I use a Konica Hexar RF and a Leica M3. I also have a bunch of other cameras but don't use them but a fraction of the time, including a Contax system that I think is the best SLR system there is. At least 90% of the images I make on 35mm are on the rangefinders these days.
Personally I think the Zeiss Ikon is the best rangefinder made, although I don't use one. I would happily trade the Hexar RF for one. The viewfinder on it is extraordinary. It is worth a look if you want to go with a rangefinder. Second for me is the MP. My opinion has nothing to do with the price. I think the Leica is better from a manufacturing standpoint, but one look through the Zeiss Ikon finder and you might just buy one.
Having used Leica 'M's' for thirty years I wouldn't recommend my favourite type (M2) to somebody new to the system.
Essentially as a new user you want two things in a Leica M, a meter, and as many framelines as possible. A meter so you have some comfort during your learning curve, and framelines so you can discover and experiment and find your own rangefinder vision. An M6 TTL or an MP would be ideal, and the M6 has a slightly faster rewind action. When you get used to the camera, the lenses, and discover your most used lenses, then you can perhaps buy a less versatile but more 'focused' M body like an M3 or M2. But a lot of people like to keep their main camera as the versatile one, there being no great virtue in limiting yourself unnecessarily.
Have had M4-P's, M6 and am now sticking with the MP. If I had the opportunity to buy a la carte, I would, because I'm a wide angle shooter, choose .58 and go with the M6 rewind. I know that will crush the clean, classic lines of the camera but I really don't like the knob post. and I've used the Leica rewind lever and hated it. Anyone have a CameraQuest one I can borrow and try, in BP, thanks ;)
I use Photo Equip's MP Winder on my MP and it makes the whole rewind experience a lot better.
This thread ecouraged me to get my MP out for some shootin' And unfortunately I was using the wonderful Zeiss Biogon-C 21mm...
If this had been an M7, I could have set to AE, zone focused and used the external viewfinder and shot away, but I find using the external VF on a full manual camera a pain. So, as to your question on MP vs M7, there it is, the M7 is easier in those situations. Heck, the Bessa R4A would have been the ideal experience!
But, I'm still keeping the MP. As I don't use the 21mm all that much.
Before making such an important switch I would first decide on the lens(es) and then the camera body. Also, the MP is not in the same league as one of the classic Wetzlar build M2/3/4 or 5 models. It is a nice looking camera but besides the cosmetics not really different from a M6 classic. I got rid of mine after experiencing to many problems, for that amount of money I would expect a higher level of reliability ...
I am not sure you will get better negatives and/or prints with Leica -- there is just so much more than equipment that determines the final result. For me it is everything that happens AFTER the exposure is made that accounts for at least as much as the equipment. The real artistry and magic happens in the darkroom -- that is where the image is given emotion. Think choices regarding things like paper, print developer, toner, etc.
I can get a photograph I am proud of just as "easily" with my Nikkormat FT3 + Nikkor 50/2.0 AI as I can w/ my MP + 50/SUM 2.0 ASPH. It is hard if not impossible for me to justify owning Leica equipment in terms of photographic results. That being said, I can't bring myself to sell the MP and lens, it is just a GREAT and iconic user experience -- and that is worth something. Each of us must decide what that exact amount is...
...Now if you want a camera with a great user experience and can make a disproportionaltely large contribution to the end photographic product have a look at a Rolleiflex TLR!!!! (I have always been partial to Zeiss lenses)
I was a Nikon SLR user for a long time and bought my first Leica, an M6TTL in 2003. I didn't use the Nikon equipment after that and sold it a couple years ago without regret.
I then bought two M7s and kept those three for about four years or so. I gradually sold them off and replaced them with a 0.85 mag MP, an MP3 and last year an M2-R. The reason I changed over from the M7s to mechanical bodies was that I found myself getting lazy with the AE on the M7s. I think you really only need an M7 if you want the very accurate stepless exposures that camera provides; shooting slides for example.
I like my MPs in particular for their simplicity, the camera just doesn't get in the way at all. I use them regularly and I'm not afraid of getting them scratched or whatever. I think you will enjoy using it. Below is a pic of my 0.85x MP with a 75mm, a great combo!
Originally Posted by 250swb
I'll echo this, except that my M2 isn't actually my personal favourite film Leica: I prefer my MP, and I completely agree that for anyone trying to get used to Leicas, MPs are the best bet, albeit pricey. Oh: and I've been using 'em even longer than you have (43 years screw, around 40 M).
Pluto, if you don't have a previous extensive experience with rangefinders and unless you have some more SLRs to use during your apprenticeship with your new Leica, I would say don't do it, don't burn the bridges behind you.
Autofocus SLR photography is a different beast than rangefinder manual focus photography, you might find yourself completely wrong-footed. There are plenty of situations where with a RF you will be left in the dark, rangefinders can be very good but very versatile they are not.
Keep what you have, I say, and add a rangefinder system at a decent price. A Konica Hexar, a Minolta CLE, a Leica CL. Test the waters "inexpensively".
Only after a decently long practice with a rangefinder you will be able to mature a decision on whether spending an awful lot of money on a Leica MP is the right route to go.
In any case Non è tutto oro quel che luce. Beware of sirens singing, it will lead you on the rocks. You might end up selling your new Leica setup at a loss, and having to rebuild an SLR setup. If you have to sell your cameras to buy a Leica, don't do it.