Are you looking for Non Leica digital rangefinders as an alternative? you are in the right place. Even tough this is one of the rarest camera types, there are a few options and even more if you decide not to be too stiff in your definition. Let’s dig right in…
What are digital rangefinder cameras?
Rangefinder cameras are a type of cameras where the focusing mechanism is a rangefinder. You put your eye in the viewfinder and you see the frame, in the center there is a small rectangle with split images. In order to focus, you twist your lens so that the two images in the rectangle align. Here’s what you see inside the viewfinder:
This is in sharp contrast with DSLRs where your eye sees what the lens sees. In a rangefinder camera you will see the whole scene sharp, only the small rectangle will be an indicator that you are out of focus. If you look at the image above everything seems in focus but the antennas are a sign that if you shoot, the scene will be out of focus.
Benefits of rangefinders
Besides having some of the best looking cameras, rangefinder cameras have two advantages over the other types of cameras like DSLRs and Twin Lens reflex cameras. First, because they lack a mirror, these cameras tend to be smaller and more compact than the other types.
Second and more importantly, your face is covered by camera. Consider a DSLR, the viewfinder is on top and sometimes you have your nose literally touching on the screen. The rangefinders having the viewfinder completely on the left means that your right eye can comfortably look inside it, and having your face free of the camera.
Here’s an example, notice how much one side of the face is left free:
That might sound like an ergonomic issue only, but with rangefinders, your left eye is free to be open and look for your next image. It takes some getting used to but by shooting with both eyes open, you not only get to see what’s in the frame but also what’s around it.
While there’s been a slew of film rangefinders (Particularly the Bessa cameras), the digital revolution has not been kind to rangefinders, here are your options as Non Leica digital rangefinders. Also check out the list of M mount alternatives.
5 Best Non Leica digital rangefinders
As you can see in the list of the best non Leica digital rangefinders above, there is no direct alternative to Leica digital M cameras. You can get your hands on lower priced Ms, but there are no full frame equivalent from any company right now. So all of the options below will be all APSC sensors and many are not truly rangefinders, but rangefinder-like.
The only non Leica digital rangefinder made today
|Reasons to buy||Cons|
|✔️ APSC sensor|
✔️ Native M mount
✔️ Real rangefinder
✔️ Simple interface
🛑 Smartphone dependent
🛑 Not readily available
The Pixii is the ONLY non Leica digital rangefinder available today. So it has the to get the top spot. First things first this is a real rangefinder with rangefinder mechanism and framelines for 28mm, 35mm, 40mm and 50mm. It’s sleek and modern. It has no screen for review, is made to be connected with a phone and has no card interface.
It’s almost the anti-Leica because it is so tech/digital oriented. All of your settings are on a to OLED screen and if you want to transfer you will need an app or a cable to your computer. The internal memory is only 4GB and at 12 megapixels that is around 200 shots.
If you’ve never hear of Pixii, there’s a good reason, they are not a big brand name, and you can only get them directly from their official site. The price is about half a Leica M body, and the sensor is APSC but comes with useful modern features like USB charging and again it is one beautiful camera. This is the only viable non Leica digital rangefinder you can buy today.
2. Epson RD1S
The best Non Leica digital rangefinder of yesterday
|Reasons to buy||Cons|
|✔️ One of the most beautiful cameras ever made|
✔️ Analogue gauges
✔️ That crank
✔️ Beautiful CCD look
|🛑 Prone to dead pixels|
🛑 Only used /out of parts
The Epson RD1 and RD1s are one of the best looking cameras ever made. They are built on a Bessa body, take M mount lenses, can flip the screen and have those cool dials to indicate how many shots you have left. Don’t let me start talking about that little crank!
Just like a film camera after you shoot, you need to crank the shutter for it to work for the next shot. It does do something mechanically so it is not purely decoration, and it is one of the details that make this camera so unique.
The top has two gas gauges that indicate your battery level and the amount of shots you have left. With the screen turned inside you completely forget that this is a digital camera. It’s an APSC sensor and has a look to the images due to the CCD sensor, a bit like the M9. There’s something organic to the tones that makes it special.
But here’s the problem, these cameras are OLD, they are only 6 megapixels they suffer from a lot of dead pixels, and the rangefinder mechanism is prone to misalignment. Also…Epson have stopped servicing them. There’s no camera like it if you want to deal with it’s quirks and the ultimate non Leica digital rangefinder.    
3. Fuji X-pro 3
The best non Leica digital rangefinder (that is technically a hybrid)
|Reasons to buy||Cons|
|✔️ Hot looks|
✔️ Even better focusing mechanism than rangefinder
✔️ Flip screen
✔️ External controls
|🛑 APSC sensor|
🛑 Not true rangefinder
If you are looking for a REAL non Leica digital rangefinder there’s only two choices: The Pixii and the Epson RD1s. If you do not really care that a camera has a real rangefinder mechanism or not, the the Fuji X-Pro 3 is the ultimate rangefinder-like camera.
While rangefinders have the most stunning looks, they come with a few downsides. They can get out of alignment and if your camera doesn’t have the correct frame lines you will have to use an eternal viewfinder. The Fuji X-pro 3 is a marvel of engineering because it has a hybrid viewfinder that is a stunning piece of technology.
Put it in optical mode and you are right at home with automatic framelines and the rangefinder patch. Pull the little lever in front and immediately you have an electronic viewfinder. Since the screen is by default hidden and you can control the camera from the outisde with the shutter speed and ISO dial, this is as close you can ever get to shooting a Leica without breaking the bank.
The cheapest non Leica digital rangefinder (-like)
|Reasons to buy||Cons|
|✔️ Stunning design|
✔️ Screen turns on itself
|🛑 Not a rangefinder at all|
🛑 2x Crop factor
Last on our list of the best Non Leica digital rangefinder is the Olympus PEN F. Let’s get something out of the way first, this is not a rangefinder at all. Unlike the Fuji this is a digital viewfinder and is a pure mirroless camera.
If you can get past this fact, this is one of the best cameras you can get that is stunningly beautiful and holds like a rangefinder. Unlike a rangefinder a lot of the lenses don’t have an aperture ring and the shutter speed dial on this is digital. If you adapt M lenses on it, the huge 2x crop factor means even your wide lenses like 21mm become 42mm.
So it is better to use native lenses for this. On the plus side, both the Pen F body and the lenses are very affordable and the size makes it a lot to love. Leica also partnered with Panasonic to make a few mu43 lenses and these are stunning when coupled with a PEN F. Price check here.    
You don’t have many options when it comes to non Leica digital rangefinders. This is because ONLY Leica makes full frame digital rangefinders, other brands only dabble in digital rangefinders and are APSC. Besides the old Epson RD1s, your only “real” alternative is the Pixii camera.
If you don’t mind that it’s not a “real” rangefinder, the X-pro 3 cameras will fit the bill nicely and offers you the option of digital and optical viewfinder when you need it, something real rangefinders can’t do. And if all you care about is the looks, the PEN F is one heck of a beautiful rangefinder style camera and a light price tag too. Happy shooting.