Leica M3 for backpacking/landscapes?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by jphendren, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. jphendren

    jphendren Member

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    Hello,

    I am curious if a Leica M3 would be decent for backpacking and landscape photography? I realize that there would be limitations such as using a graduated ND filter or a circular polarizer due to not looking through the lens. The small size, supposedly excellent optics, and german build quality appeal to me however. I normally shoot a Nikon F5 and F6 for 35mm film, but have never owned a Leica or a rangefinder camera and would like to try one. I am thinking about picking up a used one from KEH in either BGN or Ex condition, along with a basic 50mm lens to start.

    Jared
     
  2. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Another place to look
    http://www.rangefinderforum.com/photopost-classifieds/index.php?cat=1

    Bear in mind that an M3 is pretty old and may have seen some heavy use. A wise choice may be to buy one with a recent CLA.

    Another source is the man most famous for doing quality CLAs on early Leicas.
    Youxin Ye wye7@yahoo.com 16 Fairview Rd Canton, MA 02021-1720, USA tel: (781) 830-9141 Expert Leica technician & repairer Sells refurbished M2, M3 and works on LTM http://www.yyecamera.com/
    Ebay wye7
    I have read that he is happy to talk with newbies to Leica and rangefinders and is very honest.

    Unfortunately I have 74 year old eyes and can only focus large format negatives. I back pack with a Toyota Highlander or a baby jogger. Ah to be young again.

    John Powers
     
  3. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Leica M3 is good for backpacking and landscape. M3 is good for everything. I got M3 - and I will never get apart from it. I have also 4 nikons - nikon is also great.

    M3 is masterpiece of German engineering. Any lens will do - from cheap screw mount elmar 5cm f3.5 to APO lenses. If you think about buying M3 - and you have money to buy it - then by all means buy it.
     
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  4. bernard_L

    bernard_L Subscriber

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    If your primary motivation is to try a rangefinder, a Leica M3 is not exactly the cheapest way. There are capable rangefinders that cost far less, e.g. Olypus 35RD, Canonet QL17, or, more recent, the various Cosina-Voigtlander rangefinders. Plus, the natural lens for an M3 is 50mm; are you sure that is your preferred focal length for landscape?
     
  5. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    Great camera, wish I had one, but it would not be my first choice for landscape photography. I'd want a bigger negative...a 6x9 folder would be my choice.
     
  6. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    A Leica's an expensive option to try a RF camera. It'll certainly give good results but not everyone gets along with rangefinder cameras. You're going to have to develop a slightly different skill set too. Metering or sunny 16 for exposure, coping with parallax for close work.
    If you find a 50mm good for the Nikons you can't do much better than Leitz lenses but might want to consider going slightly wider. I like 40mm as my normal lens. Just a preference.
    An ltm camera with a collapsible 50 may work. Kind of small viewfinder but very compact setup.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 10, 2014
  7. jphendren

    jphendren Member

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    Thanks for all of the responses.

    With my Nikon's I normally use a 28-70 zoom for landscapes, but that does not seem to be an option with rangefinder cameras. I'd say most of my shots are in the 35-50mm range. As far as larger format cameras go, I understand the appeal to a larger slide/negative, but I am looking for something even smaller and lighter than an F6, so a medium or large format camera is not going to work LOL. I do a lot of hiking to get my shots, and heavy equipment gets to be a drag to carry around. The M3 is small, and the lenses are small as well. I figured that I could use my iPhone with the pocket light meter app for metering. I know that the Nikon F6 is superior to any Leica for landscape work, but wanting to try something new has bitten me LOL. The M3 is a beautiful camera as well, I guess that is part of the appeal to me.

    From what I have read, they were made in both Germany and Canada. How do I know where the camera was made? Will an earlier DS model most likely be made in Germany?

    Thanks,

    Jared
     
  8. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    You should have no trouble with an M3, but why not M2 (better viewfinder frame lines with no roundy corners)? When using a polariser as you mentioned, you simply look through it to orientate how it will fit over the lens.
     
  9. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    The M Leicas are fabulous cameras (I had an M2R) but hard to load with a new roll of film. It might be a problem with cold weather or other weather problems.
     
  10. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Sorry to go off topic, but what is an M2R?
     
  11. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    The location, Canada, Germany, will be stamped on the camera, just as it is on you Nikon.
    If you are looking at a camera online, the made in Canada or Germany will probably show in the seller's pictures of the camera. you can always ask.

    John
     
  12. kaantuncel

    kaantuncel Member

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    I cannot recommend the M3 enough generally. An M3 will be appreciably smaller than an f5 or f6 (I compared it with my F100 and extrapolated so at least). It is probably the best for 50mms because of its VF/RF, and if you want to go wider than 28mm (which is what I do with Landscapes, but you might not if you hike) than you need an external with any M anyway. As to metering, I cannot recommend the Voigtlander meter enough, but if not I do use the Iphone app (even with slides) and that does not disappoint.

    In terms of the filters, the simplest way to do it is to judge it with your eye and make sure to not move it when you put it on (I have a 70+ threaded one so that I can stick it on with bluetack, much easier).

    In terms of cost, this is probably exaggerated. I am not sure about the US, but in the UK at least M3's show up pretty regularly in auctions. They are by far the largest production camera Leica ever made with over 200,000 sold, so they show up pretty reliably and are not that expensive. Check shutter release and speeds, make sure the RF is in alignment at least horizontally (the harder of the two to fix). and the winding should be silky smooth for the most fun out of the camera :smile:.
     
  13. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    Leica made an M2 rangefinder camera with a fast rewind crank, so they called it the M2R. Many photojournalists favored it over a standard M2 and the M3. Back in the day....
     
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  15. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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  16. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    I say bring a Fuji GA645 instead, small, compact and medium format. Amazing lens. I have an M2 and MP. I'd never bring either for landscapes unless I was doing hang-off-a-cliff style Galen Rowell work. I much prefer MF landscape work.
     
  17. NDKodak

    NDKodak Member

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    If you want to save $2000-3000 on a Leica and lens, go buy a used Nikon FM/FM2 and use the Nikkor lens you probably already own. Or if have $$$$ burning a hole in your pocket try a Hasselblad Xpan with a 40mm you will get yourself a rangefinder and a panoramic camera. Good Luck!
     
  18. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    Best advice yet, other than to try a small medium-format folder.
     
  19. jphendren

    jphendren Member

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  20. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    I like my M2 because it has framelines for a 35mm lens and I find that lens nice for scenics. It might cost a tad less than an M3 as well.
     
  21. parkpy

    parkpy Member

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    From my brief experience, a leica m3 feels as heavy, if not heavier than an fm2n.

    People will tell you that an m3 is a costly way to try a rangefinder, but you could basically resell your m3 for whatever you bought it for. Same goes for most any M leica.
     
  22. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I used both a Leica M2 and M4 with five lenses from 20mm to 135mm and a Nikon F kit with four lenses from 20 to 200mm for landscapes. Optical performance was similar. Polarizers can be used on the Leica with little trouble. Look directly through the filter, note how it is oriented, and mount it in the same orientation. Leica made a polarizer that is expensive, but works almost as conveniently as those for the Nikon. The Nikon kit in a hard Nikon case weights 10 pounds; the Leica lenses in a compact soft case with the camera carried separately weigh about 6 pounds and is much more compact. A SLR provides more precise framing, valuable when producing transparencies to be projected, not printed. However, the Leica was satisfactory in this respect.
     
  23. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I prefer screwmount Leicas myself. Keep in mind the viewfinder is smaller and without framelines - which some people hate.
     
  24. Patrick Robert James

    Patrick Robert James Subscriber

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    If you are going to start messing around with screw mount rangefinders, just get a Canon 7 which is one of the best rangefinder cameras ever made. Screw mount Leicas are cute, but not really great to use.

    If you want something closer to your Nikons, try a Konica Hexar RF. I have a M3, which is a great camera of course, and a Hexar. I use the Hexar far more. Also, I wouldn't get a M3 as my only Leica unless I was only going to be using 50 and 90 lenses. A M2 or M4 would be the way to go otherwise. Don't forget the Zeiss Ikon either. It has the best viewfinder ever put in a rangefinder camera.
     
  25. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Or a Canon P and a Cosina Voightlander for multi coating or a 60s LTM Canon lens for single coating.

    Total cost 1/3 or less than M3 or M2.

    Note a M2R is has a native fast load kit like a M4, and is uber $ cause of rarity, the retro fit fast load kit is cheaper and fitted by user easily, but the original slow load spool is uber reliable to load compared to the other 'fast loaders'.

    And I use M2 and Ps for street. The Leicas are male Jewelery.
     
  26. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I used a Canon P and 7S on and off for years, but prefer the build quality and reliability of Leica. A Canon P or 7 in good condition is certainly a viable and less expensive alternate to a Leica.