If you're looking for a different shooting experience than your traditional prism DSLR or electronic viewfinder of your mirrorless camera, perhaps a rangefinder can be just the thing to get your creative photography inspiration going.
A rangefinder is an unapologetically vintage shooting experience: that involves a manual focusing method that utilizes multiple lenses. While it takes some mastering to start with, and getting to know which frame lines are what, once you're used to it, there really is nothing like it, and can in fact increase your success rate while out shooting.
Best rangefinder cameras of 2022
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Fujifilm's original X100 was the camera that sparked people's obsession with Fujifilm's retro-styled modern cameras. Five models later, the Fujifilm X100V (opens in new tab) is still a very popular choice for those who want a premium rangefinder camera without the faff of changing lenses. With a street-friendly fixed lens equivalent to 35mm, it makes it the perfect camera for street photographers or portrait photographers alike.
It has the same exceptional build quality as all Fujifilm cameras in a small, pocketable version. It has the same 26.1MP X-Trans sensor as the X-T4 and the same hybrid viewfinder as in the X-Pro 3. The X100V is an advanced, APS-C fixed lens camera and is certainly aimed at enthusiasts, but its slick design and up-to-date features don't come cheap.
Read our full Fujifilm X100V review (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Styled on a classic rangefinder camera but featuring the latest digital technology, it's aimed at people who want a retro camera with modern features. The X-Pro 3 includes the latest 26.1MP X-Trans sensor, improved autofocus, and a unique screen design. Instead of having a screen that always shows an image, it has a screen that folds flat against the body and uses a small digital screen that imitates film packet slots on the back of film cameras.
The hybrid electrical/optical viewfinder makes it stand out from other Fujifilm cameras as it offers a fully electronic mode, an optical mode with electronic overlays, and a digital rangefinder mode. The Fujifilm X-Pro 3 comes in black, Dura black, or Dura silver. The Dura models come with a surface-hardening technology called Duratect which is applied to achieve strong scratch resistance so it will look brand new for longer. Released in 2019, the Fujifilm X-Pro3 has retained its high price point, otherwise, it might appear higher in the list. This is certainly a camera that you would buy if you're looking for something a little more specialist.
Read our full Fujifilm x-Pro 3 review (opens in new tab)
The Leica M11 is one of the most technologically advanced rangefinders ever made. Leica is the king of the rangefinders, and it is not messed with its traditional M-range formula here – has added lots of smart tweaks and features. The triple-resolution full-frame sensor is a real standout, letting you shoot at 60MP, 36MP, or 18MP, all of which use the sensor's full width. This is great for speeding up your workflow with smaller filesizes, and shooting at 18MP also gives you the advantage of an unlimited burst buffer.
The M11 makes use of a new electronic shutter that gives users the option of a 1/16,000sec shutter speed. It does away with the bottom base plate, giving easier access to the battery and SD card. And in another neat touch, the camera also has 64GB of internal storage, making it easy to record simultaneous copies of your images. Leica has beefed up the battery and added USB-C charging; what's more, if you can afford a little extra on top of the considerable price tag, you can add a new Visoflex 2 electronic viewfinder to augment the rangefinder experience. Designed in conjunction with the M11, it has a 90-degree tilt function.
Read our full Leica M11 review (opens in new tab)
This is where you need to pay attention. This is NOT the previous Leica M Monochrom (Typ 246) with 24 million pixels, but a brand new model with 40 million pixels in what Leica describes as the best black and white sensor it's ever made. Yes, that's right, it's a digital camera that shoots only in black and white.
It's not as mad as it sounds, because it's only by removing the color filter array used universally in front of digital sensors that you can get the camera to record black and white at its best possible quality (the color filter array restricted photosites to single colors which means much of the image data has to be interpolated during processing). This is why a black and white Leica comes so high on this list, and because Leicas have been traditionally associated with classic black and white photography. Of course, you pay A LOT to get this level of quality. And yes, of course, we want one.
Read our full Leica M10 Monochrom review (opens in new tab)
While digital cameras are all the rage now, film cameras were around first and coming back into fashion. Many film cameras have to be bought secondhand nowadays, but Leica is still producing new 35mm-format rangefinders to add to the choice.(opens in new tab)
Leica M rangefinders will always be controversial. To some they're overpriced, overhyped throwbacks to an era that's long gone. To others, they're beautifully made classics of engineering that have reached a plateau of perfection. The M rangefinders take a bit of getting used to. Rangefinder focusing is fast and precise in the right hands but takes some learning, while the pain of paying for an M-A body is only the start because Leica lenses are equally expensive. But if you like your film photography to be stripped back to its basics, the M-A will oblige. You'll need to work out the exposure yourself, you'll need to apply the settings yourself and you'll need to focus yourself, but for Leica M fans that's what it means to be a photographer.
Read our full Leica M-A Review (opens in new tab)
The Mamiya 7 II, and the almost identical older Mamiya 7, are highly sought-after rangefinder film cameras on the second-hand market. Renowned for their astonishingly sharp glass, exceptional build quality, and producing stunning 6x7 film negatives, these really are cameras for the film connoisseur who wants a rangefinder system. However, due to their highly-praised status within the film community unfortunately the Mamiya 7 and 7 II have seen incredible price inflation over the years. Are they worth it? Totally, but it will certainly cost you!
If you like the idea of this all-in-one rangefinder system but are looking at spending a little less, the lesser-own and unpopular (but still ever-so-good) Mamiya 6 keeps the rangefinder design but produced a 6x6 square negative.(opens in new tab)
The M6 can produce some fantastic results in 35mm film, and it has been a fan favorite for some time and has a rather cult following in the film community, so much so that Leica reissued this iconic camera (opens in new tab) with a modern twist of brass top and bottle plates and an improved lightmeter, so whether you want the brand new version or the old one, you will still have to pay a hefty price to get one.
This is only the start because Leica lenses are equally expensive. But if you like your film photography to be stripped back to its basics, the M6 will oblige. You'll need to apply the settings yourself and you'll need to focus yourself, but for Leica M fans that's what it means to be a photographer.
Note: While the new Leica M6 can be brought directly from Leica, it is yet to make its way to other retailers such as B&H or Wex, therefore we have provided links to eBay where you can purchase the original for the time being if you simply cannot wait for the new M6 to hit the shelves of your favorite retailers.(opens in new tab)
If you're wanting a great rangefinder experience, while having the chance to shoot the biggest medium format film negative of 6x9, then the Fuji GW690 is the perfect camera for you.
You get fewer exposures (usually 8) on a roll due to the fact it shoots 6x9 images, but the extra-large negatives and transparencies give tremendous detail to your work. This camera can only be found on the second-hand market, but the GW690 is a no-frills fixed-lens manual exposure rangefinder camera that offers huge images in a comparatively portable package - something it is also known as the 'Texas Leica' due to its large size and rangefinder focusing, but the images are truly unique.
How does a rangefinder work?
The focusing mechanism of a rangefinder camera is incredibly different from anything else on the market, it allows the photographer to measure the subject distance and take photographs that are in sharp focus, with little effort once mastered. Most varieties of rangefinders show two images of the same subject, one of which moves when you move the focus ring on your lens; when the two images coincide and fuse into one your subject is in focus and your images will be pin-sharp.
Most rangefinders display a set of framelines, which match certain lens focal lengths with spacing around each frameline so you can correctly comprise your image and see what is going on around your framing, and who or what will walk within it, this handy feature makes rangefinders the perfect solution for those looking to get into street photography as you can quickly compose an image, while still seeing that is going on around the frameline.
However, there is one very important thing to remember when using a rangefinder camera, especially if you are using a film camera from Leica or an older Mamiya, for example, is that the focusing screen on the rangefinder is separate from that of your lens, therefore you judge your focus through a viewing window, and as such need to make sure your lens cover is off, else you will end up shooting a whole roll of film with your lens cap still on, and therefore destroying your film and your mood for the day - trust from someone that knows! However, if you're using a modern digital camera from the likes of Fujifilm you will notice instantly, and your day will not be ruined, but it's always worth double checking your lens cap is off and safely in your pocket before shooting any rangefinder.
However, once you have gotten over this little caveat, the rangefinder camera is the perfect tool for street photography, landscapes, portraits, and everything else in between - there is a reason why they are still made today, and have a very loyal fan base, below you will find the best rangefinder cameras, both new and old, digital to film, and from high-end to high-mileage, covering everyone's budget.