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Your first Leica? Tell your story...

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In some posts or self introductions of new members „my first Leica“ is mentioned - without further appreciation.

 

My idea: In this thread tell in a nutshell about your first Leica:

 

What was your first Leica?

 

  • Family heirloom?
  • Afforded from your first pay check

 

And please add some images - beauty shots of the camera (aka „Leica Porn“) or a documentation of your first tentative steps...

 

I'm looking forward to your stories!

 

Andreas

Edited by admin

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In 1975 I bought my first Leica 111f, (previously Canon SLR, Pentax & Minox)

I cannot remember the lens (a 28mm I think) - spent many hours @ Kew Gardens.. Moved onto the M3 with a couple of lenses, 35 & 50mm.. Then the M6 (28,50 & 90mm).. The first time I visited Scotland (1 months vacation-circa 1985) used 80 rolls of Kodak!!

Stayed with the M6 & then purchased the R6.2 (28,50 & 90mm) Mostly used Kodak & Fuji..

Sorry no images, they are stored somewhere in the UK.. Thereafter I jumped into digital around the time of the original Leica/Fuji, then the D-Lux 3.2mp & D-Lux4. Moved onto the

X1, XVario & my new addition -> M-P240 Safari..

Found 1 from the dark ages:- Leigh On sea, Essex..

Edited by manoleica

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The first Leica I purchased was a new M4 in 1968 while I was in college. I had used a friend's M2 with 50 2.8 Elmar and 90 TeleElmarit (fat), and really liked the RF expanded view for shooting sports compared to my SLRs (Pentax H1a and Canon FT). The dealer had both new M3 and M4 (same price), and I preferred the M4 for it's 35mm frame and rapid load. When the dealer unexpectedly got in another TeleElmarit I couldn't resist - but cut back on frills and meals to cover the cost. (Also cut back on studying...) I've been hooked on Leica ever since.

As I left school in '69 I traded my SLR gear (and cash) for a new Leicaflex SL and 50 Summicron, adding a 135 mm when I could afford it.

I still have and use both, along with others acquired since.

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My first Leica was my lllf red dial, with Summar 5cm. Bought in 1982.

 

I'd read about the Barnack models and the great historical images taken with them by Photographers such as HCB.

 

A short while later I noticed 'my' Leica in the window of a local camera shop one Sunday (when shops didn't open Sunday's). I went back in the week to have a look, and just loved the camera I had to have it! I didn't know anything about the model or the lens, but the dealer was happy to do a near swap for my almost new Nikon FM.

 

I enjoyed using the Leica and even liked the rather soft images the hazy and slightly damaged (as I realised later) Summar produced. They certainly looked different.

 

After a while I found the lllf a bit limiting and wanted the look of more modern lenses again so the Leica got less and less use. I wished I could buy a new lens for it. I assumed other old Leica lenses would look the same as the Summar.

 

One day Voigtlander started to make new LTM mount lenses. I found out about these and decided to buy one for the lllf. Suddenly I was using it most of the time again - Voigtlander gave it a new lease of life.

 

I later tried and Elmar 5cm and wished I'd bought one years ago - fantastic lens. As indeed is a good example of a Summar, but good ones are getting very rare!

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My first Leica was a Minilux bought as a birthday present for me by my dear wife. I was astonished by the quality of the prints I got from it, and when my younger son, who has no knowledge of or interest in photography whatsoever, also remarked on the "three-dimensional quality" of the images compared with "other" photographs, that was that.

 

I bought into the film R system, and collected one of two lenses over the years. Now I also have an M240 with EVF and R-M adapter, and a 35 Summarit M for when I want to travel digitally but light.

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During my university years, I went to Asia and did a documentary on Taoists temples for their archives with a Nikon FTn and a Nikkormat; that was in 1976. Two years later I was posted to Hong Kong to do my military service. I met with a photographer whose work I admired, Bob Davis. He was using a deceptively simple camera that one could barely hear click (his was an M4). It didn't take long before I dumped my Nikons against an M2 (1959) with a 35 Summicron (type 2 1969) and a 90 Elmarit (1959) to be joined, a very short while later by a IIIg with 50/1.4 Nikkor (1950).

So mine was a trade-in of sorts, hoping to emulate my betters. I'm still trying...

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My first contact with a Leica... way back in the sixties I was doing my military service at the Swedish Army Photography School i Kristianstad, Sweden. To start with, one was assigned an Agfa Silette to learn the basics (regardless of one´s photographic experience...), but after that we got to the Army Leicas: old screw mount bodies (IIIc and IIIf; the IIIg´s were for the top brass only) with 50 Elmar, 135 Hektor, and 200 Telyt.

 

Before being drafted, I had invested in a beautiful Minolta SR7 and lenses in the same range, and I absolutely HATED the Leicas; I found them hopeless to use and anachronistic beyond belief....I know I´m going to be tarred and feathered here for this confession, so let me add that my values are quite different nowadays...

 

In any case, that Minolta outfit would be worth nothing today on the market; we know what those Army Leicas cost now.....

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IIIf.

 

My dad bought it for the imminent arrival of this fellow:-

 

 

Me.

 

(IIIf, 5cm Elmar)

 

 

I inherited it in the '80s and it's my only physical memento of my dad. Precious in many ways.

 

Notwithstanding my sentimental attachment to it, it is still my favourite camera to use.

 

I bought an M6 because I wanted a modern film advance and rewind. I bought a D2 because I wanted digital. I bought an M8 because I wanted a digital M. I bought an M2 because I love the purity of it. I bought an M9 because I wanted full-frame. I bought a D-Lux 5 because I wanted a point-and-shoot. And on and on and on……..

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I brought my first Leica back in 1978. After (mis)using a Zorki 4K for several years I wanted a camera that could be used with 1/1000 without shutter issues.

 

So I had to decide either an Leica (500 dutch guilders) or an Nikon FM (the hottest new Nikon at that time)

 

I went for a Leica, since I could continue to use my 50mm lens from my Zorki.

 

(Shortly after that I could buy an 500 dutch guilder Summicron 50mm - non-collapsible from 1960)

 

I didn't know the difference between an M1, M2,M3 or newer. So when I called a dealer and he mentioned he had an 600 guilder M3 or an 500 guilder M2 for the cheaper M2. Student and all, you know. It turned out to be the best choice, since I brought a few years later a Summilux 35mm.

 

A few years later I brought an Nikon F2, but as small and easy as the M2? Never

 

BTW I am a street and event photographer.

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The first Leica I used was a Leica IIa when I had job as Beach Photographer for Photo Hall at the Belgian Coast. It was chosen because it was very resistant to salt water and sand.

The lens was an Elmar 50/3.5. I became a real fast photographing expert in that time.

Later I got a Leica IIIa and also a Leica IIIf red label. Lenses I used where the Elmar 35, 50 and 90 mm. I still use the 2 last ones.

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In 1982 I lived in Australia and was embarking on a family tour of Europe. There used to be tough import duties so it was common to return from overseas with an armful of watches, duty-free, and sell them to recoup some cost. I decided to do the same but with Leica camera equipment as I knew it could be very profitable.

 

In Singapore, en route, I purchased an R4, Elmarit 24, Summilux 50 and 70-200mm zoom and decided to use them while travelling rather than my Olympus OM-2. I shot more than 2,000 Kodachrome slides, sending the little yellow boxes back to the Kodak factory in Melbourne to be developed and posted to my home. I did not see a single shot until we returned from the trip. (How trusting is that?)

 

When we opened the boxes I was simply amazed at the quality of the results -- 3-dimensional, rich colours and subtle gradations, in bright light or low light. Slide projection was certainly a great way to show off what those Leica lenses could do. One of several I had printed and framed was a picture of a tapestry in the Vatican (the two disciples dining with Jesus after the journey to Emmaus, if you know it) -- hand held, 1/8 sec., f1.4, no flash permitted. This camera could see in the dark!

 

I would never have bought such a luxurious outfit for myself -- what with children, mortgage, etc. -- but when I saw those results I sold the Olympus kit (which was no slouch) and kept the Leica. I would attach a picture but in the 1990s the original R4 stayed with my ex-wife following a divorce so I no longer have it. Once I had financially recovered I bought an M6 and two lenses (35 'lux and 90 apo) -- two lenses which are still in regular use with my M240 today, 17 years later.

 

There is nothing else like Leica. I wont be changing any time soon

 

 

PS here is the tapestry (not the photo I took, but):

Edited by rob_w

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My first Leica was a IIIA (1938) which my flatmate Joe swopped for my Hornby electric train set after we agreed they were both worth £10. That was back in 1974. It had the Leicavit winder, the leather case to fit it and a Summitar 50mm lens. I still have it and all the other cameras I bought along the way over the 45 years since then: an M3, Leica Mini, M6, M8, and M. The IIIA has never failed me and I remain grateful to it for the photos it took and for the introduction to Leica.

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My first Leica wsa the Leica M3, with the 50mm dual-range Summicron, single stroke advance... late 1958 orf ealy 1959, as I recall. Then, in 1969, it was the Leicaflex SL, with 50mm Summicron, and later adding the 180mm, Elmarit 2.8 oth a 50mm.

Presently, looking to purchase either the M9 or model T, inasmuch as either seems to accept th 180mm Elmarit... and,lf course, the M9 sholujldf be relatively noiseless as was tghe M3.

Edith

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In 1969 I traded in my Minolta SR1a with 55mm and 135mm lenses at Wallace Heaton's for a IIc with uncoated 5cm and coated 9cm Elmars. This was encouraged by my mother (who'd switched from a Leica to a Rolleiflex when I was about 6), and I never regretted it.

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My first Leica's where two M4P's with a 35 mm summicron a 21mm super angulon and a 50mm summicron.

I bought them from Don Chatterton in 1987 out of shutter bug magazine with money I had earned from shooting for AP as a stringer for $25.00 a picture. I think they cost me $1200 for the whole package. I then did a project in the SF housing projects called eye to eye 1988 , then in 1989 went to Eastern Europe to photograph the collapse of the Iron Curtain I was 26 years old, I had 5 rolls of film and Ian Berry of Magnum Photos gave me 5 more rolls of HP5 James Nachtwey gave me 2 rolls of TriX in Praha, I would only shoot one picture of each scene. I was young and film was pricey, looking back I wish I had 40 rolls!

people can see the work at Miah N. Rothmer Johnson, also youtube, leicaeyetoeye.

 

I now use a M6 and M7 and M9P's. for my client work and my fine art work whether street or documentary, unless I was underwater working.

 

I am looking for a gallery or museum to represent my work, so if anyone has any ideas that would be great, I hate to leave it all behind like Vivian!

 

regards to all, Miah

Edited by miahfoto
spelling

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In 1980 I was a student in London studying Photography/Photoscience. I had a part-time job working for a well-known (Leica) retailer where I used to MTF test lenses (some readers may remember which;)) and I had the opportunity to buy my first Leica, a little used, black chrome Leica M4 from another employee who was moving over to Alpa! I acquired a few lenses for it from my earnings including a 35mm Summilux and 21mm Super-Angulon. My undergraduate project was an MTF comparison of two different systems, one of which was the Leica. After studying I went to work on a Marine Research Station and had to acquire Nikon gear simply because of the type of photography I was required to undertake.

 

I have always regretted selling the Leica and lenses to afford the Nikon stuff I needed and now have replacements and despite ther age I'm more than happy with the older lenses although it has to be said that the black chrome M4 is rather beaten up to put it mildly.

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Don here at Eastwestphoto, my first leica was a Minolta 35, maybe a model E the full frame one. So, your saying; "hey thats not a leica"? Well I had a NY E. Leitz lens on it, a Wollensak Velostigmat 90mm F:4.5 in LTM m39. The year was 1963, I was a very advanced kid photographer. I had a close friend and we were expermenting with Diafine pushed to ASA 1000 and long developing times. The Velostigmat is still a fabled lens and I use mine on the Sony A7r these days. The lens made in Rochester N.Y. for E. Leitz was simply amazing optics. We travelled mostly to Times Square in those days to garner wonderful night shots of shady characters, they were a fav subject matter. While we printed all photos on a leitz focomat 1c enlarger. One day, I must have those negatives scanned to digital too share.

Although i work strictly in digital these days my use of Leitz lenses continues through adapters to the Sony a7r, my favorite lens in 40mm contines to be the 40mm Summircron CL German version. Simply the greatest , smallest , bestest Leica lens ever made! Enjoy, Don

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I bought my first Leica from an American diplomat in Kabul, Afghanistan, in 1968 where I was a Peace Corps Volunteer, a IIIc.

 

I was negotiating for a black Leica II from a local bazaar vendor but we just couldn't agree on a price--bargaining is a big deal in Afghanistan--and I found out about a IIIc outfit that the American diplomat wanted to sell. I got it and 3 lenses at a reasonable price and happily used it for street photography in Kabul and on our one vacation to Pakistan, India, Hong Kong, Thailand and Cambodia. Tri-X was my film of choice and Prakash photo studio developed the film.

 

I've exhibited those photos and have a new exhibit opening at Rutgers University in April, including a large photo of the Great Buddha at Bamiyan that has now been destroyed. The lenses were great and this slide enlarged to a 22x43 print without a problem to my delight. I still have the lenses, too.

 

Attached are a couple of my favorites from this period.

 

Regards,

 

David H. Miller

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My first Leitz product was a Leicaflex. Having had SLR's for awhile, I knew that Leitz products were considered top of the line. One day in San Diego where I was stationed I read an ad for a used Leicaflex. It came with a 50mm Summilux, a 35mm Elmarit and a 135mm Elmarit, so I called the guy and got it for what I thought was a good price. He was getting rid of a lot of camera gear and did not want it any more. It came in one of those nice Leica leather cases and everything was in great condition from what I could see and so I figured I got a great deal.

 

After using it for awhile, I noticed that the battery kept running down a lot faster that I thought it should and was wondering if there was a shut off somewhere that I didn't know of on the camera. At that time there was no one in San Diego that was really knowledgeable that I knew that could help me. I wrote Leitz and sent them the serial number of the camera in hopes of finding out what the solution would be. When I got the letter back from Leitz I was surprised at the answer. They told me that my serial numbered camera was built when they started the Leicaflex line and mine was one of the first 100 produced and it had no shut off for the light meter and the best thing to do was to put the lens cap on to shut it down. After the first 100 produced they then started making the Leicaflex with a shut off switch for the meter in the film advance.

 

Needless to say, I never went back to any thing else. I later purchased a brand new SL/MOT then got another Leicaflex SL and then awhile after that I added a R4 not too long after they came out and by this time I had lenses from 21mm to 400mm to use. When I was in Africa the 400mm was a God send. With other photographers that I was with it was decided that you should have no less than a 300mm with you, but a 400mm was better.

 

Later on, one of the times I was home on leave my mother saw my new R4 and asked what camera was I going to loan her. I loaned her my original Leicaflex, which she loved and carried with her a lot; she used it at my brothers college graduation, and his wedding and especially on trips. She took it to Singapore and India and loved the pictures produced by the excellent optics. Now it is in storage and to hard to get out, so I can not get a picture of it, Sorry.

 

Tom L.L.

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Although I had begun my professional career using Nikons, In 1973 I bought a Leica M2 with a 35mm Summicron lens.

This photograph was made in 1973. I had gone to pick up my friend Lisette Model and her husband Evsa. We were going to visit a mutual friend in Pennsylvania. Lisette and Evsa lived in a basement apartment on Seventh Avenue in Greenwich Village. It had a dark, but comfortable feeling that I admired. When we stepped out into the courtyard, I saw this view in the spectacular light of that morning. I picked up my camera and quickly framed the image. Lisette said "What are you photographing?! There is nothing there."

"Oh yes," I said, "It's a garden of light." Lisette never did like my work; it was not personal, not human-oriented. I'm a born existentialist, and find my humanity inside myself, so though we were friends, we didn't agree on much.

 

Matthew Klein

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