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Keith (M)

The Book of the Leica R-series Cameras

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Published in August this year, author Brian Long.  Has anyone bought (or read) it?  Opinions welcome.

The publisher's blurb states:-

Researched and written with the full co-operation of the factory, here in definitive detail is the story of the SLRs that saved the Leica brand, along with the numerous lenses sold alongside them. All variations are covered, including official limited editions, allowing collectors to use the book for reference, or simply enjoy the stunning photography - mostly contemporary and original, some taken specially for the book - gathered from all over the world. Successful immediately, these SLR models ran alongside the legendary M-series to defend Leica's honour in the showrooms at a time when it looked like the Japanese had the camera market sewn up. Today, the R-series (1976-2009) is becoming more and more collectable, so this authoritative guide is timely.

I have J Eastland's 'Leica R Compendium' but as this was published in 1995, it does not cover the R8 & R9.

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I’ve not read it, but have noticed that the author’s publications mostly have to do with luxury cars.  As a result I did not expect a great deal of expert insight on Leica or the R-series.  The best thing about the book might be the illustrations (that’s purely a guess), but I’m not enthused enough by that to risk buying a book with bad writing.

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It's got a UK RRP of £30, but it's available significantly discounted from several online booksellers; I've just ordered it for £17 ish from one of these (that Marilyn and I have used before). I thought that at that price I could afford buying a lemon (if indeed that should be how it turns out). I'll report back to the Forum in due course.

 

 

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Who really is interested in the history of the R-system and especially the Leicaflex should look for this book:

The author is Georg Mann who was actively involved in the project for the Leicaflex at Leitz Wetzlar GmbH. The photos are by Dirk Mann and are just gorgeous.

Unfortunately the text is only in German, though the photos which make up the biggest part of the book’s 527 pages are appealing to everyone.

And most unfortunately you cannot buy it in a bookshop. It was a gift by the „Leica Historica“ society in Germany, so it has no market and no price  but only huge value. 

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I have received my copy of the book, and have had a look at it. It's a chronological account of the story of the R system, very very heavily illustrated with pages from the Leica product catalogues of the various R cameras,  as well as other publicity photographs of the time. Much of the catalogue page reproductions are four catalogue pages to one book page, so thy are not easy to read. The text won't give any new insight to anyone who knows the  R system even reasonably well. 

Actually, as a result, I found the book to be most interesting in looking at how advertising actually developed over the years, and how the slant of the adverts reflected the prevailing zeitgeist, so I did quite enjoy reading it. 

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I also have a copy and would say for those who are not so familiar with the R series this book provides an extremely well illustrated and informative introduction.

Edited by fineleaf

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I think I'll give this book a swerve. I would rather have the Leicaflex book translated to English. From my perspective I'm not too interested in the M system but the Leicaflex 1,SL and SL2 are The Dogs B........

Now I come to reflect,the R 8 is the perfect camera!

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As I wrote in post #1, I have J Eastland's 'Leica R Compendium' but this does not cover the R8 & R9, so my interest in the new book was roused by the coverage of those two models. Does the R8 & R9 content cover design, construction and usage of these (to a similar depth as Eastland's Compendium)?

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47 minutes ago, Keith (M) said:

As I wrote in post #1, I have J Eastland's 'Leica R Compendium' but this does not cover the R8 & R9, so my interest in the new book was roused by the coverage of those two models. Does the R8 & R9 content cover design, construction and usage of these (to a similar depth as Eastland's Compendium)?

Keith, I don't know Eastland's book, so I can't make actual comparisons. On the R8, the text in Long's book is a descriptive tour around the camera, describing the features and what is where. There are several pages of extracts from the publicity brochure, and a lot of nice photographs. He says a bit about the ROM system introduced for this camera. Then there is a section on the R9, concentrating on its additional features, including a few paragraphs on the DMR. The whole thing ends with a short obituary, saying the DMR would have very rapidly become outdated compared with the integrated DSLRs from Canon and Nikon etc., and adding that for similar reasons the R system was doomed, and that Leica had no choice but to shut it down.

 

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I have J.Eastland book on the R8 . It is a complete waste of money in my view. I think people would be better served by reading the manual. So Brian Long's book appears to no more than a rehash of Leica publicity over the years.

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2 minutes ago, masjah said:

Keith, I don't know Eastland's book, so I can't make actual comparisons. On the R8, the text in Long's book is a descriptive tour around the camera, describing the features and what is where. There are several pages of extracts from the publicity brochure, and a lot of nice photographs. He says a bit about the ROM system introduced for this camera. Then there is a section on the R9, concentrating on its additional features, including a few paragraphs on the DMR. The whole thing ends with a short obituary, saying the DMR would have very rapidly become outdated compared with the integrated DSLRs from Canon and Nikon etc., and adding that for similar reasons the R system was doomed, and that Leica had no choice but to shut it down.

 

 

2 minutes ago, mann61 said:

I have J.Eastland book on the R8 . It is a complete waste of money in my view. I think people would be better served by reading the manual. So Brian Long's book appears to no more than a rehash of Leica publicity over the years.

Thank you both for the replies.  I was hoping to be able to get a good insight into the pluses and minuses of the two cameras should I decide to swap my R5 for one.  Sounds like Long's book is not going to be much help.  Ah, well...

 

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Keith, I think the most important thing about the R8/9 versus an earlier Minolta based R design is the actual feel of the thing. They are big, but to my mind they sit beautifully in the hands - but it is a very individual thing - some people agree with me and some really do hate the size and shape. I don't think there's any substitute for holding one. As for the actual facilities, Long's book will give you a very basic idea, but don't forget Brian Bower's book Leica Reflex Photography, which I like a lot.

I would definitely pay the relatively small premium for an R9 over an R8, not necessarily because of the additional facilities (some of which I do find quite useful) but mainly because the R9 is a more recent camera, and probably more reliable, for several reasons.

 

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Thanks for the further advice, John.  How it feels in the hand, the weight (R9's 790g -v- my R5's 625g) and the ergonomics will be the deciding factors. Have just ordered a copy of Leica Reflex Photography  - a 'good' used hardback copy fro the princely sum of £4.89 inc postage!  Should I actually find one and decide to purchase, at least I will be reasonably well informed (and in the knowledge that should anything fail it will instantly become a hefty paperweight!).

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Keith, I should have said that it needs to be the later "New Edition", which has a chapter describing the R8. If yours turns out to be the original edition which predates this, just PM me with a postal address and I'll send you a photocopy of the chapter.

Edited by masjah

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Inspired by the positive views here, I ordered the book. I am impressed - it is a work full of real enthusiasm for, and knowledge about, the R series.

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>> I think the most important thing about the R8/9 versus an earlier Minolta based R design is the actual feel of the thing. They are big, but to my mind they sit beautifully in the hands

John,

I agree with you 100%!

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