How to use a rangefinder camera?
There are different types of cameras available in the market today and they include different features. Also, the way they are used varies widely across the camera brands. In this article, we are going to look at the rangefinder camera and how to use it.
Just as the name suggests, a rangefinder camera is always fitted with a rangefinder. Most modern cameras come with a rangefinder fitted already, hence the earlier you learn how to use it, the better. Take note that cameras with no built-in rangefinders can include an external.
A rangefinder camera gives you the ability to see beyond the frame lines.
Check some basic controls on the camera
Once you get hold of your rangefinder, go ahead and look for some basic control features on the camera. Some of the common features found in a rangefinder camera include:
Rewind crank: This feature helps you when it comes to winding the film when it gets out of the canister. Often times, you can make it easier to turn the rewind crank, thanks to a flip-out lever which is usually located on the camera’s left-hand side. Take note that some rangefinder cameras may have a switch to do it by itself.
Rewind release: It allows you to rewind your film easily. For obvious reasons, the film often gets locked when shooting, hence making it hard to move backwards. You can simply unlock this safety mechanism by making good use of rewind release.
Focusing ring: It helps in focusing the lens to the distance of your subject. With this feature, you can easily focus an infinite distance away. In most cases, rangefinder cameras have distances in both meters and feet.
Mode dial: If you are lucky to find this feature, then you can be assured of setting various automatic exposure models. However, you should take note that different camera brands give their modes different names. For example, Canon call it Tv’ while Nikon call shutter-priority S’. However, it is advisable that you always keep it in P’ which stands for program automatic.
ISO dial: This feature tells the range camera which speed your film is using. Take note that this may entail continuous pressing of buttons. Take note that different films will require different types of exposures. In most cases this only happens among rangefinder cameras with automatic exposure systems. For example, the ISO 200 film will need to be exposed to half the length of an ISO 100 film.
The above are some of the key features found in a rangefinder camera. After getting familiarized with the features, it’s now time to test your camera.
Change the battery if your camera uses one: Changing your camera batteries helps to ensure that you don’t experience any problems while taking your photos.
Check to see if a film is already loaded: It’s sad to find a film already loaded in your camera after opening its back. When you find one, simply turn on the shutter first and wind the camera on. You will see the knob or a rewind crank moving if your camera has one on the left-hand side.
Develop your film: It is highly advisable that you get your film developed. Fortunately, you can get this done nearly anywhere if you are shooting negative film. If you need someone to help you with your film development, then consider approaching a film store in your local area.
Load the film: The best step involves loading the film into your camera. Please take note that changing films shouldn’t be done while directly facing the sun. This may not look good even if the film cartridge is light proof. It is advisable that you do the loading where there is no sun exposure. For example, a shade or at least indoors may work well.
Ensure that your film doesn’t have any problems regarding its exposure. Check out to see if there is any common over- and under-exposure. When unexposed, many films often look murky and horrible. Your shutter may be inaccurate or the meter may be wrong if these things fail to show poor exposure. As described earlier, you should set your ISO speed manually. For example, you may consider setting the ISO dial to 200 if you’re underexposing on ISO 400 film. Please take note that there are different pocket exposure guides depending on the type of camera.
Set your preferred film speed: Now, it’s time to set your film speed to your desired range. It is advisable that you shoot a side film to find out if your camera is under- or over-exposed by a certain amount of speed.
It’s time to start shooting
The next step is learning how to shoot using your rangefinder camera. You can consider taking some beautiful photographs after setting up your camera.
Ensure that your shot is focused: It is important that you focus your shot in order to take an awesome photograph that is well-balanced.
Ensure that the exposure is set accurately: It is advisable that you set your exposure because there are some cameras that allow very little area to be read on the screen. You should point the camera at the subject, meter, and then reframe your shot if your subject is off-center: Different rangefinder cameras have different specifics of getting a good exposure.
Shoot after framing your shots: Yes, it’s that simple. You will now move to the next step of shooting only after framing your shots.
Shoot as many photos as you can. Trust me; you will easily tell when your roll has reached the end. After taking many photos, the film will either become very difficult, or the camera will stop winding. Take note that some rangefinder cameras will give you the allowance of up to 4 extra frames that are more than the number rated.
Want to shoot some more photos?
Well, now that you have learnt how to use a rangefinder camera, you can go ahead and load another roll of film into the canister and shoot more photos.
You will have to rewind the film when you get to the end of the roll. Some rangefinder cameras come with a switch to help you rewind when the roll comes to an end. Take note that some will do this automatically.
I urge you to go out there and take as many great photos as you can. And if I’m not wrong, you will bear me right that practice makes perfect. Just don’t forget to share your photos with the world. Cheers!