First leica RF. I need literature and recommendations.

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Andrey, Feb 29, 2008.

  1. Andrey

    Andrey Member

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    I keep thinking about rangefinders and I think I'd prefer leica instead of bessa, just like I prefer gitzo to manfrotto. In the long run, the classics are worth it. Especially considering how cheap they can go for as compared to new bessas.

    I don't need a meter, but wouldn't mind TTL. Do some bodies have a "pentax spotmatic" kind of meter?

    The shutter MUST BE mechanical. I want it to work without batteries.

    I don't know my preferences in terms of viewfinder magnifications. It will be mainly used with nokton 35/1.2, CV 28/1.9 and 15mm heliar. Basically it must tolerate big fast lenses.

    I also heard the leicas must be overhauled every 10 years because of cloth shutter problems. Is that true? How much does it cost?

    Is there a website which doesn't rant about "the finger falling on the shutter button naturally" and other nontangible qualities, but just compares features of the whole lineup?

    Thanks

    Andrey
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Well if you want TTL, get a Leica M6 TTL.

    If you don't need a meter, get an M4.
     
  3. lns

    lns Member

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    Hi again Andrey. A helpful website is Cameraquest. Click on Classic Camera Profiles. You can spend a long time reading these articles. Among them is a "buying guide" which will give you a lot of information about the features of each camera: http://www.cameraquest.com/mguide.htm

    Cameraquest also sells CV lenses, and so has a lot of helpful information about them, including pictures.

    Andrew Nemeng's site also has a lot of useful information: http://leica.nemeng.com/

    My recommendation would be an M2. Everyone has his or her own personal preferences. I guess I'd say buy whatever model is available in good condition and fitting your price range. Only the later Ms have framelines for the 28mm lens -- I believe that starts with the M4-P, but I may be mistaken. Ms are nice and heavy and should balance a heavy lens well.

    I don't think Leicas need to be overhauled on any set schedule. As for the cost of work, it depends what shape the camera is in, where you send it, and where you are located.

    -Laura
     
  4. Andrey

    Andrey Member

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    This is a very complex topic. LOL Too much research.

    Thank you Laura for the links. I'll go over them.

    This is canada, so the M4 should be relatively easy to get. I'll look around in the stores.
     
  5. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Restricted Access

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    Andrey, before leaping for an M-Series, for your purposes a screwmount (or "Barnack") Leica might be a better choice. They are considerably smaller, and if you are using a wide lens with an auxiliary finder, the M-series' advantages diminish. And the lenses you are considering can be mounted on either body. If you can get to a store that has both in stock, you should handle both before settling on the M-series. You might find that a Leica IIIa or one of its cousins feels better in your hands, and will save you several hundred dollars as well.

    RFXB
     
  6. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    Good thinking, Andrey. Leicas are much more durable than Bessas, they are that rare thing, a legend that actually lives up to its reputation.

    Do some bodies have "Pentax Spotmatic" type metering? Literal answer no, because the Pentax Spotmatic had integrative (non-weighted) whole-field metering. Leica M6 has match-needle spot metering, some like this, I can't see the point apart from compactness, M7 has the extra of aperture-priority auto exposure, which I regard as worthwhile.

    Your preferences will of course determine which viewfinder magnification is ideal, personally I don't find supplementary viewfinders a problem, I have Leica M2 but can't see the full 35 mm frame with my glasses on. I spent a long time working with screw-mount Leicas in my youth, so extra finders don't bug me. Big fast lenses - that's what Leicas are about, any model works well with these.

    A Leica will need an overhaul every 10 years ONLY if used very hard, otherwise it will go 30 to 40 years. Most nice-condition older-model Leicas that you can buy today have been lying around unused for a while and will need a CLA, after which they will probably not need another in your lifetime. The Leica cloth shutter is a very old-fashioned design but is very reliable - I know of no particular problems (aside from needing to take care when changing lenses with older models in bright light - this is partly due simply to the rangefinder camera desgin, with no shielding mirror). Older Leicas might also need to have rangefinder prisms re-silvered, otherwise they can be hard to focus.

    Is there a website with comparisons? Very probably, but the Leica Pocket book is not expensive and gives valuable info:
    http://www.dvd.co.uk/Books/Leica-Pocket-Book/1874707340/product.htm?fs=froogle

    Regards,

    David
     
  7. Andrey

    Andrey Member

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    It seems I can't go with screwmount.

    I'm counting on getting the CV nokton eventually, and it wouldn't fit a screwmount camera.

    What are the reasons for going with M2 instead of M4?
     
  8. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    It's just a personal preference on his part. And the fact that you can get an M2 for less $$$. The main differences are: the rapid loading system and angled rewind knob on the M4.
    The M2 uses the somewhat less convenient(IMO) rewind knob that has no lever and you need to pull the film spool out to load film into the camera. Oh, and the frame counter has to be manually reset. Just turn the dial!
    They share the framelines unless the camera has been modified. 35/50/90/135.
    The M cameras that have the 28mm lines also have the .58X viewfinder which means a shorter base RF = less accurate focusing. Higher magnification=more accurate focus......But, with the wideangle lenses you can use hyperfocal focus & not worry about it.
    Just as an aside, I wouldn't worry about size & weight of fast lenses on the rangefinders The size & weight difference you can judge just from a couple of spec sheets. The Leicas lenses are going to be smaller for a comparative f stop but the materials in the Leica lenses will be heavier. Lotsa brass, no plastic/motors.
    You can use the screwmount lenses by means of a relatively inexpensive adapter
     
  9. lns

    lns Member

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    John Koehrer pretty much sums it up. I much prefer the rewind knob of the M2 to the angled crank rewind of the M4. Some prefer the crank. The M2 has only three framelines, all separate -- 35mm, 50mm and 90mm -- which to me is ideal. The M4 adds a 135 frameline, which to me is useless. YMMV. The M4 tends to be more money. I don't mind the M2's loading system; I find that it takes a little more time, but loads perfectly the first time, so it evens out for me in the end.

    I really think, at the risk of repeating myself, that they are all good. You can't go wrong with any of them. Find one that you can examine, that is in acceptable condition and goes for a reasonable price. Or buy from a very reputable place like KEH that grades the cameras fairly and takes returns.

    One tiny correction to what someone above said: Leicas with .72 viewfinders do have 28mm framelines. I have seen them in the M6, the M7 and the MP. I believe the M4-P also had a 28mm frameline.

    -Laura
     
  10. raizans

    raizans Member

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    since you want to use 28mm and 35mm lenses, i would recommend a .58x m6 ttl. it's the best viewfinder for those lenses.
     
  11. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    A keyword search for Leica at http://www.abebooks.com/ lead to almost 4000 books and magazines on the subject. The older items won't give you the information you desire, but there are plenty of newer books at low prices to start your Leica reference library.
     
  12. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    Here's my story and I'm sticking to it:

    1. 0.72 mag. viewfinder & 28mm lens: The whole viewfinder is a 28mm field of view. The 28mm framelines aren't required. I have two otherwise indentical bodies, one with & one without the 28mm framelines. I use the 28mm M-Hexanon lens on either body. No worries.
    2. Uncapped lenses can cause burn holes in cloth shutters.
    3. Given a choice between bodies with recent CLAs and bodies without, go for the one with the recent CLA. Said another way: Figure $300 into the price of a body for a CLA.
    4. Pentax Spotmatic Metering: The best combination of meter and shutter and ergonomics and build quality, hence the best camera from a shooting standpoint, in the M line belong to the M5. The only function in the body that requires a battery is the meter.
    5. LTM lenses can be used on M bodies. Not sure if that was covered above.

    YMMV.
     
  13. Andrey

    Andrey Member

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    But I don't want a reference library. I want a cheap ugly camera that lasts. :D
     
  14. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    M5. I've seen them sell for under $600 with a recent CLA.
     
  15. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    and Evryone knows the M5 is Tres Ugly!
     
  16. Andrey

    Andrey Member

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    Yes, I don't want that one. Even for a user. Only if the price is really right.
     
  17. Venchka

    Venchka Member

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    That thinking keeps the price reasonable for those who appreciate the M5. :smile:
     
  18. davela

    davela Subscriber

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    Actually, although I own a variety of Leica's, I suggest a Bessa R as a first interchangeable lens rangefinder. For about $200 used it's a damn straight foward, powerful little film camera and less expensive than most Leica bodies. It has first rate brightline finders too and it's a piece of cake to load and use. It's also lightweight and holds it's resale value very well (especially since they recently stopped making it!).

    I've found the best Voigtlander dealer is Photo Village in New York (great customer service and the best prices).