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I've got itchy fingers, please help...


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As far as Leica goes I'm pretty much covered from A to Z.
I have a IIIc, M3 and M6 so that pretty much covers the entire spectrum of Leica experience... or does it?

I recently cannot stop thinking about picking up what started it all. The genesis. I've never shot the I or A or I(A) ,whatever the correct model number is, and I'm very curious.
I don't collect cameras. I use them to take pictures. So Leica A is not something I need as I'm pretty much covered BUT... I want to try one.
What will A give me that the other 3 I have can't?

I have my eye on a standard A with Elmar from 1928 and I also found a 1930 Leica Compur which looks like something very different to your standard Leica experience albeit for about 3 times as much money.

Talk me into or out of buying one as I'm on the fence.
Pros and cons please.

Also, if I were to get one, what should I be looking at or be aware of when inspecting the camera? Any IA buying tips would be much appreciated.

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I have had a Leica I (snr 39xxx) for a short while. It was upgraded to Leica II  around 1937, so I can not help with the hockey stick models. But what immediately struck me is that it does not have strap lugs and is even smaller than the models after the II. It looks even smaller than it really is compared to a IIIc.
It had a recent CLA and was fully functional.

So for practical reasons, I think the Leica II will also bring a "different" experience and is easier to use. It is also more versatile because it uses the LTM mount like all later models.
I bought a Leica II (snr 78xxx) also with full CLA for half the price that I got from my first converted Leica I and it gives the exact same user experience.

Maybe I will pick up a Leica I (C) one day, but that is probably as far as it goes for me in practical terms.

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Yeah, thought of that. Standard did cross my mind but I want to try all of that uncoated 1920s goodness that Hektor, Elmar or Compur deliver. Or fail to deliver as it might turn out. 
I've got a IIIc for changeable LTM lenses.
I'm sort of drawn to the limited capacity the I presents you with. Also it's the first one. It shouldn't really matter but the sentence: "I shot that with a Standard" doesn't quite carry the weight of "I shot that with one of the earliest Leicas ever made" hahaha 🤣🤣🤣
 

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9 hours ago, ravenxarmy said:


I have a IIIc, M3 and M6 so that pretty much covers the entire spectrum of Leica experience... or does it?
....
What will A give me that the other 3 I have can't?
 

 

 

The feel to use a really OLD MECHANISM : I don't consider M3/M6 (definitely "modern") but concentrate on IIIc... btw, a IIIc was my first Leica and the oldest I used regularly as my standard camera (1979-82), and had in house, for some years, a decent IA with Elmar.

- The sound, both in shooting and in advancing/cocking is DIFFERENT : you have the feel of a simplest / noisiest mechanism

- Set the focus READING the distance scale !! This is completely another experience vs. the typical work through VF/RF... even the way of moving the Elmar's focus results, in practical, different... (the use of knob is less "natural"--- one can find more natural to rotate takin the front ring of the Elmar... 😉) Also. I observed a someway strange fact  the positioning of the distance scale onto the barrel of the Elmar occurred with the "new" interchangable lenses... but, by paradox, is a position that would have been more "useful" on the fixed mount/no RF bodies.. when you MUST read the scale, if it is on the flange it is less easy to read. 

- You feel, in general, to have in your hands something lighter / smaller / less robust.

 

 

Edited by luigi bertolotti
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51 minutes ago, luigi bertolotti said:

The feel to use a really OLD MECHANISM : I don't consider M3/M6 (definitely "modern") but concentrate on IIIc... btw, a IIIc was my first Leica and the oldest I used regularly as my standard camera (1979-82), and had in house, for some years, a decent IA with Elmar.

- The sound, both in shooting and in advancing/cocking is DIFFERENT : you have the feel of a simplest / noisiest mechanism

- Set the focus READING the distance scale !! This is completely another experience vs. the typical work through VF/RF... even the way of moving the Elmar's focus results, in practical, different... (the use of knob is less "natural"--- one can find more natural to rotate takin the front ring of the Elmar... 😉) Also. I observed a someway strange fact  the positioning of the distance scale onto the barrel of the Elmar occurred with the "new" interchangable lenses... but, by paradox, is a position that would have been more "useful" on the fixed mount/no RF bodies.. when you MUST read the scale, if it is on the flange it is less easy to read. 

- You feel, in general, to have in your hands something lighter / smaller / less robust.

 

 

This is really helpful. Thank you!
My Leica path was actually backwards. I started with M6, went to M3 and then to IIIc. So if I were to get the Ia it would be a complete journey back in time haha
Funny enough I use IIIc slightly more often than the M3. I seem to enjoy the entire ceremony of dual finder, winding the knobs, twirling dials etc.  
And M3 is absolutely superb so I rarely reach for the M6, mostly when I have to shoot 28/35 as I have two very different 50s permanently attached to the III and 3...
From what you wrote the Ia might prove to be more of a challenge, to the point that it might stop being enjoyable.
If these were in the price range of anything between IIIa and IIIf I'd have probable already picked one up but they seem to cost quite a bit lately, especially here in Japan.
So after originally having second thoughts, I'm now having second, second thoughts about getting one.

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7 hours ago, ravenxarmy said:

Yeah, thought of that. Standard did cross my mind but I want to try all of that uncoated 1920s goodness that Hektor, Elmar or Compur deliver. Or fail to deliver as it might turn out. 
I've got a IIIc for changeable LTM lenses.
I'm sort of drawn to the limited capacity the I presents you with. Also it's the first one. It shouldn't really matter but the sentence: "I shot that with a Standard" doesn't quite carry the weight of "I shot that with one of the earliest Leicas ever made" hahaha 🤣🤣🤣
 

Earliest? If you have got about €14 million.

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I have about 10 I Model As and a Compur B. Here are a couple of articles I have written about using two of the I A cameras, both from 1926. You can ignore the fact that other cameras are mentioned. I mixed them in for reasons that should be obvious from the text of the articles.

https://www.macfilos.com/2018/10/02/2018-9-28-looking-back-with-a-1926-leica-and-a-1930s-super-baldina/

https://www.macfilos.com/2017/10/30/2017-10-23-a-tale-of-two-leicas-90-years-apart/

In the second of those articles I asked people to guess which photos had been taken with a I Model A from 1926 and which were from an M 10 from 2017. 

The main tips I have are that you need to be sure that you are fully up to speed on using manual settings; shutter speeds, apertures, film wind on and, most of all, setting zone focus.  If you are not and you stick with it, you will soon be up to speed as you have to master these to get good pictures. People in the 1920s had to master the Leica to get good photos and even sone friends of Oskar Barnack threw the camera back at him and said " I cannot get good photos out of this thing". You have to stay on the learning curve. You can get accessory rangefinders. I have a lot of them but don't use them. If you are also using a Leica with a rangefinder at the same time, you can transfer the numbers from that to your early Leica, of course. Another thing to look out for on very early Leicas with ratchet wind is that you have to keep your finger on the shutter button when you are rewinding the films. Finally, you will have already trimmed film for the IIIc and you also have to do that with these cameras.

I have not written an article yet about using the Compur B. I acquired one last year with the early dial set. All of the above tips apply again, plus the important one about winding on as soon as you have taken a photo in order to avoid double exposure. The shutter cocking and the wind on are unrelated. You also have to get used to the unusual frame counter and pressing the 'shutter' button, which is not a shutter button, before you wind on. Below are some photos I took with the camera, which, while the scans are not great, show that I was getting distance and exposure right.

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The lovely thing about these cameras is that they are tiny and pocketable with the lens retracted and if you learn how to use them you will get lovely photographs. You will also see what Barnack's 'Liliput Camera' concept truly was.

William 

Edited by willeica
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7 hours ago, ravenxarmy said:

I'm very used the compur shutters on the pre war Voigtlanders so that wouldn't be unfamiliar. And not to sound like I'm from a carry on film but I do rather enjoy a good cock  😂

I am only giving advice. What you do with your camera is your own business 😇

William 

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  • 2 weeks later...

And so I started to look for a IA. I have no budget for Elmax or even Compur versions. So I was on the lookout for an Elmar in a good nick but then the Hektor versions started to pop up and not that much more expensive.
From a collector's point of view Hektor is much rarer but I'm actually going to walk around and shoot that thing so from practical point of view: what are the differences between them? From experience I know that wider aperture not always means a better lens. I've gone through a bunch of Elmars in my time but I've never even seen one Hektor in person so just a plain curiosity is tipping me towards a Hektor at the moment.
Which should I buy and why?

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Thanks for the link. I found some reasonably priced cameras locally actually. I will def pull the trigger on one of them.
My question was more about which lens is better if you take the rarity out of the equation.
Is it worth picking up Hektor? Is it more expensive because it's so much better or am I paying extra just because it's more sought after?

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I have just looked throught the Hektor and Elmar galleries on Flickr. I don't know how much editing went into those photos but the general feel I got was that the Hektor had a lot more of an "old lens" vibe while Elmar looked surprisingly modern in a lot of those photos.
But that was just a general feeling I got. Possibly a wrong one.

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1 hour ago, ravenxarmy said:

I have just looked throught the Hektor and Elmar galleries on Flickr. I don't know how much editing went into those photos but the general feel I got was that the Hektor had a lot more of an "old lens" vibe while Elmar looked surprisingly modern in a lot of those photos.
But that was just a general feeling I got. Possibly a wrong one.

I am with you on this - I find the Elmar more generally usable. the Hektor can be interesting if you are after "character" or specifically an old lens look, but even then once you stop them down the differences recede quickly. 

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I bought Hektor.

It is supposedly be scratch, haze, fungus free.

Got it from Austria eventually. The seller has mixed reviews. I saw  somewhere on this board. Some people were thrilled with him some weren't.

It's gonna take some time for the camera to arrive. Let's see then.

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15 hours ago, ravenxarmy said:

I have just looked throught the Hektor and Elmar galleries on Flickr. I don't know how much editing went into those photos but the general feel I got was that the Hektor had a lot more of an "old lens" vibe while Elmar looked surprisingly modern in a lot of those photos.
But that was just a general feeling I got. Possibly a wrong one.

You are right, but you can't rely on online photos for judging any type of lens, not even the most modern ones with mega-prices.  You have to actually have use them to see what they are really like. The Elmar will give more consistent results and no distortion or flare and the Hektor and the Summar will give a lot more 'character', but are unpredictable. I have multiple copies of all of those lenses and can't predict results, apart from with the Elmar, which is a remarkably underrated and consistent lens. Leica probably would not still  exists today if it were not for the Elmar. Any real 'Leicaman' or 'Leicawoman' should have at least one Elmar. I haven't counted mine, but I must have well in excess of 20 of them and they are all good.

William 

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2 hours ago, willeica said:

 You have to actually have use them to see what they are really like.

Exactly the reason why I bought the Hektor. Never owned one and was curious about it.
I'm nowhere near achieving a "real leicaman" badge but I have shot a few different Elmars on my IIIc, the older, uncoated all the way through to the newer, red dial ones. They're really lovely but I somehow kept reaching for the Summitar whenever the IIIc came out of the box so I ended up selling all Elmars as I never really used them all that much. I'm a hoarder by nature so the desire to own every possible version and variation of everything ever made runs deep in my DNA. I carried that over into camera gear from record collecting. Except that now I'm all grown up and shit so I'm trying to override that need with a more common sense approach: don't use it, don't keep it.
It's making me feel miserable but I believe in the long run it's likely to be better for my mental constitution :))
Or at least I hope so...

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