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Almost a Leica

Discussion in 'Leica Camera Chat' started by John Tarrant, Sep 29, 2021.

  1. John Tarrant

    John Tarrant Active Member

    Many years ago now (late 90s perhaps) I came into possession of a Contax G2. It was a superb camera with wonderful lenses. Its drawbacks were the high levels of automation: auto fix wind, auto exposure, auto focus. However it was a delight to use and it stayed with me wherever I went, until one fateful day whilst purchasing a bag of film from a photographic shop (remember those days?) the very astute shopkeeper said "lovely camera that, but I bet that you really wanted a Leica. "

    He was of course quite correct, but I held onto the G2 for a few more years whilst holding my long term Leica fixation at bay. Eventually the offer of a Leica M1 at an excellent price became too much of a temptation. Of course Leica addiction does not stop there and in the ensuing years an M3 and collection of lenses followed: comprehensively draining my savings in the process.

    Then idly surfing photo dealers on the internet (a very dangerous passtime!) I spotted a Zeiss Ikon ZM camera for sale. At first glance it has a very Leica M look to it and I fell for it. A s it turns out it is a very nice piece of kit. Shooting with it is very much like my fondly remembered Contax G2 but not auto wind and no auto focus and all my M lenses work with it including a 50mm Planar and 28mm Biogon. Wow just like the old G2 but almost a Leica! I don't miss the auto wind, which generally caused me to shoot too many frames without thinking, I don't miss the auto focus which like most auto focus systems had too much of a mind of its own. The zips machine does have an aperture priority auto exposure option, but this is easily ignored (though as I did with the G2 I do trust the AE more than I should at times). I still have my trusty Weston meter which travels with the Contax in my bag. Of course I have not parted with the Leicas: they remain my principal tools, but the Zeiss Ikon is almost a Leica and has one other brilliant feature: when a 35mm or 50mm lens is mounted only one frame appears in the viewfinder - just like a Leica M2!
    The zeiss is a splendid piece of kit and great fun to use, but it"s not quite a Leica!
  2. John Farrell

    John Farrell Well-Known Member

    I have a camera that's "almost a Leica" - if you stretch almost a bit, and don't look too closely...

    spinno likes this.
  3. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    Somewhere in between is the great bargain rangefinder camera of the 1970s...

    Kiev camera in ERC GH2 P1320261.JPG
    John Farrell and spinno like this.
  4. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    It's not quite a Zeiss Ikon either - made by Cosina. I've several of the Cosina-made Voigtlanders, and the last one I own - the Bessa R2 - is a very decent camera in the "not quite a Leica" mould. I sold my M3 and M6 because they just weren't being used any more, but kept these.
    Always fancied the Zeiss Ikon ZM and also the similar concept Rollei RF, but never seen either at a decent price.

    My old FED2 is a pretty decent "not quite a screw thread Leica", a very stripped-down, basic but fun experience quite similar to using a screw Leica.
    steveandthedogs and John Farrell like this.
  5. Andrew Flannigan

    Andrew Flannigan Well-Known Member

    ...but the later models were easier to load! :D
    Benchista likes this.
  6. John Tarrant

    John Tarrant Active Member

    Curious how the Russians used to make " not quite Leicas" but now Cosina seem to be making a whole range of Leica/Contax alternatives! Years ago I dabbled with a Kiev to try the "Contax experience" great fun but the built in meter was always an irritation: i was going through a puritanical phase at the time and believed that good exposures were made as a result of experience and not by meters that were calibrated in Gost and had wobbly needles!. In the future someone is going to write a book about Cosina's attempts to revitalise the rangefinder market!

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