Underwhelmed by the M3
Old 2 Weeks Ago   #1
TaoPhoto
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Underwhelmed by the M3

Okay, I know that I'll probably be excommunicated from the Church of Leica and all, but I recently picked up an M3 and I really don't know why people love this so much. It's mechanically beautiful, the DS winder is butter smooth, the rangefinder is bright and on the money. Yet it's also heavy, and for all the mechanical goodness of it all, it's harder to load film, harder to set shutter speeds and the lovely viewfinder really isn't hundreds of dollars more lovely than the Bessa R2 or my Olympus OM-1n.

I just don't understand all the "M3 is the best camera in the world" hype. What am I missing? Why all the love?

(Mine will probably show up in the classifieds soon)
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #2
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"You have the right to remain silent, but anything you say may be used against you in the public court of opinion. You have the right to an attorney, and if you cannot afford one... may god help you in your dire hour of need, after saying such things about the Leica M3"

... said nobody, ever.

Yours truly also bought an M3 some years ago. I sincerely tried to like it, but I never managed to feel a passion for it simply because I'm not a 50mm kinda guy. I like wider lenses, so I'm in awe of cameras like the M2, all the M4 family and the M5s.

Best of luck with the sale and don't sweat too much about not liking the Leicas!
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #3
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Can anyone understand the true meaning of "love" anyway? Why not for a camera?

No one who will be interested in buying it from you will give you any pro - simply out of fear that you would rise the price.

(You are so right! It is worthless! No one really likes it! Not even me. Have already two M3. Just bought them for humanitarian reasons: Preventing mankind from a horrible fate... Maybe I will sacrifice myself again!)
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #4
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I sold my OM thing quick and some of my Bessa cameras went on sale as fast as OP M3 announced sale is going to be. I kept M3. I didn't find OM and Bessa as something worth to keep. I also see no difference in speed switch from M4-2, it is one finger switchable.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #5
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It's the "soul". Other cameras don't have soul.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #6
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Ha! Fortunately, camera ownership is not a religion (AFAIK ).

The M3 is a camera design classic but needs to be viewed in historic context. If you compare it to what was available in 1954 (just like the OM-1 in 1972) & consider how useable it still is today, you might be able to appreciate it more.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TaoPhoto View Post
Okay, I know that I'll probably be excommunicated from the Church of Leica and all, but I recently picked up an M3 and I really don't know why people love this so much. It's mechanically beautiful, the DS winder is butter smooth, the rangefinder is bright and on the money. Yet it's also heavy, and for all the mechanical goodness of it all, it's harder to load film, harder to set shutter speeds and the lovely viewfinder really isn't hundreds of dollars more lovely than the Bessa R2 or my Olympus OM-1n.

I just don't understand all the "M3 is the best camera in the world" hype. What am I missing? Why all the love?

(Mine will probably show up in the classifieds soon, if anyone is looking for one)
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #7
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Don't worry: pros for the M3 won't lead to price increases. I'll be happy if I can get something near what I paid for it. It might be nice, actually to understand why some love the M3 so much.

It seems every year or so I give the Leica M's another chance. I really wanted to like them, but I think it's a square peg/round hole kind of problem.

I'll put the camera and lenses in the classifieds and hope that I can get out of this year's experiment with minimal loss. I like to give rangefinders for sale a try here before resorting to ebay and similar.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #8
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So I was joking about the "soul". I build guitars and guitar guys are worse than camera guys about holy-grail seeking.

I see the whole Leica M-film line as a monolith, except for various features from model to model.

If the thing doesn't fit your hand, it is a no-brainer to move on.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #9
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Take a picture you really love with that camera and it will be on!
Seriously... there are few machines that live up to their hype.
The M3 is not a Rolleiflex
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #10
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I think it's just about what clicks. I hated my M3 and sold it, but am giving an M4 a try instead for the diff. viewfinder. But when I had it, I didn't find the M3 much better built than my Canon F-1, which I clicked with immediately. On the opposite end, I immediately fell in love with a 500cm I picked one up, despite not having run a roll of film through it yet.

Seems to me that the brand is quickly forgotten if you absolutely love a camera, but it will haunt you if you don't click with something prestigious/legendary/what-have-you.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #11
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Don't feel bad. I inherited mine and once it was cla'd I put a roll thru it. Couldn't figure out what all the hype was either. Besides being heavy, it wasn't very easy to hold IMO, until I put a grip on it, but, even then it wasn't as easy to hold as say my D7000 which is quite a bit heavier.
The one thing I've come to appreciate about it, even though I haven't used it since that first roll, is how quiet the shutter is and how free from vibration it is. All good points in my book, but it still doesn't out weigh the cost of film/developing/printing enough for me to justify using it more. (sigh)
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #12
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You should of purchased a M4 more modern feature's and all.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaoPhoto View Post
...

(Mine will probably show up in the classifieds soon)

Sell it.

I bet it'll be less than six months before you regret it.

There's something weird about classic Leicas. Even when you think you don't need them and you sell them and are happy they're gone, they come back to haunt you.

Addiction doesn't cover it. It's more an affliction that you can't shake. An infection.

I suck at shooting rangefinders but they still call me like Sirens...

must.resist.must.resist.must...
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johannielscom View Post

There's something weird about classic Leicas. Even when you think you don't need them and you sell them and are happy they're gone, they come back to haunt you.

Addiction doesn't cover it. It's more an affliction that you can't shake. An infection.
This is definitely true, to an extent. Though I'd argue it's mostly the hype generated around Leicas, rather than anything intrinsic to the cameras themselves. That hype is what made me end up getting another one, because I felt like I was missing out on some experience. But I'd argue that you could just as easily come to terms with not liking Leicas and live happily with whatever works better. Might not be an easy process with most outside media sources telling you it's the pinnacle of all things photography, but it can certainly be done (especially if you have a camera you're already loving/secure in using).
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #15
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I first bought an M3DW ,then an M2 and fairly recently an M4.
Like furcafe says you have to view them in their historical contex.

I think that you`re trying too hard to see something in them that just isn`t there.
Stack `em up dispassionately against any number of modern alternatives and they just aren`t as versatile a tool.

For 80% of what I do they aren`t practical but I`d never sell mine.
Once in a while when I want to do some simple straightforward photography there isn`t anything better.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaoPhoto View Post
Okay, I know that I'll probably be excommunicated from the Church of Leica and all, but I recently picked up an M3 and I really don't know why people love this so much. It's mechanically beautiful, the DS winder is butter smooth, the rangefinder is bright and on the money. Yet it's also heavy, and for all the mechanical goodness of it all, it's harder to load film, harder to set shutter speeds and the lovely viewfinder really isn't hundreds of dollars more lovely than the Bessa R2 or my Olympus OM-1n.

I just don't understand all the "M3 is the best camera in the world" hype. What am I missing? Why all the love?

(Mine will probably show up in the classifieds soon)
A man after my own heart. I will be your attorney and won't charge a cent. Of course, I won't be able to get you off, but I think I can reduce your sentence. Or play chess with you most evenings if I am in the next cell.

The M3 is sort of capable and almost as good as an M2. What horrified me when I held one and looked in the viewfinder is those awful rounded corners of the fabled M3 50mm frame lines. I didn't drop the camera but I put it down very quickly and patted my camera bag in which the vastly superior M2 was sitting. The truth is, the M6 blows both out of the water and might be the best Leica ever. But I do love the M2 50mm frame lines. And the 35mm frame lines. Oh, sorry you won't have seen those in your camera, and nor will anyone else with an M3......
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaoPhoto View Post
Okay, I know that I'll probably be excommunicated from the Church of Leica and all, but I recently picked up an M3 and I really don't know why people love this so much. It's mechanically beautiful, the DS winder is butter smooth, the rangefinder is bright and on the money. Yet it's also heavy, and for all the mechanical goodness of it all, it's harder to load film, harder to set shutter speeds and the lovely viewfinder really isn't hundreds of dollars more lovely than the Bessa R2 or my Olympus OM-1n.

I just don't understand all the "M3 is the best camera in the world" hype. What am I missing? Why all the love?

(Mine will probably show up in the classifieds soon)
If you find it necessary to ask the question you may, very well, not understand the answer.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #18
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I bought my first M3 in 1979. It is still my favorite camera. I use mine only with 50mm lenses. But then, I only use 50mm or 35mm lenses. For 35mm lenses I use an M2 or an M5.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Graybeard View Post
If you find it necessary to ask the question you may, very well, not understand the answer.
That is almost certainly true. The question requires a language and culture I don't know. Too bad Duolingo doesn't offer a course for it.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #20
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I'm one of those that loves the M3, it is made of heavy brass, 50mm frame line difficult to see with glasses, no quick spool load, takes forever to rewind and remove film, and I don't shoot with it often either, but there's something unique and special that attracts me to the M3.

I've shot with most film SLRs (OM, Ai-S, FD, Pentax, Minolta) and the SLR that I'm most attached to now is the Pentax ME Super or MX.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #21
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Leica M3: In der Beschršnkung zeigt sich erst der Meister.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaoPhoto View Post
It's mechanically beautiful, the DS winder is butter smooth, the rangefinder is bright and on the money. Yet it's also heavy, and for all the mechanical goodness of it all, it's harder to load film, harder to set shutter speeds and the lovely viewfinder really isn't hundreds of dollars more lovely than the Bessa R2 or my Olympus OM-1n.
Not having used a Bessa R2 or an Olympus OM-1n, I can't compare it to an M3. But everything you find good about the M3, buttery smooth winder, bright, contrasty, super accurate viewfinder, superbly well made; I also find good about the M3. And I've never found it to be unnecessarily heavy, hard to load, or hard to set the shutter speeds. Maybe your M3 needs service.

Also, it could be a case of "personal taste", what some of us find delightful, others find old school and clunky.

Best,
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #23
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i tend to agree, bessa R2/A is the best rangefinder, i found the bottom loading of the leica too fidgety...Also use an Olympus OM 2n....these 2 cameras cover it all.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #24
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I really clicked with my first RF, and R2a. I like it right out of the gate as a welcome departure from my beloved F4s, which was too heavy and "too much camera" for everyday use.

I figure, if I love the R2a, I will like the ZI even better. I picked one up and gave it a 6 month try, but it just did not resonate with me, probably because I expected it to be more than it was given the hype. So, I perfectly understand where you are coming from, only I wonder if you gave yourself enough time to get use to the M3. I can see how one could make an argument that you should not go out of your way to get used to something if your first impression is negative, so YMMV, but by giving it 6 month, I now know that the ZI (and the ZM lenses) is never something I'll want to go back to.

Interestingly, when I later picked up an M4 for not too much money locally, I did not like it. The R2a had a brighter viewfinder, less weight, a film window, and no obnoxious self-timer lever to dig into my curled middle finger. Yet, after 3 months, something clicked (mostly the absence of meter and VF uncluttered by LEDs). My hands got used to gripping it without releasing the lens from its mount (!!!) and it's since become a mainstay in my camera rotation. I also feel that my photography has improved significantly though my use of it, which has not happened with any other camera for me other than the Rolleiflex.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #25
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Cameras that come with expectations can let you down and though I didn't really feel that way when I got an M3 I subsequently sold it and moved on. One camera that also came with expectations was my OM1 and that was the opposite experience, I loved the thing the moment I laid eyes on it and using it confirmed my feelings.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #26
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I've had several M3's over the years and I've come to realize it's
the black paint that makes the camera.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Range-rover View Post
You should of purchased a M4 more modern feature's and all.
I agree. To me, the M4 is the ultimate M: pure mechanical perfection, but with a better film loading mechanism and with a much cleaner design (e.g., no metal edges around the rangefinder windows).
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #28
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The difference is that with the M3 you can set the self timer, throw the camera up in the air, and by the time it comes down (and you catch it..) it will have taken an incredible decisive moment pulitzer price worthy photo.
Try this with any other camera, and the best you'd get is a cat picture.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #29
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Talk about opening up a can of worms....

With best regards,

Pfreddee(Stephen)
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TaoPhoto View Post

I just don't understand all the "M3 is the best camera in the world" hype. What am I missing?
I'm kind of the same way. One reason I haven't sold mine is actually because of all the hype, I honestly think maybe I just don't get it, but I will completely understand the attraction if I just keep trying. It's a nice camera, but there are lots of nice cameras. It's as a "thing" that I seem to appreciate it a little more; a pretty nice camera, but an exceptional "thing".
I do enjoy using it, but I can say that about every camera I own, pretty much in equal measure.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #31
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Well, I feel the same way. I know Eisie photographed Marilyn Monroe and Albert Einstein with an M3, but I've had two of them and have never really bonded with the M3. The lack of a 35mm frameline and hard to see 50mm frameline are the deal-breakers for me.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #32
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I certainly understand the M3 experience by the OP. Don't get me wrong, I really do like my M3, but something isn't quite as good as an M4 for me. It might be the quick load/rewind, it might be the frame lines, and it might be something intangible that is just off for my tastes. With that in mind, I have since ended up with 3 M4's and after selling my M3, I bought another about a year ago. At this point, I feel like my M3+50mm rigid Summicron is my "must have/keep" camera, and my M4's + all other lenses are my "must shoot" cameras.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timmyjoe View Post
Not having used a Bessa R2 or an Olympus OM-1n, I can't compare it to an M3. But everything you find good about the M3, buttery smooth winder, bright, contrasty, super accurate viewfinder, superbly well made; I also find good about the M3. And I've never found it to be unnecessarily heavy, hard to load, or hard to set the shutter speeds. Maybe your M3 needs service.

Also, it could be a case of "personal taste", what some of us find delightful, others find old school and clunky.

Best,
-Tim

There's nothing wrong with the shutter speed setting, just the placement of the control and it being rather small for my fingers.

You are right, it is a matter of personal taste.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #34
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Most of my photo-heroes are Leica shooters, and I longed, oh, how I longed, to be able to see the world through the viewfinder of a Leica as they did. I struggled with this for more than 40 years.

My first Leica was a IIIc with an f2 Summitar that I bought for $40 at the Bird Road Drive-In flea market in Miami in 1969. I owned many Leicas over the intervening years, but always wound up selling them. As hard as I tried, and I did try very hard, I simply could not attain real proficiency with rangefinder cameras. I made a few good pictures with them, but ultimately, they just did not work for me. I sadly sold my last Leica, an M3, to Ornate Wrasse on this forum in 2010. I think she still has it. Leicas (and rangefinders in general) are wonderful, but they're not for everyone.

In my heart Iím a globe-trotting, black&white film, Leica-shooting photojournalist in the mold of Elliott Erwitt, Henri Cartier-Bresson, or Josef Koudelka. But the bitter truth is that I am an autofocus, SLR, zoom lens, color photographer. Thatís what I am, and I just have to deal with it.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #35
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It was ground breaking when released. I appreciate mine and use it from time to time but usually opt for the MP when shooting film.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #36
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I will admit this. When fondling my M3 for one of the first times, installing the meter, taking it off, marveling at how it tried to make picture taking as 'automatic' as possible, I realized that for @1955 technology it was a tremendous camera. Comparing it to my D7k or now my A7ii, I can see why it caused such a storm in the camera world. I like the 'mechanicalness' of it tremendously as I'm a tried and true 'gearhead' at heart. I can appreciate the fine machine work considering what was state of the art in machines back then too.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #37
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My ZI is what the M3 should ultimately have evolved to...

but it didn't...

so it was up to Zeiss and Cosina to do it...

Thank goodness someone did it.

The M3 is a wonderful and important part of history and everyone should buy one so they can CLA it and keep them alive. But a lot of water (and cameras) have passed under the bridge since 1954. Even Eisenstadt and Bresson would have moved on by now.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pioneer View Post
My ZI is what the M3 should ultimately have evolved to...

but it didn't...

so it was up to Zeiss and Cosina to do it...

Thank goodness someone did it.
Yes, thank you Minolta for the wonderful CLE.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #39
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Most people use cameras to "search" a picture by looking through the viewfinder. However, the Leica M3 is a camera that "takes" the picture once you've found it by looking through your eyes.

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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #40
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For me Leica is all about the lenses, especially the ones designed by Dr. Mandler at ELC. Therefore I always focused on the lenses and used the most versatile and affordable Leica M cameras out there, the M4-2 and M4-P. I sold them off last year to buy a BP M4, which lacks some of the features of the newer M4-2/-P (hot-shoe, ability to use a winder) but to me the M4 is the best compromise between old-school Leica design and easy handling (35mm frame lines, angled rewind, film loading). I had a couple of M3s but found the camera to limited, especially due to the high magnification VF that does not allow to use 35mm lenses.
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