last of the great M leicas?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by sanford, Oct 31, 2008.

  1. When I was shopping for an M Leica, I always read that the M4 was the "last of the great hand built Leicas". Is the MP now considered to be just as
    well built as an M4? I finally settled for a black chrome non-Wetzler M6 near the bottom of the desirability list slightly above a Canadian M4-2.
  2. M6 not a desirable Leica? Surely you jest?
  3. If you would prefer an M3 DS I will swap it for an M6 with a working meter.
  4. M6 is long gone, traded in for a Nikon D300. I never really bonded with the camera, being spoiled by auto focus auto everything
    SLR's. I bought a Leica because I just wanted to own the best of something once in my life. Surely you Leica people can
    understand that! I just always felt like I never owned the best of the breed after I handled an M3 in a store.
  5. M4-2 Canadian is a fantastic camera. Don't believe the hype.
  6. These are all great cameras, but from discussions here before, apparently Leica switched from building cameras like watch makers with the M4 and before, to the M4-2 and beyond that was meant to have parts replaced when worn out, not adjusted. This was to reduce production costs, and one that's been CLA'd sure is smooth, but I still like the features of the M4-2,M4-P,M6, and M7s.
  7. All Leica M's are great, including the M8. There is no reason to think there is any "last," there will be more great M Leica's I am sure. I bought a cheap Bessa body to use witht their 15mm lens, it is so light and flimsy I have to be careful I don't crush it like a beercan at a tailgate party. God help it if I ever drop the M7 on it! LOL

    Happy Halloween Booo.
  8. If you weren't happy with the M6 because it didn't have auto everything, are you sure you want to buy an even older M?
  9. I have owned an M for 15 years of so. I do not use it as much as I die in the past to because I now use my Mamiya 7 most
    of the time. But I must say that I still get a charge when I pick up my M. It is a wonderful machine that works great and feels
    even better.
  10. J - no more film cameras in my future although I may be interested some of the digital 4/3 derivatives from Panasonic/Leica
    /Olympus. I only ask about the MP because I've always been a fan of the Leica brand and I'm a camera enthrutest in general.
    I've always liked small, portable, lightweight cameras. After carrying a Nikon D300 with an 18-200mm attached and a bag with
    some other stuff I can hardly lift my right arm. Old age I'm sure.
  11. Let all the nonsense continue about the reputation of the M4-2 (and M4-P). It will keep its price down for those who
    know it to be a great camera. After nearly 30 years it is still going strong, and will no doubt do so for another 30.

    If it hadn't been for Walter Mamdler's boss at his Midland, Ontario plant in Canada there would be no M cameras after the M5 and
    M4. He convinced Wetzlar to allow M camera production to continue after the ill-fated M5. Some very small cost-cutting
    measures were accepted (minor stuff, like a stamped rather than machined exposure counter dial), but the M4-2 inherited a motor drive
    connection and a hot shoe that were absent on the M4. The in-depth Popular Photography review of the M4-2 after it came out featured a
    break-down of the camera which demonstrated its very high quality of construction.

    Leica no doubt loves those who suggest that the MP is significantly better built than the others (M6, M7), as it can then sell
    MPs for much more.

    Anyone who has used the M4-2 and the M4-P knows of their very high qualities. In 20 years I have used them both, as
    well as the M3 and M6. I now use an M4-P, but regret having sold the M4-2, and less so, the M3 and M6..
  12. Of course every Leica afficienado (Sp.?) knows the M2 was, is & will always be the best M
  13. M4 and before were hand built adjustable tolerance cameras. M4-2 went to tighter machined tolerance internals that are
    more difficult to work on as little or no adjustment is possible. Film wind is a bit rough from the M4-2 to the M6. MP has
    the old smooth advance of the M1 to M4. M P also went back to the brass tops rather than zinc introduced sometime in
    the M4P production. Some have had lots of trouble with the zinc corroding. Mine look like the day I day I bought them in
    1985 or 86. Meter circuits were improved after or in in the M6 production. Rangefinder flare and frame lines were
    improved in the MP so they now resemble M2 to M4 quality.
  14. The M2 is great, but it lacks one important feature from the BEST M ever- the M3's finder.<p>Seriously, after having
    owned and used several M's representing basically the whole range of manufacture, I would not hesitate to own and use
    any one of them. But my first choice for film shooters will always be M3's and M2's- in that order.
  15. My first Leica was the M4-P and it remains the workhorse. The M6 is the back-up and handles no better or worse. There are times that the built-in meter comes in handy. Both the M4-P and M6 have been CLA'd without major replacement of mechanical parts. Both cameras have gotten there share of bumps and bangs without mechanical failure.

    IMHO the M2 seems to be a little smoother when it comes to film advance. However, I rarely notice handling differences when I am shooting rapidly - like during a wedding procession and recession. I had considered trading in for the newer a la carte MP. Based on what I had read, the M2 seemed like a better choice for me. I needed an extra camera body, manually meter the scene anyway, no need for flash synch, and wanted to keep to simple 35, 50, and 90 frame lines.
  16. The M2 has really smooth advance, but to be honest it's not much different from other Leicas when you put in the film and work
    the lever. I do prefer the M2 to the M3 for shooting because I use wide angle lenses almost always. My favorite and ultimate
    Leica would be the MP with the Voigtlander R4 finder.
  17. Having owned an R4, I couldn't agree more!
  18. Any differences between the M models is infinitely small, compared to the differences in photographic results in the
    hands of the photographer. And it can often be shown that important technical differences are more due to the quality of
    focussing, slow speed shutter blur or the absence of firm camera support, inappropriate exposure, poor filter quality or
    unclean lenses, absence of a lens hood, lack of film flatness, and other parameters which have next to nothing to do
    with the specific Leica camera model, per se.

    If I had spent most of my time coddling my former M3, I could have convinced myself that the shutter action and wind lever
    action are a bit smoother than those of an M4-2, but in practice this makes only a minute difference in application.

    A Leica is a Leica (I must except here the shutter release of the M8, which is not in the same league as those of the mechanical Leicas,
    and I guess cannot even hope to be).

    I wonder if all this nit-picking on this Leica forum also occurs over at LHSA or LUG?
  19. Only the more "veteran" Leica shooters will remember this about "smooth" film advance. Back in the day, like many, I used
    bulk film. When you loaded it into a Leitz cassette you had the best. The factory cassette opened in the camera as you
    locked the bottom plate on. Therefore you had film going thru the camera with no pressure on it from the cassette. Now that
    was smooth. All the M's are good. I never warmed up much to the M5, but really, I never met or used an M I didn't like.
    Good shooting out there!
  20. "I bought a Leica because I just wanted to own the best of something once in my life. Surely you Leica people can understand that!"

    Yes and no. The rush of owning "the best" (whatever that means) may be fun for a few months at best, but after that, it's a bore unless it has some further relevance. "Best" in this case, is kind of a subjective thing. If you want a camera with some of the nicest detailing, get one built in the late 1950s-early 1960s. Like a "2nd type" double-stroke M3, which is new enough to have the frame lever, and old enough to have ceramic pressure plate and ball bearing latches on the film door, which were subsequently omitted on later M3s, including the famous 1M+ serial number M3s.
    M4? It's certainly well made, but to my eyes, it's somehow lacking in charisma, but feel free to disagree with me there. I sold off the M4 and M3s some time ago, and these days I use an M8, so what do I know.
  21. My favorite Leica M is the one I own and use the most :). Its an old DS M3 #744XXX that was modified to a SS long ago. It doesnt have frame line toggle lever; its got the old shutter sequence like my first 35mm cameras; its not a trophy wife but more of a pioneer wife with a few cosmetic blems that is the soul of the earth; ones better half; like a loyal friend that never seems never to complain. I like the M3 because I like the other girlfriend a late 1970's Noct; and several foreign optic long lenses; like the 10.5cm F2.5 Nikkor and 8.5 cm F2 and 13.5cm F3.5. Its quiet because either its well worn; and/or I like its VOICE as a form of endearment.
  22. Buy a Nikon F2. It was the last of the hand built Nikons and costs thousands less than a Leica and has a meter in most
    of the prisms. I used my F2 lots more than my M3s or M4.

    I don't know if in day to day use I can tell the difference between the M3s or the M4 I used to own compared to my very
    late M6TTL. I never owned any of the cameras at the same time so I wasn't able to do a side by side testing of them.
    However, I don't think that I would give up my M6 for any other M. Unless someone wanted to trade me it for a custom
    made MP :)

  23. I was a user of M6TTL and now user of MP. My experience is that M6ttl still will have some minor stability issue with the electronics, and sometimes battery seemed washing away quite fast, sometimes ok. For MP, I never had any problem. I used MP since 2003, and I have only changed battery once.

    Moreover, the viewfinder is coated so never had any flare problems. I agree it's not as bright as M3, but it has more framelines. When you wind it and fire the shutter you would immidiately realised that it is much solid than M6ttl.

    Also, the shutter has also been enhanced. Also the rapid loading mechanism is more convenient than M3.

    So my recommendation - Leica MP is the best manual Leica M.
  24. My late model M6TTL doesn't eat batteries the way the earlier ones do. It still goes through them faster than any of my
    other mechanical cameras, I replaced the batteries after about a year compared to can't remember when the last time I
    replaced them in my old Nikons.

    The M6 has the old viewfinder, but I've only had problems with flare once or twice. You can have the viewfinder replaced
    for a few hundred dollars.

    For a lot less then half the price, a late model TTL seems to be a really good choice. At least I'm happy with mine.

  25. The M3 was so perfect, that there was very little room left for improvement on later models. Any "improvement" turned out in some cases to be a step back. The only thing I would change on my M3 is the close focus, and in fact later models of M3 do focus down to 0.7m.

    Having said that, any Leica is a joy to use, and I would be thrilled with an M6.
  26. there is one caveat to selecting the M3 as one of the greatest Leicas ever -- as sherry krauter will tell you, MY M3 (seriel number 853XXX) has over the years developed a bounce in the shutter that is caused by its brake not functioning properly. Sherry has had that poor camera back and forth, getting almost as many frequent flier miles as GM executives going to congress -- and she's got it working right, but she says that earlier M3s had a brake design different from later M3 and parts are somewhat problematic at that vintage.
    So, the camera works nicely, but it has developed this problem twice in the 30 years I've owned it, which makes me worry for the future. Apparently even Leican can't make something that will REALLY last forever.
    So I use my M2 a lot more -- it's a bit newer (1958) and started out almost unused when I got it.
    But, seriously, I must agree with those who say there really is no bad Leica M. A bad M is a lot better than a good Nikon.
    And that includes the F2 -- I have one, does not even compare, not even slightly, to the Leicaflex SL2.

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