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M4-P: Any particular weaknesses/idiosyncracies?
Old 11-11-2017   #1
F456
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M4-P: Any particular weaknesses/idiosyncracies?

Some recent regular browsing in our local camera shop has revealed an unusually large influx of Leica M items over the last few weeks. Today I came away with a very clean-looking M4-P which at a layman's inspection seems in good order. The rangefinder seems OK, the shutter speeds sound right from memory as against typical M6 noises and the inside is very clean and new-looking. No dents or dings on the outside; the only marks are scuffing by the film advance lever on the back of the top plate, but I'm used to this from my M6TTL as well.

Does the M4-P have any troublesome traits? I like the fact it has no meter to worry about - let's just hope my Sekonic is still working!

Also, this can't be right - or can it? The three pairs of finder framelines all seem brighter than the ones in my M6, M6TTL and M7. Could it be that Canadian-made kit is actually better than the German?

Any anecdotes or information from M4-P users much appreciated.

Tom
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Old 11-11-2017   #2
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If I remember correctly, sometime in the M4-2 M4P era there was a lens omitted from the range finder system and the wind gears went from brass to steel. It sounds like you have enough experience to check out its function. Others here will know much more about this than I do. Good Luck. Joe
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Old 11-11-2017   #3
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Have it CLA'ed and enjoy!
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congratulations on a good purchase
Old 11-11-2017   #4
alfredian
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congratulations on a good purchase

My first Leica was (still have it) an M4-P (with a solid metal grip thrown in). Very well built, very sturdy and yes, most of them were built with steel drive trains, not the original M4 all-brass. This was to accomodate/tolerate the "Professional" (hence the "-P") option of a battery powered rapid winder option for the press/sports pros.

I enjoy the lack of the in-the-way-&-never-used self-timer. The big red dot logo thingy is a bit obvious, as is the brand name on the front plate. Still, I take performance & good guts over a pretty shelf queen most times. Enjoy one of the great unsung models of the Leica line up. Rumor is that when "L" opened up the Canadian satellite plant (in case somebody overran Germany from the East) the Canadian operation went overboard to ensure max quality - I think they succeeded. I just bought CaptMatt's Canadian Summicron 90/2 (black) stunning build-quality.--alfredian
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Old 11-11-2017   #5
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I owned an M4-P and experienced a couple of issues - neither of them, I suppose, too problematic but annoying. But I think both were more or less common.
The first and worst is that the flash sync port tended to break. The metal external port was screwed into a plastic block inside the camera. Perhaps the plastic was to stop shorting from the current but in any event it could degrade over time. When the plastic block broke, the sync port could drop off. More of a cosmetic issue unless you use flash. I bought a replacement on the internet and intended to repair my camera but never got around to it before selling the camera. My flash port mechanism replacement for my M4-P is still somewhere in my desk drawer where it will be found by some antiquarian in years to come who will wonder what it is. A religious item perhaps by someone who worshiped at the church of E. Leitz.

The second issue I think a few others also reported as being an issue is that there seemed to be some kind of outgassing inside the top cover of the rangefinder housing which fogged the viewfinder over time. Easily fixed by a repairer and again just a nuisance.

Other than these annoyances it seemed to be a good reliable camera. Though by Leica standards starting with the M4-2 (its predecessor) they did start to make some parts more cheaply. Which may account for the above issues. (I seem to recall something about the frame counter dial gears being plastic ????)
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Old 11-11-2017   #6
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Don't know why, but they added different gasket material in the area under viewfinder. As result if camera gets extra heat, it evaporates on VF top plate window. It is DIY to fix it, with documented procedure and MiC cheap, but handy round wrench kit.
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Old 11-11-2017   #7
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I have my second M4P and really like them. I bought my first new and used it professionally for quite a number of years without any issues. I eventually sold it and got an M6. The only advantage of the M6 was the internal meter.

A couple of years ago I bought a mint M4P and have used it regularly since. It did have ha e in the VF but I opened it up which is quite easy if you have the tools and cleaned the VF. After a few years of use, no issues at all.

They're excellent cameras so make great images.
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Old 11-11-2017   #8
Ronald M
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Impure zinc that bubbles under plating. Not every one has it , but if clean now probably ok now.
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Old 11-11-2017   #9
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I miss my M4-P. It had the correctly sized 50mm frameline, unlike the shrunken one in the M6 and subsequent models. And you know, I kind of likes the Leica red meatball down on the vulcanite, much more than on the top plate.
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Old 11-11-2017   #10
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My first and only Leica. Didn't use it much so sold it on. Bought it beat up and sold as such. Worked perfectly; probably the nicest mechanical device I've used. As a glasses wearer and a 35mm user, might not have been the best choice! Attracted a lot of attention as well!
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Old 11-11-2017   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F456 View Post
Some recent regular browsing in our local camera shop has revealed an unusually large influx of Leica M items over the last few weeks.

Tom
From the UK: and where is that please, there is a distinct lack of Leica gear here S/H due to the "flaky" pound and other countries, outside the EU who can deduct the 20% VAT, have been actively hoovering up the better quality items ?
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Old 11-12-2017   #12
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The M4-P came in two versions. The first models had a brass top cover, in later ones this was zinc. This made that the viewfinder framing was different too. In later ones this was plastic, like on the M6. Earlier ones had a frame like the M2 and original M4.
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Old 11-12-2017   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F456 View Post
but I'm used to this from my M6TTL as well.

Does the M4-P have any troublesome traits?
As far as I remember, the M4-P is basically a M6 without light meter. Fine camera.
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Old 11-12-2017   #14
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The only thing not to like about the M4-P is the logo on the front. Not the logo itself, but that it's slippery and my finger always seemed to rest there. It just felt a bit insecure. It wasn't, but it just felt it. I only used one for a few days though and I could live with it just fine if I had no other choice. I prefer a self timer or battery cover there to "grip", but I'm not everyone.
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Old 11-12-2017   #15
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Framelines for 28mm and the hotshoe are nice additions to the earlier models. It also has a more refined and tactile mechanical feeling than the earlier brass-geared M's. It's not the prettiest M but it is a great tool nontheless.

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Old 11-12-2017   #16
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double post
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Old 11-12-2017   #17
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The M4-P is my favorite M. I've got an M4 now, which is great, but I miss those 75mm framelines. My dream film M would probably be a brass-top M4-P, refinished in black paint.
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Old 11-12-2017   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daryl J. View Post
Have it CLA'ed and enjoy!
Why CLA every camera? if it ain't broke, leave alone!
Leica M are built for the long haul.
Sure i serviced, when shutter fell apart, Rf totally screwed,
strap lugs pulled out.. Many services over many years use.
M3 is 50 years in service, mostly heavy pro work.

Right now, Light Leak when I change lenses,
Waste a frame, cheaper than Major service.

Use, use and ENJOY.
PS. My Pentaxes NEVER have needed service..
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Old 11-12-2017   #19
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I have both an M6 TTL .85 and M4-P (mfg'd in 1980, so not sure where it falls in the brass vs. zinc list). I generally use the M6 TTL for color and M4-P for B+W.

The framelines in the M4-P are substantially brighter than those in the M6 TTL. A work colleague had an M6 and its framelines were similarly bright to the M4-P.

Re the PC connectors, Youxin Ye advised to not use them, just the hot shoe. They're apparently mounted on a plastic piece that becomes quite fragile over time.
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Old 11-12-2017   #20
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When I got my Anniversary M4-P it had the foggy viewfinder so I sent it off to Youxin. While there, I had the red dot removed, the 135mm framelines removed and the camera recovered in Aki Asahi material, I forget if it was 4008 or another texture. Either way, the camera came back and was amazing. It's since been sold (I needed the money that year) and is in use by another RFF member halfway around the globe. If I were to get another Leica M body now, it would be a black M4-P and I would make the same modifications.

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Old 11-12-2017   #21
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I had an M4-P as my first Leica. After picking up an M6 I sold it and immediately regret it. For some reason my M4-P felt more solid than either M6 I currently have. Not having to worry about the meter was nice though not a definitive buying point as you don't need batteries in the M6's anyways. The finder glass didn't seem as clear to me but the framelines did seem brighter on the M4-P that began my addiction.
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Old 11-12-2017   #22
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The framelines may be brighter because Leica removed a condenser from that area in order to cut production costs for the M4-2 and the M4-P (both made in Canada).

BTW, I have both Canadian bodies and I like them both. The M4-P that I purchased does have a slightly fogged looking viewfinder when you look at it, but it is perfectly usable when you look through it. I've been thinking about sending it for a check up (NOT a CLA), but since I haven't had any issues and the VF is clean, I haven't.

I find this body lighter than the M4. And since it has additional framelines, I use it with a 28mm lens. Don't sweat problems that aren't there; the Canadian cameras were extraordinarily well made, so you can just load them and use them and enjoy every minute of them.
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Old 11-12-2017   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leicapixie View Post
Why CLA every camera? if it ain't broke, leave alone!
Leica M are built for the long haul.
Sure i serviced, when shutter fell apart, Rf totally screwed,
strap lugs pulled out.. Many services over many years use.
M3 is 50 years in service, mostly heavy pro work.

Right now, Light Leak when I change lenses,
Waste a frame, cheaper than Major service.

Use, use and ENJOY.
PS. My Pentaxes NEVER have needed service..
Fully agree. Cycle it through the speeds a couple of things to make sure lubricants are doing their job, then run a test film. Only spend money and risk further issues if the speeds or focusing are off. Done it twice on used Ms and I’m 50/50 on actually needing a CLA.

Cheers,
Rob


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Old 11-12-2017   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peterm1 View Post
The first and worst is that the flash sync port tended to break. The metal external port was screwed into a plastic block inside the camera. Perhaps the plastic was to stop shorting from the current but in any event it could degrade over time. When the plastic block broke, the sync port could drop off. More of a cosmetic issue unless you use flash....
The second issue I think a few others also reported as being an issue is that there seemed to be some kind of outgassing inside the top cover of the rangefinder housing which fogged the viewfinder over time. Easily fixed by a repairer and again just a nuisance.

I had both these happen with my M4-2. I bought sync cover caps to make it look cleaner, and the first thing that happened was that they snagged on my sweater and snapped off! I glued them back in but now make sure not to use the cover caps, which provided the means of being snagged on something.
Also had the hazing, but that was easily cleaned.

That being said, this camera is a nice to use as any of my other Ms.
Personally my favourite viewfinders are on the M4 and M4-2, as they are not cluttered up by 28, 75 etc frame lines that I would not use.
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Old 11-12-2017   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ronald M View Post
Impure zinc that bubbles under plating. Not every one has it , but if clean now probably ok now.
The top on my camera is brass. I think the only zinc tops were the cameras with the M6 VF window design.

As to a fresh CLA for every camera, I never had a cleaning done unless it needed it and never had a problem with my cameras.

My philosophy, I'll only have a CLA done if needed but let everyone else have one done so when they get bored and sell their camera at a loss it'll be in good shape for me.
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Thank you for your input on the M4-P
Old 11-12-2017   #26
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Thank you for your input on the M4-P

Thanks, everyone: as always very useful and knowledgeable replies and, yes, I am a fan of all the Canadian-made bodies - and a lot of the Midland lenses too.

All points taken and useful to know about the plastic block for the M and X ports. The viewfinder shows no sign of haze at all though I do remember seeing one on a similar M4-P years ago that had a brownish stain in one corner which I took for mould - probably I was wrong about that.

I have married the camera up to a post-1979 version Summicron 50mm - the one with the current glass, the focusing tab with the lens focusing ring attachment base that goes out each side beyond the prongs of the tab, and the detachable hood. I can see my similar era Summilux 35mm going on there as well.

I will not bother with servicing till it's needed. I only once NEEDED a service on an M camera and it was when the shutter brake failed, leaving me with incomplete frame exposures. The other time I had one was for an old M3 picked up unused after forty years that still worked fine, but when it came back it was a dream - so good that my M6 felt as crude by comparison as a WW2 Soviet sub-machine gun.

On the subject of the 28mm and 75mm frame lines I have a 28mm and generally use it with the detachable 28mm finder anyway, plastic one I'm afraid, and I did have a Summilux 75mm and as so often could kick myself for having sold it, as it did the business very nicely at low light concerts in the cathedral crypt and for make up shots before drama performances. I never found the minimalist 75mm frame lines a problem for that kind of photography. So I am happy to have the full three pairs of frame lines in case I have the chance and the cash to retrieve a 75mm later - after all it was Dr Mandler's reputed favourite M design!

When I work out how to upload images here as I am only an occasional visitor when I need information I will do so. Tom
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