Recommendations for a slighter older Leica..

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by melmoth, Mar 6, 2006.

  1. melmoth

    melmoth Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Location:
    ireland
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hallo there,

    I have reached the point where I am contemplating buying a Leica camera. I like manual cameras, precision and a quality lens. Living in a city I find my nikon fm3a (an excellent camera) to be too visible and a little heavy in the hands for certain photographic moments.
    And so, not having the cash to purchase a modern Leica new and after considering the Bessa T etc., I am looking at the Leica M2, the Leica M3 and the Leica M6.

    What do people recommend? And why? is there a hugh difference between, say the Leica M3 and the M6?

    I know these questions are a little broad but I am grateful for any suggestions.

    Thanks a lot.

    M.
     
  2. Bill Mitchell

    Bill Mitchell Member

    Messages:
    527
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Save your money. If you don't know what you need, then you don't need it.
     
  3. melmoth

    melmoth Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Location:
    ireland
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Mainly I need advice, Bill.
    But I take your point. Still gonna get that camera though. And after that, a damn fine lens. I am not in this for the name. Because of circumstances I get most of my information over the net. Not always an optimal solution. But one must try. M.
     
  4. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

    Messages:
    728
    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2004
    Location:
    Wilmette,Ill
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My opinion is to get an M6. M2's and M3's are very nice too, but I really like having a built in meter, plus they are newer. The quality of all these cameras is very high, and they all have their fans. If a meter is not important to you, an M3 is great with 50mm and longer lenses because of the higher magniication viewfinder. Then of course M2's have nice and simple framelines. You really can't go wrong with any of them they are all wonderful cameras. Has this been any help? I have an M2 and an M6 and I use the M6 the most.

    Richard Wasserman
     
  5. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,393
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    disfromage covers it well. I use an M4, and have owned M2, IIIf, and IIIC. The early Leicas are very compact, but not as practical to use as the M series. The later models with a built-in meter are convenient, but meters are a potential source of problems. A greatly underestimated lens in M mount is the old Elmar 50mm f/2.8. It was one of the sharpest lenses I ever tested. Also, it makes the Leica a genuine pocket camera.
     
  6. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The M2 has viewfinder frames for 35, 50, and 90 mm. The M2 has always been a journalists, and street shooters camera. Very nice with a 1978 era ("Mandler") 35 Summicron.

    The M3; 50, 90, and 135. Fans of the 50mm love the M3, it has a higher magnifcation finder.

    The M6 has been made in huge numbers, and is plentiful. Available in a few variations.

    The M4 is a classic, but very much a collectable.

    The M5 is underrated, but is very big ( being the '70s metered camera )

    The M42 is despised by collectors, as is the M4P, but they are superb cameras. And usually bargains.

    The best buy is one with steady but not violent use. A Leica, like a Rolex, that was purchased new and put in a cupboard for 30 years is useless: you pay a premium and have to have a complete overhaul to clean out the gunk. But one with use, although it may need reasonable work if it hasn't been serviced in a while, will be a good buy. Like a used car.
     
  7. sanderx1

    sanderx1 Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    But a new Rollei RF35 with its 40mm / f2.8 (a first class lens) costs less than any of these without lens at KEH. Then again, I'm a firm believer in end result over branding and I'm not really a RF person, so take it with a garin of salt.
     
  8. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When you walk the path
    that winds beside the river
    Spring is your Leica.


    Enough. Gotta lick out the wine bottle and turn off the safelight.
     
  9. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

    Messages:
    963
    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2002
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I've owned an M3, two M4 an M6 and an M6 TTL. I would say to buy the M6. The convenience of the meter makes a quick, quiet camera even quicker.
     
  10. melmoth

    melmoth Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Location:
    ireland
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks folks.

    This is what I looking for. Small, manual, precise. Particularly in a dimly lit atmosphere ie dull light. Then again, the more I look into it and see what is available I start thinking about the R8. A slight jump but...Sturdy, AE?etc. More grist to the mill.
    Cheers M.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 7, 2006
  11. Denis P.

    Denis P. Member

    Messages:
    466
    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Location:
    Croatia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You're mixing apples and oranges (i.e. "M" and "R" Leica models)....
    Leica "R" models are SLR cameras, and suffer from the same shortcomings as other SLRs - mirror slap, vibration, etc...

    Small, manual, precise - get any "M" model that fits you. However, before taking the plunge and spending all that cash, you'd better test drive it, or first get some experience with another, cheaper, RF camera, just to see if this whole "RF" thing is for you.
    I have several Leicas, and find I like my M2 the most. Having the meter in the M6 just distracts me. With all-mechanical meterless body (i.e. M2 or M3), I first meter the light, and then shoot without distractions, concentrating on the scene and the framelines.
    Silent, quick, and reliable....

    However, Leicas (and other RF cameras) have their limitations - the closest focusing distance with a 50mm lens is usually 0,9 meters or thereabouts. There's also the parallax problem, which is not always obvious.

    In short, you can't (and won't) get a definitive answer from anyone else but yourself. The choice depends on your shooting style, kind of shots that you take, etc.

    But, I'd agree that for dimly lit spaces without flash, a rangefinder is the way to go, particularly if you don't want to stick out or be noticed (or heard).

    After shooting 35mm format for a year almost exclusively with a Leica, I shot a roll with my old Nikon FM a few days ago. It felt (and sounded) like a Colt 45 compared to a Leica :smile: Big, heavy, unwieldy, and loud. And the mirror slap (and the vibration) is awful! I wondered how I ever got a sharp negative with it!

    OTOH, if you want to get really close (e.g. 0,5 meters or so), SLR is the way to go.
    For quasi-silent SLR shooting, I find my Nikon N80 much better in that respect - it's the absolute winner in my SLR collection, as far as "silent shooting" goes. But, Leica glass is the all-round winner as far as final quality of the shot is concerned.

    In short, you should first re-examine your needs carefully. If you do decide for a Leica, take some time to get familiar with different models, viewfinder magnifications, etc. There are many good resources on the Net available.

    Let me reiterate - you could (and probably should) get a cheaper rangefinder first to "test the waters". Yashica Electros come to mind. Yashica Lynx 14e also has excellent lens (45/1.4), although it's a bit on the large side.

    Regards,

    Denis
     
  12. melmoth

    melmoth Member

    Messages:
    59
    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Location:
    ireland
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks Denis.
    I will think further. These answers are excellent: short, precise and clarify a great deal.
    Cheers.

    M.
     
  13. Max Power

    Max Power Member

    Messages:
    598
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2004
    Location:
    Aylmer, QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you're not certain, I just might have a suggestion!!!

    Go SOVIET. No, seriously!

    FEDs and Zorkis don't have the sex appeal of a Leica but there are literally millions of them out there and they are cheap and reliable and the optics are very good and easily had.

    It might be a decent way to test the waters and see if RF is what you want to do.

    Just my $0.02
    Kent
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I wouldn't discount the use of an R8 based on experience with an FM. I'm not sure about more recent models, which I haven't used, but earlier R model SLRs had a cam driven mirror that slowed to a stop at the top of the cycle and didn't have the impact against the body like most SLR designs, so mirror impact and noise are both mitigated relative to most other SLRs. Perhaps an R8 user can chime in here on the mirror issue.

    In suggesting other starter RF cameras for testing the waters, I'd also mention the Cosina Voigtlander Bessa models and their lenses. These are compatible with Leica screw mount and/or M mount cameras and lenses and would serve as a second film or backup body after purchasing a Leica M if you decide to go that way. There are a number of models available, new or discontinued, at a wide variety of price points with different features. cameraquest.com has articles on the various models and lenses. People compare many of the lenses favorably with older vintage Leica lenses, especially at the prices they go for.

    Lee
     
  16. Soeren

    Soeren Member

    Messages:
    2,439
    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2004
    Location:
    Naestved, DK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How about the Canon, Minolta, Olympus etc rangefinders of the seventies ?
    Fixed lenses at around 40mm but fast at aroun f/1,7 and with leafshutters they are very quiet too
    The Canon QL 17 GIII is light and does't take up much place.
    Cheers Søren
     
  17. rbarker

    rbarker Member

    Messages:
    2,222
    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2004
    Location:
    Rio Rancho,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If your objective is to make photographs, as opposed to retaining or building collectable value, I'd go for an M6 classic or an M6TTL for several reasons. First, being newer, they will last for many years before needing repair. Second, being newer, they have better coverage with respect to viewfinder frames, and offer choices of viewfinder magnification. Finally, there is less fetish-factor with the M6/M6TTL, so prices are more realistic. Even though I rarely use fill flash with the Leica, I opted for the M6TTL for the few times that I do so.
     
  18. jacobus

    jacobus Member

    Messages:
    34
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Shooter:
    Medium Format

    I like this heiku.

    Uli Mayer
    Munich
     
  19. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

    Messages:
    861
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Good morning M,

    An M6TTL or M7 would be close to the same size and weight of your FM3A, though the lenses are slightly lighter. Visibility factor is something else, since when you lift a camera to your face it becomes obvious you are taking a photo. Of course, you could always go for wider lenses and a shoot from the hip technique.

    The first two cameras I bought were a used Nikon FM and a very used Leica M3. The rangefinder had the advantage of continuous viewing through the finder, which became useful in certain situations. Unfortunately, my M3 broke, and after a few years of high repair estimates I traded it for other photographic gear. The Nikon FM has only needed a little maintenance and cleaning, so I still have it and use it.


    The is a good source for lots of questions at http://www.nemeng.com/leica/index.shtml

    Currently, used prices are fairly good for an M6 or M6TTL. Both of those have a meter built in, something not in the earlier cameras. However, if you have a good hand held meter, you can get a slightly less expensive M4-2 or M4P, which are basically like an M6 without metering. Most other Leica models are substantially older, so you would be more likely to need to budget for a service soon after you get one. An M2 or M3 is quite old, and costs nearly as much as an M4-2, and sometimes can be more expensive.

    Alternatives would be a Konica Hexar RF, the Rollei mentioned earlier, several Voigtländer Bessa versions, or the new Zeiss Ikon. However, the body shape of a Leica M rangefinder is unique, and a different experience in hand held photography. An easier route might be a used Leica M body, and a lens from another company.

    Rangefinder cameras can be quite useful in low light conditions. They are also easier to use when you have a strong filter in front of the lens (like an ND or Red filter). The Leica reps let me try out an M7 last year, and I can honestly state that it would be a great camera for anyone wanting to use a 35mm rangefinder. Unfortunately, it is not currently in my budget.

    Ciao!

    Gordon
     
  20. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

    Messages:
    578
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    From my own experience buying and selling and using Leica gear, I like the simplicity of the M3. It's also proved for me to be incredibly reliable. Downsides, as others have pointed out, are the limited rangefinder lines. If you like to shoot wider lenses and don't like to have an external viewfinder, the M3 may not be a good solution. Also, I like using a winder. So, I liked the M4 over the M3 for that reason. All in all, if I was buying today, I would get a user M6. There seem to be quite a few available used and they don't have the collector price inflation that even worn M3 bodies seem to carry.
    Neal
     
  21. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

    Messages:
    1,325
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Location:
    Louisiana, U
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    M6.

    Not the TTL but the "classic". Smaller than the TTL and the shutter dial works like a Leica shutter dial has alway traditionally worked. More recent model, less likely to need timely CLA. Has a meter. Leica lenses, especially the older Leitz models in moderate maximum apertures, are significantly smaller than all SLR lenses, including Nikkor/Nikon lenses.

    Almost everyday of my life I carry a small Billingham bag with two M6's, four lenses, handheld meter, accessories, filters and 20 or so rolls of film along with all kinds of other non-photo crap. You will be surprised and amazed at how small these cameras are in comparison to most 35mm SLRs.

    On a budget? Go for an M4-P. It's essentially the M6 minus the meter. Buy Voigtlander lenses--they're almost as good as (actually some are reportedly better) the Leitz/Leica lenses and cost a fraction.
     
  22. butterflydream

    butterflydream Member

    Messages:
    192
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    Location:
    Korea
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    M3 or M6/M2 decision depends on whether you would mainly use standard 50mm lens or 35mm lens. M3 doesn't have view frame line for 35mm lens. Though you can use 35mm lens with goggle, it's rather bulky. M6, M4p have also 28mm view frame line.

    I mainly use 50mm lens and I love the finder of M3.
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,998
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    i have and use a m3 and love it. i came from using ( i still have them ) pentax slrs for 25 years. i use a 35-50-90, and my only complaint is the way you have to load the camera, and really can't complain too loudly. i handhold it down to 1/15S with no shake, and the shutter is silent and strong. i don't have the goggles for my 35mm, but i just judge that it is around the full view in the finder, and when i get around to it, i'll get an aux finder to put ontop, they are pretty funny looking ( russian ones) and not too expensive.

    i have a meter that i think was for a m4 that i use with it. not an slr ttl meter, but it works very well, and these days i am pretty good at judging light so i don't even bother with the meter for themost part.

    if you can find one, and it isn't too expensive, it is a sweet ride and you won't be sorry you took it.

    john
     
  24. Uncle Bill

    Uncle Bill Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,380
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Oakville and
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would look at an M3, when they are well cared for they will last forever. I am the second generation Smith to own this particular M3 and if I were making a purchase for a second Leica M body, it would have to be an M2 or an M4-p made in Midland Ontario.

    Bill
     
  25. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    9,452
    Joined:
    May 24, 2005
    Location:
    Washington DC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Nobody has mentioned a CL or CLE as viable lighter-weight, more compact (and less expensive) alternatives to the M6 or the Nikon. While the viewfinders don't cover as extensive a range of lenses, they still work well with some commonly used focal lengths, have internal TTL and autoexposure (aperture preferred), and they don't do the strange bottom-loading-through-a-slit thing the M series cameras do.
     
  26. Lee L

    Lee L Member

    Messages:
    3,247
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    For technical accuracy:
    The CL is match needle manual metering only, not aperture priority auto, and uses an obsolete 1.35V mercury cell. The battery also uses an edge contact, so you have to have a Wein cell or other arrangement with edge continuity to use the meter. The CL also doesn't do TTL flash. The CL also doesn't have the 28mm framelines that the CLE has.

    The CLE doesn't give any metering info in manual mode. To set exposure manually, you have to either guess, use an external meter, or switch the CLE to autoexposure, remember the exposure, then switch back to manual mode and make your settings. The CLE does do TTL flash with the right units.

    The CL is spot metering only and the CLE is averaging only.

    Neither camera has an RF baseline length near the M series range, and they don't focus to the same accuracy at close range with fast lenses. That is why their 40mm lens was f:2 and the 90mm lens for them was f:4.

    I have one of each, the CLE inherited from my dad, and I like the CL a lot because I like spot metering. I'd like the CLE better and use it a lot more if it did manual metering well.

    At the use price point for these cameras, I'd consider the Bessa R3A and R2A serious contenders.

    Almost forgot: the CL is a mechanical shutter that operates with no battery, the CLE is electronic and requires a working battery to function.

    Lee
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 8, 2006