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I want a Leica R4 -- what's wrong with me??
Old 09-10-2015   #1
giganova
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I want a Leica R4 -- what's wrong with me??

I bought my first Leica R4 and a couple of R lenses in 1983 ... but stupid as I am, I sold them when I switched to digital. Now I'm back into b&w film photography and want my Leica back!

Have been using a Nikon FE2 with AI-S glass over the past year, but I can't emotionally connect with the Nikon and wish for my old R4. I remember the shutter being much softer than the Nikon, the viewfinder brighter, I loved the spot meter, and the R lenses were wonderful!

Do you think I'd be crazy if I sold all my Nikon gear and bought an R4 with Leica glass?
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Old 09-10-2015   #2
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If you can afford to make the switch, I see no reason why you shouldn't get the camera that you really want.

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Old 09-10-2015   #3
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I held a friend's R4. It was fantastic. I want one too.

But I want too many things.
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Old 09-10-2015   #4
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The glass is in another league, particularly if you shoot B&W and are picky about bokeh. However, personally the R4 drives me to nuts with it's slow shutter, and also 1/1000th is a limitation when you want to shoot wide open. So I am switching my R lenses one by one into Nikon mount through the Leitax "preset" adapter. BTW, I do not find the VF less bright, especially if you use an F3 HP +DK17M.
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Old 09-10-2015   #5
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Why not go with the SL2/R8? Both are "proper" leica made. Whilst the other were made in cooperation with minolta. The screen of the SL2 is supposed to be very bright and lighmeter very senstive (maybe for that age but not compared to later cameras? I dont know). It is also illuminated but I only think its the leds and not the screen itself. I'm also considering it but havent heard much from people who have used it.

E: SL2 also has a 1/2000 compared to some of the R's
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Old 09-11-2015   #6
David Hughes
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Hi,

You are not alone, I wish I had my old R5 back and the lenses to go with it. Trouble is, I can't justify spending that much and then sending them to Leica to be checked and so on...

But, I do know how you feel and offer my sympathy.

Regards, David
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Old 09-11-2015   #7
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No leitz R glass I'm afraid for me but my R4s has a wonderful solid feel. Mine is used with an adapted nikkor PC 28/4.
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Old 09-11-2015   #8
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Why not an r7 or r8? I still don't trust the r4's electronics
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Old 09-11-2015   #9
Benjamin Marks
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I have one and the magnets and replaced other electronics in 2003. Like the OP, this was my "it" camera of the 1980's, although I didn't get mine until much later. I haven't used it in a couple of years and was thinking of "deacquisitioning" it along with a Nikon FG20 and some other gear. I just love the way the shutter feels in the R4 and the viewscreen is as good as anything else in my cabinet.
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Old 09-11-2015   #10
Larry Cloetta
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giganova View Post
I bought my first Leica R4 and a couple of R lenses in 1983 ...

Do you think I'd be crazy if I sold all my Nikon gear and bought an R4 with Leica glass?
No, but you'd be crazy embarking on that journey with an R4 without at least trying an SL2 or SL for a while
A nice SL2 costs a lot more these days than a nice R4 and there's a good reason for that, and it's not nostalgia. The R3 wasn't so much an "advance" over the SL2 as it was a cost cutting measure.
As someone else noted, if wanting to get back to R glass, SL2/R8 might be the optimum way to go. Biggest (only?) disadvantage of the SL2 is the battery situation, but meter can be re calibrated to be accurate with currently available emasculated batteries, so even that isn't a real hurdle.
FWIW.
Best of luck to you, wonderful cameras, go for it.
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Old 09-11-2015   #11
Range-rover
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Nothing, their great camera's I had a R4 once as well with a Leica R 50mm F2
and the colors and sharpness were magical.
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Old 09-11-2015   #12
Platinum RF
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R4 is a junk compare to Nikon FE2. It is psychological not reality. I used both, the R4 shutter response like 81 year old and FE2? 18
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Old 09-11-2015   #13
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The draw to Leica R gear is fantastic, the lenses are wonderful. I have enjoyed using an R8 and Leicaflex SL with a bunch of excellent R lenses.

But the pull for me was the other way - back to Nikon. The Nikon F Photomic FTn was my first SLR, I always liked Nikon lenses, and once I picked up an F6 body I fell in love with Nikon all over again. I just added a D750 body to the kit, still learning it. And delighted.

Both systems make excellent photographs, are well designed bodies, and have a great selection of remarkable lenses. Pick whichever feels satisfying to you and enjoy using it!

G
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Old 09-11-2015   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Platinum RF View Post
R4 is a junk compare to Nikon FE2. It is psychological not reality. I used both, the R4 shutter response like 81 year old and FE2? 18
Not going to argue with you, but the shutter sound and noise of my FE2 make me cringe every time I press the shutter. People literally turn around when I make a picture with my FE2 because it is so loud. Not so on an R4, it's super soft and like butter, people can barely hear it.

So here's what I'm gonna do:

I'll get an R4 with a 24mm/2.8 lens but will keep my FE2 and lens collection. Then after a few months, I'll decide what I will keep.

What are the weak points of an R4 and what should I be watching out for?
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Old 09-11-2015   #15
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Nothing is wrong with you. The R4 is essentially a Minolta XD-11, which is the best camera made in the 1970-80s. (Flame me, who cares!) It just a shame Leica didn't rely on Minolta's more reliable metering. That's what I think anyway.
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Old 09-11-2015   #16
cpc
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If you happen to wear glasses, you may want to consider the R5. It also has a higher top shutter speed of 1/2000.
I am content with mine, although I sometimes struggle with focussing the 35 Summicron. The longer lenses are fine. Not sure how the 24 Elmarit would work.
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Old 09-11-2015   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giganova View Post

What are the weak points of an R4 and what should I be watching out for?
The ones with issues are long dead- Leica had an early batch that was really bad- It's based on Minolta, but without the minolta electronics

R4s would be the way to go
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them bad R4 are by now all dead, uh Oh!
Old 09-11-2015   #18
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Talking them bad R4 are by now all dead, uh Oh!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bisakok View Post
Nothing is wrong with you. The R4 is essentially a Minolta XD-11, which is the best camera made in the 1970-80s. (Flame me, who cares!) It just a shame Leica didn't rely on Minolta's more reliable metering. That's what I think anyway.
I rescued 2 Minolta SLR from Goodwill.
One is a XD-!! which is smooth, quite and lovely to handle.
The lenses for the Minolta cost almost nothing!
I have 50mm, 45mm,35mm Minolta and a 28mm lens.
Similar lenses by Leica are expensive.
The newer Leica bodies need additional cams,further expense.
I used Leica R4 and some earlier SL models.
I prefer the Minolta set.
Sadly the "bad" Leica R4 models are not dead.
They are out there waiting..
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Old 09-11-2015   #19
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I have been lusting for a R camera (R6 or R7) and came very close to justifying the cost of the body but with the cost of the lenses I really could not spend that much on a camera that I would not be using that much (I really am a rangefinder guy) so instead I purchased a Minolta XD (the Japanese market version of the XD-11) I had bought a new XD-11 in the late 80's and had lent it to my daughter about 10 years ago. She ended up losing it so I guess this is a replacement for that one. I still had a 50mm 1.7 lens, a flash, auto winder and a few other things from my Minolta days so for very little money I was able to scratch that itch with a really great camera.
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Old 09-11-2015   #20
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Best of the R4's is the R4S Model P. All the bugs were corrected

Love Mine & never had a problem
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Old 09-11-2015   #21
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I know the lenses are good, but I never saw the appeal. A lot of plastic on the R4.
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Old 09-11-2015   #22
p.giannakis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewis44 View Post
Best of the R4's is the R4S Model P. All the bugs were corrected
Yes, this is something to watch out for. Leica R4 with serial numbers below 1.600.000 are infamous for unreliable electronics. If you buy one, make sure that it is above that s/n.
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Old 09-11-2015   #23
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Reading this I just checked UK prices they are virtually giving them away. £100 to £150, shame about the lens prices though.
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Old 09-11-2015   #24
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The fewer the cams, the cheaper the lenses, hence the appeal of the SL etc
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Old 09-12-2015   #25
Ronald M
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R6 or 6.2 are far better. Don`t miss the R4 one bit.

Whole problem is they are old not to serviceable. DAG is where you go.

24 is a minolta lens with strange depth of field off axis. I sold mine. And it is a known problem because of floating elements
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Old 09-12-2015   #26
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"strange depth of field off axis"? Do you mean it suffers from field curvature? How is it a known problem with floating elements? A quick Google search didn't reveal anything.

Anyway, the Minolta 24/2.8 that was the basis for the Leitz 24/2.8 was considered one of the best 24mm's around. There is a reason why Leica choose it instead of developing their own. Leica marketed this lens until 2006 (Overgaard) while Minolta replaces it in 1981 with another lensdesign (The Sybersite). It is a Minolta design, but a Leica lens.
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Old 09-12-2015   #27
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I will feed your gas.

APUG has a sale of Leica R cameras and lenses for sale.

http://www.apug.org/forums/forum379/...es-lenses.html

Good luck.
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Old 09-13-2015   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
The fewer the cams, the cheaper the lenses, hence the appeal of the SL etc
Indeed and when you hit the ROM lenses, well!!
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Old 09-14-2015   #29
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Are there any adapters and such for the leica R system? The bodies are decently priced but the lenses, no way! So I was thinking (hoping) that I could get an SL2 and use my canon FD lenses on it or nikons. Can't seem to find anyone on ebay?
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Old 09-14-2015   #30
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Like all Leica rangefinder equipment, I feel their SLR line was over-priced and over-hyped, but if you like the stuff, can afford to make the switch, and it makes you happy, then knock yourself out.
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Old 09-14-2015   #31
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I favour the poor person alternatives - SR1s / SRT / XD7 with Rokkors !
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Old 09-14-2015   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cpc View Post
If you happen to wear glasses, you may want to consider the R5. It also has a higher top shutter speed of 1/2000.
I am content with mine, although I sometimes struggle with focussing the 35 Summicron. The longer lenses are fine. Not sure how the 24 Elmarit would work.
Love my r5 with 24 elmarit, also have a 50 cron, 90 elmarit, 180 elmarit, 28 extender, it's a great system
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Old 09-14-2015   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dralowid View Post
The fewer the cams, the cheaper the lenses, hence the appeal of the SL etc
Er, no. That would not be the reason for the appeal of the "SL, etc". The reasons for the appeal of the "SL, etc." over the early R series, is the better viewfinder, closer production tolerances, better build quality, simplicity, and how it feels in actual use. A poll of owners of "SL, etc" bodies as to why their camera had the appeal it does to them is not likely to turn up a lot of responses along the line of " I don't really like the SL2 body, but I can use cheaper lenses on it." Later lenses tended to be better lenses optically, which is a bigger contributor to their higher current prices than the number of cams they have. People who buy "SL,etc" bodies are doing so because they have reasons they prefer those bodies, not because they think the lenses will be cheaper. Like everybody else, they're buying the best glass they can afford. Nobody gets into R glass because the lenses are inexpensive.
At least, I hope they don't.
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Old 09-14-2015   #34
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Had the R4sP with 50 and 35cron's and the 180 3.5 Later added an R8. Never had a problem with them, but adding lenses to the kit was impossibly expensive. Face it, you won't be happy with anything else. Whatever gets you out shooting film and enjoying it is a good thing.
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Old 09-14-2015   #35
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Yeah, beware of early SN bodies, mine was bugged, but except that I love the ergonomics and VF. You can hunt down cheap Adaptall2 glass (adapters could be pricey) and use with great results.
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Old 09-14-2015   #36
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Thanks for all the encouragement! I pulled the trigger and ordered an R4 with serial 160X from Robert's Camera. At $100 plus half a year of warranty, it's not much of a risk. If I like shooting with it, I will also get an R6 (mechanical shutter! ) and use the R4 as my backup camera. Good thing is that a lot a "people with money" bought Leica Rs in the 80s due to Leica's "prestige" but ended up almost never using them, so there's tons of R cameras out there in near mint condition.

Lenses are another story though, as they are very expensive. However, now that film makers are upgrading to larger sensor cameras, the Leica R lenses are in high demand (mostly for 4K cameras) and should hold their values pretty well.

So what's the verdict of the 24mm f/2.8 vs the 28mm f/2.8? Prices seem to be very similar (around $700). My Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI-S was my main lens for the past year or so and I love the field of view, but I've never had a 28mm and can't compare.

I'll be in Leica's Vaterland Germany soon and will be hunting for lenses. Hopefully the weak EUR will help me find some bargains.
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Old 09-14-2015   #37
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Let me rephrase my last question. Of the affordable R wide-angle lenses, which one would you get for travel photography (people, buildings, landscapes)?
  • 24mm f/2.8: seems to go for around $700 on Ebay. Love the wide field of view.
  • 28mm f/2.8: $675 average price on Ebay.
  • 35mm f/2: that's the only R wide-angle lens I ever had (back in the 80s). Even though it was -- by far -- the cheapest R lens, I remember it being insanely sharp and well built. Goes for around $500 on Ebay.
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Old 09-14-2015   #38
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i have a 24/2.8 I'd be willing to let go of if you go that way...
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Old 09-14-2015   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by giganova View Post
Let me rephrase my last question. Of the affordable R wide-angle lenses, which one would you get for travel photography (people, buildings, landscapes)?
  • 24mm f/2.8: seems to go for around $700 on Ebay. Love the wide field of view.
  • 28mm f/2.8: $675 average price on Ebay.
  • 35mm f/2: that's the only R wide-angle lens I ever had (back in the 80s). Even though it was -- by far -- the cheapest R lens, I remember it being insanely sharp and well built. Goes for around $500 on Ebay.
If you want the most useful answer to your question, I'd suggest going over to fredmiranda.com (can I say that?) and looking at the "Leica R series lenses" thread on the Alternative Gear and Lenses page. There is now 345 pages on that thread, photos tell everything you might need to know about the lenses you are inquiring about, but there is a vast amount of useful R lens information in the thread as well--much more than I've found on any of the Leica sites. If you aren't in a huge hurry, and really want to understand what the best R lens choices are, it's actually worthwhile taking a look at all 345 pages. I know that sounds ridiculous. You'll thank me later.

I've not had the 24mm so can't comment. There are two very, very different versions of the 28mm, with very, very different prices. The affordable one is 'ok', and that's the one you see for sale most often. It's the second version that one would lust after, but they go for around $2K. A comparison of photos taken with each easily explains the price difference. Talk about insanely sharp, and great colors.
The 35 cron is a lovely lens, though nice copies are not cheap. Much cheaper than the VII 28, however.
Of the choices you listed, I'd personally go for the 35 cron R, but I like the focal length to begin with.
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Old 09-14-2015   #40
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If you want the most useful answer to your question, I'd suggest going over to fredmiranda.com (can I say that?) and looking at the "Leica R series lenses" thread on the Alternative Gear and Lenses page.
Thanks for the lead -- great thread!
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