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10-18-2018, 04:07 PM   #1
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Help! I thought about buying a (film) Leica!

Hi All, the title says it all really and it's been the GR's fault. I've recently been trying to thin out my gear and replace it with less (I've got multiple versions of the same focal lengths across different lens series and similarly bodies spanning different series). I've always been interested in Leica's mechanical build quality and figure that servicing will always be available in Europe (at a cost). I was looking for a camera I could throw over my shoulder with a prime attached that I wouldn't have to worry about and the slightly thinner form factor and smaller lenses would help.

I've been carrying and using the GR more and more, and I'm looking for a film equivalent with interchangeable lenses (I have my original GR1s but it's getting a bit old and I'm worried it will start to fail). A new Leica film camera is out of the question, since the M6 they've become more collectors gear than photographers. They've systematically made them harder to shoot and having run out of frivolous things to remove (an easy to use rewind crank - although you can buy an optional one) they've now started deleting distracting stuff like the exposure meter, from the M-A.

The big stumbling block for me has always been the lenses, deciphering what the names mean and trying to find them for any sensible amount of cash. The two lenses I'd really like being the Pentax 43 & Ricoh GR 28 in LTM mounts (both incredibly hard to find). If I had these I'd buy an M6 and be really happy (I think). I started looking at the collapsible lenses (years with a Minox prompted this), the idea of.a more compact lens appealed.

Then the reality of rangefinders struck, vague framing, limited close focussing, limited long lenses, needing a separate finder for off-beat focal lengths, viewfinder magnification (I wear glasses). Whilst sorting my gear I found my M 40/2.8 pancake I'd forgotten I had - this makes the MX almost pocketable, the FA43 Ltd is only slightly bigger without the hood and my LX is as robust as any Leica.

So I've been saved by my the merits of my Pentax gear I'd forgotten about, by Pentax's innovation and off-beat focal lengths. If I want a camera without a meter I'll get my S1a out and pair it with a number of small, compact M42 Takumars...

John.

10-18-2018, 04:41 PM   #2
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Leica mechanical feel is seductive. In the 1960s I went from an H1a to a Canon FT (for the mount and meter), to a Leica M4 because of issues with the Canon. Then I traded in all my Canons towards a Leicaflex SL to go along with the M4. Some years later when the MX came out it became my carry around camera. I later added an LX and some other Leicas, but the Leica M and MX are still my favorites. The MX actually feels much smaller than a Leica M, so use yours and enjoy it!
10-18-2018, 06:12 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnha Quote

Then the reality of rangefinders struck, vague framing, limited close focussing, limited long lenses, needing a separate finder for off-beat focal lengths, viewfinder magnification (I wear glasses). Whilst sorting my gear I found my M 40/2.8 pancake I'd forgotten I had - this makes the MX almost pocketable, the FA43 Ltd is only slightly bigger without the hood and my LX is as robust as any Leica.

John.
This!

If you do BnW only or really can keep to 2 lenses, then maybe consider a M8
The M9 is really still the best digital M that caters to off center sharpness
I'd look at them both for a cheaper digital RF.

IMHO, the Canon ltm (a bit less so the Nikkors ) are good value for money lenses.
Some of the Russian ones are nice too (ie. J3, J8, J9)

Last edited by pinholecam; 10-18-2018 at 06:17 PM.
10-18-2018, 06:52 PM - 1 Like   #4
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I'm actually seriously considering purchasing a Leica M4. This year I have mostly used 35mm rangefinders, and I would love to own and use a Leica M while I can still get out and shoot.
OTOH, my Canon 7 has served very well this year.

10-18-2018, 08:36 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
The MX actually feels much smaller than a Leica M, so use yours and enjoy it!
I think it may well be smaller...at least as far as height and width.

Edit: The MX is 2.5mm narrower and 5mm taller and 50gm lighter.


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 10-18-2018 at 08:50 PM.
10-18-2018, 10:17 PM   #6
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I find rangefinders to be much simpler and less distracting to shoot than SLRís. Iíve thus-far avoided buying an M but only because Iím usually unable to comfortably fund the purchase when I start to get weak. There was a mechanically sound but ugly M2 in my local camera shop for $500 last summer, I donít know if Iíll resist the next time one comes along... especially since he still has the Canon 35mm f1.5 LTM lens there to go with it.
10-19-2018, 04:27 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Swift1 Quote
I'm actually seriously considering purchasing a Leica M4. This year I have mostly used 35mm rangefinders, and I would love to own and use a Leica M while I can still get out and shoot.
This is part of my thinking, maybe I should give it a go and see whether I get that warm fuzzy feeling Leica-philes seem to enjoy?
10-19-2018, 10:00 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnha Quote
This is part of my thinking, maybe I should give it a go and see whether I get that warm fuzzy feeling Leica-philes seem to enjoy?
I have been tempted a couple of times, but have found ownership of a Canon P (very close in size/weight to an M2) to be sufficient defense against that temptation. Mechanical precision and feel are similar to the M2, but with the advantage of conventional film loading and true 1.0x viewfinder magnification. I did make an impulse purchase of a Voigtlander R3M just to get a taste of M-mount, but nice as the V is, I have trouble finding the shutter release (long fingers).* Truth be told, my 1962 FED 2 is more fun and more compact than either.


Steve


* I also have been having trouble justifying the cost of M-mount glass, but that has been balanced by being able to adapt Contax/Kiev mount lenses.


Last edited by stevebrot; 10-19-2018 at 10:44 AM.
10-19-2018, 10:17 AM - 1 Like   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by johnha Quote
This is part of my thinking, maybe I should give it a go and see whether I get that warm fuzzy feeling Leica-philes seem to enjoy?
I think you need to really enjoy using a rangefinder, otherwise a Leica doesn't make sense.
You should get something like a Canon 7 and see how much you like using it. Then you will know if you like the style of camera. I think the Canon 7 is as close to a Leica M there is before paying for a Leica.

QuoteOriginally posted by stevebrot Quote
I have been tempted a couple of times, but have found ownership of a Canon P to be sufficient defense against that temptation. I did make an impulse purchase of a Voigtlander R3M just to get a taste of M-mount, but nice as the V is, I have trouble finding the shutter release (long fingers).* Truth be told, my 1962 FED 2 is more fun and more compact than either.

Steve


* I also have been having trouble justifying the cost of M-mount glass.

It's interesting about the Voigtlander. I have a very nice Bessa R, and the viewfinder alone should make me want to use it more, but I'm just not really inspired to use it much. I very much would rather use my Canon 7 or even my Zorki 4.
10-19-2018, 03:22 PM   #10
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Both the Canon 7 (or 7s) and Canon P have very usable range/viewfinders, but the rangefinders can’t compare to the Leica M for a crisp focus patch. The Zeiss Ikon ZM (made in the early 2000s) has even a better one than Leica. The Voigtlander lenses are economical compared to Leica, and many are great to use, if not quite up to Leica optics. A Leica M2 with a Voigtlander 35 Norton 1.4 is a good way to try the experience.
10-20-2018, 05:16 AM   #11
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I have had and used my vintage (1951) Leica 11f and even older... 50mm Leitz Elmar, collapsible F 3.5 lens since the early 1980s. It's a wonderful combo, small (particularly with the collapsible lens), robust build, fast manual rangefinder focus system. I've always liked it, also like using anyone of my hand held light meters to take readings before activating the very quiet shutter. A lot of times I carry around a small gray card...or mostly not...as regular meter readings from my small collection of Sekonics always work well.

My Leica copy is somewhat beat up, has a small dent, the leatherette on the body is peeling a bit..so cosmetically not much to look at...but all those years ago I got it from a Leica dealer at a fair price and that thing has performed well during it's long life with me.

It's not an 'M', it's a screw mount...but even though it lacks the status of the more sought after M mount, it still in my view...works well like a Leica should.

Maybe an older Leica...not necessarily a screw mount, but an older M without a light meter and than just using a hand held meter....might be something to consider. Don't know if this direction would be less costly, or if less costly is a concern.

But it would be important to try out any camera, before you make the plunge. My enthusiasm for my old Leica RF, may not be transferable to other photographers.
10-23-2018, 07:51 PM   #12
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Thanks for all replies and advice - I liked the look of the ZM but concerned about the electronics, I remember the Voigtlander Bessa's from the early 2000s but stunned by how expensive they are now. Budget is variable for the right camera, but it won't stretch to an M6 and fast/modern Leica lens.

I've had a Zorki 4k before, it was somewhat 'agricultural' in operation, leading me to now suspect something was broken (Youtube videos seem to show them much smoother than I remember). Having done considerable research (OK a fair amount of googling), it seems there are considerable differences of opinion as what counts as a 'proper' Leica and ease of use doesn't seem to be much of a factor (far too much detail to go into here but it makes the 'plastic v metal K1000' or 'KM v K1000 v MX' discussions on here seem trivial!). The lenses too seem to be controversial even relating to which focal lengths are 'acceptable' on your 'proper' Leica (not helped by various bodies not having various frame-lines - or too many!).

Not that I'm looking at digital, but I was surprised of the number of digital bodies with 'new sensor' in the description until I found something related to sensor peeling - not what you'd expect from a $$$$ camera.

The reason for looking was to try the Leica experience to see if it really was as good as described, and to treat myself during a period of strain (stress induced GAS perhaps?). I've been shooting my repaired KX for the first time today - with quality unlike anything else oozing out of it (different to the LX experience in ways I can't really describe). I'm still considering an un-metered Leica of some sort (I still want to try the experience) but I've got another Zorki 4k on the way as I feel I need to give it another chance having slated it since my first experience.

John.
10-24-2018, 05:27 PM   #13
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The Leica M9 did develop a problem with the coating on the very thin sensor cover glass “corroding” and causing spots on images. I used my M9 for seven years, and then saw the first signs of this happening. I sent it to Leica for evaluation, and after a few months got it back with a new, different design sensor, fully serviced and in like new condition, at no charge. This was long after the one year warranty was up, and after many digital devices are considered junkable, so I’m very pleased with how Leica supported their customers.
The free replacement period has now passed, so if you buy a used M9 go for one that has been refurbished with the new design sensor. I’m still using mine.
10-25-2018, 03:03 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by TomB_tx Quote
The Leica M9 did develop a problem with the coating on the very thin sensor cover glass ďcorrodingĒ and causing spots on images. I used my M9 for seven years, and then saw the first signs of this happening. I sent it to Leica for evaluation, and after a few months got it back with a new, different design sensor, fully serviced and in like new condition, at no charge. This was long after the one year warranty was up, and after many digital devices are considered junkable, so Iím very pleased with how Leica supported their customers.
The free replacement period has now passed, so if you buy a used M9 go for one that has been refurbished with the new design sensor. Iím still using mine.
Thanks TomB_tx - good to know it's a new design sensor and not simply a replacement.
10-29-2018, 02:38 PM   #15
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An update, the Zorki 4k has arrived with a Jupiter-8 lens, it's much much smoother than the one I've previously had (there must have been something wrong with that one). All looks good, the rangefinder looks calibrated, the shutter seems OK and the condition looks superb for a 1975 Soviet camera.

Going to give it.a go - still interested in the Leica experience though.

John.
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