Best Leica camera to be used with 50 mm lens

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by gustafhedberg, Aug 25, 2017.

  1. Hi

    I am an recently converted digital photographer that decided to take up film.

    I am using 50 mm most of the time because I find that it is the easiest lens to make deccent compositions when taking photos of architecture, which i do alot. I am now looking for a Leica camera that would be perfect for the 50 mm lens. I have looked at M6 x0.85 and M3 (x?) to use. The advantage ofcourse with the M6 is the light meter (which i have however heard is not so good, but itr is still a light meter). And M3 is ofcourse cheeper. Is there an other option and what 50 mm lenses are the classics?

    (I was looking at a Bessa r4m aswell but aparently it is not so good with 50 mm lenses, because of the viewfinder.)

    Looking forward to hear what you think!

    All Best
  2. I am also fond of the 50mm focal length. The M3 finder is superb, and the camera is beautifully made. I have tried the M6 a couple of times, but didn't like the finder and framelines. My only metered M is an M5, which has a good (but not as good as the M3) finder, and a superb match needle metering display and shutter speed wheel overhanging the front of the camera. The metering arm is supposedly a point of weakness on these cameras and they have their detractors, but they are relatively cheap (cheaper than the M3), very well built, and (in my opinion) great to handle. And since you like architecture, should you ever decide to get a wider lens, the M5 finder will accommodate 35mm.
  3. SCL


    The classic Leica is the M3, which has a finder superb for a 50mm lens. The lens choice is more difficult, as it really depends on your desires in rendering. I'd suggest you investigate a Summicron...version IV if you like strong contrast capabilities at wide apertures, or a rigid version I if you like a more classic rendering. There's a ton of material written about all the Leica lenses, so you should have lots of info to help you make a decision. Each lens has its own character, and if you are on a budget after buying the body and perhaps having it CLA'd if it needs it, you might look into 50mm lenses by other manufacturers, such as Voigtlander for modern rendition (strong contrast, good microcontrast, sharp across the frame), or older Canon lenses for more traditional and classic rendering (like the earlier Summicrons). The only issue with these is that you need an inexpensive adapter to mount the lenses on an M body, as they were designed for the Leica Thread Mount bodies which preceeded the M series....nevertheless, some, like the Canon Serenar 50/1.8, which sits on my M2, delivers a classic rendering almost indistinguishable from the early Summicrons. Lest I forget, a less expensive option is the Leica 50 Elmar series...early like the collapsible 3.5 which closed down offers very good resolution, but less contrast, or late collapsible .ike the Elmar-M, which is tack sharp and much more contrasty. If technical details are your bag, find a copy of Erwin Puts' Leica Compendium online (altho not his latest, it covers lenses produced up thru the early part of this century), or for tons of discussions, go to the L-forum which is run by a former Leica executive, and has thousands of lens discussions.
  4. The M3 is by far the best camera to use with a 50 mm lens. The 50 mm frame fills the entire viewfinder (with a little room to spare). It also has the highest magnification (0.93), making focusing more accurate than with other bodies.

    However, it would be short-sighted to go the M3 route. For one thing, the M3 will be 50 years old or more. Secondly, 35 mm (or wider) is a lot more useful for most situations, including events and architecture.
  5. Any Leica that comes with the 0.85x viewfinder - next best thing after the M3.
    0.91x AFAIK.
    Alex_Es likes this.
  6. Leicaflex SL or a R6, with a Summicron-R 50mm?

    Seriously, if you never used a rangefinder, maybe it's worth first trying a (much) cheaper rangefinder to see if you actually like using a rangefinder. Something like an old russian (Fed/Kiev/Zorki) can be had for little money, or a bit more for a fixed-lens rangefinder like a Canonet - just to understand how a rangefinder is different. Of course, if you already used rangefinders, no need. Personally, I took this advice from others here, and glad I did - rangefinders don't really work for me.
    The Leica R system in that case makes a nice alternative to still play around with some excellent Leica lenses.
  7. The meter on the M6 is absolutely fine, though the viewfinder indicators only tell you whether the exposure is over/under/correct rather than displaying the specific shutter speed or aperture settings. Its 50mm framelines are optimised for close focus - at the longer distances usually used for architecture you'll be capturing quite a bit outside the framelines, which can be estimated with a rule of thumb:

    Leica FAQ — M frame-line accuracy

    For the Erwin Puts guide to Leica lenses mentioned above, see this previous thread:

    Non-contrast and non-sharp 35 and 50 ltm lenses
  8. I love 50mm lenses, so I have the M3 followed by M6 with .85 viewfinder.
  9. If you need ro frame precisely to the edges of the film, don't buy a rangefinder. The same is true if you need lenses shorter than 28 mm or longer than 90 mm (135 mm for an M3). Shorter lenses need expensive auxiliary viewfinders. Longer lenses need a reflex housing, which have been discontinued but are available used.

    If you pedal to work, think twice before getting a unicycle. For everything there is a purpose.
  10. I like the M3 (in theory). Mine would benefit from a viewfinder prism resilvering. I also don't know if it will work well for glasses wearers. Best M3 related advice I can offer: Hit a Leica store and compare their offering to an M6 viewfinder. YMMV. I can still use my dim RF patched M3 to take touristy pictures in broad(er) light. It is just harder to focus it than an M4-P (or digital) although it is easier to handle than Agfa Kodak & Soviet RFs I own too. I am happier with a handheld meter than anything Leica build in. If you are splurging anyhow, get a decent one, maybe even flash capable? They are nice to have in a studio.
    What do you mean by classics? - The new unaffordable APO Summicron should be a heck of a 50mm lens. Some folks like their Noctiluxes. I'm happy with my used recent(ish) Summicron. The earlier ones that came collapsible dual range and rigid have a different rendering characteristic, that might suit landscapes and portraits better than architecture? - I'm reluctant to utter a conclusion since I can't try my DR on the digital bodies. All I know: Get a lens hood! And a cap for it to not risk a hole burned into your shutter. The vented Chinese ones are quite decent. Maybe you 'll have to glue shimming tape on their back to have a hole in front of your VF, if you have a filter on your lens.
    IDK if RFs and architecture are an ideal mix. But yes, I am shooting tabletop products with 50mm on my M8 and only switch to DSLR if I have to, so I absolutely understand falling for Leica M.
    If image quality is your main concern and you happen to process and print your own BW, I can't resist recommending a view camera with lens shifting options to architecture and standard lens lovers. Something like a Bergheil 6.5x9cm with roll holder and wire frame finder can get used handheld too and is still pretty portable. You can groundglass focus and frame after inserting your film. I am no fan of the 105mm Heliar. - Maybe a Zeiss lens would render sharper or contrastier? - The Heliar was about 1.5 paper grades softer than my coated post war stuff.
  11. Thank you so much guys. I realised that I have quite a bit to look into. Amazing that you all took yor time to respond to this!

    Now going to look at the cameras, and feel them. But it looks like a M6, 0.85 with a summicron m f/2 50 mm is a better choise.

    Thanks again for all the replies!


  12. Leica R4 and 50mm f2 Summicron! If you want a rangefinder instead of a reflex, still go for the Summicron.
  13. Summicrons are all good! For 50mm solo M6 or M7 with 0.85 magnification is perfect.
  14. Leica M6ttl 0.85 viewfinder but it does not have the 28mm framelines and I, personally, find it difficult to use with 35mm lens. Also, the M6ttl 0.85 viewfinder does have flare issues. I had mine upgraded to an MP viewfinder. I have no problem with the meter on an M6 but I do adjust based on conditions.

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