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Leica M1/M2 Quandary...HELP NEEDED!

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

I’m in a bit of a quandary and your feedback is much appreciated. By way of background, I purchased an M1 in mint cosmetic condition with the intention of having it converted to an M2 by a highly respected technician here in the US. I paid $200 for the M1.

 

I like the M1’s simplicity (no preview lever, just a rewind lever and lens release). The technician could add a rangefinder and 28mm frame lines, my preferred focal length, making the newly converted M2 a perfect landscape/travel camera. I currently use a two-lens setup, with a 28mm (plus the external finder) and a 50mm on my M3.

 

Unfortunately, the technician found dry shutter curtains upon opening the camera and they would need to be replaced at a cost that might be prohibitive. So here are my three options:

 

1. Add the new rangefinder, 28mm frame lines, shutter curtains, and a CLA for roughly $800. This would result in a near perfect Franken-Leica built to my specifications. Total invested would be about $1000.

2. Add new shutter curtains and a CLA. This would result in a near perfect M1 that I could sell and then reinvest in a different body. Total invested would be about $500. I’m not really sure what I could get for the overhauled M1.

3. Have the M1 returned and sell it as-is. Total invested would be $200 and I’d hope to recoup this expenditure with the sale.

 

What do you think would be the best course of action? Any advice would help.

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How would they fit a rangefinder to an M1? Presumably he'd have to cut out the 'window' for the rangefinder, or fit an M2 top plate? Then it's not an M1 any longer. 

 

I think if I wanted an M body with a rangefinder and 28mm frames I'd just buy an M4p or M6 or later. You may not recoup your costs if you try to sell a repaired camera. 

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How would they fit a rangefinder to an M1? Presumably he'd have to cut out the 'window' for the rangefinder, or fit an M2 top plate?

A little confusion here - perhaps you are thinking of the MD.

The M1 was based on the M2 and has about the same viewfinder, but with fixed (parallax corrected) frame lines for 35 and 50 lenses, but no rangefinder. So the conversion is straightforward.

However, if it were me I'd have it returned as is and sell it with no more investment, then buy the M2 or other model you want.

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How would they fit a rangefinder to an M1? Presumably he'd have to cut out the 'window' for the rangefinder, or fit an M2 top plate? Then it's not an M1 any longer. 

 

I think if I wanted an M body with a rangefinder and 28mm frames I'd just buy an M4p or M6 or later. You may not recoup your costs if you try to sell a repaired camera. 

 

Thanks for the reply. The M1 and M2 top plates are the same. The small metal panel that says "M1" easily pops out and can be replaced with a pane of glass. The M2 rangefinder housing fits perfectly inside the M1. So the converted camera would basically be an M2 with an M1 serial number.  

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A little confusion here - perhaps you are thinking of the MD.

The M1 was based on the M2 and has about the same viewfinder, but with fixed (parallax corrected) frame lines for 35 and 50 lenses, but no rangefinder. So the conversion is straightforward.

However, if it were me I'd have it returned as is and sell it with no more investment, then buy the M2 or other model you want.

Thanks. Why would go with the as-is option? Any recommendations on another model besides an M2 (the M2 would still require modified frame lines)?

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It's the small 'window' I was referring to - looked like it was a solid part of the top plate rather than a filling panel. 

 

The converted camera wouldn't be an M2 though, if you are going 28mm frame lines only. If that's what you want then go for it. A very personal camera, which would be nice. But not so easy to sell later on should you wish to. 

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Thanks. Why would go with the as-is option? Any recommendations on another model besides an M2 (the M2 would still require modified frame lines)?

Cost of repairs is often not recovered when selling. The M2 does not have 28 lines, but the full VF view is close. I have M2,3,4,5,6 &9 in my collection (4,6, &9 were bought new). I like the simplicity of the M2 finder, but I don't use 28 lenses. I've had my M6 since about 85 when they came out, and it does have 28 lines with the 90 frame. I like the camera a lot (have used it most since '85), but the rangefinder patch can flare or "white out" in some lighting conditions more than the M2 thru M5. It's just pickier about your eye position, and this seldom bothers me. The meter is handy also, so it is often the film M I reach for.

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Just as a thought, what about cleaning up the M1, overhaul the shutter, add the frame lines and use the 28 as a scale focus?  Most of the time with a 28 everything from a few feet in front of the lens to infinity will be in focus.  I agree with the others, if you really desire 28 frame lines and a rangefinder, find a M4 (-2 or P) or an M6.  I think the idea is good and almost anything can be accomplished if you throw enough money in it's direction.

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I’m in a bit of a quandary

 

I don't see a quandary at all, it just needs breaking down into bite sized bits of common sense.

 

1. You bought the wrong camera.

2. It is possible to do all the conversion work but ultimately it is futile, you could buy a 'better' camera for the same money.

3. Sell your M1, except you now have a camera with known faults, so you may get less for it.

4. Buy a camera with 28mm framelines already fitted, an M4-P is an excellent choice but others are available.

5. Stop trying to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear.

 

 

Steve

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Based on the series no. my M2 should have been a M1, which was confusing. Later the original purchase form was found and it was listed as 'M1 + conversion to M2'. So your project is in line with the options that were available from Leica at the time. I forget, does the M1 have the self timer mechanism? Or is that another feature that would need to be done?

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Based on the series no. my M2 should have been a M1, which was confusing. Later the original purchase form was found and it was listed as 'M1 + conversion to M2'. So your project is in line with the options that were available from Leica at the time. I forget, does the M1 have the self timer mechanism? Or is that another feature that would need to be done?

 

Not all M2's have the self timer, my early button model doesn't. 

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The most difficult thing to do would be fitting the frame selector mechanism. Early M3's did not have this feature so it would not be a show stopper. The cost of a rangefinder assembly would probably scupper the project though. Best to have a CLA and use the area of the v/f as the field for a 28mm lens as the depth of field would be quite large. Otherwise not worth it.

 

Best,

 

normclarke.

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Sadly a bad buy.

It is better to buy from a well known dealer or repairer.

Hands on, with warrany is the best solution.

Fixing, adding,making a VF that has only the 28mm frame a worse idea..

The beauty of the M body was the facility to have different lenses.

Leica outsold Nikon and Canon, who both were slow, in adding frames for other lenses..

Look at a more modern  body like an M6TTL, MP or the new MA.

A well kept and maintained M4-2, M4-P are another option.

As M digitals have really sold, I am sure Film body have dropped in price.

The lack of easy access to Process labs another cause of falling prices.

I process all my BW, but color has become for me prohibitive.

Your investment not a lot of money, so go search again.

Best of luck.

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