Originally Posted by Q.G.
I have an M4-P and I would highly recommend that you tale a hard look at this camera, even though it does not have a built in meter.
I use a handheld meter with my M4-P and it really is not that much trouble, even though those who have always had in-camera meters seem to think it is.
I find that in most shooting situations, the light does not vary that much. I do alot of street photography and if it is very sunny, then sunny 16 is a good place to start exposure-wise. I know that if a subject moves from direct sunlight to an area that is 100% in the shadow of a building, awning, etc. the exposure difference will be 3 to 3 1/2 stops of light. If you are shooting B&W film, minor variations in exposure aren't that big of a problem, as B&W film has a large exposure latitude, particularly films like Tri-X and HP5+ (both are ISO 400).
Slide film (E-6) has a very narrow exposure latitude so metering is much more critical, as is light. If at all possible, you want your subject to be in even illumination, whether it's direct sun, indoor light, outdoor shadow or overcast light. With E-6 film, you often want the precision metering that a handheld spot meter affords - in some cases, a handheld meter is an advantage. Also, if you go with an M3 or M4-P, most hand meters take AA batteries which are universally available at about any store or shop.
The M4-P is considered by many to be possibly the most durable M camera ever made by Leica. Some collectors look with disdain at the M4-P because of its Canadian heritage. This is a non-issue in terms of quality of build, reliability and durability, though - it's a case of collector's elitism which is not a consideration for Leica owners who actually use their cameras to make photographs.
The M3 cameras are very durable too and are excellent cameras but have one shortcoming: 50mm is the widest lens you can use without a shoe mounted viewfinder.
With the M4-P, you get brightlines in the viewfinder for 28mm to 135mm lenses. The M3 can have a viewfinder upgrade, though. It's called the MP viewfinder upgrade and will set you back somewhere between $300 and $400, if memory serves me.
Pricewise, the M4-P is an affordable camera. A like new in box example will go for around $1400 from a Leica dealer; a user M4-P rated at around 7+ to 8- will go for around $750, give or take for the black model. The commemorative chrome M4-P bodies are more costly, as they were built in limited numbers. Either way, you are getting a ton of camera for not alot of an investment.
The M6 classic (non-TTL) is a good choice too. It has a built in meter and 28-135mm brightlines.
Of course, if price isn't an issue there's always the "new" (2003-present) MP - if you can find one, that is.
I like the durability and reliability of the M3 and M4-P but I prefer the M4-P due to the brightline issue. The M6 and MP are good choices too. All four of these cameras have one critical advantage over the M7: If you unexpectedly find yourself with dead batteries on an overseas trip or in the outback you can continue to shoot. Not so with the M7. This is a deal-breaker - for me, at least.
Shop carefully - if you go with a used camera, do your research and learn what to look for when buying used. There are telltale signs of use/wear/damage that are red flags. Learn to recognize them.
If you go with an M3, an M4-P, a M6 classic or an MP, you really can't go wrong. Good luck in your quest for your Leica - I hope the above information will be helpful.
Last edited by lensworker; 11-29-2011 at 09:03 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"My idea of a good life is that I wake up in the morning, go out and look around and make four rolls of film a day." - Josef Koudelka
"There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are." - Ernst Haas
"Nothing happens when you sit at home. I always make it a point to carry a camera with me at all times…I just shoot at what interests me at that moment." – Elliott Erwitt
M3. But only for the M mount. Then I would mount Canon LTM 50mm f1.4 with adapter.
I understand that 35 and 50mm are the most popular lenses on Leicas so I think a good cost-effective body would be an M2 or an M4-P. I personally like the solitary framelines on the M2 but an M4-P will handle a wider range of lenses. Also the M4-P has a 28mm frameline; that lens pairs well with a 50mm. It's really down to the focal length(s) you want to use.
M4. Much nicer to use with its film loading than M3 and M2, IMO. Silky smooth mechanism.
Honestly, I don't understand the hype the M2 receives, here and elsewhere. Both the film loading (which I know from my M3) and the frame counter dial (which I know from my IIIc) look like a major hassle. As for the "uncluttered" viewfinder often cited, I hardly ever notice the 135mm frame lines inside my M4's 35mm frame...
Tough call. I'm going to have to go with the M7, if only because I'm a big aperture priority shooter. It's customized with M3 controls and framelines - does that count?
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The M4 is certainly great, but I personally dislike the rewind crank. With a Rapid Load kit, the M2 is just as easy to load. Also, I love the older button rewind versions, as the front of the camera is cleaner and I don't have to rest my fingers on top of a self-timer lever.
Originally Posted by agw
Originally Posted by Double Negative
What is the Rapid Load kit?
Originally Posted by cbphoto
I finally bought an M2 after using a FED for years, and frankly I don't find it hard to load at all. But this is the only Leica experience I have. Maybe I'm missing something. Is it supposed to be hard?
Not hard at all compared to a thread mount.
Originally Posted by michaelbsc
"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."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
It's a fixed-spool insert for the M2/3 that lets you load film without removing the spool. It's a bit faster, but not earth-shatteringly so.
Originally Posted by michaelbsc