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Tom Abrahamsson of RapidWinder.com It is almost never that an inventor improves on a Leica product so that it is better than the original Leica product. Tom holds that distinction with his RapidWinder for Leica M rangefinders -- a bottom mounting baseplate trigger advance. In addition Tom manufacturers other Leica accessories such as his very popular Soft Release and MiniSoftRelease shutter releases. Tom is well known as one of the true Leica rangefinder experts, even by Leica. IMPORTANT READ THIS: CWE Forum hosts have moderation powers within their forum. Please observe copyright laws by not copying and posting their material elsewhere without permission.

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Old 07-21-2007   #26
bobkonos
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Thanks to Tom for his great answers. My first M model was the M2, and I am happy to use one again as I primarily use 35 lenses and never use 90 or 135 lenses. In fact, I use my M2 and my other even numbered M models (M4, M6), more than my four M3 cameras. But his responses and his following of devotees could now make it tough for me to sell any of my M3 cameras. :-) Sigh...
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Old 07-21-2007   #27
Tom A
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ken Ford
Tom, since we're already talking about shutter speed dials...

Any change your "cold weather" dial will make it into production?

I still have a couple of the stamped dials floating around. they are chrome ones and at some time I might make a couple more.No "production" per se planned.
If I did it today i would use computer controlled machines for the production and i doubt the demand is there. The old ones were made with a sledgehammer, a hardened steel die and an arbor type 3 ton press. Dont think my neigboors would like it!
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Old 07-21-2007   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carzee
I'm in fog here at the moment, 2 deg Celsius, but still can't imagine how cold it would have to be to have to use one of those items.
Having shot at close to -30 in Russia I can definitely assure you there are situations where a bigger, easily grippable speed dial is an advantage.

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Old 07-21-2007   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd
Having shot at close to -30 in Russia I can definitely assure you there are situations where a bigger, easily grippable speed dial is an advantage.

Philipp
Well, you'd have to agree the Australian market is neglible -though I suppose some of us venture to the South Pole.

Alternatively, in Australia's extreme weather, it could help having an XL shutter spped grip when your hands are dripping in tropical sweat.
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Old 07-23-2007   #30
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Hi Tom,

I'm curious what you think of the Zeiss Ikon RF camera in relation to the M2.

Both cameras have gloriously bright & isolated 35mm framelines, better for that focal length than any other camera out there I've seen. Hence I'm deliberating between them.

The Leica is quieter, but the loading/rewinding on the Zeiss is a lot less of a pain Also, it's AE display is very discreet & on the side so it's easy to ignore...
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Old 07-23-2007   #31
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The M2 versus the ZI. Now that is an interesting comparison. I think that the M2 is like a 1956 Porsche Speedster, light, no frills and with proper care it will outlast most of us. The Zeiss Ikon is more in the class of the BMW M5, sophisticated, a bit complex to fix if needed, fast and "safe".
The ZI finder is one of the best you will ever look through and for using 35 as you say, it is about as good as it gets. It is battery dependant, though a set will last for 40-50 rolls. I have no fear about service as it uses the Seiko shutter, which exists in millions cameras and has proven itself to be very rugged. I dont know how complex the rangefinder would be to fix if you dropped it on its "head". Currently I am using the ZI with as 40/1,4 Nokton and by being pessimistic about the 35 frame coverage it works well. Using a rangefinder camera does require that you give up some of the precision of a SLR for framing. but the advantages far outweighs the disadvantages.
The M2 is a classic and it does require that you think and plan a bit ahead when you shoot. As a rule I find that with a non metered camera I shoot faster than with any metered body (and screw up exposures a bit more). The M2 gives you a feeling of acomplishment that an "auto" everything camera does not give.
Of course, ideally you should have one of each! For now though, I would suggest the ZI and set up a "piggy" bank for a M2 in the future. This allows you to pick and choose which M2 to get as they are all used, whilst the ZI is available new.
You can save a lot of money by going to VC and Zeiss lenses and put the difference in the M2 fund too. You do not loose anything in lens quality anymore. Both the VC lenses and the ZI lenses can match most of the Leica lenses (exception being the 50/1,4 Asph. and the 75f2 Summicron).
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Old 07-23-2007   #32
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Tom, thx for the clue on the wear marks on the shutter speed collar. I have used my enlarger lens to magnify it and check for marks on my M2. Nothing found, its like its a replacement part or something.

So besides that clue you have given us and the film pressure plate, what other easy to inspect parts tell the story. The lens mount? An obvious thought I had was paint chips and wear on the take-up film spool but its like new too.
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Old 07-23-2007   #33
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Obviuosly you have a "little used" M2. The take up spool is otherwise a good indicator. If there is heavy brassing at the entrance to the flat spring that holds the film, you know that it has been used a lot. Very often you can find new dials and take-up spools installed to "raise" the value. It used to be easy to find these items, but now a new dial will set you back $100+ and the spool about $40 so most sellers dont bother anymore.
The eyelet for the strap is also a good indicator, if there is heavy wear in them, it i reasonable to assume that it has been used a lot. Of course the finder should be clear and no little specks (caused by the blackening compund used for the finder assembly flaking off) and the focussing patch should be clear and well defined.
The edge of the film counter dial will also show wear on heavy users, you can see brassing showing through the chrome as well at the surface of the top-plate just at the rewind knob. Of course often you have the typical scratches from the MR Meter, but that usually indicates that it was used by an amateaur rather than a pro.
The advance should be smooth, with no mechanical sound (almost sounds like it is gritty) although that is something that any used M can have prior to a CLA.
Also check the back plate - are the two little rubber stops at the top corners intact. Flip the back door open and remove the lens and cycle through all the speeds (put your eye right at the shutter opening and aim the camera at a bright light source and trigger the shutter. You wont be able to tell if the speeds are dead on, but you can check that the curtains are opening properly, you should be able to "spot" the light even at 1/1000. At the slow speeds check that the curtains travel across the opening wih a even speed. Also look at the 2nd curtain when it stops at the end of its travel. On the leding edge of the curtain, there is a metal bar (it holds the curtain straight vertically as well as provides the attachment for the "straps" or "tapes" that are attached to the shutter drum. If you can see this bar at the left (from the back) when the shutter has stopped, the shutter needs adjustment. The shutter blinds should be evenly colored black and smooth. If there is discolored patches or wrinkles it is probably at the end of its usefulness and needs replacement. The shutter cloth also tends to "stiffen" with age and can show small cracks.
None of this is bad, but it is something to take into consideration when you are looking at a used M. It can all be fixed - but at a price. If the finder is "shot' you might not want to deal with it as that will set you back $3-400, but most everything else can be fixed with a CLA and even a shutter blind replacement can be a good deal if the camera is cheap enough. The good thing is that once the CLA is done and you keep using the camera, it should last a long time!
Cosmetics never bothered me as long as it works perfect. Mintish cameras scare me as " where has this camera been for the last 40+ years?". Often you get heftier repair bills for the mint cameras, because everything is dried out. The well used and well kept camera is a better deal, unless you are a collector.
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Old 07-23-2007   #34
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Thats it -the holy grail -"where has this camera been for the last 40+ years?"
I sure would like to know something about it. I guess we would all like the story of our treasures.
I owned a Land-Rover for a decade -its third decade- and I researched its prior service. It was very interesting. Different to the world of cameras, there is no such animal as a LNIB Series 2A...
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Old 07-24-2007   #35
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carzee
Thats it -the holy grail -"where has this camera been for the last 40+ years?"
I sure would like to know something about it. I guess we would all like the story of our treasures.
I owned a Land-Rover for a decade -its third decade- and I researched its prior service. It was very interesting. Different to the world of cameras, there is no such animal as a LNIB Series 2A...
There is a similarity between Land Rovers and M2's. Built to last and simple to own. We have had three Land Rovers, a LWB Carawagon (1966 model) 6 cyl., a 109 Wagon Dormobile Diesel 1969 that took us around Asia and Africa in 1970 (including crossing Sahara) and the last one was a 1973 109 diesel (custom built from the factory) that we drove from the Canadian East coast up to Alaska and down to the US in 1974. The last one had heavy duty suspension and after a couple of 1000 miles on logging roads most internal organs had shaken themselves loose! Like the M2, you never doubt that it would make it to your destination.
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Old 07-24-2007   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NIKON KIU
And I thought you were a real Nikon-man!!!

Kiu
Scratch any M user and you will find someone who wants to own a Nikon Rf and vice versa! I have more M's than Nikon Rf's, but the factor is about 2 to 1.
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Old 08-27-2007   #37
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Hi Tom, Interesting that you've also been a LandRover fan. I got into Rovers and Leicas in the late sixties,... ended up owning five petrol LandRovers, and five M Leicas. Only drove the Rovers in BC and Alberta, but have packed Leicas all over the planet with many trips to Asia and India. Sold my last LR (a series 3, SWB) about ten years ago, but fortunately had enough sense to hang onto my favorite cameras, a pair of M4's. Horst in Vancouver gave them both a CLA about a year ago so am good for quite a few more rolls. :-)

Used to use the Rovers for trips into the Rockies on photographic expeditions. Usual gear was a Technika for serious stuff with Leica for backup or when I was just too damn lazy/tired to setup the 4x5.

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Old 08-28-2007   #38
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I would love to own a Land Rover but the new ones are notorious for poor reliability... it's too bad. It's also unfortunate that they don't design the Defender to be street legal in the U.S.
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Old 08-28-2007   #39
Tom A
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Glenn,
I think I have seen that gray Series III around some time ago! Not too many L/R's in Vancouver, so you notice the ones that fly the streets.
Horst at any given time has one or two of my cameras in for service. At the moment none, but once summer is over and he is down in the basement, I have some for him to revive. My battered old MD-2 has decided that all speeds faster than 1 second are unnecessary so that is one. I go there often enough that Shadow brings me toys to play with! For the uninformed ;-), Shadow is Horst's German Shepard and is a nice dog. Shes comes and greets you at the gate and then blocks your entry to the workshop as you then would spend all the time talking cameras with Horst and not throwing balls with Shadow!

Last edited by Tom A : 08-28-2007 at 15:09.
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Old 09-08-2007   #40
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As a brand new M2 owner I just read this great thread. Still wondering why an M2 would be better than an M4, but I hope to experience that once mine (still in Germany, but expecting it here end of next week) will have had its CLA.
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Old 09-09-2007   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HuubL
But those are precisely the reasons why one would prefer an M4 above an M2.
- 135 mm frame extra! It's not really a frame, just four unobtrusive, small, hardly noticeble indicators for the corners of the frame.
- Angled rewind allows for much faster and more comfortable rewinding.
- Build. I always understood that it was the pinnacle of the handmade, brass mechanical Wetzlar Ms.

And what about the quick film loading and the self-resetting film counter (behind glass again, like on the M3).

OK, I agree on the plastic inlaid levers and the angled wind on lever, but you can replace them with the M2-style ones.
Thanks, HuubL, for pointing out why I love my M4 so much. Other than the minor plastic bits it seems to be the best of all worlds.

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Old 09-09-2007   #42
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I cant really think of anything the M2 doesnt have that I need, I honestly love just holding it, I dont really need to shoot, haha but I always remind myself I need to get better and experience is the only way.
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Old 09-09-2007   #43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HuubL
But those are precisely the reasons why one would prefer an M4 above an M2.
- 135 mm frame extra! It's not really a frame, just four unobtrusive, small, hardly noticeble indicators for the corners of the frame.
- Angled rewind allows for much faster and more comfortable rewinding.
- Build. I always understood that it was the pinnacle of the handmade, brass mechanical Wetzlar Ms.

And what about the quick film loading and the self-resetting film counter (behind glass again, like on the M3).

OK, I agree on the plastic inlaid levers and the angled wind on lever, but you can replace them with the M2-style ones.
I have both an M4 and an M2. The M2 is unquestionably better built. It's denser, more solid and operates with a tangibly different feel to the M4.

The viewfinder is also a bit crisper and brighter. I agree that the 135mm framelines really don't intrude that much. The film load is neither here nor there and the angled rewind doesn't add much. The self resetting film counter is an advantage, as I often forget with my M2.

Overall, in terms of functionality there isn't much to choose between them but in build quality there does seem to be a difference.

Regards
Ernst
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Old 09-09-2007   #44
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HuubL
But those are precisely the reasons why one would prefer an M4 above an M2.
- 135 mm frame extra! It's not really a frame, just four unobtrusive, small, hardly noticeble indicators for the corners of the frame.
- Angled rewind allows for much faster and more comfortable rewinding.
- Build. I always understood that it was the pinnacle of the handmade, brass mechanical Wetzlar Ms.
No, the pinnacle is the M5. Incidentally it also has the best rewind mechanism of all the M's, and the 135mm frame corners serve the very useful extra purpose of delimiting the metering area for 35mm lenses. Everybody needs an M5

I would even prefer a M5 with a dead meter to any M[234].

Philipp
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Old 09-09-2007   #45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ernstk
I have both an M4 and an M2. The M2 is unquestionably better built. It's denser, more solid and operates with a tangibly different feel to the M4.
Well, let's see at the end of this week when I hope my M2 will arrive. I'll the first to admit when I think the M2 is better, but I can hardly imagine anything nicer to work with than my M4.

And then I apparently have to start looking for a nice M5 A chrome one as that's my favorite RF color
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Old 09-09-2007   #46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HuubL
And then I apparently have to start looking for a nice M5 A chrome one as that's my favorite RF color
As I said, everybody needs an M5

Did I mention that there's a chrome 2-lug version on eBay currently for 470 EUR, or 530 EUR Buy-it-now? (330163196313)

Philipp
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Old 09-09-2007   #47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ernstk
I have both an M4 and an M2. The M2 is unquestionably better built. It's denser, more solid and operates with a tangibly different feel to the M4.

The viewfinder is also a bit crisper and brighter. I agree that the 135mm framelines really don't intrude that much. The film load is neither here nor there and the angled rewind doesn't add much. The self resetting film counter is an advantage, as I often forget with my M2.

Overall, in terms of functionality there isn't much to choose between them but in build quality there does seem to be a difference.

Regards
Ernst
That's very interesting to read, Ernst, since my M4 feels every bit as solidly built as my M3.

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Old 09-09-2007   #48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vrgard
That's very interesting to read, Ernst, since my M4 feels every bit as solidly built as my M3.

-Randy
I'm wondering if there's a difference due to the fact that the M4 is black paint and the M2 is chrome? There is definitely a difference in how they feel, in favour of the M2.

Ernst
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Old 09-10-2007   #49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rxmd
As I said, everybody needs an M5

Did I mention that there's a chrome 2-lug version on eBay currently for 470 EUR, or 530 EUR Buy-it-now? (330163196313)

Philipp
Ooooff, tempting! The camera looks nice, it is in Greece, so no import duties for me.... But, I think I'm going to be in deeeepdeep trouble with my not insignificant other if, after the M2, I buy another "cheapo" M in one weekend ;-))
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Old 09-10-2007   #50
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ernstk
I'm wondering if there's a difference due to the fact that the M4 is black paint and the M2 is chrome? There is definitely a difference in how they feel, in favour of the M2.

Ernst
I don't know, Ernst, since my M4 is chrome just like my M3. But I don't know why that would make a difference either way. Maybe I'm not understanding the point you're raising about the fact that your M4 is black paint. Can you elaborate a bit on that?

-Randy
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