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Leica Virgin, any suggestions welcome!

Discussion in 'Leica Camera Chat' started by T_Sargeant, Mar 22, 2011.

  1. T_Sargeant

    T_Sargeant Well-Known Member

    Hello All!

    This is my first time breathing the rarerified atmosphere of the Leica room, so I hope you don't find me too uncooth!

    But seriously, for whatever reason I have a true hankering for a classic Leica. I used an M3 years ago and this is the camera I'd love to go back to, ideally with a collapsible lens.

    I'm not sure what questions I have, but one of them is, how much do you think I should pay? What is the "going rate" for a user (rather than collector) M3 these days?

    Anyway, I'm sure I'll have more to talk about at some point! But for now I'm just going to get the ball rolling...
  2. photogeek

    photogeek Well-Known Member

    Welcome to the world of Leica a dangerous (expensive) move, that said they are wonderful cameras. As to which one that depends upon the type of photography and if you need a meter or not.

    The three possibilities in my book are M3 (approx £600), M2 (approx £500) unmetered and M6 (approx £900) TTL Metered.

    I would not go for an M4 as they are normally expensive an M5 as it is just wrong and the M6 is getting a bit old for a metered camera.

    The M3 and M2 have different frameline and there are three versions of M6 TTL with 0.58, 0.72 (standard) and 0.85 magnifications on view finders and these again have different framelines. Then it comes to the realy pricey bit of glass.

    The prices above are the sort of prices you would find ast reputable dealers wh give a warranty (Red Dot, Richard Chaplin, aperture, FFordes etc) but will vary uon condition and rarity. Also for glass you can get good Voightlander lenses for a lot less than Leica for the ones you use occaisionally so my 50mm and 90mm glass is Leica and 35mm is Voightlander, but if I had Money I would get 24mm Leica to complete set.

    Hope this at least gives you a starting point
  3. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    In addition to what photogeek has said (and more as an aide-memoire as you've used one) the M3 has frames for 50, 90 and 135mm, the M2 for 35, 50 and 90mm, M4 & M5 for 35, 50, 90 and 135, M4-2, M4P, M6 etc for 28, 35, 50, 75, 90 and 135mm lenses, so the one you opt for should be decided as to what lens(es) you might be using.

    For sheer pleasure of use I'd choose the M3 pretty much every time, but if you use a wide angle a lot that presents its own problems.

    As for lenses, if you want a "modern" look then the Voigtlander lenses are great value and very fine optics (however the resale value tends towards the low end - Leica kit holds its value far better than pretty much any brand out there). The screw mount lenses can be fairly cheap and if you choose wisely they won't lose too much to the pre-aspheric generation of Leica glass; that said the faster (ie faster than f/2) screw mount lenses should be avoided if you want to use them at widest apertures as they are pretty soft until f/4 or so.
  4. nspur

    nspur Well-Known Member

    I bought a Voigtlander Bessa R4A used from Aperture with 25, 28 and 35 mm lenses plus a Nikon 50/2 that I acquired on a Nicca 3F, and really enjoy using it. I did later buy (for my collection) a Leica IIIf plus an Elmar 5 cm f2.8 collapsible and have run a few films though it but actually prefer the more modest Bessa.
  5. Staropramen

    Staropramen Well-Known Member

    Leica M2 plus 35mm f2.8 Summaron - that's my main workhorse. An M6TTL (0.58 finder) and late 35mm f2 is another really good combination in my opinion.

    The M3 is fine with a 50mm lens, but I think it's a waste of space with a 35mm lens and the additional goggles kludge. I haven't actually used one, but am not inclined to try.

    For up-to-date prices browse some shops and eBay, but note that some shops sell on commission and a slow turnover indicates prices may be set too high. Best buys in bodies are usually the M2 and M6 'Classic', with the M2 being a good platform for a contemporary 50mm f2.8 Elmar. For all sorts of reasons I prefer the Elmar over the collapsible 50mm f2 Summicron, but the f2 is still a very nice lens. Using a 50mm lens on an M6 0.58 body means I really have to use a 1.25x magnifier, but these are an additional expense and may be easy to lose. I tend to use a M6 'Classic' for 50mm work. Finding a 'cheap' Leica lens (especially 35mm and 50mm) is not easy nowadays.

    The Voigtlander VM 21mm f4 Skopar is a super lens, arguably better than the 25mm f4 Skopar. The 35mm f2.5 and f1.7 are also very good performers, better than 1960s Leica lenses in some respects, as is the 50mm f1.5 Nokton, but the 'signature' of the older Leica lenses appeals to me more. However, I am less enthusiastic about the Bessa cameras, but they are perfectly functional and, with a trigger winder, can be fast action cameras for candid/street work.
  6. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    I use an M3 with a collapsible Elmarit. Makes a nice combo.
  7. zx9

    zx9 Well-Known Member

    I think they ^^^^^^^^^ have it covered, FWIW I am a M2 and Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 used, small enough to carry in a (largish) jacket pocket. I used a Bessa R for about a month and it just was not gelling with me, I tried to like it but picking up a M3 was the final straw soon the R was traded for a M2 which is within a month or so the same age as me!
  8. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    All good advice so far. For dealers, I recommend Caplan, Aperture, RG Lewis and Red Dot in Lonodn and would be happy buying from Ffordes. {Usual disclaimers apply.}

    I started (the downhill slide!) with a M2 privately bought, via a Leica expert friend, from someone else at a good price. It was great but I found the on top MR meter (acquired separately) a leeetle slooow in fast moving, difficult light, street photography. But the biggest frustration was the film counter. It was so easy to knock it off the correct setting and then you had no idea but an educated guess as to how many frames were left on the roll.

    So for me the basic M6 is fine, a TTL would be unnecessary but good if I gave up OM reflexes and had an indescribably urge (and the money) to add a 24mm Elmarit to the 'pension fund' as I think one of the viewfinder variations allows you to get away, more or less, without the supplementary finder. That said, I acquired a 25mm (39mm screw) Skopar, and have acclimatised to the separate finder with that OK. An M7 would be pure luxury and currently unaffordable but quite ... desirable ... !

    Aah, the seduction of Leica ;-)

  9. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    A PS to the above: my eye was caught the other day, while flipping thru' a Daily Telegraph Saturday Fashion supplement from 14 March, that some shots were styled with a M2 borrowed from David French Photographic Hire. (London, tel: 020 8993 7655) I don't know this operation so cannot recommend them.

    The thought occurs that if you are undecided and are able and willing to afford a day's hire fees, the chance of actually using one of the variants may help in the decision process.
  10. TimF

    TimF With as stony a stare as ever Lord Reith could hav

    I used to have the 0.58 viewfinder, which I think is the one you mean here, but sold it after a year as it was frankly harder to focus accurately with longer lenses and at wider apertures. If memory serves I remember a piece in Leica Fotografie International which stated that the higher-magnification 0.85 viewfinder was the best option if using ultra-wides which might seem counter-intuitive, but I reckon is the case as I had no problems whatsoever using a 24mm on an M3. :)
  11. Mark_Norton

    Mark_Norton Well-Known Member

    What is certain is that if you do go for an M3, you need to get one which has a recent CLA because an untouched one will be something of a gamble. The same is really true of any film M because they are (with the exception of the MP and M7) getting quite long in the tooth.

    I would go for the classic Leica M combination, an M6 with 50mm Summicron and later add something wider such as a 28mm Elmarit (preferably the newer ASPH version which is tiny) and longer such as a new 90mm Summarit or older 90mm Elmarit-M. All depends on your budget but lenses especially are lifelong investments and however good value CV lenses are, you are not getting the full Leica "effect" (whatever that is) if there isn't a Leica lens on the front. Leica's prime skill as a manufacturer has always been - and remains - their lenses, not their cameras.

    Another great (pre-ASPH) lenses is a 35mm Summicron IV and if you put a collapsible 50mm Elmar on the camera, it gets as compact as possible. That little lens is a peach, if f2.8 is enough for what you want to shoot.
  12. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder

    Mark is right re the CLA. However unless receipts are available from a recognised outfit beware, lot's of cowboys about. An alternative is buy one that needs a CLA, budget for it in the price, then get it done by the right people.
  13. 0lybacker

    0lybacker In the Stop Bath

    re Tim's post at 13.49 yesterday:
    Thanks. That's helpful to me and hopefully the starter of this thread, Mr (or M/s?) T. Sargeant.

    On the subject of the Leica effect, I was reading old Leica Fotografies long before acquiring one - part of their cunning softening up/wearing down process? - and going to their special events and their stand at trade shows. I remember being told by technicians face to face and in print that the Leitz lens philosophy was for a lens to be usable at all apertures.

    It had to offer good edge to edge and corner to corner sharpness as well as flatness of field at full aperture and improve to near maximum by stopping down two stops. To do this they were willing to trade off the outstanding central sharpness and high contrast demonstrated by many Japanese lenses. In addition, they were after 'plastische' - a particularly characteristicful Leitz rendering - long before people had caught onto 'bokeh'. They wanted their kit to do all it could to assist the photographer in creating depth (3D) in two-dimensional image capture and replication.

    Me? I just try to take some good photographs ...
  14. Rushfan

    Rushfan Well-Known Member

    I owned a classic M6 a few years ago but decided it was too fiddly to load with my fingers of butter and fists of ham. However, I missed the beautiful quality images it produced and its portability - so much that when my 50th birthday arrived last month I splashed out and bought a replacement from a chap I got to know via a film-based website forum.

    The best advice I can give anyone before buying is to think very carefully about what lenses you like to use and what subjects they will be used to shoot. As TimF quite rightly showed, bright-lines vary from model to model and even within models between viewfinder magnifications. If metering "in camera" is a must have then your choice is limited yet further.

    As I will use the camera to shoot landscapes and travel / street (and I don't want to have to either rely on "sunny 16" or take a hand-held meter wherever I go) I went for an M6 TTL with a 28mm Elmarit-M f2.8 and a 50mm Summicron-M f2.0. All are in lovely condition.

    I intend to start shooting some portraits, so I bought a rather battered 9cm Elmar f4.0 and stuck an LTM to Leica bayonet converter on the back. This is a 1930's lens - uncoated as far as I can see - and with a fair degree of scratching and marks on the front element. Ironically, although my other two lenses are pristine, optically, and produce images as sharp as it's possible to take, the old Elmar has a beautiful softness to it which kind of appeals to me. Not a bad buy for £50.

    Rangefinder shooting isn't for everyone and I will still hold onto my SLR / DSLR and MF gear as it's different strokes for different folks when you want to do sports / macro or more detailed landscapes.
  15. Brian

    Brian Venerable Elder


    I am often tempted to buy a roll of film.

    Re the Voigtlander lenses. I would put them the equal if not better to most pre ASP Leica lenses.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2011
  16. dachs

    dachs Well-Known Member

    I agree all above; however, if I had to sell everything I'd keep an MP and a 35mm F 1,4. Msr Bresson managed with the same kit........

    PS Voigts are OK, especially at the price, but they ain't £eica lenses; by all means get their wonderful 15mm (limitations but fabulous for the money)

    PS don't sweat the viewfinder mag; for all below 28mm focal length you really need the (japanese) hot shoe mount multi-focal length (21-24-28) view finder; unless you have glasses, go for 0,85 V\F, if you do have glasses, get dioptre lenses screw ins and live with the 0,72 V\F.
    Be aware all V\F are minus half a dioptre to start with, the maximum lens screw in you can get is +3d. Therefore, if like me you need +8 d, you have had it, forget a R/F of any type.

    So, if you are highly astigmatic and long sighted, any view finder cam will be a problem. Saying that, I have a few good shots in spite of the aggro of 'seeing' what I'm taking, everything can be worked around.

    Also buy the angle finder magnifier (really helps, x 1,25 mag) for anything over a 75mm lens, it works and it takes the dioptre adapter too. Takes ages though.....
  17. mike_j

    mike_j Well-Known Member

    It's all been said above but do try to buy quality, not a fixer upper camera. I'd go for a M6 classic simply because it is reasonably modern and not outrageously expensive. Film loading is only moderately horrible.

    As to lens, a Zeiss 35mm will serve you well until you feel ready to invest in Leica lenses.

    Voigtlander 15mm also highly recommended.

    If you want a portrait lens and can live with 90mm f4 the Leica CL or Minolta Rokkor alternative are good value for money.
  18. mertonia

    mertonia Well-Known Member

    Its been a while since i posted here but i will throw my thoughts into the ring.
    I use Leica lenses, simply because they are the best lenses i have ever used, that includes 'L' lenses and Hasselblad lenses.
    I have 35mm 1.4, 50mm 1.4 and 90mm 2.8.

    I cannot explain the magical quality of these lenses - i would rather have one Leica lens than three Voits or ziess. Many Leica dealerships will let you take out an M9 with one of these lenses for a couple of hours - free of charge.

    have fun
    CollieSlave likes this.

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