RiverMan... Well said!
Mirror slap too... if it's handheld... what is the diff? Especially at 1/50th and below. I can make a sharp hand-help Blad image with some patience at 1/30th ant that make a 35mm mirror seem like a butterfly wing.
There is nothing about a modern Leica that is strictly relegated to zone focusing at all. That's why they're called rangefinders.
Many many people get on with these cameras extremely well and the equipment has more than proven itself. It only benefits people if they're capable with SLRs, TLRs, RFs, etc. Sticking to only one because "that's what feels the most comfortable" is doing yourself a disservice.
Stop worrying about grain, resolution, sharpness, and everything else that doesn't have a damn thing to do with substance.
I would totally agree with this. However, I would say it is a question of your own mental state when using the camera. If you are completely relaxed (no angst), your actions are of not much concern to those in the scene. I realise this is easy to say and quite different to do, but it can be developed with practice. I can do it sometimes, but not often.
Originally Posted by Riverman
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
I've used Leica's for about 40 years, first a IIIA and later an M3, I also shoot with SLR's - a touch longer. Both SLR's and Rangefinder's have their advantages.
When I got my M3 I was shooting a lot of 35mm with my Pentax's but then I found the Leica so much more fun to use and the results were consistently as I wanted so the SLR's have been retired except for odd occasions.
The bottom line is the Leica gives me great results hand held where an SLR is problematic and is now my first choice 35mm camera but I shoot other cameras and formats as well.
A camera is a camera is a camera. If your aim is simply to take photographs, then continuing to use what you have is the most logical choice. Changing your equipment usually doesn't have much of an effect on the the pictures you take, and your photos should always take priority over your gear. If your gear is holding you back in some way, then by all means get something else, but it's hard to see what a Leica can offer you that your Nikon can't.
I am more of a gear-head than I am a photographer, and as such, I have acquired a hell of a lot of cameras. I have done this more out of mechanical curiosity than out of desiring better gear to take better pictures. In the end, I have found that one camera is much like another, regardless of the brand, type, or price. When I look at photos I have taken with Nikons, Canons, Olympuses, Leicas, Contaxes, Pentaxes, Yashicas, and others too numerous to name, I find that in most cases few if any would be able to tell what kind of camera took which. That being the case, what logic is there in paying $4000 for a later-model Leica with a decent lens when a $100 garden-variety camera and lens will take a picture 99.5% as good?
When comparing a Leica M to other types of cameras, there are a few things which I like. First, the smoothness of the mechanism, and second, the quietness of the shutter. This varies from camera to camera, depending on it's age, and how it was last serviced. No two Leicas feel or sound the exactly the same. Next, I like the rangefinder itself. Compared to other interchangeable-lens rangefinders like Contax, Nikon, Canon, or Konica (all of which I also have), it is cleaner, clearer, and more precise. Lastly, the ergonomics are excellent; the shutter button and winder are where they should be, and the camera seems to fit in the hand like nothing else. The lenses are excellent, well-made, smooth-focusing, and can deliver excellent images.
The only thing I really don't like about Leica cameras (and lenses) is their price. A Leica costs several to many times more than other cameras, yet the resulting images are only fractionally better, and that's only to those who know what they are looking for. An average person would never be able to tell the difference between the photos taken with an MP and a 50mm Summilux and a Canon AE-1 with an FD 50/1.4 (which can be found for the price of a Leica soft-release button if one looks hard enough).
If you want a Leica, and can afford it, then that's all the reason you need to get one. I don't shoot Leicas because they make better photographs than other types of cameras, I use them because they are a pleasure to shoot.
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I shot Nikons for years, and I have 6 of them piled in a cabinet here. 5 of them are broken or dead. It was when the last one broke, an FE2 I'd carried daily, that I finally bit the bullet and picked up a user Leica M4-p. It was pretty cheap, as these things go anyway, and while I'd never lusted after one at all and always thought they were hyped, I'd recently been shooting other rangefinders (Fuji 6x9s) and had grown to find them to offer something I enjoyed. Mostly though, I was tired of taking Nikons in for repair or replacing them, and wanted something made really really well.
It took me about 6 months to adjust to the leica and get over some of it's quirks, but after that break in period I can honestly say I get it, and now understand why people marry themselves to them. And at the risk of joining that club, it is indeed for all the cliched reasons that are so often tossed around.
Anyway, nothing is for everyone, but I was personally surprised at how much I grew to appreciate the camera. The obvious weak link is close-up work and longer lenses, but keeping a Nikon around w/ an 85mm and some extension tubes is easy enough.
Used my OM-2 and Canon AE-1 frequently when I decided to buy a Leica in 2010. After this I have aquired another three and I no longer use the SLRs. I use my cameras for street photography.
Chances are that you will like this camera, so if your budget allows for it, try one. If you don´t like it you can pretty much sell it for the same price.
Fascinating topic as I'm suffering through a period of M4-p lust. I was given a IIIf a couple years ago for Christmas along with 4 lenses and after a trip to see youxin, tried to get on with it. The big deal for me is having to use a viewfinder with anything other than the 50. I enjoy shooting with just a 50, as I believe that the rangefinder, especially with film really makes you think more, which was the prime objective.
However trying to carry the IIIf at work (as a firefighter) and steal an occasional photo with anything other than the 50 is impossible. For me it's just a little too clumsy, and I'd prefer using the 35. My first camera was a Yashica rangefinder and from there all Nikons (FM, FM2, F1, F, F3 currently a D7000).
So I've been mulling over not trying to grab an M4-p and rehabbing the F2 by trying to find a prism finder to replace the obtrusive photomic head. I have the manual lenses for the Nikon, but also for the Leica. Such a quandry........
And thanks for all the varied opinions.
If you're shooting pictures at a fire, why not a Nikonos III? The default lens is a 35mm, it's waterproof and pretty well shock-proof too. And it's a small fraction of the price of a Leica.
This is an on-duty quick grab camera, generally for candids or such. We're not exactly heavy on manpower and I'm way too busy if it's a good job to worry about a frame or 2.
As far as chasing fires, nowadays I don't have any trouble with the D7000 (unless the weather is bad), but back in the day my F's always took a beating. They always held up pretty well (one of the reasons I always stuck with manual cameras). That's a discussion for another thread. The Nikonos was always a non-starter.
And after I read this thread and posted, I grabbed (and dusted off) the F and F2 to compare them to the IIIf. No comparison. I'd carry the IIIf for a month before the F2. Probably even with a prism finder. And ergonomically the IIIf feels better in your hand.