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10-25-2015, 06:40 PM   #1
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Leica M-P Rangefinder + 28mm-my bucket list

In addition to my Pentax SLR/DSLR equipment, I've also had a Leica 11f Rangefinder (35mm) and a Leitz Elmar 50mm collapsible lens for nigh on 30 + years.

My Leica body is a 1952 and the lens is older than that. No matter, this camera and lens combo still works well. All controls are silky smooth and the images are very sharp.

On my bucket list is a digital Leica M series, full frame rangefinder, with a Leitz manufactured 28mm...either an F 2 or F 2.8.

Pricey, no doubt about it. But still a new Leica rangefinder mit 28mm lens is the first thing I would buy, if I won the lottery. I'm sure it would be as satisfying to own and use as my ancient film Leica.

Are there any other Leica fans and/or owners out there ? If so, what is your dream Leica/lens ?

If you have a Leica, what do you like/not like about it ?

10-26-2015, 08:41 AM   #2
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I went looking to bottom feed on a used M9. It is still not very cheap to get a used body with that old 2009 sensor technology. But you can get one at around 1/4 of it's original price in bargain condition. And Leica has extended replacing the sensor to second-hand owners now if it needs it due its sensor corrosion problem. I find it still takes a good enough picture, technically, even if the DR and ISO is not up to today's standard. And most the M-mount lenses are so small, compact and easy to carry.

I still shoot a mechanical medium format film cameras and one is a rangefinder. The M9 shoots a lot like it. And that is one reason why I got it. It is my small mirrorless when I'm shooting in the "Goldilocks zone" of photography (eg not too dark, not too fast, not too wide/long of a lens, etc). I can always reach for one of my more modern digital cameras if I need to. But so far I'm liking the camera for what it is and its my platform for exploring M-mount lenses.
10-26-2015, 09:57 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by tuco Quote
I went looking to bottom feed on a used M9. It is still not very cheap to get a used body with that old 2009 sensor technology. But you can get one at around 1/4 of it's original price in bargain condition. And Leica has extended replacing the sensor to second-hand owners now if it needs it due its sensor corrosion problem. I find it still takes a good enough picture, technically, even if the DR and ISO is not up to today's standard. And most the M-mount lenses are so small, compact and easy to carry.

I've thought of that. I think it's a good idea. I bought my old film Leica+ lens in used condition, back in '81. I've used them fairly regularly over the years, without having to do anything in terms of repairs. Cosmetically they are not great, but mechanically they seem to work well. I wouldn't mind coming across a digital Leica/lens in good used condition, for a reasonable price.

As far as ISO goes , my old Pentax K10D's ISO performance pales in comparison to what my more modern K5 can do. But I find with my K10D, using between 100 to 400...the photographs are close to the equivalent of my K5. Any higher ISO of course, not so much. But I would be satisfied if ISO performance was good between 100-160 to 400-640...say.


I still shoot a mechanical medium format film cameras and one is a rangefinder. The M9 shoots a lot like it. And that is one reason why I got it. It is my small mirrorless when I'm shooting in the "Goldilocks zone" of photography (eg not too dark, not too fast, not too wide/long of a lens, etc). I can always reach for one of my more modern digital cameras if I need to. But so far I'm liking the camera for what it is and its my platform for exploring M-mount lenses.
I have a Mamiya TLR medium format (film) that I've used since the mid '80's. I have three lenses...normal 80, wide angle 55, telephoto 180. I also have an old Zeiss Ikon, Super Ikonta B that uses rangefinder focus. ....and of course my old Leica RF...so I enjoy the rangefinder focus, particularly my old Leica.

I see a older Leica digital rangefinder with a wide angle lens, such as a 28mm...f 2 or f 2.8 as a pretty good combo for outside pix.

Thank you for your thoughts. Gives me something to mull over, about a used digital Leica.

Les
10-26-2015, 10:54 AM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
I have a Mamiya TLR medium format (film) that I've used since the mid '80's. I have three lenses...normal 80, wide angle 55, telephoto 180. I also have an old Zeiss Ikon, Super Ikonta B that uses rangefinder focus. ....and of course my old Leica RF...so I enjoy the rangefinder focus, particularly my old Leica.

I see a older Leica digital rangefinder with a wide angle lens, such as a 28mm...f 2 or f 2.8 as a pretty good combo for outside pix.

Thank you for your thoughts. Gives me something to mull over, about a used digital Leica.

Les
I have the Zeiss 25/2 ZM. It is a pretty nice lens. And you can get by shooting it without a external viewfinder knowing you have a little extra beyond the camera's full view that you see. But if you really need to see actual frame lines, you'll have to get an external one.

10-28-2015, 04:53 AM   #5
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I've used Leicas for 50 years, and now have M2,3,4,5,6 in film and M9 for digital. I also have and use the older III, IIIc, IIIf, and IIIg, as well as a few of their SLRs, and a CL (Compact Leica from the 70s) They all share a solid, precision feel that makes using them a joy. The M models are my favorites due to the great viewfinders. You can't go wrong with any of them, so a choice comes down to metering, and what focal length lenses (due to finder differences). The RF advantage is best for lenses 28 through 75, while 90 is fine for either RF or SLR. M6 and later have finders supporting 28 to 135. M3 supported 50, 90, and 135 (and special 35 with optical goggles).
If you want an internal light meter, it's on M5 and up, and also on the Leica-Minolta CL. All are center-weighted or semi-spot metering. The M7 adds auto exposure.
The current MP is essentially an M6 with M3 styling and tweaks to the rangefinder.
Lens choices are even harder, with so many different 28, 35, and 50 models, besides good choices from Zeiss, Voightlander and others.
The M9 digital is as close to shooting film as you can get, but with digital convenience. While it doesn't have super high ISO, the fast 35 & 50 lenses and good steady technique make it fine for indoor use as well. The M9 with a good 35 is a great combination, as the RF lets you nail focus, and the images can hold quality when cropped significantly.
10-29-2015, 07:28 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
I've used Leicas for 50 years, and now have M2,3,4,5,6 in film and M9 for digital. I also have and use the older III, IIIc, IIIf, and IIIg, as well as a few of their SLRs, and a CL (Compact Leica from the 70s) They all share a solid, precision feel that makes using them a joy. The M models are my favorites due to the great viewfinders. You can't go wrong with any of them, so a choice comes down to metering, and what focal length lenses (due to finder differences). The RF advantage is best for lenses 28 through 75, while 90 is fine for either RF or SLR. M6 and later have finders supporting 28 to 135. M3 supported 50, 90, and 135 (and special 35 with optical goggles).
If you want an internal light meter, it's on M5 and up, and also on the Leica-Minolta CL. All are center-weighted or semi-spot metering. The M7 adds auto exposure.
The current MP is essentially an M6 with M3 styling and tweaks to the rangefinder.
Lens choices are even harder, with so many different 28, 35, and 50 models, besides good choices from Zeiss, Voightlander and others.
The M9 digital is as close to shooting film as you can get, but with digital convenience. While it doesn't have super high ISO, the fast 35 & 50 lenses and good steady technique make it fine for indoor use as well. The M9 with a good 35 is a great combination, as the RF lets you nail focus, and the images can hold quality when cropped significantly.
Tom thank you for the detailed and excellent post. On my old llf I've only had my 50mm collapsible F 3.5 Elmar. Which has been fine, but as I use mostly wide angle lenses with my Pentax equipment, if I were ever to get a modern digital Leica RF, it's likely that I would only have one lens and given that, I would want a wide angle lens.

Much of my photography is vintage vehicles, landscapes and small social events with family, friends. Some photography is outside, some indoors. Flash -indoors- is also a consideration, although I do like available light photography.

Which 28mm lens would you recommend with an M9 ? Two I'm thinking about are the Summicron F 2.0 or Elamarit F 2.8 ? Other than the F stop, do you prefer one of these lenses, over the other ?

You mention 35mm, which of course on a full frame would be actually 35mm. I have an old Leica brochure from the '80's and Leica calls the 35 the reporter's lens. I know the Leica RF and the 35mm are regarded as a natural combo. What is your opinion on the 35mm lens as a good, general purpose lens over a 28mm ? Or do you lean towards a 28mm focal length as a good, general all rounder ?

Thanks again Tom for your input.

Les
10-29-2015, 09:47 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
... Or do you lean towards a 28mm focal length as a good, general all rounder ?

Les
That question is the same for any small format camera and not necessarily limited to a M9. Everyone's mileage will vary.

10-29-2015, 02:55 PM   #8
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Tuco is right, but I think there is a greater choice in 35mm lenses for the M9 than in 28. I don't use a 28 with my M9, as I have 35 and don't find a 28 that much different. (So I jumped to 21mm) However, both the Summicron ASPH and Elmarit ASPH 28s are incredible lenses. You never go wrong with a Summicron, if your budget allows. Zeiss also has a great 28 2.8, and the Voigtlander 28 2.0 is a less expensive option.
For 35 mm I used a 1968 Summicron for decades, but on the M9 it's a bit soft wide open. I have a Zeiss 35 f2.0 that is great, but larger than I like. So now I use a Leica Summarit 35 f2.5, which is at least as good as the Zeiss, and for low light a Voigtlander 35 f1.4, which is better than my old Summicron at 2.8 and wider. That Voigtlander is a nice small lens, solidly built, and inexpensive (as lenses for Leica go), but has some focus shift as stopped down, and isn't as sharp as the Zeiss or Summarit. It is nice to have 1.4 for low light, as the M9 isn't made for high ISO.
Of course, the Leica 35 Summilux ASPH f1.4 is a great all-round lens for the M9, but I couldn't bring myself to spend that much on one lens.
Any of the above could be fine, if you just use and enjoy it and don't read too many internet opinions!
10-29-2015, 05:17 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
Which 28mm lens would you recommend with an M9 ? Two I'm thinking about are the Summicron F 2.0 or Elamarit F 2.8 ? Other than the F stop, do you prefer one of these lenses, over the other ?

You mention 35mm, which of course on a full frame would be actually 35mm. I have an old Leica brochure from the '80's and Leica calls the 35 the reporter's lens. I know the Leica RF and the 35mm are regarded as a natural combo. What is your opinion on the 35mm lens as a good, general purpose lens over a 28mm ? Or do you lean towards a 28mm focal length as a good, general all rounder ?
Personally I love 28mm (probably my favourite focal length), but it isn't for everyone. I kind of look at it like this (generalising of course):

- 50mm: telling a story about a subject.
- 35mm: telling a story about a subject in space.
- 28mm: telling a story about interaction between multiple subjects and multiple spaces.

28mm is tricky because if you aren't paying attention you will often end up with a lot of dead space in the frame and a flat looking image - it forces you to think about more elements. Likewise, due to perspective distortion it's easy to end up with some strange effects in your shots ('stretched' heads and falling buildings for instance), although keep in mind that these effects can be used artistically. A common mistake is using 28mm to 'fit it all in'.

But, when you nail it, its awesome

VM 28mm f2 Ultron on an M2 with 400TX



In terms of good 28mm options. I have the Voigtlander and it's great for the money. The Zeiss 28/f2.8 Biogon is also fantastic and a decent price.

The Leica 28/f2 Summicron is a legend, but it will block a decent chunk of your viewfinder. From all reports the 28/f2.8 Elmarit is as good or better at all shared apertures, as well as considerably cheaper and tiny. That would be my pick if I had the funds.

Last edited by nickthetasmaniac; 11-09-2015 at 01:05 AM.
10-29-2015, 08:49 PM   #10
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Good summery, Nick. I only have 3 M-mounts to date. Some recent posts from each from the following:

Voigtländer Nokton 50mm f1.5

I didn't quite get the dogs face in the better part of this focus but maybe better luck next time.




Zeiss 35/2 ZM -




Zeiss 25/2.8 ZM

10-31-2015, 12:23 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
Are there any other Leica fans and/or owners out there ?

Not exactly at the moment, but I have a suspicion that I might want to be. The timing of your post is very interesting indeed, as it has just been within the past week that I've cruised over the internet looking for Leica cameras and lenses, rangefinders, and the like. I think the thing that brought me to this is a curiosity about rangefinders. I have to admit that there seems to be an entire photographic universe that I'm unfamiliar with and I'm not sure how to "get in". In fact, I'm pretty sure I don't even know what I want and why exactly I'm looking at Leica stuff, except that the intrigue has set in, in a substantial way. I need a Leica primer and a rangefinder primer.
10-31-2015, 01:08 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by GlennG Quote
Not exactly at the moment, but I have a suspicion that I might want to be. The timing of your post is very interesting indeed, as it has just been within the past week that I've cruised over the internet looking for Leica cameras and lenses, rangefinders, and the like. I think the thing that brought me to this is a curiosity about rangefinders. I have to admit that there seems to be an entire photographic universe that I'm unfamiliar with and I'm not sure how to "get in". In fact, I'm pretty sure I don't even know what I want and why exactly I'm looking at Leica stuff, except that the intrigue has set in, in a substantial way. I need a Leica primer and a rangefinder primer.
First time I used a Leica Rangefinder...about 35 years ago... was my old Leica 11f....I marveled at how easy it was to nail the focus. Hard to explain...except you use the focus 'lever' on my Leitz Elmar lens, till the subject in the rangefinder is clear. The image is unclear till you move the lens focusing ring (via lever) and then when the lens is focused...two images become one. Bingo !

I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm about things Leica, but the stuff is extremely expensive, not available in many places for you to try and I have to admit a bit of an acquired taste.

I like them, even though if I'm honest with myself, I realize in my heart of heart, the images the Leica produces is not any better than my K-5 and Pentax 40mm Limited lens and of course, the Pentax is a modern DSLR with more high ISO range, more lenses, etc.

But having said that, I know how you feel. There is something about my beat up old Leica llf, that is hard to describe and no other camera has....and whatever that is, I don't know.

I would suggest if you have an opportunity...try a Leica Rangefinder first. See if you can live with it's quirks, it's old fashioned procedures . Becoming a Leica owner is an expensive club to join, albeit an exclusive club.

All I can say is that I do like my 63 year old 11f....Leica screw mount and all.

---------- Post added 10-31-15 at 03:09 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
Tuco is right, but I think there is a greater choice in 35mm lenses for the M9 than in 28. I don't use a 28 with my M9, as I have 35 and don't find a 28 that much different. (So I jumped to 21mm) However, both the Summicron ASPH and Elmarit ASPH 28s are incredible lenses. You never go wrong with a Summicron, if your budget allows. Zeiss also has a great 28 2.8, and the Voigtlander 28 2.0 is a less expensive option.
For 35 mm I used a 1968 Summicron for decades, but on the M9 it's a bit soft wide open. I have a Zeiss 35 f2.0 that is great, but larger than I like. So now I use a Leica Summarit 35 f2.5, which is at least as good as the Zeiss, and for low light a Voigtlander 35 f1.4, which is better than my old Summicron at 2.8 and wider. That Voigtlander is a nice small lens, solidly built, and inexpensive (as lenses for Leica go), but has some focus shift as stopped down, and isn't as sharp as the Zeiss or Summarit. It is nice to have 1.4 for low light, as the M9 isn't made for high ISO.
Of course, the Leica 35 Summilux ASPH f1.4 is a great all-round lens for the M9, but I couldn't bring myself to spend that much on one lens.
Any of the above could be fine, if you just use and enjoy it and don't read too many internet opinions!
Thanks Tom for your observations. Experience from another is an important factor when it comes to decision making.

---------- Post added 10-31-15 at 03:11 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by nickthetasmaniac Quote
Personally I love 28mm (probably my favourite focal length), but it isn't for everyone. I kind of look at it like this (generalising of course):

- 50mm: telling a story about a subject.
- 35mm: telling a story about a subject in space.
- 28mm: telling a story about interaction between multiple subjects and multiple spaces.

28mm is tricky because if you aren't paying attention you will often end up with a lot of dead space in the frame and a flat looking image - it forces you to think about more elements. Likewise, due to perspective distortion it's easy to end up with some strange effects in your shots ('stretched' heads and falling buildings for instance), although keep in mind that these effects can be used artistically. A common mistake is using 28mm to 'fit it all in'.

But, when you nail it, its awesome

VM 28mm f2 Ultron on an M2 with 400TX



In terms of good 28mm options. I have the Voigtlander and it's great for the money. The Zeiss 28/f2.8 Biogon is also fantastic and a decent price.

The Leica 28/f2 Summicron is a legend, but it will block a decent chunk of your viewfinder. From all reports the 28/f2.8 Elmarit is as good or better at all shared apertures, as well as considerably cheaper and tiny. That would be my pick if I had the funds.
Some good points Nick. You're right a wide angle...ie; 28mm can be a bit too wide. A 35 might be the great compromise and a good one, for a general all purpose lens.

---------- Post added 10-31-15 at 03:14 PM ----------

Tuco, thanks for the commentary and the pix. Also made me think about Zeiss . I've always been impressed with this glass. Have it on my ancient lineage, Zeiss Super Ikonta B, rangefinder folder.
10-31-2015, 01:53 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by lesmore49 Quote
First time I used a Leica Rangefinder...about 35 years ago... was my old Leica 11f....I marveled at how easy it was to nail the focus. Hard to explain...except you use the focus 'lever' on my Leitz Elmar lens, till the subject in the rangefinder is clear. The image is unclear till you move the lens focusing ring (via lever) and then when the lens is focused...two images become one. Bingo ! I don't want to dampen your enthusiasm about things Leica, but the stuff is extremely expensive, not available in many places for you to try and I have to admit a bit of an acquired taste.

Thanks, and I'm certainly aware of the Leica cost. The Yashica Electro 35 series is very cheap, so I thought of just getting one of those to try out rangefinders. What I don't know is about the lens mounts - are they all the same, or does each camera have its own mount? I guess one could use an adapter, since its all manual operation anyway. I really like the idea of manually focusing and nailing it. However, I felt that with my old Pentax ME, with M 50 f/1.4 and the split screen - I feel like I could hit the focus every time with that also. Somehow, that is a very satisfying feeling to me, being in complete control of focus. From what I've read about rangefinders they will allow you to focus precisely every time. That, plus no moving mirror, and lenses that are actually pretty good across the board will produce very sharp results. (Or so I'm led to believe.)
10-31-2015, 02:37 PM   #14
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My bucket list camera

No interest in a digital, but I do hope to own a Leica 35mm rangefinder camera one day,
preferably an M2 made in 1961 ( the year of my birth) without self-timer.

Chris
10-31-2015, 11:00 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by GlennG Quote
Thanks, and I'm certainly aware of the Leica cost. The Yashica Electro 35 series is very cheap, so I thought of just getting one of those to try out rangefinders. What I don't know is about the lens mounts - are they all the same, or does each camera have its own mount? I guess one could use an adapter, since its all manual operation anyway. I really like the idea of manually focusing and nailing it. However, I felt that with my old Pentax ME, with M 50 f/1.4 and the split screen - I feel like I could hit the focus every time with that also. Somehow, that is a very satisfying feeling to me, being in complete control of focus. From what I've read about rangefinders they will allow you to focus precisely every time. That, plus no moving mirror, and lenses that are actually pretty good across the board will produce very sharp results. (Or so I'm led to believe.)
The risk of trying one of the cheap rangefinders is that it might turn you off the whole experience - the difference between a good RF and a bad RF is massive.

There's a few different rangefinder mounts that have been used over the years - some of the more common ones:

- M (Leica bayonet) - used by Leica since the 1950'2 (M3). Also used by Voigtlander, Carl Zeiss, Minolta, Konica for various film bodies, and Epson, for a discontinued digital RF (RD1). Heaps of lenses available, with Leica, Zeiss and Voigtlander still making them and a massive back catalogue of legacy stuff.

- LTM/M39 (Leica thread-mount) - the earlier mount used by Leica. Also used by Voigtlander briefly and Canon (I think?). Quite a few lenses available and easily adapted to M-mount.

- S (Nikon) - Used for Nikon for some great 35mm rangefinders. There's some really good Nikkor lenses available, and Voigtlander made some S-lenses as well. I think some Zeiss Contax lenses can be used as well.

- G (Contax) - An electronic mount with AF. Excellent Zeiss lenses but they need significant modifications to work on M-mount.
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