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cvirili

Leica M1

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Hallo everybody, my name is Claudio Virili and I have just received a Leica M1; I am new in the Leica world, so I need a little help from you about how this wonderful camera works. My main concern is on how to focus objects, since of course M1 is not a reflex camera, but it seems to me that it doesn't have a rangefinder too, is it true? If so, how can focus objects at different distances?

Thank you for your help.

Claudio Virili

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Welcome to the forum, Claudio.

 

The M1 has no rangefinder and only way to focus is to set the focusing scale of the lens to the appropriate distance.

 

In good light or with fast film you can often use a small aperture (e.g. f/11) and rely on depth of field to compensate for inaccuracy.

 

Or set the aperture to f/11 and the lens so the mark is opposite the f/11 mark on the depth of field scale. With a 50mm lens, everything further than 4m away will then be sharp enough for ordinary purposes.

 

You could also carry a measuring tape or buy a separate rangefinder.

 

But the only way to make this a satisfactory camera for general photography is to learn to estimate distances sufficiently accurately "by eye". This simply takes practice: you need to become aware of the sizes of some everyday objects - e.g. a bed, a door, the length of your arm, a newspaper - and then start estimating other distances and immediately checking your estimate against an accurate measurement.

 

One way to check is to use a tape measure or laser rangefinder. A better one, if you have a manual focus SLR or another rangefinder camera, is (1) estimate the distance to some object, (2) set the lens to that distance, and (3) look through the camera and find out how much you have to move the lens to get the correct focus.

 

There's a special satisfaction in being able to use a camera without a rangefinder, but overall you'll probably find another Leica - M2, M3, or later - more useful, especially if you ever want to use lenses longer than 50mm.

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This is a cautionary note

 

There are vintage auxiliary rangefinders made to fit the hot-shoe of many early Leicas and other cameras. I have a lot of them because they tend to be dark, of low-contrast and just plain out-of-adjustment due to their age. Silly me, I have so many because I kept thinking I'd find one useable. I tried them on a Hasselblad SWC and a non-rf Horseman. Ultimately it was a waste of time.

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Thank you Giordano, I found you advice very useful, and it's true that there is a special feeling to be able to focus objects by eye

all I need is practice now.

Claudio

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