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Leica for amateur


arkinarch
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Hi there Arkin,

 

Welcome to the forum and the wonderful world of Leica. Your question is a bit vague as to which camera one can recommend. It depends what you want to photograph, if you want to expose film or go digital and what kind of budget you have.

 

An excellent camera to start with for all round use that delivers excellent results is the Leica D-Lux 4. If you want to start with a rangefinder, then I would suggest something like a well looked after Leica M6 with a 50mm Summicron lens. Great for street photography. A good bridge camera, that is one between a digital compact and an interchangeable lens camera is the Leica V-Lux 1.

 

If you give some more detailed information as to what you want to photograph, then one can give more detailed recommendations.

 

Andreas

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Thank you both very much for your replies! :) I really need opinions. Well, I am interested in film photography more than digital. I am planning to master the skills of film photography before getting into digital..so i'd like to know a little bit of both.

 

Also, I'd like to capture expressions and emotions as well as landscapes and scenery.. would narrowing it down to such a way help?

 

I've read up a little on the Leica D-Lux 4, it seems awesome, but it does seem pricey though. I've also read a little about the M8 on the website, but I am unsure of how good is that one?

 

Thanks =)

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Hi Arkin,

 

If you want to get into film photography first then move to digital later, a good starting point would be a Leica M6 with a 50mm lens. The 50mm lens is referred to as a normal lens - that means that it does not magnify the image (tele photo), or compress the image (wide angle). It gives you more or less a 1:1 size as the human eye see's it. The 50mm lens is perfect for capturing expressions and emotions as you stated. A wide angle lens is then needed for landscapes and scenery - I would suggest something like a 28mm.

 

You asked about the Leica M8. That is currently the Leica flagship. The nice thing about starting with an M6, it uses the same lenses that the M8 uses. The operation of the camera is virtually identical - just with the digital part added. One day when you upgrade to digital, you only have to buy the body.

 

The other alternative is to look for a Leica CM. This does not have interchangeable lenses but does have an excellent 40mm fixed lens built in. It works in full auto mode, but allows you to also use it manually - including the focus if you wish.

 

Andreas

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Arkinach,

 

Do you have budget in mind? Is this a dipping a toe into the water exercise or a definite decision to commit to a new format? What sort of photography do you like?

 

These questions are important if we're going to help you properly. If you want a sophisticated point and shoot, then the CM is great. If you want an (almost silent) system based on short tele to wide angle lenses, then go for the M series. If you want to shoot sport/macro etc, then go for the R series.

 

Budget will dictate what you buy

 

Cheaper Ms - Leica CL/Minolta CLE or earlier M series - M2/3/4

More expensive Ms - M6 (+/- TTL), M7 and MP

 

Cheaper Rs - SL and SL2 (both with stunning viewfinders and battleship build); R3 and R4

More expensive R - R6/6.2 or R8/9 depending on whether you want mechanical cameras or modern wizardry/ergonomics

 

I hope that helps and good luck on your new journey.

 

Charlie

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If film, then check out:

 

SLR:

Leica R4 (economical entry camera)

Leicaflex / Leicaflex SL / Leicaflex SL2 (has a very classic feel)

R8 (the modern up-to-date SLR)

 

Rangefinder M camera:

Leica M4

Leica M6

Leica MP (are being sold at low prices these days and must be considered the M camera)

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Thank you both very much for your replies! :) I really need opinions. Well, I am interested in film photography more than digital. I am planning to master the skills of film photography before getting into digital..so i'd like to know a little bit of both.

 

Also, I'd like to capture expressions and emotions as well as landscapes and scenery.. would narrowing it down to such a way help?

 

I've read up a little on the Leica D-Lux 4, it seems awesome, but it does seem pricey though. I've also read a little about the M8 on the website, but I am unsure of how good is that one?

 

Thanks =)

 

For me it has to be an M6. The M6 is an icon which offers all the benefits of the M system cameras without being dependent on batteries, anyway, for what it is worth it is my drug of choice, so much so that I bought a second body to be able to carry two different film stocks. A mint - M6 Classic black or chrome body with either a 0.72 or 0.85 magnification would cost you about £700.00 at present and a 50mm Summicron about £600.00. How does that sound?

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Seems like the M6 is a good choice. But Kenneth, what is a chrome body and summicron? Sorry, I really don't understand these jargons/terms yet.. so would anyone mind explaining to me? >.<

 

Charlie: I'm not sure about the budget, because I don't exactly how much it costs here in Malaysia, so I'll have to scout around to check out the prices.. but where are you guys from? America? How much does it cost over there? I've always like taking photos when I was younger, but never had a chance to really get into it. Now that I'm almost done with my degree, I'm trying to get serious with my hobby.. :) And like I've mentioned, I like capturing emotions and expressions, and sometimes landscapes and scenery. Thank you very much for asking.

 

I also have another questions, do you guys prefer using film cameras or digital ones? Or does it depends on what kind of pictures that you wanna take?

 

Thanks

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Hey there Arkin,

 

Prices will be cheaper in the Far East where you are. The prices in the US have gone up dramatically over the last few years. I live in Africa (Windhoek/Namibia) and used to import most of my equipment from the US (KEH, Adorama, B&H), but they have out-priced themselves in the last two years - especially in terms of used equipment. The European stores at this stage have far better pricing and the stores in Germany/Austria have huge inventories of well looked after used equipment.

 

In terms of Leica Jargon, instead of just using the f-stop number (that is the ratio between the focal length and the diameter of the diaphragm opening), each range of lens openings has been given a name. Here is a short list of the most common ones:

 

f/1.0 (f/0.95) - Noctilux, often just called Nocti (these are very expensive)

f/1.4 - Summilux, often called Lux

f/2.0 - Summicron, often called Cron

f/2.5 - Summarit, latest and newest Leica range - most affordable at the moment

f/2.8 - Elmarit

f/4.0 - Elmar

 

In terms of your question about film or digital. The benefit of digital is the immediate feedback that you get. You do not have to bring your film in, have it developed and only then see the results. Digital is far quicker, you are able to retake the image immediately if you are not happy with the result. The other benefit is that it costs nothing to take an image - film has a cost associated to every image you take. The downside is that for digital you will also need a computer with the relevant software and a decent printer if you want to make prints. I use digital mainly for it's speed and convenience.

 

Hope this helps you a bit.

 

Andreas

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I agree, the M6 is a good choice if you do not feel comfortable without a light meter. While, I would love someone to give me an M8, there are many far more economical digital solutions and I don't see the value in such a high cost piece of digital equipment with such limited application. Others will differ.

Summicron is Leica's trademark for it's f2 lenses. Unlike the Japanese, who just use focal length and aperture size numerically, the Germans have a tradition of all sorts of names for both focal length type (Zeiss uses such terms as Biogon, Distagon, Planar, etc, I still haven't quite figured it all out...:D) or maximum aperture (Leica - Noctilux, f1, Summilux, f1.4, Summarit, f1.5/f2.5, Summicron, f2, Elmarit, f2.8, Summaron, f3.5, Elmar, f4). I'm sure someone here knows this historical nature of this...as I don't! Summicrons are often recommended as they are a nice compromise between speed, size, and cost.

For me personally, I prefer shooting film, but there are many situations where digital is my choice, sports, young children playing, wildlife. Film though, as far as I'm concerned, cannot be beat for capturing human emotion. Film has qualities that emphasize the human condition and black and white film strips away the distraction of color and emphasizes the qualities of light or the absence of light.

Regardless of the medium, Leicas are a very unique piece of camera equipment that hits right at the soul of many long time photographers. I've shot for 24 years, Canons and Nikons in the 35mm arena and have many cameras from both brands that I will always love, but the Leica is something different, it is extremely capable, but also makes me think about what I am shooting, it removes 'average' from the equation as it does nothing automatically, it always puts me in the position to make choices in my picture taking, often times I choose wrong, the camera doesn't let me forget it and I learn.

Edited by stealthman_1
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Here is what is meant by Chrome and by Black.

 

Andreas

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

Welcome, dear visitor! As registered member you'd see an image here…

Simply register for free here – We are always happy to welcome new members!

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Thank you very much, Andreas and stealthman! You guys have really help enlighten my knowledge really quickly.. Now that i've seen the picture of a M6 chrome or black...i can't decide which looks nicer :( They both look very nice in fact!!

Please bear with me, I have other questions in mind:

 

1) What are the numbers 35mm or 50 mm mean in this case?

 

2) If I use a M6 to take pictures of people running, would it come out blur, as the person is moving?

 

3) What films are compatible with the M6? Would just any random film do? Or are there specific films that I need?

 

Thank you very much!

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Hey Arkin,

 

The numbers 35mm or 50mm mean the focal length of the lens - that is the distance from the center of the front lens element to the focal plane (film or digital sensor). The longer the focal length, the more enlargement takes place (good for wildlife, birds, sports etc where you can not always get close enough to take a decent image). The shorter the focal length, the more the scene is reduced in size (you need this for landscape work where you want to photograph a vast landscape, tall buildings etc.)

 

In terms of you taking people running and you wanting to catch the movement, it depends on the shutter speed that you use. Using a slow shutter speed (1/30 sec, 1/10 sec for example) would give you a motion blur. This can be quite a cool effect as this captures the sense of movement in the image. If you use a faster shutter speed (1/500 sec or 1/1000 sec) you will freeze the motion. This can also be very effective - you can catch the athlete in mid step for instance.

 

The M6 will use any standard 35mm film. You get slide films (or referred to as Color Reversal Film/E6 Films), print films (referred to as Negative Films/C41 Films), black and white films and even infra red films. The last two are more specialized and I would only use these once you have more experience. I would start off with a standard type of Supermarket/Drug Store type print film (film speed ISO 100). These are cheap to buy, easy to have processed (normally within 1 hour) and are great for learning.

 

One thing that you may want to do as well is to have a look at doing a photography course - the New York Institute Of Photography offers excellent introductions to photography and have amazing correspondence courses. You can find them at this link NYIP - Home

 

Andreas

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Now that i've seen the picture of a M6 chrome or black...i can't decide which looks nicer :( They both look very nice in fact!! !

 

Ha ha, it sounds to me that you are already half-way to an incurable disease which causes you to spend vast sums of money and hide cameras and lenses from your partner. I would say you are already infected and there is no known cure.

 

Do a search here for "Chrome or Black?" and you will see this is an endless unanswerable question for the Leica user. "What is the meaning of life?" would be easier to master.

 

Welcome and enjoy.

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Ha ha, it sounds to me that you are already half-way to an incurable disease which causes you to spend vast sums of money and hide cameras and lenses from your partner. I would say you are already infected and there is no known cure.

 

I wonder who does things like this :rolleyes: I thought I was the only one - just snuck a 50mm Summicron into the house...

 

Andreas

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Hi

Personal opinion from a long time Leica amateur, if you want to do film, I think the best camera for your purposes is an M6 classic with a 35mm lens for general photography, you can add other lenses later as you get more experience. If your budget is a bit more restricted a CL takes a bit of beating.

If you want to do digital, I think the Digilux 2 is by far the best all rounder for the amount of money they are selling for now, in fact I would say it is one of the best cameras I've owned. [i prefer it to my D-lux 3]

Personally I think you would be better doing digital, film is good fun, but even to a long time film user like myself I have to admit the world has moved on and digital is more convenient.

Ron

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Charlie: I'm not sure about the budget, because I don't exactly how much it costs here in Malaysia, so I'll have to scout around to check out the prices.. but where are you guys from? ...

 

I also have another questions, do you guys prefer using film cameras or digital ones? Or does it depends on what kind of pictures that you wanna take?

 

Thanks

 

Arkinach,

 

An idea of your total budget (in USD or any other currency) would be really useful. If your budget is say only 750 USD, then all the stuff we've been talking about is superfluous. To get into M film photography, you need USD1500 really as a minimum. If you have more, then great, as it helps us make more sensible suggestions. Digital M photography in the form of a M8 is going to set you back 3000+USD even for a used body and lens.

 

As for film or digital, I, like many others, use both. Personally I use digital for my SLR work (R9 and DMR) and film for my rangefinder work (M2, M6TTL and CLE).

 

Hope that helps. Personally, I would try and get a Minolta CLE with the Minolta Rokkor M 40/2. These are cheap (700USD or GBP450), compact and really good. It was the first AE M series camera, and brought electronic exposure to the M series almost 20 years before Leica got round to it with the M7. As a starter rangefinder, it's great. I love mine. If you can't get on with that, then I wouldn't bother any more with the rangefinders.

 

Charlie

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