Leica M4-2: First Impressions

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by mechs, Feb 10, 2021.

  1. It is all about digital today. But film, I have to say, has a indefinable something.

    Leica M6 Summicron 35mm.

    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  2. Bill and Glenn, thanks for your answers. Cost sounds reasonable. I have read the same about the M4-2 motors but never had any issues with mine. The motor drive pins have to be firmly seated in the camera's film advance drive slot. The engagement that works for me is to slowly lever advance the film until the motor engages the drive slot. You can feel the motor drive pin engage the slot as the resistance goes way up and you can feel it.
  3. If your Leica motor is the latest one with the grip, it's easy on the camera's winding mechanism and it should give you many years of trouble-free snaps. However, the same cannot be said about the earlier Leica M4-2 motor-winder (if this is the one you have, I suggest using it sparingly). And for me personally - the way the early winder causes the shutter button to bounce up and down drove me nuts (but that's just me) - the latest motor doesn't do that.
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  4. The future ain't what it used to be. .
    - Yogi Berra

  5. Thanks, Bill. The seller has a 14-day return policy but taking this option would cost me about as much money as a CLA in shipping + insurance charges. Would a CLA get rid of the fungus or could it be too late in terms of the potential damage? I guess I am trying to figure out if there is a point where it makes more sense to return the item and look for another Leica M. What do you think?
  6. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    Personally I prefer a Leicavit advance to any motor I've used on a film camera. A bit pricey, but there you have it!
  7. How does the shutter sound? A CLA + finder upgrade will set you back around $550 - that'll solve any and all issues for many years to come. Personally, assuming you didn't pay top dollar for it, that's exactly what I would do.

    I never buy a camera sight unseen without assuming it needs a CLA - regardless of what the seller says. In fact, I can't think of a single instance where a used M camera I purchased didn't need a CLA. If this is an eBay purchase, let it be reflected in your buyer feedback.

    Contact Don Goldberg ("DAG") - dagcam[at]chrus[dot]net and move on. ...
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2021
  8. I agree with Sandy 100% - if you can find one at a decent price, that is. The modern Leicavit-M's are scarce and expensive.
  9. Bill, thanks again for your insights. The shutter sounds normal as described. After looking at some photos online and my own experience with fungus on optics, I am now wondering if the spot is haze or some kind of chemical/glue. It lacks the fine hairline/tree branch appearance of fungus. In any case, I've contacted a tech for CLA work and hopefully I'll send it in soon. I also watched some videos and read a couple of online manuals; it looks like removing the top plate is a pretty simple job with the right tools.
  10. I had similar "spots" in the RF window of the M2 I purchased last year and it ended up being mold. Yes, removing the topcover isn't that difficult; still, I'd have a technician do it in case there are other issues to deal with - and I'd have the flair-free optic installed while the top is off. But again, that's me.
  11. Congratulations on your new camera!

    Can the seller tell you if its ever been CLA'd? One thing is the Leica rangefinder is not a precise camera. The slow speeds can sound fine, with the little bounce etc. but doesn't mean that they are at spec'd after so many years.

    If the fungus hasn't etched the glass I think it can be cleaned. Like Bill said DAG would certainly be able to say. Did you develop any film? You'll want to see if its light tight and that the cloth curtains don't have any pinholes, especially if they haven't been replaced 60 years or so. It's often normal for a used camera to need a CLA. Sometimes the seller can be persuaded to share in the cost of that if you are paying full value for the camera based on how its condition is represented.

    I too keep thinking about shooting some film, I think it does still retain its own look. I have an old FE2 as well as M's. Just a different system. FE2 has a good build and is certainly sturdy, not like the F2 or F3 as it's a little lighter build but not shabby at all. The Ms are a level of quality build above that you can feel . But comparing use of the 2 is a longer answer. Basically, any camera that works well is not hard to use once you understand it. Old non-metered Ms are as about as simple as you can get but they are not the most precise for framing.
  12. Thanks, Barry. The seller is a reputable online seller (I will not name them here because I haven't contacted them about this issue yet and I'm sure they will help if I do). I have a 14-day return and 180-day warranty period both of which are still valid. The problem is I am currently overseas and had the camera shipped to me so sending it back for a return or work will cost me the same or more than a CLA potentially.

    I went through the checklist on the cameraquest website after I got the camera and everything checks out. The 1 and 1/15 sec shutter speeds react just like described there and by Bill above, there is not a spec of dust or anything else anywhere on the shutter curtain or interior of the camera as far as I can see without taking the top plate out. The viewfinder is clear and crisp with no specs or spots. I film-tested it and the shutter works properly at most speeds I tested out (I have had black banding due to shutter lag on higher speeds on other cameras before). All speeds, slow to high, produce results as expected.

    I find it a bit unusual that the rangefinder window is the only place that has this unusual spot. I will call the seller on Monday to ask discuss this issue and see what can be done about it.
  13. Understood. I think you will really like using it whether you keep it or return it and get another. All the film Ms are beautifully built cameras.
  14. Welcome to the Leica world of angst and anxiety, and frequent CLA's "just to be sure". ;)

    I see no indication of fungus in your picture of the rangefinder window. If it doesn't wipe off, then it would appear to be on the opposite side of the glass. In that case, a close look with a magnifying glass should tell you if it is fungus or not - it is not that hard to identify the organic growth of mould.

    I can't tell you it is nothing or that it is OK not to do anything, but if I were confident it is not a growth you see in the window, I'd just enjoy the camera as is (as it sounds like it works perfectly), and have it addressed when the camera eventually, some time in the future, really need an overhaul.
    I don't belive in preventive CLA's. If it works; use it. If it has a problem - send it in. You don't get "perfect" from a 45 years old used camera.
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2021
    allancobb likes this.
  15. I have to agree with Niels. This can lead to a situation of fix it until it’s broken. The older Leicas are tough, I’ve taken tumbles skiing, and fallen off motorcycles with them. Perhaps I was just lucky, but they’ve only just had one CLA that was done by an expert. One of my two M4’s jammed and the frame selector was getting sticky, had them both done. My experience is NOT USING the camera may make it need more service. Invest in a couple bricks of your favourite films and have fun. Call it preventative maintenance! ;-)
    allancobb and Ricochetrider like this.
  16. If you like the idea of a base plate winder, look up Tom Abrahamsson's Rapidwinder instead of the late series Leicavit. Rapidwinder made a series that fits the M4-2. Good website if you want to take a look. At one time Steve Gandy carried them.
  17. Thanks guys. Another option is to keep an eye on it and see how it goes. Definitely enjoying the camera so far.
  18. Hey best luck with teh "new" camera! If you feel like sharing some photos taken with your new toy, I'd love to see some, and I'm reasonably certain everyone would agree.
    Bill Blackwell Images and NHSN like this.
  19. We start a W/NW Pic-O'-The-Week thread precisely for such sharing. ...
  20. Leica snobs looked down on the Canadian-made M4-2, but the one I bought in the 1980s had the smoothest shutter release and film advance of any Leica I've owned. Later I traded it for an M6 because I wanted a built-in meter, but I still miss the M4-2's smoothness. Maybe mine was an unusually good sample.

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