Love of Leica, Lack of Funds

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by andrew_viny, Sep 22, 2008.

  1. Gentlemen (and Ladies),

    I have an incurable disease. I love the Leica M. It was the first camera I ever wanted. I honestly can not think of a more beautiful
    camera. For me it defines photography and passion. When I hold one it feels special. It really feels like magic for me to hold one. I
    currently have a Canon 30D with a 24-70 f/2.8 and a 135 f/2. I have really enjoyed shooting portraits with my 135 f/2 in the recent history.
    I think that I'd take any M model. I'd like a meter (one that would sit on top of the camera would be alright with me, though in camera would
    be nice). I'd like to spend as little money as possible. I love to take portraits. I think a 50mm or 70mm lens would suit me alright but I'd
    like the most versatile set up I can get with the lowest expense. I think I'd like a standard to medium telephoto with a wide aperture.

    I don't know a huge amount about Leica and don't have a huge amount of experience with them. In addition to answering the questions
    below I'd appreciate anything you can tell me that you think I should know.

    So the questions are:

    What body should I buy? What lens should I pair with it? What else do I need? and where is a good place to buy?

    I think that I'd spend what is needed but anything over $1500 would be a lot for me. I know this doesn't get you very far in the wonderful
    world of Leica but as I said money is a concern.

  2. As a side note. If I could get it, I'd like a black body and lens. ;)
  3. Get an M6 (classic or TTL) and a 50 mm lens. One of the best deals on a lens is a CV 50 /1.5.

    If you're lucky, you can find the camera for a thousand dollars.

    Good luck.
  4. buy a really old m6 and get it fixed. thats probably the only option for an internal meter. otherwise, any old m3 in nice working condition and the new voightlander meter should do fine.
  5. If you had the money for a 30D and the two lenses you have you could have bought a used M6 and 50mm Summicron for that amount. Be that as it may, There are good deals on used M cameras out there. I just picked up a new in the box M4-P for $800, and it is new in the box. It's a matter of priorities, you just need to figure what yours are. There are a lot of good deals on M cameras out there right now but it takes some searching. Buying digital cameras is a losing proposition i.e., you need to recognize there is little resale value in them. You buy them to use and should know they will be worth little in 18 months. Prices on Leica M cameras have dropped in the last few years but that will stabilize and they will hold a certain value, unlike any digital camera. The latter will simply continue to drop at an alarming rate. I have a beautiful Canon D30 (not 30D) that cost $3000 when new back in 2001. I'd be lucky to get $150 for it today, even though it is still capable of taking excellent photos if I do my part.
  6. Well, $1500 is a bit of a problem. An M6 Classic in black with working meter base $1100 & up. Leica's a best with Leica glass. 50mm Summicron lens runs around $600. You could get an older elmar which are well made but not as good as the Summicron. Your other choice is to get a CV lens, in which case I'd go for the 35mm f1.7 Ultron, runs around $400. You could instead of the M6 go for the M5 & have the meter adjusted because there is an issue with the battery & meter which you would need to look into. Leica and Leica glass are not loosing their value with the influx of digital.
  7. Honestly I'd love it if I could find an M4-P for $800 even without the box. Where can I find deals like that? Honestly the
    only places I know to look are KEH and ADORAMA.
  8. Ken Hansen Photo, private Leica and Rollei dealer in New York. The best, cleanest Leicas at the the lowest prices. I have
    been his satisfied costumer for almost 30 years. The most knowledgeable and honest dealer I have met. (212) 879 3263
  9. Julio, does Ken Hansen photo have website??? I am thinking of getting another lens.
  10. Andrew,
    I'm curious as to why you have an obsession with Leica, but you say you don't have a lot of experience with them. Are
    you're sure you want to work with them? I have an M2 (have used M3s also), but in many ways it's an ergonomic
    nightmare compared with modern cameras. Loading is ridiculous. It balances poorly with a telephoto lens, and there's no
    good place to put your right fingers. Glasses? Forget about seeing anything. Even with contacts, it's difficult to see the
    wide frames. The lenses are also ergonomical nightmares, especially if you're used to Japanese lenses. Meter on top? A
    waste of time. You're much better off with a handheld incident meter. Low top speed. Slow flash sync. Tripod socket on the west coast.

    However, if you've picked up a Leica and you can live with it (I'll never sell mine) and are on a budget, I think the last
    place to look is the big dealers. I picked up my M2 from a local trader for $700, and it's in beautiful shape. He was selling
    a collapsing Summicron for about $200. There are bargains, but like buying a car, you have to go private. There are also deals on Ebay if
    your timing is right. I recently picked up a mint Elmar-M 50 for half of what KEH is selling, and half of what others were getting.

    As far as the advice about the M5, you better be sure you want one. I got the chance to pick one up recently, and when
    people say they're big, they mean BIG! The thing is a veritable Frankenstein camera.
  11. M models are superb, handling is fast and precise. M6 with its built-in meter is easiest and probably best value right now;
    M2, 3, or 4 is also great if you don't mind using a handheld meter (not really that hard). The 50 Summicron, any generation,
    is fantastic as an all-round lens, and great for informal portraits. Whatever you get, make sure it is fully serviced. I'd buy
    from a dealer. Photovillage in NYC, Sherry Krauter at Golden Touch in US, Leicashop in Vienna, Ffordes or Robert White in
    UK are worth browsing. But a warning -- Leicas are addictive!
  12. @Scott - I'd never get an M5. I think frankenstein camera is a perfect characterization of it. As far as Leica's being
    nightmares I disagree. I think they are designed in a way that forces you to think and consider unlike modern cameras the
    photographers feels more in control. For me it's honestly like a stick shift car versus an automatic. Automatic is more convenient and maybe even quicker, but there's a charm and joy in using the stick that you don't get with the automatic.
    IDK I might be crazy. I'm an engineering student and I find such a beauty in these little German machines. Why is a
    meter on top a waste of time?

  13. "I'd like to spend as little money as possible. I love to take portraits."

    Is love of Leica more than love of photograghy? If not, get another system altogether.
  14. Th M3 is a real classic. Beautifully built and fairly easy to use. My second choice would be an M2 which surprisingly enough is usually more expensive in today's market..
  15. Andrew,
    Start reading and get an M3 (there are classifieds there) with the rigid or DR Summicron 50 plus a
    small Seconic lightmeter. If you will have some money left afterwards, buy a Nikon CS 5000 and a developing tank. Start
    with Tri-X and D-76. After 6 months you will understand what Leica photography is about, then you will progress from there.
  16. Here is a Leica M3 double stroke on rangefinderforum classifieds (I don't know the seller). I would stick to an M3 since you want the longer lenses. It's harder to focus longer lenses with a .72 magnification. I find the honesty factor at rangefinderforum classifieds to be generally higher than that of eBay.
    I love my Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5, which can be bought used for $250-$300 (or new for $359). There's two used at right now and cameraquest sells them new. You also can pick up a vintage Summarit 50 f/1.5 for the same price range if you want to stick with Leica products. Adorama has two right now.
    The Voigtlander VC Meter ($179 via cameraquest) is a good idea, especially for slide film. It's quite easy to use.
    Some posters here seem to poo-poo their Leicas so much I don't see why they still own one.
  17. Andrew,
    I was using a Voigtlander meter on top of my Leica, but simply parking an uncoupled meter on top of a camera is, in my
    opinion, not especially useful. For one thing, the VC meters have the reputation of being loose, and mine did keep falling
    off. So you keep it in your pocket. Then lose it like I did (probably in the house somewhere...). If you use a tele lens, the
    meter's view isn't accurate enough. I find an incident meter in the pocket is MUCH more useful and accurate. For the same
    money as the VC, you can get a digital Sekonic. Also, many recommend the M3, which I had. That is, until I picked up an
    M2 which had a .72 finder. It's much more useful and just as accurate--I have no trouble focusing a 90 f/2 wide-open.
  18. Is Jim Kuehl still out there doing business? A prince of a guy and 100% honest. I bought a "mint" M5 chrome two lug from him years ago. It arrived more like "new in the original box"! Sherry Kräuter CLA'd it and said the meter was spot on when she got it. She added the third lug for me.

    If Kuehl's around, he's your man. Good luck.
  19. I forgot, yes, Photovillage in NYC! Been buying from them for a few years. They have a web site you can check out.
  20. Canon P, 35/2, and spend the other $1000 on film, travel, women, and recreational drugs.
  21. Wen, Ken Hansen does not have a website; he does sell through eBay. Ken, a straitght shooting old timer, hates digital.
    Just call 212 879-3263, or email him Once again, he does have the cleanest Leica and Rollei's at the
    lowest prices. Over the almost 30 years I have bought all kinds of equipment from him - first at his several Manhattan
    stores and now privately - I have learned to admire his knowledge and expertise. More important, you can take Ken's word
    to the bank.
  22. I would suggest buying five things that should be affordable within the budget you have described: a Leica M2 body in good condition,+/- $750; a clean, lubricate and adjust (CLA) service for the M2 from a reputable firm such as Kindermann in Canada, +/- $250; a Nikkor 85mm f/2 lens in Leica thread mount (LTM), +/- $300; an LTM-to-bayonet adapter to allow mounting the LTM lens on a Leica M body, +/- $50; and a used Gossen Digital Luna-Pro, Scout 3, or other handheld light meter in good working condition, +/- $75 . If you can stick to the estimated prices shown, this would provide you with an M-body, an older portrait lens with an excellent reputation for optical quality, and exposure control, for a total of $1,425 plus tax and shipping, which (depending on sales tax in your area) ought to be within your stated budget. The Nikkor 85mm f/2 LTM lens was one of the lenses that, in the hands of photojournalists such as David Douglas Duncan, helped to build Nikon's reputation in the 1950s, and is still capable of taking excellent portraits. They show up from time to time in the hands of reputable online firms such as KEH Photo, and on popular auction sites. If you can't find a Nikkor 85mm f/2 LTM in good condition, I would suggest considering a Canon 85mm f/1.9 in LTM mount as a comparably-priced alternative. If and when you could come up with additional funds for other lenses, I would suggest considering the Canon 35mm f/2 in LTM as a wide-angle lens, +/- $300; and the Canon 50mm f/1.4 in LTM as a normal lens, +/- $200. There are other possible choices for any of these items, such as other Leica M bodies or Voightlander/Cosina (V/C) LTM lenses in comparable focal lengths. If you are able to afford more expensive lenses later on, you can upgrade to Leica M-mount lenses such as the 90mm f/2 Summicron or 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit, the 35mm f/2 Summicron, and the 50mm f/1.4 Summilux, all issued in multiple versions of increasing optical quality over the years, and all still in current production. While the superb performance of the Leica lenses is at the heart of Leica's reputation, the M2 and the Nikkor and Canon LTM lenses from the 1950s and 1960s offer an affordable path into owning and learning to use Leica rangefinders, and excellent performance for the money.
  23. Hi Andrew,
    You should be able to get a nice M series with a lens and meter within your $1500 budget. I got a very nice M-3 on e-Bay from Henry's in Toronto for under $450. It was better than described ( a few nicks in the chrome on the base plate but otherwise very clean, bright finder and the shutter seems accurate with transparencies). I also picked up a 50mm Dual Range Summicron (without the goggles which allow it to focus closer than the normal 0.7m) on e-Bay for $445. It is absolutely pristine, and I am very pleased with the its rendering. Finally, I bought an MR meter from KEH for about $90. (Either it is still spot on or the M's shutter is equally off. I also bought a current generation 50 Chron which I use on my R-D1 on e-Bay for around $600. (I bought the DR because i wanted a vintage lens for the M-3 event though the current lens renders with a tiny bit more contrast.) I also previously owned the CV 50mm 1.5 which was part of a Bessa R kit I sold when i converted to digital some years ago. I agree strongly with Christopher; it is probably the best value in leica compatable lenses on the market.

    This is my second M-3. I owned one years ago as a PJ student but had to sell it when the post graduation realities of rent, car payments and low wages forced a choice of selling the Leica or bank robbery. I agree with you that the Leica Ms (except for the M-5) are design perfection.

    My advice: be patient, look at e-Bay and the reputable on-line stores.

    Good luck

  24. Jim Kuehl and Don Chatterton both retired some time ago AFAIK; had some good transactions with Jim K. over the years.
  25. It's in the glass. Buy a 40 Summicron (or Rokkor 40) and whatever Cosina Voigtlander body you can afford. If you prefer, find a beat-up M2/M3/M4 and meter in your head from the sunny 16 rule.
  26. I have an M2, M3, and M6 classic which I bought from trusted sources. I also have several screwmounts, which I prefer because they are so compact, although having squinty viewfinders and are a PITA when it comes to loading film. But I have other cameras that I like even better. Namely, Konica Auto S2, Zeiss Contax IIa, Nikon F2, F3 and F100, Canon F-1 (original), and a Retina IIIC (big C) with an accurate selenium meter. Why the el cheapo Konica? Great lens, great VF/RF, accurate CdS meter, and I don't have to worry that I am carrying the family jewels in my frail hands.
  27. I recommend buying here or on RFF before anywhere else. Just put a WTB Ad in the classifieds and you will get offers. In my view, you will be able to acquire a non-metered M2/M3/M4-P and an older summicron 50/2 collapsible lens. Ideally the M3 + 50mm summicron will do what you want well; it is a very versatile little kit.
  28. Get a user M3 with an old user 50 cron. Shoot TRX, soup it up yourself and enjoy the look.

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