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Leica M3 vs M6 or M7

I’m looking into purchasing a Leica and was wondering what peoples opinions on an old M3 body versus an newer one, like an M6 or something. I’ve looked online but its overwelming how much info is thrown at you. Just wanted to get some concise feedback from fellow LS. Also, if anyone is selling Leica gear I might be interested.

Thanks,

Adam

by Adam Amengual at 2007-03-08 14:24:07 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Brooklyn, NY , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

M6, M6TTL and M7 have 28mm frames as well as built-in meters. The convenience of the meter is tremendous.

by [former member] | 08 Mar 2007 14:03 | Lausanne, Switzerland | | Report spam→
In short. If you only use 35mm and 50mm lenses and aren’t bothered about a light meter get a user M2. If you want a lightmeter and also use 28mm then a good condition M6 classic is a good bet. If you want aperture priority and electronic shutter then it’s going to be an M7 (All others have mechanical shutter. ie not dependant on batteries, which may be a consideration)M6ttl is apparently thirsty on battery power but I’ve never had one so over to someone else to confirm that. For a really good comparison of all cameras have a look at: “http://www.cameraquest.com/mguide.htm”

by Nigel Meaby | 08 Mar 2007 15:03 | Bournemouth, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
M6ttls are fine with batteries. It’s perhaps the best of the lot. TTL metering for Leica flash, improved metering over the early M6’s (later ones had imiproved metering), but it still has mechanical shutter and will work w/o batteries. Only minor issue with batteries in camera is that you need batteries in camera to fire flash on hotshoe. All-in-all, your best bet is to get an M6. It’s affordable, has the meter and isn’t a 50 year-old camera.

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 08 Mar 2007 16:03 | Fort Worth, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
My very first Leica was an M4-2 from about 1978. Although there are many complaints on the internet regarding this model, I never had any problems traveling worldwide with this camera.

Any of those models are fine. I have an M2 along with others I have picked up used over the years. The M2 had been CLA’d and I got it for around $600 as I recall. If you get any one of these that are in crappy condition you can get them brought up to speed for usually under $300. Many used Leica M’s appear to have been kept in humidors and display cases by weathly dentists and doctors.

The M6ttl and M7 are workhorses and problem free in my opinion.

Rangefinders are not for everyone. You may want to start out with a one of those Voitlanders if you’ve never used a rangerfinder before or borrow or rent a Leica for a weekend.

Best wishes

by Paul Rigas | 08 Mar 2007 18:03 | Grants Pass, Oregon USA, United States | | Report spam→
Great, thank you everyone!

A

by Adam Amengual | 08 Mar 2007 19:03 | Brooklyn, NY, United States | | Report spam→
No one mentions what a pain in the butt (it was for me at least) loading and rewinding the M3/2 is. M6TTL’s are a steal right now – I just sold a .85 one for $1250, about the going rate. M7’s are of superior build quality in my estimation (just feel tighter all around) and have a brighter viewfinder, but yeah a big plunge if you’re a newbie to rangefinders. Definitely try one first.

by [former member] | 08 Mar 2007 23:03 | Seattle, United States | | Report spam→
If this is your first RF I highly recommend a voigtlander bessa r3a or r2a. I also have a Zeiss Ikon and it just sits on my shelf or comes with me as a back-up, which is sad since I had to sell my arm for it.

The voigtlander is extremely durable: I have dropped it more times then I can count, it fell in a river once (I slipped), been covered in dust and dirt for countless hours, and it keeps on firing. I bought an m6, but the one I got was screwed up so I had to send it back. I can’t say I have ever had the ‘leica’ experience, but I have had the zeiss and voigt experience and I am sold on the voigt.

If money wasn’t an issue I would buy a leica, but I would still keep and use my voigtlander.

just my $.02. Hope it helps.

by Nigel Gray | 09 Mar 2007 04:03 (ed. Mar 9 2007) | Orlando, United States | | Report spam→
Adam said he wants to purchase a Leica. rian’s suggestion of a M4P is good, too. The M4P and the M6 are almost identical except for the lightmeter in the M6. BTW, Adam, Charles mentions “.85”. The later Leicas have three viewfinders available at three different magnifications — .58, .72 and .85. The .72 covers all their lenses. The .58 is wider and better suited to 28mm users or persons who where eyeglasses. The .85 is almost a 1 to 1 magnification is excellent for 50mm and above altho there’s a viewfinder for the 35mm. In general most Leicas today have the .72. The M3 is closer to 1 to 1 with (I think) a .91 magnification. This all sounds geeky but can make a difference. If you don’t wear glasses and plan on mostly 28, 35, 50 then the .72 is fine.

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 09 Mar 2007 13:03 | Fort Worth, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks again to everyone. This has been a big help. John, thanks for the magnifications info as well.

by Adam Amengual | 09 Mar 2007 14:03 | Brooklyn, NY, United States | | Report spam→
John, you are mostly right as for the magnification. Nevertheless I don’t feel personnally comfortable with 28mm /0.72 combination.

35mm/0.72 works great but there is a few room for anticipation in the viewfinder. This is my experience. I don’t wear glasses.

On the top of this, to be mentionned, the shutter speed on the ttl versions is bigger which allows a quicker access to the reel for the fingers, it does matter in my case.

The shutterspeed on the ttl version runs logically with the direction of arrows exposures and not the opposite way as with the previous versions.

I guess Adam you have now all the elements to decide !!

First take a step back and see wich lenses you will be using for 90% of your work, after that, well the choice of a body is logical, some practice and tests for such an investment are mandatory !!

Know yourself and choose the tools, unfortunatly it doesn’t work backward.
I personnally only shoot from 21mm to 35mm and stick to the ttl 0.58 magnification versions.
Have fun.

by Olivier Faye | 09 Mar 2007 22:03 | Cologne, Germany | | Report spam→
John, you are mostly right as for the magnification. Nevertheless I don’t feel personnally comfortable with 28mm /0.72 combination.

35mm/0.72 works great but there is a few room for anticipation in the viewfinder. This is my experience. I don’t wear glasses.

On the top of this, to be mentionned, the shutter speed on the ttl versions is bigger which allows a quicker access to the reel for the fingers, it does matter in my case.

The shutterspeed on the ttl version runs logically with the direction of arrows exposures and not the opposite way as with the previous versions.

I guess Adam you have now all the elements to decide !!

First take a step back and see wich lenses you will be using for 90% of your work, after that, well the choice of a body is logical, some practice and tests for such an investment are mandatory !!

Know yourself and choose the tools, unfortunatly it doesn’t work backward.
I personnally only shoot from 21mm to 35mm and stick to the ttl 0.58 magnification versions.
Have fun.

by Olivier Faye | 09 Mar 2007 22:03 | Cologne, Germany | | Report spam→
I have an M4-2 and 35mm f2.0 that id like to get rid of, if you are still llooking

by Nicholas Hegel McClelland | 09 Mar 2007 23:03 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→
Adam,
my all time Leica favorite is the M2. I have an M7 with 0.72 viewfinder which is a fine but sometimes less reliable camera. My 1965 M2, bought in 1982 for 250$ NEVER let me down, this camera is solid as a rock.
I use it ALL the time, it is my main camera when I shoot 35 format. This model boasts by far (in my humble opinion) the nicest viewfinder Leica has ever produced, just a bit tighter than 0.72, probably around 0.79 which makes it absolutely perfect with a 35mm lens.
A few years ago, Leica in Solms very kindly took it in for checking the shutter speeds that are now spot on, they also fit it with the same loading mechanism as the M6 etc, as well as fitting the exterior multicoated window of a M7 viewfinder to reduce the VF flare: this is the best camera I own…
One important thing: if you manage to find the ‘right’ M2 or M4, the shutter release, after all these years, becomes smooth as silk…really, gorgeous.
B.

by [former member] | 10 Mar 2007 07:03 | home in Brussels, Belgium | | Report spam→
if you photograph a lot, using the camera light meter the batteries are a pain in the … they don’t last long. maybe it is better to know times and f/stop by memory or use a small light meter. or go for a model without light meter. a wonderful camera is also the MP black paint with its very bright viewfinder, also the frames in the MP viewfinder are much better visible then the ones from the M6. regards S.

by [former member] | 10 Mar 2007 08:03 | Ibiza, Spain | | Report spam→
Bruno,

That M2 sounds sweet. My first M was a M2 sold many years ago. Yes, there is something unique feeling about that era of M.

I’m curious how you are getting on with the M8? I think I’m about to drop a few big ones and go for it, but curious as to what a seasoned pj thinks of it. No way I’ll be able to afford the wide tri-elmar for awhile, but I’m pretty set lens wise (21, 24,28, 35, 50, 90, and 135) so you can see why I’d like to put that glass to work. Unfortunately my M7 doesn’t get the use it used to due to the constraints of clients needing me to shoot digital. I also find that I no longer have the wherewithal to scan/print film like I used to, so the M8 seems like a good option for everday use.

BTW I saw some of the images a while back you did in Palestine with a SWC – fantastic. I acquired one recently but haven’t had a chance to use it much but looking forward to it. More and more I’m excited about shooting film with mf and relegating 35 to digital. That’s another topic though…..

by [former member] | 11 Mar 2007 03:03 | Seattle, United States | | Report spam→
I always thought about getting an M3 just to try my hand at Leica rangefinder photography. I won’t lie, and had thought about a Nikon S3.

by Aaron J. Heiner | 11 Mar 2007 22:03 | Washington DC, United States | | Report spam→
The MP I bought over three years ago is far from mint now, bumped, scrached, dust in the viewfinder.

But it never let me down.

Perhaps not the cheapest solution, but the cam works.

As a workhorse I would recommend the 35 Summilux asph.

by Francis van Boxtel | 12 Mar 2007 12:03 | netherlands, Netherlands | | Report spam→
I have to say that my favorite model was the M4P. this body was made in Canada and initiallly had some problems, so sometimes it sells for less, but I bought a later model and it never let me down. Hands down one of my favorite cameras. I did sell it though when I had the chance to pick up an M6 dirt cheap from a dumb doctor who bought it for all the wrong reasons (status) and realized it was all wrong for him. The inhouse meter was a step up for me in some ways, but frankly I think my M4P was the sturdier of the two and I am told that its shutter adjustment mechanism was more reliable for having more screw adjustments — though I cannot say for sure if that is the case. Generally such cameras can be had for a better price than later models,a nd we are talking about a hefty investment hereç so I think it is worth considering. If I had more money I wouldnt hesitate to replace my M4P

by Jon Anderson | 12 Mar 2007 13:03 | Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic | | Report spam→
f. van boxtel, a MP has to look like this one ;)

http://www.summilux.net/m_system/mp.html

by [former member] | 12 Mar 2007 13:03 (ed. Mar 12 2007) | Ibiza, Spain | | Report spam→
re: above photo………the original Leica MP made in around 1957-58 only numbered a few hundred units. It was aimed at the PJ market. Rockbottom pricing on one starts at US$25,000.

by John Robert Fulton Jr. | 12 Mar 2007 14:03 | Fort Worth, Texas, United States | | Report spam→
If the one in the picture still works I can only hope mine is that ruged to ;-)
I didn’t mention but yes I have the new ( 2003 ) version.

by Francis van Boxtel | 12 Mar 2007 15:03 | netherlands, Netherlands | | Report spam→
It’s all about the lenses, as long as the body works, spend you $ on the lenses. Light meter is only reason to get a 6 or 7.
I’ve been using an M4 for 10 years and it’s a tank.

by Brad DeCecco | 12 Mar 2007 16:03 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→
Charles,
I will be leaving for Iran in a couple of days with a couple of Mamiya 7 (and a lot of Tri-X) and the M8. I will comment on the camera (and on the tri-Elmar, kindly lent to me by Leica for the trip) when i’ll come back in about a month.
Thank you for your kind comments regarding the Palestine work, the SWC is a fantastic camera…hard to miss a picture with it…my initial impression of the M8 is that it feels very good with a 28 or the tri-Elmar, slightly less so with other focal lengths lenses because of a somewhat cluttered viewfinder.

B.

by [former member] | 12 Mar 2007 17:03 | home in Brussels, Belgium | | Report spam→
one piece of advise when buying leicas, better buy them off a dentist than off another photographer

by [former member] | 16 Mar 2007 08:03 | Pelissanne, France | | Report spam→
i’ll second gary on that. and don’t be misled by the fanboys: these are not rugged professional tools. they need looking after to work reliably. unless of course, you’re a dentist..

by Morten Hvaal | 16 Mar 2007 09:03 | Colombo, Sri Lanka | | Report spam→
i agree with Mort. I love them – I have 4 Leicas – and the reason I have 4 is that they are always being repaired – the rangefinder needs recallibrating often. look at the Konica as an alternative, it takes leica lenses and was much less expensive. don’t get hung up on the leica thing – its an expensive addiction and won’t help you take better photographs.

by [former member] | 16 Mar 2007 09:03 | Pelissanne, France | | Report spam→
I’m with Bruno on the M2 – I love mine. Just got it back from Leica Solms with a new shutter, and the action is real nice. Much prefer it over my M6 – I sometimes find the built-in lightmeter distracting, but I guess that’s just me having gotten used to not having one in my M2. I have a Quickload kit installed in my M2 which makes film loading much quicker, so for M3/M2 users finding loading film a pain, you can pick this kit up (which replaces the traditional spool with a slotted take-up spool and a film alignment guide attached to the baseplate) for about US$100-150.

by [former member] | 17 Mar 2007 02:03 | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | | Report spam→
My first Leica was an M4-2. It was a good camera, not as durable as the M4-P. I had to replace the hot shoe at least twice in the 12 years that I had the camera. I still have and use (although not as much as I would like to use them) two M6’s (non ttl). Since my main lens is a 28mm the M4-2 was a bit frustrating (it’s widest frame is a 35) If I ever have the money, I will buy a M4-P or if I can really save up I will get myself a M4. And yes, the rangefinders seem to go out of alignment way too often, but in a bind you can always zone focus. I have used my Leica’s in torential downpours where an electric slr (or digital) camera would surely not work properly, but the Leica’s worked fine. Built in lightmeters are nice in the M6 and newer cameras but I think the older Leicas were built better and there is something nice about using a handheld lightmeter.

by Aaron Lee Fineman | 17 Mar 2007 06:03 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→
Here’s my belated advice. I have six M bodies M2/M4 (x2) /M4-2/M6ttl/M7 and have shot or handled the rest.
And no, I’m not a collector or a fan boy.
;-)

You can divide the M-series into three categories. Classic un-metered / modern metered and the M5.

The classic bodies are the M3/M2/M4 and to a certain extend the M4-2 and M4-P.

M3:
The M3 does not have a built in meter and frame-lines for 50/90/135 lenses. No markings for 28 or 35mm. The M3 viewfinder has a magnification of .92, which makes it very nice for shooting the 90 or 135. The rangefinder (RF) prism is cemented with Canadian balsam that is now 50 years old and can become brittle. In other words, a solid whack MAY cause the cement to fail and then you are looking at a very expensive repair that can only be executed by two or three repair shops. The M3 does not have the quick-load system introduced with the M4, but instead uses a take up spool that is slower to load. No motordrive coupling. The camera will probably need a full CLA for about $250, because after 50 years the lubricants will have dried up.

M2:
The M2 was introduced AFTER the M3 and has framelines for 35/50/90 lenses and the magnification is .72. You can use a 28 by framing with the entire viewfinder. You can also increase the magnification to .91, with the addition of the x1.25 viewfinder magnifier. The RF is cemented with Canadian balsam. There is no built in meter. The M2 uses a take up spool, instead of the quickload ‘tulip’ of the later cameras. The framecounter is external, located under the advance lever. No motor-coupling, but you can get a special version of the Rapidwinder. Overall this is a great camera if you can live without a meter and slower loading system. Nick Ut shot the famous Vietnam era photo of the naked girl running from a Napalm strike with one of these and a 1st generation 2/35 Summicron.

M4:
The M4 is by many considered the best non-metered M body Leica made. It has framelines for 35/50/90/135 and the magnification is .72. You can also increase the magnification to .91, with the addition of the x1.25 viewfinder magnifier. You can use a 28 by framing with the entire viewfinder. Starting with the M4, the RF is cemented with a very tough synthetic glue that is cured with UV light. No built in meter. The M4 has the ‘tulip’ quick-loading system, which really speeds up reloading. No coupling for a motordrive or Leicavit etc. This is a great, great camera. Very tough and reliable.

M5:
The M5 is a radical departure from the traditional M camera. It is bigger, has a different shape and in some ways is a better camera, but it failed in the market for many reasons. Look it up on the web and see if it is for you.

M4-2:
After the M5 failed in the market Leica reintroduced the traditional M series with the M4-2. I highly recommend that you stay away from this camera, as it took Leica a while to get the production line up and running again and the quality control on this model is all over the map. Some people have been shooting them for decades without a problem, while others can get them to run for more than a few months. Most reputable repair shops like DAG or Golden Touch will tell you to steer clear of this model. Mine died 5 months after a full rebuild, so now it sits on the shelf for spare parts. The M4-2 also featured some cost cutting measures, which included the removal of a condenser in the RF mechanism. This can cause the RF patch to flare under certain circumstances.

M4-P:4
With the introduction of the M4-P Leica once again had a solid work horse. The camera has framelines for 28/35/50/75/90/135, but no built in meter. The framelines in the M4-P show a little more coverage than in the newer metered models (M6 etc), which is a good thing. It has the quickload tulip and a connection for a motordrive / Leicavit. Condenser missing from RF. This is a solid camera that can be found for very reasonable prices, because for some reason the collectors haven’t picked up on it. Basically this is an M6 without the meter.

M6:
This camera has framelines for 28/35/50/75/90/135 and a built in meter. Magnification is .72. Condenser missing from RF, but can be upgraded by a repair shop. Quickload system and a lug for the motordrive / Leicavit. Starting with the M6 Leica shrank the coverage of what the framelines show to reflect the new close focus distance of many of their newer lenses. As an example, the 50 Lux went from 1 meter to 70cm. That is the coverage that the new markings show, which unfortunately makes them less accurate than the older markings (M2/M4 etc) at normal distances (5 meters to infinity). Basically the older framelines show the area of coverage of a full frame negative and the newer markings show what you get on a framed slide.

Anyhow, the M6 is a very good choice. It has a meter and can be had for a very reasonable price. With a 28 or 35 this camera is hard to beat for the money.

M6ttl:
Same as M6, but with ttl flash support. The only mechanical M to have this feature. Condenser missing from RF, but can be upgraded by a repair shop. Available in .58/.72/.85 magnification.

MP:
Re-engineered version of the M6/TTL. Smoother operation, flare fix (missing condenser added from factory). No ttl flash support, but a built in meter. Very nice camera. Available in .58/.72/.85 magnification.

M7:
The electronic M. Can be run like a traditional M or in aperture priority mode. This is the Nikon F3 of rangefinder cameras. Available in .58/.72/.85 magnification. Flare fix missing from the first few hundred units, but can be upgraded for about $200. Flare fix is standard from the factory. This is a killer camera. Paired with a fast 35mm and Leicavit / Rapidwinder it’s hard to beat for what it does…

MP3:
Recreation of the 1960’s Leica MP with the addition of a meter. Nice camera, but $$$.

My advice:

If you are on a budget get an M6 with a 28/35mm lens from Leica, Voigtlander or Zeiss.
If you have money to burn get an MP or M7 with a 28/35mm from Leica.
The AE in the M7 can be a gift from Solms, when the action starts to move fast.
If you primarily shoot a 50mm and can live without a built in meter get an M2/M4 and add the VC meter II. The older cameras show the 50mm coverage more accurately.
Try a Leicavit or Rapidwinder.

Some additional notes:

- Anything older than a M6ttl will probably need a CLA, if it hasn’t been serviced since it left ze factory.

- Viewfinder magnification:

- .58 if you wear glasses, no markings for the 135.

- .72 does everything and can be turned into a .91 with the magnifier

- .85 dificult to see the 35mm framelines, no markings for the 28. Good for 50/75/90/135

- Repair centers: http://www.lhsa.org/repair.html

- www.rapidwinder.com

- Voigtlander VC meter II (get the second version!) Adds a meter to the older models. Works like a charm. (www.photovillage.com)

- www.keh.com www.ritzcam.com www.photovillage.com

- Buy from a dentist or lawyer.

- Repeat after me: A Leica is a tool, not an accessory. 8-)

Cheers,

Feli

by Harry Lime | 17 Mar 2007 18:03 (ed. Mar 17 2007) | Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
Wow, thanks!

by Adam Amengual | 17 Mar 2007 19:03 | Brooklyn, NY, United States | | Report spam→
>by f. van boxtel Mon Mar 12 12:48:48 UTC 2007
>The MP I bought over three years ago is far from mint now, bumped, scrached, dust in the viewfinder.

Some of the early MP cameras had a paper thin gap around the viewfinder, which allowed dust to enter the body.
You can test this by trying to slide a thin piece of paper under the ring. If it goes in you may have one of the early cameras. Current MP cameras have some sealant applied during assembly. You could probably just rub a little silicone or wax around the viewfinder collar and wipe off the excess material and that should take care of it or give your technician a heads up the next time she goes in to be serviced, eh- overhauled.

How do I know about this ridiculous piece of information? My very chatty repair lady mentioned it when she went over my M7 a few months ago.

Cheers,

Feli

by Harry Lime | 17 Mar 2007 19:03 (ed. Mar 17 2007) | Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
I can’t say enough Great Things about Sherry Krauter aka “Golden Touch” for her Leica repairs. You can check her info out on her website link text She is based in upstate New York and if you tell her that you are a working pro who actually uses your Leica she will expidite turn around and her prices are very reasonable. She also sells Leica’s that she has fixed up.

by Aaron Lee Fineman | 17 Mar 2007 21:03 | New York City, United States | | Report spam→

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Participants

Adam Amengual, Photographer Adam Amengual
Photographer
Brooklyn, Ny , United States
Nigel Meaby, Nigel Meaby
Faro , Portugal
John Robert Fulton Jr., Photographs John Robert Fulton Jr.
Photographs
Spring Lake, Michigan , United States
Paul Rigas, PJ Paul Rigas
PJ
Cebu City , Philippines
Nigel Gray, Taker of Photos Nigel Gray
Taker of Photos
Sarasota, Fl , United States
Olivier Faye, Olivier Faye
Cologne , Germany
Nicholas Hegel McClelland, Photo Editor Nicholas Hegel McClelland
Photo Editor
New York City , United States
Aaron J. Heiner, Photojournalist Aaron J. Heiner
Photojournalist
(Sleeping his life away)
Baltimore, Md , United States ( IAD )
Francis van Boxtel, soundengineer/photographe Francis van Boxtel
soundengineer/photographe
Netherlands , Netherlands
Jon Anderson, Photographer & Writer Jon Anderson
Photographer & Writer
Ocala Florida , United States
Brad DeCecco, Photographer Brad DeCecco
Photographer
(2007 PDN 30 Award)
New York City , United States
Morten Hvaal, Photographer Morten Hvaal
Photographer
Oslo , Norway ( OSL )
Aaron Lee Fineman, Photographer Aaron Lee Fineman
Photographer
New York City , United States
Harry Lime, Photographer Harry Lime
Photographer
[undisclosed location].


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