Nikon vs. Leica

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Ara Ghajanian, Aug 31, 2004.

  1. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    Seriously, how much better are Leica optics than Nikon? I have an Nikon F3 and I'm considering switching to Leica M. I love the F3, but it's not a very good camera for situations where noise is critical. I just can't get away with taking a photo without everyone in a 1 mile radius noticing. Plus, I'm thinking that the lighter weight of the Leica will enable me to hand hold the camera at lower shutter speeds. There's just something magical about the Leica.

    If the optics are not that much better then I'll probably stick to the F3. Also, do you think it's possible to find an M body and lens for under $2000 (I can hear a few of you laughing right now as I type this)?
     
  2. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Leica and Nikon optics are maybe equally good, if the Leitz optics are not better.
    Rangefinders are a different world compared to SLRs, I'd advice you to go to a photo-store and "feel" one.

    Yes, you can find an M body for under $2000, look in the used section of KEH, B&H, Adorama. Or you can get a Voigtlander Bessa
     
  3. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    An almost off-topic, left-handed kind of response to your question but... If you're after low noise, easy to hand-hold at low shutter-speeds, inconspicuous camera, have you considered keeping the F3 and adding a TLR?

    It's just a part of me shudders at parting with *that* much money for what is, when it gets right down to it, a 35mm camera. At least an XPan adds the panoramic ability (and *still* comes in cheaper)!

    (Please direct all flames to dev/null! :smile: )
     
  4. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    If you want to keep your optics while having a silent camera trade in yor F3 for an F5 . It's the GREATEST NIKON! It would made me consider changing from Canon to Nikon.

    Morten
     
  5. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    I have a Rolleiflex TLR. I also have a Hasselblad 500CM. I think I'm in a real photographic rutt lately. I've been shooting alot, but nothing seems to really be inspiring me. That's why I thought getting a Leica would make me see things differently. I know, I know, it's not the tools but how you employ them. $2000 is alot to spend on a 35mm. If anything, I should get my darkroom going. Since college (1992) I haven't stepped in a darkroom, I have been just shooting and accumulating negs for 12 years. Thanks for the advice.
     
  6. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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  7. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    Leica/Leitz lenses are not really "better" but they do have a different look to them. I use Leicas soley for black and white and I like using Leica rangefinders better than using any SLR I've ever owned (Nikon and Canon EOS). Lens quality is not really a concern since everybody makes good lenses. The Leica excells at allowing you to shoot at slower speeds and take quick candid photos. It's not as versatile as an SLR, however, and I would suggest you keep your Nikon to be able to use long lenses, do close-ups, etc.

    By the way, Leicas focus in the opposite direction from Nikons. If you are used to the way Nikons handle, it can be frustrating when you try to use a Leica.

    Used Leica equipment can be found at reasonably reasonable prices. You should be able to get a really fine body and 50mm Summicron for less than $2000 if you shop around.
     
  8. david b

    david b Member

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    Since you are already using medium format and have found yourself in a rut, why not look into a mamiya 6 or 7? they are wonderful "handhold" cameras.
    I too use a hasselblad, but since I bought my mamiya 7II, I find myself shooting a lot more and seeing things much differently. It's a bit of freedom I guess, since I don't use a tripod much anymore.
    As for the mamiya optics, I don't think there is anyone here on apug who would find fault with their quality, sharpness, or color rendition.
    Take a look. You can get a M7 with an 80mm lens for about $1500 or so.
     
  9. luvmydogs

    luvmydogs Member

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    I second the Mamiya. I recently took the plunge and bought a Mamiya 7II, and I just love it. The camera is light, the viewfinder is bright, and the slides I've gotten back are just gorgeous - sharp with beautiful color (I only used Velvia 50 so far with my Mamiya though).
     
  10. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I've used both and for all practical considerations the optics are equal. A choice would have to be made for other reasons. My rangefinder of choice these days is a Bessa R.
     
  11. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Rangefinders are sweet for their size and low noise but personally I prefer to shoot with an SLR. The RF requires you to concentrate on focusing and then composing in two steps (unless you're scale focusing) while th SLR lets you do both simultaneously.
     
  12. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    Thanks for all the replies. I think I'll just stick to the F3 since most of you think there really isn't much difference in optics. I have to say that camera has a great meter.

    As far as the rutt... I checked out the galley at APUG and I think I'll post some of my older work to get some opinions. Some of the work in the gallery is very impressive. It's inspiring to see other peoples' work. Makes me a little envious, but in a good way.
     
  13. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Let's not demystify the Leica too much here. As in many of the replies have been in the vein of, "Have you considered something else other than a Leica, like a Mamiya 7, a TLR, a Bessa, etc. ?"
    While the Leica has many shortcommings compared to other cameras for all around use, A Leica is a Leica and nothing else does what it does as well. For low light work, for quiet operation, for fast focusing of a stationary subject, for the the look generated by the lenses (especially the older designs), for the "high" you get using even a 50 year old one, nothing else comes close. Not a Mamiya, not a Contax G2, not a Bessa and certainly not an F3.
    Take care,
    Tom

    Edit: BTW, If I already had a camera, my next purchase would be a darkroom. Another camera would be well down on my list of purchases.
     
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  15. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    Tom, you're right. I'm the perfect candidate for a darkroom. I just need to get off my ass and design and build it. I have this perfect room in my basement with plumbing. I just need to get a sink and make it light tight. I think I'll go over to the darkroom forum now...
     
  16. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Yes, I wish I had the money to muy a M2 or M3 body and a couple of lenses.
     
  17. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I'm glad that you seem to have pretty good luck with your F3. I have one of the original ones (1981?) and I have had to have it repaired some many times, I've lost count. I gave it up a few years ago; I still have it, but it is broken again. I replaced it with an N80. No big deal, since I mainly do LF these days anyway.
     
  18. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    The other thing about rangefinders is that the focusing is, IMHO, much more precise than with SLR's (especially autofocus. yuchhhh!) If you want to get a very shallow depth of field portrait, I think it is hard to beat Leica glass wide open. The out-of-focus areas are smooth and distinctive, and the in-focus areas are razor sharp. You might want to consider a user M2 or M3 with a Summicron-M (35 or 50), which can be found used for not quite as much $$$ as a brand new kit.
     
  19. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    You mean something like this item in epay?
    Number 3835932580
     
  20. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    Wellll... that one looks it needs a purple Caddy with vinyl top and leopard skin seat covers to complete the look. Maybe a burgundy velour suit and a fedora as well.

    Seriously, the lens on this one looks a little suspect. The DR summicron is a great lens, but whenever someone starts talking about haze, I run the other direction
     
  21. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Ara,

    Seriously, I think you're not going to find what you're looking for in a camera shop. The kit you have is not lacking in any reasonable way. Maybe think about setting yourself a project, but if you're after something different then a darkroom could well be the way to go (and *'way* cheaper than a Leica!).

    All the best,

    Frank
     
  22. Sean

    Sean Admin Staff Member Admin

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    I used a nikon 8008s with 3 lenses for about 5 years. I then upgraded to a Leica M6 with 28mm elmarit-M. When I got my first roll of slides back from the Leica I was beyond floored. I'm not sure how people can say the optics are the same. My nikon slides in comparison to the Leica slides were absolutely flat and dreary. The leica images look 3D as if they are jumping out of the emulsion. Amazing clarity and contrast. I no longer have the M6 because I've gone up to 645 and 8x10, but if I were going with a serious 35mm setup it would be hard to use anything other than a Leica after owning one. The Leica's are pricey though, the main drawback..
     
  23. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I can't speak to the newer Nikon glass as everything I own is from the 70's and early 80's. But I can say that the old Nikkor glass is better than the new stuff for subjective image quality. I don't do charts, just images. So Sean if your comparing the new Nikkor to Leica I can't argue on that one.
     
  24. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Hi Ara,
    Your post really caught my attention because I've been considering exactly the same thing. Moving to a rangefinder has some really attractive benefits. Like the smaller, less intrusive size, quieter noise, and sooooo much more convenient for travel and candid work. I also use a Nikon 35mm, and I regularly compare results with a friend who uses an Olympus OM2 with the same slide film. He consistently gets better colour rendition and contrastier results than my prime lenses in exactly the same situation. I can only assume a rangefinder without mirror movement and significantly faster lenses will consistently get better results. And the Leicas are such beautiful cameras - definately an attraction.

    Lees comment is something to consider .... "It's not as versatile as an SLR, however, and I would suggest you keep your Nikon to be able to use long lenses, do close-ups, etc". Fast autofocus and long focal lengths are the things I'm personally scared of giving up. I believe the Leicas are limited to 135 or 150mm max (?) So nature/wildlife photography could be more challenging - if this is a consideration. There are a few photographs I'm glad to have (and I'm convinced I would not have, if it were not for the Nikons' excellent spot metering and fast AF).

    Would be very interested in hearing what you decide. Good luck. :smile:
     
  25. Ara Ghajanian

    Ara Ghajanian Member

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    Although, I would have to agree with Sean as far as the lens quality is concerned, a Leica is not in my immediate future. I looked up some prices on eBay and I was shocked to say the least. Basically, I would have to sell the F3, both lenses and motor drive, the Hasselblad setup, and still not have enough for any Leica. I love working with my F3 for most of the work I do, it's just the size and the noise that are prohibitive. But then again, I'm also the guy that used to own an RB67 and use it without a tripod, so at first the F3 was like lifting a feather. I'll probably be working on getting the darkroom going, it's going to cost much less in the long run and there are so many negatives to print. Thanks for all the advice. I found the forum about a week ago and you guys and gals have already been extremely helpful.
     
  26. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Why don;t you get a used Zeiss Contaflex/Contina/Contessa or a Voigtlander Vito/Vitessa as a starter VF camera. They don;t cost more than $100 and except for the lightmeter are usually fully operational.
    If you are lucky you may even be able to buy a Contax II or III for not too much money. Or one of the newer Contax G1/G2.

    Also a russian copy of a Leica/Contax (FED or Zorki) can be a good starting point for you to get a feel of how a Rangefinder feels/holds/shoots, etc.

    None of these cameras (excpet for the conatx) will be as high quality as a Leica but they will igve you an idea of how the RF feels