Leicaflex SL2 VS Nikon FM3a

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by d10nisius, Jan 24, 2007.

  1. d10nisius

    d10nisius Member

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    Hi all,
    I'm a new subscriber here and this is my first post:smile: . I'm not trying to start a brand war here. I have an FM3a that I used for a while. I like the body a lot. But I SUBJECTIVELY like the look of leica lenses(color rendering and bokeh) better than nikkor. I also had an m6 before.
    I get a chance to buy a very good leicaflex SL2 for $495, but I'm not sure now because of what I read here http://photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=004D0b&tag= about the unreliability of higher shutter speed(1/500 and up). Is this problem universal?
    Does anyone have any real experience with leicaflex SL2 and can tell me how much is the unreliability if there is such, can you shoot slides on high shutter speed? How about the metering compared to the newer model? Is it pretty accurate?
    Can anyone help me to make the decision?
     
  2. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    I owned an SL (not SL2) for 35 years before the shutter went. I can't comment on the SL2, but for my money, maybe $800 or $900, I buy a used Leica R8. Modern batteries, modern meter, excellent program mode, good high speed flash sync and TTL flash, and a great viewfinder. Second only to the original SL.
    You would get a lot more camera for your money. If you're on a budget, the 90 mm Summicron is a fantastic portrait lens.

    Take care,
    Tom
     
  3. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The person I'd ask about the high shutter speed problem is Don Goldberg at DAG Camera. His email is on his web site, and I'd trust him implicitly. The SL2 has long been reputed to be the epitome of the manual SLR. You can check the going prices on SL2 bodies at KEH camera, and I believe they are well above the price you've given. Don Goldberg can give you an idea what a basic CLA would cost so you could factor that in to the price if you want. Used Leica R lenses, especially non-ROM versions, can be a great bargain at present prices. A correctly calibrated SL2 meter should be right on the money. If you prefer a simpler manual camera and Leica lenses, and Don answers questions about the shutter to your satisfaction, I'd say it's a very good buy.

    Lee
     
  4. d10nisius

    d10nisius Member

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    Thanks Tom for the reply,
    From what I read from other forums also, I've seen no problem mentioned with the original SL only the SL2.
    I'm actually on a budget, and I like the feel of the older leica SLR. I think R8 is too expensive for me for now. I only use the camera in manual mode, maybe very rarely I would use the aperture priority only for quick changing scene.
     
  5. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    I own a SL and find it agreat camera to use. The prism has desilvered a bit but I find that I can live with it and agree that it's a great camera to focus.
    I beleive that the main difference between the SL and Sl2 is meter sensitivity, but I have no problem with the meter in mine.
    I'm sure you could buy a SLfor a lot less than an SL2 as collectors have driven up prices for the latter.
    In fact a good SL2 now sells for more than a used R6 here in OZ!
     
  6. Nick Merritt

    Nick Merritt Member

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    I got an SL2 with a 50 Summilux for a fair amount more than the price you have been offered, and 1/2000 didn't work, and the prism was rather badly desilvered. Don Goldberg took care of both problems -- he has replacement prisms in stock. The work wasn't cheap.

    I don't know whether the shutter issue is "universal" but it is a problem with the SL2 that is not present with the SL; don't know why. My understanding is that it WILL manifest itself at some point in the camera's life. Of course, SL2s are 30+ years old at this point, so I guess they're entitled.

    Assuming you don't have either problem with your camera, or you can get it cured of those problems, I'd say go for it. It's a fine camera indeed! The shutter sound is a pleasing "whuff," which is much quieter than the rather sharp sound of the FM/FE Nikons. I assume the FM3A has a similar shutter sound to its older siblings; I've never tried one myself. I am a very big fan of the FM/FE and would love an FM3A. But if you've decided the Leica look is what you want, then there's only one way out!

    I have gotten an SL to accompany the SL2 (which I like very much as well), and several 2-cam lenses since they're significantly cheaper than the 3-cam. Many of the 3-cam lenses are improved designs, optically or mechanically (for instance, regular size filter rings rather than those series filter sizes). However, I like the results I get from the 2-cammers. You may decide you want the 3-cam lenses, in which case you'd best be prepared to pay two or more times the cost of comparable Nikkors.
     
  7. d10nisius

    d10nisius Member

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    Thank you very much everyone,
    These are very helpful comments.
    I will email Don Goldberg. Nick, FM3a is a jewel indeed. The viewfinder extremely brighter than my FE. The shutter dial also has a different feel, very solid. The noise is a little bit quieter than FE, but maybe just because my FE is a lot older. my uncle bought it new in the 80s.
    The metering is very accurate. Overall very2 nice body, but so does leicaflex SL2(if there is no problem)
    That's the problem, I love the Nikon body more because I know it has worked perfectly, but I love the leica lens more. More here means not by far. So if the leicaflex SL2 "aging" problem can be fixed, and it can stay "healthy" for at least 10 years after it gets the treatment, I would choose the Leica. But if I have to do CLA every year, that would beat the purpose of having a tough camera like SL2.
     
  8. Daniel_OB

    Daniel_OB Member

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    I have the best and from Leica and from Nikon. I will be the most happy if I could fix Leica lens on F6 Nikon (even never used in auto mode)? Note a question mark.
    Nikon have some Leica quality lenses. However Nikon makes so many lenses that some jewels are lost in sand. Also so many buy low cost from Nikkors, or even zooms, so reputation went down.
    AF1.4/85d is certanly one of the best Nikon ever made. Try and you will never wish Leica lens.
    2.8/55AIS Micro (Manual Macro) is the same construction as Leica. It also has a floating element so good and far and close. Very good lens. However "bokeh" at high contrast edge can show double line, but the same is with Leica, so learn about the lens use and all is fine. You can get all new for $350 CD whice Elmarit is 10 times more but nothing "better".
    2/200AF is with only one fail: size and weight.
    I am sure there are and more good Nikkors but search further.
    And add some Zeiss ZF lenses to Nikon line.

    Think twice before you opt for Leica.
    www.Leica-R.com
     
  9. telyt

    telyt Member

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    Having owned and used both the 55mm f/2.8 Micro-Nikkor and the Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit-R I disagree with the above quote. The Nikkor is good but it's not constructed anywhere near as well as the Leica lens, and optically the Nikkor's color saturation and bokeh are not as pleasing.
     
  10. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Nikon makes better cameras. Leica makes better lenses (on the whole). However, if you answer the question from a value perspective, you get far more for your money with Nikon than with Leica.

    If you really want the Leica and you can really afford it, you should get it. I personally can't justify the insane difference in lens prices. I have, however, been able to afford professional-quality Nikkors despite being an amateur and having the budget to match.
     
  11. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I would say the #1 choice for a cheap Leica would be an R3. Lots around, amateur-owned and in great shape, often mint but suffering from having lain unused in a drawer for a number of years. I bought 3, each with 50 mm lens (2 Summicrons, 1 Summilux), each cost between £125 and £150 (bought on e-bay Germany). Each needed a CLA, the seal around the film cartidge viewing window in the back of the camera is very likely to need replacement, a commutator ring inside the camera gets tarnished and makes the meter inaccurate, everything fine after the CLA.
     
  12. telyt

    telyt Member

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    Depending on the individual's subjective valuation of image quality.
     
  13. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    How about putting a shiny new ZF lens on that fm3a...
     
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  15. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    True, but only to a point.

    I'm a real tea snob. I drink expensive Darjeeling teas. I order them by mail most of the time (and picked up a few when I was in Europe last autumn).

    Right now I'm drinking a delicious first flush Darjeeling tea that I bought at Harrods in London.

    This tea cost me 13.50 pounds for 100 grams. That's 135 pounds, or about $270, per kilogram.

    Is this tea twenty times better than a good loose Kenyan orange pekoe at $13 a kg? Absolutely not. Do I prefer to spend the extra for the quality? Absolutely. I can afford it, and I can discern the difference. However, I would never say that the Darjeeling is a better value. It isn't. The Kenyan tea is 80% as good at 20% of the price. If you want to do that numerically, that makes the Kenyan tea four times the value of the Darjeeling.

    If a person is on a budget (and most are), the Nikon gear will give far better return for the economic investment.

    If the person is not on a budget, then yes, the Leica gear will give somewhat higher quality. Not all will notice but some will. If the original poster is one of those people, and has the budget to match, the Leitz gear will be a worthwhile purchase.
     
  16. DBP

    DBP Member

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    That seems a bit steep for a Leicaflex, compared to KEH prices. Are lenses included?
     
  17. BobbyR

    BobbyR Member

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    From what I have seen , many seem to believe the R6.2 is the best non electro Leica.
    Take it for what its worth.
    Bobby
     
  18. telyt

    telyt Member

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    Agreed, assuming the return delivered by the Nikon meets the photographer's needs. $20 spent on something that doesn't meet your needs (vs. $100 spent on something that does) is not a good value. Despite my (very) limited discretionary cash supply, I traded Nikon for Leicaflex and the additional $ return from the Leica more than made up the price difference.
     
  19. mawz

    mawz Member

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    Keep the FM3a, spend the extra on some Zeiss ZF lenses. The SL was a very good body for its era, but its era was 40 years ago and things have moved on. Other than sheer build it can't compare to a gem like the FM3a, which is arguably the best mechanical SLR made.

    Personally, I've long thought the R series stuff is a great lens kit looking for a halfway decent body. The SL was good, the SL2 a nice update but years behind the competition. The early R stuff was rehashed mid-range Minolta kit for ridiculous prices and the more recent stuff seems to be half-baked copies of the later Contax kit. Great lenses though, but if I was going to buy into a german SLR kit, the Contax stuff seems the way to go to me, German glass on Japanese bodies.
     
  20. dynachrome

    dynachrome Member

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    An FM3A is a much more modern camera and should prove to be reliable for a long time. Whenever I read that someone likes the color rendition of one lens vs. another I have to wonder what film is being shot and how prints are being made if they are. If you shoot color print film and have prints made then you are probably having the negatives scanned and getting prints made digitally. Subtle color rendition differemces will be difficult or impossible to see under these conditions. If you shoot slide film and have prints made then you are also probably getting scans (or making them yourself) and then printing digitally. You will not see big differences between lenses unless you shoot slide film and then look at the slides on a light table or project them. I don't think anyone has to apologize for the optical or mechanical quality of manual focus Nikkor lenses. The E series lenses were budget models. Some were quite good optically but none of them had the build quality of a Nikkor. Where macro lenses are concerned, anything from the 55/3.5 Micro Nikkor P of the mid 1970s to the 55/2.8 AIS is excellent. The 55/2.8 often has oil on the blades but this can be easily remedied. At this point I don't know whether it matters that a Leica 60mm lens might be mechanically more sturdy. You aren't likely to be using either lens, at least with a film camera, 25 years from now.

    If you want to spend $500 you might want to look for an F3 in good condition. You get a lot more focusing screen choices than what you have with the FM3A and you also get interchangeable finders. An F3 is much more modern than an SL2 and should be at least as reliable at all shutter speeds after an overhaul.
     
  21. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    What about a K 1000 (or a MX/LX) with Zeiss K mount lenses?
     
  22. telyt

    telyt Member

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    Slide film in my case (reduces a lot of variables). Color saturation is one of the big reasons I switched from Nikon to Leicaflex SL (bokeh is another big reason). Some of the Nikkors I've used have great color saturation, some have good bokeh, I haven't found in Nikkors the combination of image detail, color saturation and decent bokeh that I see regularly in the Leica-R lenses.
     
  23. KrankyKraut

    KrankyKraut Member

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    I agree with Telyt. I have used lenses from all major makers over the last 35 years, and the difference between Leica lenses and everybody else's can (most of the time) clearly be seen even in the conditions described by dynachrome. I switched to Leica R after decades of using Nikkors, and only regret that I didn't do it sooner. Bodies are a different matter, though.
     
  24. budrichard

    budrichard Member

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    The real question you must answer is, Do you want to take photographs or do you want to admire the mystique of the Leica?
    If you want to take photographs, the the Fm3A wins hands down. My history of Nikon usage started out with two Nikon F's in the 1960's for newspaper work and has ended up with a Fm3A which in my opinion is the best film SLR, Nikon has ever made. You can review qualitative criteria about lenses until "the cows come home" but Nikkor lenses are very good and the range is wide.
    If you want to admire the Leica SLR and lenses, you can certainly forgo your Nikon and acquire a Leica SLR. It won't do a better job than the Nikon but you will feel better and you might impress someone but not me.
    BTW, I have Leica M3, M6, two M7's with a complete set of Leitz RF lenses for the M3 and set of Leica ASPH lenses for the M7's, so I do appreciate the ability of the Leica M system and lenses but I use them to take photographs and don't spend any time admiring them or the lenses.-Dick
     
  25. Rol_Lei Nut

    Rol_Lei Nut Member

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    "The real question you must answer is, Do you want to take photographs or do you want to admire the mystique of Nikon?
    If you want to take photographs, the the SL2 wins hands down..."

    I used Nikon for decades before switching to Leica.
    (And still love my Nikon F and FE-2, can't get rid of them even though I don't use them anymore)

    The only way in which the FM3a is "better" than the SL2 is if you are looking at size, weight, AE or using a winder.
    The SL2's viewfinder, mirror & shutter dampening, ergonomics and (often) lens quality are without doubt superior.
    I know where my priorities lie...
    (and haven't even wanted to use my Nikon bodies since getting my SL2).
     
  26. kadath

    kadath Member

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    I had a similar choice recently, since I wanted a decent 35mm camera. I can't afford medium format yet, besides I find them all heavy and awkward. And I need to see the frame accurately, so an slr won out over a rangefinder. So I went with the leicaflex sl with 50mm summicron. I can't afford any of the other lenses, but the price was probably less than the nikon fm3a w/ 50mm (going by keh prices). The other lenses are very expensive, but I don't need them, and I can't be bothered carrying them around anyway. I'd only lose them in a ditch somewhere. The only problem with the sl is it's somewhat big and heavy. Otherwise it's a perfect camera. I wish it was the size of a pentax mx (i.e. just about pocket size), but with the same lens.