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peterjcb

.58 vs .72 vs .85 ?

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I've been shooting film with my Nikon F2 but since I've acquired some nice Leica glass over the past year, I've had a desire to use it on a FF Leica film camera.

I've been looking at some Leica films cameras...specifically the M3 and the M6 and M6 TTL.

I've noticed that there are different viewfinders and am somewhat confused as to what best would suit my needs.

I have four lenses....a 28mm Elmarit, a 50mm Summicron-M, a 90mm collapsible Elmar-M and a 15mm Voigtlander. I typically tend to use the ultra wide angle to the 50mm pretty much and occasionally I'll use the 90. Can anyone recommend which viewfinder would best suit my needs and why?

 

I'm also open to the idea of using my Leica glass on a non-Leica film camera so any suggestions would be appreciated.

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Well, as you probably know, using your Leica M glass on other bodies is quite limited, due to the focus based on short flange to film distance. Unless you are using micro 4/3 bodies with adapters, you are pretty much limited to using 65mm and longer lenses for the Visoflex or with removable heads for Visoflex usage on your 35mm and DSLR bodies, unless you are solely interested in macro usage. There are lots of posts on which RF magnification is best for which lenses and shooting styles....many people seem to generally agree 0.58 suits wider angle shooting, 0.72 suits most 50mm shooting, and 0.85 best suits 90-135mm shooting. Having owned all of the above over the years, as well as, at various times, wearing contact lenses, varifocal prescription glasses, or none at all...there are a vqriety of factors to take into consideration, as well as how many framelines do you feel comfortable seeing at once, how much spillover at the edges is there, and on and on. My best guidance, if you can, is to visit a Leica dealer and see how the different cameras feel your YOUR eyes with the lenses you use most. The magnification factor also affects most people's focusing accuracy, especially with 90-135mm lenses.

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I have an MP with the .85 that I use only with my 50 and 90 mm lenses. The apparent increase in the viewfinder baseline helps in focusing, and the frame lines are displayed so you can see them while wearing glasses.

The .72 on my M7 can be used effectively with 35 and 50mm lenses. Yes, it has frame lines for more lenses, but I find that it's ideal for 35mm lenses as well as for my 50mm in a pinch. The 28mm frame lines are difficult to read with glasses, and, IMO, the 90mm is harder to focus accurately.

I don't have experience with the .58 VF

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Best to check for yourself as eye comfort varies, especially for eyeglass users.

 

Lots of discussion via search such as here.

 

In general, some find .58 helpful for wider focal lengths, .85 for longer ones, and .72 a good compromise.

 

Then we get into the issue of VF magnifiers, which some like and some don't (as they may reduce contrast somewhat).

 

As always, YMMV.

 

Jeff

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IMO .72 viewfinder is the way to go for your first Leica M body. You need the 35 and 50 mm frames that are in every viewfinder. And on a .72 the outlines of the viewfinder correspond roughly to a 28mm anyway. The 15 mm will always need an external view finder.

 

Focussing 90 mm on .72 should be good. With good eyesight one can even focus 135 on those with reasonable success.

 

So basically this drops the M3 body out of the equasion and gives you all the other bodies in their most common variant (.72) to choose from. A good user M2 will be your cheapest option to try out the rangefinder experience, and at the same time it has one of the best viewers out there. If you need integrated light meter, choose M6 and upwards.

 

The .58 viewer would be very hard to use with the 90 mm, and the .85 or .92 would eliminate use of your 28 and 35mm lenses. I would buy one of those maybe later as second body.

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I agree with Dirk, the 'ordinary' .72 is best if you don't wear glasses, but even so I do wear glasses and would still go for the .72 finder. Before magnification options were available it is true the 28mm frame was right at the edge of comfort. But all the photographers I know soon learned to scan quickly around the edges of the frame and this becomes instinctive just like focus and compose does, or looking around the edges to see if anything interesting is happening just out of shot.

 

The M2 viewfinder is perhaps the finest Leica have made, but I still like the extra framelines in an M6 etc. and I've never bought into the idea of 'clutter', if you are concentrating on the picture you don't see the other framelines.

 

Steve

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Well, I have 0.58 and 0.91 (M3). The accuracy of the 0.58 works fine up to 90mm for me (which might be, because it is a 2.5 Summarit, a 2.0 Summicron might be more difficult) and the 90 mm is my least used focal lenght anyhow.

 

The 0.58 works well with my glasses and a 35mm lens. In case I left the additional viewfinder at home, I take the full view to estimate the view for the 24mm.

 

The 0.91, I have only, because it came with the M3.

But, as said, it is a matter of taste, the best is to try it out.

 

Stefan

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.85 is nice for 50 and longer as the image size is larger filling the viewfinder.

 

.72 is a nice all `round compromise

 

.58 gives the best most complete view with 28/35 lenses. Downside is the image within the 50 and longer frame lines is very tiny.

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Hi Peter,

 

It is not clearly visible in your portrait if you wear glasses.

My recomandation is to start with an M6/M6TTL/M7 AND a Voigtlander Bessa R4 A or M at the same time, each body for different lenses.

 

I would suggest the 0.85 viewfinder on your new M, regardless. The difference being, that you can't really use your 35mm wearing glasses with a 0.85 viewfinder.

If you wear glasses, not only your 28mm but also your 35mm would go on the Voigtlaender body, which has BUILT-IN frames all the way down to 21mm.

Which M and which R model depends, if you want apperture priority auto-exposure (and battery dependancy) or not. Being an F2 user I think you don't need this feature.

 

So it would be a M6 ("Classic" = plain vanilla) but with a 0.85 viewfinder. Imo the easier it is to focus a 50mm and a 90mm lens the better and it is. Therefore it is the only film-M view-finder version I have. (I prefer the M6TTL but only because the time wheel turns the same way as on my digi-Ms).

 

Cheers,

Simon

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[...]The M2 viewfinder is perhaps the finest Leica have made [...]

 

Typo? With the M3 we can shoot with both eyes open because the view is close enough to 1:1. Well, I like it.

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I'll also support the majority view that the .72 standard M6 might be the best starting point. It has 28, 50, and 90 frames for your current lenses, and also the best 35 frame. Back in 1968 I chose the .72 finder M4 over a new M3 just for that reason. I wear glasses all the time, and still like the .72 even though the 28 finder of the M6 is thus at the edges of my view.

I also use an M3, but don't find the higher mag view a practical advantage for 50, but 90 is better. If you do go with an M3 a 28 would need an accessory finder, but if you add a 35, you could go with an old "goggled" Summicron, Summaron, or Summilux where the goggles widen the view so a 35 fits the camera's larger 50 frame. I do use a goggled 35 Summicron with my M3, but prefer a non-goggled 35 on an M4 or M6 as the goggles affect the clarity of the view.

I think the .72 finders are one reason I still enjoy film over my M9, with its lower mag finder.

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From my personal experiences I prefer the .85 viewfinder for 50m and above. Although, it has the 35mm viewfinder I find it uncomfortable. For a 28mm and 35mm I prefer the . 72 viewfinder. I tried the .58 viewfinder, which is supposedly optimized for the 28mm but I did not like it. The 50mm frame was not to my liking. Since I do not use the 28mm much I deferred on it. Also below the 28mm you will need and external viewfinder.

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@peterjcb:

 

The MAIN difference between the different viewfinder magnifications (and the reason for their existence) is focusing precision. The higher magnification finders give your eye a better view to judge the alignment of the dual rangefinder images.

 

The downside to the higher magnification is that they can't frame the view of wider lenses, forcing you to add accessory viewfinders for framing (or make a WAG as to the edges of the picture).

 

The original M3 only framed for 50mm and longer lenses (0.9 magnification). As more and more photographers began to use a 35mm extensively, Leica added the "wide-angle" M2, with a lower-magnification finder that could show a 35mm frame in the camera (0.72 magnification) - but no framelines for 135 lenses, as a hint that long lenses were not its forte. The 1968 M4 collapsed the M2 and M3 into one camera with a .72x finder that included 4 frames - 35, 50, 90, 135.

 

That became the standard for all subsequent M cameras for 40 years (~1959-1999).

 

In 1981, Leica changed the framelines mechanism (but not the magnification) to squeeze in a set of lines for 28mm lenses (also adding lines for the 75mm focal length, but that is not germain to the finder magnification).

 

Personally, I think 28 framelines in a .72x viewfinder originally designed for the 35mm field of view are overoptimistic - they only show about 90% of what will be in the picture, and are hard to see in one glance for some of us, and don't present the quote-perspective-unquote effects a 28 creates, as well as external finders with .50x (or lower) magnfication. But to each his own taste.

 

In the mid-1990's, Leica introduced the .85x higher-mag finder option as an approximate re-creation of the better-focusing M3 finder, and in 2000, with the intro of the 28mm Summicron, they added the .58x option, (again with the 135mm lines deleted as "not a good idea") as a better way to view 28mm shots without the need for an external add-on finder.

 

(At the time, there were rumors that Leica was taking the route followed later by Voigtlander, and producing a "really-wide" built-in finder that could frame 24 and 21mm views, and up to 50mm - but that was not to be).

 

Anyway - as to your needs. I would say with a 90 that only opens up to f/4, and is used only "occasionally" - you probably don't need the .85x finder. Your 15mm requires a separate viewfinder regardless. As a mid-range lens, your 50 will work pretty well with any finder. Which leaves your 28mm as the "joker" in the deck.

 

If you use the 28 a lot, I think you will find the finder designed around the 28 framelines (rather than vice-versa) - the 0.58x - to be your best choice.

 

As to non-Leica film bodies with an M-mount: The Konica Hexar-RF was a motor-incorporated AE/manual camera from about the turn of the millennium, with a .60x finder.

 

https://www.cameraquest.com/konicam.htm

 

There is some debate about focusing precision with M lenses, especially longer ones, but I used one for several years alongside Leica bodies, and it was a nice "automated" companion for wide-angle use. Only downside was the motor was a bit irritating - tended to replicate Woody Woodpecker's "Ahah-ahAHHha" sound in single-frame operation. But if you can locate one in good condition, that is probably the most sophisticated M-mount film body ever made.

 

(EDIT - although the Minolta CLE is another sophisticated AE (but not motor-driven) M-Mount option. But now pushing 35 years old. And no framelines for 50mm.)

Edited by adan

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I note the OP has an M8 in his sig line.

 

To make some sense of these magnifications he should bear in mind the M8 comes in at 0.68, so how does that "feel" do you want higher,lower or about the same?

 

Much as it pains me this link actually lays out rather concisely what is what although I would not place my reliance on the conclusions

 

http://www.kenrockwell.com/leica/viewfinder-magnifications.htm

 

BTW the Op is going to find it tough to find a non FF film Leica so that's sorted

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Hi Peter,

 

It is not clearly visible in your portrait if you wear glasses.

My recomandation is to start with an M6/M6TTL/M7 AND a Voigtlander Bessa R4 A or M at the same time, each body for different lenses.

 

I would suggest the 0.85 viewfinder on your new M, regardless. The difference being, that you can't really use your 35mm wearing glasses with a 0.85 viewfinder.

If you wear glasses, not only your 28mm but also your 35mm would go on the Voigtlaender body, which has BUILT-IN frames all the way down to 21mm.

Which M and which R model depends, if you want apperture priority auto-exposure (and battery dependancy) or not. Being an F2 user I think you don't need this feature.

 

So it would be a M6 ("Classic" = plain vanilla) but with a 0.85 viewfinder. Imo the easier it is to focus a 50mm and a 90mm lens the better and it is. Therefore it is the only film-M view-finder version I have. (I prefer the M6TTL but only because the time wheel turns the same way as on my digi-Ms).

 

Cheers,

Simon

And to think that a new R4M can be bought for the price of a Leica external 21mm viewfinder

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I have an MP with the .85 that I use only with my 50 and 90 mm lenses. The apparent increase in the viewfinder baseline helps in focusing, and the frame lines are displayed so you can see them while wearing glasses.

The .72 on my M7 can be used effectively with 35 and 50mm lenses. Yes, it has frame lines for more lenses, but I find that it's ideal for 35mm lenses as well as for my 50mm in a pinch. The 28mm frame lines are difficult to read with glasses, and, IMO, the 90mm is harder to focus accurately.

I don't have experience with the .58 VF

 

Exactly my own experience.

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Much as it pains me...

 

But you know "this" world would be the lesser without the Ken.

 

s-a

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...I went back and forth and ultimately went for the M6 TTL .85

I'm pretty much love my 50 Cron so the .85 would give me the best focusing with the M6. I intend to use my 28 Elmarit with it but I believe that the .85 doesn't have framelines for the 28.

 

BTW, I don't wear glasses, I wear contact lenses. I also do monovision - which for those who do not know what that is....I see distance with one eye and read up close with the other eye. I'll use my Right eye for the viewfinder.

I can adapt to shooting almost anything....I shoot my M8 / 15mm Voigtlander without a finder....I hate having all kind of contraptions on my camera. I can pretty much guess what the frame will include.

 

Anyway, I'm stoked about the M6 TTL...it is in absolutely mint condition and looking forward to seeing how a 50 Cron is meant to be viewed on a FF Leica...

Edited by peterjcb

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I must admit that I'm a big fan of the 0,85 and the M3 viewfinders - I was genuinely surprised that the new M-A camera went for 0,58 but I'm not sure if you can change this on an à la carte menu.

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