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  1. #1
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Any thoughts on Leica R?

    Having used Nikon and Pentax 35 mm SLRs for 40 years (starting way back in the 1960s when Pentax was regarded as a professional brand), I have been increasingly tempted by Leica R cameras (I am already very familiar with Leica M) and have just bought a Leica R3 and 50 mm Summicron (for £200, allegedly in beautiful condition), which will arrive in a couple of days. I have tried to brief myself on the different models though the "Leica Collectors' Guide" but would be interested in APUGers' opinions on the cameras in general, favorite models, etc. I plan initially to use the 50 Summicron plus some of my Tamron lenses, may buy other genuine Leica lenses later.

    Regards,

    David

  2. #2

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    Given the prices they now fetch used, there is nothing to loose. I now use an R4 and have been very pleased with it and am planning to add an R7 soon. I find the newer R8 & 9 a bit too brick like, but the old body shape is good. I have been an OM user since the late 1970s and always saw Leica as a distant dream. I usually use three cameras at once as I have to do almost everything on B&W, col neg and col slide, and the price of 3 R's was just out of the question until now. On the usual sour grapes principle I had thus always persuaded myself that Leica was mostly hype, but I am now working towards making the switch. The OM glass is superb, but Leica glass really is better and the bodies are not that much bigger to lug about. They also have a lot less shutter/mirror shock, so I find that I can hold them for a stop slower shutter speed. My only reservation is that they don't have the metering sophistication of the OM-4, but on the other hand they do have shutter priority auto which is a great plus for my aerial work.

    David.

  3. #3
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback. Has your R4 needed a lot of servicing, for example replacement of light seals, adjustment of metering, etc.?

    Regards,

    David

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    The lens makes the image so get Leica glass as soon as possible. Dump the Tamron lenses. They are like putting bicycle wheels on a Formula One race car.

  5. #5
    clogz's Avatar
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    The R4 dates back some 25 years ago and the light seals may start to crumble etc. Don't forget the one around the film window! www.kameradoktor.de has ready-made seals for the Leica IIRC.

    Hans
    Digital is best taken with a grain of silver.

  6. #6
    tbm
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    I started out over 10 years ago with an R4, then progressed slightly to an R7. I disliked the top sections of both, finding accessing the dials diffiicult. When the R8 was released, I tested handling it and immediately found it to be a substantial upgrade from the earlier R cameras because the layout of the dials is substantially easy to reach and operate, even with my eye against the viewfinder window. I've been using it ever since, and I find it to be the most ergonomically usable SLR out there! And the lenses are phenomenal!

    Terry

  7. #7
    mmcclellan's Avatar
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    I bought an R6 several years ago because it was the only R available that was fully mechanical -- no batteries needed to use all shutter speeds. Since I never use an in-camera meter, I wanted a fully mechanical camera. I use it exclusively with the 28 and 35mm shift lenses and could not be happier with the whole kit. Loaded with Pan F or Efke 25, I can shoot precisely and make 11x14s that are virtually indistinguishable from same-sized prints made from 4x5 negs. The R6 is a wonderful camera and will never be an expensive paperweight for lack of a $2 battery.
    Michael McClellan
    Documentary Photographer
    Ann Arbor, Michigan
    http://www.MichaelMcClellan.com

  8. #8
    naturephoto1's Avatar
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    Hi David,

    My first Leica R camera was an R4S purchased in 1984. I promptly had Leica USA upgrade the camera to as close as possible to the R4SP. My second R Leica was the R3 MOT. This was a larger camera based on the larger Minolta chasis rather than the smaller chasis of the XD11 for the R4-R7 cameras. For a while, Leica had a program advertising the R3 that had fallen from a mid or almost mid Air collision with some military US planes when the the camera fell thousands of feet in as I recall the Mohave Desert. The camera was recovered with some damage but still was functioning.

    Personnally, I never liked the R3 MOT nearly as much as my modified R4S, my R4SP, or R7. If I were you, I would stay away from the R4/R4 MOT cameras. Leica had some problems with the electronics. They introduced the R4 and R4SP as simpler cameras without the problems. Mary Forcher, the well known camera repairman designed the +/- aperture adjustment switch used on the R4SP - R7 camera bodies. If you want a small basic manual focus auto exposure camera definitely consider the R4SP. I still have this camera which is my backup for usage for those instances when I need long exposure without batteries. The camera will work at 1/100 and B without batteries. It is a small camera about the size of an M camera.

    If you want a straight manual manual focus consider the Leica R 6/6.2. These cameras will work in manual even without battery though the meter will not function without batteries.

    If you want an auto camera with TTL for flash I would consider the R7 rather than the R5. The R7 has a more advanced metering and TTL flash system. If I need a small light camera (not as small as the R4SP) with a lot of automatic features this is the camera that I carry). The camera has a pre release for the mirror lock which uses a separate cable or special plunger. As I recall the release has to be reset for each exposure. I like this camera very much but it is a paper weight without batteries (including those of a motor or winder).

    If you want current or almost current consider the R8 (or R9). This is my favorite of all of the Leica R series cameras. It is considerably larger and heavier than the R4-R7 cameras and made in Germany rather than the R4-R7 cameras which were made in Portugal. The camera has real heft but balances much better and handles better with the motor winder. The view finder is very bright with a tremendous amount of information about exposure and even the frame number. The R8 and R9 have true mirror lock ups. The R9 is about an ounce lighter than the R8. The R8 camera is a delight to use. The camera is a paper weight without battery operation. Also, if you see digital in the future, the R8 and R9 backs can be removed and the Digital Module R can be used instead of film.

    Rich
    Richard A. Nelridge
    http://www.nelridge.com

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by David H. Bebbington View Post
    Thanks for the feedback. Has your R4 needed a lot of servicing, for example replacement of light seals, adjustment of metering, etc.?

    Regards,

    David

    None at all so far. When I got it the light seals looked to have been newly replaced. In the shop the frame counter was skipping numbers and was fixed before I paid for it. Since then it has had very heavy use, often with the motor drive and has behaved perfectly. The meter seems bang on in all modes. My only issue with the camera is that it is a bit too easy to change shutter speed and/or exposure mode accidentally. However, I suspect that this would not effect most people. I only suffer because I am using it in a very cramped aircraft cockpit at the same time as two other cameras and they tend to bump into each other from time to time and so can change each other's settings.

    p.s. I'd like to echo whoever pointed out the mirror pre-fire facility on the R7 (and 6).

    David.

  10. #10
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Thanks for the feedback - it looks as if, all being well, I shall just need to send the camera in for a seal replacement (if not done already) and a general CLA. I shall certainly be keeping the Tamron lenses, they are great, particularly at current prices, and give me the opportunity to try a different camera system for the price of a body plus a couple of adapters. Also. they provide me with extreme focal lengths - I am sure a Leica 15 or 18 mm lens has the edge on a Tamron, but at 15 times the price (£1500 versus £100second-hand)I sure can't afford to have an 18 mm for Nikon AND Leica AND Pentax. Same goes for the 70 -> 210 zoom and the 500 mm mirror lens - nice to have but not worth paying thousands for!

    It seems to be a quirk of fate (or a camera collector whim) that Leica R cameras are valued so low - for what I paid for the R3 plus lens (£200), I could almost afford to dump the body, a dealer price for the lens would be £225 to £300, but I feel confident it will be OK with a CLA.

    As there are so many Leica R experts here, one more question. I did have the impression that 3-cam lenses fit the Leica R3 onwards and would be damaged if put on a Leicaflex/Leicaflex SL/Leicaflex SL2, but some dealers seem to be suggesting that 3-cam lenses fit everything. Is this right? It doesn't sound right!

    Regards to all and thanks once again,

    David

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