...but its still just a light proof box basically right??

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by jamescpurcell, Nov 1, 2008.

  1. OK, before i get torn asunder for blasphemy, i'm goin to declare the following, i have no problem with leicas, their
    price, their owners or anything else. Nor have i used one, just havn't got around to it, but out of curiosity at this stage
    i'm sure i'll end up giving them a spin when i get the chance...what i wanted to ask was the following, all the leica is
    is a rangefinder right? light goes through the lense onto a film at the back....now aside from the rangefinder setup
    what makes them so special...don't go comparing them to expensive cars vs average sedans etc, i'm not really after
    anologies and they usually aren't good means of comparison anyhow. Its more the technical fascination with them---
    do they focus better than other rangefinders? The box after all is no different to another light proof box, and i can
    understand the effect of glass...so is it more a case of being willing to spend big just to get something to hold leica
    lenses? I really am interested to hear peoples stories on this, esp since most owners seem so passionate about
    them. Are the timing settings more accurate/the exposure controls more sensitive than other rangefinders...or....are
    leica owners just plain better? :)
    Like i said this is a light question and is just out of curiosity but i am interested to hear what people prefer in a leica
    to other cameras, and what it is that they think makes the leica the proverbial bees knees of
    And i'll admit
    the force of temptation to go rangefinder camera shopping is growing strong in this photography padawan...
  2. John, in all seriousness, if you love cameras, great lenses, solidly engineered and built cameras, then you owe it to yourself to shoot with one and see if you like it. I wasn't being entirely sarcastic with the Holga joke (well, okay I was<g>), but there are groups of Holga and Diana users out there that just love them because they do something for them that some people don't get. Don't use one because someone else says they're great, do it to see if it satisfies your artistic needs. The same way I'm not intimidated by someone driving a Bimmer because "they're the best". What I drive works for me... and carries all my Leica equipment too<g>.
  3. Yup. You got it. You might as well just buy one of these and save yourself about $5,458 and get a free lens too:

  4. Woohoo, now i just have to wait for it to get in stock...might be better to preorder just in case.... :)
  5. Tell me why Leicas are cool. I've never used one, but I don't want you to use analogies or comparisons to other stuff I might have used to help me understand.

    What exactly do you want to hear then?

    Leicas aren't cool. Don't buy one. They are overpriced and make your breath smell bad. Buy another Canon Rebel.

    That's about the easiest way to answer this.
  6. I've never driven a ferrari either Josh, but if i ask what drivers like about them and someone tells me that the gear shift
    is smoother, its ride is softer and its responsivness is quicker, then i can understand what people like about them,
    what i didn't want is the usual car analogies that pop up, i never said anything about comparisons which can be
    useful. Like i said i'd prefer the technical reasons while people like them, and i phrased it as nice as i can-i'm not
    tryin to ruffle anyones feathers, which is apparently very hard to do...
  7. The first answer is yes. The answer to most of your other questions is no. You'll learn quite a bit by looking back over past
    threads, including even the last month or looking at the equipment section, especially the M6 review by Kirk Tuck. The
    lenses are great but it is the camera that's the thing really. After all, many of us are happy with our Zeiss or Voigtlander
    lenses as well as the Leitz/Leica lenses. After using an M Leica it is difficult to go back to another 35mm rangefinder, not
    that some of them aren't also great cameras and much more affordable. Now is a good time to buy a second hand one.
  8. I don't have feathers. I'm just trying to get you to ask a question that will get you a useful answer.

    Your post is based on only getting answers that you think you want to hear. What if there aren't any technical
    reasons? Not everything in life can be quantified. Tell me the technical reasons why the mona lisa is a beautiful
    painting. Tell me the technical reasons why you like photography better than sculpture.

    That is the reason you hear so many weird analogies when people talk about Leicas or fancy kitchen knives or even
    cars. On some level, a car is a car. On another level, there is no useful technical comparison between a Ferrari and a Honda. They are just too different.
    Despite all the stupid pixel peeping and lens graph chart loving that goes on around here, the things you are
    asking about don't show up in numbers or technical bullet points in a brochure.

    If everything were quantifiable by numbers and technical specifics, we would all use the one best camera out there. Because it would be easy to see which one that was. But because photography (or cooking or driving or playing music or anything else in the world) is just as much about the trip as it is the destination, we all have different reasons for why we like the things we do. And frequently those reasons aren't built on numbers, but emotions. Which is why some people can't shut up about Leica and some people can't stop crapping on Leica. They are both right and both wrong.
  9. Why should we be forced to try an convince you how great Leicas are or are not? If you want to try one try one. Many
    (worldwide speaking) shops rent them or maybe someone will loan you theirs and then you can see if they live up to the
    hype or not.

    I doubt any Ferrari driver will tell you that the gearshift is smooth or that the ride is soft. They might tell you that it needs
    a engine rebuild (kind of) every 3000 miles. Even Ferrari won't try and sell you on a Ferrari, they want you to buy a used
    one first to see if you really want one before you spend a huge chunk of cash on a new one.

  10. well Josh if there weren't technical reasons that would be cool by me, if people just love the aesthetics of the Leica and how it feels in there hands, or if they feel it inspires them somehow, then if thats a good enough reason for that person, and what causes them to take great photos so be it. But like if i asked someone why do they prefer a canon 1DS over a nikon equivalent, there's usually a few technical reasons as well as the handling and feel etc of why they prefer it..if someone says thats leicas are simply better enginered/built/sturdier then thats what i'd like to hear- i can see why people would look for those things in a system. If someone thinks the leica offers more "play' or control over shooting than other rangefinders, again, thats what i would like to find out, and the reason that i ask at all is that i usually am drawn to the Leica threads, and am sometimes fascinated by how the camera gets the credit when i would have myself apportioned it to the type of film used or development etc...so just seeing if i'm missing something special....only tryin to learn a little! Micheals second post is fairly clear, its build qualityand engineering packaged with the glass wear...super, thats an answer i can relate to...
  11. Missed your post Chad sorry, no pressure to force an answer at all, feel free ignore this question by all means, some people like to talk about their gear, some don't. I'm not lookin to be convinced of anything.. it was i thought just a simple question. if some asked me why i like my camera i've no problem saying what i find to be the pro's and cons, and why i like it.
  12. The best answer without using a car annology is it is a piece of equipment that does exactly what it is supposed to do ,every time, under all conditions, for many many cycles, and does not do anything it is not supposed to do. It is made as well as man knows how to make something. Only God knows better.

    Every other piece of photographic equipment has some defect that keeps it from meeting all the above conditions.

    One example, the shutter is tested to work 400,000 cycles WITHOUT showing wear and then it can still be adjusted. Consumer grade slr will go 50,000 to 150,000. Pro Nikon 300,000. Then it is failure.
    The metering systems in my D40, D200, D700 Nikon all plain suck as far as I am concerned. The Leica R or M are simple, reliable, and I can make a contact sheet and every frame will be right. Leica will make parts for old M 3 transport systems if they run out. Here you have a 50+ year old camera that can be brought back to new specifications. Try getting a part for a Nikon more than a few years old. Does that translate to cheaper?

    Hope I answered your question.
  13. SCL


    In spite of my aversion to responding to trolling, I'll suggest you do a little research and you'll find the answers to your questions. In summary, the light path in the rangefinders of some Leica models is longer than other manufacturer's rangefinders, hence increased focusing accuracy with a wide variety of focal lengths. The lenses are individually factory calibrated and engraved or printed with their actual focal lengths, besides their nominal focal length. The shutter speed controls, in spite of indents at standard speeds are variable throughout most of the range. Accessory light meters, for certain earlier M models, mechanically coupled to the shutter speed dial, something no other rangefinder camera models did. Lots more...if you do some homework.
  14. SCL


    Oh yes, I forgot to mention, the Visoflex, which allows me to use my longer lenses on my M bodies, in the SLR mode. That's why I bought my first M in 1968 in the first place.
  15. James -- you are running into difficulty here because this question gets asked a lot, and any time someone bothers to
    answer it, someone else comes along and tells them they are a poser or a snob and that any number of other cheaper
    (or more expensive) cameras are more practical and suitable for any given task. <P>So anyway, my answer: I like the
    way it handles. It is small, but it fits the hand well. It is very quiet. It focuses wide angles and normal lenses more
    accurately than manual SLR's (or AF slrs in manual mode). The viewfinder is big and bright and lets you see around the
    image as well as the entire depth of field (no blur in the viewfinder). This is decidedly not WYSIWYG, but once you get
    used to it, it is nice to be able to see the whole scene the whole time, and then decide from there what sort of framing
    and aperture you want to use. The camera is VERY simple in operation -- just aperture, focus, shutter speed and film
    advance. The meter is accurate and reads the exact same area all the time, so after awhile you get used to knowing
    exactly what it is responding to. This is different from matrix which makes a different calculation based on every scene.
    So while matrix is more often right, when it goes wrong, it is difficult to know when or what exactly caused it. <P>Also,
    there is very little to worry about -- assuming it is properly maintained, they are reliable and you basically only need two
    things to keep it working -- little watch batteries in case the meter dies (even then, the camera will still work), and then
    film. <P>The final thing about it is that it takes Leica M mount lenses. These, along with the Voigtlander, Zeiss and
    Konica lenses that also use the M mount, are as a whole dramatically better than any other lineup of lenses available,
    with the possible exception of Leica R. As a group, they are sharper, feature less distortion and vignetting, better
    performance wide open, have nicer bokeh, and are significantly smaller and lighter than comparable lenses from other
    manufactures. <P>So, that is my take. I don't think all of these features are unique to the Leicas, and there are other
    great options to consider, like the Zeiss Ikon, but I don't think there are many that combine so many of these things into
    one camera as does the Leica. Surely this is the kind of thing you have to think about yourself and decide if it meets
    your needs. Also, the Leica is not really a "do it all" sort of camera -- it is very good at working at moderate distances
    with super wide angle to short telephoto lenses, but at the extremes, SLR's work better -- things that require macro, long
    telephoto, or very high framerates, shutter speeds or very fast AF.
  16. Most assuredly the camera is not "just a lightproof box". Only those who don't understand photography think so.
  17. Silly questions; silly answers IMHO.
  18. James,

    Hi there. Few questions for you....

    What camera do you use now and why did you buy it?
    What made it stand out for you then?
    What sort of work do you use it to do? Sports? Travel? Portrait? Street? Macro?
    What lens lengths do you like using and why? Zooms or primes?

    Why are you now interested in getting a Leica RF. What is that you think it may do for you that your current camera can't?
    What sort of budget would you have if you went "rangefinder camera shopping". Would you want a meter and interchangeable lenses? Do you need AE? Would you want film or digital?

    Can you bothered to answer all these questions?
    If you can, then I would love to try and help you decide whether a Leica is for you and which one may suit.
    If you can't be bothered well.......that's ok too :)

  19. Yes, a Leica is nothing more than a light proof box. I never got it, so I bought one, a 1963 M2. Got a similar vintage Summicron DR as well.

    The combo takes great pics. Better than the ones I made with my old Nikons? Yes and no. My Nikons are SLRs and the quietness and absence of mirror slap of the Leica is welcome. The 'cron is also quite amazing wide open. But it has no light meter and the shutter is only moderately accurate. Ok, it works smoothly, but more so than my Nikons? No.

    But the real appeal is the sheer build quality. Mine's old and a bit worn, but it's a jewel you don't want to part with.
  20. A coffin is a lightproof box too! But some people, when they finally go that route, decide to go decked out in gold and silver and oak with silk lining. Others just go.

    Sometimes it's the pinstripes that makes the Yankee...
  21. hi guys, thanks for the responses, and stuart like i tried to make clear this really wan't a trolling question-the overall
    title of it is a bit provocative perhaps but i tried to be as 'non troll like' as possible -if thats such a thing- in the actual
    question, i can read spec sheets for almost anything, i was just looking for users own perspectives, which thanks for
    giving in spite of by the way. WWL and PN, like i said earlier, no pressure on anyone to respond, i was just
    interested hearing from those who wanted to-Stuart and Ronald, exactly type of answers i guess i was hoping to
    hear , and thanks. Gadge i own<<shock horror>> a canon 350 d :) and an older fullframe film canon that i bought
    after- i enjoy shooting landscape sport and indoor gatherings. The reasons i bought the 350 which is the main one i
    use is because i wanted to try digital and for my budget at the time it did what i needed for what i could afford-i've
    since gone to spending my money on a few specific lenses instead of chasing cameras to try'n get the best out of
    what i have, i like shooting primes but the length of lense i use varies for need obviously-recently got the tokina 11-16
    that i really enjoy using, 50mm 1.4 prime is usually glued to my camera and if i want to do a bit of wildlife or sports i
    rely on a 300mmL prime- and i reckon thats a lense bag enough for me at the moment- i like both film and digital-the
    only reason i favour using my digital over film camera at all is for the ease and speed with which i can get through the
    processing- hope that
    answers your questions?! Like i said the temptation is there to go rangefinder hunting but i've enough money woes at
    the moment to keep it as just temptation! Its just supposed to be a friendly chat and I am genuinly just interested as
    to what draws people to them specifically
  22. Leicas are well-built and have historical significance. Thus, they are very expensive. I've handled one only a
    couple of times, and I don't recall anything that called for their typical going price. Why pay thousands of
    dollars for an old comic book? You can get the same story and images in a re-print. Another analogy you didn't
    ask for: Does a Lamborghini handle better than a Toyota? Yes. Better enough to justify the difference in cost?
    Depends on whom you ask, but, to the impartial "reasonable person," probably not. Is a Leica superior to to a
    C-3? Yes. It's easier to use and more consistent (it also looks much nicer). Is it worth all that extra money...?
    At best, you can conclude that people with money (even many without) will sometimes pay very much just for
    prestige, or maybe for something they — for many wacky reasons — simply happen to "want."
  23. Just to add a bit to the other Ronald's remarks:

    We live in a consumer society. If I buy a DVD recorder and the salesperson tries to talk me into an extended warranty, I just laugh at him. 'But Sir, what if it breaks down after thirteen months?'. The obvious answer is: 'I'll throw it away and buy a new one'.

    It's the same really with cameras. My D200 is better in almost every way than my D70 was (which in itself already delivered fantastic results). A D700 is much better still. I am an availble light shooter so a camera like that is a dream come true. But I won't buy one. Why? In two years time a still better camera will come along. And then another, and another.And in a few short years they will be landfill

    Even though cameras are getting better and better, my photographs aren't. That's one of the reasons I went back to film. A few old manual Nikons (dirt cheap of course) and I really was enjoying myself again. Then a Leica M2 came along. I never 'got' the mystique so I bought one. And then it indeed hit me. My Nikons are 25 years old and work flawlessly. Of how many things in your household can you say that?

    My Leica is 45 years old and obviously has seen heavy use. It is in fact older than everything I own. But it still works and still can be serviced without any problem. In all probability it will outlive me. How good will digital be in 30 years? Will film still be made? Does it really matter? I intend to use the M2 until the day I die.
  24. The combination of being lighter, stronger, faster, quieter, and simpler. You might find another camera that's stronger, or quieter, etc. but not all of the above.
  25. If you have to ask, you'll never understand...
  26. My suggestion is to go to a good camera store that will give you the time to really check out a Leica, maybe even rent one for a
    few days.
  27. I stopped reading this after:

    "Nor have i used one"
  28. AM, RH, JG and OR, thanks for the feed back, and orville your right, best way is for me to rent one no doubt and give it a whirl to make my own mind up but like i said i was just interested to hear what owners thought themselves as well. Charles-gee thanks bunch of help that comment was, and Andrew if my post continued that i'd found a box of these old things cloggin up my attic-would anyone take them off my hands i reckon you'd have gotten around to readin it somehow-if your not bothered with the question kindly don't bother with an answer at all-it doesn't contribute and as theres no pressure on anyone to answer these forums i can't for the life of me understand why people feel compelled to be deliberatly unhelpful. Again thanks to all who have given their thoughts, it was nice hear
  29. cpj


    This is a discussion for the sake of discussion.

    Leicas are akin to sexual partner preferences.

    Some guys think women who are overly endowed up top are just the greatest.

    Others feel one with small gentle curves that just fit your hand is much preferred by far.

    And other guys prefer guys, not women at all.

    So when it comes to Leica M-series rangefinders, my preference is for the small size that perfectly fits your hand.

    That really sums it up; its a matter of personal preference that's impossible to explain until you've held one one--or two.
  30. James, If Leica is just a lightproof box, then we might call the Hope Diamond just a hunk of carbon! To know it is to love it. Best wishes, Bill
  31. Because they make excellent, dependable, high quality cameras and their lenses are the best optics you can buy?
  32. ...Having once owned a Canon EOS RT body, it was almost as "no noise" as a Leica. The Canon concept (a good idea) of a silvered mirror that stayed put as the film was exposed.

    ...Having (and still own) a couple of film Nikon SLR bodies, the ease of use of a micro-Nikkor lens for macro and close up photography makes life much easier compared to finding something in the finder of a M6 body, then doing a shift to see if you can capture the image on film. Flowers may co-operate but insects tend to move away. Yes, Leica has a 90mm makro lens, but easier to use on a M body?

    ...And now the Leica M8 has the same battery needs as a digital SLR body. No battery, no photography. That is progress and you will have to decide if that makes a Leica better or not?
  33. "but its still just a light proof box......"

    Yet diamond is only but a stone;)
  34. Hi,
    If we're comparing a Leica to other rangefinder 35's then it's a matter of quality and precision.
    I've owned some really crappy Rangefinders like the Canonet 28, Zorki 6, FED 3, Voigtlanders' , and similar cool junk, - and made photos I really like with all of them. The Leica is just such a fine machine though. All the buttons, switches, and dials have only one function each. Everything on a Leica is finely machined and silky smooth. The range/viewfinder is clean and precise. Lesser cameras seem rough and crude, because they are.
    Once you learn the controls, it's all muscle memory. You don't think about the camera - you just photograph.
    Yep, you can take great photos with any number of cameras: cheap or expensive.
    The Leica is just better. As someone once said, it's a perfect example of good industrial design.
  35. All cameras of any description whatever are basically just a lightproof box with a controllable opening on one side, a chemical or electronic sensor on the other side of the inside, and (maybe) a glass or plastic lens to focus the image. All the other aspects of camera design are just details and elaborations. This is neither more nor less true of Leicas than of any other cameras.

    Leica M cameras have a basic but flexible interchangeable lens rangefinder design. They evolved from an earlier generation of designs (screwmount Leicas). Leica's engineers had several decades to evaluate comments and suggestions from photographers about desired features before they did the basic M-camera designs in the 1950s. Leica M cameras have exceptionally good ergonomics, with controls located so that they are comfortable, intuitive and easy to use. They are also exceptionally well manufactured out of high quality materials to close tolerances, and are very durable. They are relatively compact, have a quiet shutter, and have a long-baseline rangefinder that can focus lenses accurately in very dim light, including even wide-angle lenses and lenses with large maximum apertures, so they are good for candid shooting in available light. Leica also makes a range of lenses of exceptionally high optical quality. Having said that, Leicas are also (a) primarily mechanical rather than electronic cameras; (b) rangefinder rather than SLR cameras, great with lenses in the range from 24mm to 90mm but not as good as SLRs for long telephoto lenses and macro lenses; (c) manual control rather than automatic cameras; and (d) generally quite expensive, even for old used ones in average condition. They are not for everyone, but for those people who like what they do, they are habit forming. Your mileage may vary...
  36. Here I can place my 1200 buck LTM New summicron 50mm F2 on my Zorki 3C and it works well. The shutter is alot louder than the Leica M3; its even got a nice diopter adjust.; the body cost me 1/15 the M3's price.

    The Zorki 3C was bought used about 12 years ago and has worked well for several hundred rolls; often I would use the faster 50mm F1.2 canon on it as poor mans Noct settup with Fuji 800 Superia.

    I have many Russian bodies; 4 Zorkis; 2 Feds; 1 Lennigrad.

    The Russian LTM stuff *has no roller cam* thus it uses a *subset* of LTM lenses. It uses a pie cam instead of a roller cam; a stub type lens will not mount; unless one puts one's finger thru the open shutter on Bulb; and lifts the pie cam out of the way, while screwing on the stub type lens. A stub type lens is say a maybe longer lens like a 10.5mcm F2.5 Nikkor.

    The difference between a Leica M3 and Zorki 3C is alot like the difference in a Millwauke saw and a Harbour Freight one; both may work. A newcomer might not know whats really better until they use the tools somewhat; it might not even matter to your dog building his house. With the Zorki a good hunting dog always seems to be fasinated with the Zorki's case; because many are cured with urine. Plus there is less loss if the Zorki is used as a chew toy compared to the M3. The Zorki here has the medium movie camera 3/8" tripod socket instead of the 1/4-20; some Zorki's for export have 1/4-20 sockets. In Russian lenses the Jupiter-8 5cm F2 is great lens. Most of my Zorki/Fed stuff was bought before 9/11 when shipping was nil; camera, case, lens and shipping total was about 12 to 17 bucks.
  37. James - Although you were extra careful in expressing your genuine curiosity about the fascination some have for the
    Leica name, it seems that the mere question still railsed the blood pressure in some folks here...<br>    I
    that it is an interesting phenomenon. I did own a Leica once , a M3 single stroke with a 50mm f/2 summicron. After
    the initial excitement, I gradually grew tired of its 'special traits and character', from the way you load the film, to the
    focusing and framing of the image. In the end, I sold it and never missed it. I prefer the convenience, focus and
    framing accuracy of slr cameras.<br>   It's all a personal preference, you may like it or maybe you won't, but
    it's worth a try...
  38. Josh: Good answer. I prefer sculpture to photography, only it doesn't fit in my flat files and my wife hates the stone chips (though marble dust will get rid of dandruff). James: Get one and you will find out what is good about them. All I can say is that I resisted Leicas for the first 25 years that I was a photographer. After I finally got one in 1989, the improvement was so considerable that I saw B&W film as a different medium than it had been before.
  39. It's just a light proof box, but it has the following advantages--in my opinion--over the other light proof boxes.

    1.) Works without batteries. I lost a whole vacation's worth of pictures in Africa because of battery problems, and am

    2.) I can focus it. Which I can't do with SLRs.

    3.) Film provides automatic long-term archiving in the form of shoeboxes full of negatives. I recently inherited my
    grandfather's slides from the 1940s, which had not been touched in decades. Tell me how you plan to read your
    fancy digital camera's backup CDs in 2030...

    It's obvious why a reporter would prefer a digital camera, because the images can be sent over a wire to the
    customer only minutes after they're taken. But I'm not a reporter, I'm just fooling around taking pictures of birthday
    parties and vacations.
  40. I don't own a leica, but sure i would if i had the extra money.
    I could buy one for the following reasons though, and i am talking analog, i haven't seen a digital one:
    (by priority)

    1. very lightweight and compactness
    2. exceptional resolution (the best you could get for a 35mm)
    3. workhorse

    I own a hasselblad 500C/M, and i think of it as some sort of analogy of leica into MF.

    best regards,
  41. They're beautiful.
  42. Ahh, a Hasselblad 500 C/M. Very high on my list of 'my next camera'.

    Leica M2, Hasselblad 500 C/M, Nikon FM2.

    Mechanical perfection that just suits me.
  43. Sure it's just a light-tight box, but one made of about a 1000 seperate precision parts, whose material per application has been refined over more than 50-years, largely hand inspected, fitted, adjusted, checked and adjusted again until correct (in Portugal, Canada, and Germany). Its rangefinder can translate 0.8M to infinity in only a couple on mm in camera with great precision. Its body must be rigid enough to maintain, measured in microns, film plane to lensmount parallelity (new word) over its working lifetime (decades). It's designed to be maintained/adjusted, usually not more than once a decade of hard use (sometimes abuse). It is a platform for some of the best and most respected optics ever made for any format. One can carry quite a big kit with out being weighed down. Resale value is second to none (limited editions excluded); the "value" of some selected items have actually increased in value the past few years.
  44. As an object, in and of itself the Leica is a beautiful thing no question.

    As a religion it holds it's own with Stradivarius, Hasselblad, Porshe, and certain historic individuals from the
    middle east.

    As a tool, my M2 at least, excels in the way my Stanley (wood) plane from the 50s excels. It's always there,
    always works, doesn't require batteries and responds to my hands.

    However in the most creative hands any camera will perform. Leica or not. If it is the image and not the tool
    that is important, darned near anything will do the job.
  45. James

    Why do you ask this question ?

    You say you don't have one, but probably, might, get around to buying one, yet you insist on people answering the way you want answers to be given - why ? we all answer in our own way - not the way you feel is necessary to get at 'the truth' .

    So - why do people buy Monte Blanc ball point pens when they can get exactly the same result with a Bic or Biro ?

    Why do people buy Rolexes when they can buy Timex or Swatch and probably get better timing?

    The list goes on, so I suggest you go and find answers to those types of questions and then you can come to your own conclusion - after all what does it matter what we think - it is you that matters in your decision making ? or do you just want to be one of the guys and do and have what the others have ? that's a serious question by the way, and not a p.ss take !

    I think that things that are used in conjunction with our 'senses' appeal on many levels, and Leicas seem to hit the mark on most - touch and contact through our hands, sight through the viewfinder, sound through the shutter and even smell - only taste seems to be missing [ although maybe there are some who do lick their Leicas ? ] and these reasons could affect the appeal of one item over another - I don't know but I feel the answer is somewhere there.

    Buy one, use it and then decide if you too feel the same as those you question.


  46. "Ahh, a Hasselblad 500 C/M. Very high on my list of 'my next camera'.

    Leica M2, Hasselblad 500 C/M, Nikon FM2.

    Mechanical perfection that just suits me."

    If you get the Hasselblad - make sure you buy a lens / body rewind tool and keep it with the camera....especially if you're using extension tubes. Perfection - right up until you can't get the lens and body to mate because one or the other has tripped and needs to be recocked.

    Why a Leica? I can carry a body + 4 lenses in a case that is smaller than my Hasselblad 500CM + PME finder and 50mm Distagon. The entire Leica kit in the bag weighs less than 6lbs.

    "...so is it more a case of being willing to spend big just to get something to hold leica lenses?"

    Yes - the other alternatives don't provide the same range of frame lines (Zeiss Ikon has 28/85; 35; and 50mm). For comparison - the frame lines on the Leica MP and M7 are 28/90; 35/135; 50/75.

    The Leica system is not for everyone - for many it's too expensive. Others don't need or want to use a range finder system. But, if you want a small package, light weight, with exceptional lenses - there are few alternatives.

    The Zeiss Ikon system is the only other alternative. Having never used the ZM system with the Zeiss lenses it's hard to make a comparison - but, if you're interested in a range finder for shooting film that should certainly be on your short list for evaluation.
  47. A few people have compared the Leica to the Hasselblad in this thread. I used both extensively in my portrait studio. Believe me, Hass is no Leica. Much as I like them, and I have owned quite a few, they have problems (talking about the 500 series). They cannot be hand held as steadily as a Leica. They tend to jam at the worst times. The lenses are not as good. There is no meter, and the meter prism is not very good. The more recent ones are not as well made as they used to be. But they are so nice compared to any other 120 that I still keep one.
  48. "They tend to jam at the worst times."


    Hasselblad 500 series rule #1 - make sure you buy a lens / body rewind tool and have it with the camera at all times.
  49. Bruno Menilli wrote: "I think that things that are used in conjunction with our 'senses' appeal on many levels, and Leicas seem to hit the mark on most - touch and contact through our hands, sight through the viewfinder, sound through the shutter and even smell ..."
    Aside from the photographic results, responsiveness and the sensory feedback that Bruno mentioned is important to me. An instrument that tells me with a readout that I've made an exposure or that the camera is working as it should, is different (for me) than sensing that all is as it should be. The Leica (Leicaflex SL in my case) gives me this sensory feedback.
  50. My favorite type of camera is an ultimate-build, high quality "light box" which preferably helps me in measuring the
    quantum of light with lenses that are undeniably the absolute "best" at forming images and with "film" that should be
    the "best" at recording the image. "Best" here, of course, in relation to the images you are trying to achieve. I also
    like simple, mechanical controls right at my fingertips. Durability and permanence are key, but I also prefer the
    camera to be the smallest and lightest possible for the image quality that it achieves.

    A least a few cameras have been made which ideally fit this description, which among them my favorites are: the
    Hasselblad 205FCC (and its cousin, the 203FCC), the 903SWC, the Alpa 12 SWA, the Arcbody, the Linhof 671IIIs
    and need I mention: the Leica R8/9 and M series rangefinder. Of these, the only one I don't own anymore is the R
    camera (but I kept some of the lenses) since I either use M rangefinder or the Hasselblad 200-series SLRs instead.
    The Leica M rangefinder is the most convenient, quick-to-shoot camera of this lot and is the least expensive. It also
    has a long and exciting history.


  51. A Leica is indeed just a light tight box and a Rolls Royce is just a car, and sadly I will never own either .
  52. James-Your posting here can only attest to the obvious, and that is...an unfulfilled yearning. Nothing can be said here that will likely provide an excuse or comfort for you to avoid getting yourself a Leica. I can assure you however, that you can buy a thousand cameras of other makes (that may or may not perform excellent), deep within you will remain...wanting. Aside from newer models, many (film based) Leicas can no longer be accused as being unaffordable. Avoid wasting your money on things you don't need for a few months, study the various models, stalk eBay, and make the plunge to buy yourself a Leica or Leicaflex camera. You will no longer have to live in wonder and you will also come to realize that there never was an ounce of pretentiousness in the Leica camera itself.
  53. Hey, who said that Leica was pretentious? Actually, James, the real freedom comes when you don't really care about being pretentious or not. I like the camera just to use it (never any fancy edition or special exotic materials -- you have to be able to contemplate losing the camera to be able to use it properly). If people want to think I'm pretentious, they'll have more reasons than a Leica camera. SO don't let that stop you. Just practice hard when you get it -- its a lot of fun, but no loafers please!
  54. Not sure a Holga (link in first response) qualifies as a "light-proof box"....(wink!)
  55. The Leica's reputation precedes it. Which can sometimes detract not enhance. Surely it's just the label that makes it special? the
    thinking goes for those who haven't actually tried one. Same applies to cars -- as everybody has already mentioned -- and watches. But,
    it's not just the label -- Leicas, Ferraris and Rolexes are actually damned good at what they do -- in hard, physical, scientifically
    quantifiable terms. If a Leica rangefinder didn't prove ultra reliable due to exacting construction techniques, if Ferrari produced a
    lackluster race car that was all looks but zero performance, if a Rolex produced a hopelessly inaccurate trashy watch, then these
    products would all, quite justifiably, be rubbished. As soon as they become a mere designer brand or label, they are finished except as
    mere fashion accessories. The label has to actually stand for superior performance and quality. The mystique derives from that. It's an
    added bonus, but a nice one. -:)

    And Leicas are certainly very efficient lightproof boxes, but they also house shutters, film transport mechanisms, or in the case of digital
    models, digital sensors and LCDs, and for M models, a precision rangefinder. It's how these components are put together that makes
    the difference.
  56. A Leica is a very nice light proof box!!! I don't own one but I used them a lot in school (we could borrow them for a day at a time.) I'd like to own one someday, but I'm waiting till I find one (hopefully with some nice lenses) at an estate sale for $100 instead of 20x that on ebay. RFs are cool and fun, and Leica is the cream of the crop for build quality. But some cheaper modern RFs can give the same results if used with the same (Leica) lenses. If you are looking for a "F8 and be there" kind of camera you will do fine with a Bessa, because DOF won't be too big of an issue. If you are looking to do portraits with a wide DOF the Leica's more accurate, larger and brighter RF will make it easier. All through school I used a Canonet QL 17 (widely known as the poor mans Leica) and loved it. It's smaller than a Leica and more portable with a nice sharp lens. I never had trouble focusing it despite it's smaller finder and shorter RF baselength. I used the Canonet more then the Leicas because I was always scared I'd owe the school $6k if someone stole it or I broke it! You can get one on eBay for less than it will cost to rent a Leica for a few days! If you like shooting with a RF go to a camera store and check out a Leica, you'll want it as soon as you touch it! I mostly shoot digital now, so thats where most of my photographic budget goes, but I think it's about time to load up my old Canonet and take it for a spin!
  57. Judging by your photographic interests after looking at your gallery - I would suggest that a Leica will do nothing for you and in fact will most definitely deliver worse results than you currently enjoy.
  58. Many years ago my then boss looked through my (Zeiss) binoculars, and declared grumpily that he could see no difference between them and his own pair costing one-tenth of the price. It's a shame in a way that this pleasure was denied him, but his eyesight wasn't really my problem. I COULD see the difference very clearly, and I valued it to the extent that I paid ten times as much. My bins have brought me irreplaceable visual pleasure.

    If you do not currently understand why you would want a Leica, then you are not yet ready. Go away and do more photography. Maybe one day you will feel a need and be able to describe it. Then you will be ready and you will come back. Maybe not. Either is fine.
  59. Okay, so I'm assuming you know how rangefinders work. And that the rangefinder base of the M series cameras is much more accurate than the rangefinder base of a conventional film SLR or the A/F sensor in modern SLR's.

    Try this experiment. Set up a Leica M with 50mm and any full frame digital (to keep things consistent), also with a 50mm on a tripod and aim them at something 25 or so feet away.

    Set both lens to minimum focus and then focus on your predetermined object. Note exactly where the focus rings fall. Reset to minimum and refocus. Do this 4 or 5 times.

    The focus ring on the rangefinder lens will focus at exactly the same spot each and every time. The SLR ring, whether manually focused or with A/F engaged will not. It will be close, but it will deviate slightly each time it is refocused.

    In low light, wide open, this definitely is why M series cameras are still prefered.
  60. "The focus ring on the rangefinder lens will focus at exactly the same spot each and every time. The SLR ring, whether manually focused or with A/F engaged will not. It will be close, but it will deviate slightly each time it is refocused"

    True. When I first tried my hand at digital HDR photography, quite a few shots were ruined because my camera refocused every shot. So I had to focus, put the thing to manual focus and shoot the HDR sequence.
  61. Right.
  62. http://www.dantestella.com/technical/rangefinder.html
  63. James

    Read you answers above and took a look at your portfolio here. There are quite a few shots there you would find hard on a RF (macro, sports and wildlife).

    Personally, I think you should stick with your DSLR but if you want to try a RF, maybe a cheap Canon or Olympus RF would help you scratch the itch without too much cost and give you a nice fast lens.

  64. Respected though Dante Stella is, I have to disagree with him on one point: Camera shake.

    I am an available light photographer to the core and I really consistently can get better results at long handheld shutter speeds with my rangefinder (Leica M2), than I can get with my Nikon FM, all other things being the same.

    Sure, there are IS/VR systems, which help a LOT, but in my case (Nikon) I would still be stuck with slowish lenses. There are no fast VR primes. In body stabilisation is better, but of course won't work with film based cameras.

    Have a look at these:


    Digital (with VR) would have worked here (sort of), but the contrast range is a bit too much for digital capture. The light was dim, so I needed speed one way or another (hi-ISO or fast lenses). A tripod would have worked, but isn't exactly inconspicuous. Most shots are 1/30th at f2 on Fuji Superia 400. I could not have done this with a film based SLR. Even with something like a Nikon F100 and a VR lens, my shutter speeds would be too long to freeze the people in the shots.

    This situation is an exception of course. You could also say that my trampoline fashion shoot could not have been done with the M2, because of its antiquated 1/50th flash sync. And you would be right. But I could have done it with my Canonet... 1/500th flash sync, not even my D200 can match that ;-)
  65. Isn't it a little like the difference between motor boting and sailing?
  66. Having run across this apalling thread, I feel compelled to respond.
    Leicas are mainly about the glass and certainly the precision feel of the camera. Leica glass is incredibly sharp as
    is the glass from the fixed focus Nikon and Canon lenses. So, what is so great about the Leica glass? It has more
    contrast than the higher quality Japanese glass; even a little more than the excellent Zeiss glass. It yeilds a range of
    tonality that is unavailabile with any other lens. It has a character all it's own. I own upper end Nikons, both digital
    and film. I own a Leica M8 digital. On the M8 I use both Leica and Voightlander glass (Japanese lenses with a
    German character to the image). There is a difference and Leica is the best. Expensive? You bet. But, skilled
    German labor cost a lot more than Southeast Asian labor, where most cameras are manufacturered these days.

    One final word on the Leica M8 digital. It's color output in RAW requires little or no post processing unless you are
    after special effects. The resolution of the sensor cannot be beat, even by my Nikon D300, which is excellent.

    The camera itself is a masterpiece of precision and a pleasure to use. Nothing cheap feeling about it. If that is
    unimportant to you all, so be it. Throwing rocks at a product you don't own or don't care to own is a silly waste of
    time and only displays embarassing ignorance. Not all light proof boxes are created equal. I say that, not out of
    snobbery. I say that out of experience.

    There is nothing more to say in response to these comments without becoming crude.

    If this is an example of the level of exchange in this forum, count me out.
  67. Typographical error. I meant to say in the 1st pp. ...It has more contrat than high quality Japanese glass.
  68. Leica has no real handle on higher contrast versus other lens makers. A lens like the 50mm F2 or a 50mm F3.5 has been studied by lens designers for over 7 decades now; theses are old designs well optomised. The current 50mm Summicron is a 1979 design; one actuall cost reduced with less surfaces to grind. Leica does have a great build quality. Many variants of the 5cm or 50mm F2 Nikkor are on par with Summicrons; adn have great contast too. It might be true that the average 50mm F2 Summicron has a higher contast that a 50mm F2 Nikkor; since many Leica users are just collectors; and thus their old lenses are more "hanger queens" and not used for press work; sports or the dirty grubby real world.
  69. I suggest that you go to either RFF or L-Forum and read the thousands of threads by Leica users and not collectors: many of them still shooting regularly with cameras that 50 years old or older, as well as users like myself that shoot regularly with the more modern models. I also suggest that you check with reputable lens testing sites such as Reid Reviews before you generalize about lens performance. The older lenses are used by some to get a certain "vintage" effect, Most are using modern lenses. There are also collectors and let them enjoy a camera on the shelf. Most prefer to shoot with theirs.

    BTW, while Summicron is an older formula, it has been significantly upgraded since 1979 as have all their lenses currently in production. You have to be careful making broad statements referring to Leica lenses by name. They keep recycling lens names, but the lenses keep changing.

    And the recent Leica lenses do have significantly more contrast that the recent Nikon and Canon lenses and all of the above naturally have better contrast than any older lens, whether Leica or otherwise. Coatings improve as do glass formulations and that is progress.

    As to contrast, that is a matter of taste, and not quality. Some photographers prefer a lens with less contrast believing that it improves shadow detail, although I have not noticed blocking of detail in that regard. Higher contrast just gives the picture more "snap", but is not necessarily better.

    Basically a light proof box? Hardly.
  70. Perhaps this will help:

  71. "Believe me, Hass is no Leica. Much as I like them, and I have owned quite a few, they have problems (talking about the 500 series). They cannot be hand held as steadily as a Leica. They tend to jam at the worst times. The lenses are not as good."

    Who tries to hand hold a Hasselblad, honestly? Bruce you are comparing two different beasts here and to put a Lecia above a Hasselblad just because you cannot use it as it is not intentded is just silly. I tell you, I have never had any of my Hasselblads jam on me, ever. This is USUALLY operator error. Yes I have a tool to be safe, just not an issue. The lenses aren't as good, because they don't have to be. You do know about the circle of confusion and lens resolution don't you? Please explain to me how you can achieve better image quality with a top of the line 35mm camera compared to a top of the line medium format camera.

    OK, so you spent a heap of $$ on your Leica gear, just enjoy it for what it is.
  72. I'm quite appalled at the responses I read here.

    Why do photographers get aggressive and crude when someone asks a question like this?

    I really see no reason why most of you were berating his question. You should all be ashamed of yourself.

    Someone is trying to figure out why everyone likes Leicas, why they have an appeal to the crowd even with the price that they hold.

    James, as to answering your question: According to photography folklore, Oskar Barnack invented the 35mm film camera. One day he
    was out walking, and he wondered if there was an easy camera to use that would take photos without having to carry huge equipment.
    Even TLRs and SpeedGraphics are bulky to use, not to mention a SpeedGraphics only has two shots before you have to change the

    He found the answer in cine film. He figured out that if it can be used in movie cameras, then it can be adapted to still photography, so
    he took the 135mm film from movie cameras and adapted it into a small hand-held light-proof box that we call the 35mm camera.

    Oskar Barnack was working for Leitz, and he called his camera, Leitz Camera, or Leica...

    A Leica is nothing short that mechanical perfection. Every working part sways to a synchronized waltz that top dancers can't achieve.
    There is nothing in the real world that has more precision than a Leica. NOTHING. Not to mention Leica glass, which in on itself, makes
    real life so much richer through its ability to capture tones that no other lens can. Leica glass absorbs as little light as possible, which
    means you have a higher dynamic range per image than with any other lens. You should try this out, I know I did once. Get a Leica and
    another full frame camera, be it an SLR or rangefinder. Doesn't matter which brand. Hell, get a top-end brand like a Zeiss or Rollie, or
    even a Nikon or Canon. Get some generic length, say, 50mm, with a max aperture of 1.8 or 1.4, whatever is available. Take a picture of
    the same scene when its fully open, one when its mid-way, say f/11, and one when its fully closed, which is usually f/16 on a Nikon.
    Then compare the prints. You can read online about the 50mms, both Canon and Nikon make top-class high-end versions of them, and
    they give incredible results. Then look at the Leica results. It's an entire new ball-game. Leica lenses capture every single miniscule
    photon of light, and capture it in such a way that it will really blow you away. Precision ground glass is not cheap to make, and Leica
    doesn't waste an expense. And the results are clear.

    Try a Bokeh test as well, and you'll be blown away as well. Leica lenses, the M series, have their aperture blades set in a way, that
    closing them down is such a beautiful sight to see. Try to find a 35 or a 50 mm, and just look at the aperture blades and how they close,
    then compare them to any other lens you can find. You'll notice a difference, and that is also a characteristic of Leica.

    All that being said is nice, but my personal reasons for loving Leica so much, is simple.

    Reliability. And my reliability, I mean the ability to take pictures under any condition, be it rain, snow, heat, desert, low-light, harsh-light,
    humid and wet. I'm primarily a street photographer, and I'm into journalism as well. While I have a mechanical SLR with a 50mm 1.7 that
    only needs batteries for the light meter, I know for a fact that there is a huge possibility it could let me down. Be it a shutter jamming, or
    the film advance mechanism firing the shutter instead of cocking it (a problem I am having right now in fact), or any one of 100 other
    issues that arrive on the spot. I know for a fact that a Leica will remain faithful, will remain true. I know for a fact that a Leica will actually
    want me to take MORE pictures. What's the point of a tool that doesn't make you feel like using it? A Leica can withstand abuse, so
    traveling won't be an issue. I don't have to walk around with my arm around it covering it from every person who bumps into me in a
    busy Calcutta street. It can handle the abuse. Leica is an example of mechanical perfection, a return to mechanics, to how things
    SHOULD be instead of the digital contrived mess that we have today.

    More importantly, to me a Leica is the ultimate test. Its a fully mechanical camera, that gives you the most beautiful results any lens
    can offer. If your photography doesn't improve from using a Leica, and I'm not talking image quality wise, I'm talking about capture wise,
    whether you take more precise PJ shots or you manage to get that "decisive moment", whether it improves the way you see the world
    around you, things that are important to a street photographer, then the problem is with you not being a good photographer. Its sort of a
    way to not give yourself excuses anymore. Its no longer a problem with the camera, but with you. And this is true. Yes, a photographer
    can make pictures out of any camera, but each camera has its limits, and for what I do, the Leica has no limits. Its scary, yet at the
    same time exciting to me, because it'll tell me if all those hours I spent behind a viewfinder trying to improve my craft are achieving
    something or not.

    A Leica is not just a camera, its an extension of your body. Once you can achieve that, then you are using cameras the proper way.
  73. Firass Al Jundi,

    You have summed up all that is important to a Leica user. Your clarity and eloquence is appreciated. As we often say in the States, "if you haven't tried it, don't knock it". It's not as elegant as your response, but it states the case.
  74. A Russian Yugo is a automotive chasis with an engine and some wheels. A Ferrari is an Italian version of the same automotive concept. I'll take the Ferrari 360.

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