What Is A Rangefinder Camera? (Complete Guide)

A rangefinder camera gets its name from the fact that it allows the photographer to measure the object’s distance for precise focusing. Earlier rangefinder cameras needed the photographer to focus the lens and determine the range separately. However, most of the recent models merge the lens focus with the rangefinder technology.

Detailed Explanation:

When you look at the viewfinder on your SLR camera at a particular angle, you will see that it’s in the body. This is on the grounds or the base that is sending the image through the angle and from over a mirror into the viewfinder. The image that you see in the image that is being recorded.

On a rangefinder camera

The viewfinder is balanced from the lens, which shows that the image that you are seeing and the image that is being recorded will not be the exact same. This is known as parallax error.

For bigger distances

It isn’t actually noticeable, but at closer ranges, it is clearly noticed. You may see it in the way that your pictures are a little lower than the image you are seeing, so you need to do something about this.

This states that a rangefinder camera won’t be the correct camera for somebody who likes large-scale photography because the camera would not really be focusing on the subject during extreme close up.

Benefits of Rangefinder Cameras

Rangefinder cameras offer many advantages SLRs. For example:

Rangefinder Cameras Have Higher Image Quality:

Since there is no flipping mirror, lenses can be placed without keeping the back of the lens at a far distance from the image plane. It is done to avoid getting hit by the mirror.

Since there is no flipping mirror, there is surely less vibration to blur hand-held images. At speed of around 1/30 – 1/8, the flipping mirrors of SLRs cameras mostly blur the photos that are clicked using tripods, except if a mirror lock-up is used.

Rangefinder cameras have surely more exact focusing for wide and normal lenses.

Rangefinder Cameras Are Smaller In Size And Lighter:

Rangefinders cameras are smaller and lightweight because there is no additional load of prisms, focus screens, and flipping reflex mirrors.

Rangefinder Cameras Are Quieter:

Rangefinder cameras are quieter because there is no mirror flipping and all you hear is a quiet sound of the shutter.

Superior Wide-Angle Lenses:

It’s easier to get wide, super wide, and super ultra-wide lenses for rangefinder cameras. It’s not important to get lenses as wide as 12mm on full-outline, with basically zero distortion.

Indeed, even the cheapest wide rangefinder lenses, similar to the Voigtländers, are normally excellent. But the absolute best wide zoom SLR lenses like Canon’s latest “16-35mm f/2.8 L II” and Nikon’s “17-35mm f/2.8 AF-S” are just average in comparison.

Rangefinder Camera Viewfinders Do not Blackout:

As SLR mirrors go up to click a photo, their viewfinders go dark for a moment: the moment at which an image is being recorded. They go dark because the mirror covers the viewfinder when it comes up.

Rangefinder cameras’ viewfinders never go dark, so you can see how the subject appears and how the image is being recorded, particularly with flash.

Focus, Compose, and Shoot with Both Eyes Open:

Because your left eye is not blocked by the rest of the camera, you can focus, compose, and shoot with both eyes if you have a daily life-size finder.

Rangefinder Cameras Have No Shutter Lag:

With a rangefinder, it snaps at the exact moment when you push the button. You’ve clicked at the peak moment without losing it.

With A SLR, The Mirror Needs To Move Before The Shutter Can Open:

When the SLR mirror moves, it takes a little time to snap and because of that your peak or desired moment is no more.

In-The-Dark Passive Focusing:

If there is enough light to see, you can focus a rangefinder camera quickly and without needing any irritating AF lights. You will have to simply flip the focus until the two images combine.

Disadvantages of Rangefinder Camera

No One Can Really Tell What You’re Getting:

With rangefinder cameras, your viewfinder is out of the way and sees from a different viewpoint. For normal shots at ordinary distances, this isn’t important. But for long lenses or full-scale use, rangefinders provide you no information about the image that you’re getting.

With a rangefinder camera and a long lens, you’re normally taking a look at just a little point in the locater.

Locater Blockage:

In any event, that your lens is too big, you may see it at the end of your locater. Which keeps you from seeing or capturing the whole image in the way you wanted to capture it.

At the angle when you use an outer locater for an ultra-wide lens. Usually, the lens will obstruct a portion of the image in the locater. A few lenses use different designs in an attempt to work around this.

The smart rangefinder photographer avoids big lenses and prefers lenses little enough not to come in a way of his viewfinder.

No Extra Lenses:

You can get each lens you really need for rangefinder cameras, however, you can’t get extra lenses.  With rangefinders, you just walk a couple of steps ahead or back to get an amazing picture.

Rangefinders Need Consistent Maintenance:

The rangefinder cameras are fragile/delicate mechanical instruments. Indeed, even with the LEICA, regular care and maintenance are required for optimal results.

Poor Focus with Tele Lenses:

Rangefinder cameras measure the distance with the same instruments, paying little attention to lens decisions. This is a huge benefit for wide lenses, but an extreme disadvantage with long lenses.

Focus Just In One Second:

Rangefinder cameras can just focus on a spot at the focal angle of the image.

They can’t focus anywhere else on the edge, so you need to focus and just click. In the event that the subject moves, you will have to focus again.

To counter this, experienced rangefinder users learn by the amount to move the focus switch to overcome the problem.

No Full Scale Or Close Focus:

Rangefinder cameras only focus on closer objects. Indeed, even at this distance, the viewfinder is far enough from the lens. So, you will not get the exact picture that you wanted.

Indeed, you can purchase a lot of good full-scale devices for rangefinder cameras. However, regardless of whether they let you focus closely, you’re still not looking through the lens.


What is better for you depends on what you need to do. You might find the rangefinder a better option due to its superior quality of images at wide-angle. Ideal for nature and travel. Rangefinders are the best choice for capturing objects which are still.


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