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mikemgb

M2 versus M3

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It's rare I ask questions like these, I usually make up my own mind but on this occasion I would like some opinions.

 

I'm about to buy my first film M to go with my Barnacks. I'll be buying a body and a 50mm Summicron as a package. I have a choice between two bodies for about the same price, an M3 double stroke or an M2 self timer, both have been CLA'd.

 

Assuming I don't intend buying a 35mm lens any time soon, which of these bodies would you choose?

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M3 - it's aesthetically nicer, handles beautifully and has the sweetest shutter release I ever used in 40 years. But, that's my copy. I use one additional finder with mine for 21mm. The 35mm you can improvise using the outer viewfinder frame edge.

 

Regards

 

Christopher

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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The viewfinder of the M3 is for 50mm maybe the best ever. The exposure counter is automaticly. And the M3 is more beautifully (imho).

If you stay with the 50mm (or 90, 135) glas, imho the M3 is the better choise.

Double or single stroke ist I think not so important.

Regards!

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The viewfinder for the M3 was made for the 50mm, and the view is large. You can shoot with both eyes open.

The double-stroke is, in my experience, not so good.

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If you are used to Barnacks with a 50mm VF you would like the M3. I use a 35 a lot and so prefer the M2, and with glasses also like the 50 frame on the M2. On the M3 the 50 frame with its rounded corners is always visible, even when using a 90 or 136, where the other frame appears inside the 50. On M2 you only see one frame at a time.

The auto resetting counter is nice. The DS wind is the oldest design, and I've seen some worn so that the wind lever slips (clutch?), and was told the only fix is to upgrade to SS wind. If it works well I found the DS easy to adapt to.

Back in 1968 when I could have bought a new M3, I opted for the M4 because of the finder, and it is still my favorite.

Since then I stumbled into both M3 DS, SS, and M2 (ST), and I really like the simplicity of the M2.

For the M3 I do have a goggled Summicron 35, but find the goggled view with the added optics degrades the view compared to an M2 or later with an. In-goggled 35.

Edited by TomB_tx

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I had an M3 years ago (after first owning a lllf which I still have). I just didn't take to the M3 and sold it on.

 

More recently I saw an M2 for a very good price and bought it, thinking if I still didn't like the M I could sell it on, but the M2 is IMHO superb, although I mostly use it with a 35mm lens. 

 

I think in hindsight one of the reasons I didn't like the M3 was partly down to the finder, or more specifically the thick rounded corner framelines - I don't produce images with rounded corners so find them irritating.

 

That said, if you only want to use the 50mm and don't mind the rounded corners, go for the M3.

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Thank you for the responses so far. Pico mentioned a dislike of the double stroke on the M3, this did give me some pause but since I shoot a variety of cameras with all sorts of levers, knobs, wheels and handles I don't think it would be an issue.

 

TomB mentioned glasses, I do wear them so that is something I need to think about.

 

The consensus so far seems to be for the M3.

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Hello Mike,

 

The purpose of the rounded corners on the 50mm framelines was to show people what the scene would be when the 50mm lens lens was focused at Infinity & there was Kodachrome in the camera.

 

For using 28mm & shorter lenses an external viewfinder is used for both. Then the larger M3 range/viewfinder image allows for more accurate focusing.

 

The M3 is at its best with a 90mm lens. There is the 0.91X image magnification coupled with a discreet border outside of the lens's field of view to allow the photographer to see things surrounding the image space. This makes it easier to judge what to include or what to leave out.

 

For a 135mm lens w/o goggles the M3's 0.91X image magnification is clearly better. And the added space around the image frame is helpful when composing.

 

The 135mm lens with "goggles" with either shows the image within the 90mm frame magnified 1.5X.

 

At 50mm it is a subjective choice as to which is preferable: 0.91X image magnification with an M3 or 0.72X image magnification with an M2 with a view of what is just outside the frame lines. Both have their advantages.

 

35mm is the complex choice: M2 is 0.72X image magnification with any 35mm lens. Except 0.48X with "goggled " lenses. 

 

An M3 is 0.91X image magnification for focusing with an external finder with any "un-goggled" 35mm lens. Or: "Goggled" .60X image magnification with a completely usable range/viewfinder with a Version I Summicron (And a few V2 & V3 which are pretty much all in collections.). Or also .60X with some various F2.8 & F3.5 goggled Summarons from the 20th Century.

 

Beyond that: It is good to get a "quick load" with either. It works slightly faster with an M2.

 

Otherwise the 2 cameras are pretty much the same as far as operation goes.

 

Both take the Leitz proprietary flash sockets which were unfortunately not standardized on by the rest of the photo industry. There are simple push on adapters available to convert these to the p/c standard. Also: No hot shoe on either.

 

Best Regards,

 

Michael

Edited by Michael Geschlecht

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Since you wear glasses I would suggest you try both M2 and M3 with a 50mm to see what is more comfortable for you.

 

By way of example, I don't wear glasses and I do not have deep set eyes so I can get my eyeball pretty close to the viewfinder. I use an M2 with a 50mm and find this very comfortable indeed. It is a real treat to have the "breathing room" around the framelines, which I find helpful for composition.

Conversely, I find a 35 on the M2 useable, but quite tight in terms of frameline space in the viewfinder.

 

Naturally, YMMV, but I say try before you buy. Everyone is different.

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Take the body you like more.... luckily they are rather different so is a pleasant choice to do

Btw : double stroke is not, in practice, a limitation; the above consideration on wearing glasses are significative, and can be a reason for choice.

And... as for me, I use selftimer time to time... in case it can be a plus.

Edited by luigi bertolotti

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Focus on M2 & all later Ms is coupled to 0,7m, on M3 only to 1,0m, so if You like close focussing M3 might not be first choice.

But all other argumenting goes to M3.

 

both?

Thomas

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I've had many of each over the years, but I wouldn't ever bother buying an M3 again because in the past I always left it behind in favour of an M2. OK you don't want to buy a 35mm lens, but at least you can use one without too much trouble. The 50mm finder in the M2 is good enough, and given you haven't used either camera you would never know what you are missing and you get used to what you have. And then there is the 135mm frame on the M3, pretty much redundant for many Leica photographers who also have an SLR available. And the M2 just feels nicer, smooth and sleek with none of the baroque mouldings around the windows. The final advantage would be that as production went on for much longer you are more likely to find a good straight M2 without any niggling faults and cheaper than an M3 of similar condition (put the money saved towards a 35mm lens). 

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.... baroque mouldings around the windows.... 

Pardon Steve, You deserve high reputation for Your thumbis, but here I have to contradict!

M3 & M6-J are most attractive Leica in my eyes, there is nothing  "baroque" on them.

 

but I know, all a matter of taste

Thomas

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Much has been said already, but note that the M3 has very useful borders around the windows. These are useful:

  1. to prevent you from leaving finger marks and be perpetually cleaning the viewfinder windows as they gently guide your fingers away and 
  2. the small rangefinder window on the right hand side can be quickly and easily covered with a finger whilst you are composing (without touching the glass because of the frame) and this allows you to focus on the composition without the distraction of the rangefinder focussing patch (for example, if you have zone focussed or have already focussed on a static subject).

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Thanks once again for the comments, I'm leaning towards the M3 but I will get to handle both on Monday and will decide then.

 

Now I just have to choose my lens.......

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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Although the M3 surely is a great, iconic camera, I'd rather go for the M2. I like its looks better - and the additional frame would be important for me.

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Have owned many M2's since 1974 but only one M3 which I bought and sold in 1975.  The M2 viewfinder is the best put in any M anywhere.  If all you use is a 50, the perhaps an M3 but I keep coming back to the M2.  Besides viewfinder magnification and exposure counter, they are pretty much identical.  I think the M2 looks better but that is just my opinion.

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In the row of my M´s the M3 is my collectors item, as being like new and being the first M built. But in practical use I would prefer an M2.

Good clean finder, using 35mm-lens without any issues.

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