Leica Viewfinders

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Richard Jepsen, Jan 7, 2014.

  1. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I'm considering downsizing to one camera, a Leica, and a favorite enlarger, 1c or Valoy 2. I wish to move from a MP to a less expensive M4 to M4-2. I don't mind hand metering for the type of shots the Leica does best.

    The question is the tint of the M viewfinders. From my experience the M3 and M2 finders are dimmer with a blue tint; and therefore not as contrasty. The M4-2 seems the best value with contrasty finder.

    Has anyone seen a M3 viewfinder that is not dimmer than a M4-2? Does the M4-2 have a flair resistant finder or did that end with the M4/5?
     
  2. momus

    momus Member

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    The M3s I've owned had viewfinders that were anything but dim. Probably the best viewfinder in rangefinder photography, in terms of all the things I want. By the way, I would recommend a double stroke M3. Those things are sweet.
     
  3. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    I have M3 and M6, both are clear without dim. I shoot 99% with 50mm - so I like M3 viewfinder better than M6, not only for 0.91 vs. 0.72, but for precision (M6 shows too small part of picture that actually lands on the negative).
     
  4. mnemosyne

    mnemosyne Subscriber

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    My M3 and M2 have an ever so slight bluish tint compared directly to my M4-2. But I remember reading it's a feature, not a bug (should make the rangefinder patch more contrasty and easier to focus). The condition/dirtiness of the finder will probably make a bigger difference.

    Regarding the flare issue (it is not an issue with the flare resistance of the finder itself but the rangefinder patch that will whiteout with light sources at a certain angle), it is said that the viewfinder assembly was simplified somewhat during the production run of the M4-2 and they removed one part too much, which resulted in the whiteout problem on all subsequent cameras until it was finally solved in the MP finder. It's difficult to say at what S/N exactly the change did happen during the M4-2 production. Mine is 15034XX (that's the second bigger production lot I think) and it seems it's still the old type rangefinder assembly, but I am not 100% sure.
     
  5. 250swb

    250swb Member

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    There is no reason for an M2 viewfinder to be tinted other than if it needs a clean. On the other hand all the M3's I've had have had a yellow tint, even after a CLA.

    If you want something simpler than your MP I would suggest an M4-P. You get all six frame lines, and they are very well built (built tough enough to accommodate a faster motor drive). If you wear spectacles the last batch had a rubber eyepiece and were essentially an M6 without the meter.

    Steve
     
  6. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    Yes!


    My M4-2, S/N 15032XX, doesn't flare. Nor does my M4. My M6's both flare.

    I gather that Leica can replace a flaring RF assembly with the later, improved version, but at a cost of several hundred dollars. I haven't been exercised about the problem enough to be willing to pay that much to have my M6's upgraded. As it happens, I do prefer my M4 and M4-2 to my M6's, but because of the feel of the shutter release, not because of the finders.
     
  7. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I've had a few M3s, I found the finder in all to be pretty nice and contrasty, but not has nice as the MP I had.

    I have found all my rangefinders, Zeiss Ikon, Bessa, Leica, Nikon, Mamiya 7, to have easily good enough finders, and I'd be making the decision based on the lenses I was going to use. If I was going use only a 50mm or longer, then M3 would be an easy choice for me. For 35mm I'd probably get an M2, wider than that I'd be looking Bessas probably.
     
  8. philosomatographer

    philosomatographer Member

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    I think that a good, clean M3 viewfinder may appear to be a bit dimmer because of the bluish colour tint, but that doesn't change the fact the the M3 viewfinder is hands-down the best (size, clarity, focus "snap" and accuracy) finder in all measurable respects that Leica has ever made. Even a brand new M9 or M Typ 240 finder doesn't come close.

    One has to realise that most M3's are around 60 years old though! There are many air-glass surfaces in the finder mechanism, and each of these has had time to accumulate dirt, including vapours from oils etc. Most need a careful cleaning.

    Every time I had an M9 or M/240 user my M3, they are positively surprised at how nice the finder is!
     
  9. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I read the M3 rangefinder patch is slightly yellow and the field slightly blue to create a contrast aiding focus. I handled M2s and M3s at camera shows and the cameras were not in top notch condition. The overall viewer seemed dimmer than my MP to the point it would bother me if shooting in low light while organizing elements inside the frame line. I have viewed a M4-P whose finder clarity is similar to a M6 and acceptable.

    I'm looking to the non 28mm finders. They are slightly more accurate and I use 35-90mm older optics.

    The DS M3 has appeal because of the .91 finder used with a 50mm. Finder separation is a risk. A CLA on purchase has to be assumed.

    When did balsam get discontinued in the finders?
     
  10. phelger

    phelger Subscriber

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    Hi Richard,
    One word before you're dropping the MP: it has the full set of finder views,, from 35 to 150mm. That's why I keep mine - I don't care about the light meter, no batteries is what I do. The M3, M4 have a fine view finder but not with full range.
    Peter
     
  11. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    M2 viewfinder as clear as day and I have never noticed a blue tint.
     
  12. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    This is confusing...every M2/3 I have looked through has a tint.
     
  13. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    I have an M3 and I can't say I notice a tint. If it is there it must be quite subtle. What I do notice, and like quite a bit, is that the rangefinder patch does not flare to white like my M6 does.

    I do find it somewhat amusing. When they built the first M3 there were no problems but as time progressed, and the M was "improved", the rangefinder began to flare. Thank goodness for improvement. There would not be a thing to write about without them.
     
  14. jochen

    jochen Member

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    Hello,
    the design of the M 3 viewfinder is different from all later types, beginning with the M 2. Therefore all later viewfinders till the MP/M 7 are more or less prone to flare. I had exchanged my M 6 viewfinder window against the newer multicoated MP type at the LCS, it was very expensive, now I have much less flare from light sources outside the viewing frame but now instead of that the two LED's of the lightmeter are so bright that it is difficult to see correctly the balance of brightness. Maybe that is not the case in an original MP. Besides: My M 3 DS viewfinder has a very slight yellowish tint. Do not try to dissassemble a M 3 viewfinder as the prism could separate and no spare parts are available. Even the LCS does not repair or clean a M 3 viewfinder except at your own risk.
     
  15. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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  16. mnemosyne

    mnemosyne Subscriber

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    Thou shalt not fear. CRR Luton will completely rebuild M3 (M2/M4) finder assemblies.
     
  17. Rolfe Tessem

    Rolfe Tessem Subscriber

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    But you cannot replace an M3 finder -- there are no parts available. You need a donor camera to do it.

    Replacements done by Leica or by Sherry, DAG, etc. are done with the M6J finder, which is .85 magnification.

    For the skilled repairers, almost anything is possible.

    Some years ago I bought an MDa at a good price, intending it to be a dedicated body for the 15mm CV Heliar. I found I didn't use it much, and at about that time I found a beater M3 that had a pristine finder. I asked Sherry if she could marry the two. She put the MDa innards into an M4 shell with the M3 finder and today it is one of my favorite cameras. On the outside, it looks like an M4 (except no serial number) and has an M3 finder. When you open it up, if you know how to identify the MD innards, you can see it still has the strip which differentiates them.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 9, 2014
  18. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    Ummm, after reading the link on repairs, it appears a M4 or newer is a safer bet.
     
  19. mnemosyne

    mnemosyne Subscriber

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    I am not sure if you are refering to my post, but ...
    When I write "rebuild" ... I mean "rebuild" and not "replace".
    CRR Luton will restore an existing M3 rangefinder assembly that suffers from separated prisms to "like new".
    The rangefinder assembly gets dismantled completely, surfaces are resilvered, recemented,
    everything realigned etc. You do not need any spare parts or donor finders for that.
    Please read the site that I have linked to in my previous post.
     
  20. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Safest bet for the money is M6 classic.
     
  21. Rolfe Tessem

    Rolfe Tessem Subscriber

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    I wasn't specifically referring to your post -- just clarifying the status of the M3 finder for the OP. You do see M3's with M6J finders in them out there from time to time, and these are ones that either Leica or somebody else has replaced with the closest available finder.
     
  22. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    In US dollars the repair seems to be around $400-500. You have to really want the M3/2. If the desire for a M3 is finder magnification, than a 1.25x mag on a .72x finder is similar. I have been shooting with a chrome MP for 10 years and ready for a change. The cheapest black bodies are M4-2s. The only thing I dislike about the MP is protecting it from handling marks. One blemish and there goes $500. Ha!