I'd like a Leica but ...

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by hughitb, Feb 28, 2009.

  1. hughitb

    hughitb Member

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    ... I probably can't afford one. Or can I? I need some advice here ...

    I have a notion to try and get me a nice 35mm rangefinder. As a stick-in-your-pocket and carry everywhere thing. I mostly shoot medium format but I feel an urge to go back and do some 35mm and maybe get the more spontaneous kind of shots that occur unexpectedly on the street.

    I'd like to get something compact with a wide lens, a low aperture and a built-in light meter. I don't think I really need more than one lens but the one lens would have to be good quality as I do care about sharpness and so on. After that I'm not too fussy about anything else ... I'll buy used, no problem.

    I have about 500 dollars from the sale of a lens recently and I also have a Bronica RF645 and a Fuji 6x9 GW690 both of which I might be willing to sell or trade to fund or part-fund this if necessary (I have a Mamiya 7 so I don't reckon I need either of those cameras any more).

    So, if I was going to try and get a Leica, which one would suit my needs and how much would it be likely to cost? Or should I be looking a Bessa's or other sorts of rangefinders instead?

    I do want something good - life's too short to me messing about with crap cameras.
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    You might just get a Leica M3 for $500, and possibly a Leicameter, but there may be no lense :D

    Any M series Leica's good if it's been properly serviced, and if you sold the Fuji or Bronica you could get a body, meter & 35mm f2 Summicron if you shopped around.

    Ian
     
  3. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    I'm not sure a nice M3 is do-able for $500, and it definitely won't have a lens. Also, will an M series fit in a pocket? A III would, barely.

    Dan
     
  4. hughitb

    hughitb Member

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    M3 bodies on ffordess.co.uk for £339 which is $569 so you are both (kindof) right :smile:

    They also have a 50mm f2 Summicron for £329 so that is all do-able if I manage to sell one of the other two cameras ... I would prefer a wider lens though

    I am gonna ask some dumb questions now ..

    1. Do the M cameras have built-in meters? If not, is this leicameter an external hand-held one or some sort of attachment?

    2. What's the deal with R cameras? Are they SLRs or rangefinders?
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    An M3 with a Summicron fits my pocket :D but a collapsible Summicron would be better.

    The decent III an f or g would be more than an M3, I have a great IIIa with flash synch (added after WWII) but it's not exactly what the OP's after. A good M3, without a lens, is definitely doable for around $500 in the UK/Ireland if you know where to look.

    Ian
     
  6. walter23

    walter23 Subscriber

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    For the same price, or less, you can pick up a Zeiss Super Ikonta B - a medium format rangefinder that shoots 6x6.... just a thought :smile:

    Not to mention the 6x6 Voigtländer Bessa...
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    No M3's take a separate meter that couples to the shutter speed dial, so you read of the aperture. The M5's, 6's & 7's have built in meters but they fetch far higher prices.

    The R series are SLR's.

    Ian
     
  8. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    For what it is worth, I tried Leica and didn't like it all that much. It was a great camera and I may buy one some day again. I found that the camera (M6) was only a bit smaller than an OM1 and a whole lot more expensive....and neither was all that small. For $500, you might be able to get a Leica CL which is definitely smaller than another M camera.....or a Canon 7 or Canon P. You could also consider, though, I'd get one of the better 70's era rangefinders and get it overhauled. That way you have a pretty amazing lens and a small camera that is a pleasure to use. Take a look at all the reviews in cameraquest.com and dantestella.com.
     
  9. donbga

    donbga Member

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    None of the cameras you listed above are in the same leauge as the Leica M series and the Sumicron or ASPH lenses. Not even close.
     
  10. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Here is an example of a much newer M6TTL Leica than the M3. It has TTL or through the lens metering. The lens is very good quality and wider than he 50mm mentioned. You may want to sell the gear you have so you can act quickly when you see what you want. This example was sold about an hour after it was posted.
    See the Classified section of the range finder forum for rapidly posted and quickly disappearing Leica gear. http://www.rangefinderforum.com/photopost-classifieds/index.php

    “Two many cameras and lens, I hate to let them go, but I have to get funds for my new condo and baby. All there gears are my collection, I like photo gear more than photography. These equipments are all in excellent - new conditon.

    1. Leica M6 Rangefinder Camera in Chrome. In Mint Condition. Complete with Leica body cap, strap, presention box, original manual and paper works.
    The body is very very clean, no ding, no dent, only 2 very light and minor marks. one is on the top plate and the other is on the back. The finder is crystal clean and bright. All the shutter speeds are working well. The bottom plate still has the original plastic protector on it.
    I am asking $1200 USD including express shipping and paypal.


    2. Leica M Summicron 35mm F2 Version 3 In excellent condition. It comes with both front and rear caps, leica hood. The glass is absolutely perfect, no mark, no scratch, no fungus, no mold. Lens body is also in excellent condition, very light used mark.
    Asking $860 USD including express shipping and paypal.”

    John Powers
     
  11. hughitb

    hughitb Member

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    Thanks all .. lots of food for thought.

    Walter: I already have an MF rangefinder. I'm thinking about something small and compact and 35mm.

    John: Thanks for that link. That M6 + lens still comes in at about 2000 dollars though which is a bit rich for my blood.

    Ian: Cheers .. that clears that up.

    I think I would like the functionality of the M5 onwards .. e.g. meter in particular.

    What about the Voigtlander Bessa R3A's? 40mm f1.4(!) lens + all the functionality of the latter-day Leica's and under 1000 dollars all in .... what's the catch? Is the lens not up to scratch?
     
  12. ghost

    ghost Member

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    I wonder too...what camera is the "bang for your buck" price point/value in used RF's??
     
  13. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    A few random thoughts Hugh. First of all, if you want wide with Leica written on it then it won't be cheap, and if you're going wider than 35 it will be way above £500 for the lens alone. There is a lonely little 21mm tucked away on Ffordes at £1,749, but 24s and 28s are cheaper. Then again there are Voigtlander lenses which are much cheaper, yet are pretty good. I have the 25mm f4 Skopar, but it needs a separate viewfinder in the hotshoe to compose the shot and then you have to use the rangefinder to focus. Check out the Cameraquest choices on lenses at the link below. The first metered Leica was the M5,so you should be thinking in terms of a suitable meter for the M3. Again it may be that Voigtlander comes to the rescue with the VC11, but then that might take you closer in price to a metered M6. Basic Leicas can be had for reasonable money, but start looking for meters and fancy wide-angles and watch the price soar.

    http://www.cameraquest.com/mlenses.htm
     
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  15. walter23

    walter23 Subscriber

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    I only mentioned the zeiss super ikonta because it folds up making it quite compact. Maybe 1.5 leicas in total size. And it's *bloody sharp*.

    But yes, you're asking about 35mm stuff.. so ignore me :smile:
     
  16. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    The Bessa R2's and R3's are very nice cameras at a good price. To be sure, they are not built to Leica standards and don't have that silky feel that the best Leicas have and they are a bit louder. They however certainly are quite capable. The R3's have a very nice 1:1 finder and if you don't wear glasses is fabulous with the 40mm Skopar which is a terrific lens. It's small, light weight, fast, and qiute sharp. I have the single coated version and like it a lot.

    Richard Wasserman




     
  17. pcooklin

    pcooklin Member

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    I wanted one for the exact same reason - opurtunistic shots. Ive decided on getting a Leica Minilux.
     
  18. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Your budget of $500 is a bit low for Leica living. You might be able to do that for an LTM body but you really couldn't touch an M mount. Or if you could, you wouldn't have much or any money left over for a lens.

    I would approach it in this manner:

    1) If you really want a Leica, hold out for a bit longer, build up your camera fund and then find the body/lens combo that suits you. There's no reason to buy a lesser camera if it's a Leica that you really seek. There's nothing wrong with this. But it doesn't make sense to buy cameras and lenses twice. Wait until you have the money, buy it just once and be done with it.

    2) If you're really more interested in the rangefinder experience, consider other alternatives, such as the Cosina Voigtlander Bessa cameras and lenses. They are lower-cost options that deliver good mechanical quality and very good to excellent optical quality. If you buy a used body and lens, you should be able to stay within your $500 budget.

    You could also consider buying a used classic camera, but this opens up an entirely different avenue that includes paying to have a camera and/or lens serviced, finding a good camera and other things.
     
  19. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    For $500 and some patience you could pick up a Leica CL with the 40/2 on it. I did. It's small and nicely built. The VF is good. I've used a Canon 50/1.5 on it without problems, as well as a 90/2.8 Tele-Elmarit. It has a meter: mine is good, but like the M5 it uses a CDS cell on a swinging stalk. After 35 years, you can get problems.

    I end up shooting with the Canon P as much or more than an M3 and M2. The viewfinder is very good, 1x magnification. or $500, you could pick up a Canon P, Canon 50/1.8, and Canon 35/1.8. I just picked up a Canon RF 35/2 "dirt cheap" for $125. VERY sharp. It will also go well with the Leica CL. It's small. The Canon P does not have a meter. Get a handheld meter, is easy to use.
     
  20. peter_n

    peter_n Member

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    Hugh many people like the M6, but as you say it may be a bit rich for your blood. One place to keep an eye out for used rangefinders is the RFF classifieds. There is a difference between using Leicas and Voigtlanders - I use Leica MPs and used to have a Voigtlander R4 and there is obviously a quality difference given the price differential between the two bodies. If you're patient you could pick up an M6 and a Voigtlander 40/1.4 for a reasonable price. The CV lens is of the pancake variety so the package would be small - great for street shooting and such, and the lens is fast so you can cover indoors/night shots too. Plenty of them on the used market.
     
  21. Sjixxxy

    Sjixxxy Member

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    I bought an M3 a while back with a collapsable Elmar with the illusion of being able to stick it in my pocket. Indeed, sticking it in my pocket did work, as long as it was winter and I had a big coat with a bog pocket on.

    It also didn't take long to realize that sticking it in my pocket was only a good methodology if I wanted to watch great things pass in front of me while I wrestle with getting a camera out of my pocket, taking the lens cap off, and uncollapsing the lens. So Now I just carry it over my shoulder at all times ready to go. It hasn't seen any form of pocket for well over a year.
     
  22. hughitb

    hughitb Member

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    Thanks again all. I should clarify that m budget is not necessarily $500. I have $500 dollars to spend right now, but could add to that by selling my RF645 of Fuji 6x9. So, I suppose I could go to $1000 if necessary.

    Mike - I think (2) describes my situation better. I am not hung on getting a Leica. I just want something good so yeah, I'm seriously considering one of these Bessa cameras.

    I understand from a few posters here now that the build quality of the Bessa's is not as good as a Leica obviously. Someone mentioned that is not as quiet for example. That doesn't bother me too much. It mightn't feel as good. I think I can live with that too. I would be more concerned about the quality of the lens. So suppose I couldn't get the all-Leica kit but instead had to compromise by getting a Bessa body + Summicron lens or else a Leica body + Voigtlander lens. Which would make more sense? My instinct would be to get the best quality lens and compromise on the body ...

    Lens-hacker: thanks for bringing the Leica CL to my attention. That looks like it might almost perfect. I see them on ebay for closer to $1000 but as you say, with a bit of patience that could be a runner. I do have a hand-held meter by the way, but the whole point of this would be to only have to stick "one thing" in my pocket on the way out the door.

    Sjixxy: point taken! Another argument for the CL maybe ...
     
  23. elekm

    elekm Member

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    I might suggest opting for the Bessa + Leica lens option. The Bessa bodies handle nicely and aren't too expensive. That leaves more for the lens, which really is where you want to put your money.

    And later down the road, you can still pick up an M body, should you really fall in love with rangefinder photography. And if not, you probably can recoup nearly all of your investment and maybe more if you get a good deal on the gear.
     
  24. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    Hugh, you already shoot a Rolleiflex.
    Why on earth spend good money on
    a lesser camera? :smile:

    For your budget and pocketability, you
    really should look hard at the Leica II
    and Leica III screwmount cameras. They
    are wonderful jewels built with precision.
    You can buy a good user II or III with a
    5cm Elmar lens for well under US$500.
    And with the Elmar lens, which retracts
    entirely into the camera body, the camera
    tucks nicely into a trouser pocket.

    An M-series offers some conveniences
    that the IIs and IIIs lack, most notably
    a combined viewfinder/rangefinder
    that gives framelines for different focal
    lengths. The IIs and IIIs frame for only
    the 5 cm lenses (though the rangefinder
    works for all lenses). But if you can
    live with 5 cm lenses, the IIs and IIIs
    are delights to use. And the results
    from the Elmar can be spectacular. I
    am attaching a favorite photograph of
    mine, shot with a II and an uncoated
    5cm Elmar.

    I have an M2 body I would consider
    selling at your price. But you will have
    to pry my II from my cold dead fingers.
     

    Attached Files:

  25. Graham.b

    Graham.b Member

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    I use a bessa R, there is no comparison between the two camera's. M's are a different tool. But to think of it, a rangfinder is a light box and that is it. The lens is what it is all about. The R's are LTM and the R2+ are M, mounts. I have a 25,35 and 50 as. I have the 35 on 80/90% of the time and i can not complain about the finished product on the paper.
    The same all so go's for the 645 6x6 and so, use a tri pod and you'll get what you want. I to would like a M, M5 or 6ttl. May be one day, until then i have my bessa and it does a very good job of what i ask of it. It is very quiet may be not a M quiet, but the Bessa is not a M, so try not to compare it to one.

    Graham
     
  26. Kvistgaard

    Kvistgaard Member

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    Hugh, if pocketability of the camera is important, I'd advise against a Leica M, and urge you to take a look at the CL instead - M cameras are pretty heavy to carry around, and whereas they are indeed rock solid in terms of build, they don't fit a coat pocket. In terms of lenses - M lenses are very good indeed, but how much sharpness, contrast do you really need? They are good, but you pay through the nose for that extra bit of performance. DOn't get stuck on the mythology surrounding the Leica Ms, you can really good performance from new Bessas, at a fraction of the price of a 2nd hand Leica M.