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1990's Leica

Leica R7

Leica R7

Several years after launching a camera that deviated from the general SLR development curve, Leica launched one of their most advanced SLRs ever. First sold in 1992, the Leica R7 was Leica’s last camera of the Leitz-Minolta partnership. Unlike its predecessor, the R7 came fitted with multiple electronic features that made it a worthy competitor to SLRs at the time. 

But what are these features?

Keep reading to learn more

Features of the R7

To most, the Leica R7 came to replace the R5 and R-E. Although the R6 came after the R5, it was a fully mechanical camera, and can’t be compared to the R5 or R7.

One of the features that made the R7 a worthy competitor to other cameras was the introduction of a fully automated TTL flash control.

All Leica SLRs produced before the R5 didn’t have TTL flash control. The R5 came with manual TTL flash control. The R7 was the first Leica SLR to come with an automatic TTL flash control.

Thanks to this feature, you don’t have to worry about setting the correct flash output to avoid overexposure.

The Viewfinder

The R7 viewfinder also came with a few added features.

For starters, the finder came with a digital shutter speed display with backlighting. No more struggling to see the small LED bars.

Like its predecessors, the eye-level viewfinder came with a non-interchangeable prism but had the choice of five viewscreens. These are:

  • The standard viewscreen that had a course-central micro prism area with a central split-image focusing aid.
  • The Plain ground glass screen for long focal length cameras and extreme close-ups
  • Micro prism screen
  • The Full-field ground glass screen for architecture photography.
  • The bright glass focusing screen for astrophotography and other scientific photography.

As if that’s not enough!

The R7 viewfinder was bright and clear and could achieve a magnification of .90X.

It doesn’t end there!

Exposure

Thanks to the reintroduction of automatic electronic exposure, a photographer had the choice of four exposure mode, namely:

  • Aperture priority with automatic exposure
  • Aperture priority with manual exposure
  • Program mode
  • Shutter Priority mode

And that’s not all!

The R7 also came with an electronically timed horizontal travel metal shutter that could achieve a maximum speed of 1/2000 sec, and 1/100 sec. on Flash sync.

Metering

The R7 came with two metering modes; spot and center-weighted metering. Switching between the two metering modes is made easy thanks to the dial located under the shutter release button.

The R7 also came with an eyepiece shutter that helped prevent light from entering the viewfinder and interfering with metering.

Lenses

Like it’s predecessors, the R7 came with the Leica R-bayonet mount. With this camera, you had the choice of the full range of Leica R-lenses.

Design and Physical Build

The R7 had a body similar to the R4, R5, and R6.

However, the R7 was a bit bigger and heavier than its predecessors. The inclusion of more electronic parts resulted in the R7 having an extended base.

Compared to the R5, the R7 is also 45g. heavier.

Despite being heavier than its predecessors, the R7 is a joy to hold. It fits and grips perfectly in the palm. The controls are also ideally placed and are just the right size to allow easy use.

Despite having a plastic exterior, the R7 core is entirely metal, giving the camera a solid feel.

Shortcomings of the Camera

Previous Leica electronic SLRs came with some faulty parts. The R7 didn’t have this problem.

The camera, however, used more batteries than its predecessors. The R7 shutter release and metering system required 6V batteries to function. To achieve this, the camera used four silver oxide button cells—Previous Leica SLRs used two silver oxide button cells.

The R7 was also quite heavy. If you plan to carry the camera all day, you’re bound to suffer from neck cramps at the end of the day.

Final Thoughts

The R7 is a fantastic camera.

Despite being bulky and clanky, it came with features never seen in previous Leica SLRs.

Thanks to its sturdy built and extensive lens selection, you can shoot this camera in all situations and still achieve impeccable results.

So if you’re looking for an advanced Leica SLR to add to your collection, the R7 is the classic vintage camera to get.

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