I have been using Leica R series SLRs since 1984. These cameras have been quite reliable. I have owned 2 R4SPs, R3MOT, R7, and R8. The R4SP cameras have been very reliable small cameras. They do not have TTL however. The R7 has also been quite reliable, has TTL, but is a bit larger than the R4SP cameras. The R4SP and R7 may be built on the same chasis as the Minolta MD11 cameras, but they are not Minoltas. The R8 is my favorite R Series Leica, the camera displays even more information in the viewfinder than the R7; it also has TTL. It is my first choice of Leica R body if weight and size are not an issue. If weight and size are an issue, and particularly if there is battery life concern, I select my R4SP.
By the way the R4SP cameras were simplified versions of the troublesome R4. Marty Forscher designed the the adjustment for +/- adjustment of the camera. This feature has subsequently passed to the subsequent Leica R cameras.
Hey, Tom: I agree with you regarding the 80mm f/1.4 Summilux entirely. It is a fantastic lens! When I was roaming the streets of San Francisco (while not at the LHSA gathering) with it late last year, I got some great shots of people and all faces have the superb Leica glow on the prints I made! I just LOVE its characteristics!!
Hi Tom, I have owned both the R3 and R4 and had problems with the electrics on both cameras. The R4 is the worst and I beleive that nearly all the earlier R4's have problems with the metering. The later R4S and R5 etc. seem to have the problem sorted out.
The fault was caused by the vapours from the battery corroding the circuit boards and Leica provided a fix at cost price so some R4's may be ok today.
I would suggest that you avoid these earlier electronic Leicas and go for the SL or SL2. I have an SL and find it a great camera to use and it's far cheaper than the SL2.
The Minolta XE1 or XE5 is basically the same as the R3 and for my money is the better camera. These are easily the nicest of the early Minoltas to use and the Rokkor lenses are top notch, although not as good as the Leicas.
Interesting. Where does one get an OM-4 repaired at reasonable cost? I have 300.00 sunk into one and the shutter still wont give the same speed twice
Originally Posted by Uncle Bill
I have used the R5 (borrowed from a friend),and currently own and use the R8.
It is really a matter of how much money you want to spend.
R5 and R8 deliver the same pictures with the same lens placed in front.
Both have quite good metering systems.
R4s and earlier are rather basic stuff, with some technical quircks.
After R5 nothing much happened before the R8.
Likewise, the differences between R8 and R9 are neglible.
Picture quality is breathtaking. - some of the lenses seems to outperform the M series in practical work.
Focusing is manual and slower than the M series.
You need the mindset of the manual camera owner.
If you are into autofocus, the machine-gun F5 from Nikon could be the thing. The Nikon optics are not near as good though.
Then again, if I could carry only one camera for travelling, it would most likely be an M.
The best source I have found for R-series info is www.summilux.net
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
Leica SLR R8
If you are interested in a used Leica SLR, I would recommend a Leica R8. I used a Leicaflex SL and an R4 for many years, and then started using the R8. Kurland Photographic in NYC has a used R8 for 1200.00, but if you look around you can probably find many other deals. Having a wider range of focal lengths is where the R system provides more options. I also use an M7 and would not recommend a rangefinder unless you have a specific need for such. The Leica M's are a different beast all together and do require more skill and awareness to use. Some may find changing a roll of film on a Leica M to be somewhat cumbersome, but once you get use to it, it does become second nature. The exceptional lenses for the Leica R system are the 50mm 1.4 Summilux, the 90mm 2.0 APO Summicron, the 180mm 2.8 Elmarit APO, and the 28-90mm 2.8-4.5 Vario Elmar zoom lens.
Yes I have owned the R3 and went back to my original leicaflexes and leicaflex sl, they are the most solid built cameras I've owned. The r3 isn't half the camera but it has more features to compensate. The R3 is basically a minolta in leica skin. I did camera service and if cars held up as good as the leicaflex and sl bodies Detroit could close their service shops. Don
Originally Posted by snegron
Just for clarity..the original Leicaflex, Leicaflex SL, Leicaflex SL2, Leica R8 & Leica R9 are the only Leica branded SLR cameras actually completely designed and "made" in Germany (some possibly assembled in Portugal)....the other "R" models used subassemblies made by Minolta.
I got carried away with the shockingly low price of Leica R3s and ended up buying 3 of them. All were previously amateur owned, very lightly used and virtually unworn - their previous elderly owners had laid them aside in display cases and the cameras were ultimately sold off after the owners' demise. In every case new seals were required and there was a problem with metering accuracy caused by corrosion on an internal ring which communicates the aperture value to the meter. A CLA for around £110 in each case fixed all these problems and they all now work fine. R3s have very well-damped mirrors, the only point of criticism I would have is that they are comparatively heavy (against Nikon F3s, which I also use). I paid £125 to £150 for each camera plus a lens (50 Summicron, maybe £25 more for a camera plus 50 f1.4 Summilux). and once I bought a 35 Summicron and 180 f4 Elmar-R in Exc++ condition for £200 together.
Summary: If you can handle the weight, a Leica R3 offers astonishing quality for very little money!
I owned a R5 and a R4. I can't recall if it was a R4s or not but it was a "model 2" .. said so on the hotshoe area. I heard the early R4 camera had problems but I never had a repair on either camera. I used them both professionally. I switched from Nikon at the time and feel the camera build quality of the Leica was better. The lenses were better by far. I think the 90 F2 I had was the best lens I ever used.
Having said all that I would look at a R6 (either model) or an R7.
Things change over time, and I ended up switching back to Nikon because the long, fast glass for Leica is out of reach and I wanted AF. Now I shoot Canon.
I think the Leica prime lenses are great, although the zooms don't get much respect. They are all nice to work with.
If you're just looking for better lenses than your run-of-the-mill Nikons and Canons you could also consider the new Zeiss lenses in the Nikon mount... they are highly regarded.