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Thread: hype?

  1. #1

    hype?

    Periodically I receive gorgeous brochures from Leica and find myself sorely tempted to spend a fairly large size fortune on one of their M cameras. They are so seductive!

    My question is this: have any of you (I'm sure you have) used Leica, and are their lenses al that good. I've been using Nikon forever; mostly their lenses are excellent, with some a bit better than others, but never a problem. Do Leica lenses really show no flare? Do they resolve as much as an 8X10? Is the bokeh always superb? In other words, is it mostly hype? I fooled with one and can't see the full 35mm frame as I wear glasses. I can with the Nikon, but that could be lived with if the images are so wonderful.

    I would appreciate opinions before I go out and spend my life savings on an M7 and 35mm lens.

  2. #2

    hype?

    I use M6's and Leica lenses for things that call out for hand cameras.

    Yes, the lenses are good. Are they better than, say, top notch Nikon or Canon lenses? Probably not, although they do provide a somewhat different 'look'.

    Are the lenses flare resistant? Yes, pretty much. Are they free from flare? No, Leica have not found a way to get around the laws of physics.

    Do they resolve as much as 8x10? That would depend on a lot of things, including what lens you're using on the 8x10, but in general, no, they won't.

    Is the bokeh always superb? No. My 90mm summicron does not have the lovely bokeh of my 50mm summicron. And the 50mm f/1.0 Noctilux is, well, different.

    My extended thoughts on Leica M stuff at www.butzi.net/reviews/leicam6.htm and at www.butzi.net/reviews/mlenses.htm

  3. #3

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    hype?

    I've used both Leicas and Nikons for over 20 years. For the most part I agree with Mr. Butzi's post above. I would add that the current Leica 35/2 ASPH is a superb lens, and I'm not sorry trhat I bought one new a few years back (1st new lens in all that time, btw.) A thing to note is that RF cameras help you see differently than cameras that use a groundglass, and to my mind are a useful counterweight to controlled, tripod-mounted view camera work.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Feb 2004
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    41

    hype?

    I also asked myself the same question. I finally got myself a Bessa R2A. I do my serious work with MF and LF. I could not justify the expense because I use the Bessa for snap shots, color/BW. The Bessa and its lenses are very good.
    I also just got back from a trip to Egypt, and going through Cairo and small villages where military scort is a must, I can not see myself walking around with a 3,500 camera.
    Although M series are great, well built, etc. I think they are overkill for 35mm. Another though is to get a Mamiya 7 for those shots that may make it to big enlargments.
    Good luck,

  5. #5
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    hype?

    The short answer: M-Leica cameras and lenses are fabulous tools. But they're also very distinctive in what they do and how they do it, and they're not a good match for every person, or every purpose.

    The longer answer:

    Do Leica lenses really show no flare?

    No. The newest ones are first-rate in that respect, but there's no such thing as a lens with zero flare.

    Do they resolve as much as an 8X10?

    No, although the latest "ASPH" lenses are spectacularly good and exceptionally refined as lenses for 35mm format go.

    Is the bokeh always superb?

    No. There's a lot of variation in this respect across the different M-Leica lenses.

    In other words, is it mostly hype?

    No, M-Leicas really are very special. But whether an M-Leica is right for you really depends on your shooting style, what your hand finds comfortable, and your taste in the subtleties of optical rendering - or indeed, how much you care about the latter at all. I used to own a Nikon system (N90, N8008s, lots of fixed focal length AF-Nikkors), but I sold all of it. I found the bodies too big, too heavy, too unwieldy and too noisy. To my eye, the lenses were consistently too harsh for monochrome work, in terms of both bokeh and tonal gradation. Finally, for out-in-the-world snapshooting, I just came to dislike the finder blackout and shutter lag associated with an SLR. FWIW, I've also owned Pentax and Canon EOS equipment, so I'm familiar with a range of 35mm SLR systems and optical "personalities".

    For my purposes in 35mm, M-Leica bodies and lenses are as close to ideal as any camera system is ever going to get. But again, they may or may not be for you. If you've never used one before, I wouldn't "spend my life savings" for a new M7 and lens. I'd buy a used M6 and lens for half the price - or even a used M4-2 or M4-P and lens for even less, if you can get by without a built-in meter. Use it and see for yourself whether the strengths and weaknesses of an M-Leica are a good match to your purposes. If not, you can sell them for what you paid.

  6. #6

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    hype?

    The viewfinders of the M6 and M7 show only about 80% of what you will record on your negative at real-life working distances. Is that what you want?
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  7. #7

    Join Date
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    hype?

    Leicas are great if a rangefinder is what you are looking for. The lenses excel wide open. I recently went to Nepal and India with an M6 w/ Noctilux / 35mm Asph f1.4 and a 15mm. It doesnt get better than this. Emile/www.deleon-ulf.com

  8. #8

    hype?

    The viewfinders of the M6 and M7 show only about 80% of what you will record on your negative at real-life working distances. Is that what you want?

    I have no idea what this means.

    With a 35mm lens mounted, my M6's show about 110% of the area - the actual image area is defined by the brightlines and is surrounded by a narrow margin of stuff that falls outside the image area. The brightlines are automatically selected when you mount a lens.

    With a 50mm lens mounted, the image area is centered in the frame and surrounded by a generous area that falls outside the image area.

    With longer lenses (75mm, 90mm, 135mm) there's increasingly large non-image area surrounding the image area, which is defined by the brightlines.

    To say that it doesn't show the entire image area is just wrong. The fact that MORE than the image area is visible in the viewfinder is one of the defining characteristics of the Leica M bodies.

    Now, there ARE some issues with parallax error for images made up close. The rangefinder moves the brightlines to compensate but...

  9. #9

    hype?

    Playing with an M6 and a 35mm lens (I wear glasses) I found I couldn't see all the frame for the 35. This was the .72 or whatever model. Is the .58 one better? With glasses can one see the whole 35mm frame? That is the lens I use most. Here (San Diego) there is only one Leica dealer and he doesn' seem to have the various models. It will require a trip to LA to look at other models, and if I can't see the whole frame with my glasses on it would seem not too wonderful a prospect.

  10. #10
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    hype?

    Paul -

    When you're focused on distant subjects, the field of view shown by the framelines is substantially less than what you'll actually get on the negative. Exactly how much less, I don't recall. I'm sure the particulars are well-documented over in Leica-land.

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