Categories
1990's Leica

Leica C1

Leica C1

The 1990s was an experimental period for Leica. It was during this period that Leica decided to try out the compact camera market. Out of this period, several compact point and shoot cameras were born. One of these being the Leica C1.

First released in 1999, the Leica C1 was the first camera in the Leica Cx series. Being a Leica, this camera was of exceptional build and design. It also came with some impeccable features that made it an excellent camera for every day quick snapshots.

Here’s a breakdown of some of these features.

Features of the Camera

The first feature you’re likely to notice when you first see the Leica C1 is its elegant but simple design.  Like other Leica cameras, the Leica C1 comes in a minimalistic and sleek body, with a slightly modern design touch.

And that’s just the first impression. Once you start using this camera, you’ll love it even more.

Thanks to the lens, all your images, even those 100mm away, will be sharp and clear.

And that’s not all!

This camera also comes with an automatic focus feature, which helps to ensure every photo is sharp. When shooting, the lens zooms in and out as it focuses.

The Leica C1 also comes with an inbuilt flash system that automatically activates in low light conditions. And for images further than three meters, this camera comes with a red-eye reduction feature.

This camera also comes with an impressive exposure compensation feature that’s ideal for bright light conditions such as the beach or snowy landscapes.

The Leica C1 also allows long exposure shots of up to 90seconds for low light situations.

Shooting this camera is also a joy.

The shutter is responsive and is relatively fast with a maximum speed of 1/500 sec. It’s also a quiet shooter, making it an ideal street camera, where you don’t want to attract attention.

And as if that’s not enough!

The Leica C1 comes with a date imprint feature, giving photos taken with this camera a retro look. Seeing pictures from this camera is likely to bring back the memories of all pictures you took as a kid.

Thanks to the automatic focus feature, responsive shutter, and impressive center-weighted metering, using the Leica C1 doesn’t require technical knowledge. Just point and shoot.

Design and Physical Build

Like all other Leica cameras, the C1 was impeccably designed.

It came with a plastic body with an aluminum metal cladding that was either in black or silver. And in true Leica fashion, the Leica C1 featured a minimalist design with few but intuitive controls.

This camera is also relatively light (290g), making it the ideal camera when you don’t need a lot of baggage.

Shortcomings of this Camera

The camera has one major shortcoming.

It’s painfully slow. Thanks to the zoom in and out feature when focusing, there is a short lag between pressing the shutter button and when the shot is taken.

However, the wait is worth it, since the quality of images is always excellent.

Final Thoughts

The Leica C1 is not the best Leica. Neither is it the most famous point and shoot camera.

However, it’s still a great point and shoot camera. One that you can take to the beach, an outdoor concert, a ride around town, or even for your walk.

And with its impressive lens, you can be sure that all photos you take will be of high quality.

This, coupled with its attractive price, makes the Leica C1 a must-have for your vintage classic camera collection. 

Categories
1990's Leica

Leica Mini III

Leica Mini III

The Leica mini III is the youngest and probably the rarest camera in the Leica mini-series.

First introduced in 1996, the Mini III is an automatic ultra-compact 35mm film camera. And like its predecessors, the Leica mini, Mini II, and Mini zoom, the camera was an easy to use point and shoot camera.

This camera came with some of the best features of its older siblings and some new and improved features. 

Here’s a breakdown of these features.

Features of the Camera

One of the first features you’ll notice is its beautiful design. Whether it’s the black, white, or black and white body, the Leica mini III design is sure to impress you.

That’s just the start.

The camera comes with a better lens than its older siblings. This camera comes with a Summar 32 mm f3.2.

While the Leica mini and mini II could take spectacular photographs, the lens is a grade higher than the one used in previous Leica point and shoot cameras. With this camera, you can be sure that all your images will be sharp. 

The use of the Summar 32mm f3.2 lens makes this camera perfect for architecture and wide-angle photography.

And that’s not all

The Leica mini III is also a fully automatic camera. With this camera, you don’t have to worry about metering, focus, or shutter speed. All you need to do is point and shoot.

And to make it even better,

Leica made sure to include a pre-focus feature to help ensure all your images are sharp and clear. This pre-focus feature also helps to eliminate the lag time that exists after you press the shutter button.

To activate the pre-focus feature, depress the shutter button halfway for two seconds before taking a photo.

As if that’s not enough,

The Leica mini III also comes with an exposure compensation override mode of +2EV. With this feature, you can take high-quality photos despite extremely bright background.

And thanks to the bulb mode, it can also take high quality and perfectly exposed photos even in low light.

The inclusion of an automatic flash makes the camera even better. Thanks to this flash, you can take photos even in low light conditions. You can also switch off the flash to give your images a more dramatic exposure. 

The Leica mini III is also a quiet shooter. Coupled with the fact that it’s a fully automatic camera, the Leica mini II is also a great street camera.

Design and Physical Build

Like it’s older siblings, the Leica mini III comes in a plastic body with a minimalist design.

It’s sleek and comfortable to look and hold. The buttons are neatly placed and are intuitive. Even the LCD at the top is easy to read.

Ne need to struggle when taking photographs.

This camera also comes with an automatic film rewind feature that makes changing the film easier and faster.

Being a point and shoot camera, the Leica mini III is exceptionally light, making it great for traveling.

Shortcomings of the Camera

Not everybody will consider it a shortcoming. But to some, the lack of control is a major drawback of this camera.

If you’re a photographer who loves to play around with metering, aperture, and exposure, the Leica mini III is not the camera for you.

The plastic body also doesn’t inspire much confidence, especially when shooting in rough terrain.

Final Thoughts

The Leica mini III is a great point and shoot camera.

It comes with a great wide-angle lens, is impeccably designed, and is light, making it great for almost all occasions. 

If you’re in the market for an affordable, light, and high-quality Leica point and shoot, the Leica mini III is a great choice. 

Categories
1990's Leica

Leica Mini Zoom

Leica Mini zoom

Cheap and Leica aren’t terms that are used in the same sentence. However, when it comes to the Leica mini zoom, these terms can be used in the same sentence. Produced between 1993-1995, the Leica mini zoom was the third installation in the Leica mini camera series.

Despite its relatively lower price, this small 35mm point and shoot camera was of an exceptional build and performed impeccably thanks to the myriad of features it came with.

Keep reading to learn what these features are.

Features of the Camera

One of the most compelling features of the Leica mini zoom is its lens.

It’s almost impossible to believe that Leica was able to fit a zoom lens in such a small camera. But that is the case.

The Leica mini comes with a Vario Elmar 35 – 70mm f/4.0 – 7.6 zoom lens. This lens can turn from a 35mm to a 70 mm lens capable of taking high-quality images with remarkable contrast.

We can’t discuss the lens without talking about how this camera focuses. The Leica mini zoom comes with active infrared autofocus with focus memory.

Thanks to this autofocus feature, this camera can take high contrast and sharp images.

As if that’s not enough,

The Leica mini zoom also comes with an infinity focus feature, enabling you to take high-quality photos of far away objects—no need to worry about your landscape shots being blurred.

Infinity focus is just one of the program modes you get with this camera.

The Leica mini zoom also comes with an +2EV exposure override mode. Coupled with the infinity focus feature, this camera is excellent for either sunset or sunrise photos. 

Even if you don’t use exposure override, you can be sure that your photos won’t be over or underexposed thanks to the center-weighted integral metering system.

The Leica mini zoom also comes with a bulb mode for long exposure shots.

When set to automatic, the camera uses the integral center-weighted metering to make sure your images don’t get over and underexposed.

As if that’s not enough!

The camera also comes with exposure and focus memory feature. When taking a photo, half-press the shutter for exposure and focus to be stored.

The Flash

This camera also comes equipped with an inbuilt flash system for low light scenes. When taking a photo in low light, the camera automatically switches the flash on.

In outdoor scenes, you can choose to use the manual flash off mode. You can also choose to have the flash on for dark scenes by selecting the manual flash on mode.

One drawback of this camera is that it doesn’t store the selected flash mode and automatically reverts to automatic mode when switched off. 

The Leica mini zoom also comes with a continuous shutter release function that can achieve 1.5 frames per second.  

What about the viewfinder?

It also comes with a telescopic viewfinder with autofocus measuring fields for close-range photos.

Design and Handling

Like other cameras in the Leica mini camera series, such as the Leica Mini II, the mini zoom was designed by Leica but built in Japan.

However, this camera is larger than its predecessors. If you have small hands, this may be an issue. However, for photographers with large hands, the camera fits perfectly in their hands.

Like other Leicas, the camera design featured a minimalistic look that includes very few buttons. On the top, you have an LCD display, a shutter release button, a mode selector, and a zoom button.

In terms of material, the camera is made of plastic, which is quite a disappointment for a Leica.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One of the most significant drawbacks of this camera was the fact it is made of plastic. This plasticky feel doesn’t inspire much confidence when shooting, especially in rough conditions.

This camera also comes with a motor that’s quite noisy, especially when activating the shutter, zoom, or winder.

Final Thoughts

Of all cameras in the Leica mini camera series, the Leica mini zoom was the most unique.

It comes with an incredible zoom lens, fits well in most pockets, comes with auto flash and autofocus, and +2EV exposure compensation, among other features.

If you’re looking for an affordable way to own a Leica that performs exceptionally well and is of. exquisite design, you’ll love the Leica mini zoom.

Categories
1990's Leica

Leica Mini II

Leica Mini II

The Leica Mini II was the second camera in the Leica mini film camera series. First introduced in 1993, the camera was a fully automatic 35mm camera with a fixed Leica Elmar 35mm f/3.5 lens.

It came with the same incredible features as its predecessor, the Leica mini, but also featured new features and improvements that its predecessor didn’t have.

Keep reading to learn what these features are.

Features of the Camera

One of the best features of the Leica mini II is the improvements made to the autofocus system.

Unlike other point and shoot cameras that focus on objects at a specific distance, the Leica mini II came with autofocus to infinity. With this feature, you can photograph a landscape while in the car. Your camera won’t focus on the car window, but the terrain in the distance.

And that’s not all!

This camera also comes with a really effective and quiet pre-focusing mechanism making the camera a true point and shoot camera.

It doesn’t end there!

Thanks to the exposure override setting (+2EV), you can easily take photos even with a bright object in the background. So, if there’s a sunset or sunrise in your shot, you can still take amazing pictures with this camera.

Another compelling feature is that the camera comes fitted with center-weighted metering with exposure memory. With this feature, you can be sure that none of your images will be over or underexposed.

Like its predecessor, the Leica Mini, the Leica Mini II came with a built-in flash with a fast recycling time. The camera also came with a pre-flash option for red-eye reduction. 

What about the lens?

This camera comes equipped with a Leica Elmar f/3.5/35 mm lens.

And here’s the best part!

This lens comes with a built-in zoom option preprogrammed for 19 different photography settings.

Like the Leica mini, the Leica mini II came with a moderately sized but bright viewfinder.

It also comes with a continuous shutter release with a speed of 1.5 frames per second.

Design and Physical Appearance

One of the most noticeable features of cameras in the mini series is their compact nature. The Leica mini II wasn’t any different.

It can comfortably fit in your pocket, making it ideal for street photography and casual family events.

Like its predecessor, this camera is made from plastic, which is a major shortcoming considering it’s a Leica. The camera lens is designed to extend and retract but doesn’t come with a lid.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One of the most significant shortcomings of this camera is its build. The camera feels cheap to hold. Unlike other Leica’s that have been described as tanks, the Leica mini doesn’t inspire much confidence. 

Another flaw with the Mini II is that it doesn’t remember the flash mode once switched off. Thanks to this, you should change the mode every time you switch since the camera will always revert to “flash on” mode.

Final Thoughts

The Leica mini II is a great budget Leica to own.

Despite the plasticky feel, the camera boasts impressive Leica optics, an improved autofocus and flash system, portability, and silent shooting.

Just the perfect camera to carry on your next family event or vacation.

Categories
1990's Leica

Leica Mini

Leica Mini

First introduced in 1991, the Leica Mini was a fully automatic compact point and shoot 35mm rangefinder. Although Leica didn’t build it (manufacturing was outsourced to either Panasonic or Minolta), the Leica Mini was and is still an incredible camera deserving of the iconic red Leica dot.

The 1990s weren’t the best period for Leica.

After several failed flagship projects, Leica went into partnership with Japanese camera makers, including Minolta and Panasonic. From these partnerships, Leica launched several cameras. One of these was the Leica Mini.

Features of the Camera

One of the best features of this camera is that it can fit anywhere. Thanks to its compact nature, you can carry the Leica mini anywhere.

It’s also light and doesn’t come with added accessories; therefore, making it the perfect camera for vacations or family events.

Other than its compact nature, the Leica mini also comes with a bright and clear viewfinder.

And unlike other compact cameras at the time, it doesn’t feel like you’re looking through a keyhole. Although it’s not massive, the Leica mini viewfinder isn’t too small either. It’s just the right size.

Another great feature about the Leica mini is the fact that it’s a fully autofocus camera. Thanks to the infrared autofocus system, your work as a photographer is made easier.

Another feature that makes your work easier as a photographer is integrating the simple but effective center-weighted metering. With this metering, you don’t have to worry about exposure. All photos taken with this camera are perfectly exposed.

Thanks to the autofocus system and center-weighted metering, the Leica mini is the perfect street camera. All you need to do is point and shoot.

And that’s not all!

With the Leica mini, you don’t have to worry about the quality of your photos. The camera comes equipped with a fixed Leica Elmar 35mm f/3.5 lens. With this lens, you can be sure that 90% of the photos you take will be sharp and of excellent quality. 

The Flash

The Leica mini also comes with a built-in flash system. With this camera, you have the choice of three flash modes.

  • On
  • Off
  • Auto

When talking about the Leica mini flash system, it’s also essential to speak of the green LED in the viewfinder. This LED can signify several things, depending on the flash mode chosen.

  • Flash Auto Mode: When set in auto, the LED lights up to signify that flash is ready.
  • Flash Off: When the flash is set off, the green LED lights up to indicate that focus and exposure have been recorded, and the camera is ready to shoot. If the LED doesn’t light up, it means that there isn’t enough light.
  • In some instances, the green LED flashes rapidly, indicating that flash is not ready (auto mode), or the subject is too close to the camera (85 cm). If the LED flashes when the flash is set to off, it signifies that the shutter speed will be less than 1/30 sec.

Design and Physical Build

The Leica mini wasn’t a Leitz manufactured camera. At first glance, the camera looks like either a Minolta Freedom Escort or Panasonic 625AF.

Despite not being manufactured by Leica, the camera is impeccably designed. In true Leica minimalist fashion, the camera didn’t come with tons of controls and buttons.

All buttons are ergonomically placed and easy to locate. And unlike other point and shoot cameras at the time, the lens is located far enough from the right hand to avoid interference when shooting.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One of the biggest shortcomings with this camera is that it doesn’t feel as well built. The Leica mini feels plasticky and creaks when you squeeze it.

For a Leica, this shouldn’t be the case.

The camera also lacks the red LED light in the viewfinder. Although the green LED indicates multiple things, it doesn’t indicate whether flash will or won’t fire when the camera is set on auto mode.

Another flaw with the Leica mini is that the camera doesn’t remember your flash preference when switched off. Coupled with the fact that it automatically switches off after five minutes, the Leica mini can be quite stressful to use, especially in situations when you don’t need the flash.

Final Thoughts

I’ll be honest.

The Leica mini wasn’t the best compact 35mm camera at its time. However, it was an excellent camera.  

It came with some unique features, isn’t complicated to use, and can fit almost anywhere. It also comes with an excellent viewfinder, superb optics, and is a great street camera.

Categories
2000's Leica

Leica R9

Leica R9

After 45 years of manufacturing 35mm reflex cameras, Leica finally decided to stop production. This was after seven years after launching their last SLR flagship project, the Leica R9.

Launched in 2002, the R9 was the last 35mm reflex camera from Leica.

And for their last camera, the R9 was an incredible camera. Not only did it come with most of the R8 features, but it also featured improvements on some of the R8 shortcomings.

What were these improvements? Keep reading to learn more.

Features of the Camera

One of the first features you’re likely to notice with the R9 is its relatively lighter weight. If you’ve held the R8, you know it’s a heavy camera. That’s not the case with the R9.

At a weight of 790 g, the R9 was 11% lighter than its immediate predecessor.

Thanks to the reduced weight, the R9 was more portable than the R8.

Another improvement to the R9 was the improvement to the TTL flash control. With the appropriate flash units, the R9 was able to achieve higher flash sync speeds — speed higher than the X-sync speed (1/250 sec).

To prove their innovativeness, Leica decided to make the R9 a hybrid camera that could transform from a 35mm SLR to a 10-megapixel digital camera.

Thanks to the Digital Modul R (a clip-on that could be placed at the back of the camera), you get to enjoy both worlds, film, and digital.

Another incredible feature of the R9 was the bright viewfinder with a 0.75X magnification and 93% coverage.

Like the R8, the R9 came with a non-interchangeable viewfinder. However, the camera came with a choice of six interchangeable viewscreens. These were:

  • 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.
  • Special viewscreen for the Digital Modul R.

Shooting with the R9 was made easier, thanks to the inclusion of three metering modes. With the R9 you had the choice of:

  • Spot metering for high contrast situations and portrait photography
  • Center-weighted metering for landscape photography.
  • Matrix metering for evenly lit scenes.

In addition to the different metering modes, the R9 also came with five exposure modes, namely:

  • Program mode
  • Shutter priority
  • Aperture priority
  • Manual exposure
  • Flash ready mode.

As if that’s not enough!

Like previous Leica SLRs, the R9 came with an R-bayonet mount. With this camera, you had the choice of all R-bayonet lenses except for 1-cam and 2-cam lenses (These lenses could destroy your camera’s electronic components).

What about the shutter?

The R9 came with a Copal focal plane, electronic, metallic curtain shutter that could achieve a maximum speed of 1/8000 sec.

Design and Physical Build

The R9 came with a body similar to that of the Leica R8.

The camera had a rounded body with sloping shoulders. However, unlike the R8, the R9 didn’t have a Zinc alloy top plate and a steel bottom plate. Instead, Leica replaced the top plate with magnesium and the base plate with aluminum.

This subtle change was the reason behind the reduced weight.

The R9 also came with an added LCD frame counter on the top plate.

Thanks to the minimalistic design, using the Leica R9 isn’t complicated. All controls are ergonomically placed and are easy to locate.

No need to read through the manual.

Shortcomings of the Camera

The R9 was a pretty incredible camera with very few shortcomings. Although it was lighter than the R8, it was still a pretty heavy camera.

The digital modul-R was also quite expensive. At a current price of $4200, not everyone can afford it.

Final Thoughts

As the last camera in the Leica R series, the R9 was an incredible camera.

It was well built, featured an improved flash sync control, came with faster shutter speeds, had improved optics, and is an incredible shooter. With this camera, you also get to enjoy both digital and film photography.

What more could one ask for from a 35mm SLR?

Categories
1990's Leica

Leica R8

Leica R8

For twenty years, Leica hadn’t designed their own SLR. Thanks to Leitz and Minolta’s partnership, all Leica SLRs made between 1976 and 1996 (Leica R3 to R7) came with a Minolta built chassis. Then came the Leica R8.

The first Leica SLR to be entirely designed by Leica without the help of Minolta. A camera that aimed to differentiate itself from SLRs at the time.

And it did just that. Not only was the R8 the most advanced Leica SLR ever, but it also came with some unique features that made it a worthy competitor to professional-grade cameras from Nikon and Canon.

But what are these features?

Keep reading to learn more.

Features of the Camera

One of the first features you’ll notice when you lay your eyes on the Leica R8 is the unique body. Compared to previous Leica SLRs, Leica rethought everything about the camera.

The body was large and rounded, and controls were redesigned to be more ergonomic.

To some people, the redesigned body made the camera ugly and bulky. However, if you plan to use telephoto or zoom lenses with this camera, then you’ll love the redesigned body. The added weight allows easy handling of the camera when using these lenses.

The second most noticeable feature of the R8 is its big and bright viewfinder. With a 93% coverage and a 0.75X magnification, the R8 viewfinder is a joy to look through.

Like previous Leica R cameras, the R8 viewfinder was fixed and couldn’t be interchanged. However, the camera came with five interchangeable viewscreens, namely:

  • 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.

The R8 also came with several features that made shooting with it a joy.

One of these features was the introduction of three metering modes. Unlike previous Leica SLRs that came with two metering modes, the R8 came with three modes, namely:

  • Center-weighted metering
  • Spot metering
  • Matrix metering

These three metering modes work perfectly with any exposure mode. With the R8, you get the choice of five exposure modes. These are:

  • Aperture priority
  • Shutter priority
  • Manual
  • Pre-flash exposure metering
  • Automatic program mode

Other Features

When designing the camera, Leica improved the shutter.

The R8 came with an electronically timed vertical traveling metal plate shutter that could achieve a maximum speed of 1/8000 sec. This was a speed unheard of in any Leica camera before the R8.

This improved shutter speed made the R8 an excellent camera for sport and action photography. 

There’s more!

The Leica R8 also came with a fully automated TTL flash control with a sync time of 1/250 sec.

Shooting the R8 was also made better by the vast collection of impressive R-mount lenses available for the camera.

The R8 also came with a feature never seen in any other 35mm SLR.  When designing the Leica R9, Leica introduced a digital module on the back of the camera. Although it wasn’t created for the R8, the module could fit perfectly on the R8.

With this module, the R8 transformed into a 10-megapixel digital camera. However, the module isn’t cheap as it costs approximately $4,200.

Design and Physical Build

The R8 isn’t the best looking camera. While trying to come up with a new look for SLRs, Leica created a weird-looking camera.

A camera with a rounded body and dropping shoulders.

However, despite the odd-looking body, the R8 was a joy to hold. It fit perfectly in the palm.

One of the best parts about the R8 design was the large shutter speed dial located on the top plate. With just a flick of the finger, a photographer can effortlessly change the shutter speed.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One of the first issues you’ll hear people complaining about the R8 Is its weight.  At 890g, the R8 was the heaviest of the Leica SLRs. Carrying this camera all day is bound to result in neck crumps. 

Earlier versions of the R8 also came with faulty electronics, which Leica later repaired.

Final Thoughts

It’s no doubt.

The R8 is a unique camera. It doesn’t look like other SLRs, it’s the only 35mm SLR that can turn into a digital camera and is an incredible shooter.

Despite its odd-looking body, the R8 is an incredible camera worthy of your vintage classic camera collection.

Categories
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.

Categories
1980's Leica

Leica R6

Leica R6

The Leica R6 was an entirely mechanical manual exposure SLR. Produced during the age of electronic camera dominance, the R6 was a pretty unique camera.

The year is 1988. Camera manufacturers are working hard to outdo each other.

Nikon has just introduced the first digital camera in the world. Other camera manufacturers are working on improving their electronic cameras.

Leica decides to take a different approach.

Rather than adding extra electronic features in their new flagship, Leitz reduced the number of electronics to a bare minimum.

Here are some of the features that made it so unique.

Features of the Camera

The most prominent feature of the R6 was the return to the Leica manual minimalistic style of building cameras.

Electronics were reduced to a minimum.

For starters, the camera didn’t come with an auto exposure mode. As opposed to the R5, which had four exposure modes, the R6 had three exposure modes. These were:

  • Program mode
  • Aperture priority mode
  • Shutter priority mode.

The R6 also came with a mechanically timed vertical travel shutter. But this shift to a mechanical shutter came at a price.

With the R6, you could only achieve a maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. However, a later version of the R6, the R6.2, came with an improved shutter speed OF 1/2000 sec.

The introduction of these mechanical features meant that the camera could function without batteries. No more worrying about batteries when on long shoots.

If you’re someone who loves extreme outdoor photography, you’re bound to love the R6.

Another feature that made the R6 such a great camera, was its big bright and uncluttered viewfinder.

At a time when most cameras had a cluttered viewfinder, thanks to numerous controls, the R6 finder didn’t have much to display. With the R6, you can focus fully on your composition without distracting words and LED lights on the viewfinder.

And that’s not all!

Despite having a non-changeable viewfinder, the R6 came with a choice of five interchangeable 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 clear glass focusing screen for astrophotography and other scientific photography.

Despite lacking fancy electronics, the R6 is a pretty versatile camera.

Another feature that made the R6 a remarkable camera was the ability to lock up the mirror—a feature that wasn’t there in the R5.

Despite having a manual exposure system, you can reduce vibration-induced motion blur, thanks to the mirror lock-up system.

Were there any electronic parts in the R6?

Yes!

Both the centre-weighted and spot metering couldn’t work without batteries.

The R6 also came with an electronic self-timer.

Design and Physical Build

Like it’s predecessors, the R4 and R5, the R6’s craftmanship screamed Leitz and Minolta.

The camera was exquisitely designed and features a simplistic minimalistic look.

Thanks to the well-designed controls, the top plate isn’t congested.

When holding the camera, every knob, dial, or lever feels naturally in place and are just the right size.

And that’s not all!

The camera also feels quite sturdy and solid. Coupled with the fact that it’s fully mechanical, the R6 can function in any environment.

Neither heat nor cold can stop the R6.

Versions of the R6   

In 1992, Leitz released the Leica R6.2.

The R6.2 came with an improved maximum shutter speed as well as a magnified exposure counter.

Both the R6 and R6.2 came in chrome and black finishes.

Shortcomings of the Camera

Manufacturing a mechanical camera when everyone was producing electronic camera was expensive.

Leitz transferred this cost to the consumer.

Thanks to this, the R6 was out of reach to many photographers. Only wealthy Leica enthusiasts bought the camera.

The R6 also didn’t come with an on/off switch. The lack of this feature meant that the shutter could be triggered accidentally.

Final Thoughts

Few companies are willing to challenge the status quo.

To stick to their true values despite mounting pressure to change.

Leitz did this with the R6.

Rather than succumbing to change, Leitz stuck to their values and delivered a well built, mechanical SLR capable of taking excellent shots.

If you’re not one to bow to pressure, the Leica R6 is the perfect camera to represent your rebellious personality.

Categories
1960's Leica

Leica R5

Leica R5

First introduced in 1960, the Leica R5 was the third camera from the Leica R series and the second Leitz camera whose body was based on the Minolta XD-11—the first was the Leica R4

For some people, the merger between Leitz and Minolta resulted in an inferior brand of Leica cameras. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case with the Leica R series cameras. Despite the negative reputation that haunts cameras designed by Leitz and Minolta, R-system cameras were of excellent quality and came with numerous innovations and advancements.

Despite having a similar body to its predecessors, the R5 came with improvements that made it quite an incredible camera.

Here are some of these features.

Features of the Camera

One feature that made the R5 stand apart from its predecessors was the inclusion of Through the Lens flash metering.

One of the shortcomings of the Leica R3 and R4 was the lack of TTL metering. Including this feature in the R5 meant that the camera could perform better than it’s predecessors.

And it did!

Thanks to the inclusion of the TTL flash metering, the R5 could measure exposure more accurately irrespective of the ambient light.

And that’s not all!

The R5 also came with two metering modes. Depending on the selected mode, you had the choice of either spot metering or center-weighted metering.

Speaking of modes, how many operation modes did the R5 have?

Like the R4, the R5 came with four shooting modes. These were:

  • Aperture priority (A): You could use this mode with both spot and center-weighted metering.
  • Manual mode: This mode only works with spot metering.
  • Shutter priority mode: Only worked with center-weighted metering
  • Program mode: To use this mode, you had to select center-weighted metering.

As if that’s not enough!

The R5 also came with a big bright viewfinder that had an eye-level non-interchangeable prism. However, it is possible to change the viewscreens.

With the R5, you got the choice of 5 interchangeable viewscreens. These were

  • The standard screen which was made from a coarse central micro prism and a central split-image focusing aid
  • A ground glass screen
  • A microprism screen
  • A ground glass screen with grid lines
  • A clear glass plate screen

Although the R5 offered a slightly lower magnification than the R4, it’s viewfinder had a slightly higher eyepoint.

The R5 viewfinder also comes with an illuminated LED display that shows the selected shutter speed, metering diodes, and aperture.

Another improvement that Leica made to the R5 was the improved shutter speed. Like the R4, the R5 came with an electronically timed vertical traveling metal shutter.

However, the R5 shutter was faster and could achieve a maximum speed of 1/2000 sec. In case of long exposures, you also have access to bulb mode and a flash sync speed of 1/100 sec.

As if that’s not enough!

Leica also added the provision of an optional motor drive in addition to the manual film transport.

Best of all!

The R5 came with the Leica R-bayonet mount. With this camera, you can use the full range of the amazing R-lenses.

Design and Physical Description

One of the first things that’s likely to come to your mind when you first hold the Leica R5 is “what a brick!”

Yes! The first impression you’ll get with the R5 is its compact nature.

Like the R4, the R5 was smaller than previous Leica SLRs. Despite its size, the camera feels solid and sturdy to hold. 

Not to mention how great it grips on the palm.

And that’s not all!

The R5 was also meant to be durable. It came with an improved anti-dust sealing for the control elements—no need to worry about taking the camera to a service station to get cleaned.

Different Versions

Between 1990 and 1994, Leitz produced an economy model of the R5.

Codenamed the RE, this camera had the same body as the R5 but didn’t come with shutter priority and program mode.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One shortcoming with the R5 is that this camera is not a stealth shooter. When shooting the R5, you’re likely to hear a loud clunk as the shutter fires.

Like the R4, earlier versions of the R5 also had malfunctioning electronics. However, later versions of the camera work perfectly.

Final Thoughts

Despite what many critics may say about cameras made by Leica and Minolta, it’s clear that the R5 was a pretty impressive camera.

Not only was it impeccably designed, but it also came with innovations that make it a worthy addition to your vintage classic camera collection.