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First Leica?


photographerben

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Hi everyone, first post here.

 

I currently shoot a typical all digital set up and I've just grown tired and want to investigate film, and I wanted something smaller, lighter but still a joy to shoot with - and so I came across the Leica M range.

 

I'm planning to sell ALL my digital gear, which should gather about £1300-£1500. With this, is there any particular set up you could recommend. I'd rather spend <£1000. I've found an older M2 + meter with Summicron 50 f2 for £485, is this a good deal?

 

The M6 looks more tasty, and seems to get all good reviews. Is it worth it?

 

Also what basic lens(es) should I be looking at?

 

Many thanks.

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Hi Ben,

 

Welcome to the forum.

 

Big question, and there's probably 100 different answers!

 

Firstly I assume you use a DSLR at present. The rangefinder camera is very different - what kind of photography are you into? The M is ideally suited to wideangle/short tele photography. If you particularly like shooting close ups or long tele's (sport etc) then you may find it too limiting. I always suggest to try a rangefinder first, before selling exisiting gear. Even buy an old Russian Zorki off ebay and shoot a couple of rolls to see how it feels (although Leica is a lot lot better!).

 

Assuming you have decided on the M then which model? The M2 is a classic, I use one myself. It has frames for 35/50/90mm lenses. The M6 is more modern, has a built in light meter and the viewfinder starts at 28mm.

 

If you want a built in meter go for the M6, if you're happy to use a handheld meter go for the M2.

 

Lenses? Again it depends on your own preferences. The 50mm 2.8 Elmar is excellent as is the Summicron. A 35mm is 'the' lens for an M, and you couldn't go wrong with a Summicron asph 35, but that and a body will blow your budget! You could get an M6, a 35 Voigtlander Skopar, a 50mm Elmar (latest) and a 90mm f4 Elmar within budget if you shop around (s/h purchases).

 

The other 99 different answers will follow :D

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Welcome to the Forum. Lots of choices. For your budget I'd get a Leica CL. I own one & I bought one for my son 2 years ago. We both use this camera & the most excellent Summicron/Rokkor 40mm. This is a very small, but fine kit that also has an accurate meter. You can take it everywhere and I often use it in the NYC subways. Super quiet & discrete. I also have an M2 & M3 with several lenses. The M3 is my all time favorite Leica, but it has some practical limitations. The M2 is the best all round M film performer for using the 35 Summilux & some other wider M lenses. I suggest the CL because it's a very low cost with the ability to use any M lens and the 40mm is a fine angle for many new rangefinder users. Easy to focus & he Cl has a bright viewfinder. If you decide to invest more time & money in additional M equipment the, CL fits in well, as all lenses work just fine on all the M bodies & the 40 is very sharp & is easy to frame on an M2, M3, M6.... Good Luck.

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My vote would be for an M6 Classic-0.72 and a 35mm Summicron asph. Iconic camera with a truly wonderful optic. I would always recommend putting your main investment into the optics i.e. Leica branded lenses. Non of which can be faulted. Whether you choose current model optics or older ones is a matter of artistic choice but don't expect earlier lenses to perform like current lenses although the earlier lenses have a certain charm for certain subjects I tend to favour current model optics. The wonderful thing about Leica though is, only last week I borrowed a friends 1932 circa Summaron lens and made some pictures with it fitted to my 1998 M6. Welcome to a wonderful photographic world enjoy

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I don't have one (I have a M7) but agree that M6 sounds like the ticket for your budget.

 

Course you could also dip your toe into the rangefinder waters to see if it is for you with something like a Bessa (I started with a great Bessa R I still use) and get a 35mm Skopar for it (which, with an easy LTM to M adapter you will be able to use on the M6 if you decide to go for it.

 

You don't really need a lot of lenses. Adapting from shooting DSLR with a zoom takes some getting used to, but a lot of us use either a 35 or 50 most of the time, with wide (21 to 24) or a tele (75 or 90) chucked in sometimes. Be aware also that those focal lengths aren't the same as they are on your DSLR if it is not a full frame camera (I suspect you know that already).

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To follow on from my previous comment there is more, so to speak. Once you have acquired your camera and lens and shot a few rolls of film you should then consider doing your own processing. Sending films away to a commercial lab is allowing people who don't know anything about you and your aspirations to take the most important decisions within the whole photographic process as all you have done up to now is press the shutter. Processing at home is so easy compared with the incredible complexities of digital processing and as a beginner you will achieve great satisfaction and better results than a commercial lab will produce. And at a fraction of the cost. There is lots to learn but it's great fun learning

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Hey welcome to the forum! There are a lot of really helpful people here and it's a great community, even though I haven't been a member long myself.

 

I just did the exact thing you're thinking of doing... I sold my Canon DSLR outfit with several lenses and bought a Leica MP instead, along with 28mm and 50mm lenses as these are the most useful to me. I'll probably add a 90mm for portraits later.

 

I wonder if Leica would ever make a quad-elmar 28-35-50-90 f/4 lens?? That would be an awesome lens for sure.

 

But anyway, lens selection depends on your vision; how you see the world. Some see things closer to a 35mm lens "perspective" (for lack of a better word), but a 50mm lens is closer to what my eye sees. Don't go out an buy an MP if you're just getting into rangefinder photography, take the suggestion above and get a cheaper M2 or Bessa to try it first. It is a very different way of shooting than with an SLR. I went from Leica M & R, to Canon DSLR, and now back to Leica M again so the switch isn't totally foreign to me.

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The M2 is better camera for a few reasons. One, the build quality. Two, it costs less than a M6. Three, it has better framelines than a M6, especially for the 50; and brightlines show up singularly not in pairs. Four, it is better to learn to read light conditions with a hand held meter. Five, it has the classic aesthetic styling. Get the M2, it is a smashing camera.

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My vote would be for an M6 Classic-0.72 and a 35mm Summicron asph.

 

Unfortunately, the OP has <£1000 to spend - which would be spent easily on the 35 ASPH alone.

 

I would vote for a good M2, with a 35 f2.8 Summaron and a Weston lightmeter. and have some change for a train fare to somewhere interesting.

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I have the same problem as you and I just really love the way M6 looks. It's a modern classic camera to me and looks so elegant. Anyway, now im also having Nikon DSLR stuffs with me but Im not sure whether i can live without it or not. The pictures that got from are not only for me cos sometimes there are some other people like my family and friends who really want to see pictures so quickly. And that really put me in the pressure. Sometimes it's better to have a digital one with me cos you cannot guarantee that you wont lose your good or great pictures and at least you can make sure that your pictures look ok to you at that moment. That's the main reason that i keep thinking why having a digital one is better. Anyway, now im having D-Lux4 and really love it. Still looking for M6 to be his grandpa.

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I have the same problem as you and I just really love the way M6 looks. It's a modern classic camera to me and looks so elegant. Anyway, now im also having Nikon DSLR stuffs with me but Im not sure whether i can live without it or not. The pictures that got from are not only for me cos sometimes there are some other people like my family and friends who really want to see pictures so quickly. And that really put me in the pressure. Sometimes it's better to have a digital one with me cos you cannot guarantee that you wont lose your good or great pictures and at least you can make sure that your pictures look ok to you at that moment. That's the main reason that i keep thinking why having a digital one is better. Anyway, now im having D-Lux4 and really love it. Still looking for M6 to be his grandpa.
Listen. Don't be hasty. There will always be an M6 for sale somewhere and Nikon is a very good quality brand and although I am quite anti digital I can see advantages.

 

I guess I am old school and have been brought up learning to be patient and have to wait and see the results of my efforts. Being brought up using Kodachrome II meant you had about 2 weeks to wait to see your slides. Every morning I used to rush to the letter box looking for that red and yellow box from Hemel Hempstead

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M2 (in good order) plus meter (working, I hope) and 50 summicron at £485 is a very good price. Is this from a shop or private sale? If it's from a reputable shop, then check the shutter curtains & fire the shutter at all speeds (esp slow ones, which can go off). Check the lens for clean glass, oil free aperture blades and make sure it has no haze or fungus (tiny thread like marks). If it all checks out, buy it and enjoy.

 

That will leave you £900 of your budget left - enough to explore another lens later. BUT if you do buy in, keep to one lens for a bit. The discipline of one fixed focal length will help develop your eye enormously. You'll learn to see things better and also your feet will be your 'zoom'.

 

Finally, buy a few second hand bits to develop B&W film at home and a film scanner + printer or get a wet darkroom (but that's a whole different story)

 

Charlie

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Wow, thanks very much for all the replies. Yes I currently shoot a Nikon D700 digital kit with lenses covering the whole range. I prefer shooting travel/candid/street photos and thus I'm sold to the rangefinder idea. I think I'm going to go for the M2 kit i mentioned if it's still for sale when I get around to selling my current kit, but if not I'm going for a classic M6 with a good 35 :)

 

EDIT: Just read the post above - yeah it's a small classic camera shop near where I live. Advertised as working well at all speeds, I'm hoping it should be fine.

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