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Thursday, 13 August 2020


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Definitely with a meter, bad enough that it has to be film and rangefinder focus why not just close your eyes and shoot at random, occasionally a printable negative may arise from the primordial soup.

How about the M7? This way you can do manual exposure or auto if you want. Have there been any serious reliability issues with the M7? (I do not know anyone who has used one.)

I think it is great for Leica to offer both film and digital versions of the M. One set of lenses you can mix and match. Is Nikon the only other company that offers this?

My final film camera was a Leica MP. I had used M6s for a couple of decades before it.

The lack of a film rewind lever was a step backwards IMO, but the camera felt much better-built than either of my M6s. Everything was a little smoother to operate, and it felt very solid in hand. That's saying something because the M6s were so good.

For me, I'd buy an MP again because of the precision mechanical feel. Thankfully, I purchased new when Leica offered educator discounts. Like many things photographic, I'm sure those days are gone.

Leica M7, without a doubt. The MP is a workhorse that you can (probably) take to Antarctica. The M7 is a workhorse that you can (probably) take to Antarctica as long as you take extra batteries (which are tiny) and give you better hit ratio.

My first Leica was an M7, which I still have. At some point I also had an MP but when I needed to liquidate one, I decided to sell the MP. Still would make the same decision again.

Mike, speaking of Leica, have you ever posted an article about Ernst Leitz and "The Leica Freedom Train?" Besides making the finest cameras and lenses, the Leitz family and their company were among the very finest people. Here is the link in Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leica_Freedom_Train
Might make a good post.

I'm lucky enough to own an M3, and as I was saying in a previous comment, I like having few material possessions. So even if I could afford anything, I don't think I'd buy another Leica. If I won one in a lottery, I'd probably sell it and buy a lens with the proceeds.

As someone who heavily leans towards the 50mm focal length, the M3 really is the perfect camera for me – or as close to perfect-for-me as Leica ever made: I wish it had an M4-style rewind crack, a larger M6 TTL-style shutter-speed dial and a centered tripod mount. If I want a light meter, I use my Minolta SLR.

Apropos of minimalism, I enjoyed your story about your friend Eddie. To me, someone who owns 3 LPs is more intriguing than someone who owns 1,400. Makes you think, those 3 records must be really special.

Tough question. Never shot a Leica. I’d want either an M4, M5 or M6 .85. Even a ZM Ikon, because the loading makes more sense. Lenses would be 50mm ZM Planar, 90mm M Rokkor and either a 28 or 35 for a wide.

This is easy. I photograph in black and white and hunger for a Leica monochrome type 246. With two summicrons, please, a 50 and a 35.

There must be demand for some film cameras. The last film camera I bought was a Leica MP just like this one except in silver chrome. It was really lovely but I just was never going to use it again. It was just too nice to sit in a drawer so I sold it last year. I was astonished when it sold for about $1,000 more than I had paid for it! And now I see why; new models are selling for $1,000 more than that!

Whatever gives ya pleasure.

To answer your question regarding what film camera I’d buy today, I’d have to say either a Leica M7 or a Hasselblad 500 - series, both of which I have. My M7 is my last 35mm film camera and I plan to keep it for the rest of my life. I believe it's the most timeless "modern" film camera built to last almost forever. I might even run a few more rolls of film through it before I’ve “expired”! My Hassy 503CX has been with me for many years and is seeing new life this summer! So it’s also going to be with me for the duration.

Hassy 503CX with CFV II-50C Special Lunar Landing commemorative edition digital back

(I hope to offer more on my summer Hasselblad project to TOP readers soon.)

Best Leica mount film camera (IMHO) was reviewed by Mike Johnston, here. No longer available new, alas.

I would re-purchase the R5 and 35mm f2 and 90mm f2 that I had 25 years ago and sold to finance the acquisition of a Pentax 67. I liked the 67 well enough, but have always regretted selling that R5. A very well sorted SLR, and I absolutely loved the 35 summicron.

It probably doesn't help that I'm left eye dominant, but I've never quite understood the appeal of the rangefinder form factor.


I'd go for M3 with your favourite 50mm, and an M4-2 with your favourite 35mm. (Both of which I own and use)

Much as I like the idea of a brand new body, viewfinder experience is my top criteria

Meter? What's that for?

I went through all of the usual hoop jumping to satisfy my Leica lust back in the day. I started with a couple of beat up M3s, got an (rare) M2R so that I could use 35mm lenses without bug eyes, found a great M4, and then finally a new in the box classic M6.

After getting the M6, I sold the M3s and M4 in Japan when the Yen was strong and made a terrific profit over my initial price for the old used cameras. I kept the M2R because of its rarity.

The M6 was everything that I wanted and served me well traveling around the world 5 times. Sadly, I just can't justify the hassle and expense of shooting film anymore. I will hold onto my M6 and same period Summicrons for sentimental reasons, but I don't see any actual film loading and shooting in its future.

The cost-no-object answer would be MP. The built-in meter makes it elegant and practical in actual use. I believe in many ways that’s the ultimate Leica and the M-A is a wonderful but impractical compromise.
But I’d never buy an MP new. I already have an M6 TTL (.58, better than a regular M6 because the finder doesn’t flare), have had it for 10 years. And one thing is still true for Leica’s: I can probably sell it for the same money I originally paid for it. Which is another reason to not buy new, the used ones are essentially free apart from maybe CLA every 10 years.

I kept my M6ttl with the .85 magnification finder and had it modified to eliminate the rangefinder flare that occurred in oblique light (not an issue for the M4). Having settled on a 50mm lens as standard and only, I'm very happy with the combination. Sometimes I'll attach the small Leica strobe. You can then try a shot with fill flash and without just by changing the shutter speed from 1/50 to 1/60 since the strobe won't fire if the shutter speed is shorter than 1/50. Obviously a 1/50 flash sync speed is very limiting outdoors. As much as I like the M4, a camera without a built in meter is a non starter for me.

The M4, because I am fortunate to own both the M4 and M6 (classic, Wetzlar) and have compared them.

Malcolm Taylor, (who Leica chose to restore the original UR Leica and other cameras/lenses), put a new shutter in my M4, repaired the rangefinder and serviced it, a decade or so ago.

I spoke to Malcolm about both the M4 and M6 and he regarded the M4 very highly, but did say that the M6 was also a fine camera and with a built-in lightmeter.

If I had to only have one of my cameras, lenses, it would be the M4 with the 35mm F2 'cron.

Contax G2 with a 28 - 35 - 45 - 90 set of those lovely Zeiss lenses

Analog Leica Ms were indeed out of stock at B&H for few months. It is fine if they are back since the company has probably completed a batch.
In the meantime, I am very happy with my 12 years old M7 & MP. I use them actually for about 50 rolls a year.

M2, with 35mm f/2 and 90mm f/2 Summicrons. I thought seriously about trading in all of my then-current gear to help fund that system, but I would have needed hundreds more to get all three items. This was at a time when these items were relatively affordable. It's amazing how little things like a lack of money can put the kibosh on ideas like that.

In the past, I owned and used a Leica M4-P, M-4, and M6. The film-winding action of the M4 was, by far, the one that felt the best during operation.

M2 and a 35mm/2.0, plus a Nikkormat with a pre-AI 105mm/2.5 and a crate of Tri-x.

I guess in my case the answer is which ones did you keep? See my "accumulator, not collector" comment earlier this month.

I still have the M6, M5, M3, M3 DS, and M2, and a CL or two. Of those, the M6 is the most practical, the M5, the most underrated, the M3's the most classic, the M2 the most suited to my "natural" field of view. I have sent down the road the M7 (didn't use auto metering), M6 TTL (didn't use TTL flash at all), and the M4-P.

The M5's meter is basically a spot meter, it was that accurate. Really allowed you to place middle-gray where you wanted it. Also the M5 fits my hand the best, even it looks oversized compared to its sleeker brethren. Ask Sherry what she things of the M5 -- she'll sing its praises for a good half hour before you get a word in edgewise.

Having said all that, I'd probably get an MP if I won the lottery. I've become dependent on a light meter and found the M6's quite easy to use. As it stands, I plan on taking advantage of Leica's legendary durability to "use up" the ones I have. I'd love to be using my M3's when they turn 100 . . . .

M3. 100% finder for shooting with both eyes open. Easy.

Single stroke because I have become lazy in my old age, and I can afford the extra $100. Light meter pfft. When I shot with one of these for my Leica year, I had a piece of graph paper with some notes on it and I metered light with my eyes.

Well I clicked on your links and discovered that B&H does NOT have them in stock (black or chrome). Of course they may only have had one of each and after your last post they both sold! Luckily, I looked in my camera cupboard and discovered my Leica MP – bought back when I decided to take the 'Leica as Teacher' challenge. So crisis averted!

The picture above this article isn't a LEICA MP camera.
It is a LEICA M-A camera [without a lightmeter].
This camera works like a LEICA M4 camera. The showed camera has a film rewind knob like the LEICA M3, M2 or M1. This is made as a special request.

Oh, by the way, the M7 was discontinued somewhere in the five years since I bought it.

M3 for best viewfinder and lens focal length preference (>= 50mm). I dislike the distortion in many 35mm and wider pictures.

I still look back fondly on my Leica M2, 35 Summilux and Elmarit 90 kit from the 60s. Many of the photos I treasure and that still grace my walls and website were taken with that camera kit.

Around 2000, I looked into replacing it with exactly the same models from used equipment at a local store in Boston, but discovered that my eyes and the viewfinder were incompatible, confirming the sensibility of moving to SLRs in 1971.

But eyesight aside, would I want another film Leica - emphatically NO! I was seduced into trying film again by discussions on this blog earlier this year, so I purchased a used Nikon FM with 50mm lens and 35 and 100 lenses, along with some Tri-X film. The camera body and 35mm lens were OK, but the 50 and 100 lenses were, let's say "disappointing" compared to the descriptions of the sellers.

What did I learn? Shooting film is different. Take pictures and wait two weeks to get processed film back, thankfully already scanned. Images are "different," harder to manipulate and, while they have a certain appeal, are best described by the term "interesting."

Sold the equipment at a huge loss after two months of experimenting. Lesson learned - you CAN'T go home again. At least I can't....

Good point on needing to know exactly what demand for new film Leicas really is before getting carried away. The production batches are likely very infrequent and stick around in retailers' stocks for quite a while. Used M film cameras seem to be plentiful still, so it isn't like the film-loading Leicas have disappeared from the market.

As for which to go with... interestingly there's a LHSA webinar on 'Choosing and Using Old Leicas' scheduled for August 19, 2020.

I like the M-A if 'new' is needed - just learn to guess exposure (a good skill to have). Need a meter? M7 - it even comes with auto exposure (nuts!).

I'm partial to my old, banged up M2 w/out self timer. No frills, simple uncluttered framelines - everything you need and nothing you don't.

Well, I have an M4, built in 1967. I also have a 50mm Summicron and a 35mm Summaron. So I have put my money where my mouth is.

If I were buying a new film Leica today, I might go for the MP but would be perfectly happy with an M-A. But not at current prices.

What means is: Leica stopped production of film cameras, assuming existing stock would be enough for ever. It was not, so must restart production, get tools out of boxes blah. Takes time to do this, so 'can not keep up eith demand' of course.

I've been a Leica user since the 60's. First was an unused used M3; a year later came an M4 which I still have. A couple of years ago, a black unused used M-A showed up on my radar. Got it.
Glass on the M-4 is a V1 35mm Summicron. No meters, no batteries needed.

Apparently Japan is the big market for film cameras. The connoisseurs.

I love love love my M6 classic, it came at a good price as a 'user' and is worn just enough for me not to worry about adding more wear myself. Somehow I've always preferred the look of the M4-P as my favourite Leica, but I'd never give up the meter in the M6. The only upgrade I could see would be the M6 TTL with bigger shutter speed dial, or an MP if I somehow got rich.

Have you tried to buy a Graflex lately?

I had an M3 for a while and didn't really take to it. Always loved the M2. The IIIf is nice but the lens selection is obviously lesser.

A good condition Leicaflex SL2 mot would be nice. Good luck finding one that hasn't been worn out and used up in a studio.

A mint M3 SS, 50 Cron, Tri-x and a trip back in time to Woodstock. I don't ask for much.

I sometimes browse the Reddit waters of the internet. And in the Leica section I relatively often see posts like these:


So this MP / M-A “trend” was something which I noticed also.

If I got a new leica, I'd get the best one I ever owned again: a IIIf black dial with a 50/2 Summitar. The. Best. Before or since.

I have had a number of old Leicas (Leitz), M2/3/4/5/6. The M4 was definitely the smoothest and my one was in immaculate condition. I traded it as part of a deal for a Leica M-D (type 262), and then later bought a SS M3, I also (somewhere along the line) acquired a CL.

The CL is the best one to carry around but mine is a little bit iffy when advancing the film. However it works for me as a mini M5 with spot meter.

My favourite of the film versions for its build is the M4, but for my purposes the M3 and its wonderful viewfinder with one of my several 50's mounted, is the one that I will keep.

The M-D is my favourite digital Leica, this is my third digital M.

In essence, I will be keeping my current three Leicas for ever, they are sublime... The M-D is all I need for digital, no menus.

I've used an M2 with 50, 35, and 19 mm lenses since around 1970, when they were really cheap. Mine went to Sherry Krauter for a tuneup about 15 years ago when the highest and slowest shutter speeds became too unreliable. She told me that a period of immersion in water might have been a factor in the good price at which I got it. It has worked fine ever since then, and who needs an exposure meter? (I did buy a Pentax spot meter somewhere along the way.)

@Richard E. Skoonberg: thanks for the link about the Leica Freedom train. Gives some well needed warm fuzzies about humankind. Something that's needed every now and then to counteract the news.

Back on-topic: I'm out of sync with Leicas, but I remember configuring one several times and always going for the rangefinder with the 35mm coverage (.7x or something?). So one of those with a meter, if you please.

If your pills really stave off those problems, I need some.

Something is missing: light meter repair options or lack there of, for owners of M5, M6, M6TTL, MP.

M7 should be added to list of M with light meter

I would not be surprised. I've heard reports that powersports sales (motorcycles, side-by-side ATVs, personal watercraft, etc...) are booming. Likewise with RVs. It seems that this pandemic is hitting socio-economic classes asymmetrically, and there are brackets that are spending money on toys instead big vacations that they were forced to cancel this year.

What does surprise me is the fundamental trust in the economy, that many think they'll get through this pandemic more or less unscathed. Personally, I'm less sanguine, but perhaps that says more about me than anything else...

I'm actually planning to rationalize (pronounced "unload") most of my M mount gear. I'll keep only the M6 and my three best, favorite lenses - 21/3.4 ASPH, 35/2 ASPH and 75/2 ASPH. Too much stuff, time to lighten my load...

M4-P for me--the M6 has achieved cult status with corresponding prices.

I use it daily with my "forever lens", a Voigtlander 40mm F/1.2 Nokton. It goes with my on my morning walk where I use it to document our contemporary litter, discarded face masks and disinfectant wipes. I also use it to document the stuff people put in front of their houses for other people to take for free. I've photos of ranges, lawnmowers, string trimmers, decorative bark, desks, you name it.

I could do all that with my Monocrom (Typ 246) but I enjoy the mechanical aspects of film photography. And I'm getting pretty good at Sunny 16.

Oddly, when I clicked through to look at the M-A on B&H's website, I noticed that the product images aren't all of the M-A. One of the bodies shown has a big M-7 in white lettering. Also, notice that the rewind knob/crank is different in different images, etc.

I have an M4 and an M6. The M4 is glorious. Love them, still use them once in a while. I wouldn't buy a new Leica M body though, not a film one, not digital one.

I use my Leica M lenses with my M43 cameras, mainly my Pen F. Not exactly the same experience, but close enough. The 135mm f3.4 APO Telyt is the perfect, ultra tiny, sharp, manual focus, almost 300mm equivalent telephoto for M43.

Bought a used M6 back in the 80’s.
Went crazy and bought a second M6 titanium so I could have color film in one, and B&W in the other. Sold both to finance a M8 which thanks to digital could shoot both color and B&W at the same time.
When I read film M cameras were in demand and out of stock, I wanted one again. As soon as they became available the desire departed. I realized I really wouldn’t shoot any film. Told a dear friend recently he wouldn’t shoot any film either.
But if I desired just to have one on the shelf, and budget was not an issue, a new M-A all mechanical no light meter would be my choice. Hey, I don’t need a light meter if it’s just sitting on a shelf.


The M-A.

Partly because there's nothing left to take away and that appeals somehow. Partly for the black chrome. Partly Partly because I've taken to guessing, then confirming, meter readings by eye and have discovered that with few exceptions I can eyeball it reasonably well and natural light doesn't change that all that much.

For me it's the forever-Leica.

I'm actually this close to having saved up the cash for one; and now the choice I'm really struggling with is "M-A or Epson P906"?

If I were to get a film camera now it would be the M10-monochrom. I've tried using the newer style digital gizmos, but there's just no mojo in it for me. The monochrom film saves eons of time and chemical use in processing compared with gelatin film, and turns out cheaper over the long run.

What is it with all these guys proudly saying they and their friends would never use film again? Are they trying to convince someone or themselves? Students and young photographers have led a surprising resurgence in film in the last 3 or 4 years, with some interesting creative output. Unfortunately, new Leicas are out of most of their price brackets. Still, someone is buying the new product. Good for them.

I understand Leica has always had a problem of more sales for second hand, than new. This must be a combination of durability and that many who buy them, subsequently decide they don’t meet their needs. For those who find them suitable tools, most any variant on the M4 onwards will probably be fine. The M4 has the self timer in addition to its hand fettled build quality.
The only important photographer who seems to have consistently used the self-timer would appear to be Josef Koudelka, who recorded himself where he slept during his travels for his ‘Exiles’ project.
The subsequent Canadian M4-2 in my experience was fine, despite its lower cost manufacturing methods. I would expect the later M4-P, both Canadian and German made, some with additional 28mm and 75mm frame lines to be equally effective. Both have a hotshoe, though no meter.
The M6 introduced through the lens metering. For purists who complain about being distracted by the red metering triangles, just remove the battery, then surreptitiously replace when required.
The M6 TTL is the one version significantly different from its predecessors. Not due to its built in flash metering (only with appropriately compatible hotshoe mounted flash) but the changed shutter speed dial. This is both larger and easier to adjust, but it turns in the opposite direction to all the proceeding models. Logical as adjusting exposure now follows the direction of the meter arrow, when changing both aperture and shutter speed. However, using an M6 TTL simultaneously with any of the earlier models is less than ideal. Apart from the ‘improved’ shutter dial, for myself, the TTL has the advantage of a 0.58 viewfinder, making wider angle lens much easier to use, though at some loss of focussing accuracy.
Though having bought Leica lenses new, I have always purchased second hand bodies. Another reason now for not buying new, in my view, is that offering only film bodies without an angled crank is a mistake. Yes, the straight line rewind is mechanically tougher, but massively. much, much slower than the angled version. Similarly, selling 50mm F2, lenses without a focussing tab seems crackers in my view.

I've always found it amusing that these most highly touted of precision imaging machines, known for their incredibly well honed tolerances and attention to the most minute of details, all use a framing system that approximates at best and when used with an auxiliary finder is basically taking an educated guess.

As for going home with a strange priest, and a promise- that was... a miracle!

As a followup to the"miracle priest"...Two years later I sold the whole M2 outfit to a collector and the proceeds from that helped paid my tuition for my first semester at The Germain School of Photography. That transaction was the start of 40 year career in commercial photography that Thank The Lord is still going on.

I just checked eBay, and the prices on M4's have gone up about 50% from what I remember last time I looked. For me, the best deal in getting into Leicas is probably still the Minolta CLE and the Voightlander 40/1.4. Really magical camera and lens. It's almost something you can do no wrong with.

Did you lose (or delete) my comment regarding number of film Ms produced annually? About 1,000, as best as I remember, from a Leica exec a couple of years ago.

Note also that the MP, unlike the M-A is back ordered at B&H. These things are made in batches, and my guess is that the Asian buyers (the biggest film M market, as I recall) is probably not buying from B&H.

[You posted that comment to the GX9 post. Here it is:



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