How Does a Rangefinder Work

Wondering How Does a Rangefinder Work?

Are you trying to locate or detect an object, especially from a place where it would be difficult to spot? Well, a rangefinder is all that you need. The device helps a lot when doing several activities, such as when taking photos and when shooting.

Many people, however, do not understand how this product works. It is against this backdrop that I am going to take you through it works.

The article shall have a range of insights about the topic, as well as a look into some FAQs. Please read through it for more information.

What is a rangefinder camera?

It is a camera that mounts to the rangefinder. The device helps the photographer to measure the distance of the object and to take the photographs that are in sharp focus.

Most of the professional camera people use this product to capture some of the best photos for their albums.

A split image rangefinder can best accommodate the rangefinder camera. However, any other type of rangefinder can still take it.

In some instances, however rare, you can use it when shooting. It can guide the shooter to the target, and hence making accurate shots.

What are the various types of rangefinders?

There are various types of rangefinders. However, all of them serve the same purpose. They might work differently, but all are excellent at measuring the distance and bringing the object to a sharp focus.

Some of the common types of rangefinders by way of technology include:

  • Optical rangefinders.
  • Laser rangefinders.
  • Radar technology rangefinders.
  • Sonar rangefinder.
  • Lidar technology rangefinder.

Apart from that, you can also identify them by how they function. The classification here include:

  • Forestry rangefinders.
  • Golf rangefinder.
  • Photography rangefinder.
  • Hunting rangefinder.
  • Ballistic rangefinder.

To understand how a rangefinder works, we are going to look at each one of them individually.

» Optical rangefinders.

The users of this optical product are the hunters and the golfers. The product is the cheapest of them all, and hence several people use it.

How does this product work?

It has monocular devices that incorporate built-in scales. The product also comes with a pre-loaded conversion chart that you can use to convert data about distance. The last part is the eyepiece that measures the height of the pin.

The finder has two lenses at the opposite ends that focus on the target object. On the control is a focusing knob that creates overlays of the same image on each other. The reading output from the knob is not confusing because it has a scale that reads the distance.

When you are using the camera, you will need to hold the camera steadily. There will be a high chance of losing accuracy if you fail to do so.

» Laser rangefinders.

They are simple to operate, and it uses laser light to initiate its function. The finder beams the laser towards the target when you put it to action.

How does it work?

It has an autofocus camera that projects an invisible laser light to the target. When the light hits it, it reflects the camera. The camera has a sensor in it that detects the reflection.

The camera also is a computer chip that interprets the returning signal to calculate the distance of the target. After that calculation, the next step automatically initiates.

The process repeats itself until when you finish all your field activities.

Laser light travels at high speed, and hence it should not take you long to get the results from the interpretation. In several cases, the result is accurate and very reliable.

» Radar technology rangefinders.

The rangefinder deploys the same technology as that of the aviation industry. Radar beams cover a wide area as compared to other rangefinders. This technology is best for dealing with larger objects such as buildings, planes, etc.

The radar sends out laser light with a pulse of the radio signal towards the target. The light detects and hits it. It then bounces back for interpretation. Radar light travels at a very high speed so that the finder can read the time and the distance if the objects/targets.

» Sonar rangefinder.

It uses the same principle as that of the radar technology, but they are not as common as other laser finders. Sonar is best when you use it for deep-sea fishing.

It uses sound pulse and time for sound waves. The signal travels at the speed of sound. When it arrives back from the target, it reads and displays the distance and location of the same.

» Lidar technology rangefinder.

Lidar works similarly to the radar. However, it more expensive than radar because it can focus even on the tiniest objects.

Lidar works on a larger scale than radar. It releases light pulses targeting a wide area and on a range of objects. The efficiency of this product, however, is lower because of the area it covers.

» Forestry rangefinders.

As the name suggests, this product is mainly for use in deep forests or forestry purposes.

How does it work?

It uses the anti-leaf features that enable the user to spot the target with a lot of ease, even in a dense forest. The finder can calculate and determine the height of the trees. It also calculates the volume and the distance between the device and the target.

The product comes in a range of versions, and hence you will have a wide selection.

» Golf rangefinder.

The product can project to the target with a lot of precision. You can count on the golf rangefinder to hit the target. When you use it, you will get the actual reading about the location and the distance of the target.

There are two types of this product, namely: the laser golf range finder and the GPS range finder, all of which perform the same work.

» Photography rangefinder.

It is mainly for use when doing photography. The finder lets the user cope with the distance to find the target and to develop high-quality photos.

How does it work?

It has different types of cameras that play different roles, such as focusing, which helps to regulate the distance between the target object and the camera. The focusing function also allows the user to get the desired focus.

The finder allows one to standardize the wheels and the camera so that they can get the best shot. It can process two images at once, but the finder will select the best amongst the two, with the precise focus and clarity.

» Hunting rangefinder.

The rangefinder is not necessarily for taking photos but for hunting, as the name suggests. You can use it differently depending on the target that you are shooting.

How does the rangefinder work?

The forest can sometimes be very dense such that hunting can be impossible. You may, therefore, need a powerful, high-quality rangefinder for hunting. The principle applies if you are using a riffle for the expedition.

When you are using a bow, the rangefinder will have an angle compensation. That is because it is compact and lightweight.

If you are participating in a shooting competition, there will also be rangefinders that best suit that purpose.

The hunting rangefinders support a lot of activities, and hence you can always choose what best suits your needs.

» Ballistic rangefinder.

It is ideal for the high-range shooting. The rangefinder helps one to get and aim at the long distant targets. It comes in two ranges, namely: firearm technology and laser technology.

How does this rangefinder work?

Whenever it detects the target, it displays so in the readings. It does so by emitting visible light. The rangefinder can spot a target as far as one thousand and five hundred yards away. It is, therefore, ideal for long-range shooting and training.

In most military exercises, this is the rangefinder that they use. The use of this product can also extend to the throwing of ballistic weapons such as the missiles.

In times of distress, such as that of an attack, a ballistic rangefinder would be so ideal for use.

How does an optical rangefinder work?

They deploy the principle of parallax that is a form of triangulation. It has two lenses at the opposite ends of the rangefinder, and both focus on the object.

The whole process is as shown initially in this article,

How does a laser rangefinder work?

It commonly operates on the principle of time of flight. The finder sends a laser pulse in a narrow beam towards the target. It then measures the time that the pulse takes to hit the object and to reflect from the target and back to the original sender.

How does a rangefinder camera work?

A rangefinder camera does not require you to look through the lens. The camera has a window on the top right where the finder will peep through.

On the other hand, the rangefinder looks out through the window on the left side of the camera. The finder triangulates as you turn the focus ring. It then brings two or more images into correlation at a perfect focus.

The rangefinder camera does not function just like any other camera, rather it is meant for clear images.


A rangefinder is useful in several ways. First, it can be for taking photos or even for aiming at a target. Different types of rangefinders have different functions. You will, therefore, select the one that suits your needs. The activity that you intend to do will determine the finder to use.

It is worth noting that some can be accurate, and some might not be so accurate. You will have to make a choice wisely!

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