Leica M4 vs Nikon S3 2000?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by rahul_glad, Feb 9, 2014.

  1. I have saved some money to buy a nice camera. Which one should I get? The Leica M4 or the Nikon S3 2000?
  2. Assuming you want to use it to take pictures, and want the most expandable system camera, the M4. M-Mount lenses are still in production and there are many choices available. The Nikon S3 2000 is a collectible that you will probably pay a premium for, will probably depreciate with use and wear, and has a much more limited selection of lenses available.
  3. Thanks for the reply, Frederick. Aren't the lenses interchangeable between the two bodies using an adapter?

  4. I doubt you'll be able to use the Nikon's rangefinder with Leica mount glass cobbled on it. - The Nikon S mount market is small but maybe you can get a kit of lenses together. - Didn't Cosina / Voigtlaender make some too? According to Ken Rockwell the S3 isn't really overpriced...
    On the other hand it seems easier to acquire Leica gear. I'm quite content with a user beater M4-P and some not too fast lenses and appreciate the option to go digital some day.
  5. C-V made a nice selection of Nikon mount optics in recent years and if you can find these (some are discontinued or unavaliable new - see cameraquest.com for example) or used Nikon RF optics, and like the idea of shooting with a classic Nikon RF, go for the S3 (I had an original S2 as well as various Leica RF cameras and there is not much difference in quality, if any). On the other hand, as mentioned, the Leica system offers more expandability if that is needed and more service points and parts. If you are thinking Leica M4 series, don't discount the less expensive but very capable M4-2 or M4-P models, or the metered M6 .
  6. SCL


    I think there are probably more M4s in service than S3s, and it is probably easier to obtain good servicing at reasonable prices. I was an M4 user for 43 years and personally liked the system better than the Nikon RF line. If you get the M4, don't forget to include the potential of the cost of a good CLA if the body hasn't had one. Either camera should serve you well.
  7. If you want to use the Nikkor lenses, which are mostly cheaper in S-mount than they are in LTM-mount, then the S3 and SP reissues are interesting cameras.
    Otherwise, the M4 has a more sophisticated finder system, with projected bright-lines for the frame-lines, and not showing all frame-lines at one time. It also has a vastly wider selection of lenses.
  8. I will, one of these days, get a Leica M3, I think, but I did get a Nikon S2 and found it a compelling camera ( http://www.photo.net/classic-cameras-forum/00bm6p ). While the lenses are not so common as the Leica ones, I think they're generally cheaper to acquire because of less demand.
    You can't go wrong in this case. Go with your heart.
  9. Thanks for the replies everyone. I think I'll end up getting the S3/2000 for now...it's very rare and only a handful are for sale on eBay. Needless to say, I can get a Leica later; they're very common and available everywhere.
  10. Hi Rahul,
    Have you made up your mind or is there still room for discussion? How about getting a Cosina Voightlander R3 or something along those lines and spend the money on top glass from Leitz or CV?
  11. Back in the day when I got my M2 I never used my S2 again. It felt - how do I say - junky compared to the precise feel of the M2. It was like the difference between shutting the door on a 1953 Chevrolet and a new Mercedes Benz. I later sold my S2 and got another M2. That said, the S3 and the SP were giant leaps for the Nikon rangefinder and your S3 (especially since its 'current' made) will probably be great. Good luck with your photography.
  12. I have a Leica M4-P and the Nikon SP 2005. Both are used to take pictures. By far the M4-P is easier to use and lenses are easier to get. I love my SP and would never sell it. I use both and consider them great cameras. It's up to you to decide which one is best.
    I also use a Contax IIa with a CV 25mm lens when I'm out with my SP. The SP has the 35mm f/1.8 or the 85mm f/2 lens on it. Lots of fun using them together.
  13. Starvy - I like the Voigtlander, but I prefer something purely mechanical which works without the use of a battery. I like the R3M, but it needs a battery for the light-meter. I'm thinking along the lines of M4 or S3/2000.

    I might end up getting both the M4 and S3/2000 down the line.
  14. Rahul, I have an additional comment that may or may not be important to you. We seem to form a subjective tactile relationship as well as a quasi-objective one with the photographic tools we use.
    The M Leica may win for many of us on the basis of an objective analysis (more and perhaps better optics, easier focussing, etc.) but the Nikon may feel better in the hands of some, or it may have somewhat eclectic qualities of design or operation that interest the user. A local professional photographer once used the S2 for his very original work and told me he had great confidence in its durability and operation. As I also enjoyed his very original approach to chiaroscuro type images of people I felt it would be the camera for me. The decision can be based on simple things like that.
    It is good to spend a little time with each type of RF camera (an example of each, not necessarily the specific model envisaged) before deciding on one (I prefer one system camera only, in view of the awkwardness of switching lenses between different mounts). Finally, we spend 90 to 99% of our time preparing or handling the instrument and perhaps only 1 to 10% in actually making pictures. A part of the success of the approach relates to the relationship we have with our tools. I have three enlargers for my darkroom work, acquired at different times, but really do better with only one of them. It better suits my methods of working.
  15. The R3M may need a battery for the meter, but it doesn't need the meter in order to work. Sans battery it's still a fully-functional mechanical
  16. I bought the S3 2000 to get the Nikkor 50/1.4 Millenium lens. I use the lens on my Leica M9.
  17. The S3-2000 with the 50/1.4 Nikkor is much less money than the M4 with the pre-aspheric Summilux. The
    Nikkor 3.5cm F2.5 and 10.5cm F2.5 are top-notch lenses, equal to the 35/2.8 Summaron and 90/2 pre-
    Aspheric Summicron. The Nikkors run $250~$300 each in S-Mount
  18. It may be difficult to efficiently use the two systems together. Their lenses turn in opposite directions for focussing!
  19. Somehow, this does not trouble me at all. I am used to use so many different camera systems.
  20. Gert an M6.
  21. The M6 is one of the best rangefinder cameras for a daily camera. I have the model with the 0.85 finder.
  22. Both are meterless which can be a problem if you do not know how to shoot w/o one. IMHO an M6 w/50mm Summicron. The classic standard which you can't go wrong.
  23. I got the Nikon S3 millenium, but I use the 50mm Millenium Nikkor on a nice SP. I keep the S3 in a box. Arthur's got a point. If you've bonded with the S3 and you don't mind shellng out for a Leica down the road, get the S3. The Nikons have a very different ergonomic feel to them. If you like it, at least you'll shoot with it.
  24. There's a reason Leica won.
  25. Nikon probably quit its original RF production in the very early 60s as its F model SLR was released in 1959 and quickly pointed to Nikon's future. The RF cameras, including the original S3 production (1958), were no slouches. The SP (1957) was more than 20 years in advance of Leica (M4-P) in providing a 6 frameline VF. I personally prefer the operation of the Leica M bodies, but I believe the win of Leica was really just a forfeiting of the RF territory by Nikon for greener pastures.
  26. I have and shoot the Leica M4 (and M2/M3/M6) as well as the Nikon S2/S3/SP. I wouldn't call one a Chevy and the other a Mercedes
    Benz, the cameras are simply different.

    The Leica has superior fit and finish, the Nikon has far better precision and reliability. You will often hear the term "CLA" when talking
    about Leica cameras. The Leica M series does require service from time to time to keep in top shape, particularly the rangefinder, which
    can be jarred out of adjustment if you bump the camera or drop your bag. The mechanical design of the Nikon is incredibly reliable, and
    seldom, if ever, requires adjustment or service. A clean S3 will be every bit as smooth and quiet as a Leica M, the 1-1 viewfinder in the
    Nikon allows you to shoot with both eyes oen, and lastly, the S3 can be wound and focused with just one hand, which doesn't sound like
    a big deal, but really is when you carrying a bag or an umbrella in your other hand.

    Nikon lenses are top notch, and are far more scratch and haze resistant than Leica lenses. The millenium Nikkor is an excellent lens, the
    35/2.5 and 35/1.8 wonderful lenses, and I also enjoy using the 28/3.5.

    You van't really go wrong with either camera, I shoot both systems, but the Nikons have a special place in my heart.
  27. Hello everyone - I just bought a Leica M2 in pristine condition. I don't have a lens for it yet. Will try shooting it with a Jupiter 3 for now.
  28. There's a reason Leica won.​
    I wish that were the case! In fact, I would love to see Leica as the world's number one camera manufacturer, and I think they can do it. However, I think that Nikon stopped making RF cameras simply because so many people were buying SLRs - and only SLRs. Silly, but there you go. Even today I ask myself why so many press photographers are shooting DSLRs exclusively. It is not because they are necessarily the best choice. Sometimes, professions don't progress, they just evolve.
    Rahul, I had an M2 and an M6, but I sold them. Now, however, I wish that I had kept them. There are a few purchases I know I'm going to be making this year... :)
  29. Has anyone heard of the Leica M-A? It's supposed to be a reincarnation of the M3.
  30. I've had both. Definitely prefer the M4 -- S3 viewfinder is confusing. The SP is another story, however.
  31. I ended up getting the M2/M3 together with 35, 50, 90, and 135 Leica lenses.

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