What's a good used Leica?

Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by mtbbrian, Aug 7, 2006.

  1. mtbbrian

    mtbbrian Member

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    So I am thinking, pondering wondering if there is a Leica in my future..
    A used one that is.
    I know they can be expensive and hold their value.
    So I wondering what would be a good one to buy?
    I am thinking I'd want a 35mm lens and a motor drive.
    Any comments?
    Thanks!
    Brian
     
  2. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Narrow it down a bit for us... SLR or rangefinder?
    Normally, I might guess rangefinder, but the motor drive prompts me to ask.

    Lee
     
  3. mtbbrian

    mtbbrian Member

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    I was thinking rangefinder.
    I guess I should have specified.
    I guess Leica calls a motordrive something besides a "motordrive"?
    Thanks!
    Brian
     
  4. StephenS

    StephenS Member

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    M4, M4P, M6.

    Many will say the M4 was the best Leica ever. Of course it's nice to have a built-in meter with the M6.

    I'd say you'd be very happy with a nice M6.
     
  5. StephenS

    StephenS Member

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    I may suggest an auto winder on a Leica rangefinder is not so important or convenient. I'd get the camera first, use it, then think if you really need to make the camera any bigger by adding the winder.
     
  6. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Brian,

    Unless you need a true motor drive you may want to consider getting a motor winder. For the R4-R7 you can use the motor winder R4 or the improved motor winder R. Selection of a motor winder instead of full motor for the R8 or R9 might also be considered.

    As to SLR cameras unless you want the older SL/SL2 or R3/R3MOT series I would look at the R4s and later.

    Generally, I would stay away from the R4. The R4SP is a different question, have one and really like it (had 2 sold one). This is a simplified version of the R4 has both simplified metering and better adjustment for Bracketing in Automatic. Has basic spot and averaging metering. Has 1/100 and B settings function without a battery.

    Next and with more features is the R5- never owned one, but the first with TTL for flash.

    Next automatic and last in the series is the R7. Like the R4s and R5 uses LEDs in the viewfinder but with much more information available. This is the first in and I believe the only camera in the series to have a special socket for mirror lock up. Has a newer and more flexible TTL metering. Paperweight without a battery. I have one and I like this as well.

    R6 and R6.2 are the strictly Manual metering cameras of the series. Never owned them, but as I remember the R6.2 has a more sensitive metering. Cameras will function as I recall without batteries, but you have to confirm this.

    Of the cameras above, all but the R7 are about the same size and weight and built on the same chassis (but heavily modified and improved) over the Minolta XD11. The R7 is built on the same chassis but is a little taller and heavier. There are some minor changes in the cameras going through the series.

    The last 2 Leica R cameras are the R8 and R9. I have the R8. This and the R9 are different animals than the previous R4-R7. These were designed and manufactured in Germany and are a larger and heavier cameras. Both cameras can also take the extremely expensive Digital Module R for digital usage and require the removal of the film back and replacement with the Digital Module. These 2 cameras have tremendous amounts of information in the viewfinder and there are histogram type bar indicators indicating 1/2 stop increments away from proper exposure. These cameras have true mirror lock up, improved TTL, very high sync or 1/250 as I recall, improved metering, more metering patterns, 1st & 2nd curtains for flash.... They are paperweights without batteries.

    The R8 is the slightly heavier of the 2 cameras and there are only minor improvement for the R9. In fact my friends at Leica Camera, USA said they did not feel I would benefit from getting an R9 and replacing my R8.

    For me, the R8 is my favorite 35mm camera that I have ever used. If size and weight are not an issue, this is my camera of choice. If I need small size and weight are an issue, don't need TTL, and a camera to function without batteries the R4SP is my choice. If I need almost as small a package as the R4SP, TTL, mirror lock-up the R7 is my choice.

    Rich
     
  7. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    The M6 and M6TTL are selling used at fairly reasonable prices currently, with a fairly large supply. Both have a built in meter, and are easy to use. The TTL is not really that great a feature, though some people like the larger shutter speed dial over the older M cameras.

    There is also the little loved M4-2, without meter in the camera. That was sort of the camera that brought Leica back from the M5. Nearly all are black chrome that does not wear that great, and most were made in Canada, which some purists regard as a bad thing. The later M4-P is similar, but adds extra framelines.

    The motor drives are mostly a bit more bulk, without really great functioning. There is also the more recent trigger winder, which should work on all M6 models. A third party RapidWinder is another option.

    In 35mm lenses, you might also consider one of the new Voigtländer choices, like the fast f1.2. There is also a new Zeiss ZM 35mm. Of course, many good used Leica 35mm lenses too.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  8. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Brian,

    It took me some time to prepare the above post which I will leave if you or someone else needs it. When I read your initial posting, I presumed an SLR when you said Motor Drive, since the drives for the Rangefinders are winders.

    Rich
     
  9. mtbbrian

    mtbbrian Member

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    Rich,
    I didn't know that they were called winders for rangefinders!
    I am used to dealing with the SLR genre.
    And from what it seems, it is quite an effort to advance the film on a rangefinder, so those are the reasons I would be interested in a "winder".
    Thanks for all the responses.
    Brian
     
  10. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    What's a good Leica?

    Any. Buy almost anything at a good price; see what you miss; sell it and buy the Leica that suits you best. Beware of M6ttl and M7 as their shutter speed dial goes backwards as compared with all other Leicas.

    I've has most screw models; currently own MP, M4-P, 2xM2; and have used M3 and M6ttl at length, others more modestly.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com -- where probably the majority of the pictures were shot with Leicas).
     
  11. mtbbrian

    mtbbrian Member

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    I don't understand the significance of that?
    If I have never used one Leica and come to one of these newer models shouldn't that not be an issue?
    Brian
    ???
     
  12. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Brian,

    No, if you ONLY EVER use M6ttl/M7. Bul all other Leicas (including the later, current, MP and the pre-ttl flash M6) have a shutter speed dial that's clockwise-for-faster.

    Leicas tend to be habit forming. I've had the Wetzlar (now Solms) monkey on my back for over 30 years. Mixing 'real' Leicas and the M6ttl/M7 is a recipe for disaster if you use them semi-instinctively as I do.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2006
  13. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    It depends a bit upon which Leica M, and the age of the camera as to the film advancing effort. In general, if the used camera was well maintained, then it should be fairly smooth. I am a left eye shooter, so with any manual film winding camera I have a tendency to move the camera away from my face while winding the film. On the really old Leica M3 rangefinder, there were some that required two strokes of the film advance lever to advance one frame, so that would be more effort. I had a single stroke M3 that had the film winding mechanism jamb and fail, though in reality it was very old and quite used when I got it; though it is a lesson in that a newer Leica M rangefinder might hold up a bit better.

    You might want to look into the Konica Hexar RF on the used market. These have a motor winder built into the body, and take M mount lenses. There was once some controversy about focusing issues, though largely that came from improper judgement of a limited sampling. Basically, any M mount lens should work on a Konica Hexar RF, and you are more likely to make a focus error than the camera . . . that is if you ever are that far off with focus that you could see it in the final images.

    The trigger winder from Leica, and the RapidWinder, both allow you to advance the film and keep your eye in the rangefinder window, even if you are a left eye shooter. These are also useful if you have large hands, since it gives the camera a slightly longer gripping surface. Another nice aspect is neither requires batteries.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
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  15. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    Brian,

    Here's one person's take on the M series cameras, with a lot of the minutiae that accompanies them. http://cameraquest.com/mguide.htm
    I'd suspect frameline sets, finder magnification, and metering (or lack thereof) are what might make the most difference for you. These things all vary by model and sometimes within models.

    My rangefinders and SLRs advance themselves via Pavlovian response. When my brain registers a shutter firing, my right thumb twitches. :smile: You rarely see a Leica rangefinder used with a motor winder, as it's somewhat antithetical on a small, quiet camera. You also might find the film advance on a Leica is smoother and requires less effort than you're used to. If you want to get to the next frame a little faster, try the trigger-winders mentioned, but I'd agree with SteveS on doing without initially.

    I love a 1:1 finder (shooting with both eyes open and a floating frame), and so am mostly using a Bessa R3A now, with a trigger winder (for speed, stability, and a better fit for my large hands) and assorted lenses from Leica, Minolta, and Cosina-Voigtlander. (The 1:1 finder doesn't have framelines for lenses wider than 40mm.)

    I'd suggest reading up a bit on specific features, pondering your expected usage, then asking a few more questions before you take the plunge.

    Lee
     
  16. mtbbrian

    mtbbrian Member

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    That's what I thought you'd reply Roger.
    My photography is changing, and I am thinking I would like a Leica, just one body and one maybe two lens.
    I currently have Nikon F100 set up with four different lens and it is VERY HEAVY to carry. Plus I haven't used it all that much in the past year.
    I'd like to think I could sell my entire Nikon rig, there are a few other items I have, and have enough money to buy a Leica(M6TTL perhaps) and a 35MM lens.
    Thanks again Roger!
    Brian
     
  17. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Brian,

    The second lens for me is the 75/2.

    Normally, now, I carry ONLY 2 Leicas, usually one mono. one colour, 75/2 and 35/1.4, swap as needed. Sometimes one body fast film. one slow.

    But if I were you I'd go for the pre-ttl M6. You still have TTL metering for ambient light, just not flash, and it's completely cross-compatible with current MP and all earlier Leicas.

    Of course I'm extremely biased...

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  18. Mark Pope

    Mark Pope Member

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    Leicas do generate a lot of emotion and bias don't they...
    I have an M6TTL which I love using. One advantage that Roger omitted to mention about the M6TTL is that the shutter speed dial was changed so that you move it in the direction shown by the meter arrows in the viewfinder to get correct exposure. This is a real ergonomic improvement IMHO. I also use a 46 year old M2. Again a lovely camera to use. I have no problems swapping from one to the other.

    You pay your money and you make your choice. Beware, Leicas can be addictive...

    Good luck finding something that suits you.
     
  19. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    I shoot an MP. I love the sise and how quiet it is, I would not put a winder on it. There is also somthing about being the only one at any gathering winding with your thumb. In my opinion a motordrive on a Leica is like a lift kit on a Porsche.
     
  20. Mark Pope

    Mark Pope Member

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    Oh and the modern winder-M is nice and compact. It works well, but is expensive (as are most things with a red dot on them).
     
  21. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Mark,

    Spot on! The M6ttl/M7 is indeed more logical.

    But I really can't see how the hell you switch from one to t'other. If only the 1924 Leica had gone the same way...

    Cheers,

    N'dongo N'tuitif
     
  22. Mark Pope

    Mark Pope Member

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    Hi Roger,
    <cheekysoandso>
    It's probably an age thing... :wink:
    </cheekysoandso>
    But seriously, I tend not to use both at the same time and when I do I'm using either a Voigtlander VC meter or a recently acquired Meter MR. In both cases, it's necessary to take the camera away from your eye to set the camera. The biggest issue is forgetting that the (VC) meter isn't coupled to the camera at all and forgetting to change a setting after carefully metering a scene. There's been the odd D'OH! moment because of this! This is less of a problem with the MR - only the aperture to forget :smile:
     
  23. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    As you can see, you'll get about as many answers as there are people around here... My take: I have a IIIf and an M4. I've never really warmed up to the M4 ergonomics. Changing shutterspeeds while having the camera up to your eye is not very easy; a too small knob too far in on the camera - that seems to work better on the CL, M5 and the M6 ttl. The wind-on lever works okay but I have known better ones, it's a bit iffy to "find" with my fingers. The rewind crank has an annoying tendency to "rebound" if my grip on the smallish crank slips. Build quality is fine and well up to serious use (which mine has seen, definitely!). Compared to the IIIf the build quality is so-so, but that camera is a very different kind of rangefinder and possibly "an acquired taste".

    Viewfinder is bright and focussing spot is easy to see, even with glasses, at least using the 50, 90 and 135 focal lengths. At 35 mm it would be a bit of hit and miss for me, but using the full viewfinder should work. I can really understand why the camera is such a good tool for the "decisive moment". I am using a Summicron DR, 50 mm focal length with it. Wonderful optic but it really negates my conception of the RF as I see it - it's too heavy to walk around with.

    A camera is a highly personal thing, and if possible, get your hands on and testing it out is highly advisable. In hindsight the M4, for me is "almost good" and I bought it unseen via internet. Maybe an M2 or a M5 would have been a better camera for me. I will have to check that, next time I am in the camera store.

    If you need to do series of action photos, I think the Abrahamsson Rapidwinder may fit the bill quite nicely.
     
  24. Lee Hamiel

    Lee Hamiel Subscriber

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    As a longtime Nikon & then Leica shooter - get the M6 & a 35 or 50 Summicron & be done.

    Then decide whether or not you want an M winder/Leicavit, etc. + any other lenses.

    Leica is not cheap but it's about the safest line to buy into & resell if it's not your cup of tea as the resale prices are solid.

    Roger - I understand your issues with the rotational directions - With the last four or five cameras I've had I keep reaching for the "missing" shutter speed dial on my Nikon F3 that I no longer have - like an appendage that was removed you still expect it to be there & to be the same way ...

    Lastly - Not sure if anyone else mentioned it but the aperture ring turns opposite of what you are used to on Nikon lenses - I believe only Pentax 67 & perhaps others turn the same way as Nikons do - took me a long time to get used to that once shooting with a Leica (or any other maker)

    Good Luck
     
  25. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Hi Lee,

    Don't forget, that Nikon was the best copy of the Zeiss Ikon. As a result aperture adjustment and unless I am mistaken the focus was copied from the Zeiss camera.

    For those of us that had switched from Canon to Leica we had an easier time. Canon was the best copy of the Leica and they copied the aperture adjustment and I believe focusing direction from Leica.

    Rich
     
  26. Lee Hamiel

    Lee Hamiel Subscriber

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    Rich:

    Also - If I'm correct didn't Nikon make a lens or two for Canon way back as well?

    If so - curious as to the direction of all

    Interesting how the direction some of these threads take:smile: