Why is the M4 mentioned here so little?

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by scott_mcloughlin, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. The M2, M3, M6, M7 and MP bodies seem reasonably popular here on the
    forum, but I here little of folks using M4s. Are these relatively
    rare or poorly made?

    Scott
     
  2. No, but for the price, you'd either rather get the m2/3, or might as well get an M6. I
    don't know why they're so pricey...rarity, I guess.
     
  3. Not rare, but there were far fewer M4s made than M3s or M6s for example. So, a simple
    supply and demand situation is what you're seeing.
     
  4. I suspect that M4s are the most problem free and their owners are happy shooting instead
    of lurking... They probably were the best constructed, most usable designs of all the Ms,
    provided you don't need a meter.
     
  5. Now thats a good question! Hey all you M4 shooters stand up and identify yourselves.
     
  6. The M4 is the perfect Leica. It eliminated the frustrating loading system of the M3 and M2. It has the faster rewind lever of all later M cameras except the MP. It has the more accurate frame lines of pre M4-P bodies. It doesn't have the (for most people) useless 75mm frame lines cluttering up the viewfinder when you're using a 50m lens. It has a self-timer which was eliminated in the M4-2 and later bodies. It doesn't have any goofy graphics on the front, and isn't festooned with advertising like most later M bodies.

    So, unless you need a meter, the M4 has it all. And since it was made after SLR cameras, in particular the Nikon F, had become the preferred cameras for professional photographers in the 1960s, sales were rather low, compared to earlier M bodies; so there aren't that many out there. Consequently, it has about the highest value to collectors. A truly mint M4 would probably sell for more than any other M body, except for a few versions that were made in extremely small numbers, such as the M2R.

    I have several M bodies, but for the most part I use the M4.
     
  7. I can't wait to get back my M4 from Sherry... As Gandy says, it was the high-water mark of M development. Almost like an M3 except for the 0.72 finder, and none of the frustrations (button rewind and slow loading).
     
  8. I bought a M4 - black paint, in 1975 for $550 including two lenses and sold it last year to
    a dealer in Japan for $2300 minus the lenses. He got more brass then black paint but he
    was happy and of course so was I!! He didn't seem to care that the rewind crank was
    replaced with a black chrome one from a M6. It was a beater not remotely a collector's
    camera. The check cleared.
     
  9. The M4 is/was the most solid camera I have ever owned. Now have M6 and M7, too old
    and lazy for a hand held meter.
     
  10. The M4-2, best by far. Currently less expensive than an M4 fo equal condition, has the same characteristics as the M4 (accurate framelines, rapid loading, quicker rewind, etc.), no useless self timer, and hey! did I mention price? Main difference, the M4 was assembled in Canada and Wetzlar, the M4-2 only in Canada. Some claim the M4-2 had an inferior build quality to the original M4, not so. It's pure speculation originating with collectors. There were a few teething problems with the first few M4-2 cameras, but those were very quickly corrected.

    I recently bought a near mint M4-2 for $750. Find that same deal in an equal condition M4, bet you can't, and no one has yet been able to realisticaly show me the difference in quality between my M4-2 and an M4. There isn't any.
     
  11. rgh

    rgh

    When I got my first Leica - an M3 - the M4 was already out and that 'golden pot at the end of the rainbow' - especially a black paint model. Although basically the same design as the M3/M2 it had those extra features that refined the M-series just enough to make it 'the perfect camera' to me. Along with the M5 it has the best finder, quick-load, rewind crank, and I actually like the plastic tip angled advance.

    So a few years later I go one in a swap with one of my SLs (good deal!), and have used an M4 now for about 3 decades. It does everything I need ( for a metered camera the M5 is IT) and has become my best friend in travels and at home. For some of us there really is 'magic' in a Wetzler end-product 'classic' camera. The M3/M2 are great cameras, but the M4 has an edge.
     
  12. I bought one of the first M4 bodies back when it was introduced. Eventually it was stolen. I also purchased an M2-R brand new, complete with a 50mm f/2 D.R. Summicron when it was released. Rumor at the time was Leitz had some unsold D.R. Summicrons along with leftover M2 body parts ~ anyway I think the combo was going for about $375 at the time. I never much cared for the fiddly little angled crank of the M4 and newer Leicas. Good strdy add-on cranks were available back then for between $5 and $10, some new, some used. That old M2-R is still in use. If I was buying new today I'd go for the curent MP, essentially an M2-R as far as wind/rewind goes.
     
  13. "The M4 is the perfect Leica."

    If, as we all know, The Leica is *perfect* than the M4 cannot be more perfect than perfect. Can it? [I just gotta get a life]
     
  14. rgh

    rgh

    John,

    Get a life...? no, just get an M4 *-)
     
  15. >>If, as we all know, The Leica is *perfect* than the M4 cannot be more perfect than perfect. Can it? [I just gotta get a life]<<

    So does that "life" include or preclude an M4?

    Either way, you really do need to continue searching for that life you claim to have. It appears you haven't found it.
     
  16. Like Al, I bought one of the first M4s available in the US. I still have it and I still use it, with an incident meter for exposure.

    It's been CLA'd several times, has new shutter curtains, and I had it retrofitted with the M2 viewfinder masks.

    It's the only camera mentioned in my will! < grin >

    George (The Old Fud)
     
  17. Here I just use M3's. Is the M4 risky to use? What about parts? What if a M5 comes out; will M4's be a good investment? :)
     
  18. The cameras themselves have few faults,perfectly serviceable.Your perception may be the
    apparent ossification of attitudes around here.This commentary from an amateur M3
    enthusiast,who still enjoys film(as well as good value digital).
     
  19. Pardon me.Your perception may be perverted by the apparent ossification of attitudes
    around here concerning the M camera,and the use of traditional media.
     
  20. M4 user, with 35 summicron pre-asph tabbed. Both for $835 way back in those ragin' 90's. Makes a nice balance to my F3s. Aloha
     
  21. M4 has a modern look to it. Its finder is also more corrected(better coating) than M3/2. It
    marked the end of an era: the Wetzler era.
     
  22. Because there are so little problems with them. It is the last mechanical camera, so you do not suffer expensive repairs of old electronics. Fast load system, fast rewind, self timer, uncluttered viewfinder, more accurate framelines, made in Germany. It just went downhill afterwards.. :)

    I recently bought an M4 in a cosmetically very nice condition, not mint, but very good looking. I payed less for it than the price of a new Bessa R2/R3. The shutter curtain shows seam so it will eventually need a CLA, but shutter works fine and it produces very good results, so I have no hurry.

    I think the M4 is the perfect M (if you can live without the meter).
    The only (minor) problem is that I prefer the advance lever of the M2/M3 compared to the one on the M4.
     
  23. I thank all of you for elevating the M4 to such a high status. Perhaps my heirs will make some money off mine.
     
  24. Get an M4 in halfway decent shape and send it to CRR for an overhaul and a black paint job, and you will have the best Leica on earth, that simple. I bought a Leica M4 with a brokens shutter for $500 spent not much more than that on an overhaul and a paint job, and now I have the smoothest newest Leica this side of Berlin. <p>Seriously, you would be much better off getting an M4 than an M6/7/MP. But you must have it overhauled by a competant repairman. There are many people who claim to fix Leicas, but I would only entrust it to CRR.
     
  25. Al, why is that for every piece of leica equipment you can say, "I once had X but it was stolen"? Do you leave these things on the porch at night or something?
     
  26. "no one has yet been able to realisticaly show me the difference in quality between my M4-2 and an M4. There isn't any."

    The M4-2 is a fine camera and not deserving of all the stigma attached to it. However either you've never asked a Leica repairman to show you those quality differences or you just don't want to see them but they are there a-plenty, and I'm not talking about brass vs steel gears and their "feel" or the finesse of top-plate engravings, neither of which means beans to a shooter. For one thing the M4 is more adjustable than the M4-2 which allows a dedicated repairman to get an M4 rangefinder and film transporter closer to ideal tolerances. For another thing beginning the middle of the M4-2 run the infamous condenser lens was taken out of the rangefinder and the infamous patch flare began. The block where the 2 flash sync plugs attach is brass on the M4 and some kind of 70s plastic on the M4-2, which if the flash plugs are screwed in just a hair too tight, the plastic strips or the block itself splits. There are other cost-cutting differences too many to list. If you were to sit down with a repairman dissassembling both bodies you'd see them all. But like I said, the M4-2 is still a fine camera.
     
  27. BTW I have M4, nothing to look at (but nothing to worry about using either!)and also used to have M4-P and currently have M3, M6 and MP but if I were to sell off my Leicas to go digital, the M4 would be the last to go.
     
  28. OT, Sorry, Claude how do you reach CRR?
    Thanks, I have M4 ready for overhaul and black paint job.
    Peter
     
  29. Here is the contact info for CRR and some samples of repainted cameras: CRR
     
  30. Ben,

    >>However either you've never asked a Leica repairman to show you those quality differences or you just don't want to see them but they are there a-plenty, and I'm not talking about brass vs steel gears and their "feel" or the finesse of top-plate engravings, neither of which means beans to a shooter.<<

    You're right, in one respect. I have never sat down with a Leica repairman/repairwoman and asked them to show me those quality differences. Why would I when the M4-2's I've owned (three altogether) have never needed a repair? On the other hand, I have owned four M4's, and three of those required repair. Granted, all were bought used but all were in apparent excellent++ or better condition when purchased.

    Multiple adjustments on the M4? They are, perhaps, a theoretical advantage. But durability is more important to me. In that respect, the M4-2's I've owned win out. I'm only speaking from my limited personal experience. I won't argue that you and the Leica repair community know more than I do.
     
  31. I own a M2, M3 and a M4. The M4 with the summicron 50 is my favourite camera and my pre-dominant user.
    The M2 and M3 are excellent users as well, but the M4 just has that little extra.
     
  32. Thanks Claude.
    Peter
     
  33. it is the best compromise between M3 and MP. Many M3/2 are beginning to show its age
    with their parts failing, not M4, it is still in its prime, will sit comfortably in the transition
    from analogue to digital era.
     

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