How are the Leica LTM viewfinders?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by puketronic, Nov 22, 2012.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I'm entertaining the idea of getting a IIIc/IIIf in the future for a compact RF solution.

    I have a Leica M but sometimes it is too large/heavy. Overall, I love M.
    I have a Kodak Retina IIIc but the ergonomics aren't that great. I don't mind the squinty viewfinder but sometimes it is hard for me to focus and it also flares. I don't think any folder will be beter.
    I had a Canon bottom loader for a short while and it was OK. I found myself using the high magnification to focus then low magnification to compose. Overall I think Leica's divorced RF/VF is better than Canon's combined RF/VF.
    I thought about a CL, but Leica LTM's are just that much cooler.

    I understand that it is squinty and without framelines, but I do not mind this particular aspect.

    1. Does the viewfinder flare?
    2. Is the viewfinder tinted?
    3. Any experience focusing in low light?
     
  2. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    It's squinty. Very. Night and day to the M finders (I have the M2). Flare? Who knows? Maybe, too squinty to tell. I wear glasses and its enough that I can see the patch to focus and get a general idea of composition. But I love the feel and the handling of my IIIA so I put up with it. I believe later ones might have better finders. But if the finder is that important to you it might be best to stick with the M and its extra weight.
     
  3. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    You may find the multi-view viewfinder a better bet. I think the Leica code is VIDOM it covers 35mm, 50mm 90mm and 125mm in a rotating turret. There is also a Russian version which I have used and it is quite a good substitute and about 1/2 the price.
     
  4. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    Migh be true. I don't wear glasses but from reading my thread it does sound like the finder is all too important. Staying M is probably a better bet. A IIIg would probably be nice but doesn't really gain much, if anything, over an M.
     
  5. jochen

    jochen Member

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    Every Leica LTM Viewfinder with the exemption of the II /III g,which are very expensive, is of no great value compared to a M viewfinder. It has no parallax correction, the looking window is really very tiny and cannot be used with glasses. You have no RF in the viewfinder and have to look into a separate very window. The base length of the RF is smaller than that of a M, therefore it is not so exact. The universal viewfinders are in fact wide angle viewfinders with variable masks fot the longer focal lengths, they give a left-right interchanged picture. The screw Leica is much louder and has more vibration than a M. The loading is even more tricky as you have to cut the beginning of the film to the old Leica form and the body has no opening door. With a III c you have no flash sync, with the III f you have to use special contact numbers with 1/25 or 1/30 sec or longer. Many old screw Leicas have problems with varying and sometimes lacking spaces between the negatives. The separate accessory viewfinders for only one focal length are much better, but with each lens change you also have to change the viewfinder and sometimes you will loose one (some 100 - 150 $).
     
  6. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    I suppose they are 'squinty' compared with an M viewfinder. But in their day the LTM was a revelation, which suggests it is what you are used to that makes them squinty. Give yourself time and it wouldn't seem to bad. I can see the full 50mm frame wearing my glasses, and it is easy to focus in the other window of my IIIF. What I don't like, and where the modern era has spoiled me, is the time it takes to load film. Not a problem at home or a relaxed day out, but annoying if you are missing things happening in front of you.

    Steve
     
  7. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    1. Everything from I to IIIf does not flare. The VF and RF are separate and there is low chance for flare. In most M cameras the unified VF/RF is the flare source, due to its complex nature.
    2. No, at least not on mine or the other example I have handled, repaired etc. etc.
    3. Yes, focusing is excellent, especially the IIIx generation.


    M magnification 0.92x, 0.85x, 0.72x or 0.58x vs III/IIIx magnification 1.5x.
    What You gain with base length in M, then is lost due to the lower magnification needed for unified VF/RF.

    Barnacks got 2 springs that need tension, that's all.
    It is a bit more complex in later Barnacks (IIIc/f/g) but generally they are more silent and kick less than M.

    The overall best Leica shutter is in IIIc K - "Kugellager" double ball bearing shutter, cold proofed.
    Some wartime IIIc "red curtain" or regular got these shutters too.

    LTM or M shutters always travels with the same, constant speed across the frame, only the spacing/slit between the 1st and 2nd curtain changes. That speed is ~ X sync speed: 1/60.

    In Leica M3 the shutter was made more complex - more vibration sources, and generally easier to be placed "out of tune" than I,II,III,IIIx.
    Have You ever seen any M doing crescent shaped "exposure" on the left hand side of the negative on high speeds, despite the additional adjustment options?
    What about M3 DS shutter brake that causes shutter bouncing? Yeah, it was fixed in M3 SS and later M...
    In M3 was introduced individual "high-speed cam" adjustment for 1/1000 - wanna bet it "kicks" more than I,II,III,IIIx and its still not real 1/1000?

    Later on M got "individual" speeds adjustments - not a source of silence or less kick or bounce either.
    M7 introduced electronically "self adjusting" shutter that kicks the most of the M pack...
    Still in M7, 1/1000 is more like 1/750 but the good news is that its relatively constant and not much dependent on the 4 seasons temp, RH changes.

    The cloth shutter works best and reliable (~20%) up to 1/500 that's why early Barnacks got max 1/500.
    Leica did 1/1000 to compete with Contax but it was a proven failure for the cloth shutter.
    Any "central" leaf shutter works much more precise, reliable, even at ridiculously low temperatures up to 1/500 and is way ahead than any focal plane shutter for that mater, if we care to go there and You get all speeds to sync.


    Barnack's Leica is real pocketable/compact camera system, capable of excellent results and the most important page from the 35mm camera/photo history, everything else is just to fill in the space and satisfy different tastes.

    Next stop is medium or larger formats.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 23, 2012
  8. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    I inherited a IIIf from my father with 50/3.5 Elmar and 35/3.5 Summaron, accompanied by a no-name Albada finder for the 50mm. The Albada gives a life-size view that lets you keep both eyes open. Great for shooting moving subjects.
     
  9. macrorie

    macrorie Member

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    I think the real issue with the Barnack viewfinders is not that they are "squinty" but that most kinds of lens hoods intrude into the viewfinder image for 50mm. That alone favors the use of auxiliary finders. I have not seen 50mm finders with parallax corrections, but there are many 35mm and 90mm finders that have a crude but effective manual correction in the form of levers that will tilt the finder for closer ranges. I really enjoy shooting with a IIIf, but the Barnacks definitely require slower shooting than more advanced cameras. The exception to this may be using wide angle lenses with much depth of field, and print film with lots of latitude for imprecise light settings, so you can virtually skip the focusing and metering steps.
     
  10. Spicy

    Spicy Member

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    Have a IIIc and love it, but you really have to be in the mood to shoot it (I don't choose it very often, but every once in a while when I really want to focus, or want to restore my appreciation in how far even classic mechanical cameras have advanced).

    The RF is great if you get a good one. I got mine CLA'd by Youxin Ye shortly after I got it, and he installed a new Japanese-sourced beamsplitter. The contrast increase makes it super quick/easy to focus (since it's 1.5x). The shutter is quiet, but not as quiet as my M4-P. The need to trim the film leader is really annoying (one of the reasons I seldom take it out), and the relatively low-tech viewfinder is 50mm lens only with no framelines.

    If you find one in good condition, or even if you get a user and have it CLA'd they're tremendously fun cameras if you simply accept that everything about using it will take roughly 1.5x as long as with an M camera (focus, loading, framing, rewinding, etc). Sometimes that's just what you need, though.

    They make great platforms for pocketable cameras with a collapsible 50 (either Elmar 3.5 or Russian copies, which are just as good optically if you find a good copy (though that's the hard part)). Another way to use them is for wide-angle LTM lenses (the CV ones are excellent and not so expensive) and hyperfocaling (negates need for slow focusing), if you put an accessory viewfinder on it (negates any problems with tiny VF window framing).
     
  11. Yashinoff

    Yashinoff Member

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    The viewfinders are squinty. If they weren't, camera makers wouldn't have made them larger to fix this problem. :wink:
    The LTM Leicas are to rangefinders what the Exaktas are to SLRs. Historically important and finely made sure -but clumsy in use. You have to deal with all of their archaic idiosyncrasies when shooting. Can you make excellent photos with them? Certainly. You can also make excellent photos with lots of other cameras with less fuss though. The primary reason to use them so far as I can see is simply for the experience.
     
  12. xxloverxx

    xxloverxx Member

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    Squinty, yes, but very clean (no framelines or meter displays). And you get used to it – I had no problem with my Zorki C's viewfinder until I got a Vitoret, which was my first 1:1 VF.

    If you're in the mood to use it, it can be a great experience (rather like using a box camera) – if you're in a rush, you'll start fumbling unless you're really practised with the system.
     
  13. georg16nik

    georg16nik Member

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    LTM viewfinders are squitny because the "modern" photographer developed squinty eyesight himself.
    The problem is always the camera, never the photographer, he is always the perfect creator and the camera could always be better. :wink:
    As a result we've seen more crap shots from Leica M than from Leica LTM.
    So, for big crap You need bigger viewfinder, parallax corrected..and easy film loading :D
     
  14. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    +1
     
  15. Yashinoff

    Yashinoff Member

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    No you need a large format camera.