A newbie to Leica

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by brendanryan, May 31, 2008.

  1. Hey everyone,

    I've been strongly considering buying my first Leica...reading through the other
    posts has been very helpful but if anyone could suggest what would be a good
    beginner kit it would be much appreciated. I will however be shopping on a
    budget, but would probably prefer to have a TTL lightmeter, could just use a
    lightmeter, but would I perhaps be better to splash out a few extra bucks.(inner
    turmoil stuff there)

    Also lenses with goggle? what are these? does one remove them to put them on the

    I'm all so new to this, generally have been shooting on Canon digital or AE-1.

    I've been looking on Leicashop.com mostly, not sure if I wanna go down the ebay
    road, has anybody dealt with these or know anything of there reputation,
    should I be looking for CLA service report or warranty,

    sorry for the millions of questions, advice will be much appreciated

    many thanks and kind regards
  2. All of the M6 models have internal meters that measure light through the lens; those with the TTL designation also have circuitry for controlling electronic flash by metering through the lens (when used with a compatible flash).

    There was a recent, similar thread about newbie concerns and where to buy:

  3. What about a Leica CL/CLE with a 40mm f/2 lens?
  4. "If you don't know what you need, then you don't need it."<P><P>
    He's right. I don't think you're ready yet to sink a bunch of money into Leica stuff.
  5. Back a few weeks I started a thread to goggle or not to goggle, it will give you some idea what to expect with a 135mm goggled lens. With goggles, the 135mm brings up the 90mm frame lines.

    I bought a lens on fleabay, I had a great experience but would not do it again. KEH and the like are the safest. I also bought a used MP from Kurland.

    My "beginner kit" is an .72 MP, 35, 75 and 135. A step up from a Contax IIIa I'm using.

    Have fun and good luck, tell us what you buy-md
  6. I copy the advice above. "If you don't know what you need, then you don't need it."

    There are less expensive ways to explore the rangefinder way of working. Most Leica kit in good condition these days carries a substantial 'collectors' premium' in the price tag.

    I like the anecdote of the Rolls Royce salesman, who in reply to a gentleman asking the price of the magnificent Silver Ghost adorning the showroom: "With respect Sir, if you need to ask the price, you can't afford it."
  7. I say: screw it! If you have the money and want to give it a go, then buy a Leica M. Be prepared for the romance though. I like either carrying a little Gossen light meter or swagging the exposure (with a little experience), so I use a couple of M4-Ps, but the M6 is the best bet for TTL. If you can only get one lens, ideally I'd get a 35mm lens, but if you're on a budget, a 50mm f/2 will work well. Be sure to include a bulk film loader, bulk film, and darkroom equipment, unless you're planning to use it as a fine looking paper weight on your desk. I took a chance on my last M4-P kit, buying it through fleabay. It was in Ex condition, Motor/paperweight, 50mm f/2, Leica Meter, for about $850. It was too good of deal to pass up. The only problem was that the rangefinder was off vertically (not horizontally, which affects focusing), and that was not mentioned.

    And I'll add the quote the Leica salesman used when I bought my first M4-2, M4-2 winder, and 50mm f/1 Noctilux in the early 80's: "The quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten."
  8. I like the Leica salesman quote, i'd definately buy off him!

    thanks for all the responses people much appreciated, not sure about that silly quote,"If you don't know what you need, then you don't need it."

    I never knew why I bought my first camera, certainly wasn't a nessesity I just did, it looked cool and that was many a moon ago,

    how about ' nothing ventured nothing gained' :) I will take it under consideration though and do appreciate all the advice given.

    mucho thanks
  9. BTW, Brendan, I looked at your Flickr images... your great work could only be made better with a Leica. You're a worthy candidate to use such a creative tool.
  10. You may well be better off buying from a reputable dealer, but don't rule out eBay, just be careful. I bought an excellent Leicaflex SL as well as 4 fine R lenses for good prices on eBay (my M system predates the internet). Look for a camera in clean condition. If the outside is "beat up" the chances are that the inside may have been abused as well. Be willing to pay a little more to get equipment that will keep you satisfied over the long term.
  11. Ah shucks, actually I need to change that, some of my more recent work can be found at www.brendanryanphotography.com

    I'll keep ye updated with my Leica project as it goes ahead

    thanks again to everyone, i need to get more involved here, great forum.
  12. First you need to read up extensively on the different Leicas. Some have meters some don't, DUH. But, there are also differences in which framelines they have which will refer to the lenses that you can use with each one. If you do not purchase a metered Leica then the option is to purchase a light meter. If you are shooting quickly on the street a small hand held meter will work. I use a GE PR-1 very inexpensive and sturdy and it is only a backup to the sunny-16 rule. The VC (Voigtlander) II meter will probably attach to the top of the camera. (I work with the same lab and they have advised me to overexpose by half a stop to better work with their machines on 35mm, especially b&w.)
  13. Brendan,
    Before I purchased, I rented an M6 several times to get an idea of whether or not I
    wanted a Lecia enough to make a purchase. I'm in New York, and rented from Lens
    & Repro.
    When I decided to buy, I followed eBay auctions for a few months, putting in low ball
    bids, until I found an auction by an individual seller, rather than a dealer, who had all
    the appearances of having gotten bored with their purchase. If that hadn't worked, I
    would have bought from KEH.
    &nbsp&nbsp&nbsp...Tom M
  14. I would suggest deciding first how much you can comfortably afford to spend, and setting a budget for yourself; and second, deciding whether you take enough pictures under available-light conditions to require spending extra money to buy fast lenses with large maximum apertures. I would also recommend considering a used Leica M2 body, a used 35mm f/2 Summicron 2nd or 3rd version lens, a used 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit lens, and a used Gossen Scout 3 handheld light meter. There are plenty of other possible choices, a lot depends upon personal preference, and "your mileage may vary," but the ones I have suggested would provide a reasonably affordable, compact and flexible Leica outfit for shooting under a variety of conditions.
    Most Leica lenses don't have goggles, but there are three kinds that do -- older 35mm lenses that were intended to be used with the M3 body whose viewfinder was designed for 50mm lenses; dual-range 50mm f/2 Summicrons with a close-up attachment; and 135mm f/2.8 telephoto lenses.
    Buying from www.KEH.com or other comparable established and reputable dealers involves less risk of getting items in poor condition with undiclosed problems than purchasing via online auction sites. Buying items rated as being in good to excellent condition also tends to offer best overall value, as items in mint or like new condition may be overpriced, and items in bargain or fair condition too beat up.
    Your budget should include $150 to $200 to have the M2 body cleaned, lubricated and adjusted (CLA'd), as M2s were built some years ago, and typically need the service by now. I've had good experience with service by Kindermann of Canada, and others have had good experiences with Sherry Krauter and certain other service specialists; run searches on this forum for back posts on servicing.
    If you check the prices on the recommended items in good to excellent condition and the total exceeds your budget, you might consider as lower-cost but high quality alternatives an adapter to fit Leica thread mount (LTM) or screwmount lenses onto Leica M bayonet mount camera bodies, a Canon 35mm f/2 LTM lens, a Nikkor 85mm f/2 LTM lens, or possibly a Canon 50mm f/1.4 LTM lens. If the total is still too high, you might consider a Canon P LTM rangefinder body instead of a Leica M2. There are other, newer Leica M bodies offering through-the-lens metering, and newer Leica lenses offering somewhat higher optical performance, but they may cost from somewhat more to significantly more than the selections I have suggested here.
    Leica's great strength is top-quality optics. The firm has made a number of excellent lenses in M mount over the years, including exceptionally fast 35mm f/1.4 Summilux Aspheric, 50mm f/1 Noctilux, and 75mm f/1.4 Summilux lenses for available light shooting, but those are specialized tools for professional photographers, not necessary for the majority of conditions an amateur photographer usually encounters, and cost about as much as a used Honda.
    You would be better off starting out with some of the more affordable medium-speed (f/2 and f/2.8) lenses, learning to operate the equipment well enough to be comfortable with it, and deciding whether a Leica fits in well with your personal style of photography. Fair warning, though -- Leicas are so well made, and can deliver such good results if skillfully used, that they can be addictive, and they're not cheap.
  15. Buy a Leica M3 and a 50mm Summicron Rigid 50mm F2, and be prepared to spend the rest of your life chasing this monkey! Enjoy!
  16. If you want a film M-camera but you don't really know what your priorities are, an M6 is a pretty safe bet, because it's common, prices are mostly okay, it's got a built-in light meter, and it's still new enough that most aren't going to need major repairs, like new shutter curtains. Watch out for bubbling or blistered top covers, which indicate that the zinc castings are oxidizing. Very durable and ding-resistant otherwise. Most common variant has the 0.72x finder which has frame lines for 28-135mm lenses.

    M6TTL is much the same but newer, a couple of millimeters taller, and has a revised shutter speed dial similar to the M7 and M8.
  17. Brendan, before you lay out the money, you need to handle a Leica if you haven't already. It feels very different in the hand from the cameras you have been using. You may like it or you may not. You must use your brain to train your fingers as well as your eye. Also, and this is a delightful wonder, the philosophy is different from modern camera culture. Unlike almost all current cameras, there is no built-in obsolescence with Leica. The cameras & lenses are built as good as they can be built, without regard to artifices such as "price point." Whatever you get will serve you for the rest of your life. More famous photographs have been made with Leica & 50mm lens than any other combination.
  18. bhk


    There is nothing like the gestalt of a Leica M. Plus it has great resale value.
  19. As a user of Leica R and M systems I really can recommend both, depending on what you are shooting and personal preferences. The quality, optically as well as mechanically is great. Something what I cannot say of other, high quality, cameras: I got two used Contax G2 cameras, both of which a switch was broken or malfunctioning. Such an experience I never had with one of my Leica systems (M6 TTL, R6.2 and two R7's.) If you prefer an M, the M6 TTL is a very good choice: its relatively new, compared to the other M6 and I like the large shutter speed dial. This dial goes the other direction around then the older M6: turning left for faster speeds. Many photogs who are used the older M's complain this difference in direction. But if you are new to Leica M, its very logic to work with. As a starting lens, a 35mm Summicron ASPH might be the best choice.

    Unfortunately, you have to watch out when buying on eBay. Check if the seller has got positive feedback RECENTLY, if there is PayPal/eBay guarantee (until a max of EU 1000,-), check the sellers identity and if (s)he is REALLY the seller of the camera or lens. Do this checking outside of the eBay system by direct email or, even better, make a phone call. I recently bought an Elmarit 24mm at eBay and payed by direct money transfer of almost EU 1400,-. The lens never arrived as it turned out the account of an eBay user had been broken in. The eBay system does not cover this robery, they just send you a mail the account has been abused and you are on your own. In contrast to another post, I'd recommend a 'power seller' with verified adress. I recently called one by phone but got his answering machine. Next day he called back by himself (international phone call within EU) to validate his identity as the seller. Even in case of such a 'power seller', it might be cheaper to buy than at a normal shop. At least, the market at the Internet is more transpararent, but there is a risk you have to minimize by yourself.

    Hope this helped you a bit. Gerber van der Graaf
  20. Brendan, I have been lucky in purchasing a Hasselblad kit and a Leica M6 TTL body on E-bay. Both were being offered by photographers. As someone indicated above, I think buying from an individual rather than a camera shop or an intermediary is the way to go. I bought my lens for the M6 from KEH. Dave
  21. I goofed. I meant to say, on E-bay, it is better to buy from an individual rather than a camera shop or an intermediary. Dave
  22. My advise would be an M6 and 50mmm Summicron. as a great starter kit. if you find that the rangefinder experience isn't to your liking you can always sell it and recoup all or most of the outlay. I've had very good experience buying on Ebay. Don't you just love the sanctimonious prigs that tell you if you don't know what you want you don't need it and that stupid Rolls Royce quote about the price and the one who tells you that your not ready to invest in Leica. Is that your personal accountant? He seems to know your financials so well.
  23. Some nice pics on your site, Brendan. I'd have liked to see some more bio details,

    Having seen these, I would definitely concur with others in recommending a
    secondhand M6 plus 50 Summicron to start with. It's amazing how versatile a 50
    lens can be. An M7, with its aperture priority auto, would be nice, but it;s pricier and
    the M6 meter is easy to get used to.

    I absolutely recommend buying a top condition serviced camera from a dealer, with
    a guarantee -- this may cost a couple of hundred dollars more than a "bargain" but
    will turn out to be well worth it.

    The main question, then, is where to buy? Leicashop of Vienna is good to deal with.
    So are Ffordes of Scotland, Photovillage of New York, Leica Bei Meister in
    Germany, and Sherry Krauter in the US has a fine reputation.


  24. Dear Brendan, Looking over your work, your question is simple to answer, given you've already got the desire for a Leica. But there's more in the line up than just a camera and a lens.

    Get an M6 and a 50mm summicron lens. The 35 might prove more flexible, but they are very expensive.

    But wait, there's more. In order to exploit Leica quality, you will need a neg/slide scanner, a good monitor calibrator and a decent printer and paper. You really have to look to the whole production line...or hand off your film to a pro shop and that is expensive.

    What I have is Eye One Display 2 monitor calibrator, Photoshop Elements 6 (CS would be better but I'm still working on that) a Nikon Coolscan V (you don't need the 5000) and an Epson R2400.

    Or get a wet darkroom, but these days it is limiting especially since you will likely be eventually mixing digital with film.

    Hope this expanded view simplifies things...or at least shows you the breadcrumb trail you will be following shortly.

  25. wow I was out of civilisation for the weekend and didn't check my mail... thanks a
    million for all yer help again. I am still toying with the idea somewhat I certainly won't
    rush into a purchase, I do already process and scan my own film so its just the desire
    to take that extra step.

    my sincerest thanks
  26. I'll let ye know when I get all sorted.
  27. Late (but short) piece of advice, if you are tempted to buy Leica do it. I suggest an M6 (more recent + meter; after all colour may be nice and guessposure is not an option). Lenses are a matter of taste but the old summicrons 35mm f2 (not aspherical) are lightweight, small, sharp and 35mm is a nice one size fits all. Anyway if you do not like Leica you will not loose too much money if you sell it back. I tried a leica15 years ago and sold my Nikons within a forthnight to buy one. All the best
  28. Brendon, after looking at your work some more, I think that an M6 would be a better choice than the M3 that I suggested earlier. I think you tend to want to shoot normal to wide, also Leica really is a short lens experience for most and the M3 has no VF for the wide lenses. Very nice work on your site BTW.

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