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Updating to a Leica system

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So here's my question. I want to update my 35mm system as lately I've only invested in MF systems and

my 35mm system is quite outdated.

I'm seriously considering to move into a Leica system wether if it's and R or M system for quality



Although the R systems are closer to my financial possibilities.

Practically all my photography is street photo (where I use a Mamiya 7ii and sometimes a M645) and some

landscape and portraits (mainly M645).


My intention is to use that 35mm system as a more 'to go' equipment and street but with high quality

results. I shoot color negative, b/w, and slides depending on the subject.

I know the M systems have high praise but are IMHO quite overpriced.


So in short I want to know which Leica R system do you recommend and if there is a big quality difference

with the M systems. Im more of a manual photographer and not particularly keen on "auto" features so i

don't mind (at all) fully mechanical systems (although a meter is more than welcome).


My first options from what I read in this (great) forum are R5, R6 and 6.2, R7 and M6.


Im interested in a Summicron 35/f2. Any comments/critiques on that lens?


I would highly appreciate your feedback!


Thank you very much!



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R6 or R6.2 or one of the M6 models.


The 35mm F2 R lens is a decent lens, but one that needs updating the most of the entire R line. The 35mm 2.8 that takes 55mm filters is a better lens. It is not the same as other 35`s.


a 35mm Zeiss Biogon is a very good rangefinder lens on the M6.


Keep in mind you will be working with a smaller negative reguardless of how good the system is. Take some film to a camera store and shoot a few pic inside to see if you are happy.

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Zeiss Ikon RF has every bit as good a finder/rangefinder as the Leica M's, and costs less. Even cheaper, but with a slightly more compromised rangefinder, is the Voigtlander Bessa R2, R3, and R4. Yes, these cameras aren't made to exacting tolerances by skilled old-world craftsmen, but they take every bit as good pictures as the Leica M's.


You also have a range of lens prices, from new Leica lenses the most expensive, through new Zeiss Ikon lenses, then used Leica lenses, down to Cosina/Voigtlander lenses.


But, if you really want a carry-around camera, and are happy with the FOV of a 50mm lens, or will use a zone-focused 35mm lens, consider a screwmount Leica (say IIIa or IIIc), or any of the screwmount Canon rangefinders. Affordable, light, compact. There are some very fine screwmount RF lenses out there.


As for the R, the long lenses are exceptional, as are some of the wide and super-wide lenses. But some of the other lenses are no better than what Nikon, Canon, and Pentax offer.

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You have a number of points to address here. Do you want a rangefinder or an SLR? They are very different cameras. If you want a rangefinder I would suggest an M2 or M4. The viewfinder will show the frames for a 35mm lens and the build quality is excellent. I don't agree with your claim that they are overpriced. The market determines the price and I don't think photographers are buying "status symbols". While the older screw mount Leicas are fine cameras, they can't match the ease-of-use of the Ms. The Summicrons have an excellent reputation. You may want to check the archives for comments.


If you want an SLR I would agree with Andrew and Ronald that the Leicaflex SL with the 35mm 2.8 Elmarit R would be the first choice.

If you go with this combination look for the 2nd version Elmarit that takes E55 filters. The quality level of the Ms and the Leicaflex is the same. I can't comment on the Leica Rs since I have never used one.

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Since you're familiar with the Mamiya 7, you clearly know that advantages and

disadvantages of a rangefinder. So I'd decide first what kind of system you want. Sure, M

equipment is pricey, but it will probably last longer than you do and the quality is first



I've only used the M version of the 35 Summicron, and I have to say it is a wonderful lens,

maybe almost perfect. I have the current asph version and love it. I have the 35 summilux

too, but I think if I had to pick only ones lens to use forever, the 'cron would be the one.


For street work, it's hard to beat an M6 with a 35. Or if you decide to go the SLR route, an

R6.2 would suit you well. It's the only leica slr I have experience with, and it's a wonderful

little camera with a great finder. Good luck.

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You have gotten some great suggestions so far. If you decide to go the RF route, I

recommend the M2 or M6, which are relatively affordable for Leicas. Although you say

you prefer a built-in meter, for spontaneous street photography, you may be better off

with a hand-held meter, since pre-metering a scene will help you anticipate a photo



As for lenses, Voigtlander and Zeiss make excellent lenses to fit Leica, if you don't want

to pay Leica prices. But if you are interested in the 35/2 Summicron, it is an excellent

lens, no doubt about it. The aspherical version is stellar, my preference, and previous

versions are really compact and perfect for b&w.

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Slightly used, very clean equipment is available at significantly reduced prices. From your description, the M line sounds like the right choice for a "to go" kit since they are a little lighter and smaller and the reflex line. That said, the R6.2 is small and fairly light. The viewfinder on the Leicaflex is better, but I cannot say how large the difference is. I've been happy with mine. I also very much like the R8 (and R9) b/c the meter is more a little more informative.


(Doug, what do you think of the R6.2 finder?)

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Wow thanks so much to the whole community for your fast replies!

It shows again that this forum is an unvaluable source of information and inspiration.


Regarding your feedback:


I meant "update" as my 35mm equipment is an old Praktika TL with a 50/f1.9 lens. It

worked perfectly (for its purpouse) but recently hasnt and thought of "updating" it. Im

more than happy with my MF equipment (specially with that IMHO amazing RF camera that

the Mamiya 7II is).


Thanks for giving me so much info. I went to an actual shop today and checked the Leica

equipment they had. That and your comments made me think that probably the R6.2 and

the M6 are the best choices. Both are light and small (M6 more of course). I know SLRs

and RFs are very different cameras but as I'm used using both in MF I don't really mind

either or.


As for the lenses I will go the Summicron 35mm way. I read great reviews and seen great

results with it. And it's a plus that is pefect for b&w.


So my question is: Do you know any online stores that will sell second hand Leica

equipment at reasonable prices? I've already checked keh, adorama and periodically ebay.


Again thanks so much for your help!

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I've always thought www.igorcamera.com has good prices. I've never bought from igor, so I

cannot speak to his reliability. Check the classifieds here and www.rangefinderforum.com,

which has a very active classifieds section.

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Like you, I too have a medium format rangefinder (Fuji). In 35mm, I bought a Leica M7 rangefinder but went the Contax route for my SLR. The Carl Zeiss 28/2.8, 50/1.7, and 85/2.8 is a combination that's hard to beat. They are all about the same (small) size and weight, take the same 55mm filters, balnce beautifully on my cameras, have exceptionally high performance and are all great values. An old RTS II body gives me an amazingly delicate shutter release. I don't move the camera at all when depressing it. If you don't need longer lenses, an old Contax is a great choice for a 35mm SLR. I normally buy from KEH.


My 35mm cameras and lenses are of exceptionally high quality but can't begin to equal the medium format in image quality.

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"<I>Doug, what do you think of the R6.2 finder?</I>"


Assuming it's like the R-E and R6 viewfinders I've used, it's quite good but not up to the clarity, brightness or ease-of-focus of the SL's viewfinder OTOH it has a built-in diopter correction that the SL lacks. The viewfinder difference is more significant with slower lenses IMHO where the R viewfinder is good and the SL's is amazing.

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Ron Boyle is correct in saying the market sets the price, particularly on used equipment where there is no elitist advertising to hype the product. The market is the true test of value on used equipment, Leicas consistently hold value because people recognize value and are prepared to pay for it.
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If a person wanted to shoot everything in one 35mm system including long telephoto and macro and zoom lenses and liked the benefits and feel of well made manual focus equipment, then the compact Leica R cameras and fine lens line and the incredibly made Leica SL cameras would be a perfect choice, and at today's prices for used equipment, it might not cost more than a similar range of equipment from Nikon or Canon.


BUT, and it's a big but, if a person wants to fill only a niche (but important segment) of their photography with equipment designed specifically for the highest quality in very compact lenses (and bodies) from about 28 to 90 (and especially 35 and 50) in available light photography, the rangefinders are the choice as they are optimized for this. The Leica M6 is an ideal robust manually metered choice, but the Cosina and Ikon offerings bring aperture priority automation (which I consider a very usable and non-intrusive benefit for fast picture-taking) into a reasonably economical option.

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So I know it wasn't my first choice but I found a perfectly working and slight wear signs R4

with a clean Elmarit 35/2.8 for 800E (around USD 1160). Any opinions on that set?

Also an MP4 (just body) in an excellent state for 590E (USD 855).


The guy from the shop (a reliable guy I know) told that if I want a 50mm lens set I'd rather

go for a Contax body and a Zeiss Lens as it's as good as Leica but if my choice is 35mm

i'd better stick with Leica as their 35mm lenses are better than Contax or anybody's.


Also I shud add that i'm in no rush to buy, I can wait a bit to find a set that is reasonably

priced when the time comes.


Thanks again everybody for the feedback your info is very much appreciated


Andrew Lamb - I checked you portfolio and I love it! Great work! May I ask which

equipment do you usually use for your commercial work? I know it's an annoying question

but I'm very curious! Thank you

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The R4 has an electronic shutter and is therefore battery dependent. It's also basically a Minolta. I'd save up and go for an M6. In terms of lenses, the 35mm Summicron is a great lens, in whatever version, but they go for silly prices. You could pick up a 28mm Elmarit for less. Don't buy the first or second versions. They are for collectors only and don't bring up the right frame lines. Third or fourth versions are best, especially the fourth. CV also do some good wide angles.
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The Summicron R 35mm is indeed an "old" lens designed by the great Walter Mandler, but it is actually one of my favorite R lenses (with the 80mm 'lux). Beautiful bokeh and very fine performance at f4 or smaller with good but not-as-good-as-ASPH performance at f2. Personally I prefer its signature to that of the 35mm ASPH Summicron (which is a superb lens with no particular character). I can recommend either the R6 or the R6.2 as nice small manual cameras with good viewfinders. They won't set your heart racing with excitement as they are simple manual cameras without any bells and whistles. The M6 is also great but of course rangefinders are a completely different kettle of fish. They are nice to carry around and they give superb results, but image visualisation is much harder and not for everyone.
Robin Smith
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Can I tag along here? I'm thinking in parallel with Daniel ...


I currently use a M35/2 pre-asph, alongside a Nikkor 35/2 (on F3) but have been wondering about an early Leica slr. My interest is solely in 35mm and 24mm lenses ... possibly a 135/180 much later. My question mirrors Daniel's:


Does the 35/2 Summicron R - especially 2 cam - have a sufficiently different character to either of those lenses (35/2 Nikkor and/or 'cron-M) to warrant me 'investing' in a "nice, loveable" SL2 that I've seen? (Corollary: for all practical purposes, should I just stick with what I have?)


Thanks, Alan

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"<I>My interest is solely in 35mm and 24mm lenses ... possibly a 135/180 much later</I>"


I don't know much about the 35mm Nikkors, but I think that in the other focal lengths you're interested in you won't see a lot of advantage in the Leica lenses with the exception of 180mm, and that only if the Leica lens is an APO. The SL2's viewfinder is a delight and it alone has swayed more than one purchasing decision.

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