M3 or M2?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Jimbot, Mar 21, 2011.

  1. Jimbot

    Jimbot Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    My first post as a self confessed RF newbie. In the recent past I have been a come and go medium format guy.

    A few weeks back I bought a late serial number M3 with a 50/2 mm Summicron DR attachment. All beautiful (really beautiful!) but even to my old wonky eyes the viewfinder looked a bit "dull".

    So, of course, I then bought another M3 and an M2, both in brilliant condition-

    Don't worry I don't think I will be around here for long as I will soon be broke from buying all this new equipment.

    Both the second M3 and the M2 have viewfinders that light up like Christmas.

    To the point now:

    1. Is there anything that can be done to restore the first M3's dull viewfinder? ; and

    2. at the risk of starting or restarting a flame war, what do more experienced users see as the relative merits or disadvantages of the M3 and the M2?

    I have agreed with myself that I can keep only one (Yeah right! How can you trust a guy who buys 3 cameras in two weeks?).

    Thanks for your help and patience.
    Jim
     
  2. tony lockerbie

    tony lockerbie Subscriber

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    Only three cameras in two weeks? You are not even trying! I have had the viewfinder in my M2 cleaned by a professional, and came back like new, so yes, they can be brightened considerably. As to which is best, hard one, but I chose the M2, despite it's "downmarket" specification, because it has the 35mm frame lines. I only use the 50 and (mostly) the 35mm, so the M2 was a no brainer. The lack of a self setting film counter doesn't concern me at all, and mine came with the self timer fitted, which also concerns me not at all. Of course there is the M4!
    Tony
     
  3. chioque

    chioque Member

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    I prefer the M2 myself, mainly because I use the 35mm most of the time.
     
  4. lns

    lns Member

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    Use both and see.

    Rule of thumb, of course, is that if you are going to use a 35mm often, you should keep the M2. I do think the M2 is better if you're going to have only one camera, because of that flexibility. Still, personally I ended up keeping my M3 instead of my M2. That's because I use a 50mm most of the time, and, the older I get, the more I like the extra magnification of the M3's viewfinder. But I had both for a long time and could justify both. It's nice to have two bodies when you shoot film, because you can load two different types of film. Also, you always have a backup.

    -Laura
     
  5. jordanstarr

    jordanstarr Member

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    I'll third the M2 as I also use a 35mm lens on it 99% of the time. If you're a 50mm shooter, the M3 would be better with that finder. If you shoot any wider you need to use an external finder or goggles, which will be an added smaller pain. You'll probably get a little more money by selling the M3 as well.

    Also, maybe to keep in mind. If you keep the M2 with plans of maybe getting an M6 in the future, you can use the same lenses. Using the 35mm lenses with goggles on the M6 can be a pain from what I've heard.

    I've personally cleaned my m2 finder, which wasn't the hardest thing in the world. I'm sure you could clean up the M3 with the right tools.
     
  6. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    Both are fantastic cameras (I owned them both in the past.)

    The M3 is an excellent 50mm shooter, but for 35mm you'll need an external finder, or the Summaron with goggles. The goggles add weight and bulk (but the lens takes real nifty pictures.) The M3 has lines for 135mm, which was great for me.

    The M2 is excellent for 35mm, but for me at least, 50mm made me feel like I was wasting half the viewfinder. The M2 also doesn't have a self-reseting frame counter, which seems minor until you forget to set it yourself.

    Again, both are excellent. It's just a matter of personal choice.
     
  7. MaximusM3

    MaximusM3 Member

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    I love early M4s. They are built just with the same perfection of late M3s and give the convenience of all the frame lines, albeit with a .72 finder. Obviously, there is no better finder than the one on the M3 so, if the 35mm lines are a must, the M4 is the most obvious choice. Great examples can be less expensive than M3s but prices have been stable or creeping up, as people realize how great and timeless those cameras are. Having said that, there is nothing wrong with your choice of an M2 either..
     
  8. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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  9. rpsawin

    rpsawin Subscriber

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    Never owned an M3 and instead have an M2. The M2 is my favorite camera and I expect to keep it as long as I am around. I can have a really great day shooting with my M2 and a 35, a 50 & a 90.

    Best regards,

    Bob
     
  10. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    Canon P
     
  11. ChipMcD

    ChipMcD Member

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    I have the M3 and an M6, but no M2. The M3's viewfinder is better for 50mm than anything else, the M6 included. As pointed out by numerous posters above, the M3 lacks 35mm and 28mm viewfinder lines. I find the M6's 28mm lines almost unusable, because they are so far toward the outer edges, and I use Leica's 21mm-28mm adjustable viewer for 28mm and 21mm lenses. I also use a Voitlander 35mm viewer with my M3, and I shoot 35mm a lot, probably as much as I shoot 50mm. I don't find the external viewfinders to be much of a problem. I guess I've shot enough with my IIIc not to mind switching back and forth for rangefinder and viewfinder. If I had to get rid of one of my M bodies, it would be the M6.

    Others here are doubtless more knowledgable than I, but I have also read that the M3's viewfinder is much better, but mechanically more complicated than the cheaper-to-manufacture mechanism that Leica began using with the M2 and has continued to use to date. It also has a .92 magnification vs. the .72 magnification in the M2 and most successors; thus, is more precise in focusing 50mm and longer focal lenths because of the higher effective rangefinder distance. I am sure that the M2 is no slouch either, so it probably comes down to whether having the 35mm framelines is important to you.

    Regarding cleanup of the viewfinder in the M3, I saw a recommendation for Sherry Krauter, which I can second. I bought my first M3 from her, which she had overhauled, and she does excellent work.
     
  12. agw

    agw Member

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    Well, one could say that two M3s and one M2 is slightly more than absolutely necessary. OTOH, keeping one M3 and M2 each completely makes sense. I myself intermittently use an M3 and M4 - M3 for 50, M4 for 35, depending on which length I'm in the mood for.

    Oh well, if you'd like to use different 50ies for different image characteristics, there's no good reason to get rid of one of the M3s.
     
  13. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Jimbot,

    You need at least one for black & white film and one for color. Then too you should really have both high and low speed black & white and both high and low speed color! There is nothing like the force of GAS.

    Just be glad that you did not buy three Hasselblads in a week.

    Steve
     
  14. Jimbot

    Jimbot Member

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    Hmmm, 3 Hassies in a week? Yes I've done that before too.

    Wow thank you all for this great info.

    Very much appreciated.Lots to digest.
    Jim
     
  15. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Felt great. Right?
     
  16. Jimbot

    Jimbot Member

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    Well...Yes...Yes it did.

    I am clearly prone to bouts of G.A.S. from time to time.

    At this stage I am planning to send the M3 with the dull RF off for a service and once it is returned decide on one of the M3s to keep. The M2 is a keeper.

    I have run a test film through each of the M2 and bright RF M3 and am awaiting their return.
    I find that I am spending an inordinate amount of time just handling these cameras, enjoying the feel of them in my hands and fiddling with their levers etc.
    I was the same when i first acquired a Hasselblad. They just have more "heft" than the digitals.
     
  17. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    The negative quality is a lot better than digitalis!

    My bad!
     
  18. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

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    Three in one week? I hope you aren't married, or have an understanding wife.

    Jimbot: I like the M2. I shoot mostly 35mm, love the finder. I don't worry about the resetting frame counter, forget it half the time anyway. I would like to get another M2, but I have spent way too much already this year.
     
  19. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    An M2 for 35mm lenses; an M3 for 50mm lenses.

    However, an M2 is really not bad with a 50mm. Sometimes it is actually kind of nice composing with a big "gutter" around your frame. (I use a Bessa R, which has a viewfinder for a 35mm lens, but I use a 50mm lens on it.) But with a 50, the image will be larger, and focusing will be a bit easier on the M3.

    So I would keep one of each and sell the dingy one so you do not have to bother paying to get it cleaned.

    But if you never use a 35mm lens, I would keep the nicer M3 and sell the other M3, and the M2.
     
  20. jochen

    jochen Member

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    Hello,
    as ChipMcD has written, the rangefinder of the M 3 is completely different from the M 2 and all newer types. It is considered as the exactest of all M's, especially for the 135 mm lenses and it has no flare by bright light from outside the frame like the newer ones. Some M 3 viewfinderss show separation of prisms and some have a yellowing viewfinder. If it is only dirty, it can be cleaned, but I think it will be difficult to repair a separated or yellowed viewfinder. Leica has no spare viewfinders for the M 3. Very early M 3's have a doubble-stroke transport-mechanism, the later cameras have single-stroke, which is more comfortable.
     
  21. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Hi

    Finder repairs can be cheap or expensive depends what is wrong.

    If you use a standard lens exclusively the M3 is nicer, it you use a widerangle sometimes the M2 is necessary, there is a kludge (for M3) but it is horrible.

    The M2 finder was cheaper to make but all the later cameras use it, even the latest MP and M7 although they have hard coated surfaces.

    The Canon P is in many ways more practical but it only takes screw thread lenses.

    Noel
     
  22. thomasw_

    thomasw_ Member

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    Assuming you are like me and strongly prefer non-metered Ms, these are my thoughts. I think if you have only one M, then the M2 is the best all-round in terms of quality and price. (You can sometimes find the M4-2 for roughly the same price as a M2, but the VF is not as flare resistant as the M2's VF.) The M2 is a great all-round camera with the classic 35-50-90 framelines. If you can afford a bit more money, then the M4 does what the standard M2 does, but is a tad bit faster in use: with a M4 you get the faster tulip film loading and the slightly faster angled film rewind.

    But if you are dedicated to the 50mm focal length, I would recommend what others have suggested: get a M3 and go to it!

    Any of the classic Ms rock; so pick one of the M2-3-4s and you will be glad.
     
  23. deisenlord

    deisenlord Member

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    I sent my old single stroke M3 to Peter at CRR Luton for dull and low contrast range finder, it came back like new. He's can actually re-sliver prism's if necessary, mine didn't require. The only issue is he's booked a long time into the future, July now.

    http://www.angelfire.com/biz/Leica/page10.html
     
  24. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    Well, I had both. My answer? F2! (Where's the emoticon for "ducking for cover" when you need one?)

    :confused: