New to Leica - which M?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by ryan_smith|9, Mar 26, 2009.

  1. I am looking to purchase my first Leica M camera. I believe I will mainly be using it for wide angle shooting and no longer than 50mm. Which Leica M is recommended? I am trying to keep the purchase of the camera under $1,000 so that I can afford some better lenses. I see M2 - M5s are on ebay and other sites for around this amount if not a little under.
  2. Hi Ryan, I use M4-Ps and keep them well maintained. It is the first M with 28mm frames, as well as 35mm. They are fairly affordable, along with the M6 and M6 TTL. I bought my last one for about $1100 in great shape with an MR4 meter, winder, and 50mm Summicron. If you can tolerate a non Leica body, you might consider a Voightlander R4A or M. I think the finder will adjust for 21mm.
  3. In exactly that situation I felt there was only one rational choice - M6TTL with 0.58 finder - though I do find that a x1.25 magnifier helps greatly with lenses of 50mm and upwards. However, prices for the 0.58 TTL do seem to be quite high still - but the situation varies place-to-place, etc.
    Beyond pure rationality I really prefer using a M2 or M4 with lenses from 28 to 50mm, even though they are tricky at 28mm (and wider) without separate viewfinders, which can be cumbersome and slow me down. The lack of a TTL meter with very wide lenses isn't an issue for me.
  4. Get the Voigtlander Bessa R4M or R4A and use the change for lenses.
  5. Bah, makes me wish I had my "guide to m mount lenses" article finished.
    But, as you are a short lens fan, Fred's advice is pretty good. That R4 is a cool camera for wide angle fans. I've got one coming in the not too distant future.
  6. Get the best lenses you can afford, then spend what's left on the body. If that mean you have to get a not-pretty M2 instead of an M6, so be it. If that means you have to get a Bessa, so be it. Get the best lens you can afford.
    Personally, I love using an M2 with a 35mm Summicron. This is a great way to start using a Leica in its purest sense. But if you must have a TTL meter, then an M6 or Bessa is the way to go.
  7. Shop around and you should be able to find a nice user M6 (for the built-in meter) for around $1,000 - much less for a user M3 or M2 (no meter).
  8. Get a good used M2, a good used 35mm f/2 Summicron, and a hand-held meter. Not the latest, fastest or flashiest, but a classic combination that is flexible and highly effective in many situations.
  9. I would get an M6 for the meter and easier loading. I like to have a meter on the cameras I use a lot, but am not so worried for cameras I use less. If you don't intend using it all the time, may as well save some money and get a meterless M2 or M4.
    The M3 has a higher viewfinder magnification, so is not the best choice for wide angles.
  10. What Peter Shawhan said.
  11. I recommend a user M2 for 650$. Then find yourself a version 3 summicron 35/2 for 750 to 850$. Or, if you need more speed, buy a cv 35/1.4 used for ~500$. The M2 is excellent with 28mm lenses, as you can just use the entire vf to approximate the fov. Tom A suggests temporarily covering the brightlines window with tape, and I have found that helpful while I was shooting with a 28.
  12. Ditto what Thomas Wildeman said about the M2 and 3rd version Summicron. If I lost all my gear tommorrow this would be exactly what I would get, having used many M bodies and lenses these 12 years.
  13. Wide, how wide? You need a separate finder for most lenses under 35 (although the M6 and later has 28mm framelines they are pretty hard to see if you wear glasses.) I don't mind a separate finder. Leica 24 Elmarit ASPH is a superb lens but pricey. 35 Summicron, any vintage, is the definite Leica wideangle. But if you get an M3 you need a separate finder or a bulky goggle version of this lens.
    Which leaves M2 or M4 -- both good choices if you don't mind using a handheld meter like the Sekonic 3008.
    The most practical and long-lasting option, however, would be a used M6 plus a 35 'cron.
  14. m2, or m6 + 35mm summicron. easy.
  15. M2 & the "sharper than 35 Summicron," the 35mm 1:2.8 Summaron for 1/2 the price of the Summicron!
  16. I am a little surprised no one has suggested the Leica CL or even better, the Minolta CLE....a great & 'cheap' way into M photography.
    cheers Steve.
  17. Leica CLE = serious lack of repair parts.
    Leica CL = meter that needs a mercury battery.
  18. Regarding the Bessa suggestions: If you really want a Leica M, then get a Leica M. Otherwise you'll just regret it later.
    Beyond that, I don't think you can go wrong. I've owned an M2, M3, M4, M4-P and M6 at various points in life. I can't go back and look at any of my photos and tell you which picture was shot with which body.
    If you need an on-camera meter, get the M6. if not, get a decent user copy of an M2, M4 or M4-P and start shooting. There was actually a pretty nice deal on the RF forum last night (not sure if it is still there) for an M4-P - recent CLA and painted black by Rangefinder Restorations. It was listed at just under $800.
  19. Tim your making me feel bad! You mention a whack of M's except for the M5: which I have...making me wonder if I got the wrong M!
  20. Derek, that's funny. I mean no disrespect to the M5. I've just never used one. Never actually seen one in person, actually.
  21. Just giving you a hard time...Josh hate smilies so I didnt add one...dont want to get my account deleted!
    The only M camera I had was/is the M5 and I love it.
  22. As Fred earlier said, go bessa. Even a Bessa 2 would suffice, let alone 4, unless you are determined to have Leica brand. In that case, M4-2 or -p. Leica is truly a great camera, but soon it comes to picture taking/making and then Bessa is as good. But difinitely a rangefinder. Reflex is for the yupi.
  23. As Fred earlier said, go bessa. Even a Bessa 2 would suffice, let alone 4, unless you are determined to have Leica brand. In that case, M4-2 or -p. Leica is truly a great camera, but soon it comes to picture taking/making and then Bessa is as good. But difinitely a rangefinder. Reflex is for the yupi.
  24. The meter in the CL can be adjusted by adding a resistor so that different battery types can be used.
    I would say that any CLA'd M body is a good one.
  25. Regarding the Bessa suggestions: If you really want a Leica M, then get a Leica M. Otherwise you'll just regret it later.​
    I agree. I'm one of those who thinks that others have now matched Leica glass of decades past but no one's ever matched the feel of Leica bodies of decades past.

    So I vote for a really nice M2 and a CV 35/1.7.
  26. For what its worth, I would not get an MP. I had one, and the damn film rewinder was so darn annoying. Would take such a long time to rewind a pot.
  27. I'll take rob's bait: I like the knob-style rewind of the M3, M2, and now the MP better than the lever of the M6. If you want to shoot wideangles, the M2 can't be beat. It's really a wonderful camera. For all-around convenience, and especially if you want a meter, I'd go with the MP.
  28. Paul Neuthaler: I have an M2 with the 35 mm f/2.8 Summaron... have had this combination since the 80's and truly like it. Do you mean that lens is sharper than the Summicron? I wasn't sure if I read your message correctly. If so, wow!
  29. Hard to say, because all will work fine. If you want the meter in the camera, then M6. M4 and newer models are easier to load. M3 does not have 35mm framelines as I recall. As for lens choices, it depends mostly on aesthetics and your preferences. The CV 35mm f/2.5 is a great lens for not much money. I compared it to a 3.5 Summaron, and saw no differences in tonal quality, although the CV had better micro detail. The newer Leica and Zeiss glass would be the same or better than the Voigtlander products. A lot is said about Leica glow. I think part of it refers to subtle tonal quality and more gentle contrast. The other aspect is reflections from bright spots in the picture that might be eliminated with newer coatings. In some cases, this glow can be very pleasing, and the newest Leica glass would be less likely to give you that than older versions. The new products are sharper and more contrasty, however. Have you thought about film choices? That makes a huge difference. I like Kodachrome, Plus-X and Ilford Pan 50, as well as the T-grain films if I want asa 400. Good luck! There are not-so-great films, but not much bad Leica or M-mount equipment, if any.
  30. Glass first, then if money is an issue... the Bessa with an eye towards a M6. Especially ifyou are new to rangefinders. It takes quite awhile to be proficient.
  31. I appreciate everyones input. I have decided to look at purchasing a Bessa. I prefer the R4M and will look into getting some nice lenses to go with it. I am looking into a 28mm or 35mm and a 50 - which I believe is the max I can get out the R4.
  32. Hello Ryan, Well, one has to decide at some point. I don't know about the Bessa, I'm sure it's an excellent camera (sounds a bit condescending that...). Let's make a bet. Same time, next year you'll own at least one Leica M.... o:). Have fun! André
  33. Andre, trust me, I want an M. After doing research I want an M6, which is about $1,000. I see some M4-Ps out there that would be decent for about $800 but then I am looking at another $200 to get an onboard meter. I see Bessa's out there for half - $500. I would rather have the Summicron than a cheaper, softer lens. Coming down to a nicer lens vs a nicer camera, I will go with the glass everytime.
  34. Ryan, I would seriously consider an M4 or M3. They are better made than the M6s, and a ttl meter is over rated. I get much better exposures on my M3 with an incident meter, blacks come out as black, and whites come out as white. With ttl they come out as grey.<p>

    I picked up my M3 used for about 800 dollars. The finder is crystal clear, and also I believe a 0.9 magnification finder, which I find much easier to use than the standard M6 0.72 mag, not to mention the 0.5 or so CLE finder. In my opinion, the M3 is the best of the whole bunch.<p>

    I have recently been looking at M6s, because I would like the closer focusing, but they seem not to be so well built. The top and bottom plates are made of magnesium, which does not insulate the sound of the shutter as well as the brass of the M3, and sometimes produces bubbles under the black chrome, when the magnesium oxidises. Also the rangefinder patches often "white out." You will never see this with an M3. <p>

    I would say look for a mint M3, over a used M6. Or if you have to have the M6, then at least consider a mint M4, or figure in the cost of an overhaul.
  35. Sorry, I just realised you wanted to use a 28mm lens. Then in that case I would consider the CLE or Hexar RF, even. They are both around 500 bucks or less. I have a CLE I am considering selling. It is perfect. I just do not like the wide view finder that much.
  36. Update, I found a great deal on a great condition M2 that I could not pass up. It comes with a Summicron 50, Elmar 3.5 and a Leitz Hektor 7.3 for $850. The M2 goes down to 35mm but I believe using a 28mm on it should fit in the finder.
  37. Or get an aux 28mm finder

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