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  1. #1

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    Leica R4 and the whole R system

    Hi all,

    Im contemplating selling my Nikon F3hp to start possibly getting into the Leica R system. I remember trying the Leicaflex SL and was in awe of it. Reasons for the switch include the awesomeness of the Leica R lenses (I'm assuming they are better than Nikon lenses given their price?) and also the quietness and bright viewfinder of the R system... Or so I've heard.

    I'd like to get an R6 for its all mechanical-ness (I meter using a sekonic lightmeter) but the R4 is available for cheap so it seems and looks like a good segway. Match it up with a good Leica 50mm F2 maybe to pair with my F90x Nikon setup.

    Curious on your thoughts??

  2. #2

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    Will you take better pictures with the Leica?

  3. #3

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    There are plenty of good Nikon lenses that cost far less than their Leica counterpart...

  4. #4

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    I was thinking the same until I noticed R series doesn't maintain their value as good as M. So I read somewhere that they are problematic especially with the electronics. Turned out they worked together with Minolta to create R series.
    And I converted a Leica lens to Nikon mount

  5. #5
    jp498's Avatar
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    The R-system bodies are sometimes temptingly affordable. However, the lenses are still quite expensive and limited, and I don't think it would produce markedly different image quality than a good nikon lens. If you want a SLR full of mechanicalness with a big bright viewfinder and bigger image quality, the pentax 6x7 SLRs are quite capable as well.

  6. #6

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    If you want quality glass the Yashica-Contax mount takes excellent lenses that still fall into the affordable category. My impression of the Leica R cameras is of heavy anachronisms that were outdated as soon as they were released with a reputation based on the rangefinders. The lenses are good, but better than Nikon or Contax..? I doubt whether the extra money adds up to results.

  7. #7
    sandermarijn's Avatar
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    I tried an R7 once and found it quite terrible- the ergonomics, the mirror slap, the viewfinder; it didn't fit with me at all.

    I now use my only R-lens (35-70mm f/4, great lens) on an EOS 1N. This works much much better, for me.

    Additional advantage of using an EOS for body is that you can put on basically every lens, so you're not stuck with the rather limited (and still not cheap) selection of R-lenses. The made in China adapters available on ebay are inexpensive and work as well as any. Do make sure though that your EOS has a proper focusing screen.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh View Post
    Will you take better pictures with the Leica?
    As it happens yes, I did.

    Reason being that I spent a long time searching for a camera/lenses that suited me, rather than actually shooting, and I found that with the R4 and R 80/1.4 which soon expanded to a fairly large system. I used all kinds of Contax, Canon FD and Nikon gear for about the previous 15 yeras and was not really happy with most of it, to keep the story short.

    Yes, the OP probably will take better pictures if the technical/optical issues are put aside. The R4 had electronic issues but those bodies that are still around and working have most likely been upgraded. The only disadvantage of the R4 is that the focusing screen is fairly dark but it can be replaced with the standard screen from R5-R7 bodies, giving a much brighter and easier to focus image. The larger viewfinder magnification of the R4 (vs R5-R8/9) also makes it a good choice for wide angle lenses, which are typically harder to focus.

    The R6 would be my choice for an R body. The R8/9's are quite cheap and actually extremely good, but bulkier than the earlier R's.

    JJ
    Last edited by jjphoto; 01-27-2012 at 05:02 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9
    Rol_Lei Nut's Avatar
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    *Some* (probably even most) R lenses are better than their Nikon equivalents, but you have to choose well and usually pay quite a bit more.
    Grossly generalizing, they often have about a 1-1.5 stop adavantage over comparable Nikon lenses and have much better flare resistance. That said, you can still find some which are no better at all than some nikkors, so choosing wisely is paramount.
    When choosing, keep in mind that lenses having the same name & specs often have several versions or generations, sometimes with wildly differing performance. For example, if you hear someone saying the Elmarit 35mm 2.8 isn't super sharp and tends to flare, it's absolutely true - for the first version of the lens! Later versions perform quite differently.

    Another possible disadvantage of R lenses is that they're heavy: when you have a whole kit with you it can make a difference.

    I agree about the awesomeness of the Leicaflex SL, unfortunately the other R SLRs don't quite equal its viewfinder (the R8/R9 come closest, of the "modern" Rs), though they are still some of the best in that parameter.
    At least the R4 & R5 have pretty long shutter lag (again, unlike the Leicaflex).
    If you can find a Leicaflex SL with a prism in good shape, as they are prone to desilvering, IMHO I see no good reason to get an R6 instead unless you want to save a little weight (as mentioned, most of the weight is in the lenses anyway).
    The R4 was plagued by electronic problems when it came out, but they've long been fixed by now (but if you do get one, get it from a safe source just to be sure).

    So, a Leica R kit won't necessarily make you take better pictures, will cost & weigh somewhat more but can bring some nice advantages with it, despite what the trendy and predictable "Leica-bashers" and "feature collectors" say.

    Finally, while I like the suggestion of a Pentax 6x7 (I love mine), it does weigh several times more than even a Leica R and the mirror & shutter slap are a tiny wee bit stronger...

    P.S. I used Nikon as my main system for 20+ years.
    I also extensively use Zeiss lenses on Rolleiflex SLRs, as weill as Leica M & R systems (and have gone through many cameras & brands in the past). I like to think there is more experience than prejudice speaking here...
    M6, SL, SL2, R5, P6x7, SL3003, SL35-E, F, F2, FM, FE-2, Varex IIa

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jp498 View Post
    The R-system bodies are sometimes temptingly affordable. However, the lenses are still quite expensive and limited, and I don't think it would produce markedly different image quality than a good nikon lens. If you want a SLR full of mechanicalness with a big bright viewfinder and bigger image quality, the pentax 6x7 SLRs are quite capable as well.
    True – if you really want to see a noticeable improvement in your negs then upgrading to a larger format will make a far more significant difference.

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