camera Body: Because it is equipped with Auto-Focus feature and is quiet in the manner of the shutter and focuses sounds.

How to Choose Best Rangefinder Camera?— Buying Guide 2021

Choosing the best rangefinder camera can be a difficult task if you aren’t properly informed. Hence, we will give you detail on the most important features that contribute to the success of a rangefinder camera, so that the choice becomes easier for you.

Best Rangefinder Camera
infographic: Best Rangefinder Camera

Here are some of the most important factors that you should consider when shopping for a rangefinder camera:

Lens

Optics of utmost importance in any camera. However, rangefinder cameras are different from conventional cameras and require a special type of lenses. You must take the wide-angle and size of the lens into account when choosing a rangefinder camera.

Size and Weight

The size and weight of the camera are decisive in deciding the compact nature and portability of a rangefinder camera. Hence, you must not buy a bulky rangefinder camera, as it will be difficult to carry around. A compact design with less weight is an ideal choice.

Quiet Shutter and Auto-Focus

Traditionally, rangefinder cameras are considered quieter. However, some still make noise because of being old or used. The noise is usually from shutter or auto-focus. You must check the camera properly, as the noise can be pretty annoying.

Compatibility

You must consider a rangefinder that has extensive compatibility as it will be able to connect with a variety of lenses. Moreover, some cameras also support an adapter or a connecter to widen their compatibility with lenses.

Budget Matters

Budget is crucial when purchasing a rangefinder camera. Most of them are classic and date back years. Hence, they cost a lot more today. You must consider your budget before making an expensive choice.

Frequently Asked Question

Q. Are rangefinder cameras really worth it?

A. Rangefinder cameras are better than SLR cameras in many aspects, but they also come with their own limitations. These cameras have impressive focus, quieter shutter and AF sounds, are lightweight and compact. Also, they come with some interesting features.

Q. Which rangefinder camera is the best in 2021?

A. In our opinion, the Contax G2 Camera is the best among the rest. It has a variety of innovative features including Auto-Focus that doesn’t make noise. Moreover, the camera has extensive compatibility with a variety of exceptional lenses.

Q. Do rangefinder cameras have built-in flash?

A. Although many of the rangefinder cameras don’t come with built-in flash, they do have flash synchronization with the shutter. Also, many of them support hot shoes for connection with external flash. Some rangefinder cameras also have a built-in flash.

Q. Are rangefinder cameras difficult to use?

A. Compared to modern DSLR, the rangefinder cameras can be considered difficult to use because they have everything mechanical and manual. However, they are small, compact, have better focus, and more impressive design as compared to SLR cameras.

Q. Are rangefinder cameras expensive?

A. Not all of them are expensive. Those cameras that were a huge success in their era of release and were majorly used by professionals are expensive today because of supply and demand. They are jewels of the photography industry today and hence are expensive.

Conclusion

Rangefinder cameras are unique and have interesting features. Every passionate photographer should use these cameras to learn more about photography and its history. These cameras were the primes, and each has its own success story.

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