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
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
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.

Categories
1960's Canon

Canon TL QL

Canon TL QL
BrandCanon
Release Year1968
Release PriceNot sold in Japan (~$199)
Lens MountFL Mount
Categories
1960's Canon

Canon FT QL

Canon FT QL
BrandCanon
Release Year1966
Release Price54,800 yen (~$500)
Lens MountFL Mount
Categories
1960's Canon

Canon Pellix QL

Canon Pellix QL
BrandCanon
Release Year1966
Release Price60,800 yen (~$560)
Lens MountFL Mount
Categories
1960's Canon

Canon Pellix

Canon Pellix
BrandCanon
Release Year1965
Release Price58,800 yen (~$540)
Lens MountFL Mount
Categories
1960's Canon

Canon FP

Canon FP
BrandCanon
Release Year1964
Release Price37,800 yen (~$350)
Lens MountFL Mount
Categories
1960's Canon

Canon FX

Canon FX
BrandCanon
Release Year1964
Release Price44,800 yen (~$410)
Lens MountFL Mount