View Full Version : Leica CL to Bessa R2 -- would you do it?
I'd like to hear your opinions. I have a used Leica CL with Summicron 40mm lens that is in very good condition -- even the meter works accurately. But it's definitely an older camera and this model has a track record of meter failures. I can carry an external meter with me if that happens, but I like having it built in.
I have an opportunity to trade in the CL and the Summicron for a reasonable price for a new Bessa R2. I'd likely pick the CV 35mm f/2.5 lens as a rough equivalent to the Summicron. The value of the CL is dropping fairly noticeably even from the time I bought mine. Parts are becoming hard to find and the meter simply can't be replaced.
I'd then have a new cam, a good meter, a slightly louder shutter, an easier-to-load film transport for not too much difference. I might not get quite the same lens performance as the superb little Summicron-C.
I enjoy using the CL and it's a classic in its own way, though it's not a true M, but I wonder how much longer it will be trouble free.
What would you do?
Hi, Gene-- That's a tough one. I understand your concern over future reliability and repairs on the CL. And the Summicron-C is superb, some say even better than the 50mm. I have the M-Rokkor 40mm, and it too is a honey.
Could you swing just the R2 body without lens, and keep the CL? The Summicron-C will fit and work well with the R2, and setting the 35mm framelines might be ok for the 40. Now you keep your familiar gem of a lens and gain a modern reliable body, a good basis for a larger system if you are so inclined. AND your familiar CL for the times you want that classy look!
that's a tough call gene.
i think doug has a good idea and if you were to pick up a second lens you would have 2 bodies and a lens for each.
however, if money is a concern (as it would be for me) i think i would do the trade. peace of mind is more likely with a new camera as opposed to an older, harder to repair camera.
i don't know if you're caught up in the leica prestige thing at all but it's the shooter and not the camera that makes the real difference and judging by your photos i'd say you have nothing to worry about there.
Doug, Joe, I really appreciate your thoughts on this. Sometimes you need to hear another point of view to get a good perspective.
I don't think I can pick up another body right now but it's a great idea. It's one I can hold in reserve in case my cash reserves improve. Also, it would be hard to give up the Summicron-C 40. It's such a good optic and I find 40mm works well for me.
It occurs to me (after a good night's sleep) that I can just run the CL until the meter conks, then get a small clip-on meter or a tiny external meter like the Gossen Digisix.
I enjoy using Leicas but am not into the prestige of them. I held a Bessa R2 for awhile and think it's a fine cam and it fit my hands nicely. For me it's whatever works. I like the size and feel of the CL.
Gents, you've been a big help. While I may yet change my mind, I think I'll hold on the the CL and the Summicron-C and maybe add a Bessa body down the road. (There've also been hints of a new Bessa film cam, compact in design like the CL -- that too may be worth waiting for)
If the biggest concern is the meter conking out, it can always be repaired. If specialists can replace the Selenium Cell on a Contax IIIa and rebuild the Photomic head on a Nikon F, anything is possible. Essex has yet to send me back an unrepairable camera. The cost would run you about 1/3 of the price of a new R2 body.
With that in mind, save your $5s and $10's for that R2. You need a second body anyway.
"Hello, my name is Brian. It has been 6 days since I bought an old camera...":o
Brian, a clever repair person might be able to fix the meter, but what I've been hearing is that because this is a very unique meter, it's very difficult to get replacement parts. I've actually read some accounts on the Leica forum of owners who have had the meter removed after it died (so it doesn't swing out in front of the film plane). My inclination would be to switch over to an external meter and not get into the cost of repair.
I like the suggestion of getting an R2 as a second body and keeping the CL and Summicron. The 40mm cron evidently works very well with the Bessa 35mm frame.
Now, time to start saving...
"Hello, my name is Brian. It has been 6 days since I bought an old camera..."
If your CL's meter conkls out and you choose to use an external meter rather than repair it, that's certainly not the "end of the world". Though to hear some users, it would be a catastrophe!
In my view, I like built-in meters mainly if they're part of an auto-exposure system. Or TTL metering for macro shots. Otherwise, there's value to using one external meter with all/most cameras... Then at least your metering is consistent, and exposure variations would be due to the lens, shutter, or film. Similarly, I like one separate spell-checker on the computer! :-)
Of course the drawback to the external meter is the lack of integration and carrying another piece of gear. On the other hand, it helps me understand light, and fosters a bit of independence so I can better judge relative exposures without referring to the meter.
A series of photos shot in the same light but with different mixes of dark and light in the frame would have varying exposure if you go by the camera's reflected-light metering. But if you instead took one thorough reading with a hand-held incident meter, this could be equally applicable to the whole series and lead to easier printing or other post-processing.
My Leica M2's meter has never worked (it has none!), and I really like my little Gossen Super Pilot SBC, so I wouldn't fuss much if a camera's internal meter died permanently! :-)
Don't do it! I am an original owner of a CL, purchased in 1978 and I also purchased a Bessa R2 two years ago as a second body for a trip to China. Previously, I had used an M3 as a second body, but I wanted faster loading, a meter, etc. I find the user experience with the CL to be much more satisfying. I love the accuracy of the CL spot meter. The bessa R2 meter may be center weited but it does not compare to the selectivity and accuracy of the CL. The R2 has a great appearance, but it just does not stack up in handling, feel, response, and sound. Even though I am shooting mostly digital now (except for 4X5), I just had my CL CLA'd for about $180 and it is like new. I have not used the R2 since the trip to China and I put it back in it's original box, planning to sell it. I think that the R2 is fine for the price, but it is not an improvement over a CL.
Though I don't have a Bess R2, I do have a Bessa R, and now also a Leitz Minolta CL.
The shutter noise of the CL is much less than that of the Bessa, which might be a concern for you. The CL has a small body and fits neatly in my hand, with all the dials in fingertip reach.
I now also have the Rokkor 40, and it's excellent! If anything, don't sell the lens! I think you'll regret it.
Pricewise a secondhand CL and brand new Bessa R2 are equally expensive. The Summi-C 40 is secondhand a little more expensive than a brandnew CV 35, though the 35 Pancake 2 is of similar price as the Summi-C.
You might have a preference for either the CL or the R2, so that decision is up to you, but I would seriously recommend holding on to the Summi-C.
In support of saving the Summicron 40 to use with an R2 down the road (if that's what it comes to), the R2's 35mm framelines only cover 87% of the field of view of a 35mm lens. So the framelines should be even a better fit for the narrower perspective of the 40mm Summicron. Good luck.
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