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April 9, 2013 / Gregory Williams

Camera Results: More Rangefinders

Continuing with the camera results started in this post

Graflex Century 35

Small, completely mechanical, and for the most part completely manual. It has no rewind lever, just a knob. DSC_0217

With full features including flash support this camera functioned well, except for its dependence on me as an exposure meter, and a severe light leak. This was hopfully fixed by tightening the door’s latch assembly and installing new seals.

A very usable camera, but a bit too steam punk for my tastes.

Petri 7S Circle Eye System

If the Graflex has the steam punk sensibility, the Petri 7S screams 1960’s.Petri7S

The Petri is light, compact, and a full featured rangefinder with a exposure meter situated on top of the body, and a unique viewfinder.

The mythology surrounding them has it that they were popular with US troops on leave in Japan during the Vietnam war. US print ads show that they were an affordable option compared with other makes of the day. A 7S in 1963 retailed for about $60, or about $450 in modern terms.

It’s a likable camera just for the way it looks, but on the tactile side of things it feels a bit flimsy for a film camera. This might explain the $60 price tag.

Petri 7S viewfinder

Petri 7S viewfinder

Konica Auto S

I did not expect to like the Auto S.

Once I had it out of its case, cleaned up, and a roll of film shot through it I was into it for good.

The camera itself is super light, but also super sturdy in the hand. It’s as big as the Canonet QL, but streamlined. Maybe even elegant?

The thing I like about it the most is the metal work. Unlike other Japanese rangefinders, the Konica has a fine blasted finish over the body with polished accents on the rewind knob, cold shoe, and film advance lever. The Shutter release also has a polished finish, as do the lens controls, and these have nicely milled serrations that are finished as painstakingly as the rest of the camera’s accents.

It is the natural camera for someone who is as much a gunsmith as they are a photographer (decide for yourself).

I’ve encountered many guns, and some just cry out for improvement, but there are those few exceptions that are already perfect and cannot be improved, or at least improved much. Guns like the Ruger Super Blackhawk, or Browning’s 1911 come to mind.

The Konica Auto S is like that, a perfect and natural extension of the shooter’s reach, but just a bit too large to be carried everyday, until the day you need a real camera.

Graflex Century 35, Konica Auto S, Petri 7S

Graflex Century 35, Konica Auto S, Petri 7S

There are still more rangefinders to go, The Yashica Electro and MG-1 will be covered later.



Leave a Comment
  1. States Quo / Apr 9 2013 1:10 pm

    I love the last sentence; it is a “real” camera!

  2. filmcamera999 / May 8 2013 10:04 am

    i just love these classics… much better made than the point n shoots of today!

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