Thinking about getting a Leica

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by rakeshmravi, Jan 21, 2012.

  1. rakeshmravi

    rakeshmravi Member

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    Hey guys,

    I am thinking about it. But I have never done anything serious with a rangefinder before. I have used my friend's Leica when I was in college in 2005, but couldn't afford one that time and started using Nikon. Been using a Nikon ever since. My last camera purchase was in 2007, an F6. My favorite till now is an F6.

    In terms of lens quality, build and handling, F6 is everything I hoped for. I am thinking about Leica (pref M6/M7) simply because of the weight and quality package for my street shooting. However, I have gotten used to the weight of F6, I am hesitating the need to spend the money, especially when I am not sure if it will pay for me.

    I went through this problem 2 years ago, But decided to stick with my Nikon. Have anyone with some experience in using Nikon SLR share their experience when switching to Leica. Especially some details on everyday shooting benefits and drawbacks how much more you were able to do what you couldn't with Nikon?
     
  2. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    I don't see a really compelling reason for you to do this, other than you think you should be doing it.

    Leicas, or rangerfinders in general, are great for most shooting (and especially street) because they're quiet, fast (once you know their benefits and how to use them) and smaller than most SLR's.

    I went from Nikons (which I still have and use once in a while) to a Leica because I knew I'd be shooting a lot more street and watned something smaller, a bit less obtrusive and quiet. I also wanted something smaller and lighter for general 35mm shooting and something I could conceivably have the rest of my life.

    I find I focus quicker with SLR's, but zone focusing is used mostly with my Leica anyway. I also find I approach shooting differently with a rangefinder...perhaps a personal, subjective thing but it's a bit slower and more contemplative, perhaps. Being able to see outside the area I'm recording on film is interesting for being able to 'pre visualize' my shot as it happens, I suppose.
    If you think something is lacking or is a bit frustrating about your street work now, then maybe look at a rangefinder. But otherwise...keep at it with an F6, a fine camera. I find the advantages with a Leica mostly are quietness and unobtrusiveness.
     
  3. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    You can get all that quietness in a $15 Agfa Silette/Solina. Ok, so the optical quality won't make you think Sumicron, but street is, as Colin said, mostly zone pre-focus and everybody is moving and jostling and so that 3-element Apotar will get you the picture as well as anything else. And if something should happen to your camera - hey, you are out the price of a Seattle cup of coffee.
     
  4. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    I went from a Canon SLR to a Leica. I really liked everything about the Canon (a 1V) except for the size. Yeah, the Leica lenses are for the most part better than the Canon lenses I used (50/1.4 and 28/1.8). They are also way more expensive. For the most part, the Canon lenses weren't 'bad' and were good enough for most pictures I take. I've thought about going back to the Canon set up and buying some nicer lenses, but after borrowing a 24 L and using it for a bit, I reached the same conclusion - it's just too big for me. I wouldn't carry and thus I'd not take pictures. I travel a fair bit and having a smaller set up is a HUGE thing for me. Plus, over the years, I've gotten a couple lenses that I really like, so the Leica kit is working for me. Lastly, I've found that rangefinder focusing suits me reasonably well, and I don't really miss macro, big telephotos, or zooms.

    I play around shooting street but suck at it. The Leica is better than the Canon here, but not because it's a Leica. In my mind, mainly because it's manual focus and it's real easy to zone focus it. So any manual focus SLR would be just as good.

    If I were you, I'd look into picking up a manual focus Nikon SLR. There's a ton of glass out there that you could use, including some of the nice new Zeiss ZF stuff, and you could use it on your F6 too. Even if you really splurged, you can get an FM3A for about half of what a Leica costs, never mind the lens prices. You get a smaller camera and manual focus, without the huge price increase or the loss of certain SLR capabilities, like macro.

    On the other hand, if you want to shoot a rangefinder and know what you are getting into, Leica's are great cameras and there's a ton of cool lenses out there.

    Finally, even though I shoot Leica and Canon, I've thought about selling it all for an FM3A, an F6, and a D700. It's a really nice system with some really nice lenses.
     
  5. AgentX

    AgentX Member

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    Buy an old cheap fixed-lens rangefinder (many even have great lenses) and see how you like it. Then grab a Bessa or Leica if you do, but find you want interchangeable lenses.
     
  6. rakeshmravi

    rakeshmravi Member

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    @Colin: Thanks. I don't think there is a definite thing lacking in my setup. Like you pointed out, I was thinking perhaps I don't standout as much. As far as focusing is considered, I have a technique I got used to in the past years with my nikons. it seems to be working for me.

    @Nicholas: I thought about getting a cheap setup first. But I am afraid that if the lens and build quality-wise if it is not as smooth as Leica, I might get discouraged for the wrong reason.


    Perhaps.. I will wait out for 1 or 2 months and see if I still feel the need to get it. Perhaps I can rent one in the mean time and see how it goes.
     
  7. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    I will say this -- an SLR is very different than a rangefinder. Not just how they work but you work with them.

    That 'clicks' with some people and how/what they shoot...not with others. YMMV
     
  8. Tim Gray

    Tim Gray Member

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    Totally. I let my girlfriend borrow an M6 and a 50 at one point and she hated it.
     
  9. Paul Goutiere

    Paul Goutiere Subscriber

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    First its a F6. Then what the heck, why not get a M6 or M7 with a few nice lenses.
    Maybe add a medium format body in there too, just for that bigger negative.
    But the medium format doesn't have all the nifty tilts and swings...so lets get a 4x5 too.
    Then, that M2 in the window looks so nice....I can get that now; I mean, I have some lenses right?

    This is how it starts....... :D
     
  10. DAP

    DAP Member

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    I don't know if it helps with your decision or not, but it is a really bad time to buy into M-series Leica gear. During the past year or so the prices for 2nd hand Leica cameras and lenses have been going insane (you would definately be buying high).

    Would you have to sell your F6 to fund the Leica? If so, I wouldn't do it - why trade in a camera that you really like for a total unknown. At the very least I would look into buying a cheap 2nd hand Cosina voigtlander camera/lens to help you decide if you even like using rangefinders before jumping in with both feet.
     
  11. lesm

    lesm Member

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    As Paul has humorously pointed out, lots of us get bitten by camera boredom from time to time and think that another camera would do something magical for our photography. After the honeymoon period wears off, though, you look at your negs and think "meh, so what's different?" and the new darling gets traded in for yet another brand/format which will do something magical for our photography.

    After many decades of this I've finally determined that it's better to use what I have and simply do the discipline a bit differently. Just use a 50mm lens for a year, only shoot below knee level on the street for three months, shoot one lampost and whoever comes near it for 24 hours straight... I find that kind of thing usually renews my enthusiasm for photography in general and eases the pain of gear boredom.

    You can buy a decade's-worth of film for the price of a Leica. Which would give you more satisfaction only you can decide.
     
  12. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    I've never been a fan of rangefinders, and I'm not convinced that a Leica is worth the price. Sure, you've got lenses that can whip the piss out of a good deal of other lenses, but that only means anything of you have the technical dicipline (and I'm sure you do) to get the most out of them. Still, you're dealing with a 35mm negative; unless you know that you really need the compactness and silence of a rangefinder, you might be better off buying more (or better if you dont have Nikon's highest-quality) lenses and more film. You could even get a pretty good MF setup for the price of a Leica, and the bigger negative is another plus :D

    But that's just my opinion. And to put my opinion in to perspective, I shoot Pentax K-1000's and have no reason to get anything "better".

    Edit:
    I learned on SLR's, so I like how they work. After learning on an SLR, I cant get my mind in to rangefinder mode. Other people have less trouble switching than I do. I think that's worth noting.
     
  13. clayne

    clayne Member

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    There's so much that has been said about Leicas, but at their height and with consistent use, they will become just an extension of your arm and vision. Even with non-metering models, just the entire aspect of walking around, pre-setting shutter speeds and f-stops, and then focus, click, wind.

    You can do the same thing with any decent SLR, but there's something so unobtrusive about a Leica that it isn't the same as raising an SLR to the eye and shooting - the latter commonly has that feeling of "picture being taken by camera now."

    Consider too the often underrated aspect of Leicas, and rangefinders in general - the effect that the camera has on the subject. An unobtrusive rangefinder can be both unobtrusive to the photographer and to the subject and it at times in has benefits on the photographs themselves.

    Aside from that, they're small, can be reliably shot at slow speeds, and are very quiet.
     
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  15. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    I have an FM2, I bought a Leica M4 a few years back. I still have the FM2. This is what I wrote about my M4 experience a while ago:

    I will also say in retrospect that I didn't like the arcane film loading, I hated the cost of the lenses, external viewfinders for ultra-wides is a huge hassle and the body was the same size and weight as my FM2. The small lenses are great - the cost not so. There was nothing that I found the Leica could do that the Nikon couldn't (except bleed my bank account dry), however, the Nikon has depth of field preview, fisheye lenses, easy film loading and can focus close.
     
  16. Dr.Pain-MD

    Dr.Pain-MD Member

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    This is the most important thing to consider. The way you photograph and look at things will change with a rangefinder. The biggest difference, for me at least, is the ability to see what's outside of the frame and I absolutely love it. That and the fact that everything in the viewfinder is always in focus makes rangefinders a very different shooting experience, you should be able to understand why street shooters will find these two facts beneficial. I started my rangefinder journey with an Olympus 35 SP and fell in love with it. Since then I have gotten several other fixed lens RFs and just this week I received a Canon P which is a camera I've been lusting after for a while after trying out rangefinders. I still shoot with my manual focus Nikon gear, but for most "general purpose" photography (as well as stuff like street) I prefer the rangefinders. They just feel right and are more fun to shoot with.
     
  17. Leigh Youdale

    Leigh Youdale Member

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    If I didn't have the M6 I'd have a Bessa R2A instead. I bought a second hand Leica after owning two different Bessa models, mainly because I thought I should have one before I died. I use CV lenses because they're affordable and for all practical purposes they're as good as the Leica glass. If I needed some cash I'd sell the Leica before the Bessa. The Leica has a nice feel to it but that's probably more to do with the weight or "heft" and does nothing different for my images. The Leica weighs in about the same as my old Nikkormats.

    The Bessa is not a Leica but it's build is adequate for all normal photographic use, it's much lighter than a Leica but about the same physical size, it's easy to load with a fully opening back and it has a couple of neat features which the M6 doesn't. It has a shutter lock so you don't inadvertently end up with blank frames. It has a little window that lets you see what film you have loaded. It has AE which the M7 has but not the M6, and you can run it in manual mode rather than AE if you want. People will try to make a big deal about the shutter needing a battery to operate. Ignore them. If it worries you, carry a spare battery or buy the Bessa R2M. Change the battery every Christmas. I've never had one fail on me yet. If you think about the logic of their argument then they shouldn't wear a battery powered watch - the battery might fail. Sure! So do they go out and buy a spring wound analogue Rolex or something? I bet they don't.
     
  18. Aron

    Aron Subscriber

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    I hope someone who is at the point of thinking whether a semi battery-dependant Leica M7 or 'pure' MP is the best for him, already knows that the world of real meachanical watches start where that of Rolex ends. :wink:

    Yes, the Leica is a great camera, there is no doubt about it. However, it's a luxury item and as it was pointed out you can get a great MF system for the price of a Leica body + lens, or have a compact SLR + many great lenses for it. The other side of the argument says it really helps our vision to develop by working with a single camera and lens (and film and developer) and certainly the price of S/H and new Leica lenses help keeping the lens inventory small. Even Voigtländer lenses are not as cheap as decent S/H Zuiko or manual focus Nikkor glass.

    If you already have a great Nikon system that you like, I don't see that much reason to change. I think it matters more WRT speed how familiar you're with your gear than what you actually use, and a smaller, lighter body might be what you really want. If you like the viewfinder of an SLR, there is really no point to change, on the other hand, if you always feel there is something not quite right with it, than a rangefinder can be your ticket.

    On a final note, you can always get a lot of nice paper and film from what is left after selling the F6 and getting a smaller manual focus body.
     
  19. John Austin

    John Austin Member

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    The ultimate

    Yes, an M series Leica is the ultimate, that is it is the ultimate in costume jewelery

    Less tongue in cheek, they are superb, but a Leica is a totally different camera to a Nikon and you must decide what you want to do with 35mm photography and decide on the basis of that

    If you want to use 35mm focal length only then go for the Leica plus 35mm 4th series Summicron
     
  20. rakeshmravi

    rakeshmravi Member

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    I have never bought a camera since 2007. So it is for street and only from a practical point. Just on the street. Leica cannot do anything else better (Tele and Macro work), at least for me.


    Now way. I am not giving my F6 to anyone. :smile:

    Thanks for the opinions guys, I think I will stick with my F6 for few more months, do some testing with a rented piece and see how it goes.
     
  21. mdarnton

    mdarnton Member

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    I have been back and forth over this line several times in the last 50 years: cheap RF>Nikon>Leica>Olympus>Leica>NikonDSLR>Nikon film. Along the way I have always kept at least one Leica, just in case. I used to believe that one "saw" differently with different cameras, but now I'm trending towards thinking habit is a greater force. In all of those years, the only line I couldn't easily jump was BW/Color. How I see there depends on what film is in the camera, no way around that (for me).

    In the last round I considered buying another Leica, and took a look at prices. As someone mentioned, something has happened, and I can't justify it, so I'm satisfying that urge with cheap Nikons. Just bought a N90 on Ebay for $20. :smile: It's first auto-focus film fun camera (the DSLR is for business) , and I think I'm in love with auto-focus! Since I have a full Nikon digital kit based mostly on AF-D primes, it was an easy jump.

    For you, I'd say the best advice in previous posts is to get a cheap RF camera and try it for a while. I still carry an Olympus XA when going light.
     
  22. AgentX

    AgentX Member

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    If your primary interest in the Leica is how it feels when you're fondling it, you probably won't be disappointed with the Leica, so you might as well buy it now.

    What you really need to know regarding using a rangefinder camera to actually make photos is whether the viewing and focusing system works for you. Any good example of a fixed-lens rangefinder camera will give you a good idea of this, even if the finder's not that of an M3 or the film advance doesn't quite feel as smooth when you play with it sitting at home. It'll at least put you in the ballpark, and frankly, as the owner of an M3, I think the Leica Myth is alive, well, and misleading. It's definitely a nice camera, but not some kind of tactile orgasm. And even if it was, that still won't change the photos you make with it.



    If the optical quality on the fixed-lens you try isn't there, you know you can get it with a Lecia or Bessa; but still, most fixed-lens rangefinders had quite respectable-to-excellent lenses. And many of them lack the rather quirky (to those weaned on SLRs) loading of the Leica.



    All that said, if you find a good deal on a Leica you can probably resell it for at least around the price you bought it for...maybe more. So if you've got the liquid cash and just can't stop yourself, you likely won't lose out in the end, even if you hate it.
     
  23. kapro

    kapro Member

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    I paste my post from anther thread:

    I was shooting with NIkon (F801S,F100, F,F2,F3,FM2,FM3A) whole my life until I tried Leica M6.
    The main problem for me was to get used to "opposite direction" of focusing ring. When using wideangles the lenshood covers the right bottom corner of the rangefinder so you have to guess sometimes what you're shooting.:wink:

    Extraordinary lenses (especially the new 1.4 versions),unbelievable bokeh, small, quiet (M7 makes only very quiet "tsss" while shooting), absence of mirror-with steady hand I can use 1/8 and 1/4s with wideangles (with practice I use to shoot even 1/2s hand held) - this is no chance with mirror cameras which make noise and shake like Russian Katyusha and it's probably the most important Leica's benefit for me.
    For large percentage of my shots I use "blind shooting" with camera hanging on my neck or even hidden in the pocket. I took all my shots from inside mosques this way and lot of Cuban shots as well. I tried to shoot a fire of petrol or diesel storage tank in Cuba and I made couple of good shots "from the pocket" while arrested. When Cuban police confiscated the film from me I was able to change it and gave them empty film.. :wink:

    As mentioned in the pasted post I shot a lot in mosques all around Turkey.
    It wouldn't be possible with noisy SLR. Nobody but me knew I had a camera and even was using it inside..

    I think it's worth starving couple of days and to buy Leica for saved money..:wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2012
  24. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I've used Leica since 1952 and Nikon SLR since 1967. Leica seems much better for street photography. I could set shutter speed and aperture without looking at the camera, and even approximatly focus by feeling the position of the lens's infinity lock. Others have mentioned more advantages of the Leica for street photography. The M4 I've used since 1970 is still my favorite 35mm camera for many tasks. In that time a few Nikons and Nikkormats have come and gone. Those are obviously better where reflex viewing and long lenses are needed.

    The suggestions of fixed lens 35mm cameras is valid. Some offer decent fast lenses and most are quiet. For the price of renting a Leica for a test drive, you can own an inexpensive (and expendable) camera. Do try one out before buying, though. Some may be much better or worse than others for your style of handling. Little details like the position of controls and the presence or absence of neck strap lugs can make a difference.
     
  25. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Couple of other options to consider. An Olympus OM-series sits between the Leica and the F6....more toward the Leica in my mind. Very small, very manual, good prime lenses. Another thought is an M2 (or M3) and a vintage or Voightlander lens. The best Leica lens bargain to me is a DR Summicron missing the goggles. I picked one up for $300 and it needed another $50 in cleaning. The older Canon rangefinders and lenses are a pretty good deal also. I have an OM1 and an M2 with the cheapest 3 lens set imaginable that wasn't made in Russia. They both take great pics, but I prefer the Leica simply because it is really fun to use. It really doesn't matter which you try as long as you get a decent deal on it since reselling isn't all that hard anymore.
     
  26. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    The main point here is that you are thinking of moving to a rangefinder camera as opposed to an SLR. The most important difference is that a rangefinder camera with a bright-line finder will allow you to see above, below and outside the side to side image through the viewfinder, thus acting as an aid to composition. This alone, for me is worth any advantage gained by an SLR. The M2 has a wonderful bright-line finder, but if you want the most beautiful design coupled with tactile handling perhaps a Leica IIIg will suffice.