Leica R4 v R5
Does anyone have experience of using Leica R4 and 5s with a motordrive? I have an R4 and have trouble with its motordrive being unreliable at actually winding the film. Both camera and drive have been checked out and work fine and the motor drives the camera quite happily empty, but won't always wind on all the way with film loaded. I discussed this with our local Leica dealer who told me that I should get an R5 (or 7) body because, as well as the advertised advances over the 4, it was a generally better engineered machine and winds more easily. 2nd hand prices are getting so low that this won't break the bank but I thought I'd ask to see if anyone else has faced this issue.
For Leicas, stick to the M series rangefinders.
I borrowed my brother's R4 a few months ago with a motordrive and its nice to work with. I believe the R5 has different metering and that was it.
I loved playing with R4, I found it addictive, it had a the 28/2.8 Elmarit, 50 f2 Summicron and the 135 Elmar. I ran a roll of Tri-x and Classicpan 400 in it and I was happy with the results.
Let's suppose I don't want to buy yet another lens system and don't need autofocus.
Originally Posted by Pinholemaster
in the eighties whilst on holiday in Germany, I picked up an R4 with drive for a friend. I had 38 days before I left for home, so I gave it a bit of use.
I compared it to my F3 with drive which I had with me and found it to be alright, but not something to write home about.
I then loaded a couple of extra frames than I should have into a cassette, something like 39 frames instead of 36, (lost count of the revolutions). The R4 didn't like things when it got to the business end of the roll, basically it started to slow right down.
I took it back to the shop and explained things to the very helpful salesman. He took the drive off, took a drive off a camera in the window, swapped it and it was really a different machine with that second drive on.
I remember the salesman just rolled his eyes and muttered something about German engineering, smiled and wished me a good holiday.
What made me wonder a bit more about German engineering, happened a year later, when at the same shop, I picked up a 180 2.8 leica lens for the same camera. As I didn't have a Leica with me, the salesman loaned me a secondhand R4 to use for a few days to ensure it worked correctly.
Well the lens was so tight to focus, I figured the helices were either not lubricated, or the tolerances were unbelievably fine. Apparently the tolerances were very fine and I was assured the lens would be perfect in a few years time. I didn't think that was a really great thing, but it wasn't my money, so I brought it home.
The lens did loosen up in a few years and when it was about 19 years old and had done quite a fair bit of work I met up with my friend and we checked a couple of things out.
The R4 and drive are working wonderfully, about 500 rolls a year.
The 180 is still perfect and silky smooth.
By comparison my F3 is still going very strong, looks terrible, but works wonderfully. The drive still sounds as loud as ever, but works beautifully.
My Nikkor 180 2.8 isn't as tight as the Leica, I'm sure the helices have worn a bit, but it still gives me the results I wish for.
I would suggest that if your drive isn't up to the job, it may not have been the best right from the start.
Having owned fifteen BMW motorcycles and worn out 9 of them, I have seen German engineering at it's best and worst.
I don't think the Leica camera manufacturing would be much different from many other German manufactured things of it's era. Most assembly of manufactured goods at that time, was done by immigrant workers, with a reasonable amount of quality control things went right. I do though, in the pre computerised and CNC days, believe there was definitely Friday afternoon assembly days.
My two bobs worth!
Dirty little secret, the Leica R4 to R7 was based on the Minolta XD7/11 platform.
That is the only similarity between the cameras. The mirror (semi transparent), mirror box, mirror lift, shutter, shutter release, lens mount, top and bottom plates, metering system, auto bracketing, electronics, preview, timer, etc. were all Leica and/or to Leica specs. Also, the Leica R4 to R7 were beefed up from the Minolta based chassis.
Originally Posted by Uncle Bill
The original R4 was known to have problems with their electronics. This is in part why the R4S and later R4SP were introduced. The R5 did offer the first TTL for flash of the Leica R series cameras. The later R Winders were an improvement over the original R4 winders.
I do not know if this is the same for the R line. But the M4-2 I had in the 'early times', with a motor, could not be fired without film (unloaded). The system that took up the exposed film was designed to slow down when the end of the roll came near. So, when the camera was fired empty, this system got out of order en then, when fired loaded, at the end of the roll the camera slowed down and stuck somewhere between frame 28 and 32. Repairing this was very costly.
But ofcorse this was a M camera and the first motorised 'standard' Leica RF.