Need advice: Leica M4-2

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by andreas_wirth, Mar 26, 2010.

  1. Today, at a visit at the local photo dealer, I had an early Leica M4-2 camera in my hands. The camera is realy beautifull, no scratches and almost no signs of wear. Days before, I read some bloggs and forum comments on this type of camera and the general consensus is, that early models should be avoided. The viewfinder is clear but the shutter seemed not to work correctly at 1/8 s (shutter was to fast without the specific noise for shutter times below 1/30s). The vendor told me that it was recently cleaned and adjusted (CLA), so I wonder why this problem arrises. Has anyone made bad experiences with early M4-2?
  2. Boatloads of people are more than willing to smear the reputation of this camera just because its components are different from those in the M4 and M2 models (they used plastic, not brass in the camera guts), Leica had to skimp on quality control and other aspects of production (VF element removed to cut production costs), and (horror of horrors!!!) it was made in Canada.

    Granted, from what you can read here and elsewhere, there were initial hiccups that got corrected eventually, but the legend continues with the notion that the first 150,000 cameras were dogs. I think it was more like the first 15,000, or perhaps the first 5,000. Then, Leica corrected some of the perceived problems. Hence, check the serial number first. Supposedly, if it's above the 150,000 mark, it's a "good" one.

    From what you said above, if you sense that the 1/8th is off... and the camera came back from a CLA only makes me think twice about this situation. In short, one of you (camera employee or your perception) must be wrong, but that uncertainty would be enough to keep me from buying it. Can they tell you who did the CLA?

    On the other hand, if that's the only shutterspeed you think is off, just don't use it.

    BTW, my own M4-2 is a "later" version, but not by far, and even before its CLA (last September) it never gave me any grief.
  3. There is much spoken about slow shutter speeds being off. In my 45 years of photography I have never used a shutter speed on a 35mm camera below 1/30 (Yes, on a 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 for landscapes) except to test if the battery was working and there was not much light. Are you planning to hand hold your camera? Will you be putting a 35mm rangefinder on a tripod for landscapes or still lifes? Even with a softie 1/15 is the slowest hand held speed recommended and I do not think I could attain accpetable results. IMHO slow shutter speeds are like self timers: It is nice that they function but it is recommended that on older cameras not to use them as they are easily broken.
  4. 150000 M4-2 cameras???!!!
  5. I used my early M4-2 for 26 years with no problems. I only sold it because I wanted a M8. Get it. Use it. Enjoy it.
  6. Hi, sounds like you are in Northern Europe. A serious dealer there would always offer you at least a three month onward warranty, then they would fix it for free if there would be something wrong.
    I also had a M4-2, never had any issue.
    Just get it, try it at all speeds, develop, and enjoy.
  7. Thank you for your help.
    @Francisco and Knut: In fact it is the 270th camera that was produced, so it is a very early one. The vendor (Leicashop in Vienna) told me that CLA was made (he did not say who) and several other repairs. He could not tell me exactly what was made, because he would have to "search" in his papers. Anyway, he promised a readjustment and gives a 6 month warranty. But I am not willing to become a daily visitor to this shop because something is wrong with the M4-2. When this work is done (~ 1 week), he will call me, and then I can decide.
    @Steve: You are right, I'll probably never use the 1/8th sec., but what problem comes next?
  8. According to this list about 16,000 M4-2 were produced - so how can there be a legend that the first 150,000 were dogs? The first batch had serial number 1480001 - 1482000 (2000 units) and the second batch started at 1502001.
  9. Dear Torben and Dieter,

    Please, read my post again. I'm quoting a legend, which is, in turn, a fictional story that some people take as true. I don't believe there were 150,000 M4-2 cameras made, but I'm sure some people may think so, based on the SN.

    BTW, thanks for the information on the number of cameras produced!

    Karl, go for what your instincts tell you. In the meanwhile, let me add that I have an M4-2 myself... and I really like it a lot. Apparently, it was CLA-ed in Holland (it has a label inside from a shop), but I still had it looked over by Don Goldberg here in the US.
  10. If you have a six month warranty what is the problem? Also, if you live in the EU and bought buy from an EU supplier, you are covered by rather strong consumer protection legislation, including the Distance Selling Directive if you buy by mail order. As far as my own experience goes, I've had more problems with poorly executed CLAs than inherrent manufacturing problems with Leica cameras. Apart from that I believe that Leicashop has a good reputation, and I have never had a problem with gear from them or with the shop itself.
  11. About 10 years ago Sherry Krauter CLA'd my M4-2 # 1506402. It had not seen much use prior to my purchase used in the mid '80s but it needed the CLA due to out of adjustment shutter speeds. I use it with a softie and a Rapidwinder. Sherry cautioned me when using the motor winder to make sure the motor drive key is seated in the drive slot before triggering it. I load the film manually to the first shot before using the winder and have had no problems of any sort with the camera since the CLA. Being black it is pretty inobtrusive. However I only use it with the 35 wide angle as I prefer the larger viewfinder/rangefinder framing on my M3 when using a 50 or 90. The M4-2s are unfairly regarded one of the red headed step children of the M series. I rate it a better camera body than the CL.
  12. Loved mine, 1530286, which I traded for an M6. It was noticeably lighter than my older Ms and I used it for ten years with no problem and I was never so comfortable as with that camera and the matching Canadian tabbed Summicron, treating it as a 'user' much more than my chrome Ms.
  13. I think experience is the only worthwhile measure. I used an M4-2 for at least ten years and it always performed beautifully and I loved it with a 4th version 35mm Summicron, from Midland as well. According to a camera repair person I know and who once worked for Leitz Midland, the M4-2 and M4-P were very little different from the preceding discontinued M4. Any small compromises to cut cost were made to those elements that were not important for longevity or precision. I so regretted selling mine that I later purchased an M4-P. Neither has had to go to the repair shop and both had or have provided good shutter accuracy in my regular electronic shutter tester measurements. The M4-P was bought from a collector who had not exercised the shutter in twenty years. The slow speeds were hesitant and inacurate until I had exercised the shutter for some 50 to 100 times, afterwhich they were fine.
  14. "(shutter was to fast without the specific noise for shutter times below 1/30s)."
    The way you worded that makes me think you may not have this quite right. The 1/30 and 1/15 speeds should both have a "tick-tick" aftersound. Speeds lower than 1/15 have a different sound from 1/15 and 1/30. After the shutter closes, there should be a short "Bzzz," rather than "tick-tick."
  15. Francisco:
    Plastic in Leica M4-2 guts ? Please illuminate. !5,800 is the correct production number.
  16. Since I've never opened one of these cameras and am not a technician, I couldn't tell you where or what, but that's what the rumor mill has. Perhaps there may be a piece of plastic aiding the film counter move, or some piece of plastic working as a holder of some sort... To be quite honest, I don't know. I just like mine and worry more about using my Leica bodies.
    Have a nice day!
  17. the numbered frame counter disc is plastic in the early M4-2s.
  18. Plastic is present on even the most expensive Leicas like the modern MP. I believe (but am not sure and couldn't care less) that its battery compartment has plastic parts. You will probably find plastic (nylon) in some gear trains for quietness and perhaps on some circuit parts. The shutter cocking lever on the M4 (as well as later models excepting the MP) has a plastic end or tip. A plastic frame counter, which has little if any mechanical force imposed upon it, can be made of plastic with no concession to quality, perhaps only to cosmetics. I understood that the frame counter on my m4-2 was a metal piece with stamped numbers instead of engraved numbers. Again, purely cosmetic.
    Who cares? If it works well as long as you need it, and then some, what else is important?
  19. Thanks, Arthur! Very instructive and informed post. Now, gentlemen, let's pick up our cameras and go out to burn some film. I have some K-64 in my M6TTL (with a Canon 50mm f1.2). Anyone care to join me?
  20. for the price of this m4-2 at leicashop you can get a m6, check out
  21. I had some experience with a new M4-2 and understand it's reputation. Fairly early on it froze up (the transport system) and had to be repaired. It was discouraging because after using M2s and an M4 it seemed of poor quality. In addition it didn't have a self-timer as the M4s did. So it gave an appearance of being kind of a half-rate product that had been manufactured because the M5 had fallen flat. But, once repaired the camera was fine and never had another hiccup. AND I think that's the point. Any of those early cameras have been repaired and only normal time and wear & tear effect them today. Yeah, it still aggravates me they dropped the self-timer but finally it's back with the M8. LOL. The M4-2 is a great workhorse camera that you'll enjoy shooting with.
  22. Re plastics: my understanding is that modern plastics are tougher than steel.
    I met a gentleman from a German advanced materials company and he told me that the engine of a car can be completely made of modern plastics, user's psychological resistance is the only barrier. In fact the whole car can be made of plastics.
  23. One man statistic (I.E. I do not know how significant thhis is ) :
    I once had an M4 2 that eventually could not fire the shutter any more when pressing the release. That is , the release point was at the very bottom of the release course when I got it and then did not fire anymore, it was not an expensive repair. I would however advise to check that the shutter does relase without having to press the release button righ to the bottom, if your future camera is to be serviced it may be worth checking. It was a fine camera no difference with the M6 but for the meter.Just anothe comment: I recently looked for M6 on Ebay where they seemed only about 1000 euros. Get an M6 if you can, I found it so convenient to have a lightmeter when I left my 4.2 for the 6 !
  24. Leica is not immune from making off-products, in any of its models. The double-stroke M3 was more reliable than the single stroke M3, according to Wetzlar factory technicians (and notwithstanding the popular thought). The shutter on my M8 refused to work and Leica finally replaced the camera. The VF on my M3 went black after only a minor physical shock. The M4-2 has a bad reputation in part I think because many couldn't think of a Leica being made outside Wetzlar. The first ones did have problems, but the M production had been halted before that and had to be started up again, and otherwise that would have been the end of M cameras, had not Mandler and an associate in Midland convinced HQ to continue M production with the modified M4-2, after the poor sales of the preceding models and the SLR craze. The M4-2 is as good as any M in my mind, and the turning point in more recent Leica history.
  25. Hello, I have had my Leica M4-2 for about five years and it is a beauty, had it CLA,d by John Van Stelten at Focal Point in colorado. It doesn't miss a beat, its in the 150 XXXXX seria number range. I recommend it to anyone, the uncluttered finder is really great.
  26. Probably a dead thread, but wanted to comment anyway. I have a very well used M4-2 that obvously has survived some hard knocks. The RF and shutter are accurate, and film advance is the smoothest of all M cameras I have personally used, except maybe the M3DS. I do prefer the lack of the 75 framelines in the VF, and don't find that the 135 lines are very intrusive when using the 35mm.
    The VF is a bit foggy. If I ever have it serviced, it would be nice to add an M3 advance lever, and maybe add an internal self timer.
  27. Since I opened this thread 2 years ago, I was looking from time to time for a camera of this type. It had to be an M4-2, that was sure. Why? Because I liked its story and after all, it is a beautiful camera without gimmicks and purely mechanical. Today I found one and bought it. It has been manufactured 32 years ago (1980) and is one of the later production since it ended in 1980 I believe. So I am quite sure to have a robust camera for many many years to come ... provided films still exist.
  28. I have just chanced across this thread.
    I use both M6 ttl and M4-2, both are in constant use without any problems.
    My advice is regular CLA's for Leica. This is not the case for my Nikon SLR's. My Nikon technician only recommends service when a
    problem arises, and that is rare as he is mainly relubricating and cleaning my lenses.
    So regular service for leicas is good. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to use one for over twenty years without a clean as
    lubricants do not age well.
    If you were to see the internal grime they accumulate with normal use you would treat them to a regular CLA.
    A strange paradox, but if my Nikons were to cause more problems they would receive a regular CLA.
    I hope your M4-2 is still in good shape.
    Best Regards

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