Is it all a myth

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Graham.b, Apr 26, 2009.

  1. Graham.b

    Graham.b Member

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    I have for as long as i have held a camera, wanted a leica, now me and my wife Anne were talking about pics taken with one and not. On the screen i have to say it is hard to get the real deal as to say.

    Anne says they all look the same, neg scan and print, (which is what i do most of). Now is it all a myth of the leica or is there something in it.
    This is nothing to do with build quality, so lets except there is a difference there and Leica will win there.
    I use a bessa R and have a lot of fun with it this is all about like for like in picture quality.

    I do except that the glass is the most important part of the whole taken, but i do notice that there CV users with M glass and then there is the others, M camera and CV glass. I am missing something here.

    Is the Bessa (CV) with M glass the same as M Leica with M glass and CV glass.
    It dose read de-fragmented but i guess some one will know what i am trying to get to.

    Graham
     
  2. frank

    frank Member

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    For some people, the "feel" of a Leica is important/significant, for others it is not. Neither is wrong. The difference in feel between a Leica and a Bessa R, is like the difference in feel between a Nikon F3 and the Cosina made Nikon FM-10. Both will take pictures commensurate with the photographer's ability, but one feels "better" than the other due to design, engineering, and quality of materials used.
     
  3. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The thing about the finest of lenses and camera systems is that there are a very few photographers that have developed the skills and methodology needed to exploit any advantage that they actually offer. For me, if it is a quality system, beyond the basic character of a specific camera type, I only tend to notice differences in coatings (contrast) and ergonomics.
     
  4. keeds

    keeds Member

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    I for one use an MP with CV glass. The ergonomics and feel of the M is the key to me. CV glass is stunning, and is plenty good enough for me.
     
  5. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    I have an M3 that is over 40 years old and it feels wonderful in the hand, the somewhat unexpected weight and the silky smooth wind-on being a tactile treat. Does it take a better photo? I have some doubts about this, but it is (yet another) dumb machine that will outrun my photographic skills. I have a 50mm Summicron and a 25mm Voigtlander and I'd say the Summicron is the better lens, but then almost any 50mm should be able to beat a 25mm for quality unless we're into stratospheric prices.
     
  6. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Hmm ... very good question.

    I would say that equipment is a very individual thing.

    With digital for example, some people don't mind all of the button pressing that is required to set up a camera for the next shot. It's one of the things that I abhor in addition to the autoturnoff feature.

    With a rangefinder, it's another case of how does the camera body feel to you? Too light? Too heavy? Are the controls where you expect them to be? Are compromises too aggravating ... some people don't like the Rollei 35 cameras for this reason.

    So while a camera body is simply a light-tight box, there's more to it than that.

    I have very strong opinions regarding camera design and features, and sometimes they're in agreement with others and sometimes they aren't. I suspect the same is true of most photographers.

    It's nice that we can choose from a myriad of new and used cameras and lenses.
     
  7. Graham.b

    Graham.b Member

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    What i see here is a mix of feel and lens quality, with the final print in hand, all in all if it feels right for you, the finished product will all ways out way the cost. Would this go for any other type of camera would suppose. I for one do like to use R/F in its basic form. As said i have a Bessa R and a Bronnie 645. The final print i am all ways happy with so from above the Bronnie is no where near the cost, and some would say that the build quality is the same as a leica, or near to the Leica. Would this mean that cause you are happy and the feel is right for you the picture will all ways be right.

    Graham
     
  8. takef586

    takef586 Member

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    To me, one of the natural roles of a rangefinder camera, is to be taken out of home with you every time you poke your nose out. This creates some existential problems of ruggedness, weight and size. I am using several bodies, including Minolta CLE, a couple of Bessas, a Zeiss Ikon and an M7. The best overall camera without a doubt is the Zeiss Ikon, but it only comes in a 0.74x mag, and it is somewhat more prone to get disaligned over time than the M7. As to the lenses, this is a religious matter, and optically I prefer the Zeiss ZM line over most Leica lenses, but I willingly use a CV 35/1.2 and some excellent Leica glass too, so it comes to the right tool for the kind of image you want to get. However, some of the Leica lenses are incredibly compact, so again we are touching an important element of design for the everyday life with a rangefinder. At the end of the day, I think that a rangefinder shooter of today has such a wonderful choice between lenses and bodies, that he should just use what he likes and stop thinking about what he SHOULD like...
     
  9. Graham.b

    Graham.b Member

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    I think you have summed this up well, in how i read this a leica is a tool that should be liked because of its history, and not for what you may want from it.
     
  10. funkpilz

    funkpilz Member

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    I don't care, I want an M7.
     
  11. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    I can focus a fast lens or a telephoto lens on the M3 much more quickly than on the Bessa R2. I use both quite a bit. BUT: trying to shoot wide-open at F1.5 on the Bessa is a bit slower. The M3 is quieter as well.
     
  12. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    They are excellent cameras. There is no doubt about that. I think there is a mythical status assigned to them, and especially to the images that they capture. Remember that they were one of the first very high quality 35mm system cameras, one of the first widely sold and used 35mm cameras, and were adopted early on by droves of photographers. They were extremely popular for at least 30 years, during a very historically important time in the modern world. They were extremely ubiquitous cameras for a good 30+ years from the late '20s through the early '60s.

    As for the pix, I believe it is hogwash, and I say this as a Leica user. There are beautiful and often unique lenses, such as the Summar, but other brands also had nice glass. The real things about them are not the pix due to any technical quality, but 1. The fact that they were a relatively fast operating camera, 2. the fact that they were small camera, 3. The fact that they use an amateur format, 4. the fact that when they were being adopted, so much photographically interesting stuff was going on that would have been difficult to capture with another type of camera. All of this simply changed the way people shot...much the way digital is now.
     
  13. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    If you're scanning the neg to print I think you're adding a variable that will prevent you from seeing any difference between the two.
    If you want to make an evaluation get a Leica lens for the camera you've got borrow or rent it if you can.
    Shoot on the same roll of film with both lenses & see what you can see.
    KEH has a 14 day return privilege Just sayin'.
     
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  15. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    First of all, sorry for the long post. I have some Leica lenses, some CV lenses and one Nikkor lens for my RF, as well as a couple Canon lenses for my SLR.

    On the whole, the Leica lenses feel the best in the hand, but only by a bit. The CV lenses feel just as solid, they just aren't quite as smooth feeling as the Leica ones. The Nikkor from the 50's actually feels more solid, but it's ergonomics aren't quite as nice - nonlinear aperture ring that turns the wrong direction, etc. The Canon lenses are great for what they are, but the nature of AF lenses means they are bulkier and lighter. I would say I've never had a problem with any of them, but my Canon 50/1.4's AF just broke yesterday, sitting quietly on a shelf in the closet. Of course, even though I've noted these differences, they all work as advertised and are perfectly usable. They really are minor differences and it's nothing to get worked up over. The CV lenses really are the best deal out there for lenses in my mind, RF or not.

    As far as optics go, again, the CV lenses are the best buy. They really are high quality lenses. The two that I have (28/3.5 and 15/4.5) are TINY. Very sharp and easy to use. The only complaint one might have with them is that they are slower. CV makes faster lenses, but they are a bit bigger than their Leica counterparts for the most part. Some CV lenses get a bad rap for ugly bokeh (35/1.4, which is also really small), but to be honest, I don't think it looks any worse for the most part than the acclaimed Leica 35/2 IV. It's about the same size, one stop faster, cheaper, and new. Can't beat that. The 35/1.2 is supposed to be great too. Fast, sharp, flare resistant. What more can you ask for?

    In my mind, this is where Leica excels: They make really high quality, fast, SMALL lenses that don't suffer much used wide open. At f/5.6, most lenses are sharp. My Canon 50/1.4 is a nice lens, but you can tell when it's wide open. Same with the Nikkor 50 - 1.4 is usable, but it definitely gets a bit dreamy.

    Leica lenses seem to me to be about the same size as competitors lenses one stop slower. For example, Zeiss ZM lenses are great too, but their fastest 35mm lens is f/2 and their fastest 28mm is f/2.8. Both are a good deal larger than the corresponding Leica lens; they are about the same size as Leica's faster versions (35/1.4 and 28/2).

    I do think Leica makes a couple of class leading lenses. The 50mm Summilux ASPH and the 75mm Summicron ASPH are very good at what they do, even wide open. I'm impressed with the 28/2 as well. Other manufacturers make lenses that are faster, but I've not seen much out of them that surpasses these three lenses at a given f-stop. And they really aren't big either. The 28/2 is pretty small, and the 50/1.4, while not small, is not big.

    I think it's silly personally to have a huge stable of Leica lenses. They are too expensive for what they are. On the other hand, to have 2 or 3 at your most used focal lengths, or even one at your most used focal length, makes sense. Round out your range with cheaper, but really high quality CV lenses. I don't shoot 15mm that much, so when I do, its not a big deal that the CV lens is slower. It's still sharp and small.

    All in all, are they legendary? Or something magic? I don't think so. They are pretty consistent, well built, and very expensive. If you use a particularly focal length a lot, shoot RF, and have the money to treat yourself to a really nice lens, then go for it. They won't make or break a picture though. They are analogous to a really nice kitchen knife - you can still make a mean meal with a cheap but sharp knife. The nice one might make the experience a bit more enjoyable and might (or might not) save you 2 mins. It might also last longer. But the food will still be about the same - if you are a crappy cook, it will probably be crappy :smile:
     
  16. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I've got the M2 and M4-P with 4 Leica lenses to share between the bodies. My comments will echo, pretty much, what has been said here.

    I don't feel there is any advantage to owning a leica in terms of the character of the image. I've looked inside both cameras and don't really see anything in terms of build quality that is superior to the innards of my Nikon F2. My Leicas aren't any more or less reliable than my crusty old Pentax Spotmatic which is only 5 years newer than the M2, and never had a lick of trouble with either.
    Well exposed slides taken with my F2 or F3 are indistinguishable from the Leica images, if there is any difference (there should be shouldn't there?) I would consider it to be irrelevant.

    Maybe it's prestige! But then most people don't give a damn, except perhaps owners.

    I think it is the myth that surround the things and that isn't bad. It has to be something impractical that has me keeping the cameras instead of cashing them in. Perhaps the camera has become a talisman hung around the neck to attract photographic situations and good fortune. And why the hell not?
     
  17. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    I have owned a Leica M3 for about 20 years with a stable of Leica RF lenses built especially around the M3. What you got from the M3 was a quiet camera with very good large aperature lenses. As the lenses improved, TTL exposure was added. The current crop of ASPH lenses along witht the M7 and MP are the pinncle of rangefinder film photography. I own an M6, two M7's and 21mm ASPH, 35mm Lux ASPH, 75mm ASPH and 90mm ASPH. Is this overkill, I think not. I use Motor M's on my M7 and have a Leicavit that gets used once in a great while. I shoot K64 and and need sharp images with wide open lenses, cameras and lenses that function reliably. The present Leica M euqipment fills that need. I don't think its a myth but it is expensive. You have to make your own decision based on your needs, finances and percieved value.-Dick
     
  18. Softie

    Softie Member

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    I'm a sometimes M user who uses M glass, and a Nikon user, and an LF user. In my opinion, the Leica thing is a myth. If, however, you get along better with Leica M bodies than with other cameras, that seems to be the only reason to get a Leica.
     
  19. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    My Leica gives me slightly more contrast than my other 35mm cameras. The higher contrast, no mirror movement, shallow DOF and Tri-X is a great combination for the way I use the Leica. It gives the images that I visualize. The other thing about top end gear is if something didn't work right I know it was me and I can't blame it on the camera. That is the only way to improve my skills.
     
  20. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    I can only afford Nikon and Hasselblad at this time, so Leica damn well better be a myth!

    Steve
     
  21. Alex Bishop-Thorpe

    Alex Bishop-Thorpe Member

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    The slogan of one of the pro labs here is "Guaranteed to make you look good (but only if you were good already)". I think that's relevant with a lot of photography - it's always the photographer more than the tools. Take some time to get used to it, but I never thought leica magic was anything more than good work on the photographer's part.
     
  22. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    For as long as I'd been into photography, I'd wanted a Leica. Eventually, I plucked up courage to trade my Mamiya 7 for an M6 and to try what I regarded as the ultimate piece of kit.

    My M6 was a classic with Summicron 35mm f2, Voigtlander 28mm f1.9 and Voigtlander 75mm f2.5. It was a great camera but, in my opinion, a total pain in the ar$e to change films. It was also too slim to fit my hands and I kept knocking dials and struggling to focus the jewel-like lenses.

    Sadly, I had to sell it to regain my sanity. I have a Nikon F100 which shares my Nikkors (24mm f2.8, 35mm f2.0, 50mm f1.8 and 85mm f1.8) with my D700. I also have OM1 and OM2n with 24mm f2.8, 35mm f2.8, 50mm f1.4 and 75-150mm f4. Much as I loved the end result from my Leica / Voigtlander kit, I wouldn't swap back.

    Leica, for me, is a true 'luxury' item. It makes you feel special - there is a cachet with it like no other - but it's very much an acquired taste which I really never got to grips with.
     
  23. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Paul, my experience was slightly similar to yours. In the early 1980s, I missed a chance to buy a Leica M4 with three lenses and regretted it. In 2002, I had a chance to buy an M6 with an f/2.0 Summicron.

    It's a great camera with a fantastic lens. But it wasn't for me. The film loading didn't bother me, but I didn't care for the tiny shutter speed dial, and the feel of the tab (in addition to being a tabbed lens) bothered me in an inexplicable way. The most aggravating thing for me was the shutter release -- the release point was almost at the bottom, and while a soft release corrected it, I don't like having to buy add-ons to compensate for a shortcoming.

    The build of the camera was exceptional, and I loved the viewfinder. You couldn't ask for a better-built camera. And the photos were sharp with excellent tones. No complaints whatsoever about the results.

    I sold it to a fellow who was really eager to get a Leica. I'm sure that he took much better photos than me, and I was happy to sell it to someone who really wanted to use it.
     
  24. phc

    phc Member

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    There's no use denying that Leica has some kind of cache, but if you're a photographer and therefore consider a camera a tool and not a piece of jewellery, it's how it works for you that's important.

    Personally, I bought my first Leica because, at the time, I could afford to, and secondly because I was uncertain of my ability. I thought, rightly or wrongly, that the Leica was the best kit on the market, and if I couldn't take a decent picture with one then I may as well give up.

    The issues of handling are of course subjective. I've never had any problem with loading films - never once has one failed to catch - but if you're used to buttons and dials you can flick with a gentle touch of your finger, then a Leica M is going to feel pretty weird.

    I do wish Leica didn't have this mystique, then we could just assess it as a camera!

    Cheers, Paul.
     
  25. mudman

    mudman Member

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    I was given a leica iii as a gift, and it is my only leica to date. I love the operation of it, but if you think loading film on a M series is a pain, try a screwmount and you'll change your mind. Its not a go to camera, but its a fun one to use for street photography. Its so very very quiet, I once took a photo of a friend from 3 or 4 feet away and they didn't realize it.
     
  26. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    The M series fills an important niche in photography.
    If you need a virtually silent camera, even with the Motor M. handhold at slow shutter speeds and lenses that allow low light film photography and deliver stunning images when you do your part, then no other small format camera can come close.
    If loading film simply is your criterion for a camera. your lucky because there are many cameras on the market that can do that for you and even re-wind your film for a lot less of an investment.
    There is a place for the mirror slapping noisy SLR, especially with long lenses and that is where I use my Nikon's. but for discrete low light photography, there is no myth, there is only the M.
    To me the pinnacle of the M series is the M7. I can use any lens and only concern my self with composition and its especially useful with 21mm wideangle types because one does not have to focus, but just push the shutter button. If you have never used an M7 with Motor M and 21mm or so lens, then you have no benchmark to judge how quick and discrete one can take a picture.-Dick