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  1. #1

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    Leica Viewfinders

    I'm considering downsizing to one camera, a Leica, and a favorite enlarger, 1c or Valoy 2. I wish to move from a MP to a less expensive M4 to M4-2. I don't mind hand metering for the type of shots the Leica does best.

    The question is the tint of the M viewfinders. From my experience the M3 and M2 finders are dimmer with a blue tint; and therefore not as contrasty. The M4-2 seems the best value with contrasty finder.

    Has anyone seen a M3 viewfinder that is not dimmer than a M4-2? Does the M4-2 have a flair resistant finder or did that end with the M4/5?
    RJ

  2. #2

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    The M3s I've owned had viewfinders that were anything but dim. Probably the best viewfinder in rangefinder photography, in terms of all the things I want. By the way, I would recommend a double stroke M3. Those things are sweet.

  3. #3
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    I have M3 and M6, both are clear without dim. I shoot 99% with 50mm - so I like M3 viewfinder better than M6, not only for 0.91 vs. 0.72, but for precision (M6 shows too small part of picture that actually lands on the negative).

  4. #4

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    My M3 and M2 have an ever so slight bluish tint compared directly to my M4-2. But I remember reading it's a feature, not a bug (should make the rangefinder patch more contrasty and easier to focus). The condition/dirtiness of the finder will probably make a bigger difference.

    Regarding the flare issue (it is not an issue with the flare resistance of the finder itself but the rangefinder patch that will whiteout with light sources at a certain angle), it is said that the viewfinder assembly was simplified somewhat during the production run of the M4-2 and they removed one part too much, which resulted in the whiteout problem on all subsequent cameras until it was finally solved in the MP finder. It's difficult to say at what S/N exactly the change did happen during the M4-2 production. Mine is 15034XX (that's the second bigger production lot I think) and it seems it's still the old type rangefinder assembly, but I am not 100% sure.

  5. #5

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    There is no reason for an M2 viewfinder to be tinted other than if it needs a clean. On the other hand all the M3's I've had have had a yellow tint, even after a CLA.

    If you want something simpler than your MP I would suggest an M4-P. You get all six frame lines, and they are very well built (built tough enough to accommodate a faster motor drive). If you wear spectacles the last batch had a rubber eyepiece and were essentially an M6 without the meter.

    Steve
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_barnett/

    book
    wood, water, rock,
    landscape photographs in and around the Peak District National Park, UK.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by mnemosyne View Post
    Regarding the flare issue (it is not an issue with the flare resistance of the finder itself but the rangefinder patch that will whiteout with light sources at a certain angle)
    Yes!


    Quote Originally Posted by mnemosyne View Post
    ...it is said that the viewfinder assembly was simplified somewhat during the production run of the M4-2 and they removed one part too much, which resulted in the whiteout problem on all subsequent cameras until it was finally solved in the MP finder. It's difficult to say at what S/N exactly the change did happen during the M4-2 production. Mine is 15034XX (that's the second bigger production lot I think) and it seems it's still the old type rangefinder assembly, but I am not 100% sure.
    My M4-2, S/N 15032XX, doesn't flare. Nor does my M4. My M6's both flare.

    I gather that Leica can replace a flaring RF assembly with the later, improved version, but at a cost of several hundred dollars. I haven't been exercised about the problem enough to be willing to pay that much to have my M6's upgraded. As it happens, I do prefer my M4 and M4-2 to my M6's, but because of the feel of the shutter release, not because of the finders.

  7. #7

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    I've had a few M3s, I found the finder in all to be pretty nice and contrasty, but not has nice as the MP I had.

    I have found all my rangefinders, Zeiss Ikon, Bessa, Leica, Nikon, Mamiya 7, to have easily good enough finders, and I'd be making the decision based on the lenses I was going to use. If I was going use only a 50mm or longer, then M3 would be an easy choice for me. For 35mm I'd probably get an M2, wider than that I'd be looking Bessas probably.

  8. #8

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    I think that a good, clean M3 viewfinder may appear to be a bit dimmer because of the bluish colour tint, but that doesn't change the fact the the M3 viewfinder is hands-down the best (size, clarity, focus "snap" and accuracy) finder in all measurable respects that Leica has ever made. Even a brand new M9 or M Typ 240 finder doesn't come close.

    One has to realise that most M3's are around 60 years old though! There are many air-glass surfaces in the finder mechanism, and each of these has had time to accumulate dirt, including vapours from oils etc. Most need a careful cleaning.

    Every time I had an M9 or M/240 user my M3, they are positively surprised at how nice the finder is!

  9. #9

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    I read the M3 rangefinder patch is slightly yellow and the field slightly blue to create a contrast aiding focus. I handled M2s and M3s at camera shows and the cameras were not in top notch condition. The overall viewer seemed dimmer than my MP to the point it would bother me if shooting in low light while organizing elements inside the frame line. I have viewed a M4-P whose finder clarity is similar to a M6 and acceptable.

    I'm looking to the non 28mm finders. They are slightly more accurate and I use 35-90mm older optics.

    The DS M3 has appeal because of the .91 finder used with a 50mm. Finder separation is a risk. A CLA on purchase has to be assumed.

    When did balsam get discontinued in the finders?

  10. #10

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    Hi Richard,
    One word before you're dropping the MP: it has the full set of finder views,, from 35 to 150mm. That's why I keep mine - I don't care about the light meter, no batteries is what I do. The M3, M4 have a fine view finder but not with full range.
    Peter

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