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Camera Body for Leica M Series Lenses

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Hi,

 

I've been spending days reading about these wonderful Leica M Series lenses. Some questions:

 

1. Are the Summilux, Summicron and Elmarit-M lenses yielding very similar sharpness and picture quality (given that you don't get the wide open F stops with the very expensive ones)?

 

 

2. Amongst the experienced Leica users are the Summicron lenses seen as being significantly improvements over the Elmarit series lenses (other than faster)?

 

3. Are the Elmarit series lenses seen as being a definite step up from ANY of the Zeiss ZM series or Voightlander lenses?

 

4. If # 3 is yes, then are there any exceptions where the Zeiss ZM or Voightlander are very very close in image quality (I already read that the Leica M Series are significantly higher build quality).

 

5. If I follow the wisdom of investing in lenses (the M9 will in fact will be replaced or upgraded, but the Leica lenses will be very current no matter what for decades), then are there any digital larger sensor size bodies available that can accept the M Series Leica lenses that cost significantly less than the M9 (until someday when I can afford to buy it used).

 

6. I have to wear reading glasses. Please direct me to any sites (forums) that talk about the use of rangefinder cameras for those who have to wear reading glasses (diopter 2.0) at this point. (Just use slightly greater magnification?? like a diopter 2.5 for more precise rangefinder focusing?)

 

7. I also want to find out about focusing rangefinder cameras in very low light. Any forums or sites you can direct me to ?

 

In essence, I'm looking for the smallest body with smallest lenses that are wonderful in build and image quality potential so I actually wind up using them, having them on me, having them in my backpack (or with me on daily walks with the dogs) without weighing two tons and taking up all the room (and so I can have that special feeling that money investment has gone toward something very special--- in the end for me artistic photography has to have that feeling tone, so it might as well start with me and my equipment).

 

Thank you for any directions to relevant forums, sites etc, and thanks for any wisdom, insights, encouragement, lessons learned along the way, pitfalls to avoid while purchasing Leica stuff for the first time.

 

Spike

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Spike, that was a big one. But I will do my best:

Hi,

 

I've been spending days reading about these wonderful Leica M Series lenses. Some questions:

 

1. Are the Summilux, Summicron and Elmarit-M lenses yielding very similar sharpness and picture quality (given that you don't get the wide open F stops with the very expensive ones)?

Leica lens names are simply redundant "speed names": "Summicron" means "f:2", no more and no less. Leica do not make lenses to different quality levels. A Leica lens is the best lens Leica can design and manufacture -- period.

 

2. Amongst the experienced Leica users are the Summicron lenses seen as being significantly improvements over the Elmarit series lenses (other than faster)?

No -- as you may already understand from the reply to your previous question.

 

3. Are the Elmarit series lenses seen as being a definite step up from ANY of the Zeiss ZM series or Voightlander lenses?

My reply is applicable to all Leica M lenses.With Zeiss: In some cases, yes (through often marginally). In one or two cases, no. With Cosina/Voigtländer: Optically, yes, in most cases. Mechanically: Yes. C/V lenses are not badly made, and mostly better than what the major Japanese plastics factories offer, but their quality control makes any purchase something of a gamble. Leica mechanics is simply superb.

 

4. If # 3 is yes, then are there any exceptions where the Zeiss ZM or Voightlander are very very close in image quality (I already read that the Leica M Series are significantly higher build quality).

I know of (and use!) two ZM lenses that are fully up to Leica imaging standards, the 18mm Distagon and the 25mm Biogon. I cannot speak out of personal experience about the rest of the line-up, but to judge from published MTF data, and some pictures I have seen, most are very competent optics. You will have to deal with the coding problematic, however.

 

5. If I follow the wisdom of investing in lenses (the M9 will in fact will be replaced or upgraded, but the Leica lenses will be very current no matter what for decades), then are there any digital larger sensor size bodies available that can accept the M Series Leica lenses that cost significantly less than the M9 (until someday when I can afford to buy it used).

None currently manufactured.

 

6. I have to wear reading glasses. Please direct me to any sites (forums) that talk about the use of rangefinder cameras for those who have to wear reading glasses (diopter 2.0) at this point. (Just use slightly greater magnification?? like a diopter 2.5 for more precise rangefinder focusing?)

I use not only reading glasses, but fairly strong ones to compensate for longsightedness. I have experimented with screw-in diopters but found them wanting. My solution is progressive glasses for everyday use. They work beautifully with the M9 too, except that because of the greater eye relief, the 28mm finder frame becomes near-invisible. No matter, I don't like that focal length!

 

7. I also want to find out about focusing rangefinder cameras in very low light. Any forums or sites you can direct me to ?

You focus a RF camera in low light just as usual. And with a M, you will focus more accurately and in most cases faster than any passive AF system, and also faster than manual focus with a SLR. This is one of the real advantages of the M.

 

In essence, I'm looking for the smallest body with smallest lenses that are wonderful in build and image quality potential so I actually wind up using them, having them on me, having them in my backpack (or with me on daily walks with the dogs) without weighing two tons and taking up all the room (and so I can have that special feeling that money investment has gone toward something very special--- in the end for me artistic photography has to have that feeling tone, so it might as well start with me and my equipment).

Poor you -- you are real M fodder. Try it, and you will likely be stuck with it ...

 

Thank you for any directions to relevant forums, sites etc, and thanks for any wisdom, insights, encouragement, lessons learned along the way, pitfalls to avoid while purchasing Leica stuff for the first time.

 

Spike

Do use the search function of this site. The questions you ask have been discussed here repeatedly and extensively in the past.

 

The old man from the Age Before the M

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Spike,

 

Welcome to the forum! (I can add nothing to the learned Mr Bergquists' excellent response.)

 

Pete.

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Thank you for such helpful answers.

 

Spike

 

I'll be back on line someday when I can afford one lens and the M9 body.

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Hello Spike,

 

Welcome.

 

You don't have to have Leica Equipment to participate in this Forum.

 

You can learn a lot about photography in general. Both analog and digiital.

 

There are a lot of very knowledgeable people like Lars and you can learn a lot about photography both Leica and non-brand-specific.

 

Try reading thru the different areas of this Forum and think about it.

 

Best Regards,

 

Michael

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I'll be back on line someday when I can afford one lens and the M9 body.

 

Spike,

 

Why noy have a look at the Leica CL with the 40mm Summicron. It's small, light and a great introduction to Leica RF photography. You'll have to buy it used, of course. Be carefull about the light meter. If original, it probably will not work and the cell will have to be replaced. I purchased mine on the big auction site for $485; the cell and meter were dead. Sherry Krauter replaced the cell and did a CLA (Clean, Adjust, Lubricate) for $455. Final price: $940 with the lens. A real gem in a small package.

 

One other thing: it's a film camera!

 

Guy

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