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.

Categories
1980's Leica

Leica R4

Leica R4

The Leica R4 was Leica’s second SLR camera from the collaboration between Leitz and Minolta.

First introduced in 1980, the R4 went on to become the most successful R system camera.

And for a good reason!

It was smaller, lighter, and came with added features. Features that gave the camera a competitive advantage against its other cameras at the time.

But what are these features?

Keep reading to learn more.

Features of the Camera

One of the features that made the R4 such as a success was the introduction of multi-mode operation.

The R4 came with four operating modes. These were:

  • Manual mode (M)-Could only work with spot metering.
  • Aperture Priority mode (A)-Could work with both spot and center-weighted metering.
  • Shutter-Priority (T)-works with center weighted metering:
  • Program mode (P)

Previous Leica SLRs didn’t come with program mode. The introduction of the program mode in the R4 brought it to par with other SLRs at the time.

The second reason why the R4 became so successful was the broad array of lenses compatible with this camera.

And not just any lenses!

Thanks to the R-bayonet mount, the R4 gives you access to all R-system lenses, from the 15mm ultra-wide lens to the 800mm lens.

Another reason why the R4 became so popular was the improved metering system.

The R4 came with both spot and center weighted metering. Although these features were present in the Leica R3, the R4 metering system came with a new mechanism that made the meter more sensitive.

In the R4, light isn’t reflected through a small secondary mirror. The R4 uses a large slightly offset Fresnel reflector with a semi-transparent surface. Thanks to this system, the R4 can take photos even during a bright day.

The R4 also came equipped with an electronically timed vertical-travel metal shutter that could achieve a maximum speed of 1/1000 sec.

And here’s the best part!

Despite being an electronic camera, it’s still possible to take photos with the R4 without batteries thanks to the mechanical shutter that can achieve a speed of 1/100sec.

There’s more!

Like other cameras at the time, the R4 came with a built-in position for the use of a motorized film travel.

The Viewfinder

The R4 came with a big bright viewfinder that could achieve a magnification of .9X.

This viewfinder came with an eye-level non-interchangeable prism. However, the viewscreens were interchangeable. With this camera, you had the choice of five viewscreens. These were:

  • The standard viewscreen with central split-image focusing aid
  • Plain matte screen
  • A matte screen with grid lines
  • A clear screen with no split-image.
  • A screen with crosshairs.

The Leica R4 viewfinder is however a bit cluttered when compared to that of its predecessors. When looking through the viewfinder, you’ll see the:

  • Metering mode
  • Shutter speed
  • Memory hold
  • Aperture
  • Flash ready
  • Manual override
  • Exposure

Design and Physical Description

One of the most noticeable features of the F4 was the smaller body.

Leitz redesigned the casing, hoods, front plate, and controls to give the R4  a more compact body. This compact body became so well received that it was continued in the Leica R5, R6, and R7.

At first sight, it’s possible to confuse the R4 to the Minolta XD-7.

One common feature between these two cameras is the position of the thumb-powered film advance. With this film advance, you don’t have to move your eye from the viewfinder to advance the film.

Different Versions

Leitz manufactured several versions of the R4.

One such version is the Leica R4s MOT. These were the first version of the R4 and was in production until 1981. This labelling was mainly to indicate that the R4 was motor ready.

In 1983, Leitz introduced a simpler and cheaper version of the R4. This version didn’t have the program and shutter priority mode.

Shortcomings of the Camera

Despite all the improvements, the R4 came with some of the shortcomings of the R3.

For starters, it doesn’t allow TTL flash metering. It also doesn’t have a mirror-lock up option.

Some of the early bodies of the R4 also had faulty electronics. However, this issue was addressed with a later version. Before buying, make sure you confirm your camera has working electronics. 

Final Thoughts

Do you see why the R4 was such a commercial success?

Not only was it visually attractive, but it also improved drastically on what previous Leica SLRs were unable to do.

So, if you’re looking for a hardy camera, and a cheaper option to own a vintage Leica, you’re sure to love the R4.

Categories
1970's Leica

Leica R3

Leica R3

The Leica R3; Leica’s first electronically timed shutter SLR.  First produced in 1976, the Leica R3 went on to sell close to 70,000 bodies during its four years of production. It was built in partnership with Japanese maker, Minolta.

In the mid-1970s, Leica was under financial duress. Competition from cheaper Japanese brands, coupled with the poor performance of the SL2 and previous Leicaflex cameras, forced the German camera manufacturer to look for innovative ways to stay afloat.

And this camera was the solution.

The Leica R3; Leica’s first electronically timed shutter SLR.  First produced in 1976, the Leica R3 went on to sell close to 70,000 bodies during its four years of production. 

But why was the R3 such a success?

Keep reading to learn more.

Features of the Camera

The partnership between Leica and Minolta gave rise to a camera that came with some pretty incredible features.

One of these features is the improved shutter. Unlike previous Leica SLRs, which came with a mechanically timed horizontal travel rubberized cloth shutter, the R3 came with an electronically timed vertical-travel metal shutter.

With the electronic shutter, the camera could choose the correct shutter speed based on the selected metering option. However, the new shutter was slower than its predecessors and could achieve a rate of four to 1/1000 second.

The R3 also came with a well-damped mirror, which helped to subdue the shutter sound. Unlike its predecessors, the R3 was a pretty quiet shooter.

And that’s not all!

The R3 offers automated exposure control in both shutter and aperture priority mode.

When in auto exposure mode, the R3 shutter became stepless, which resulted in more accurate exposures.

And there’s more!

The M3 came with an impeccable integrated TTL metering system that featured both spot and center-weighted light metering, which was absent in the Leicaflex SL2.

When using auto-exposure, the camera works correctly in both center-weighted and spot metering. However, when in manual mode, the R3 only works in spot metering.

The R3 also came with a big and bright viewfinder that could achieve a magnification of 0.94X.

The R3 finder came with an eye-level interchangeable micro prism and a central split-image focusing aid.

Like it’s predecessors, the view was mostly uninterrupted with the only information in the viewfinder being the metering needle, aperture, metering modes, and shutter speed.

The viewfinder also comes with a built-in blind that prevents stray light from influencing the meter.

Other features of the Leica R3 include:

  • Leica R bayonet mount
  • Hot shoe flash control (Uses CdS light meter)
  • Manual lever film transport
  • Self-timer

Design and Physical Description

What would happen if Mercedes and Toyota produced a car together?

I bet it would feature more of the Toyota electronics and a Mercedes designed body.

Same case with the Leica R3. The corporation between Minolta and Leica gave birth to a camera that featured Minolta electronics but came with a Leica designed body.

Like other Leica cameras, the R3 was built to last. The R3 body is solid and metal, which inspires confidence whenever you hold it. The body came in different colors, with the most common being black, chrome, gold, and safari green finish.

All knobs, dials, and levers are ergonomically located to ensure a smooth shooting process.

On the top plate you have:

  • The ISO dial
  • Film rewind crank
  • Hot shoe
  • Shutter speed dial
  • And the shutter release button.

On the front, you have:

  • The Depth of Field preview button
  • Self-timer

Shortcomings of the Camera

Despite all its greatness, the R3 had several shortcomings.

One of these was the lack of TTL flash metering, which made the flash system pretty useless.

The other shortcoming is that the camera doesn’t provide a mirror lock-up option.

The R3 is a pretty heavy camera, making it an unsuitable camera for you if you plan to carry it all day.

Getting R3 lenses is also a daunting task. Although you’re likely to get the body for a bargain, getting, a good lens is often a long process. This is mainly due to many professional photographers buying the lenses for their DSLRs.

Final Thoughts

Despite being a result of a partnership, the R3 was an incredible camera that managed to become Leica’s second highest-selling 35mm SLR camera.

It does everything expected in 35mm SLR, and also featured the same built quality as previous Leica cameras.

Categories
1970's Leica

LeicaFlex SL2

LeicaFlex SL2

Now here’s a camera that’s considered the Mercedes Benz of SLRs. A camera whose production spared no costs. One so remarkably built that it still performs perfectly today as it did back then. First produced in 1974, the SL2 was Leica’s third and final camera in the Leicaflex series.

Built on the foundation laid by the Leicaflex standard and Leicaflex SL, the SL2 came with several improvements that make it the best mechanical Leica SLR for your vintage classic camera collection.

Here’s why the Leicaflex SL2 is the mechanical SLR to own.

Features of the Camera

One of the first things you’re likely to notice once your eyes land on an SL2 is its classic and elegant aesthetic. The SL2 body is characterized by sharp angles giving the camera a profile that’s practical and timeless. 

With the SL2, you can be sure you’ll leave heads turning and will always have someone looking to strike a conversation about this gorgeous machine.

Another feature that makes the SL2 the mechanical SLR to own is its big bright viewfinder. The SL2 finder is an improvement of the one found in the SL. With the SL2 viewfinder, you can clearly see the selected lens aperture and shutter speed.

And that’s not all

The SL2 viewfinder came with a split-image focusing screen that made focusing easier and faster.

Coupled with the large bright viewfinder, the SL2 made taking photos effortless.

As if that’s not enough!

The SL2 also came with an impeccable metering system. Building from the Leicaflex SL TTL metering system, Leica made the SL2 metering more sensitive and accurate.

To make the SL2 even better, Leica also added a more accurate CdS metering system.

To add to the excellent viewfinder and metering system is the lens.

Like its predecessors, the SL2 came with a Leica R-bayonet mount. With this camera you can use any Leica-Minota R-mount lens.

Best of all!

The SL2 features a redesign of the mirror system. This redesign allowed the SL2 to be compatible with wide-angle lenses—something its predecessors were unable to do.

Is using the camera complicated?

No!
The SL2 Is a camera that both professional and novice photographers can use.

It doesn’t come with a myriad of controls and menus that complicate the photo-taking process. The SL2 only has a few knobs, dials, and levers, whose placement makes it simple to take photos.

This simplicity is further enhanced by the fact that the SL2 only shoots in manual mode. With this camera you have full control of the shutter speed, lens aperture, and focusing.

If you’re a new film camera user, the SL2 provides an excellent opportunity to learn the basics of film photography. 

This appeal to both the novice and expert photographer is a feature that’s lacking in many 35mm SLRs.

What about the shutter?

Like it’s predecessors, the SL2 came with a mechanically-timed, horizontal-travel rubberized cloth shutter that could achieve a maximum speed of 1/2000 sec, and 1.100 sec on flash sync.

Build and Physical Description

Like other Leica cameras before the SL2, no cost was spared during the production process.

The brass body is ergonomically shaped. It’s sturdy and solid, which makes the camera feel indestructible.

Looking at the camera, you can’t help but notice the minimalist look. All controls are ergonomically placed, and everything on the body serves a purpose.

On the top plate, you have the

  • Shutter speed selector
  • ISO dial, which also acts as the exposure compensation dial and multiple exposure lever
  • Film type indicator
  • Film frame counter
  • Rewind knob
  • Hot shoe

On the front, you have the

  • Depth of Preview button
  • Lens release button
  • Self-timer

Shortcomings of the camera

The SL2 has one major shortcoming.

It’s a heavy machine.

If you’re an adventurous shooter or someone who travels a lot, the SL2 is not the ideal camera for you.

However, if you’re looking for a camera that you can shoot moments around the house, or on a special set, the SL2 will be great.

Another shortcoming with the SL2 is its price.

Thanks to the philosophy of sparing no cost, the SL2 was and is still a pretty expensive camera.

Final Thoughts

Do you see why the Leicaflex SL2 is considered the Mercedes of mechanical SLRs?

Not only is it an aesthetically pleasing camera, but it’s also a great photography tool that you’ll be able to use even in the next fifty years.

Categories
1960's Leica

Leicaflex SL

LeicaFlex SL

What comes to mind when you hear the word Leica? Probably an expensive rangefinder camera, right? And you wouldn’t be wrong. Other than a few exceptions, most Leica cameras have been rangefinders. The Leicaflex SL is among these exceptions. First introduced in 1968, the Leicaflex SL was the second camera in the Leica R-mount series. The first camera was the Leicaflex standard, with the last camera being the Leicaflex SL-2.

Although the Leicaflex standard didn’t compete favorably against other SLRs, the Leicaflex SL proved to be a worthy competitor against Japanese camera makers.

Here’s what made the Leicaflex SL such a great competitor.

Features of the Camera

One of the most significant shortcomings of the Leicaflex standard was the lack of a TTL metering system.

The Leicaflex SL addressed this issue. Even from the name (SL stands for Selective Lichtomessung or selective light metering), it is evident that the SL uses a Through the Lens metering system.

The inclusion of the TTL metering system meant that a photographer could take more accurate photos.

In addition to the TTL metering system, the Leicaflex SL also came with a big bright viewfinder that featured a central micro prism focusing screen. Unlike the Leicaflex Standard, the SL viewfinder was more user-friendly and allowed a Depth of Field preview function.

And that’s not all!

The SL viewfinder didn’t come with numerous LED light distractions. Other than the metering needle and shutter speed, your view was largely uninterrupted—something that’s lacking in most modern cameras.

What about the lens system?

The Leicaflex SL came with a Summicron lens, which was great for precision type photographs.

If you’re looking to shoot landscape, architecture, or posed objects photos, you’ll love the Summicron lens. However, if you’re into street photography, this is not the camera for you.

Despite being impeccable at precision, the Summicron lens wasn’t the best at focusing.

Like it’s predecessor, the Leicaflex SL came with a mechanically timed, horizontal travel rubberized cloth shutter that could achieve a maximum speed of 1/2000 sec., and a flash sync speed of 1/100 sec.

Other features include:

  • Manual exposure with metering
  • Cold shoe
  • Leica R bayonet
  • Self-Timer

Design and Physical Build

The Leicaflex design was nothing short of spectacular.

The camera featured changes from its predecessor design. One such change was removing the battery compartment from the front of the camera to the bottom of the camera.

This change was mainly due to the removal of the external CdS metering system.

All the buttons were perfectly placed to avoid accidentally pressing a button you didn’t intend.

The shutter speed dial and shutter release button were located on the right side of the camera, while the rewind dial and ISO settings were situated on the left side of the camera.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One feature that made the SL less competitive was that the camera couldn’t change focusing screens.

Most of the cameras had interchangeable screens at the time, which made them attractive to a larger population. The Leicaflex, however, only came with a single focusing screen.

And the reason for this? Leica didn’t want to create a means for dust to enter the viewfinder—which is an issue common with many interchangeable focusing screens.

Another shortcoming with the camera was the loud shutter, which makes this camera a terrible choice for street shooting.

And that’s not all!

Opening the film back is also a confusing process. Unlike other cameras where the rewind knob acts as the lock release to the film back, the Leicaflex SL came with a unique system where you have to press a button on the side to open the film back and load/remove the film.

In the SL, the rewind knob is just for rewinding.

The SL is also a pretty heavy camera. Together with a lens, the camera weighs 1540g. Carrying this camera on your neck for a whole day of shooting is bound to cause you neck crumps. However, this heavyweight is also a design feature that acts as a dampener against mirror shake.

Final Thoughts

The Leicaflex SL was and is still a great camera to won.

It’s a combination of the flawless M3 body, Leica’s optical precision, and the compositional ease of 35mm SLR.

An SLR worth your vintage classic camera collection.

Categories
1960's Leica

LeicaFlex

LeicaFlex

The year is 1964. Many professional photographers are ditching rangefinders for SLRs. Most camera manufacturers already have 35mm SLRs in the market. To respond to the increasing demand for SLRs, Leica introduces the Leicaflex standard—the first Leica 35mm SLR camera.

Similar to Leica rangefinder, the Leicaflex was an all-mechanical, precision-crafted, and reliable tool for photography. However, unlike the rangefinders, the Leicaflex standard came with some added features.

Keep reading to learn more:

Features of the Camera

One of the most noticeable features of the camera is its large and bright viewfinder.

With a magnification of 0.9X, and an uncluttered view (there are no LED lights to distract you), you’ll surely love looking through the viewfinder.

The metering needle and the shutter speeds are the only things displayed on the viewfinder.

How do I meter with this camera?

If you’re a fan of the all-mechanical camera, then you’ll love the Leicaflex metering system. The camera features a spot metering system that uses a match and needle to calculate the best exposure.

Metering

Does the Leicaflex come with TTL metering?

No!

Unlike other SLRs produced at the time, it didn’t feature TTL metering. However, it came with an external CdS meter cell located at the front of the pentaprism housing. 

The use of the CdS metering system gave rise to two versions of the Leicaflex.

  • Mark I: Didn’t come with an on and off switch for the meter cells. To switch off metering, you have to move to a dark room.
  • Mark II: Came with an on/off lever for the meter system that allows you to save on batteries.

Another noticeable feature was the fast shutter. Previous Leica cameras featured a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. The Leicaflex shutter, however, could achieve a maximum shutter speed of 1/2000, with a flash sync of 1/100 sec

This fast mechanically timed, horizontal traveling, rubberized cloth shutter allowed a photographer to be able to take photos from faster moving scenes.

Another feature that makes it a worthy addition to your vintage classic camera collection is its simplicity in build and use. 

Like previous Leicas, such as the Leica M1, the Leicaflex didn’t come with a myriad of controls. It didn’t have focus or exposure automation. Everything was mechanical and straightforward. Even without the batteries, you can comfortably use this camera and still take stunning photos.

Other features include:

  • Leica R bayonet mount
  • Cold shoe
  • Self-timer (10 sec)

Design and Physical Description

Like other Leica cameras, the Leicaflex was an impeccable build. Like the M3, the Leica flex was hand-assembled with most of the parts being brass.

It had a clean and uncluttered body with a satin chrome finish. Some rare bodies featured full black paint.

It didn’t come with tons of controls. On the top plate, you only have the ASA dial on the left and a shutter speed dial and film advance lever on the right.

In the Mark ii, the film advance lever also features the meter on/off switch.

Shortcomings of the Camera

The Leicaflex came with several shortcomings, with the most noticeable being the loud shutter.

Unlike previous Leica cameras that came with extremely quiet shutter, the Leicaflex shutter was loud. With this camera, you can forget about being subtle when taking photographs.

Another major disadvantage was the fact that the camera was heavy. With a weight of 1000g, the Leicaflex was often touted as the “Diesel Leica.”

And that’s not all!

The lack of TTL metering and the use of a CdS meter system made the Leicaflex a power-hungry camera.  CdS metering systems are known to run through batteries fast. With the Mark II, this was solved by including an on/off switch. The lack of this switch in the Mark I meant that unless you went into a dark room, the CdS metering would continue draining up the batteries.

Final Thoughts

The Leicaflex was late to the SLR camera market.

It was kind of technologically outdated. But if you’re looking for an all mechanical, simple camera, that’s easy to transition from using a rangefinder camera, you’ll love the Leicaflex.

Categories
2000's Leica

Leica M7

Leica M7

Now here’s a camera that features the best of three decades. The Leica M7 is a fusion of 1950’s mechanics, 1970’s electronics, and 21st-century optics.

First introduced in 2002, the M7 was in production for 16 years, until Leica discontinued production in 2018. 

And the exciting bit!

Despite being a classic rangefinder in the DSLR age, the M7 is still a camera that many photographers still regarded so highly.

Features of the Camera

One of the best features of the Leica M7, and perhaps the main reason why many people still regard it so highly, is its simplicity in design and use.

The M7 was built on the principle of “less is more.” Unlike many modern cameras that come with a myriad of controls and menus, the M7 came with only a few knobs for only the essential controls.

With this camera, you can focus entirely on the photograph, rather than fiddling with settings.

Another impeccable feature of the M7 was its classic metering system. In an age when the color matrix was slowly taking over, the Leica M7 came with a center-weighted metering system that performed impeccably well even in low light.

With the M7, you’ll enjoy taking night photographs—something that’s hard to do with SLRs

However, you still need to know what you’re doing. Otherwise, every photo you take with the M7 will disappoint you.

Like it’s predecessors, the M7 came with a big bright viewfinder that could achieve a magnification of 0.72X. The M7’s finder came with three pairs of framelines optimized for six different lenses. These were the:

  •  28mm and 90mm lenses,
  • 35mm and 135mm lenses
  • 50mm and 75mm lenses

However, compared to previous Leica M versions, the M7 framelines tend to be incomplete and inaccurate. 

Speaking of lenses, what type of lenses does the M7 use?

The M7 comes with the small, lightweight, but superb Leica lenses. Since the M7 features the Leica M bayonet, it’s compatible with any M lens. 

What about the shutter?

The M7 came with an electronic shutter—the first in the Leica M series. The use of an electronic shutter resulted in a more accurate shutter speed. However, the downside with this was the fact that you couldn’t operate the shutter without batteries.

But there’s an exception. In manual mode, you can use the 1/60 and 1/125 shutter speeds without batteries.

Like it’s predecessors, the M7 had a maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 sec. A true classic of the modern age.

Design and Physical Build

Like other Leica cameras, the M7 was an exceptional build.  Other than a few parts, the camera was fully metal.

The only plastic parts were the battery cover, the end of the film advance, the film speed dial, and exposure compensation dial. 

Every button is ergonomically positioned. Unlike the M6, which required you to use two fingers to change shutter speed, the M7 shutter speed is large enough. You can change shutter speed with your index finger while holding the camera to your eye.

The M7 is also relatively lightweight compared to modern-day DSLRs. At only 610g, the M7 is a small camera that fits perfectly in the palm.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One shortcoming that comes with rangefinder cameras is the reduced accuracy of the viewfinder. Unlike SLRs, which have very precise viewfinders, rangefinders aren’t that precise.

So, if you’re a perfectionist who demands precision, the M7 is not the camera for you.

The other shortcoming of the M7 was the unreliable mechanical DX film-speed sensor.

Final Thoughts

There you have it.

All you need to know about the Leica M7. A rangefinder that has survived in the age of DSLRs.

If you’re looking for a Leica camera that’s still new and that your friends will envy, you’ll love the M7.

Categories
1980's Leica

Leica M6

Leica M6

The Leica M6 is an interchangeable lens rangefinder camera. First introduced in 1984, the M6 was Leica’s most advanced mechanical rangefinder.

Like previous cameras in the M series, the M6 was a superb camera that came with impeccable features—some of which had never been seen in previous M-bodies.

Unlike its predecessor, the Leica M5, the M6 was widely accepted and resulted in it being in production for close to 18 years. 

Here’s a low-down of some of the features that make the M6 such an excellent camera.

Features of the Leica M6

One of the most notable features of the M6 is its metering system.

Although the M5 was the first Leica rangefinder to feature a metering system, the M6 came with a more accurate and reliable light meter.  With this center-weighted metering system, you can expect to get the best exposure every time you shoot. 

The M6 was also the first Leica rangefinder to come with a built-in LED display for the metering system. 

Another unique feature of the M6 was the big bright viewfinder. Like its predecessors, the M6 finder came with bright frame lines for different lenses.

But the M6 was a bit different. Rather than having individual framelines, it came with combined framelines for different lenses. These were:

  • 28mm and 90 mm lenses
  • 35mm and 135mm lenses
  • 50mm and 75mm lenses

With the M6, you had the choice of six optimized lenses—more than any other M rangefinder before it.

As if that’s not enough!

The M6 also came with a choice of three different viewfinders. With the M6, you had the choice of the:

  • 0.72X finder: This was the standard finder found in most M6.
  • 0.85X finder: With this finder, you lost framelines for the 28mm lens. However, the 0.85X finder is perfect for you if you use long lenses.
  • 0.58X finder: With this finder, you lost framelines for the 135 mm lens. However, this finder is perfect for wide-angle lenses.

Another great feature of the M6 is its shutter. Although not the fastest shutter—has a maximum speed of 1/1000 sec, the M6 shutter was quiet and fully mechanical.

If you’re a street shooter, the quiet shutter is a huge advantage since most of your subjects won’t even notice you photographing them—unless they are less than 1 meter away from you.

Another feature that made the M6 such a great camera was the fact that it was the last Leica mechanical camera. After the M6, Leica released the M7, which was a fully electronic camera. The only electronic parts of the M6 was the metering system.

If you’re a loyal fan of mechanical cameras, you’ll love the M6.

Design and Physical Build

One of the most notable features of the M6 is its simplistic design.

The M6 doesn’t come with numerous controls and buttons. This minimalistic and simplistic design allows you to focus on the photo entirely.

Another notable feature is the film advance crank. The plastic tipped film advance is smooth and easy to move.

The M6 is also relatively small and light. At only 560 g, the M6 fits comfortably on the palm. Without considering its depth, this camera is typically the size of an iPhone X.

Leica M6 TTL

The classic M6 was in production between 1984-1996. Between 1996 and 2002, Leica introduced the M6 TTL, a more advanced version of the M6.

The M6 TTL came with a bigger shutter speed dial, TTL flash, and a brighter viewfinder. Another difference between the M6 and the M6-TTL was the inclusion of an “OK” indication in the light meter LED—The classic M6 only displayed two  “> <” LED arrows.

Although minor additions, these changes made the M6-TTL more attractive to serious photographers.

Shortcomings of the camera

One of the greatest shortcomings of the M6 was the use of a tiny shutter speed dial, which made it hard to change shutter speeds when holding the camera to your eye.

And that’s not all

This dial also moved in the opposite direction to the meter arrows.

However, the introduction of a larger shutter speed dial in the M6-TTL solved this problem.

Final Thoughts

It’s no doubt.

The Leica M6 was a remarkable camera. Not only could it accommodate more lenses, but the M6 was also and is still a fun camera to shoot with.

It’s also one of the “cheapest” Leica bodies you’ll ever find.

If you’re on a budget and want to on an M camera, the M6 is the perfect camera for you.

Categories
1970's Leica

Leica M5

Leica M5

The story of the Leica M5 is similar to that of the ugly duckling.

First introduced in 1971, the M5 was initially shunned by many Leica enthusiasts. Similar to the ugly duckling, the M5 was different from other Leica M cameras.

Despite the backlash, the M5 was a pretty incredible camera that came with features never seen in a Leica rangefinder.

This is why years later, the camera is slowly gaining popularity among many young film camera enthusiasts.

So, why is the M5 gaining popularity?

Keep reading to find out more!

Features of the Camera

One of the most unique features of the Leica M5 was the introduction of an inbuilt Through-the-Lens metering system. 

One of the most notable shortcomings of earlier M cameras was the lack of an inbuilt metering system, which made it hard for novice users to use the camera.

However, with the inclusion of a needle metering system in the M5, novice photographers and people who aren’t comfortable with estimating metering with their eye, can enjoy the benefits of using a classic Leica camera.

The Leica M5 also came with a big and bright viewfinder.

Similar to what was in the M4, the M5 viewfinder could achieve a magnification of .72X.  The viewfinder also came with four sets of frame-line optimized for the 35mm, 50mm, 90mm, and 135mm focal length lenses.

However, the M5 viewfinder had one difference from the one used in the M4. At the bottom of the viewfinder, there were two bars used to measure metering. The viewfinder also featured a display of the shutter speed and selected aperture.

The M5 came with a quiet shutter that was able to achieve a maximum speed of 1/1000 sec. Thanks to the large shutter speed dial, setting the speed was easier and faster.

And that’s not all!

The Leica M5 was the last of the traditionally made Leicas before Leica moved production to Canada. The M5 was hand-assembled and was the last Leica to have a brass body with interior components also composed of brass. Later versions of Leica cameras used fabricated steel and plastic parts.

Design and Physical Appearance

Do you consider yourself a rebel? Someone who does things differently from the norm?

If so, the M5 is your ideal camera.

One of the most notable features of the M5 was the shift from the standard Leica M series design. The M5 doesn’t look like any other Leica M camera.

It came with added controls, with some being moved to other places.

For starters, the M5 came with an ISO adapter located in the middle of the top plate.

It also came with an oversized shutter speed dial that was perfectly positioned for easy adjustment. While holding the camera to your eye, it was possible to adjust and set shutter speed with either your index or middle figure.

This feature made the M5 the easiest M camera to adjust shutter speed.

Another difference in design came with the film rewind crank that was located on the bottom plate.

The M5 however, had several similarities with its predecessor.

One such similarity was with the bottom loading film mechanism. Like its predecessors, the M5 came with a removable base plate

Similar to the M4, the M5 film advance lever was made of metal with a plastic tip.

Shortcomings of the Camera

One of the most significant shortcomings of the M5 is the battery. The M5 used the now-defunct PX625 1.35V mercury-oxide battery. However, you can use the camera without batteries but will have to give up on using the metering system.

The M5 is also incompatible with certain Leitz wide-angle lenses. 

The other shortcoming of the Leica M5 was that the camera was heavier than its predecessors. This was one of the reasons why the camera was so poorly received.

Final Thoughts

The Leica M5 is a camera that some people love and some hate.

For some, the M5 was an ugly camera that almost killed the Leica rangefinder line. To others, it was an industrially beautiful camera. It all depends on who you are and what you like.

But if you like the unusual styling, enjoy using the light metering system and can ignore the naysayers, you’ll love the M5.

Categories
1960's Leica

Leica M4

Leica M4

Most people consider the Leica M series cameras as the ideal rangefinder. Not only are they exquisitely designed, but these cameras are capable of taking outstanding photographs. When it comes to the Leica M4, it’s no different. First introduced in November 1966, the M4 was the fourth camera in the Leica M series line. It was a great camera that featured improvements on some of the shortcomings in the M2 and M3.

For some Leica enthusiasts, the M4 was the best camera in the series—personally, I think the M3 was the best in the line.

Here’s why some consider the M4 to be the best rangefinder in the Leica M line.

Features of the M4

One of the reasons why some people consider the M4 as the best Leica rangefinder is that it resolved some of the shortcomings of the Leica M2 and M3.

One of these features is the film loading mechanism.

Loading and unloading the film in the M2 and M3 was a slow and tiring process.  The M4 however came with a new film loading mechanism that was faster to use.

In the M2 and M3, loading the film entailed taking off the bottom part, removing the spool, and then loading it. On the M2, the process was made even more complicated because you had to set the film counter manually.

Loading the film on the M4 was however easier. All you had to do was to remove the bottom plate, open the back, then load the film.

No need to remove the spool.

The other feature that made the M4 a great camera was the faster rewind system. Unlike the M3 and M2, which used a knob to rewind the film, the M4 came with a lever that allowed a quicker rewind process.

Another improvement that came with the F4 was the inclusion of extra frame lines in the viewfinder. The M4 came with frame lines for the 35mm, 50mm, 90mm, and 135mm lenses. Both the M3 and M2 came with frame lines for three lenses. The M3 had frame lines for the 50mm, 90mm, and 135mm lenses. The M2 on the other hand came with frame lines for the 35mm, 50mm, and 90mm lenses.

The inclusion of the extra set of frame lines in the viewfinder meant that it was possible to use all Leica lenses without the need for goggles.

The M4 also came with an impeccable rangefinder. Similar to what you’d find in the M3. It was fast, precise, and flair free.

The M4 also came with an improved self-timer and frame selection lever.

Design and Physical Appearance

Like it’s predecessors, the Leica M4 was exquisitely built.

This hand-assembled camera featured a full brass body that was black and silver chrome, black chrome, or entirely black. The black chrome and fully black body are quite rare, which has resulted in them being much more costly than the black and silver chrome ones.

The M4 also featured a new advance lever with a plastic edge. Depending on who you ask, this was either an improvement or a design failure.

Some users prefer the all-metal lever. However, if you’re like me, you may prefer the plastic lever as it’s less likely to jab your hip bone when carrying the camera.

The M4 also featured a hot shoe as opposed to the accessory shoe, which was found in the Leica M3 and M2.

Other Versions

Competition from SLRs resulted in a need to produce a cheaper version of the M4.

Leica moved production from Germany to Canada; thus, the M4-2 and M4-P were born. Unlike the original M4, the M4-2 and M4-P were made from an aluminum and zinc alloy.

The rangefinder system was also more simplified and was more prone to flair.

However, these later versions featured a motor drive attachment and came with added frame lines for the 28mm and 75mm lenses.

Shortcomings of the Camera

Like it’s predecessors, the M4 didn’t feature a light meter, which makes it hard to use if you’re a novice film photographer.

Although not everyone sees it as a disadvantage, some Leica enthusiasts have bashed the M4 for its use of a plastic film advance.

Final Thoughts

There you go.

All you need to know about the last hand assembled Leica rangefinder.

Not only was it an impeccable build, but it is also a tremendous mechanical camera thats worthy of your classic vintage camera collection.