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  1. #1

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    Thinking about getting a Leica

    Hey guys,

    I am thinking about it. But I have never done anything serious with a rangefinder before. I have used my friend's Leica when I was in college in 2005, but couldn't afford one that time and started using Nikon. Been using a Nikon ever since. My last camera purchase was in 2007, an F6. My favorite till now is an F6.

    In terms of lens quality, build and handling, F6 is everything I hoped for. I am thinking about Leica (pref M6/M7) simply because of the weight and quality package for my street shooting. However, I have gotten used to the weight of F6, I am hesitating the need to spend the money, especially when I am not sure if it will pay for me.

    I went through this problem 2 years ago, But decided to stick with my Nikon. Have anyone with some experience in using Nikon SLR share their experience when switching to Leica. Especially some details on everyday shooting benefits and drawbacks how much more you were able to do what you couldn't with Nikon?

  2. #2
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    I don't see a really compelling reason for you to do this, other than you think you should be doing it.

    Leicas, or rangerfinders in general, are great for most shooting (and especially street) because they're quiet, fast (once you know their benefits and how to use them) and smaller than most SLR's.

    I went from Nikons (which I still have and use once in a while) to a Leica because I knew I'd be shooting a lot more street and watned something smaller, a bit less obtrusive and quiet. I also wanted something smaller and lighter for general 35mm shooting and something I could conceivably have the rest of my life.

    I find I focus quicker with SLR's, but zone focusing is used mostly with my Leica anyway. I also find I approach shooting differently with a rangefinder...perhaps a personal, subjective thing but it's a bit slower and more contemplative, perhaps. Being able to see outside the area I'm recording on film is interesting for being able to 'pre visualize' my shot as it happens, I suppose.
    If you think something is lacking or is a bit frustrating about your street work now, then maybe look at a rangefinder. But otherwise...keep at it with an F6, a fine camera. I find the advantages with a Leica mostly are quietness and unobtrusiveness.
    "Never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes."

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  3. #3
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    You can get all that quietness in a $15 Agfa Silette/Solina. Ok, so the optical quality won't make you think Sumicron, but street is, as Colin said, mostly zone pre-focus and everybody is moving and jostling and so that 3-element Apotar will get you the picture as well as anything else. And if something should happen to your camera - hey, you are out the price of a Seattle cup of coffee.
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  4. #4

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    I went from a Canon SLR to a Leica. I really liked everything about the Canon (a 1V) except for the size. Yeah, the Leica lenses are for the most part better than the Canon lenses I used (50/1.4 and 28/1.8). They are also way more expensive. For the most part, the Canon lenses weren't 'bad' and were good enough for most pictures I take. I've thought about going back to the Canon set up and buying some nicer lenses, but after borrowing a 24 L and using it for a bit, I reached the same conclusion - it's just too big for me. I wouldn't carry and thus I'd not take pictures. I travel a fair bit and having a smaller set up is a HUGE thing for me. Plus, over the years, I've gotten a couple lenses that I really like, so the Leica kit is working for me. Lastly, I've found that rangefinder focusing suits me reasonably well, and I don't really miss macro, big telephotos, or zooms.

    I play around shooting street but suck at it. The Leica is better than the Canon here, but not because it's a Leica. In my mind, mainly because it's manual focus and it's real easy to zone focus it. So any manual focus SLR would be just as good.

    If I were you, I'd look into picking up a manual focus Nikon SLR. There's a ton of glass out there that you could use, including some of the nice new Zeiss ZF stuff, and you could use it on your F6 too. Even if you really splurged, you can get an FM3A for about half of what a Leica costs, never mind the lens prices. You get a smaller camera and manual focus, without the huge price increase or the loss of certain SLR capabilities, like macro.

    On the other hand, if you want to shoot a rangefinder and know what you are getting into, Leica's are great cameras and there's a ton of cool lenses out there.

    Finally, even though I shoot Leica and Canon, I've thought about selling it all for an FM3A, an F6, and a D700. It's a really nice system with some really nice lenses.

  5. #5

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    Buy an old cheap fixed-lens rangefinder (many even have great lenses) and see how you like it. Then grab a Bessa or Leica if you do, but find you want interchangeable lenses.

  6. #6

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    @Colin: Thanks. I don't think there is a definite thing lacking in my setup. Like you pointed out, I was thinking perhaps I don't standout as much. As far as focusing is considered, I have a technique I got used to in the past years with my nikons. it seems to be working for me.

    @Nicholas: I thought about getting a cheap setup first. But I am afraid that if the lens and build quality-wise if it is not as smooth as Leica, I might get discouraged for the wrong reason.


    Perhaps.. I will wait out for 1 or 2 months and see if I still feel the need to get it. Perhaps I can rent one in the mean time and see how it goes.

  7. #7
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    I will say this -- an SLR is very different than a rangefinder. Not just how they work but you work with them.

    That 'clicks' with some people and how/what they shoot...not with others. YMMV
    "Never criticize someone until you've walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away and you've got their shoes."

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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Corneau View Post
    I will say this -- an SLR is very different than a rangefinder. Not just how they work but you work with them.

    That 'clicks' with some people and how/what they shoot...not with others. YMMV
    Totally. I let my girlfriend borrow an M6 and a 50 at one point and she hated it.

  9. #9
    Paul Goutiere's Avatar
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    First its a F6. Then what the heck, why not get a M6 or M7 with a few nice lenses.
    Maybe add a medium format body in there too, just for that bigger negative.
    But the medium format doesn't have all the nifty tilts and swings...so lets get a 4x5 too.
    Then, that M2 in the window looks so nice....I can get that now; I mean, I have some lenses right?

    This is how it starts.......

  10. #10
    DAP
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    I don't know if it helps with your decision or not, but it is a really bad time to buy into M-series Leica gear. During the past year or so the prices for 2nd hand Leica cameras and lenses have been going insane (you would definately be buying high).

    Would you have to sell your F6 to fund the Leica? If so, I wouldn't do it - why trade in a camera that you really like for a total unknown. At the very least I would look into buying a cheap 2nd hand Cosina voigtlander camera/lens to help you decide if you even like using rangefinders before jumping in with both feet.

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