Leica's Weird Bottom Loading

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by andrew|1, May 30, 2002.

  1. I keep seeing negative remarks about Leica's weird bottom
    loading design. What's going on here? I have used Leica M
    cameras for only about 5 years now- I own an M3 and an M6-
    and I have no problems with this quirk. Frankly, I really like this
    way of doing things- I find the M6 actually easier to load than
    some swing back designs. Ok, so it's a slow process with the
    M3 with it's removable spool- but done with just a little care, I
    have never had a misload. I don't pull out tons of leader- I get 38
    frames on most rolls. I do check the tension, and watch the
    rewind crank move to make sure it's properly advancing, but I
    find it's a good idea to do this with all manual loading cameras.
    It's the same routine I go through with my Nikon FM2 and FE2.

    <p>

    I have read that Leica keeps this system partly because they are
    afraid to mess with the design of the M body (a good choice, in
    my opinion), but also because it means the body can be more
    rigid and impact resistant.

    <p>

    So how do you folks feel about this? Does everyone hate this
    loading system, or are there others out there who like or even
    love this way of doing things? Why?
     
  2. If Leica's m system of filmloading is such a blessing why does no
    other manufacturer use it? Why is even the Leica's R system not using
    it? The R8 even has a plastic back, talking of impact resistance.

    <p>

    To me, it is an outdated method with no advantages at all!

    <p>

    Frank
     
  3. Apart from getting strange looks from people when I load my camera, I
    dont have any problems with this! Its a very wise decision that
    Leica have stuck with this method as it gives the M its distinctive
    seamless look and of course like you mention, the solid rigid feel.
     
  4. Drew

    <p>

    Point one: even if you are accustomed to this system it is a real
    pain in the ass if you have to load fast.

    <p>

    Point two: (much more important IMHO) the separate bottom plate is a
    real liability when you take pictures into the action (which after
    all is one of the points which seems to be one of the real advantage
    of the SFRF cameras). Have you ever been taking pictures of a
    demonstration when the police charges ?...

    <p>

    Point Three (pending confirmation) it seems with the M7 this loading
    procedure may preclude a correct reading of some DX code without
    paying a special (and undue) attention to the film container
    position.

    <p>

    As for the rigidity and impact resistance of a camera, I owned a
    Nikon F2 and I had once to use it to defend myself (Nikon wone by KO
    and was still fully operational and even not dented). Nikon F2's
    have a standard interchangeable backdoor so the argument is void.

    <p>

    The truth is probaly Leica doesn't want to alter a body which has in
    fact remained almost unchanged since the M4. It is soooo profitable
    to use amortized tools without decreasing the price! ...

    <p>

    A last shortcoming of this system is it precludes any
    interchangeable back be it a not so useful data one or an eventual
    conversion to digital.

    <p>

    Finally I owned FM and FE 2 and I ever considered them much faster
    and easier to load than the Leica M's I had.

    <p>

    Friendly

    <p>

    François
     
  5. i really like it. it is part of the classic design. i get 38,
    sometimes even 39 pictures of a roll of film. if the police charges
    up, i rather run than load another film. todays digital slrs allow
    hundreds of pics without changing anything. i don't need that.
     
  6. The M6 is a vintage camera with a light meter. The bottom loading is
    part of its character, its charm, something I have grown to enjoy.
    As a practical matter the decision to leave the house with the M6 or
    the Eos 3 does not hinge on how I like to load film that day. By the
    way I even like loading the IIIf; its gives me a sense of
    accomplishment for the day.
     
  7. ....It is soooo profitable to use amortized tools without decreasing
    the price! ...

    <p>

    The INITIAL cost of tooling is of course covered. The MAINTENANCE of
    that tooling, is an ongoing expense. Industrial automation experience
    tells me that low volume, high precision manufacturing, the cost of
    maintenance is about 25 to 35 percent of the initial tooling costs,
    paid annually. Holding precision in tooling is really a never ending
    battle.....
     
  8. I kind of like the way the Leica M is loaded. I haven't has a single misload in 12 years of Leica M use. Just do it as it is printed in the manual. Works fine for me.

    <p>

    I'd hate to see Leica come up with a 'solution' for something that isn't a problem for lots of users. If you want to load film like an SLR go buy an SLR.
     
  9. <<< Point Three (pending confirmation) it seems with the M7 this
    loading procedure may preclude a correct reading of some DX code
    without paying a special (and undue) attention to the film container
    position. >>

    <p>

    Loading an M7 doesn't require any sort of different methodology than
    any other M camera. The film cannister only goes in one way, and the
    spring-loaded contacts read the DX spots. It can be a bit harder to
    extract the film in an M7 than earlier cameras, as the spring-loaded
    contacts tend to grip the cannister a bit. But this is just
    something that one learns to deal with.

    <p>

    Personally, I find the M cameras not much more difficult to load than
    most swing-back cameras that require threading of the film leader
    into those damn little slots on the take-up spool. The autoload
    cameras like the Hexar RF are a bit easier thought, as they
    absolutely won't allow a misload.

    <p>

    Skip
     
  10. With 30 years of use I never had a problem loading, and then on the
    internet I discovered it was a problem. Isn't the internet wonderful?
    People hate things which are different, and they love to complain--
    that's got to be the one thing that separates us from animals, since
    it's the one thing that keeps us fighting wars all the time. I'll bet
    you that if all cameras loaded from the bottom and only Leica loaded
    from the back, everyone would still complain about it.
     
  11. " Does everyone hate this loading system, or are there others out
    there who like or even love this way of doing things? Why? "<p>

    I like this bottom loading system, it is the Leica Way, and
    the Minox Way
     
  12. I'm happy with the film loading procedure and so far haven't been
    unfortunate enough to misload a film. However the Leica way means
    that you cannot add and remove winders at will, in the same vein that
    you can with SLR's etc..
     
  13. Gentlemen,

    <p>

    I was not talking about misloadings but DARN SLOW LOADING and the
    fact the M is the one and only contemporary 35mm camera to have
    something which must be entirely separated from the body...

    <p>

    Specially for Mr. Bert Keuken, he seems to be the archetype of the
    Leica fundamentalist: "it's the Leica way so it must be the best"...

    <p>

    For his information, there was and there is today many a rangefinder
    camera which had or has a classical backdoor... So this doesn't and
    didn't pertain to SLR's only...

    <p>

    Even Mr. Erwin Puts (hardly an "anti-Leica" biased gentleman) admits
    the Hexar and even the Bessa way of loading are superior to the M
    way...

    <p>

    To Charles: If Leica at least decided to go forward again and
    produce a really revised camera on modern robotized lines, it won't
    be very difficult for them to change things again and again through
    some modifications of data in a computer and a few other tool heads.
    By the way, I don't consider a casting process and some stamping
    work for the coverplates to be jobs of any high precision... I guess
    they are manually cleaned and retouched like they were 50 years
    ago... So maintainance of the dispositive (knowing the few units
    produced each year) doesn't probably reach the % you indicate...

    <p>

    Friendly.

    <p>

    François P. WEILL
     
  14. So why would the M series preclude a digital back? Serious question.
    I own a brace of old M3's and honestly do not know how the removable
    hinged pressure plate back differs from subsequent model to
    subsequent model, surely the base for any digital.

    <p>

    Other than that, over 20 years never stuffed up loading or really
    resented it. Ruined an important roll for the first time 3 months ago
    in a train, excuse; lots of noise, Meniere's disease etc., by
    operating the rewind backwards, but I could have done that with many
    cameras could I not??
     
  15. I've had a few misloads, but then I see people using the standard
    swingback cameras also have them. Not a major problem, I think,
    percentage wise.

    <p>

    It is quirky and wierd, sure enough, but it doen't seem to work in
    practice any worse than other systems.
     
  16. the bottom loading is really cumbersome, i wouldn't say i "like" it
    now--it's just that i got used to it. and i wouldn't exactly agree
    that it's the "rangefinder way" of loading film (if this is the case,
    then why is the hexar and bess have a swing-back design?).
     
  17. APS is also a bottom loading system.
    Leica bottom loading some time may cause misload.
    Minox bottom loading is more convenient then even APS; with Minox,
    loading consist of pull open the camera bottom back, drop in cassette
    done in 2 secs, and when it is done, there is no need to rewind the
    film. (110 cassette has this advantage, but all are back loading )

    <p> APS cassette drop in can be done in 2 sec, but followed by a long
    delay of film positioning before picture can be taken.
    <p> The most tedious film loading system I used was a 4x6" camera
    I had to load sheet film in darkroom, one sheet per steel film back,
    going out with bag full of heavy film backs; to take picture, load
    one film back, pull out steel blind, take picture, put back steel
    blind, unload film back, just for one shot...
     
  18. When I was using Leicas and Olympi side by side I had misloads with
    the Olys, but never with the Leicas. . . . Until (instead of blaming
    the camera) I figured out what *I* was doing wrong, and corrected it.
    It's a poor workman who blames his tools.
     
  19. François and others, don't tell me you like having to try and thread the end of the film leader onto
    the receiving spool in any non-automatic 35 mm camera, while trying not to damage the shutter,
    make sure the perforations align with the teeth of the wheel, holding everything in place and
    taught while cranking a couple of times, etc... etc... Come on! Sorry, people, I LOVE the M
    bottom loading. In terms of ease, it's second only to all-automatic electronic loading where you
    just pull the leader to the red mark and shut the back plate. I've had one misload so far, when I
    didn't properly put the bottom plate over the edge of the back plate, shut the thing and went
    away shooting, only to have the bottom plate drop to the ground just before getting back in my
    car. But that was stupid me, not the camera. Yes, you can shoot a M with the bottom plate not
    properly put back in place. I learned it the hard way. But then again, how many times have I had
    to reload my F3 (greast camera as it is) or FM2 because the film leader just pulled out of the
    receiving spool. The M has a few irritating quirks, maybe, but bottom loading isn't one of them.
     
  20. Mike I believe the rule you are quoting is "90% operator 10%
    machine".:) Personaly I've got an have both back loading flexes and
    bottom loading rf's m3, IIIc's. I've misloaded each at least once. I
    tried to learn from my mistakes and have figured out what to watch
    for. I guess I just accept it as another old German machinist's
    rule " Ve haf been doing it like dis for years vhy do you vant to
    change it now?"
     
  21. The M load is accurate and reliable, but definitely not fast and this
    is a disadvantage. I also feel that as the whole camera cannot be
    opened, dust and crud is more likely to accumulate in it than in a
    conventional backed camera. But I do usually get 38 frames from the
    camera, which is nice. Still my heart does rather sink when I am at
    frame 33 and I know that some fast stuff is coming up. I would be
    happy if Leica were to update this feature.
     
  22. Stupid bottom loading, manual focus, antiquated AE in the brand new body, slow top shutter speeds, slow flash synch, stupid designations for lenses of differing apertures, huge expense even for used gear, low-power flash, slow motor drive, battery pig, only one simple metering pattern. The list goes on and on... Why do we even bother with this out-moded, difficult to use camera when the top-end autoeverything Nikon or Canon can be had with a bevy of lenses for significantly less money???
    I really don't know...
    ;-),
     
  23. Neither do I Jack ;-) Sorry, I just don't get these postings. So
    what if Leica isn't like every other camera in the world. Wouldn't
    it be a nice place to live in if their was only one car, one camera,
    one watch, etc? Boy I sure wouldn't want to live there. If you
    love your FE, FM, Hexar so much, then buy them.
     
  24. What Jack means is: DON'T TOUCH THE HOLY LEICA, DON'T HAVE COMMENTS
    ON THE HOLY LEICA.
     
  25. Olivier,

    <p>

    I never had any problem keeping my fingers off the shutter of a
    classical backdoor camera but this may be is a question of practice,
    like to drop the film into an M camera (though it is - at least for
    me - a much slower process). Bsides when you open the hinged door of
    a M, the shutter curtain is as expose as with a backdoor: the film
    is hardly a protection for an eventual "finger intrusion".

    <p>

    By far the main shortcoming of the Leica M in this respect is the
    fully detachable bottom plate. Even if the drop in procedure was
    kept, there should have been a way to hinge this plate to the camera.

    <p>

    James,

    <p>

    The hinged door can be unassembled if needed for replacement but it
    has nothing in common with an interchangeable back...

    <p>

    Just imagine you can withraw the silver based film back (as you can
    do with many cmeras to replace it by a data back) and replace it
    with a digital sensor, while using the empty cannister emplacement
    for information stocking and additional battery... Both silver film
    or digital as required... Somenthing far easier with a fully
    detachable hinged back.

    <p>

    If the drop in procedure (which might be logical with a self
    contained film reception device) was so good with 135 films, why
    Leica is the only manufacturer to retain this way to load a 35 mm
    camera ?

    <p>

    François P. WEILL
     
  26. Francois, you're final question has been asked by me a couple of
    times today. So far, no answers however!
     
  27. As a fairly recent Leica convert, I have to say that I still despise
    the film loading. And with the M7, it's even more difficult because
    the canister doesn't slide out easily (it was easier on my M6TTL) --
    unless you have really tiny fingers, it can take a lot of work and
    patience to get the canister out. It's easier to leave the leader
    slightly out when rewinding and use the leader to pull the canister
    down, but then you run the risk of poking the shutter curtain.
     
  28. Baloney Jack,

    <p>

    Kathy, in that pose, would look good taken with any camera. Except I
    could't have got that shot. Would have been shaking too much!!!!

    <p>

    To answer the original question, I hated the loading enough to get
    rid of the M6. I'm more interested in the pictures I get than the
    process of fiddling with the camera. Leica M's are fun to fiddle
    with, there's a lot of adjustments you can make, but when the
    pressure was on and the opportunity of lot's of fast and furious
    shooting presented itsself, I screwed up the film loading enough to
    warrant firing the camera body.

    <p>

    I really like the DX recognition, the film identification window, the
    autoloading and error code notification, the hinge back, of the Hexar
    RF. When I misload with it, I immediately know it. Not after all
    the guests have gone home.
     
  29. Weird bottom loading is just part of its charms :) So far I don't
    have any problems with this loading mechanism.
     
  30. Part of the charm of leicas M and S system are its
    idiosyncrasities.Like the bottom load. Yep I don't really like it
    either, and it is a pain when reloading in the field, but for me,
    using a classic camera is like driving a classic car (no I don't
    drive a classic car) - you do it because there is something about it
    you love. A classic 1950's Jaguar say(or 'vette ir whatever)can not
    compare to this year's Honda in terms of efficency or features. I
    would not choose a classic car to commute to work, I would choose
    the Honda, but for fun, I would choose the classic. Thats how I work
    with my camera's. If I am going out to shoot lots of rolls of film I
    will take my Nikon gear. If I am going out for a slow day of
    careful photography I will choose the Leica. For me the leica system
    and its loading is old fashioned, but who cares, it is part of the
    experience.
     
  31. lux

    lux

    How slow can you get loading a M3, seriously? There is nothing to
    shoot while you are loading.
     
  32. What Jack means is: DON'T TOUCH THE HOLY LEICA, DON'T HAVE COMMENTS ON THE HOLY LEICA.
    NOT! Anybody that is a regular reader on this forum knows that I do not sing this particular mantra -- in fact, I often do the opposite! I also generally overlook individual idiosyncrasies in favor of the final result...
    ...but for me, using a classic camera is like driving a classic car (no I don't drive a classic car) - you do it because there is something about it you love.
    BINGO! And if it is something you love, you will make excuses to use it often. And if you use it often, you will get comfortable with it. And if you are comfortable with it, it becomes an extension of you. And if it becomes an extension of you, it will not get in the way of your art but rather become a conduit through which your art is realized. Cheers,
     
  33. You've stated it the best I've ever seen Jack.
     
  34. Here are my observations after using M6ttl for five months:
    1. The loading system is at least as good as Nikon FM2, F3, and other
    manual load cameras with swinging back doors.
    2. The detachable bottom is a pain; even worse with the grip. I
    suspect the motor M is not any easier to stash away.
    3. The camera can be loaded as quickly as the above Nikon examples
    provided the photographer is concentrated on the task. I have fewer
    misloads with Leica than with the above manual cameras as well as F5,
    and whith some autoloading point and shoot.
    4. #3 is only true of photographer friendly conditions. I have never
    shot protesters, battles, etc so I cannot imagine reloading the camera
    while being stomped on or beaten by cops. It must be a rather
    difficult.
    5. When shooting weddings I on a couple of occasions found myself in
    front of the altar during the processional with only few frames in my
    EOS 3. Not a problem; it takes about 15 seconds or so to reload.
    Leica M6 in the same circumstances? I would be so nervous that I
    would probably screw up loading, and miss the event.
    6. Once loaded Leica is very fast to handle, focusing is definitely
    faster than any manual focus SLR, and the vewfinder is bright and
    contrasty, better than any SLR with a 2.8 zoom. Advancing film is
    fast (or slow) as any other manual advance camera.
    7. The alleged marketing reason to keep bottom loading is the added
    body rigidity. I would believe it if I did not have EOS 3 (two of
    them). When EOS 3 came out about four years ago it took a ton of
    flack for being so plastic. Well, plastic it is, but the back door
    seats on the body like a rock. There is no flexing, wobbling, play;
    it feels like it is welded to the body. So far for the superiority of
    metal myth.
    8. To sum it up: loading a Leica M is burdened by the need to stash
    the bottom plate ( or winder),and a flimsy rewind crank that likes to
    jump out my fingers. It can and will slow down the photographer. I
    would rather prefer the bottom to be attached to the body; maybe hinge
    it on the swinging door and or somewhere. But I am willing to put up
    with it because I like everything else about the camera, and its
    lenses, and do not use it for fast paced action. So I can live with
    that, at least for now.
     
  35. I never understood this complaint either. Loading my M6 is neither
    slower nor more difficult than loading my FM2 or S2, in fact I think
    it's easier - no slot in the take up spool, no sprocket teeth to
    align, no advancing with the camera open.

    <p>

    As far as that other argument goes, let's try this one: If having the
    lens alignment dot on the side of the lens is better than having it on
    the back of the lens (where you can't see it), then why don't ALL 35mm
    cameras have this? Answer - damned if I know! It IS better!

    <p>

    Joe
     
  36. I have only two bits to add to this.
    1. It would be nice if the bottom plate were hinged. The hinge could be a third lug for camera strap attachment, ala the M5. But I've learned to compensate by always hold the bottom plate between my middle and ring fingers while loading.
    2. Loading is not all that slow. See this earlier 1. It would be nice if the bottom plate were hinged. The hinge could be a third lug for camera strap attachment, ala the M5. But I've learned to compensate by always hold the bottom plate between my middle and ring fingers while loading.
    2. Loading is not all that slow. See this earlier
    posting
    http://greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=005Ofh
     
  37. What an awful mess! Sorry, folks :-(

    <p>

    http://greenspun.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg.tcl?msg_id=005Ofh
     
  38. What do I think about the question? More senseless verbiage
    about something that works, works well, and doesn't really make
    a darn bit of difference.

    <p>

    I've always liked the Leica M4 and later film loading mechanism.
    I find it faster and more secure than the now more traditional flip
    open back, and I suspect it might hold the film flatter although
    that would be very difficult to prove one way or the other.

    <p>

    All in all, it doesn't make any difference.

    <p>

    Godfrey
     
  39. It has not been a problem. Then, after 42 y and the III series, you
    adapt.

    <p>

    Still, I wouldn't want to do it on a hang glider. ;<)

    <p>

    Art
     
  40. I've never had a problem with the bottom loading, either in terms of speed or misloads. Perhaps some people don't like the bottom loading because they are doing it wrong. I remember someone posting here once that he used a paperclip when loading his M6. Sheesh. I've seen people spend minutes and minutes loading their cameras, being very anal -- when in theory it should take 30 sec or less.
    Andrew Nemeth gives a very good primer on how to quickly and properly load the M cameras on his website. I think if you do any more than what he outlines, then you're spending too much time on it.
     
  41. I should add to Andrew's method, that I don't even think it's even
    necessary to open the back door (that also helps keep crap from
    getting on the shutter curtain).
     
  42. François, I didn't mean touching the shutter with your fingers, but with the curled film leader. Can
    you imagine the damage done to a hypothetical CLOTH shutter in a mechanical SLR, for
    example, if you accidentally let go of the leader while trying to thread it, and it goes scratching the
    shutter, like it does every time? Plus, you have to retrieve it with your fingers, because it always
    sits right there, on top of the shutter. Every time. Multiply this by the number of times it actually
    happens. It makes me shudder just to think of it. With the M, as soon as the leader is slipped
    down in place it will remain there, even if you let go of it. What I think is that the M bottom loading
    is even better still just in that respect. Safe, safe, safe. As for speed of loading, who in his right
    mind would use a M, if they needed such speed that they can't stand 10 more seconds? If I did,
    I'd use an automatic SLR.
     
  43. In the 10 years I've been using Leica M cameras, I've adapted to the
    bottom loading, and I appreciate the obvious benefit of rigidity and
    durability. As Mani points out, though, a hinge would be cool.
     
  44. I find the Ms bottom loading - ONCE I got used to it and practiced at it - to be easier, and faster, than anything except full motorized (F100, Contax G, Hexar) loading.
    I just did a self-test recently, because the LUGgers were also debating M loading. 10 full cycles: unload, reload, wind to first frame, rewind, repeat. It took 4 minutes - or 24 seconds per roll average. No misloads.
    When I first got the Ms I had a fair number of misloads, and tried all kinds of mystical fixes: bending over the film tip to catch the prongs better; trimming 'old-style' long leaders,;fiddling with the film to make sure it was over the sprocket holes; winding with the back open to make sure it got started right. Result: more misloads.
    Then I read the loading notes at http://nemeng.com/leica/. DON'T fiddle with the film. DON'T pull the leader out until the film is mostly already in the camera. Just stick it in like the bottom plate diagram shows. DON'T open the back. Just wind.
    At this point I'm up to well more than 300 rolls loaded since my last misload (I quit counting months ago).
    If your're a controlling, Type-A personality (as I was) who is bound and determined that YOU WILL make the Leica load right, by force- feeding it - it will bite you!
    If you shut up and let the fastload system work the way it was designed - it will work as designed.
     
  45. For me it is the way it is. I don't feel the item is worth the so
    many words written / spoken about it.

    <p>

    On the other hand, yes, loading my FM2-n is a lot easier . . . so
    what ?

    <p>

    Regards, Drew
     
  46. Olivier....the faster and safer way to load any of the old manual
    cameras...FM, FE, etc...is to place the film leader in the slot
    first, slide the film across the shutter where it will fall perfectly
    into the sprocket teeth 98 times out of 100, and then place the film
    cannister in its slot. There is no chance of touching the shutter
    because the film is now over it.

    <p>

    With a little practice it can be done with one hand in about 10
    seconds.

    <p>

    Just a suggestion.
     
  47. François,

    <p>

    Me a Leica fundamentalist? Hmmm could be. I do know that lots of other RF camera's have the more conventional method of loading film.

    <p>

    What I'd hate to see is Leica making an M camera with a side hinged door. I think that's wishfull thinking on my part. IMO Leica departed the 'right path' by adding 2mm of topcover height to the M6TTL and in doing so paved the way for the M7 and future models. The fact that Leica no longer makes an M camera within the classic M body measurements is sad. Similar story about the R8, IMO they shouldn't have dumped the R4/5/6/7 body design in favour of a design that looks to have been drawn in 1970 as a vision of the camera in the year 2000. Some people call that progress, I call it bad taste.

    <p>

    I don't say the M6TTL, M7 and R8 are lousy products, I just don't like their designs.
     
  48. What is wrong with the Leica M film loading system?<br>
    After reading other postings and my very limited experience, the
    Leica M film loading can be problematic, may be above average
    comparing to other manual film loading system like Nikon F3, if you
    are not following some rules correctly.<br>
    What is the correct way to load film into a Leica M? The film
    loading method in the Leica manual and Mr. Nemeth's seem to be the
    same. What is the potential problem is that the angle of the film
    leader may be somehow to be jammed in the film path because the film
    travels in a screwed way. My suggestion is that, before you close
    the film pressure plate and wind, please make sure the film is
    placed in a straight way . Nothing hurt right? Admittedly I am
    more controlling of the film loading. I do not see any thing wrong
    with that since I am getting 100% success rate of my film loading. I
    even wind it twice and make sure the film leader angle is past thru
    the film pressure plate and film hole is aligned in the teeth
    (probably not important since the main driving force is from take-up
    spool axis and just served as a check point).
     
  49. The easiest loading camera in the world was Kodak's INSTAMATIC...
    How long did 126 film last? Get over it!
     
  50. My my ! I was curious to hear what you folks had to say, and I
    have to add that I am quite entertained by the passionate
    argument this simple question stirs up. Ah Leica.

    <p>

    Thanks for your input, everyone- good thoughts and it's
    interesting to me to see what you all think about this.
     
  51. The trick for Leica is to continually enhance the capabilities of the
    M system without significantly changing its basic character,
    handling, and appearance. The RF-VF system, film advance, film
    rewind, cloth focal plane shutter, and loading system basically date
    back to the M4, with minor modifications.

    <p>

    As far as the loading system, it may be "quirky", but it works, and I
    have rarely if ever had any problems. I think the adage "don't fix
    it if it isn't broken" applies here. I am interested in seeing what
    they can do to further enhance the M7s capabilities within the
    constraints described above. My guess is that the M7 is not the
    ultimate evolution of the M Leica, and they can do more.
     
  52. i found if i load per the diagram with the back door closed, once
    opening the back door, the film is not engaged on to the teeth of the
    gears. i, everytime, have to nudge the film onto the gear and wind
    until both gears are engaged. the take-up mechanism is just such, a
    take-up mechanism. the gears move the film. but, since there are no
    left side gears for the film, the film would seem slack.

    <p>

    in my opinion, leica should think about a spring tensioning system in
    the rewind assembly for film flatness.
     
  53. I follow Andrew Nemeth's instructions at http://nemeng.com/leica/ but
    I also check, while the back door is open, that the film is hard up
    aginst the top guide-rail. If necessary, I push it into place. I
    believe it's necessary to do that with the M6TTL because of the lack
    of chamfering of the guide rail (mentioned in Andrew's notes).

    <p>

    I find it a nuisance to hold the motor while film loading. I also
    have once left the back open when replacing the motor/base plate -
    it's easy to do and is one more thing to check.
     
  54. The very first roll of film I put into my M6 didn't load properly.
    The rewind spool did not turn so I started over. I followed the
    instruction manual and only inserted the very end of the film between
    the forks. From then on I have always put the film leader completely
    through the fork so it extends a bit on the other side and have had
    no problems at all. I don't like the loose baseplate, but otherwise
    it works fine for me.

    <p>

    I have regular misloadings with the fully motorised loading on XPan,
    maybe once in 10 rolls. You are supposed to pull the leader up to a
    mark and close the cover. Sometimes it seems like a millimeter too
    long or too short won't load properly.
     
  55. What, change the sacred bottom-loading? Never!

    <p>

    I like it. Why? Well, I also have a tiny Olympus 35RC and if you look
    up other rangefinder forums (not that they are as entertaining as this
    one of course) you will notice quite a few threads going on about
    light seals wearing out. Now, you have absolutely no problem at all
    with this if you have a bottom-loading camera, even if it is as old as
    my 1935 leica IIIa.

    <p>

    Hence, a great design. Leica: please don't change it! I have never had
    a hassle loading a film. Sure, it may take three minutes not three
    seconds, but I don't mind. I have seen pros changing films on their
    Nikon F5s in under three seconds. So I might find it different if I
    was a pro. But then again, one pro I spoke to always looks back
    nostalgically on his M3 as the bst camera he ever used, so perhaps the
    need for speed is somewhat over-hyped?
     
  56. Hi Bert:

    <p>

    Sorry to have been perhaps a bit rude in the way I treated you in
    the preceding message.

    <p>

    However, as a user I can’t think of the M system like driving
    a “classic car”… I like very much to drive a classic car (though
    I’ve not yet succeeded getting one myself) but it is a leisure time
    occupation.

    <p>

    I have been a professional photo-journalist long enough in my life
    to consider – even nowadays photography is no more for me a way to
    earn my living – any camera a tool (though there is no reason why
    you should be forbidden to like your tool on the contrary). So, on
    the contrary to the way you judge a camera with a seemingly great
    attention to aesthetic of the body, I’m entirely devoted to
    practical efficiency.

    <p>

    From my personal experience, I found SFRF camera the best way to 35
    mm photography, just because, if you excepts the auto-all AF SlR’s
    of today when it goes to action photography with big tele-lenses
    (something I never practiced, nor I’m very much interested in), the
    compactness and silence of a SFRF and the precision of its focusing
    when using fast lenses wide open cannot be equalled by any SLR
    camera. For me, it is the only way to maximize the advantages of the
    35 mm format.

    <p>

    A format I don’t consider the best by far when it goes to a more
    elaborated way of photography. I see no interest to use such a small
    negative when you have ample time to take pictures, when weight,
    noise and volume are not liabilities. The reason why I use in
    parallel a medium format SLR…

    <p>

    In the M body range, whatever a good camera they were (I owned once
    an M4-P), I consider any model without TTL metering a museum piece
    (so no more a user’s camera). So the M5 is for me the older M camera
    which I consider a valuable asset for a user.

    <p>

    Having set the pattern of use I intend for a SFRF camera, I consider
    my numerous criticisms to the present M models as fully justified. I
    can (once again) elaborate about practical situations the outmoded
    features (or lack of) still embodied in the M bodies produced today
    can be a liability. I think you are experienced enough to imagine
    them yourself.

    <p>

    The treasured part of the M system is for me its exceptional lenses.

    <p>

    Fortuitously (after my M demise), I found one year ago I can have a
    camera which can handle these treasured lenses and which though not
    devoid of shortcomings, can do the work equally well in most
    situations and sometimes even better.

    <p>

    Point in case: it costs less than half the retail price of a new M
    body, it is called Hexar RF. At his time, the M7 has not surfaced
    yet and when it appears it was for me a bitter disappointment…

    <p>

    I would have liked to see an entirely revised body which, if it goes
    electronic, would have embodied everything an electronic camera
    could do within the original rangefinder concept (I don’t want an
    AF): fast shutter, fast sync. speed with TTL flash all the way,
    manual + spot metering and AE + matrix metering combo, variable
    magnification finder useable for a glass wearer, fast loading
    procedure (I thought of something like the QL system once used on
    Canon cameras) though manual advance and optional motor to keep a
    really silent mode, interchangeable back door to allow for a future
    use with a high definition full format digital use to preserve the
    investment in time. Something in fact which can justify saving a
    large amount of money equivalent to what is to be paid for a modern
    SLR. In short a 21st century SFRF aimed to the user.

    <p>

    So my point of view is IMHO totally incompatible with yours.

    <p>

    You write:

    <p>

    >> What I'd hate to see is Leica making an M camera with a side
    hinged door. I think that's wishful thinking on my part. IMO Leica
    departed the 'right path' by adding 2mm of topcover height to the
    M6TTL and in doing so paved the way for the M7 and future models.
    The fact that Leica no longer makes an M camera within the classic M
    body measurements is sad. <<

    <p>

    So, your rationale is entirely based on aesthetic considerations ?
    So why don’t you buy a classic M3 or an LTM in mint conditions ? Why
    do you need Leica produce something new (or even something) at all ?

    <p>

    >> Similar story about the R8, IMO they shouldn't have dumped the
    R4/5/6/7 body design in favour of a design that looks to have been
    drawn in 1970 as a vision of the camera in the year 2000. Some
    people call that progress, I call it bad taste. <<

    <p>

    Did you ever take an R8 body in your hands? Sorry to say that but it
    is by far the most ergonomic 35mm SLR camera I ever handled… It is
    just sad it has no AF for long tele-lenses (and ONLY for them). It
    would have been the best tool for a 35 mm SLR user ever! … Again
    there is an ample stock of mint second hand Leica SLR’s available on
    the market to satisfy you (and other brands too) with strictly
    traditional design. You can even get a fair taste of 1970’s SLR
    buying a Nikon FM3A new.

    <p>

    What really bothers me in your opinion is it is conducive to
    stagnation and regression. Just imagine someone in the 1920’s having
    the same rationale and we would have still the Leica 0 as the
    standard Leica camera (I suppose by the way there would not be
    anymore Leicas today).

    <p>

    >> I don't say the M6TTL, M7 and R8 are lousy products, I just don't
    like their designs. <<

    <p>

    Well design might be important, but I think these days it has taken
    too much importance. Here its me who is a traditionalist, I still
    stay with Mr. Raymond Loewy’s theory: “a good design is first a
    functional one”. Besides, if the design of the R8 is specific (a
    case of “like it or not”) I sincerely doubt you will readily
    recognize the difference in height of a M6 TTL or M7 from a classic
    M6 within a few feets (it amounts to 2 to 3 mm).

    <p>

    Friendly.

    <p>

    François P. WEILL
     
  57. " Leica departed the 'right path' by adding 2mm of topcover height to
    the M6TTL and in doing so paved the way for the M7 and future models.
    The fact that Leica no longer makes an M camera within the classic M
    body measurements is sad."

    <p>

    Leica users must have the most sensitive hands in history - 2 mm!
     
  58. I guess it finally boils down this (as it always does in these
    theads). Francois you have some valid issues with the M as it
    pertains to your style of shooting. Others have expressed differing
    opinions based on there shooting. Unfortunately Leica can't be
    everything for everybody, and in fact, though no where near
    approaching the sales of Nikon, Canon etc, the M is selling better
    than ever. If you want your points addressed where does it stop.
    Some genuinely feel the M should have A/F to compete with Contax.
    Others would like a built in drive. Their wishes are just as valid
    as your Francois, and unless you expect Leica to come up with an M63
    (and all the preceding variants) it probably isn't going to happen.
    What I really don't understand are your statements that Leica is
    just a tool, then naming the other cameras (tools) you use that have
    better features. If this really is the case, why don't you just use
    those other tools. It seems there has been a lot of space used here
    with your putting down of everyone elses reasons why they like the M
    as it is. You know, you could just start your own company and build
    your own camera.........
     
  59. DON'T CHANGE BOTTOM LOADING!!!!.

    <p>

    It has taken me almost 40 years to train my wife to only buy me
    shirts (including t-shirts) that have a pocket to hold the bottom
    cover.

    <p>

    Best,

    <p>

    Jerry
     

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