thinking of buying a Leica

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by Rick Helmke, Mar 26, 2017.

  1. I got a green Zorki 5 from Goodwill. The metal is green, which I have never seen in any pictures on any web sites.

    Not CLA'd, but close enough for me, except for the rangefinder, which isn't close. Well, after trying it out, I read that you aren't supposed to wind and/or fire the shutter with the lens removed. Some part of the rangefinder linkage gets too close to some part of the shutter. That might be the cause of the rangefinder problems. I haven't tried to recalibrate it.
  2. Since your looking at a Leica system in the budget category you might go over to Youxin Ye and look at his price list for possible repairs that you may need. Also a meterless camera can be very slow unless your really good at sunny 16. If you going to pull out a light meter on your phone or whatever it takes time. I brought that up as you were talking about a camera that does not get in your way and slow you down or something like that.

    So if you wanted a meter then it's all about the M6. I think a beater model will be $1200.00 plus the cost of a CLA and possible repairs. The budget Leica shooters wind up getting a Voightlander lens and now the one thing special about Leica has been pushed aside for a 3rd party lens. The question then becomes are you any better off with that set up or a Nikon FG for $10.00 and an AIS lens that you probably already own.
  3. For the Leica-screw-mount, the FED-2 is my personal favorite "Leica" experience. I shot with the real Leica III series back in the 60s, and found the FEDs to be a comparable way of achieving the Leica experience.(My FED-2 is RED).
    It's a nice camera for a bottom loader, but I may yet go for something like an M4 for a more up-to-date experience. The biggest problem is that the lenses are so very pricey.
  4. My Fed-3 is also red, but I think JD's looks sexier. . . he even has a medal! Aloha, Bill Fed-3 Jupiter 8.JPG
  5. This has all been quite helpful and is much appreciated. I think I will be going with something a bit more on the recent side. Metering is not a concern, I've been using Sunny 16 for decades. I am looking for one though that will work well and load easily. My real problem is that I plan to add Leica glass to this just to put a useful lens on and to see if Leica glass is as incredible as I keep hearing.

    Rick H.
  6. Hi Rick, a late entrant, on this christos inesti day. You could do worse than a beater M2 or if your budget extends to it, an M3, or indeed, an M6 (though their prices are escalating of late). I'd avoid the M5 and M4 variants. Lieca glass is good, but do not discount discount Voigtlander (aka Cosina) lenses. Or you can get vintage lieca lenses: the summar and summitar 50mm lenses are great (albeit at the centre, and they are prone to veiling flare - they still give you that 1950's 'look', which is a bit of curvature of field and spherochromatism, if I got that right; 'plasticity', I think is the term, and a 3D effect barely noticeable on today's MTF bargained lenses), just need a cheap adapter. The elmars (50 and 90mm) are good. Avoid the 135mm Less said there the better. The 35 summaron (both 2.8 and 3.5) is also good. JDM's advice on the Fed2's is good, but be aware that they, like the liecas of that era have rubberised cloth shutters. I have some Feds, but carry with me always a black T-shirt pencil and flash light, to do field recovery of failing rubber. And I've got to say, JDM's Fed 2 is a priscilla, queen of the desert, camera there. How hot can you get? The russian lenses, however, and if you can find one that hasn't used tractor grease as its lubricant, can be exceptional. They didn't get into space before the gringos, the united states of a miracle, for nothing - their optics can be superlative (ah, their mechanics are a different story). And remember, russian lenses are set up for a different flange to film distance than lieca, so won't close or eternity focus the same. Stopping them down can help.

    Good luck with your adventure

    Regards, Arthur (apiarist1)
  7. My apologies, JDM It's a Fed 3, not 2. More fool me for not looking closely. But it's still hot.

    Regards, Arthur (apiarist1)
  8. My advice to the original posting: If you have been photographing with a metered camera then you will be most comfortable with the Leica M6. As for what you are photographing then the 35mm f2.0 lens will be your best option. The 50mm is what I use for people. The set up that you will need will run under 3k if you are lucky. An alternate to the 35mm f2.0 Summicron is a Zeiss 28mm f2.8, which is wider and less than the Leica. The issue with the Zeiss is that it is a larger lens and the 28 has distortion at the edges. Read Erwin Puts' reviews on lenses to make a determination of what suits your needs and budgets.
  9. Very late to respond, but just a complete different option: I also got curious about using Leica lenses, and being primarily a Nikon shooter too, I wasn't sure whether a rangefinder would be my thing. So as some suggested above, I went for a Kiev-4a (even if that is not a Leica-clone, it does give the rangefinder experience; it's a Kiev-2 now as the Kiev 4 wasn't exactly reliable) to assess that. And to get a taste of the quality of Leica lenses, I got a R6 with a lens. Over time, I grew this system a bit more since the lenses are really that good. For film, it's my prefered camera now actually. The R6 isn't a particularly great camera; the FM2n sure feels better though the R6 is less noisy. But the lenses to me make up for it. Another option would be converting R-lenses to the Nikon F-mount, which would be best of both worlds in a way, but I prefer to keep things original.

    I much like the silence of the rangefinder, but I keep finding it is not for me; I just prefer SLR-style focussing. So chances I'll get into a Leica M are very low, but I'm still happily shooting a Leica, and loving the results I can get out of it. Plus, the R system does cost a whole lot less (still enough though).
  10. If you don't mind the size and weight look at Zeiss lenses for Nikon. I especially like the Zeiss Milvus 50 f1.4. What makes Leica interesting is small size and less weight for high quality lenses.
  11. SCL


    There are a lot of alternative Leica screw mount lenses out there which are quite good, relatively inexpensive, AND, with a cheap Chinese adapter can be used on modern Leicas, including their pricy digital bodies, or micro 4/3 bodies. After over 40 years of M use I took the plunge into earlier Barnack Leica screw mount bodies and became hooked. Take a look at Dante Stella's review of Leica screw mount lenses made by Canon. But there are also Voigtlander, Zeiss, Nikon & other manufacturers out there with competitive offerings to Leica. The Russian ones, although sometimes really good, don't exactly work with Leica bodies, as the cams driving the rangefinders are shaped differently...but can be shimmed so they do work...not sure the extra cost is worth it. Lastly, in the LTM (Leica Thread (screw) Mount) lenses you can get a variety of lens configurations, from Tessars to Sonnars to Double Gauss configurations.
    bertliang likes this.
  12. SCL


    CA.jpg This was my 2nd venture into Leica Thread Mount cameras...a very distressed and cheap Canon, shutter worked fine as well as speeds, view/rangefinder needed alignment (jeweler's screwdriver + patience), and exterior of body was a mess. A little time, elbow grease and $25 for a new body covering from Aki-Asahi, and the end result with a modern lens on it.
    bertliang likes this.
  13. +1 on SCL; I use Leica LTM with adapters, M-mount lenses for my M4, and have used my LTM lenses on my FED1, 2, and 5 and Zorki 6 (see below), as well as Nikkors and Serenars, Jupiter and FED's in LTM which work great. I also use all these lenses on my micro4/3 Lumix. There is basically an mount to mount adapter for virtually any combination (I even use on for Nikon F to Hasselblad Xpan!) so don't be intimidated by specific brands - you can find older glass for reasonable prices, and the cost of the adapter is usually modest. Good luck in your continuing evaluation; the mix and match creativity knows no bounds!
    Zorki6, Summitar 50mm f2, Kentmere400, Modified Diafine.
  14. We disagree Stephen. The M4 if anything, is made more for convenience/comfort; but at the cost of some durability (Plastic advance tip, plastic illumination window, weaker rewind crank, lighter duty take-up with it's rapid load etc.).

    Now Rick H. the OP mentions favoring a budget of around $1,000. As others have eluded to, there is a wonderful combo that meets your photographic requirements. My testing shows the Canon LTM 35mm f/2 lens to be absolutely superb. Currently this lens that matches the performance of many much more expensive optics, is a true bargain. Couple that with the feature laden vault solid Canon P, <<< click and you have an unbeatable film kit. v See Below v

    At Left is the Canon P with a 35mm f/2 (About $750) & At Right a M6TTL with 8 element 35mm f/2 (About $4,400)
    Images shot by each nearly indistinguishable...
    Last edited: May 11, 2017
  15. SCL


    Gus proposed a great alternative, the Canon P is a really good LTM camera, and a bargain, even after the cost of a CLA, which should keep it working smoothly for a long long time. I've never tried the Canon 35/2 but have heard lots of positive comments about it. My P doesn't get as much use as my other LTM bodies, but hopefully this summer will earn its keep.
  16. My M8 is as close to film as film is as close to my M8. Leica when they put the M8 together they wanted a digital film camera.

    They then gave in and went digital..
  17. he difference between a Leica M for film and a digital M is about 100 rolls of film with processing.

    The top photo is taken with a Leica M3,scanned from Ektacolor 100 at 4000 ppi using a Nikon LS-8000, and the bottom panel taken with a Leica M9. Both used the same lens, a Summicron 90/2, at approximately the same time and place. Both panels are shown at full resolution, pixel = pixel, from the original. While some may prefer the exaggerated greens and yellow in the film panel the digital panel is more accurate and at least twice as sharp.

    N1400923_16 and L1001138 Detail.jpg
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  18. I had been using my M6 for 19years. I never had any parallax or range finder path problem.
    I was very comfortable about shooting m6 with the light meter as it gave me more 10% to concentrate on shooting than with any other camera without an in -camear metering Whatever argument is it in camera metering allows you
    to reduce your concentration on camera techniques and be more attantive and be more productive on shooting with M6 with it's built in reliable meter. But this can exclude some occasional and specific lighting situations

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