Quote Originally Posted by melmoth
Hallo there,

I have reached the point where I am contemplating buying a Leica camera. I like manual cameras, precision and a quality lens. Living in a city I find my nikon fm3a (an excellent camera) to be too visible and a little heavy in the hands for certain photographic moments.
And so, not having the cash to purchase a modern Leica new and after considering the Bessa T etc., I am looking at the Leica M2, the Leica M3 and the Leica M6.

Good morning M,

An M6TTL or M7 would be close to the same size and weight of your FM3A, though the lenses are slightly lighter. Visibility factor is something else, since when you lift a camera to your face it becomes obvious you are taking a photo. Of course, you could always go for wider lenses and a shoot from the hip technique.

The first two cameras I bought were a used Nikon FM and a very used Leica M3. The rangefinder had the advantage of continuous viewing through the finder, which became useful in certain situations. Unfortunately, my M3 broke, and after a few years of high repair estimates I traded it for other photographic gear. The Nikon FM has only needed a little maintenance and cleaning, so I still have it and use it.

Quote Originally Posted by melmoth
What do people recommend? And why? is there a hugh difference between, say the Leica M3 and the M6?

I know these questions are a little broad but I am grateful for any suggestions.

Thanks a lot.

M.

The is a good source for lots of questions at http://www.nemeng.com/leica/index.shtml

Currently, used prices are fairly good for an M6 or M6TTL. Both of those have a meter built in, something not in the earlier cameras. However, if you have a good hand held meter, you can get a slightly less expensive M4-2 or M4P, which are basically like an M6 without metering. Most other Leica models are substantially older, so you would be more likely to need to budget for a service soon after you get one. An M2 or M3 is quite old, and costs nearly as much as an M4-2, and sometimes can be more expensive.

Alternatives would be a Konica Hexar RF, the Rollei mentioned earlier, several Voigtländer Bessa versions, or the new Zeiss Ikon. However, the body shape of a Leica M rangefinder is unique, and a different experience in hand held photography. An easier route might be a used Leica M body, and a lens from another company.

Rangefinder cameras can be quite useful in low light conditions. They are also easier to use when you have a strong filter in front of the lens (like an ND or Red filter). The Leica reps let me try out an M7 last year, and I can honestly state that it would be a great camera for anyone wanting to use a 35mm rangefinder. Unfortunately, it is not currently in my budget.

Ciao!

Gordon