Leica C3? Not after what I saw today.

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by terry_rory, Aug 29, 2003.

  1. I am entering, dangerously, into another spell of quality P&S lust.
    Last time I caught this I ended up buying the magnificent Ricoh GR1-V
    (which is serving me well.)

    The time before that it was the Contax T2. The current object of
    lust is the Leica Minilux Zoom highlight set with CF flash. Whilst
    getting some film processed today I was having a good look at the
    Leica C3 zoom compact and, well, it is horrible. It is made of really
    plasticky plastic and really thin cheap aluminium. The door when
    closed feels insubstantial and moves in and out about 1mm. (Is it
    really light tight or liable to ping open at any moment?)

    The viewfinder is awful. It is dull and unfocused compared to my
    Ricoh or the old T2 viewfinder. The zoom's rocker switch is a hit or
    miss affair and you cannot tell what the camera has focused on. (My
    GR1-V is very positive and fast to focus and gives utter confidence
    with the information in the viewfinder.)

    Everything about the C3 felt as if it was about to fall apart at any
    moment. Far worse than any Yashica T5 which were quite solid despite
    being all plastic and NOT being Leica. (Both of my two daughters have
    T5's so I know they are robust.)

    This does'nt bode well for me thinking about the Minilux Zoom. Do
    they also feel tacky and loosely screwed as the C3 and have rubbish
    out of focus viewfinders as well? I hope not.

    I may be looking into buying a Mint used Contax T2 or a new TVS Zoom
    whilst they are still available for reasonable prices. (I could not
    justify £699 UK for the T3 and I dont like its high battery use or
    it's toggle menu selection for flash etc.)
  2. Trevor,

    Have a look at the Olympus Epic 35mm/2.8

    This is by far the best P&S ever made. Super simple, tiny, and it features a spot-meter function that is great. I recently lost mine, and was able to replace it with a new one for $65.

    It makes great images.

  3. I endorse Eric's suggestion...buy an Olympus Epic 35mm f/2.8. I have one now that I just don't use that I'd be happy to sell for $60 inc. USA shipping...classic black. Outstanding lens.

    Right now I'm using digital, and that's my next suggestion: take a look at what a good compact digital camera can do for you.

    I was a total unbeliever until I bought an Olympus C-5050. The C-5050 is like a mini Leica! I call it my "Digital Leica."
  4. OT: if you need a zoom, consider the Konica Lexio 70 and Fujifilm Zoom Date (a.k.a. Silvi) F2.8 with 24-50mm lens.
  5. We already have an Olympus Mju II 35mm f2.8 (which my wife uses). We have 2 Yashica T5's which my daughters use. I currently have a Ricoh GR1-v and enjoy it a lot. But it is 28mm focal length and I want a compact camera with moderate zoom (35 - 70 or similar) of a premium quality with a great lens for up to around £500 - £600.

    Obviously I have my SLR gear (Contax / zeiss manual focus) but there are occasions when camera bags are banned (family outings etc.) when a high quality compact with a top lens will be very useful.

    The candidates I am considering are Leica Minilux or Contax TVS because of the quality of the glass.

    What I am asking is if the Minilux has poor quality build like the C3?
  6. The Minilux does not have a zoom lens. Do you mean the Minilux Zoom? It has a Ti shell and a very tiny viewfinder. You can't expect these compact zooms (even Leica or Contax) to have comparable quality with the T5 or Epic. They are designed more for convenience. (The TVS III is the current Contax version.)

    My Z2X has virtually the same lens as the Minilux Zoom. It can be quite susceptible to flare and you have to be careful shielding it from stray light, though the lens quality is okay. The zooming is not stepless.

    IMO I would trade this for the Konica or Fuji if only for their wider/more usable zoom.
  7. the answer to your question, trevor, is no. The minilux is MUCH better built than the C3. The c series is *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#*. The minilux's are quite nice.
  8. BTW, the flash of my Z2X (which is really a cheaper version of the Minilux Zoom) is next to useless at the longer focal lengths because of the slow lens.
  9. Oops...I ment to say that I'd sell my fuji 1.0mgp for $9,000 less extras...sorry!!!
  10. Mike and Andrew thanks.

    Re-assuring to know the build of the Minilux Zoom is higher than the C3 I investigated yesterday.

    I did actually mean the Minilux Zoom version. (Sorry)

    Not so comforting to find that you think the quality of zoom lenses in the TVS III and Minilux Zoom is pretty poor.

    The intention is to go out with 2 top quality compacts. My GR1-V with its 28mm and the Minilux zoom (or similar) to take the range up through 35mm - 70mm (and its ability to take an upright CF flash)

    For serious photography I have other gear but on occasions when I am with family / friends / or on family holidays etc it is good to have compact equipment that can go in a very small bag with nothing more than a table top tripod and a spare film or ten. It also allows for use in places where SLRs / tripods etc are simply not tolerated but where P&S users are ignored.

    Despite all that I do not want to drop my standards of image quality and so I assumed Leica and Contax would be the best choice (even with zoom)

    Maybe I should be looking at a 40mm f2.4 Minilux or an old (but mint) T2 but they are both too close in focal length to my GR1-V and I would prefer to keep that and use it as well.

    I guess what I really need is a good quality compact P&S with a 70 or 80mm prime!

    PS. Todd why are you trying to sell me on digital stuff when I am asking about film cameras?
  11. >Maybe I should be looking at a 40mm f2.4 Minilux or an old (but mint) T2

    A friend has the former and I the latter. The Summarit is every bit a Leica lens and I prefer it to my T2 Sonnar. With its double-Gauss construction, I suspect it's closedly related to the 40mm Cron. To me, this focal length is really in the "normal" range while the GR1's 28mm is unmistakably wide angle. The Minilux is a great choice if you don't mind the tiny finder. Unlike the zoom compacts, you don't need ISO 400 (or faster) film all the time.

    Trevor, I don't mean the Z2X has a poor lens. It's okay in casual use but sometimes limiting because of the slow speed.
  12. I wouldn't bother with spending money on these fancy cameras unless you need the better build quality. The fact of the matter is they're usually just toys for rich people and don't offer better image quality 99% of the time.

    Some of them are genuinely better (although overpriced).
  13. The Minilux non zoom has a superb lens on it. I don't think you would be disappointed.
  14. MTC  Photography

    MTC Photography Moderator

    Build quality of Leica Minilux zoom is same level as Contax TVS,
    Contax T2, and better than Contax T3.
  15. The minilux non-zoom lens is indeed superb. The small v/f, slightly poor af and dead-reckoning m/f with the camera go against it. What really drove me nuts was that you had to turn the flash off every time you turn the camera on (the zoom version keeps the flash off).
    Strangely, while I agree with your comments about the truly lamentable build quality of the C series, the lens quality is pretty good. While the minilux zoom is nothing like as good as the non-zoom it's still pretty impressive in terms of image quality. It's not really surprising that an M lens of equivalent focal length is far superior to a compact zoom lens - what is surprising is just how good the summarit on the original minilux is (if you can put up with the above mentioned irritations).
    FWIW, the best choice, imo, is probably the s/h mint T2 on balance (£300), though the flush metal around the v/f plays havoc with glasses if you wear them.
    All the best
  16. One of the best and most overlooked top-end P&S's is the Minolta TC1. It would be a Leica TC1 if the collusion between Minolta and Leica still existed.
  17. I'd say that the Minilux zoom is a very solid camera with a superb lens. Andrew said that the viewfinder is tiny but I found it first class - the nearest thing I've ever seen to a good SLR finder in a small camera. I parted with mine when I decided that I needed a digital camera more than a small 35mm but it was a hard decission at the time and one I'm still not sure about.

    I liked it so much I wrote a rave review which you can find here...

  18. Trevor,
    I have had a MiniLux Zoom for about 3 years. It went from being a wife's camera to a reliable back up to an always with me camera. I have the CF flash which adds a considerable amout of versitility to the unit.

    The construction of the body is absolutely first rate. There is NO comparison with any of the other cameras mentioned above (save Contax and the Minolta TC1). The motorized film transport is very well muted and sounds deep rather than tinny inside the solid body. The viewfinder is fine - small? well it is a p&s!

    The lens is NOT the same as the ZX2, simply look at the speed.

    The camera is heavy, but I would rather have it feel solid than plasticky. It is really not pocketable, especially when you carry the CF flash around with it.

    I think that the ZOOM is a good idea, despite the comments (unsolicited?) that rave about the single focal length Minilux. Especially considering that you have the Ricoh, the zoom from my point of view makes very good sense.

    I am an advocate for the Minilux ZOOM in my circle of friends and aquaintances. (2 purchases, 2 happy friends so far) For me, there is something quite satisfying about the camera. Maybe it is the robust construction, maybe the sharp contrasty images, maybe the nice accessories (CF flash <big points>, cable release, minitripod, nice leather case...)

    I hope this answers your questions!

    R Fred
  19. How about the images though, ratherthan just judging on what
    the camera feels like? I have an even smaller and completely
    plasticky Leica mini3 which has a cracker 32mm lens. My wife
    has one too, and we are very pleased with the results. By
    conrast, my Minilux felt solid enough but was heavier, the
    titanium finish started wearing badly, then it developed an EO
    fault which would have been expensive to fix with no guarantee it
    would not happen again. The point about a P/S I reckon is that it
    SHOULD be light and cheap. Otherwise, I enjoy a an M or LTM.
  20. >The lens is NOT the same as the ZX2 [sic], simply look at the speed.

    Both lenses are of the same construction - I had the block diagrams. Leica/Panasonic simply fudged the numbers a little.
  21. <<The fact of the matter is they're usually just toys for rich people>>


    from a collectors stand point these cameras are very attractive and usually a good investment. The minute an exotic point and shoot goes out of production, the value starts to rise.
  22. MTC  Photography

    MTC Photography Moderator

    David wrote:"my Minilux felt solid enough but was heavier, the titanium finish started wearing badly"<p>
    The Minilux has only a titanium coating, can be worn off with use.<p>
    In comparision, Contax TVS, T2 has solid titanium body shell.
    T3 also has titanium body, however the body shell is thinner than T2.
  23. I sold a T2 a couple of years ago and have regretted it ever
    since. I've been tempted to buy a T3 to replace it but I'm put off by
    the ergonomics of the newer version - I guess I'll look out for a
    nice used T2.
  24. Thanks for all of your thoughts and experiences.

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