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  1. #21
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    I have a Leica IIIa with an Elmar 5cm and I think it's a great user to keep in your pocket. With the lens collapsed it's tiny. How user friendly they are though depends A LOT upon your own experience. If you're used to shooting LF or antique cameras then you should have no issues. However, if you're used to shooting fully auto cameras or modern SLR's where all your shot info (shutter speed, aperture, metering, etc) is in the VF, then it may not be your cup of tea. 2F/2F makes a good point about judging exposure. I take a general exposure reading and then make adjustments based upon experience for when the lighting varies. As for loading film, I don't find the actual loading part to be an issue at all. It takes only a couple of seconds longer than loading my OM. The PITA part is remembering to keep rolls with trimmed leaders in your camera bag.
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    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isnít the decisive moment or anything like that Ė itís getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

  2. #22

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    I just bought a IIIb (relatively inexpensive because of cosmetic issues, like the leatherette half-missing; I've ordered a replacement kit). I bought a cheap Jupiter 50mm lens while I wait for a Summitar to arrive, and even in its rather bad shape, I love the feel of it in my hands!

    My first "good" camera was a Voigtlander Vito B (easier to load, brighter finder, but scale focussing only, no meter) so I don't think it will be too hard to adjust :-)
    Nikon 35mm, Mamiya 645 & RB67, Leica IIIb, other bits and pieces

  3. #23
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Film with short leaders is easy to load in early Leicas. Slip a business card into the film slot, load the film behind the card, and remove the card. The card guides the film past the film gate without hanging up.

  4. #24
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Jones View Post
    Film with short leaders is easy to load in early Leicas. Slip a business card into the film slot, load the film behind the card, and remove the card. The card guides the film past the film gate without hanging up.
    +1

    I have not once trimmed a film leader to load my Barnack Leicas.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  5. #25

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    For some reason I've never had trouble loading my Leica IIIf without trimming the leader or using the business-card trick. I didn't know any better. Just lucky I guess.

  6. #26

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    For 10 people saying they never had trouble loading a Leica SM without trimming the film leader, I guess I can find 20 stating the opposite. I guess that Leitz recommendation had a justification. After all, they are in a good position to know about it...

  7. #27
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    I usually don't trim the film leader when loading my IIIa or IIIf with boxed film, but for the stuff I have loaded into the Leica cassettes I do trim the leaders as recommended. I don't have an ABLON template, I just trim the leader and pop it in. I rarely have trouble.
    Michael Cienfuegos


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  8. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F View Post
    This is going to sound arrogant, but I'll say it anyhow, and hope no one takes it the wrong way. They are great everyday users for those who know what they are doing. A beginner, or even someone with a fairly good knowledge, but with SLRs only, would likely be lost with one of them initially. There would be a steep learning curve for sure. Of course it can be done, but it would be far more seamless if you had a lot of practical experience photographing before picking one up. Basically, what I am saying it that having enough practice behind you to be able to judge light levels without a meter, and to pre-set exposure as you walk from one lighting to the other is crucial IMO. And then, on top of that, you have to get fast with all the little gizmos on the cameras. If you aren't fast and on the ball all the time, you miss shots left and right with Barnack Leicas.

    Once you learn to work with them, they are about the most easy to carry high-quality mechanical camera you will find, and they can pack a lot of optical punch for such an easy to carry camera. (Not necessarily in absolute sharpness, but in style. A lot of the Leitz thread mount lenses have very distinctive optical "signatures" that would probably label them as "bad" lenses in a blind objective test by today's standards.) To me, they are the ultimate convenient day-to-day shooter that provides both "excellent" and "interestingly flawed" lenses in an easily portable kit, while also having extremely good mechanical quality.

    If you are going to be troubled by loading the film through the bottom, by tiny RF and VF windows, by relatively weak and tiny RF patches, by getting good exposures without an in-camera meter, and all the other anachronisms of using these cameras in the context of today's do-everything cameras, then there is no shame in saying forget the Barnack Leica; it just isn't for me. IMO, you need to use the camera that suits your shooting to get your best results.
    I agree with you completely. I used to work in 16mm film (for television) using the likes of B&H Filmos and Arri 16's, rugged powerful cameras in any era (even today), but definitely not made for beginners or the consumer market. These required dealing with all sorts of quirky challenging, non-automated technical issues (finders, film loading, exposure, focus, emulsion selection, etc.), but mastering them could produce cinematic quality results. This prepared me in later life to deal with Barnacks and related vintage quality cameras (e.g. Nikon, Contax). I understood the concept of sacrificing convenience for total control to achieve maximum performance with a camera.

  9. #29

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    Total control for maximum performance is not synonym of inconvenience. There is a lot of cameras much easier to master. Are they less efficient? Certainly not or Leica would has stick with the Barnack concept until now. Even manufacturers which copied the Barnack concept switched to something else after a decade or two, not without reason.

    SM Leica cameras are small, aesthetic, silent but no magic. They can be effective but I don't consider them as the most versatile. For that, SLR are way ahead.

  10. #30
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Huh, guess I'll stop worrying about trimming leaders. I've never actually tried loading it without doing so as that was what I read about and what was also told to me by the person that gave me mine. With that in mind, it really is user friendly...lol
    flickr

    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isnít the decisive moment or anything like that Ė itís getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

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