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Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by Andrew Horodysky, Jul 26, 2010.
If you were to get one (1) Leica M camera, which would it be, and why?
I have only one: M6. Best ratio of how old / how expensive, and has build in light meter.
If with a meter, the new MP. If without a meter, the M4. Both load and rewind quickly and can be repaired/serviced by independents like DAG, which the M7 cannot. All assume you want a film camera.
Perhaps you can provide a bit more info such as intended subject matter, lens preferences and budget. Will you use flash much? How important is an in-camera meter to you? Another great rf resource is cameraquest.com.
The M3, without doubt. No, it doesn't have a meter but it is still the the best M ever built in my book. If you get a good, clean example, it has the best finder ever. 0.92, bright and clean. The MP would be a close second, along with the M6 Classic.
All your going to get is "use the one I have" type of answers to such a vague question.
Another vote for the M3.
Easy to focus and fantastic build quality.
Engraved and not painted.
Okay, I'll bite. Because that question can have as many answers and opinions as there are people here, but: I chose an M6 Classic because -
1. It has a good meter. Some may disagree, but I think it's fine. Actually, I think it's excellent for the kind of work I do. (I'm not a 35mm zoner)
2. It is still a completely mechanical camera, ultimately an M4 with a meter. M4 would have been my first choice, but after having done some research and considering the similar cost of an M4, I like the bonus of not having to estimate exposure or tolerate an awkward little hotshoe meter. I like that if batteries go out, I don't have to stop shooting.
3. MP is very expensive and I think I'd hesitate to use it and treat it the way I do my M6.
4. The M6 I have has the MP VF mod ($250 I'm told) and while I can't directly compare to one without, I think it's probably a significant improvement and one of the reasons to choose over the MP itself.
5. M3 would be nice, but I like black and black paint would be prohibitively expensive, more a collector piece than a user and again, no meter. If in-camera metering REALLY isn't important to you, than M3 or even M2 might be a nice choice.
6. Not specific to M6, or maybe even Leica, but I love shooting film with a completely manual camera. I think it was Mike Johnston (and I'm sure many others) has said: It has everything I need and nothing I don't to make pictures.
What it does have is so refined and so simply and logically put together that once one has gotten familiar with it, it really is a camera for life. It works that way in my hands and it is built that way. I could go on for pages, but in this world of disposable digital technology I love having something that feels connected to the past (camera is from 1984, but could easily be from 1948) and literally feels like it's machined from solid piece of steel. Dials and all. I rarely "fondle" it anymore the way I did during the 'honeymoon'. It is after all just a tool, but it is a supreme tool (to parrot Leica's marketing jive; that one seems to fit). I use it now with confidence and aplomb and I think it shows in my photos. Especially the discreet street stuff, where the Leica REALLY shines.
If you are one of those that happen to be into it for the Leica status, don't do it. I only say that because enough time on the forums talking and reading about Leica and you start to think that 'cult' status is the motivation for many, if not most. In reality, VERY few people recognize it for what it is and mostly think you are some kind of an anachronism for toting around an outdated looking film camera while they sneer at you with their D3s and 5DM2s with foot long lenses. I keep to my own, private pleasure at times like that.
I won't ramble any longer now, as I'm sure I've thoroughly given my opinion with regard to your original question about a paragraph ago. All I can say is, if you enjoy the type of photography the Leica RF is best suited for, you probably won't regret any particular M model that you choose. I haven't has GAS in years now and that alone is worth something in my book. I just take pictures now.
Best of luck to you!
The M3 is a classic. Include the cost of a proper CLA and it will a great keeper.
M3 double stroke. It was only Leica I ever owned. It has been gone 30 years or so (I was bitten by the SLR bug). It was intuitive for me to use. Perhaps some day ...
darkosaric: agree with you about your points. However if I could only have one it would be an M7.
I agree with this in general. Once I was in Montreal with my IIIc (talk about being anachronistic) and I was confronted with amazement, but generally good wishes in my actually taking photographs with it. All too often though, the above quote applies, except for those seemingly few who know Leica.
+1 Exactly the reason I bought an M6. Best value for the money.
Now if you don't need a meter than an M3 or M2 for sure.
M4, simple finder, easier(slightly) loading, .72 finder, faster rewinding.
Over the years I've had each of them, M2 through M6 & think the M4 is the best overall compromise.
FWIW, if it works don't fix it. Cla's as an annual thing is like flushing your money down a toilet.
And if we extend this question on lens: I have only one lens: summicron 50
Love mine, too! At first I thought a DS Leica would be slower, but learned that you can actually advance faster with two short strokes, and frequently do so with my M6 and M4-2.
So to answer the OP's question: If you don't need a built-in meter and prefer the 50 and 90 lenses, the M3 is your camera. If you like the 35 lens, go for the M2. If you want a meter, the M6 is great, especially with the MP viewfinder modification.
If I could afford a leica it would be an M2-R.
This is what I'm looking for, anyway... a well-designed and engineered walk-about 35mm film camera.. quick to meter and focus, unobtrusive, with no bells and whistles. Eventually, something my kids will inherit. I didn't mean to be vague in my question, nor start a ruckus as to which model is preferred over another.
Much thanks, Exeter, for your rationale. And, all, for your replies. I would like a in-camera meter, yes, as I don't want to approximate exposure (as another poster states). I'm not looking to buy, this instant, but am soliciting some preferences based on others' experiences, in order to start thinking about research and what to try out.
I'm also using a 4x5 for natural light portraiture.
I would recommend an M5. Best meter ever in a Leica. You can change shutter speeds on the fly without taking your eye off the viewfinder. Quieter than an M3 ( have both so can speak from experience). Better build quality than later Leica's. Again I can speak from experience. Way easier to load than an M3 which is a pain in the arse if you are street shooting.
Personally I prefer my 35mm lens but still love the 50mm Summicron when I need it.
+1. I got a M2, through my friend from a guy on here, that is missing the right strap lug so I had to tape it up. Everything else works and it won't be getting a CLA anytime soon.
Since I use 50mm almost exclusively, the M3. I've handled all the others (save for the MP) and never really felt comfortable with them. The world seems so small in their viewfinders, whereas the M3 makes everything look positively giant.
M3 and you have to go to paris and nyc too.
Ok...metered M film bodies:
M6 TTL (important if you use flash a lot)
MP (2003 forward)
I have an M6 & an MP. Both are wonderful cameras. Based on what you said above I would suggest an M6 Classic. They are well built, have excellent meters, are plentiful, reasonable (ok...you define reasonable) and are easy to find competent technicians to work on them when needed.
No doubt you will receive lots of opinions and recommendations on this. Just read up and do your homework. My final suggestion is that you go to a camera store with some used M's and just try the various models. It really is the best way to select the "right" M.
Following that line of thought:
Hasselblad 503 CX
Hasselblad 903 SWC
4x5 Pacemaker Speed Graphic
The M6-ttl has three LED indicators for exposure: < o >. Unlike the M6 Classic, you move the aperture and shutter dials in the direction of the pointers to get the correct exposure, which is when only the central "o" is illuminated. This is very convenient. (Yes, there's also the lightning bolt LED that comes on when using a flash.)
The M6 Classic has only two indicators (pointers) for exposure: < and >. You know you have the correct exposure when both red triangles are illuminated. The shutter speed knob rotates the oposite way to the M6-ttl, so you can't use the pointers as a guide as to which way to turn the shutter speed dial to get the correct exposure.
I chose the M6-ttl over the M6 Classic because of the more intuitive relationship between the viewfinder indicators and the aperture/shutter dials.
Incidentally, The M7 costs a lot more than either the M6 Classic or the M6-ttl, but you do get Aperture Priority Automatic Metering, which is nice. For me the downside to buying an M7 over an M6 was that the M7 relies on batteries to work. If the M7 batteries die on you, you only have 1/125 and 1/60 seconds shutter speeds. On an M6 (Classic or ttl), all the shutter speeds would still work as only the meter requires battery power. In fact, you don't even need a battery to shoot with the M6 series of camera.
Go for the M6-ttl, or the M6 Classic if you find one at a very good price. The money you save on not buying an M7 (or M8 or M9!) could go toward buying a Leica lens. The Summicron 50 and 35 are both very nice lenses to have.
P.S. If you wear glasses, you should probably go for a 0.58 viewfinder.