Questions for Leica R owners
Kindly indulge a Nikon 35 mm shooter. I have received a bag full of Leica R equipment to sell on behalf of an elderly friend of mine who is now retired both professionally and from photography, and is in ailing health. It contains a Leica R4 camera, Elmarit-R 35/2.8, Summarit-R 90/2 and Elmar-R 180/4 lenses. In addition, there is a teleconverter (2x) and set of extension tubes. He told me that he had a Leitz close-up lens as well, but could not find it when he passed the stuff over to me. Questions in bold below:
The R4 looks okay, but is a bit grimey. The DOF preview lever is very sticky - when pressed, it stays down, and has to be forced back to open position. I ran a 15-shot test roll through it on Aperture Priority, and it appears everything is fine, except on two frames where the shutter stayed open for like two seconds before closing again, obviously causing completely over-exposed frames, despite metering 1/60 or so. Is this a sign of electronic problems, a shutter problem, or something I'm doing wrong?
The lenses are all in really decent condition, optically. I am used to Nikons that have smoother or at least less damped manual focusing. These Leicas are really stiff. Is that normal, or should I get them looked at before selling? I think they have been dormant for at least eight years or so, and it might be that they need a good re-lubrication.
Any advice would be appreciated. Any one interested in this equipment can PM me as well. Once I am happy that the gear is fully functional, I'll be happy to list it in the Classifieds section.
It sounds as if it need a decent service. Sticking stop down lever is a sign of the lubricant drying up and the sticking shutter is almost certainly sticking electromagnets. All curable with a service. These things don't go on forever without a bit of loving care.
Likewise with the lens focussing, it is just the lubricant has dried up. When you think that an R4 + lenses are almost certainly 30yrs old it is overdue.
The early R4's were notorious for electronic unreliability and they will all die sooner or later. Real shame because the camera itself is a very nice unit. The lenses are always worth something with a bit of TLC.
Film cameras are not in demand, especially older bodies such as the R4. You might be better off cutting your losses and selling it 'as is'. There is no way in the world that you can have it serviced (by a competent professional) for less than you could sell it for, short of doing it yourself. As an aside, I have an R4 which has had the electronics and focusing screen replaced many years ago and is one of my favourite 35mm film cameras. But I would not suggest doing anything like that now, it's not worth it.
The lenses sound like the grease is a little dry. Again, you're probably better off describing them accurately and selling them as they are. They are not faulty and if some one wants to service them then that should be up to them. Nikon lenses typically feel like they are lubricated with Canola oil, not grease, so they feel very loose. Most Leica R lenses typically feel a little stiff anyway (aside form the internal focusing ones) so maybe they are fine. Have some one else see what they think as your opinion may be biased.
All you need to do is be honest in your descriptions and you will in turn get a fair price.
I'd beg to differ, frankly.
Originally Posted by jjphoto
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Originally Posted by Colin Corneau
The reference to the electronics being flakey is right on the money.
Leica revised the circuit board to fix it.The stop down lever can be freed up with a drop of rubbing alcohol applied to the shaft & working it a number of times.
Most R lenses come in different versions, the Elmarit-R 35mm comes in 3 versions, mine is the second version and if feels quite stiff, partly due to design and partly due to old grease. Later (last) versions, like my Summicron-R 50mm from 1981, are very smooth.
Re R4 sticky DOF lever: http://www.nemeng.com/leica/014c.shtml
Just look at the prices of Leica R4 bodies (actual completed sales, not wishful 'Buy it Now' prices). Price is set buy supply and demand and there is simply not much demand, obviously. Other 35mm SLR bodies typically sell for much less, often simply as dust caps for lenses. Of course there are some 35mm SLR bodies that do sell for big dollars too, and rightly so, but those bodies often cost several thousand brand new.
Originally Posted by John Koehrer
(AUD $76) http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/LEICA-R-4...item257b37863f
(USD $41.50) http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Excellent...item3cccd6457b
(AUD $114.89) http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/LEICA-LEI...item417123b142
(AUD $100.91 with motor winder) http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Leica-R4-...item257b34846a
(AUD $122.23) http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Leica-R4-...item2ec6903279
(AU $145.97) http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Leica-R4-...item3f2178aa51
(AU $161.34) http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/LEITZ-LEI...item20cf879ae8
(AU $249.34 with Motor winder) http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Leica-R4-...item485232d646
(AU $114.90) http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/Leica-R4-...item1e77b7a092
I should have been more specific with my original comment as I was referring to 35mm SLR bodies, the R4 being the subject of the OP anyway. Of course there is interest in film, much more so in medium format where image quality really is excellent and worth persuing, but I don't think that demand extends to 35mm SLR film cameras to nearly the same extent.
Thanks to all for the replies. Some really useful information given.
I decided to see if I can get behind the stuck shutter issue. So I fired a few shots without film. I noticed that the light meter died momentarily before the shutter stuck. So it occurred to me that the batteries could be at fault. I replaced them, and subsequently haven't had the problem again. So it seems the camera is fine, for now at least. With some exercise the lenses have become slightly less stiff, and are now on the stiff side of normal, and optically 100%. I have decided to keep the set together, and will use it until I can sell it as a set. The 90/2 in particular is too nice to just give away.
Edit: The camera is good enough for me to keep for the sake of using the lenses. I will not miss the DOF lever too much. Since it seems the problem is mechanical rather than lubrication, I will simply ignore it. This same guy had an R6.2 with 21 mm on it that got stolen. Now, THAT would have been worth keeping.
Last edited by dorff; 03-10-2013 at 08:33 AM. Click to view previous post history.
There are several good & cheap adapters available for using the Leica-R lenses on Canon and Nikon cameras (and other brands).
I have a Leica R4s (and an elder SL2) and I love the R-lenses very much.
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