Prazisa Optical Rangefinder - Review

Friday, July 08, 2022

I recently acquired a Prazisa optical rangefinder while thrifting in Kamloops, B.C. I had been wanting a rangefinder since acquiring a Leica rangefinder camera (IIIf) with a broken rangefinder. 

This camera could be used in zone focusing mode, but I didn’t have the confidence to do that unless shooting at f/8 to f/16 as my guesstimating of distances is really poor. Using f/8-f/16 would provide significant almost infinite depth of field it doesn’t allow you to isolate the subject and forces you into slower (sometimes blurry) shutter speeds.

I had looked on eBay for an optical rangefinder but didn’t have great confidence in finding one that actually worked, wasn’t foggy/fungus etc. I also wanted one that mounted horizontally on the camera cold shoe and not one that mounted vertically which I thought would attract too much attention when in use (like the Leica Fokos rangefinders).

I had wandered around the whole thrift store 2x. Given the thrift store was in support of our local hospitals  where I work, I was determined to find something to buy. I took a look in the cabinet under the cash register which was full of jewelry and trinkets, and noticed the rangefinder in a box. The two circular windows were staring up at me.

The rangefinder appeared to work. The dual images were really clear and none of the windows seemed foggy or scratched. The distances appeared to work but were hard to test inside a poorly lit store. So I took a chance at CDN $18.

The rangefinder has a dial for focusing. To use it, turn the dial until the two images are aligned and then read of the distance (in feet) on the dial.

To mount the rangefinder on the camera there is a foot that will slide right into a cold shoe flash. However, I noticed that it did not fit another old film camera as the feet seemed too thick. In this case you can carry the rangefinder separately.

A really great feature on this rangefinder is the ability to tune the rangefinder if the distances are no longer working correctly. An instruction sheet was included with he rangefinder explaining how to do this but basically you adjust/reset the rangefinder by turning the screw in the center of the dial.

The styling of the Prazisa rangefinder matches the Leica perfectly and they look like they belong together.

And the rangefinder and viewfinder windows align fairly well making it a seamless process to check focus/distance and then compose. (Note, the horizontal rangefinder does obscure the shutter speed dial which is likely why the Leica Fokos is vertical!).

The Prazisa rangefinder gives me the confidence to shoot at close range (up to 2 feet) and at wider apertures than I might shoot at with zone focusing. If you are in the market for a rangefinder the ability to adjust it yourself means you do not need to worry about the “untested” nature of buying a used rangefinder. As long as the windows are clear and two images can be seen you can reset/adjust it yourself (following the above instructions). I would absolutely recommend the Prazisa rangefinder to anyone needing to replace a broken rangefinder or for a camera that doesn’t have a rangefinder at all.

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