Any thoughts on Leica R?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by David H. Bebbington, Dec 10, 2006.

  1. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Having used Nikon and Pentax 35 mm SLRs for 40 years (starting way back in the 1960s when Pentax was regarded as a professional brand), I have been increasingly tempted by Leica R cameras (I am already very familiar with Leica M) and have just bought a Leica R3 and 50 mm Summicron (for £200, allegedly in beautiful condition), which will arrive in a couple of days. I have tried to brief myself on the different models though the "Leica Collectors' Guide" but would be interested in APUGers' opinions on the cameras in general, favorite models, etc. I plan initially to use the 50 Summicron plus some of my Tamron lenses, may buy other genuine Leica lenses later.

    Regards,

    David
     
  2. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    Given the prices they now fetch used, there is nothing to loose. I now use an R4 and have been very pleased with it and am planning to add an R7 soon. I find the newer R8 & 9 a bit too brick like, but the old body shape is good. I have been an OM user since the late 1970s and always saw Leica as a distant dream. I usually use three cameras at once as I have to do almost everything on B&W, col neg and col slide, and the price of 3 R's was just out of the question until now. On the usual sour grapes principle I had thus always persuaded myself that Leica was mostly hype, but I am now working towards making the switch. The OM glass is superb, but Leica glass really is better and the bodies are not that much bigger to lug about. They also have a lot less shutter/mirror shock, so I find that I can hold them for a stop slower shutter speed. My only reservation is that they don't have the metering sophistication of the OM-4, but on the other hand they do have shutter priority auto which is a great plus for my aerial work.

    David.
     
  3. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Thanks for the feedback. Has your R4 needed a lot of servicing, for example replacement of light seals, adjustment of metering, etc.?

    Regards,

    David
     
  4. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    The lens makes the image so get Leica glass as soon as possible. Dump the Tamron lenses. They are like putting bicycle wheels on a Formula One race car.
     
  5. clogz

    clogz Subscriber

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    The R4 dates back some 25 years ago and the light seals may start to crumble etc. Don't forget the one around the film window! www.kameradoktor.de has ready-made seals for the Leica IIRC.

    Hans
     
  6. tbm

    tbm Member

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    I started out over 10 years ago with an R4, then progressed slightly to an R7. I disliked the top sections of both, finding accessing the dials diffiicult. When the R8 was released, I tested handling it and immediately found it to be a substantial upgrade from the earlier R cameras because the layout of the dials is substantially easy to reach and operate, even with my eye against the viewfinder window. I've been using it ever since, and I find it to be the most ergonomically usable SLR out there! And the lenses are phenomenal!

    Terry
     
  7. mmcclellan

    mmcclellan Subscriber

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    I bought an R6 several years ago because it was the only R available that was fully mechanical -- no batteries needed to use all shutter speeds. Since I never use an in-camera meter, I wanted a fully mechanical camera. I use it exclusively with the 28 and 35mm shift lenses and could not be happier with the whole kit. Loaded with Pan F or Efke 25, I can shoot precisely and make 11x14s that are virtually indistinguishable from same-sized prints made from 4x5 negs. The R6 is a wonderful camera and will never be an expensive paperweight for lack of a $2 battery. :smile:
     
  8. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi David,

    My first Leica R camera was an R4S purchased in 1984. I promptly had Leica USA upgrade the camera to as close as possible to the R4SP. My second R Leica was the R3 MOT. This was a larger camera based on the larger Minolta chasis rather than the smaller chasis of the XD11 for the R4-R7 cameras. For a while, Leica had a program advertising the R3 that had fallen from a mid or almost mid Air collision with some military US planes when the the camera fell thousands of feet in as I recall the Mohave Desert. The camera was recovered with some damage but still was functioning.

    Personnally, I never liked the R3 MOT nearly as much as my modified R4S, my R4SP, or R7. If I were you, I would stay away from the R4/R4 MOT cameras. Leica had some problems with the electronics. They introduced the R4 and R4SP as simpler cameras without the problems. Mary Forcher, the well known camera repairman designed the +/- aperture adjustment switch used on the R4SP - R7 camera bodies. If you want a small basic manual focus auto exposure camera definitely consider the R4SP. I still have this camera which is my backup for usage for those instances when I need long exposure without batteries. The camera will work at 1/100 and B without batteries. It is a small camera about the size of an M camera.

    If you want a straight manual manual focus consider the Leica R 6/6.2. These cameras will work in manual even without battery though the meter will not function without batteries.

    If you want an auto camera with TTL for flash I would consider the R7 rather than the R5. The R7 has a more advanced metering and TTL flash system. If I need a small light camera (not as small as the R4SP) with a lot of automatic features this is the camera that I carry). The camera has a pre release for the mirror lock which uses a separate cable or special plunger. As I recall the release has to be reset for each exposure. I like this camera very much but it is a paper weight without batteries (including those of a motor or winder).

    If you want current or almost current consider the R8 (or R9). This is my favorite of all of the Leica R series cameras. It is considerably larger and heavier than the R4-R7 cameras and made in Germany rather than the R4-R7 cameras which were made in Portugal. The camera has real heft but balances much better and handles better with the motor winder. The view finder is very bright with a tremendous amount of information about exposure and even the frame number. The R8 and R9 have true mirror lock ups. The R9 is about an ounce lighter than the R8. The R8 camera is a delight to use.:smile: The camera is a paper weight without battery operation. Also, if you see digital in the future, the R8 and R9 backs can be removed and the Digital Module R can be used instead of film.

    Rich
     
  9. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    None at all so far. When I got it the light seals looked to have been newly replaced. In the shop the frame counter was skipping numbers and was fixed before I paid for it. Since then it has had very heavy use, often with the motor drive and has behaved perfectly. The meter seems bang on in all modes. My only issue with the camera is that it is a bit too easy to change shutter speed and/or exposure mode accidentally. However, I suspect that this would not effect most people. I only suffer because I am using it in a very cramped aircraft cockpit at the same time as two other cameras and they tend to bump into each other from time to time and so can change each other's settings.

    p.s. I'd like to echo whoever pointed out the mirror pre-fire facility on the R7 (and 6).

    David.
     
  10. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Thanks for the feedback - it looks as if, all being well, I shall just need to send the camera in for a seal replacement (if not done already) and a general CLA. I shall certainly be keeping the Tamron lenses, they are great, particularly at current prices, and give me the opportunity to try a different camera system for the price of a body plus a couple of adapters. Also. they provide me with extreme focal lengths - I am sure a Leica 15 or 18 mm lens has the edge on a Tamron, but at 15 times the price (£1500 versus £100second-hand)I sure can't afford to have an 18 mm for Nikon AND Leica AND Pentax. Same goes for the 70 -> 210 zoom and the 500 mm mirror lens - nice to have but not worth paying thousands for!

    It seems to be a quirk of fate (or a camera collector whim) that Leica R cameras are valued so low - for what I paid for the R3 plus lens (£200), I could almost afford to dump the body, a dealer price for the lens would be £225 to £300, but I feel confident it will be OK with a CLA.

    As there are so many Leica R experts here, one more question. I did have the impression that 3-cam lenses fit the Leica R3 onwards and would be damaged if put on a Leicaflex/Leicaflex SL/Leicaflex SL2, but some dealers seem to be suggesting that 3-cam lenses fit everything. Is this right? It doesn't sound right!

    Regards to all and thanks once again,

    David
     
  11. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    There are a number of places that have info on 1, 2, 3, R-only, and ROM Leica R lenses and compatibility with bodies. Karen Nakamura has a nicely laid out explanation and compatibility table here: http://www.photoethnography.com/ClassicCameras/Lens-R.html

    There are other sites that will have more thorough information on specific lenses, but this page is a clearly stated primer. Quick answer: 3 cam lenses will work well with all Leica reflex bodies.

    Lee
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2006
  12. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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  13. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 12, 2006
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  15. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Must be either a special edition convertible lens or else come with one of these: http://www.cameraquest.com/adpSLRRF.htm
    or one of these: http://www.cameraquest.com/adaptslrRFM.htm
    :smile:
    Then again, maybe Bill from Ockham was right and the simplest answer, confusion or lack of familiarity, is the correct assessment.

    Lee
     
  16. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Lee,

    Now you have me confused. The lens on eBay looks like a standard 3 cammed or rommed Leica R 50mm 1.4 Summilux.

    Rich
     
  17. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I'm sure it is - the problem is that lower in the listing it's described as being for Leica rangefinder!

    Regards,

    David
     
  18. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Sorry David,

    I just didn't read the description, but recognized the lens. :confused: :sad:

    Rich
     
  19. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    There are several things that sets Leica cameras ahead of Nikon:
    manual film rewinding
    sound from inside the cameras and feel while rewinding
    sound of hit of rewinding laver on way back
    sound of the shutter movement
    ability to use Leica lenses
    confidence it gives to user

    Are they really ahead???????
    I think that somehow Nikon F6 (or even F2as) coupled with F1.4/85 AF Nikkor, or some more good lenses form Nikon or Zeiss is nothing behind.

    many say LeicaflexII is still the choice No.1. I think personally that R6.2 is better choice (it is also no battery camera). Leica R8 is actually my first choice when consider all Leica qualities from above, in spite it is dead without battery (last 2-3 years).

    Again, the biggest R Leica quality is that it uses Leica lenses. Today (in Euro-) lens manufacturers cannot use lead any more. It also sets ???? on new Leica lenses and also why Zeiss make lenses for Nikon in Japan. Leica make a try to design new lenses as aspherical (as replacement for lead) but I never could see "photo-good" aspherical lens. Also today Leica set of lens-designers (worst ever in Leica history) are far behind Nikon's engineers which also got good design history from behind. So Leica quality today is REALLY big question. Shortly, I would say Leica today do not worth even and fraction of the price you will pay for a new stuff.
    If you still like them go with old lenses but take care not every Leica lens will fit every Leica camera.
    www.Leica-R.com
     
  20. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Sorry. Maybe I should have been clearer. I was just following up on David's having pointed out the seller's obvious confusion with a somewhat informational "joke" about getting the lens on the body for which it was (wrongly) listed.

    Ask my kids if I'm sometimes obtuse.

    Lee
     
  21. ehparis

    ehparis Member

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    I started using Leicas with the R3. Both R3s I had always worked famously. I had five or six Leitz lenses and the world was good.

    Then I foolishly "upgraded" to R4s. I wound up going through three all of which had electronics problems. I believe they were the Portugal models. Would that I had never switched from the reliable R3.

    I gave up on Leica out of frustration with all the R4 problems. Sold my lenses and every thing Leica that I owned and switched to Nikon. Have never looked back although some of those photos taken with Leitz glass were the best things I've ever done.

    Yes, am very sour on Leica. I think most would be if they had three expensive bodies like the R4 all completely fail (electronics didn't work at all) and Leitz USA couldn't seem to keep them repaired.
     
  22. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I think I feel rather pleased that I just bought an R3! Sorry to hear about your troubles - if it makes you feel any better, I had 12 years of being disgusted with Leica after Leica UK charged me £400 to service an M3, insisted on replacing the shutter curtains, which were really OK, did not replace the rangefinder prisms, which were very dull, and sent it back in a state in which the shutter locked solid after 2 frames. It went back twice, did not return fully fixed, after a short while I sold the camera and all lenses (3) because the rangefinder was too dim to focus. It's only just now that I feel I need a Summicron (possibly several) in my life again!

    Regards,

    David
     
  23. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    I'm not sure what the point is of buying into Leica, but not the lenses. Ultimately the camera itself is just a light proof box. The glass is what really matters.

    David.
     
  24. hka

    hka Member

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    I bought an R3 body and an R3-Mot body in 1974 and I use them very often without any problem. After so many years the lighttraps at the back's are gone and replaced by Leica in Solms. No problem at all. Great camera and great lenses. Good choice. Congratulation and have fun...
     
  25. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Essentially I agree with you - whatever camera I have, I try to have 50, 24 and 35 prime OEM lenses. At the same time, when I get the (rare) urge to try another system, it's useful to dip a toe in without having to buy 3 or 4 lenses immediately - and as for extreme lenses, as I said, a £100 Tamron 17 mm that I can use on all three systems makes a whole lot more financial sense than a £1500 Leica lens which fits only one system. But again I agree with you - I do feel that Leica Summicron lenses in particular have a unique quality. Interestingly, though, I have noticed with the R3 (which I have now received) that the mirror slap is more subdued than any other 35 SLR I have ever used.

    Another question to Leica R users - my R3 seems to have led an easy life - it looks almost new and operates very smoothly. There seems to be a consensus that it's a good idea to have the door seals changed, maybe I should have the shutter tested at the same time. The question is, do I say that a 30-year-old camera is bound to need servicing, and have this done, or do I say if it ain't broke, don't fix it?

    Regards,

    David
     
  26. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The mirror on the R3 is driven by a cam, and decelerates at the top of the cycle so that it doesn't strike the top of the mirror chamber with much momentum at all. The body is also massive enough that it dampens the mirror strike and doesn't feel like it shakes the body much. I've made 1/8 second handheld shots with the R3 and a 24mm lens in which you can count threads in t-shirts and even have a respectable handheld 1/4 second shot or two. The R3 also has very little shutter lag for an SLR.

    I don't know who would service your camera, and have heard the occasional unflattering remark about official Leica servicing in the UK over the years, but I have no personal experience in that regard. There must be someone here with recommendations along those lines, so I'll leave it to more experienced people to comment on getting shutter speeds tested/adjusted.

    Lee