Leica SLR or Leica M

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by elliot_marsing, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. Hi everyone,
    So i'm attending college next year majoring in photography. Fortunately i'm able to rent almost any camera id like to shoot with while at school, but i'm required to bring a 35mm. I love film and hope to continue it somehow in a career. So far i've come down to a tough decision, Leica R and Leicaflex or Leica M? I shoot mostly street and travel photography (Photojournalism). I understand that i'm really paying the money for the lenses, but the tough part is deciding which body. Also price is a little bit of an issue considering i am a student, so i'm looking for a 50mm summicron f/2.0 lens with some leica body. Suggestions?
    Thanks,
    Elliot
     
  2. If price is an issue, get Leica R, it will cost about half what an equivalent M would. I have an MP and an R8 with several lenses, they're both fantastic and price aside, it really comes down to whether a rangefinder or an SLR would suit your needs better. An M6 is about $1200, 2/50 Summicron M around $800. An R8 is around $800, with 2/50 Summicron R around $300.
    For street and travel, I would prefer a rangefinder, but an SLR can definately cover that too.
     
  3. For the sake of versatility, and to cover most situations, I'd take an SLR with. Rangefinder cameras are tools for precise and especific situations in street photography and photojournalism. Now, while some of the situations to use rangefinders coincide with the instances in which you'd use SLRs, those cases that don't, like sports and macro, are the ones that give SLRs the edge.

    In short, cover yourself for any type of assignment.

    BTW, I am aware of the existence of macro and telephoto lenses for Leica M-bodies, but the OP is a college student posing a very precise question: whether to take an SLR or a rangefinder to college.
     
  4. Which R body would you recommend? Although the Leicaflex SL is older, i've heard nothing but good things about it.. but the same goes for the r6.2 and the r8
     
  5. Do you want something basic, or higher tech? Mechanical or electronic? Concerned about size and weight?
    I havn't used a Leicaflex, but they have a great reputation for quality, and a nice bright finder. They're pretty old now though, and most likely would need a CLA if one hasn't been done in the last few years. I'd like to get one, as a basic but beautiful camera.
    The R8 has a fantastic viewfinder, an electronic shutter, and is fairly high tech, by mid 90s standards. There is also a digital back you can use if you wanted to. The R9 is practically the same, but costs a lot more. The down side is that is is big and heavy.
    The R6/R6.2 is the last of the mechanical R series. R6 is limited 1/1000 fastest shutter speed, R6.2 has 1/2000, but costs significantly more. Smaller and lighter than an R8/R9.
    I had an R3 for a while, and found it unreliable. I didn't like it in general, either. They are very cheap though, and quite small.
     
  6. Elliot
    What's needed here is a dose of reality ,if price is an issue there are hundreds of very good 35mm cameras that will do what a Leica will do for much much less money. For the price of a 50mm Summicron you could buy a useable film camera, three lenses, a brick of film and a bus ticket, please don't buy in to the myth, a Leica isn't going to make you into a Salgado or HCB. Secondly If you really want a career in film consider being a projectionist or an may be an actor because there's precious little future in a career in film photography.
    good luck
    Steve
     
  7. This is true, there are plenty of great cameras for a lot less than a Leica, all depends on your budget. I'd also suggest a bulk film loader and 100ft roll of film, if you're not already doing this. Each roll will be about 70% cheaper than pre rolled film, and there's a lot less waste in packaging.
     
  8. Get a Leica M2 which will give you the flexibility to add a 35mm lens. A rangefinder can change the way you see.
     
  9. Steve,
    I understand that there are many more cameras that can do what a leica can, but what i'm truly purchasing are the lenses and their quality. Also, i plan on going into photojournalism if there are any jobs still left, but i just love film much more than any of my digital images.
     
  10. Also, what other cheaper SLR's would you guys recommend?
     
  11. Lots of good "student" cameras that can be had for little cash. Nikon Fe2 or FE, FMN/2 F2, F3..Cannon AE1 etc. Look at Cameraquest.com he runs down all the Leica M's and Classic SLR's as well as Leica and Cannon. It's a useful read. I know Doug Herr, who is a fantastic photographer uses a Lecia SL and other Leica SLR's and it seems the SL1? is a really good camera that is not as expensive, but it is a basic manual camera. The older cameras will be more basic and less expensive and you may have to pay extra to have them serviced, but they will give a long time of great service. Lots of choices. I did my first class in school with a FE2 and a 50 1.8, then a M6 with a 50 Summicron. You should be able to find something very useful. I don't mean to say "student camera" like it's not a top notch tool, I just meant generally older, simpler manual camera. All of those are still great cameras.
     
  12. If you want a Leica now and get another brand of camera, you will always have a nagging voice in the back of your mind to get a Leica, haha. That's what happened to me. I dreamt of having a Leica since I first saw one and I eventually got a M2. I loved it and I still do. Then I took a break from RFs and got searching for a SLR system. Had a Canon first. Hate the lenses and the electro-whizz cameras. Had a Nikon but I hated the lenses. Nice MF bodies though. Then went Pentax. Got me an LX and 3 MXs I did. That got me fixed for a while. Damn I love those things, even now. The lenses are cheap and they are beatiful. Then the Leica devil came back out. I recently (3 days ago haha) got a Leica RE and Macro Elmarit 60 combo. That cost me the same price as my M2 body did! Why did I get/want the Leica? Well it wasn't sharpness or colour or tones or whatever, my Pentax did that for me for a fraction of the cost. What got me hooked on Leica was the bokeh. Well, OK, not just bokeh, but the overall look of an image taken with Leica glass. There's something retro about it. There's something analogue about it. It just looks beautiful to me! My wife has a Contax SLR system. She swears by it. Says its like magic. The pictures look 3D and have depth. Honestly, I do think the lenses are quite special... mostly. They're maybe about the same as my Pentax (although she argues her stuff is better ;)). I love Pentax glass. Its just more pleasing than Canikon imaging to me.
    Anyway, where is all this going? Well if you want to just shoot pictures and more importantly *learn* photography, then I would argue another brand would suit you just fine. Of course, I would recommend Pentax, specifically the MX or if you can stretch, the LX. My LX + 50/1.4 cost me about the same as the RE, and I got the RE for cheaps! Both about $400 for mint examples.
    If however you want to explore more into photography as a creative process and not just as a record making process (and make your wallet shallower) then go for the Leica off the bat and never look back. Not that you can't make great pictures with Pentax or whatever gear, but you will always have that little voice in your head and it will never go away. Never I tell you ;)
    Now on to SLR vs RF. As I said, I have both and have used both types extensively. They are very different tools. For snaps and spontaneous people shots, you can't beat the RF. They're small and quick to use. However, they have many drawbacks. Close focus is a pain in the butt, no DOF preview, parallax errors... For general photography an SLR rules. When I go out and I know I want to take people photos then I take my M2 and make do for situations where its not so good. If however I'm just out for a stroll and feel I might want to take some photos, then a SLR comes with me. But there are no rules saying you can't use an RF for macro or you can't use a SLR for people shots. Use what feels right for you.
    I get the impression that you are influenced by the greats such as HCB and the rest (who isn't) and because they used Leica, you should too. They liked Leicas and it worked for them but it might not work for you. You have to try it yourself and see. You say you can rent any camera you want, so rent a RF for a month and then see if you like its way of working. I assume you have a digi SLR now so you know what a SLR can/can't do right?
    As for work, I think you would be hard pressed to find a job in photojournalism nowadays using a film 135 camera. I use and love film too for the colours etc but if I were to work as a pro then I'd just get a digi SLR. Keep your private stuff in film if you want but nowadays, people want speed and digi rules over film in that area. No competition. And even if film were accepted, it would be likely medium format was required. I'm not trying to put you off getting a 135 camera but as far as work is concerned, you will be better off getting this 135 camera for personal use and get whatever camera is needed when you start looking for jobs.
    Good luck in your studies!
     
  13. I would ask the school before buying a rangefinder. If your class requires macro or long telephoto work then you will be limited by a rangefinder.
    What is your current camera? Why not use it or buy something compatible with it? Leicas are great, I have a Leica, but there are plenty of cheaper cameras out there that work great. I started off using a Nikon FE2.
    If you make photography a career you will probably be shooting digital for a variety of reasons. If you buy Leica R now then the only digital option is a very expensive digital back. The Leica M digital is also very expensive. If you stick with Nikon, Canon EOS (not FD), and probably Pentax then you could use any lenses you buy now with a digital SLR later.
     
  14. You may only be really interested in street and travel, but a general education in photography (as most undergraduate degrees are) will require that you become proficient in several different areas. That means a system that is versatile. Look at the entire program and look at what the other expenses will be before you blow the bulk of your budget on a system that is very limited in what it can do.
    Why Leica, anyway? I hope you're not already being poisoned by brand name fanaticism this early in your career. You'll do a lot better for yourself with a fraction of the budget in, say, a solid Nikon FM2 with a 50/1.8, and still have enough left over to not worry about film costs. Take the $2000 you would have blown on a Leica and invest in a summer workshop or two with a couple of photographers you admire. This will do a lot more for your photography than an expensive camera, but it all depends on your priorities.
     
  15. but what i'm truly purchasing are the lenses and their quality.​
    None of which matters at this stage in your career. A bad undergrad student is learning technique. A better undergrad is learning how to see. The best undergrad is already working on a personal style. An undergrad who is fixated on "lenses and their quality" is a non-starter.
     
  16. If you're going to be a photojournalist you'll very probably end up using a Nikon or Canon dSLR. Why not get a film camera that works the same way and uses most of the same lenses, including those your school is likely to lend out? (DX/EF-S excepted). Various recent pro and semi-pro models (Nikon F100, F5, Canon Eos-3, 1n, 1v, etc.) are now available pretty cheaply and will handle pretty much any assignment you care to throw at them. If your instructors are purists who for some reason prefer their students to use manual cameras for film, a Nikon FM2, FE2 or F3 will be pretty bulletproof and retain a lot of compatibility with the modern Nikon system. A Leica M is a great camera suited to specific types of photography, and you may well want to try one at some point, but it wouldn't be my first choice to comply with course requirements.
     
  17. I own both systems with various bodies and lenses. In my opinion, have a go with an R6.2; acceptable fully working bodies can be found at around $500 with some luck. Then, the 50mm Summicron-R is practically as good as the 'cron-M. But, for your intended photo work, I suggest you later acquire the 28-90/2.8-4.5 ASPH ... and never regret for that!
    Eventually, however, will have to turn to M; with the FF M9, you will always be able to build up a dream set of M lenses, which are simply unparalleled (and I am not talking about sharpness only!)
     
  18. Well, like a lot of people, I have owned all of them; contax , nikon, canon, and Leica R. To me, there is something different about a Leica image, you either see it or you don't. I suggest a leica R 8 body and a 60 2.8 lens; go shoot for a while, and see if you see it also. If not, you gave it a go and can sell and get back 50 % of what you paid, and you will have it out of your system. Like the girl in high school you never asked out, but wish you had, what might have been ?
     
  19. If you want to buy Leica due to the lens quality and you're buying an SLR, you'll have to buy the latest aspheric lenses to get there; older lenses won't be any better than the pro level offerings from the big Japanese companies. And let's face it, a career in photojournalism involves shooting a lot of digital (you might shoot film professionally, but then you need to make a name first), the quality of the Japanese offerings is not too shabby and the companies that made more lenses also have a more active second hand market. Just don't get too obsessed about lens quality; in photojournalism, the image quality is often limited by other things than the lens quality, the last 10% of quality doubles the price and image quality is not just one number, it will take experience to tell what kind of quality you want to get out of a lens.
     
  20. I know this won't go over well on the Leica forum, but if your career plan is photojournalism, go with Nikon or Canon digital. I work in Washington, DC, arguably one of the news centers of the world, and news photographers simply don't use anything else, at least not in numbers beyond what I can count on my fingers. If you want Leica, go with the rangefinders since they do something that SLRs don't do. But it's been well over five years since I've seen a news photographer with a film camera of any brand. Camera brands aside, someone learning photography today and hoping to make a career of it needs to focus on digital.
     
  21. If you intend to go to photography school, you need to bring an SLR. Rangefinders have their place, but are simply not flexible enough to handle all the things that you will be taught through the course of a photography education.
    I would not purchase the Leica R-series, seeing as how they have been discontinued, and considering how much cheaper Nikon and Canon SLRs are. As others have mentioned, the Nikon FE series and Canon AE series are a staple of the college student arsenal. Cheap, durable, and very good. For a little bit more money, you could buy, say, a Nikon N70 or Canon Elan7. All these cameras will work very well for your studies, offer a huge assortment of lenses and accessories, and most importantly cost less than Leica for someone on a student budget. Once you are done with your education and earning money, then you can consider spending the money to get a nice Leica system, but I would not consider it while you are still in school.
     
  22. Get a goof leica M mount 50, find a beater M body, or heck, maybe a Voightlander R3 or R4, and pick up a nikon F100 or EOS A2 or 3, and a 35-70 2.8 and a longer lens. I love my M6 to pieces, but it's not an all-purpose camera - and you will be using either a Nikon or Canon DSLR, so might as well get used to one system at least.
     
  23. Take a look from a different view point ... coming from a practicing photojournalist at NY Times ...
    http://web.mac.com/kamberm/Leica_M8_Field_Test,_Iraq/Page_1.html
     
  24. As nice as it would be to own a Leica, I really don't see the point, for your purposes. I'm an undergrad photo student too, and I can tell you for sure that I've been happy with my Nikon FE. Unless you have really deep pockets, I'd suggest spending a fraction of what you'd pay for a Leica and buying a Nikon or Canon SLR instead. As a couple people have said, if you're planning on going into photojournalism, you'll probably end up using a Nikon or Canon anyway. Then you can spend the extra $ on a couple hundred foot rolls of film and a bulk loader.
    I'm a Nikon user so I'd reccomend an FE, FM, or F2 - or if you want to go another direction, an F100 or F5 - but Canon would just as good, I'm sure.
     
  25. Oh, another reason to not buy a Leica: if you're serious about photojournalism, you're almost definitely going to have to buy a digital camera sooner or later. Save your pennies.
     
  26. "As nice as it would be to own a Leica, I really don't see the point, for your purposes. I'm an undergrad photo student too, and I can tell you for sure that I've been happy with my Nikon FE." - Unless you're a poser, of course.. But this comment is dead on.
    There's no point in investing in a Leica. You're mostly be better off with an SLR over a rangefinder for your first camera, but I would first stress the fact that you have to own a system you'd be able and want to rat about, take everywhere, abuse, shoot in the rain and in dark alleys...
     
  27. Let's also clear up some confusion over definitions. Street photography and travel aren't photojournalism. Photojournalism is news photography for timely publication in newspapers, news magazines, and (increasingly) news websites. Film won't cut it here - if you want a job as a photojournalist these days you're going to need a digital SLR along with a digital video camera and at least a basic working knowledge of Final Cut Pro. Digital SLRs from Canon and Nikon are king in this field due to speed, reliability, versatility, low light performance, professional support, and now - you guessed it - built in HD video.
    If that's not your actual area of interest and you just want to do street and travel, then film is fine.
     
  28. "Unless you're a poser, of course"
    Well, yes, there is always that possibility.
     
  29. Go up to eBay or to KEH. Do a search for Pentax K1000 or ME or Super. They're less than a $100. Built like a tank and there's a ton load of quality used lenses for sale as folks jump ship to the big brands because they want something "professional".
    Then use the thousands of dollars or so that you save from not buying a Leica and go buy film and network (ex. take editors out to lunch) , because a degree isn't enough. It's who you know. And while you're networking, start shooting and try to get published . Take your camera with you at all times and if you hear sirens on the way to class, skip class and go take photos. You'll learn much more from that experience than you ever will in a classroom.
    Take writing classes too. Writers are having to do more and more of their own photography and vice versa.
    You may want a back up career that's not so competitive - like movie star.
    Good Luck.
    That's all I have to say.
     
  30. Marvellous how when you come to a Leica forum everyone tells you not to buy a Leica. Leica R stuff is not so expensive s/h - it depends on what you buy. A Leicaflex SL and any version Summicron R would probably cost you a max of $500. It all depends on your budget. A ver 1 28mm and 90mm f2.8 or pre ASPH Summicron also will not cost so much either. Of course a Nikon or a Pentax will be cheaper, but then he is interested in the mythos of the brand - nothing wrong with that. Also it is by no means obvious that their equivalent 50mm lenses will be "the same" as a Leica at all. Similar yes, but not the same.
     
  31. "but then he is interested in the mythos of the brand - nothing wrong with that."
    I would disagree, especially for a student. It's just not practical to invest in something just because you like the idea of it.
     
  32. After reading all of the posts here it is difficult see where, in sum, any useful information has been provided to the fellow who posted the inquiry.
    Lots of opinions, a similar quantity of bias, and no insight for the fellow who was seeking advice.
     
  33. There is a good reason why even in these hallowed halls of the Leica forum people are advising against the Leica for Elliot, it's because it's good sound advice both practicaly and financialy.
    Anyone has who suggests a 50mm lens for photojournalism has never been one and has no understanding of the job, I would say that about 75% of photojournalism could be covered with a 35mm or 28mm lens but not a 50mm. I think all the hot air about the specialness of Leica glass counts for nought if your $1000 Summicron just won't get the job done, either you can't get far enough back or close enough in. Surely it makes more sense to buy two bodies 3 or 4 lenses for the price of a Leica any way you slice it. Elliot do yourself a favor don't buy in to the myth. The camera and the lens are just part of the equation not the solution.
     
  34. Obviously the Leica M camera will not meet your needs forever. Photojournalism is now shot with digital camera's. But any digital camera you purchase now will be of no use later as the technology changes quite rapidly. You love film and your a student. Just get the camera you want to own. I would buy the Leica M because for one thing it will hold it's value and they are reliable, beautiful and the glass is awesome. So then what to buy. Well you could buy a M6, M6ttl, M7 or MP. If you cannot afford one of those models then look to the Zeiss Ikon which has a M mount body. The Bessa apparently is not getting rave reviews for reliability. That's about it. Of course if you cannot afford all that then you might consider a F100 and a couple prime lenses for about $500.00 total. The F100 is one of the very best deals in film photography these days.
     
  35. Both systems are excellent. Have you used a rangefinder body? If not, be aware that it is quite different. It took me a few years to get used to them, and I missed plenty of good pictures because I didn't have it down yet. So a reflex might be a good idea. And, as mentioned above, they cost less. For another camera I would suggest one of the less expensive Nikons, such as an FM2 or 3. The older Nikon lenses aren't great though, but they have improved in recent years. Personally I have 2 Leicas, but recently have preferred the FM3 with Zeiss lenses.
     
  36. Whatever you get, I would recommend that you get a system where you can use your lenses on bot film and digital bodies. You can do this with Leica M, Nikon, Pentax, and some others. Canon I'm not so sure, as they have changed the mount many times. The great thing about Leica M and Nikon is that you can use all the old film lenses on digital cameras.
    If I were starting out, I'd get a Nikon FM3a and a 50/1.8 or a 45/2.8P lens. But then, the seduction of a Leica M is hard to resist. Many have fallen to the charms.
     
  37. there are cheaper ways of getting into both rangefinder and slr. you are into leica for the lenses. get a bessa r based body, the later models that take m lenses. then buy your sumicron f/2. now spend next to nothing on picking up a working old slr from the likes of olumpus, minolta or pentax. the prices are lower but you get fantastic old optics. so it should suit your budget.
     
  38. Elliot, if you are required to bring a film camera, I bet they also specified a manual film camera. I expect most all your fellow students will show up with a student camera. Most will be Nikon or Cannon, perhaps someone will choose a Pentax and someone else an old Olympus, perhaps even a Minolta or a Konica will show up. The one thing they will have in common is they will be SLRs. Don't get me wrong I love rangefinders, to my eye they generally out perform the SLRs at anything wider than 50mm, but they are a specialized instrument. As others mentioned for tele or macro they don't cut it, nor are they as filter friendly as SLRs. Check out the work around polarizers sometime. As a student you certainly don't need to spend Leica money when you can do very very well for about 90% less and have a camera that can do more. I would cheap out for now and keep my money for what surely will come along that requires it. The Leica stuff is not going anywhere and goodness knows most of it is not getting worn out. You will have ample chance later in life to play with all the Leica gear your heart can desire. The real truth is your creativity, skill and composition is at least 90% of a photograph, the box and the glass you capture it with is maybe 10% and unless you show up with a disposable or cheap point and shoot zoom you are likely to earn the most of the the 10 points available to the box and glass. One last point is you will cry like a baby if something bad happens to your M rig. I sometimes choose a different box and glass just not to have to worry about my M gear. Hope this helps. I think you got a bunch of good advice from most everyone. Good luck, Bob
     
  39. Most schools require a basic slr with 50mm lens or at least one with full manual capabilites. Since you are going to school to learn something, you will do that by exhausting all the capabilities of the most basic equipment. Get an inexpensive SLR for school, get the Leica M for yourself.
     
  40. Elliot, if you are required to bring a film camera, I bet they also specified a manual film camera. I expect most all your fellow students will show up with a student camera. Most will be Nikon or Cannon, perhaps someone will choose a Pentax and someone else an old Olympus, perhaps even a Minolta or a Konica will show up. The one thing they will have in common is they will be SLRs. Don't get me wrong I love rangefinders, to my eye they generally out perform the SLRs at anything wider than 50mm, but they are a specialized instrument. As others mentioned for tele or macro they don't cut it, nor are they as filter friendly as SLRs. Check out the work around polarizers sometime. As a student you certainly don't need to spend Leica money when you can do very very well for about 90% less and have a camera that can do more. I would cheap out for now and keep my money for what surely will come along that requires it. The Leica stuff is not going anywhere and goodness knows most of it is not getting worn out. You will have ample chance later in life to play with all the Leica gear your heart can desire. The real truth is your creativity, skill and composition is at least 90% of a photograph, the box and the glass you capture it with is maybe 10% and unless you show up with a disposable or cheap point and shoot zoom you are likely to earn the most of the the 10 points available to the box and glass. One last point is you will cry like a baby if something bad happens to your M rig. I sometimes choose a different box and glass just not to have to worry about my M gear. Hope this helps. I think you got a bunch of good advice from most everyone. Good luck, Bob
     
  41. I think that college is a time to have fun and experiment rather than to place onesef in single-minded career mode. If the guy wants to use a Leica, why shouldn't he?
    He took the time to frame his question properly and to be quite clear about what he was asking. Why is it that a good number of people think that this is an invitation to spout off about anything and everything, most of it based on the premise that he doesn't know what he is talking about :)
    And why is it that evey time somebody asks about buying a Leica, there is a chorus of people, on this of all fora, telling him or her not to do it :)
    Elliot, there's a current thread entitled Rangefinder Daydreams that you may find useful in working through your decision.
    Also, in light of some of what has been said above, I'd like to suggest that you have a look at the posts of a photo.net member named Noah Addis. He is an accomplished photojournalist - and more - who has from time to time had refreshing things to say in the face of the wisdom about photojournalism imparted on this site by people who don't practise it. In particular, you will find a thread, during which a student was told to forget about film, etc, etc, to which Mr. Addis made some insightful contributions, including on the use by people who are learning of Leica cameras. He also has a web site well worth a visit at www.noahaddis.com
    Good luck.
     
  42. Leica M6 Classic w/35mm f2.0 (v. 4 if at all possible). A 35mm lens is for street work which is what you will end up shooting anyway. When you learn to print you will crop. You will not need to go for the f1.4. Remember B&W has 2 stop leeway and if the meter reads negative press the button; one stop is nothing with tri-X. Your second lens should be a portrait lens. I'd recommend the 75mm f2.5 Summarit. Try and find a demo. It is extremely sharp and is coded for the digital. The 90mm f2.8 tele-elmarit is softer (dreamer affect) and can be had for much less. The M6 can always be sold while the lenses will work with the M9. If you need a digital...remember whatever you will buy will be outdated before you graduate so don't spend much on it. Get the basic SLR. I am certain that you will need one of each.
     
  43. If the guy wants to use a Leica, why shouldn't he?​
    Because he said he's on a budget, and once you factor in the cost of parts and repairs of a budget-priced Leica that's been smoked, how much money will be left for things like film and books, both of which will do a lot more for his photography than an elite brand of gear?
    He took the time to frame his question properly and to be quite clear about what he was asking. Why is it that a good number of people think that this is an invitation to spout off about anything and everything, most of it based on the premise that he doesn't know what he is talking about :)
    Not so much a premise, but he did say "street and travel photography (Photojournalism)", when photojournalism is neither of those. Maybe he intended to say "street and travel photography, and photojournalism"? Until he clarifies that, I'm inclined to believe he doesn't understand the difference. I'm more than happy to stand corrected, if I am mistaken.
    Also, in light of some of what has been said above, I'd like to suggest that you have a look at the posts of a photo.net member named Noah Addis. He is an accomplished photojournalist -​
    Again - OP apparently said he was interested in street and travel, thinking those are photojournalism. They aren't, yet everyone, including you, jumped on the word "photojournalism" when it was used in error. This entire thread is a classic case of the blind leading the deaf.
     
  44. Go online to KEH, Camerawest, George Ury, or another vendor with a reputation for honesty and fair dealing. Call and ask if they have a "user" M2, M3, or M4-P that can be CLA'd into reliable condition without major repairs. (An M4 "original" or an M6 would probably be too expensive.) Then get the camera CLA'd by Sherry Krauter, Don A. Goldberg, or one of the other Leica experts. Put on a post-1960 Summicron 50mm with a hood. Get a light meter. You're done. Have fun.
     
  45. This all comes down to what you want and what you need. If you really want a Leica and have the $$ by all means get one. Love to have one myself. You don't need a Leica for your purpose though. Any of the SLR's listed above will do a fine job for far less money.
     
  46. Elliot, if you don't have the money for it, save the Leica for later. Get a cheap good quality SLR.
    I had a Yashica FX-3 with a 50mm f/1.7 and it was amazing. I took some of the best shots with that rig. Even after I got a Nikon FM2 and a Leica M2, I still haven't taken a shot as good as the ones I used to take with my FX-3.
    Frankly, I would get a cheap alternative SLR for school. If you're doing photography, any good program will have you use SLR's and medium format cameras. So you need the money for both those cameras. Save up for your Leica.
    If you have the cash to spend, then by all means go for it. But you need to know it won't make you a better photographer. The better option is to save up, and go for something more student based because you'll have more money for supplies, AND BEER.
    A good student camera should be basic, cheap, and well-built. The Yashica FX-3 is a GREAT choice. So is the Pentax Spotmatic/K-1000. Nikon is also a great choice because they have the same mount on their film and digital cameras. I have two AI lenses that were made for film that I can use on my dSLR. Its not the most practical combo, but it works, and it helps out a lot when I'm shooting in a studio environment.
    As for your question: I have a Leica R6 and an M2. I prefer the M2 because the R6 is HUGE and heavy. The R4 is slightly smaller. Than being said though, they're extremely well built, and pretty quiet compared to other cameras. Its fantastic non the less.
    The M2 is a stripped down version of the M3. It has fewer frame lines and a non-rewinding film counter. Both cameras don't have a light meter, which is a MUST for a student at first. You can always buy an external meter so its not a major issue. The M6 has a built-in meter and has great quality build. Really choose between those three models. Try to avoid the M4/5 because one is expensive, and the other doesn't have the same build quality.
    Best of luck and let us know what you decide on.
     
  47. i worked in a college photo lab for a few years, and in all that time, only one student i met used a rangefinder for the assignments, and he'd been taking photo before he started at my school. due to the nature of some photographic assignments, i'd definitely recommend an slr. leica makes great cameras, and there is something about the images that captured through those lenses. however, since you have said nothing about prior experience in photography, i don't know where you might stand as far as technique is concerned, and i believe that it takes experience, and concrete technique to really get an appreciable difference out of gear like that.
    as for recommendations on cheaper slr's, nikon, minolta, pentax, canon (and many less-known brands) make great offerings. i picked up a canon ft-b from a pawn shop for $15 with a 50mm f/1.4 lens, which is possibly the nicest lens i've ever owned, and they sell for very cheap, even on a site like keh.com. i personally favor the minolta x-series slr kit. they take modern batteries, where many of the older kits take banned mercury cell batteries, for which there is no real great alternative on the market, to my knowledge. the bodies, and lenses are cheap & plentiful, and the quality is more than sufficient for just about anyone.
    my personal experience in college photo began with a 35mm canon w/a 50mm lens, which i used until i could frame shots without even needing to look into the viewfinder. i then moved on to medium format, and later large format, all of which i still use. i would encourage anyone to try out as many setups as they can afford.
    the single most useful tool for me was a good tripod. for me, it really paid to take the time to get used to lugging one of these around, and setting it up. a tripod will help you get much sharper photos in many situations, and it also opens up many creative possibilities that are impossible, or difficult to achieve without one.
    you can drop a wad of cash on a single camera, and lens, but leicas will be around for longer than you, or me, and they can be had at any time. unless you're loaded, and/or decently experienced already, i'd recommend getting a cheaper slr, a few lenses, and a decent tripod... not all at once. start with 1 lens, and you will know when it's time to add to your collection.
    you're in for some great times, and i wish you the best in your education experience.
     
  48. I used an M6 and R5 during a month in the Czech Repulic recently: each showed its strengths and weaknesses. For close work and telephoto, where where I needed to manage the d-o-f closely, the SLR won 'hands down'. When pre-focussing / hyperfocal focussing and uncomplicated metering was possible, it was the M6. As a carry-around camera, with just one lens, the M6+35/2 could (and does) satisfy my needs most of the time. Conversely, having AE on the SLR was also a great benefit at times. Such trade-offs are largely unquantifiable.
    On balance, I feel that the sheer flexibility - aside from cost - offered by a SLR makes it the best system overall, especially for slides (use of polarizers, for example). And sometimes I just need a zoom lens, regardless of any image quality compromises that may ensue. Hence, my M cameras are mostly dedicated to B+W, where cropping and subsequent processing is easier than with slides.
    I would almost say that any SLR system could do the same job as a Leica SLR, except for the quality of Leica lenses. In Czech I mostly used a 35/2,8 Elmarit, with a 50/2 & 90/2 Summicron as second choices. These are excellent lenses, both in imaging and handling terms and there were many instances where I just couldn't be bothered to use the slightly more fiddly M6.
    On a previous trip to Slovenia my M6 was unused for 4 weeks! However, my Nikon F5 (and FE2) were in constant use, not least because of the F5's brilliant spot and matrix metering and autobracketing. These features, and the ease of use with zooms and telephoto lenses, are a real boon in many very tricky conditions - but the F5 is big and very heavy. Clearly, for compactness it's difficult to beat an M plus a couple of lenses. For example, my M6 + 21mm Skopar M is much smaller than an R5 + 21mm Super Angulon. .....
    " Horses for courses".
     
  49. Hi Elliot,
    I have just come from the Leica M experience. Here are some tips that may help your decision.
    As everyone says, the M is a great camera. I had an M4. The one thing that did get to me was carrying a light meter (you would want the M6 or M7 for metering)....I like having the meter on camera, I felt like it gave me more control to exactly where I was metering from, especially from a distance. But there is no doubt that the M lenses are amazing.
    If you do decide on the M route, you may want to look at the Zeiss Ikon, Voigtlander, Minolta CLE or Konica Hexar. Apparently the view finder is very bright on the Zeiss and it will take all M lenses - remember the body is just a box for the lenses. The lensese are what matters.
    When you go the SLR route, you definitely have more options. In school you will probably be doing some flash work, and SLR are very handy when it comes to flash, as well as shooting wide to telephoto.
    If you decide on the SLR route, check out the Olympus OM line. I just sold my Leica M4 and two old lenses for $1500, and bought a Olympus OM-2 with a 50 f1.8 and a 28 f3.5 for a total of $150! They are as sharp and as amazing as Leica! I am completely impressed with the Olympus. It's small (like Leica), lightweight, and easy to handle. With the sharpness of a Leica ( Zuiko lenses) and handiness of an SLR. The don't have the Leica 'look' that I had with the 50mm summicron - but I found the 35mm summiron was ok, but not the same as the 50mm.
    Remember, the M is a great line, but it does have some restrictions. And being in a photo program will need to have a camera with some diversity - flash, wide, tele......
    Good luck
    Matt
     
  50. Get a Leica M rangefinder with 35mm lens.
    Plenty of folks would just shrug and say that Canon, Konica, Zenit, etc can be just as good, well except they aren't (*). There is no point whatsoever in taking an obsoleted film SLR, as you will have probably to use a DSLR as part of curriculum anyway. Get the advantage of experience using the best direct viewfinder camera out there instead.
    * Dear Spotkorrflex enthusiasts, sorry for offending you with the notion that Leica RFs are the best, here at Leica and Rangefinder forum. Flame on.
     
  51. While I understand the desire for such nice equipment myself, ( i bought my Leica m6 at 18 in cash ) they are not very versatile tools as an SLR can be. I use my m6 as a personal tool, not on assignments or for very specific personal projects. Macro is complicated, long lenses are complicated, motor drives... yea right. Lens' are expensive, even used lens or lens from zeiss or CV are comparatively expensive.
    So an SLR would make more sense. A leica SLR, while they are fine tools, they are largely overpriced considering the feature set they offer, and the lenses, while very high quality, are also very expensive. I would suggest a Nikon FM or FM2 or FE or FE2 if you want a manual focus camera that will last forever. A nikon F100 if you want a modern, do it all, autofocus camera. Lenses in the Nikon system are all interchangeable, manual focus lenses on autofocus bodies, autofocus lenses on manual bodies (as long as you stay away from DX, digital only, and G, no aperture ring, lenses). Nikon has produced over 50 millions lenses, the used market is gigantic, probably one of the biggest in the camera world. Things are cheap and just plain old work.
    Once you get more advanced, develop a style, a technique, a preference of subjects, ect, then i would suggest a luxury tool such as a Leica M.
    For very little money, you could get a Nikon FM, a 24mm f2.8, a 50mm f1.8 and a 85mm f1.8 or 105mm f2.8. The whole for half what a Leica M body would cost. And it's a kit that would not be inferior in anyway. Photography is not about the gear but about the images. No one ever got a pulizter prize because a photo was shot with a Canon, an Olympus or a Leica. Consider the economics of it, and even the ability to use existing Nikon lens' on digital cameras if you so choose.
     
  52. hi elliot
    i'm studying photography at the moment and i can only agree with everybody else. An SLR is a must, even if you can rent all the gear. I'd recommend a DSLR though.
    since you are to bring a 35mm camera for film i'd go with the m6. why? its just more fun than an SLR and since most of your assignments are going to be done digitally (and some 4x5 like at my university) you don't need an additional SLR. (you can still buy an SLR body the same brand than your DSLR)
    i use a D700 for most of my work and the M6 with the 50mm f2 and 90mm f2.8 for fun, however the M6 was less expensive for me as i got it from a good friend of mine.I don't know how its at your university but we also have leica M gear, so i've been shooting a lot with the m8 recently and i'm currently saving money for the M9 though and i'm probably have to sell my d700. yes the M cameras are fascinating ;)
    in short: it really depends on your budget, use the money for a dslr and good lenses first, the rest of the money can be spent in a film body of the same brand or a leica M if there is enough money left.
     
  53. A lot has been said here about good alternatives to Leica cameras, but the fact remains that if you want Leica lens IQ in 35mm format, then you need the Leica SLR or M body. You have to judge if this choice is Ok at your course - ask your teachers.
    Some lenses now rivalise Leica in 35mm, with the range of Zeiss lenses in M mount, and for Nikon mount etc. Older Nikon/Canon/Olympus etc lenses were never as good. I switched from Nikon and Canon SLR's to a Leica R5 many years ago, and could not believe the improvement in IQ with the Leica R lenses. Also, it wasn't just the lenses, the R5 handled beautifully and had far superior metering systems (average, matrix, spot). It's a new ballpark now, and all the manufacturers have improved their offerings - just be aware that Leica has also improved dramatically, along with matching price increases! A new Nikon F100 with latest lens may be closer in quality today to my old R5 and matching older lenses; and prices would be similar too.
    The Leica M is a dream, do you really need/want it for school? I could never use one with anything longer than a 90 lens, even that was slow and difficult. I defy anyone to visualise telephoto shots effectively with a RF viewfinder; but it is ideal for 50 and below, when your viewfinder image seems instantaneous and larger than life - and why the M became a legend.
     
  54. Elliot,
    As a retired photojournalist, my advice in this stage of your career is to save your money and go with a more versatile SLR, film manual (e.g. Canon F-1N) or digital. You can always get into Leica later on.
    Photojournalism has changed dramatically in just the last 10 years and lightyears since I was shooting with my M2s in Vietnam in the 60s and early 70s, and even then a trusty Nikon F was at hand for long shots.
    Today it's all digital. There is absolutely no way you can survive as a working photojournalist unless you are shooting digital.
    A Leica M will be great for street photography and candids where you can afford to use film as there are no deadlines to meet. (I routinely use my Ms for that and for family pictures now that I'm retired.)
    Good luck!
     
  55. Bill Dewberry , Nov 06, 2009; 12:52 p.m.
    Well, like a lot of people, I have owned all of them; contax , nikon, canon, and Leica R. To me, there is something different about a Leica image, you either see it or you don't. I suggest a leica R 8 body and a 60 2.8 lens; go shoot for a while, and see if you see it also. If not, you gave it a go and can sell and get back 50 % of what you paid, and you will have it out of your system. Like the girl in high school you never asked out, but wish you had, what might have been ?​
    I was a long time owner of Leica R, and it does remind me very much of a girl in school I never asked out. Heavy, old-fashioned, and frequently ill.
    If I would be needing to buy a film camera for this class, I would buy only secondhand Leica M. After the class is finished you will 99.9% never use film again, and it will be easier to sell the M and return what you paid.
     
  56. Please would everybody read the OP! The OP is "majoring" in photography.Therefor one assumes there is some experience there..The choice.. It really is easy. Sure! The reflex is (a) discontinued and many models were not the stuff of reliability. For a fraction of cost buy a used Nikon F,F2 some primes or a Canon slr or best yet a Pentax. The Canon probably(FD series) focuses ans works exactly like a Leica. It will cost the same as a polarizer for a Leica-M! The Leica-M RFDR is what is really wanted. Maybe it's not jack of all trades, but it is unique. It will last forever, renting a silly option. Better to buy. If not liked and sold, cost should be less than a month or two rental. Rangefinders esp Leica are really different. You need the mindset. Once in the"Zone" one will fly! Do you need a system? No! One or two lenses and work with that. Stop thinking everybody needs a degree or something to use a Leica M. A few hours with playing, read the tiny instruction pamphlet and go,Go, GO! Enjoy!Tell us your decision. Share your experiences..May they be good, the light great, the moments special. Good shooting and need i say it, "Welcome".
     
  57. If I would be needing to buy a film camera for this class, I would buy only secondhand Leica M. After the class is finished you will 99.9% never use film again, and it will be easier to sell the M and return what you paid.​
    Possibly, but the R will not require a great investment in the first place. "Camera as girlfriend" -hmmm let me think about that...
     
  58. Robin Smith is half right. You can buy an R5 for example for £200 and it will still be worth that. Much less outlay than an M - and the lens range is exceptional.
     
  59. Elliot, here's a demonstration of what almost everyone here has been saying:
    http://www.flickr.com/groups/olympus-om/pool/21184907@N00/
    I don't know the photographer and have no connection to her, but I admire her work very much, and her style is probably close to what you're aiming for (street/candid/photojournalist type work).
    Every single one of those photos was shot with an Olympus OM-10 and 50mm f1.8. To put that in perspective, I just sold an OM-10 and 50/1.8 in pristine working condition for $30 on eBay. That's the cost of 7 rolls of Tri-X. Would her photos be better if shot on an M6 and 50/2 'Cron? Maybe. Is her work good now? Definitely.
    Before you spend hundreds or thousands on a rig, you need to learn the basics, and that means burning a lot of film. So go out and buy a basic, mechanical SLR, and use the rest of that money on film and developer (and beer as someone mentioned above). Take your camera everywhere, take photos even when people give you hell for it, and have fun!
    "No photographer is as good as the simplest camera." - Edward Steichen
    00UzX6-189919584.jpg
     
  60. get M6 or MP with summicron, it will last with you very long time.
    00V5A3-193701684.JPG
     

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