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thrid

R8/9 - Overlooked greatness?

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Almost 2 years ago I picked up an almost new R8 with Winder-R for a bargain price. For various reasons the camera did not get much use, but a few weeks ago I started to take her out instead of my Nikon F2 (yeah, I know; blasphemy).

 

After 6 weeks and a few bricks of film I have to say that a the R8/9 is one of the finest film SLR cameras I've ever used and it's a shame that the camera doesn't get the recognition it deserves. This may stem from the fact that it is often compared to cameras like the Canon 1-v, which does pretty much everything but make you a cup of coffee. It's not really an appropriate comparison, since the R8 isn't an AF electronic wonder-box, but was intended to be the best manually operated SLR on the market.

 

The ergonomics are close to perfect and the brilliant viewfinder is genius. Everything from the crisp shutter release to the film transport system operates smooth as silk. The shutter is unusually quiet in comparison to most SLR bodies I've used. The camera is a little bulky, but the extra heft comes in handy when shooting at slow shutter speeds. By todays standards the metering system is rather basic, but delivers very good results, if you know how to use it.

 

I have few complaints. The Winder stinks and is almost not worth the extra weight and bulk. I can actually advance the film faster by hand and the batteries are quite expensive. The indents on the mode and shutter speed dial could be a lot stiffer to prevent them from accidentally being changed. As far as I know the camera isn't weather sealed, but so far I've shot with it in the rain and snow down to -18 C without a problem. The CR2 batteries aren't exactly cheap, but seem to last a good while. So, far my R8 isn't scratching the film, but I will continue to keep an eye on this issue.

 

Anyhow, I'm very pleased and recommend it highly.

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Hurry up, and get your R8/9 a digital DMR back. You will love your camera even more...

 

Welcome!

Gérard

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I have to admit that I too discovered the R9 ways too late. For years I had photographed with the analog M system and the SLRs from Canon all the way up from the old FTb, F-1 new and later the autofocus EOS 1 series up to the last EOS 1 V. I always avoided to make a second heavy investment in Leica gear, so I sticked to the Canon stuff and missed out the R system.

 

However, just having finished the transition into the digital age to the M8 hardly using any of the (D)SLRs any more, Leica started the clearance sell of all their R series stuff and I fell in love in the beauty and the simplicity of the R9 after all the computer orientated stuff I had used the years before. So I bought a new R9 from Meister together with the Summicron-R 50/2 and the Summicron-R ASPH 90/2.

 

I then discovered all the nice details you mentioned and I was thrilled by the amazing ergonomic of this body. There are a lot of details which easily could be adapted even to the M body. Unfortunately I will not really go back to film, but many times I wish the R9 would be a DSLR just with this form factor and the manual lenses. The DMR is such a back-step in handiness just like the former SLRs were with their oversized motor-drives.

 

So this will be the only camera which will sit on my shelf without having been used intensively

 

Best

Holger

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I found the R8/9 to be too thick to hold comfortably. I thought the shutter, far from being crisp, was a long drawn-out "thud-dunk" that made me feel I'd missed every shot (well, at least compared to my Ms

). The DoF preview lever felt "gluey,' especially after I depressed it and it s-l-o-w-l-y slid back into position.

 

OTOH I found the R4-7 cameras to be a bit skinny without a grip/winder, and like the parts weren't fitting right WITH the grip/winders (and with just as rubbery-feeling shutters). And the R8/9 finder is the best since the Leicaflexes.

 

Personal Leica R-mount favorites - Leicaflex SL or R3.

 

Personal choice for "last, best, great manual-focus SLR" - Contax RX, File:Contax rx with planar1,4 85mm jp.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

 

Dials, knurling, minimal top LCD (with another knurled dial rather than buttons to control it), thick grip but thinner overall body thickness, bright screen that was (IMHO ) even clearer than the R8 or Leicaflex. What a Canon F-2 or EOS-1 might have looked/felt like if Canon hadn't gone off the reservation pursuing Darth Vader's helmet as a design theme.

 

Damn, it felt good - but alas, no way to mount R lenses

 

Drawbacks - no pop-off prism for low-angle work, a shutter that was fast and quiet but a bit thin and squeaky-sounding, weak lens line above 180mm.

 

I dream of a digital SLR that matches the RX in every knurled, knobbed, analog-controlled detail.

 

(Now you've go ME thinking about getting a film SLR!)

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I found the R8/9 to be too thick to hold comfortably.

 

I have fairly large hands, so it works for me, but I could see it being a little too beefy for some. Although one reason why the camera does not induce fatigue after being held for hours is the thickness of the body...

 

 

I thought the shutter, far from being crisp, was a long drawn-out "thud-dunk" that made me feel I'd missed every shot (well, at least compared to my Ms ).

 

Interesting. The shutter release on my R8 is extremely crisp, with no lag or 'mushiness'. It does make a rather dull thud, instead of the typical 'clank' of a mechanical Nikon or high pitched whine of something like the Canon 1-V, but I don't get the feeling of a delay.

 

Interestingly in a crowd or on the street it's a lot quieter than my Nikons (except the original F) and draws less attention than the high pitched whine my EOS-1v made. I suspect that the dull thud doesn't travel as far.

 

I agree that it doesn't feel as swift as an M, but then again there is a mirror that needs to get out of the way. That said I think the black out time is quite good; certainly better than the R6.2.

 

I also have an SL and the R6.2.

 

The R6.2 is a flawed masterpiece, having the worst shutter release I've ever seen on a camera. It's a mushy mess with an enormous amount of travel. Even DAG wasn't able to cure this problem for me.

I have no idea how Salgado worked with that camera for all those years. Maybe Leica tweaked his bodies.

 

The SL release is extremely crisp. It almost feels like an M. Very nice.

 

The R3 is also quite crisp and responsive.

 

I was very disappointed with the shutter release on the R7 and other R bodies. Again, very mushy, lots of travel.

 

 

The DoF preview lever felt "gluey,' especially after I depressed it and it s-l-o-w-l-y slid back into position.

 

True, but at least it's nice and big and doesn't feel like it's going to break off. I love the button on the SL. Nice and simple.

 

I service technician told me that both the DOF preview and exposure compensation lever on the R8 is sticky due to the lubricants that were used. Apparently they dried out quickly and became a sticky mess. On my R8 the lube oozed out from around the exposure compensation lever. It looked like rubber cement.

 

OTOH I found the R4-7 cameras to be a bit skinny without a grip/winder, and like the parts weren't fitting right WITH the grip/winders (and with just as rubbery-feeling shutters).

 

I agree that Leica never really got the motors right on any of their cameras. A Nikon F3 with MD-4 is a joy to shoot. Every R motor I've ever used was never quite right. The old square R4 motor felt like an afterthought. The Winder-R for the R8 integrates very nicely with the body, but is pitiful slow and sucks down some very expensive batteries quickly. You just can't win.

 

And the R8/9 finder is the best since the Leicaflexes.

 

Agreed. I believe Leica used some of the same parts in the R6.2, because to my eye they appear identical in performance. While both are extremely bright and high in contrast, they still don't have as much contrast as the SL finder does. DAG resilvered the prism in my SL and it's a sight to behold...

 

Personal Leica R-mount favorites - Leicaflex SL or R3.

 

Those are also two winners in my book. The R3 is very underrated.

 

 

My personal pick for my favorite SLR:

 

The original Nikon F.

 

They broke the mold when they made that one. Reloading is a PIA, but it just feels right, like the M does. Maybe that's because it's actually a Nikon RF with a mirror box bolted to it. I don't know. It's just incredibly elegant and the only other camera aside from the M that I know of, that doesn't feel like it gets between you and your subject. It just disappears.

 

I also have an F2 and although it's an evolution of the F, it's a totally different beast. It's a great, great camera, but something is missing. I've used the F2 extensively, because I know it's as reliable as a paperweight, but I'm not in love with it. I can't quite put my finger on it, but that something extra that the F and M has is missing. But I will tell you this. If I was going to hell and back I would take the F2 along, because you will probably experience 'operator failure' before that camera gives in.

 

(Now you've go ME thinking about getting a film SLR!)

 

You know... ebay never closes...

;-)

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I have to admit that I too discovered the R9 ways too late. For years I had photographed with the analog M system and the SLRs from Canon all the way up from the old FTb, F-1 new and later the autofocus EOS 1 series up to the last EOS 1 V. I always avoided to make a second heavy investment in Leica gear, so I sticked to the Canon stuff and missed out the R system.

 

 

That's exactly it. While the R8/R9 was in production is was a sales dud. Now that people are getting their hands on them for reasonable money a lot of them are discovering just how underrated it was.

 

I like the original Canon F-1. A nice square block of metal. I read a quote from a repair technician who claimed that the F-1 was the most overbuilt camera he had ever seen. Interestingly I don't see many of them for sale, although they were produced in fairly large numbers.

 

Canon lost me with the EOS series. I had a Canon 1-V HS, mainly because of the EF 1.4/35L, but the interface with the rear control dial drove me absolutely nuts, so went back to Nikon (F/F2/F3/D700).

 

 

Now, I'm eyeballing a very nicely priced Summilux-R 1.4/50. It's the older E55 version. Very, very nice optical signature.

Edited by thrid

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I just got a used, but mint, R9 and i LOVE it. I've only had a chance to put three rolls thru it but just about everything about it feels right to me. I like the simplistic design philosophy, uncomplicated viewfinder, the sophisticated feel of the advance lever and the rewind mechanism, and other small touches like the exposure compensation lever and mirror lock operation.

 

I don't find it too big, heavy, or an awkward reach to the shutter release as others have reported. It actually feels light compared to my other cameras (Leica M4, Hasselblad 501CM, and Nikon F3HP). The lock on the mode knob is a bit of a pain to operate without an extra hand but it's not too bad.

 

Most of my use so far has been in manual mode, after carefully determining the exposure I wanted (via spot metering and sunny-16 confirmation). While I have used it in A mode, it was in a very controlled scenario and I made sure it picked the shutter speed I'd calculated before hand. I have checked, but not used, the Program mode but I've found metering discrepancies between manual metering and Program that I need to look at more before I trust it enough to use.

 

I have not had a chance to use the center-weighted or integral metering modes. I'm waiting for a casual situation to give them a test run. Hopefully, center-weighted metering will be as close to perfect as in my Nikon F3HP.

 

I'm trying to decide whether to get the winder or the motor drive. I hear different opinions about the winder and drive so I'm very ambivalent at the moment.

 

Great camera and I'm just dying to go out and shoot with it.

 

Miguel

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That's exactly it. While the R8/R9 was in production is was a sales dud. Now that people are getting their hands on them for reasonable money a lot of them are discovering just how underrated it was.

 

I like the original Canon F-1. A nice square block of metal. I read a quote from a repair technician who claimed that the F-1 was the most overbuilt camera he had ever seen. Interestingly I don't see many of them for sale, although they were produced in fairly large numbers.

 

Agreed about R8/9 sales and underrated.

 

I love my R8 and sadly it's sold, to fund my new M8, and boxed up ready to be posted to it's new owner and I have regretted it since I first advertised it and I know I'm going to regret it even more once it's gone but needs must and all that.

 

I just bought a 1977 Canon F1n for a song and to say it's overbuilt is an understatement, it's like a tank! Cracking camera and I'd lusted after one for years as my first ever SLR camera as a 14 year old boy was a Canon EF which is now long gone so it was more of a heart thing than actually needing one. When I bought it the lens mount was loose so I had to do a partial strip down to repair that and replace all the seals/foams and couldn't believe how beautifully put together it was and how easy it was to disassemble and put back together and it now runs like a dream. Could one imagine doing that with say a modern Nikon D3 ?!?!

 

I also had a Nikon F2A for a while and have to say that and the Leica R8 are the best serious Pro 35mm SLR's I've ever used. I'm now thinking of an F2AS but I know I mustn't and that I certainly don't need one with all the cameras I already own. hehehe

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Personal choice for "last, best, great manual-focus SLR" - Contax RX, File:Contax rx with planar1,4 85mm jp.jpg - Wikimedia Commons

 

Dials, knurling, minimal top LCD (with another knurled dial rather than buttons to control it), thick grip but thinner overall body thickness, bright screen that was (IMHO ) even clearer than the R8 or Leicaflex. What a Canon F-2 or EOS-1 might have looked/felt like if Canon hadn't gone off the reservation pursuing Darth Vader's helmet as a design theme.

 

Damn, it felt good - but alas, no way to mount R lenses

 

Drawbacks - no pop-off prism for low-angle work, a shutter that was fast and quiet but a bit thin and squeaky-sounding, weak lens line above 180mm.

 

I dream of a digital SLR that matches the RX in every knurled, knobbed, analog-controlled detail.

 

Andy, you never said a truer word. I had three RXs with a full complement of lenses and I loved them. I tried an ST, an RTSIII and I started with a 159mm, but there was nothing to compare with the RX. I have an R7 now, but if Contax was still going...

 

Regards,

 

Bill

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Hi all LUF friends,

 

The 3 jokers for film according to me.... with M7

The best in my opinion is the SL (as MP), then the R8/R9 for its holding in his hand,the R4S for its lightness

All are ultra bright viewfinder

Photo : SL with its Summicron 50mm (1970), R4S (1986) with its 90mm Elmarit

and the R8 (2008) with its 35-70mm

I do not know N.... or C.... because I am a "Leicaiste" since 1970 and I still am

Photo taken with a 50mm Lux M8

 

Happy holidays to all

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R8 and R9's are brilliant. I now have two of each, and two DMR's just in case! For those that over looked the R system, serves them right. All you R8 / 9 and R users generally, ENJOY. I wish my M8 gave as much pleasure, but it sits on the shelf redundant.

 

Merry Christmas

 

Mark

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I'm eyeballing a nice clean Summilux-R 1.4/50 for a very good price...

 

Some day Leica may figure out what to do with all of that R-glass out there.

Then prices will go through the roof..

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I have owned and used various R cameras starting with the SL in the early 70's and the R8

was my final R camera purchase in 2001. Absolutely love the the camera. Use it with the

winder on a tripod. The R8 is my favorite R camera with my R4S Mod P's coming in second.

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I'm in fine company. I currently have 3 R8's. one for use with the DMR & other 2 with the motordrive. These are the finest SLR film cameras I have ever used. The R glass puts them over the top.

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I've got an R8 and an R9, with a half-decent selection of lenses (21-35, 28-90, 28/2.8PC, 35/1.4, 50/2, 90/2AA, 100/02.8 macro + Elpro, 180/2.8, 280/4, 2X Apo Ext) and I can't think of anything I'd like better. For the type of work I do, autofocus is not needed. All truly wonderful.

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Same here. As much as I love the SLs and SL2s, I prefer the R9s now.

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I admit it too, I may never sell my SL, but it is seldom used these days. The R8 bodies have taken over, and it would be very hard to go back to SL bodies only [but not impossible

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I LOVE my R9. I use it with the Motor Drive or the DMR. The nice thing is that, ergonometrically, the feel is the same, Motor Drive or DMR.

 

I also have a R6.2, which I use for film with a different speed. I generally use the R9 for the most used film speed and the R6.2 for the less used film speed. It is true that the R6.2 Motor Winder is primitive and akward.

 

Even though the R9 + Motor Drive/DMR combos are big and heavy, I can carry it all day and not tire. The ergonomics are that good.

 

Guy

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