Leica M4-2 Opinions

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Fred Aspen, Aug 14, 2008.

  1. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    I am a "less is more" guy and I have been toying with adding a simple rangefinder with interchangeable lenses. I have been considering a Leica M4-2 because of its clean, simple look.

    I did some research and it seems to have mixed reviews and I couldn't find anything relevant on APUG.

    Anybody have one and care to share information? Any horror stories?

    -Fred
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    I'd recommend an M6 TTL model over the M4-2.

    The M4-2 is fine, and will do the job. Just like the choice of viewfinders and the meter in the M6 TTL.
     
  3. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    I think the "mixed reviews" are a little alarmist -- those steeped in Leica might notice a difference but the vast majority of us would not have anything to complain about. Andrew Nemeth's writeup is very informative, if you haven't seen it: http://leica.nemeng.com/016b.shtml

    Have you considered a Canon P? Talk about an interchangeable rangefinder with a clean, simple look, and probably 40% of the price of an M4-2. Here's the CameraQuest writeup (OK, most of the pictures are of a black body): http://cameraquest.com/canonp.htm
     
  4. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    Nick,
    Thanks for the pointers. I see why the M4-2 Wetzlar cameras command a premium. The article was helpful.

    -Fred

    I really like the lines on the Canon but what are the odds of finding one that nice!?
     
  5. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I've had an M4-2 for some 20-odd years, and though I need to send it off now for a rangefinder adjustment and CLA, it's been an excellent camera. I began shooting ballet and theater with it, and it has served me well. Later I added an M3 and more recently, an M6 0.85 to my kit. The M4-2 is better for the 35mm lens, whilst the M3 and M6 are better with the 90 and 50. In the theater, I would typically shoot with the 35 on the M4-2, 90 on the M3, and 50 on the M6.
     
  6. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    I've not used the M4-2, but do have two Canon P's. The Canon P is a fine camera, but is limited to screw mount lenses. The shutter is a bit louder than my M3 and M2, but is stainless steel. The finder is quite good, but has "brightline" for frames rather than the Leica projected frames. The 35mm framelines are almost impossible to see with glasses; but the 50mm lines are great. Chose the Canon P to go to the beach with the 5cm f1.5 Sonnar on it.

    The M4-2 can use thread mount with the adapter. The older M-2 is also worth looking at, prices have come down. No problem seeing the 35mm framelines on it with my thick glasses.
     
  7. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    I can't offer an opinion on the M4. I've only ever used an M6, and that only briefly. My impression is that it is a nicely built tool and a real pleasure to use, but far too expensive for my needs. If your budget won't hold for a Leica, there are alternatives. Canon P's have long been out of production and may need work that may or may not be easy to source. There are the Voightlander/Bessa cameras available new for maybe about the same price as a used Leica. Unless you plan to beat on it day after day for months on end in less than favorable environments, it should be sturdy enough for your needs. The viewfinders are better than good and there are models that accept screw and bayonet mount lenses. Screw mount lenses can be fitted to bayonet mount cameras with no difficulty simply by adding an adaper to the lens. Rangefinder coupling is maintained. The shutter is louder than a Leica's, but being a vertically travelling shutter, will sync up with electronic flash at higher speeds - a big help if you want to use fill flash outdoors.
     
  8. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    Just to be clear - all M4-2 cameras were made in Canada. The original M4 was made in Wetzlar.
     
  9. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    less is more.....adding...see the paradox? :smile:
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Canada = quality

    I am, of course, completely unbiased :smile:.

    Matt

    P.S. if any wish to disagree, then I would be happy to accept their M4-2 donations, without question (Canadian made Leica lenses will be accepted as well :smile:)
     
  11. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    No big difference.
    The M4 has 35/50/90/135 frame lines as does the M4-2, The -2 also has a hot shoe.
    I personally would pass on anything more recent than the 4 because I don't see the need for a meter or ttl flash.
    I really think the M2 is the best of 'em all... 35/50/90 frame lines, if you can find one with the original rangefinder it has a depth of field indicator in the VF, only for f5.6 & f16. The 4's are a bit easier to load because you don't need to pull the take up spool out to load the camera and they also have a crank on the rewind knob.
     
  12. butterflydream

    butterflydream Member

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    I second John's opinion, actually I intended to write the same words. If you don't need 135mm, which is not very useful with rf camera, clear frame of M2 is much less cluttered. For me, I use MP à la carte with the option of 3 frames for the same reason.

    For easier film loading to M2 you can look for the quick loading spool from ebay. This works more naturally with M2 than M3 because you reset frame counter manually for M2. Of course there is also a special version of M2-R or M2 KS-15 (millitary) with quick film loading but you have to pay for its rarity value.
     
  13. Fred Aspen

    Fred Aspen Member

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    Thanks, everyone, for your contributions. I do understand that the m4-2 was made in Midland but some are stamped "Wetzlar" and command a premium. Can anyone comment on why this is? Is it just that the later (Wetzlar) models were produced much higher on the learning curve?

    Also, I have had a couple of M3s years ago and wanted to put the M2/M3 on the short list but have recently read a number of horror stories about "dim rangefinders, de-silvering rangefinder prisms" which I understand are non-repairable and I don't particularly want to buy into that risk. I also see this problem mentioned on some of KEH's offerings also.

    Is this a common problem now that the early Leicas are nearing 55 years old?

    Thanks again, everyone!

    -Fred
     
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  15. nemo999

    nemo999 Member

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    There ARE a small number of Wetzlar-made M4-2s according to literature (Denis Laney's Leica Collectors Guide - the book does not give details of serial numbers, dates of production, etc.).

    The whole Wetzlar versus Ontario quality problem was apparently that M Leicas were assembled from parts made to only moderate tolerances and required a lot of input from skilled personnel in terms of trial-and-error fitting of parts, fettling etc. to make them work properly. The appropriate skills were not necessarily at the right level at the start of Canadian production.

    Yes, you can experience de-silvering of rangefinder prisms with Leicas of appropriate age (I've had it with an M3 and a postwar IIIc). My repairpeople (Newton Ellis of Liverpool UK) can fix this, the cost was about £100. By and large Leica M2s and M3s are cheaper by an appropriate amount compared with M4 and M6, so a prism repair is by no means uneconomic.
     
  16. mojobebop

    mojobebop Member

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    have read the latter m4-2's were assembled back at wetzlar.
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Get an M2 or M3 and you are set with the same pix for less money. Anything they've released since has been thoroughly unnecessary, and I do not understand the price differences on the used market. M6s and M7s are way overpriced and M2/M3 bodies are way underpriced. You might find it wise to concentrate more on what glass you want, and put it on a cheap body like a Voigtlander. That will also take care of your aversion to getting an old camera.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2008
  18. waileong

    waileong Member

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    The M4-2 is a cheapened version of the M4. Check cameraquest for more details.
     
  19. PHOTOTONE

    PHOTOTONE Member

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    The M4-2 is a lifetime camera, just like all Leica RFDR cameras are. I prefer an M6 just because of the built-in meter, but when I shoot Color and B&W together, I use my M4-2 and the M6 together. I find no reason to fault the M4-2.
     
  20. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    Lens Hacker -- take a Canon P with a 50mm f/1.5 Sonnar (or Serenar) lens TO THE BEACH?! Oh my lord, what the sand would do to that nice gear. I've got both; I'll leave them at home and take my Olympus RF instead -- I could at least live with myself if it was damaged.
     
  21. lens_hacker

    lens_hacker Member

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    I've taken a Nikon SP with 8.5cm F2 and 5cm F1.4 to the beach. I'm fairly careful with them, use a sealable plastic bag and do not do this if the wind is blowing. I've not had them damaged.

    Last month, me and my Nikon S3 went down the giant slides and Hay rides during a local Fall festival.

    What's the point of having these classics if you don't use them?
     
  22. Mark Layne

    Mark Layne Member

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    The only Noctilux you will ever find is Canadian
    Mark
     
  23. rpsawin

    rpsawin Subscriber

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    I picked up an M2 a few years ago for a fairly reasonable price. It had a dim vf so I sent it off to Sherry Krauter for a cla. When I got it back the vf was bright & contrasty. It has become my favorite camera to go off with when iI just want to enjoy shooting. Loading the M2 is no big deal and can be quickly mastered.

    Best regard,

    Bob
     
  24. T Hoskinson

    T Hoskinson Member

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    I've owned a single stroke M3 and a 2 stroke M3 for many years. No rangefinder problems ever - with either of them-. Klaus of Thousand Oaks has performed all my Leica service (He's retired now).
     
  25. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

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  26. Roger Garwood

    Roger Garwood Member

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    I've had an M4-2, a very early one, for about 30 years. I've got M6s and others but I do like to go basic, no meter. The M4-2 has been used professionally since the day I bought it. I'ts been soaked, it's been through months of desert duct, it's been dropped and it's never missed a beat. About four years ago It had its first service (by Leica. Solms) and its now going to last a lot longer than me. They're cheap and reliable. Don't hestitate if you can get one.
    Roger