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  1. #1

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    Konica Hexar AF, Minolta CLE or Hexanon M

    I want to downsize and replace my Leica MP with another rangefinder costing $1000 or less and perhaps a M3 or 4. I'm considering three listed cameras. I excluded the new Zeiss Z mount (price range), G-2 (want to keep my glass) Leitz/Minolta CL (reliability) and the Bessa bodies (build quality). The CLE and two Konica's are different but all are reported to have a solid hand feel with quiet shutters.

    In general I concluded there is some concern about the robustness of the Hexanon KM. I read on-line reports it's rangefinder is delicate, bits and pieces fall off the camera, and motor advance noise. I'm not concerned about the lens flange issue. The Hexanon specs look great on paper. The low mag finder a plus as I use a 28, 40 and 50mm. Prices are very attractive.

    The Hexar AF user reports are very positive. The 35mm lens has OOF qualities I look for and could replace my 28/2.8 and 40/2. Auto focus has advantages as I have older eyes. It appears the best way to use the camera is to use its automation. However, the camera controls seem fussy vs a M camera.

    The CLE has good user reports with the advantage of 28 and 40 frames. How accurate are the CLE frames or are they undersized similar to the M4P and newer Leicas? Has anyone used a 50mm on the CLE and how does that work?
    Last edited by Richard Jepsen; 03-08-2012 at 11:53 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    RJ

  2. #2
    Richard Sintchak (rich815)'s Avatar
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    This is not going to help but 3 years ago I considered sort of the same. In the end I kept the MP. You only live once and it simply gets no better.
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  3. #3

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    Just to get it right, the CLE and the CL are both just as reliable. The naysayers about the CL compare it to a Leica M that is a hammer compared to almost all rangefinders while the CLE gets compared to the more mainstream bodies. Very unfair to the CL. Leica lovers I think have it in for the CL because it killed the M sales while it was out, or so they say. The realty was Leica sales were tanking before the CL came out and the CL's profits saved the company from extinction but, as it was an orphan the M supporters eventually got it discontinued.

    The CL like any camera of that time is due for a cla and maintenance to be reliable, even the M series of this age require it. I had my CL serviced more than a decade ago and have heavily used it since with no problems, including the metering circuit. The key is to use a good tech like with any camera. Mine was done by Leica USA.

    The CLE seems near end of life as the parts to keep them running are drying up or have dried up while the CL is still supported by Leica for repairs as well as persons like Sherry. Even the photocell is available if needed. During the life of the camera, there were numerous improvements and while generally the later s/n s are the ones to go for, Leica USA installed them as silent recalls when servicing the CL according to them when mine was done and I understand Sherry likewise can install the changes.

    The CL is all mechanical using the battery only for the meter. It has no automation and that may be the limiting factor for many who prefer the CLE for that reason. As for lenses, the CL can use the 28, 35, 40, 50 and 90mm with no viewfinder though there are no dedicated framelines for the 28 and 35; they use the outer edge of the 40mm lines and the full viewfinder.

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Jepsen View Post
    The CLE has good user reports with the advantage of 28 and 40 frames. How accurate are the CLE frames or are they undersized similar to the M4P and newer Leicas? Has anyone used a 50mm on the CLE and how does that work?
    Why would you want to use a 50mm when you already have a 40mm?....Seems to me they are so close in focal length, you wouldn't need both.

  5. #5

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    Brian, before bought my first M camera I trial ran a Leitz/Minolta CL. I really liked the size and the match stick meter. But I recall the viewfinder is small and I'm looking to a more modern design. By all accounts the CLE is an improvement and costs less money.

    Why use a 50 when you have a 40:

    My 50/2 cron is a mint collapsible (11116). It's a better lens for portraits. It has that look if you know what I mean. My current CLE Rokkor 40/2 replaced a 35/2 cron. I use it like a 35mm. I sold a M6 with 35/2 to buy the MP. For glass I purchased a value priced mint 40/2. A cost effective swap and better match for the MP's 35mm frame. A 40/2 swings both ways; either a long 35 or a short 50.

    The MP is as good as it gets for a rangefinder experience. After 7 years I can move on and give someone else an opportunity to enjoy the best.

    I am thinking a CLE with a 28 and 40 frameline is a good answer. I would still want an un-metered M for the 50. Once bit by a M always bit. On the other hand the KM-Hexanon can do it all in one body.

    Fortunately Leica MP prices keep climbing allowing for a graceful exit.
    Last edited by Richard Jepsen; 03-08-2012 at 03:56 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    RJ

  6. #6
    keithwms's Avatar
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    The hexar AF is a great piece. The only downside for me was the *very* slow top shutter speed. Otherwise, wowie zowie. I really enjoyed it but had to let it go when I realized I'd be shooting at ISO 25 to take care of the speed problem.

    In addition to being very quiet, the hexar AF also has very good frame tracking, good enough to switch rolls mid-stream.

    I would definitely reconsider the Contax G2. Impossible to beat that deal.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  7. #7

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    I rarely use 1/1000. Most of my speeds are 1/250 or below. But still, I agree the low shutter speed on the Hex AF is limiting. The work around is neutral density filters.

    I agree the G2 is a great camera. I suspect I would not get along with the viewfinder except for its diopter adjustment. The G2 has great glass, especially for color. I took the G2 off my list as I look to older optics for my B&W work. Some complain of the noise level of the film advance. There is a lot to go wrong in that camera.

    Has anyone tried a 50 on a CLE??
    Last edited by Richard Jepsen; 03-08-2012 at 03:53 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    RJ

  8. #8
    Trask's Avatar
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    Sure, I've stuck my Summicron on my CLE -- it works just fine, but of course you have to imagine that the taking field lies within the projected 40mm frame.

    I've got the CLE, M2 and M3 (along with various LTM Canons, Nikon S2, Contax IIa, etc.) The CLE is a great camera. One thing really like is that it takes snap-in diopters that also fit the Minolta SLRs of the era -- much less expensive and very easy to use. The CLE finder is excellent, much better than on the CL I as considering buying a few months ago. The CLE meter, of course, doesn't move or pivot as the mechanically-linked meter does in the CL, which to may way of thinking means there's less to go wrong. Plus the meter reads off the shutter curtain/film base and adjusts automatically to changes in light.
    Now, I did something to my CLE you may wish to consider. One thing that bugged me was that the meter only worked when the camera was set to Auto exposure. To move to manual, you have to push a small button that disengages a catch under the shutter dial, thereby permitting the dial to move outside the auto range. So when I sent my CLE to Don Goldberg a few years ago, I asked him to disengage the button/catch mechanism. Now I set the camera to auto and use it as such, but when I want to check an exposure and then move to manual, I can just move the shutter dial to the desired shutter speed. This makes the camera more user-friendly, to this user at least! Throw in that you can do OTF flash, if you wish, and the CLE accepts a wide range of dedicated flashes like the 280Px or 360PX, though the latter is almost as big as the camera. The CLE flash is small and great (though mine probably needs a new capacitor, if I could find a repairman who fixes flash units). And the CLE has a "normal" side opening rear door, making loading film easier. Downsides, though comparatively speaking: the CLE is not as solid-feeling as an M2 or M3, but then what is apart from a Nikon F or a Canon FTb? And the CLE shutter makes more of a "clop" sound than a "snick" like a Leica. But I think you'd have to almost be a fetishist to reject a CLE just because it sounds different than a Leica. (For the record, a Leica is loud compared to my Konica IIIa, which sometimes I can't even hear.) I like to use my CLE with a 21mm Voigtlander, the 40mm Rokkor (a heck of a lens), and a 90mm Rokkor. A fabulous travel kit! I've got the a CLE shoulder bag in the box, too new for me to actually use it. But the camera, yeah, I've used it all over the world. Enjoy!

  9. #9

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    Trask, that is a great idea to disable the CLE auto setting release button. You just twirl the dial without a safey catch.

    My research came up with two (photonet) comments on a CLE vs KM-Hexanon

    The finders (KM-Hexanon vs CLE) are about the same magnification but the Hexar isn't as bright.
    I also have a KM-Hexar which I do not use much these days. The CLE I think is better made. My Hexar's paint is worn and the preview level has fallen off; from the first I had the hotshoe coming apart and fixed it will bond.) The shutter button is faster than the Hexar's. It is lighter. It is quieter. The Hexar, however, is more versatile.
    Does this match others experience? I handled a KM Hexanon 6/7 years ago and don't recall it being cheap or flimsy. Just the opposite, it felt dense and well made.

    Does anyone else feel the CLE viewfinder is brighter?

    Looking at the CLE manual it seems one could imagine a 50mm frame inside the 40 and be fairly accurate. At least as accurate as using a 35 with m6 framelines.
    Last edited by Richard Jepsen; 03-09-2012 at 05:26 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    RJ

  10. #10

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    Do you mean the Hexar RF?
    KM Hexanons are M fit lenses
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

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