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Rangefinder: Equipment, History, Techniques Hardcover – 10 Apr 2003

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Guild of Master Craftsman Publications Ltd; First Edition edition (10 April 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861083300
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861083302
  • Product Dimensions: 27 x 17.7 x 1.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 464,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A . J . Reynolds TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 5 April 2012
Format: Hardcover
This book , by Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz , is fine guide to rangefinder cameras . It covers 35mm and medium format rangefinders in depth and even manages to mention large format 'press' cameras in passing . As usual with the partnership of Hicks and Schultz this is a well-written book that makes for pleasant reading . The only ommission , that is noteable , is the lack of coverage given to 'compact ' rangefinders of the 1960s and 1970s which might serve the reader well as a 'taster' of rangefinder photography before committing to the expense of a 'proper' rangefinder system .
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By kippoi on 24 April 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a lover of classic Leica cameras, I really enjoyed this book. I am a great fan of Roger Hicks. He writes regularly for Amateur Photographer and his articles are always worth reading.
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By Ri on 24 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A great book all round !! Well worth the money!
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Roy Maidment on 14 May 2009
Format: Hardcover
A good book - well worth the attention of someone interested in this type of camera.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 0 reviews
32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
Definitely a missed opportunity 18 Oct. 2003
By Philippe Vandenbroeck - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Books by the Hicks and Schultz tandem are a hit and miss affair. Sadly this book is in the latter category. I am not saying that this book is completely without merit, but there is a mismatch between its target audience, its format and its content.
Let me try and list my main points of criticism:
* Already, the introduction bodes ill: "Because the field is so vast, it is impossible to be comprehensive about the older equipment; therefore, some of your favourite cameras may be omitted. Don't worry about it. Likewise, you may feel that we've got the balance wrong with new kit. Again, don't worry about it. This is a book by enthusiasts, for enthusiasts'.
From a reader's point of view this is nonsensical and it shows that the pair started out on this book with a very fuzzy editorial concept. The choice of which camera systems to treat in more depth than others is a crucial editorial decision in this kind of book and should not be left to personal predilections only. It is only fair that the Leica system gets discussed in more detail than, for example, the Russian Zorkii. But H&S do not like the classic Contax and the system is given very short shrift indeed: `The trouble is that classic Contaxes are wilfully complicated (...); and the shutter resembles nothing so much as a roll-top desk made of brass slats.' I don't think that any budding rangefinder enthusiast is helped by this kind of idiosyncratic assessment. There are many other instances of this kind of sloppy, arbitrary and sometimes outright dumb criticism: swing-lens are not covered at all but are characterised as a `curiosity, because most of them are not very useful'. Tell that to great artists such as Pentti Samalaahti who built a career on these kinds of cameras. Another victim is the Mamiya 6 rangefinder camera. Still very sought after because of its excellent handling and optical qualities, the camera is simply not discussed at all. The reason is that H&S do not like the square format and hence they choose to ignore it. The Fuji RF cameras (6x7 and 6x9) are discussed in exactly 7,2 lines (with, I admit, a picture of the GSW 690 Mk I somewhere 70 pages apart). There are many other inexplicable omissions (classic compact rangefinders such as Canonet QL17 and Minolta 7sII arenot discussed at all). A book that is marketed as `the' guide to users and collectors should aim for comprehensiveness, and not succumb to the kind of arbitrariness in selecting material for inclusion as demonstrated in the present volume.
* I agree that it is not easy to systematise the sprawling subject of rangefinder and direct view cameras. But the classification proposed by H&S is erratic and does in many instances not help the newbie rangefinder enthusiast. We know that the authors have a boon for the Swiss-made Alpa (S)WA cameras and they are separately and prominently treated under a heading `multi-format cameras', because they accept backs for different sizes. However, it would be more logical to group the Alpa with, for example, the Silvestri T30, the Cambo Wide, the Linhof Technar, the Plaubel SW690, Horseman 612, and the Corfield WA67 (of which only the latter two discussed, the Plaubel is only mentioned in passing elsewhere) as rigid body (super) wide angle cameras (most of them accept backs of various sizes). Now the discussion is fragmented over `multi-format', `panoramic' and `other current rigid-bodied 4x5 cameras'. Confusing indeed. The section on large format cameras is equally muddled: look at how it is structured:
(`Baby' 6x7 and 6x9 cameras)
4x5 technical and press cameras
Other current rigid-bodied 4x5 cameras
Graphics/Speed Graphic
Other format
Wouldn't this be more clearly structured?
- Baby cameras
- 4x5 press cameras
Graflex cameras
Other press cameras (Linhof)
- Rigid body (wide angle) 4x5 cameras
Gran View
- Polaroid cameras
- Other formats
* Although the book numbers 181 pages, it could easily have been printed on, say, 80 pages. Size of fonts, line spacing and margins have been set at ridiculously large values. The book looks as if it has been printed for 8 year old children. Pages are 18 cm wide, only half of which is filled with text (1 column 9 cm wide). In short, the information density of a given page is very low. That would be ok if we were dealing with a coffee table book. The real rangefinder enthusiast would be happy with some more substance, I am sure.
* Further to the previous point, an inordinate amount of space in this book is reserved for pictures by the authors. In many cases they fail to make a point or support the argument in the text (if there is one). The photography itself is wholly unremarkable: in its motivic choice and composition it is classic to the point of being tedious. It is a pity that at least 25 of the 181 pages are allocated to full-page photographs, with many others sctattered over the text.
* A cosmetic point, but one which continues to distract the reader, is the quality of the photographs of cameras, lenses and other gear. Probably to enhance the feeling of nostalgia, these have all been printed in a black and white that is particularly `dirty' and unappealing: very contrasty and with a lot of grain. Sadly, in many cases the perfunctory quality of the photographys obscures details that could be of great interest to the real rangefinder enthusiast.

All in all this book gives the impression of being compiled opportunistically and in great haste. For the beginning rangefinder enthusiast it would perhaps have been better to produce a book on the great classic 24x36 rangefinder systems of yesterday and today: Leica, Contax, Canon, Nikon, Voigtländer. For the connoisseur I would have wished much more depth and a more systematic covering of the field. Given the book as it is now, I would prefer to see it published in a slim paperback volume, for quick reference, for half the price.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Intro to Rangefinders! 30 Sept. 2006
By Bromo - Published on
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up beacuse I am interested in rangefinders, but I do not know much about them, nor do I have one (except an old Russian one that barely works).

This book is a great introduction to the subject - and covers the history, ins and outs of rangefinders and a variety of formats (35mm, MF and LF). While it may be off putting to some that only want 35mm, given the variety of gear available, this is a very welcome addition in my estimation!

The author is opinionated, and it is refreshing that opinions are generated about some equipment - be prepared, you may not agree! This is not a bad thing, either.

If you want to read baout rangefinders, the renaissance in them over the last few years as well as history and a bunch of modern and vintage equipment (and why they were supplanted by SLR's in the late 60's, and why they are back full-force today!) RUN, don't walk to get this book!

9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Disappointing 11 Jun. 2004
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Hardcover
A nice introduction to rangefinders for those who have no idea about them but it's not more than that. I was hoping for more information but there was none. Very disappointing.
This is a terrific buy for anyone interested in the genre 5 Dec. 2014
By Rick Beckrich - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is a terrific buy for anyone interested in the genre, either a current RF user, or someone who just loves cameras, especially legendary ones.

A wonderful book for the photographic student or historian too... after all, these are the cameras that made photography what it is today.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
"Rangefinder" 9 Nov. 2012
By StanW - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Written in Roger's usual informative style. A mine of information on rangefinder cameras, past and present. Essential reading for anyone interested in these cameraas.
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