I want to buy a film M; I need help.
Old 10-17-2015   #1
Pfreddee
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I want to buy a film M; I need help.

I'ver finally decided to go ahead and gather the funds for a film body M. I need help getting over the last hump: buying this camera for myself.

Let me explain. I've lusted after a Leica M film camera for 40 years. I always took care of my family and saw that they had things they wanted, and of course this took my "discretionary cash". Now I'm retired, and I can afford at last to get the camera of my dreams. But I'm not by any stretch a really great photographer. I photograph my world and family, and I'm a charter member of the "Blind Squirrel School of Photography."* I can make an occasional good image, and most of them satisfy me, if not others.

But I feel somehow that the film M, for me, would be rather like buying a Bosendorfer Concert Grand piano, and then playing "Chopsticks" on it. I guess what I am looking for is for someone to tell me that it's OK to go ahead and get one, even if I'm not a world-class photographer.

Thank you to all who reply.

With best regards.

Pfreddee(Stephen)

* Blind Squirrel School of Photography: even a blind squirrel can find an acorn every now and again.
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Old 10-17-2015   #2
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It's OK to go ahead and get one. Now go get it and have fun.


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Old 10-17-2015   #3
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Find a nice second hand M7, attach the lens of your choice,load some film and enjoy.
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Old 10-17-2015   #4
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You don't need to be Bresson to own a Leica. You just have to enjoy using it. Go ahead! Sounds like you've earned it.
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Old 10-17-2015   #5
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I'm no world class photographer, but I bought a film Leica. I think I made the right decision. I've really enjoyed using it.

As to which film Leica to buy, it depends on several things. If you don't mind using an external meter, buying a Leica M3 would be a great idea if cash is low. On the other hand, if you want in camera metering and don't mind spending more money, either an M6 or M7 would be a good choice.
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Old 10-17-2015   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mudman View Post
You don't need to be Bresson to own a Leica. You just have to enjoy using it. Go ahead! Sounds like you've earned it.
I typed almost the exact same thing, only in a different order.

The hard part Stephen is figuring out which M is right for you. After that, doesn't matter what your output is. Sometimes, just taking the photo is more enjoyable than the finished product.

PF
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Old 10-17-2015   #7
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It's a camera, a tool for doing creative work, and a pretty simple tool at that. Ignore the "Leica Mystique" BS and just enjoy the simple tool that will let you create the images you imagine. Heck, if we had to be good photographers before we were allowed to buy Leica M cameras, none of us would have them and Leica would have been out of business decades ago.

Enjoy your new creative tool Stephen, they're a lot of fun to use.
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Old 10-17-2015   #8
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Great decision man, not because its an M but because its film. you're overall experience will open exponentially. i started a year ago with film and sold all my digital stuff within a month. just think about all the different films you'll be able to play around with: slide film, C41, different grains of BW. I also highly recommend learning to develop your own stuff. It slows you down, makes you appreciate the process and adds to your level of satisfaction with the end result. Then you can start thinking about how to show your stuff. i.e. project the slides, work with different papers in BW and colour, or maybe try the old fashion C41 processing. Then hopefully you're curiosity will still drive you for more and you can jump to medium format and begin using different formats like 6x45, 6x6 or 6x7 or maybe you say F this I need to really slow down and get the absolute best out of my shots and get a 4x5 field camera. The amount of joy is endless and good on you for making the first step. feel free to PM me if you have questions about gear/processes or what not. Cheerio.
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Old 10-17-2015   #9
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Go for it man!
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Old 10-17-2015   #10
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Like you, my photographs (when I can take them), are primarily of my children and family events. Even so, you can't take money with you after you die. So, since you've already taken care of your family's needs financially, then fulfill your dreams. "It would be a shame to die in harness", as one of my professors told me.
That is, to do drudge work all of your life, and die still working like a plow horse, never having enjoyed the finer things of life.

We only pass this way but once. A good Leica will last several lifetimes, and could become a wonderful momento for your heirs. Even if they don't want it, it will still have value if they sell it.

I've found that I use flash over 75% of the time, mainly because my kids and their events are usually indoors. As such, the M7 is the most versatile film M with flash. TTL flash control (for multiple flash units, if you use a Metz flash), second curtain flash synch, high speed flash synch for shutter speeds of 1/250, 1/500, and 1/1000, and automated stroboscopic mode (for motion studies) are all useful features. You'll need a Metz 50 MZ-3 or higher to access these features.
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Old 10-17-2015   #11
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Go ahead and buy yourself a Leica. Sounds like you deserve it.

I bought myself an M6 last year. It's wonderful and a lot of fun to use.
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Old 10-17-2015   #12
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Pfreddee(Stephen) -- like what everyone has already said, just go ahead and get it.

I'm a terrible photographer, and that hasn't stopped me! LOL!

I first had a Leica M6, loved it, but got an M7 because I wanted auto exposure. But getting the M6 was a pleasure. I had no regrets buying myself that camera. I loved it from day #1.

Anyway, you should get the M-body that will satisfy your needs and style of shooting.

There is a lot of mystique and BS around Leica cameras, but in the end they're just a tool. An expensive, European hand-made tool, but a tool none-the-less. The point is to just get out there and shoot and have fun.
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Old 10-17-2015   #13
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Pfreddee,

+4 (GO FOR IT!!)

That said, tell me about what sort of cameras and lenses have you used over the years. There are a number of Ms out there and each has it's own strengths and SuperPowers.

The M6 has a built in meter, M7 is AE (Aperature Priority), the M3 is wonderful with 50's and 90's, the M2 ROCKs with 35s, the M5, while larger, is every bit an M, loved by some folks with bigger hands, even the MD (no finder built in) is fun with a 15mm lens attached.

You need to own an M, the question is which fits what you want to do today.

Tell us more so we can help.

B2 (;->
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Old 10-17-2015   #14
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A film camera will make you improve your photography rather quickly.
Then, there's no point in getting into these "do I deserve it" considerations. A camera is a tool, and it is a good strategy to use tools that make you enjoy your craft. If you don't overpay your film Leica, you can sell it back in a few year's time at no loss, this is the magic of this brand.
Now: there is nothing "mysterious" about a Leica. It is just a box with film inside. I find that nowadays film cameras can only make sense if you want to shoot seriously B&W, develop it yourself and scan or print it yourself. If your goal is to produce a screen image, you would certainly be better off with digital. Enjoy !
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Old 10-17-2015   #15
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Several good options in the rff classifieds at the moment, too. And more will appear before the holidays, ho ho ho.
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Old 10-17-2015   #16
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When you are ready, def buy from a member. There are usually some nice choices in the classifieds and you will have a better chance of getting the right camera from the start.

I'm not trolling but for example, I have a near mint M2 that I may list soon which I would not sell to a collector or some clunk-head on Ebay.

Don't wait to get a Leica there is nothing else like it IMO.

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Old 10-17-2015   #17
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Enjoy your Leica M film camera. I was also hesitating to buy one but the M7 in 2005 was the best buy in cameras I ever did.
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Old 10-17-2015   #18
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Like you, always thought I wanted a Leica. Finally retired and bought one only to find out I'm just not a R,F sort of guy. Liked my OM-1 better and missed ttl viewing and focusing.

However, there is always a however, the only way for me to find this out was to own a Leica so under the circumstances I also say, go for it.
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Old 10-17-2015   #19
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I bought an M4-P about 10 years ago wish I had done it sooner rather than buying a lot of other cameras that weren't quite an M.

At the time they were relatively cheap and since I shoot mostly 28 or 35 they had the framelines I needed. Can't really go wrong.
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Old 10-17-2015   #20
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We all do photography for ourselves first.
It was true for HCB as well, as far as we know about him.
If you buy well, even if you won't like it you will resell any film M for the same price or more.
So just go for it, there's nothing to loose and you do deserve it!

As for the model:
- if you don't mind slowing down at the beginning and put some effort in getting to estimate the light right, M2 or M3 depending on your favourite FL. They are cheaper and look and feel is way superior to later models.
- if you want to avoid a steep learning curve, M7 (aperture priority) or M6 (light meter).
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Old 10-17-2015   #21
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Pfreddee,

It's a camera. Buy one, learn how to use it, let it inspire you, enjoy it. A film M is not very difficult to use, and very easy to enjoy. Get an M6 if you want a meter, an M7 if you want auto exposure. Buy from a reliable dealer if you want service and support—I've bought most of my Leica gear from Dan Tamarkin (http://www.tamarkin.com) in Chicago; he's a pleasure to do business with. Dan can also help recommend the right camera and lens for you, he's very knowledgable and honest.

Don't worry about your skill. Letting a Leica inspire you will help you leave the School of Blind Squirrels behind one day. Meanwhile we'll all enjoy having you here in class ... :-)

G

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pfreddee View Post
I'ver finally decided to go ahead and gather the funds for a film body M. I need help getting over the last hump: buying this camera for myself.

Let me explain. I've lusted after a Leica M film camera for 40 years. I always took care of my family and saw that they had things they wanted, and of course this took my "discretionary cash". Now I'm retired, and I can afford at last to get the camera of my dreams. But I'm not by any stretch a really great photographer. I photograph my world and family, and I'm a charter member of the "Blind Squirrel School of Photography."* I can make an occasional good image, and most of them satisfy me, if not others.

But I feel somehow that the film M, for me, would be rather like buying a Bosendorfer Concert Grand piano, and then playing "Chopsticks" on it. I guess what I am looking for is for someone to tell me that it's OK to go ahead and get one, even if I'm not a world-class photographer.

Thank you to all who reply.

With best regards.

Pfreddee(Stephen)

* Blind Squirrel School of Photography: even a blind squirrel can find an acorn every now and again.
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Old 10-17-2015   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
Pfreddee,

+4 (GO FOR IT!!)

There are a number of Ms out there and each has it's own strengths and SuperPowers.


B2 (;->

I like this!
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Old 10-17-2015   #23
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First, I recommend that you go ahead and buy the camera. Since you have dreamed of a Leica for a very long time you deserve to indulge yourself.

Next, you can still buy new Leica M film cameras. They can be pricey but they come with excellent Leica service warranties, including the Passport Warranty which protects you from unintentional damage.

You can also by used Leica cameras in very good condition as well. Used Leicas tend to hold their value pretty well so if, in a couple months, you decide to sell it you will likely get most of your money back.

If you decide to go new, buy from a Leica store near you. You can look them up on the internet.

If you decide to buy used, I still recommend you buy from a Leica store. The camera will have been checked out and the store will have a warranty of sorts to protect you in the early months.

Another very good option is KEH. They provide an excellent return policy that ensures you have time to work with the camera and, if you find you do not like it, or it doesn't work properly, they will take it back.

Another option is the classified on this forum and other Leica forums. I have purchased things here and have been happy as a rule, but I have also picked things up that needed work to be right. It should be a better option than E-Bay, and in my experience it is, but there really is no guarantee. As a rule the people here are a good bunch but bad apples pop up everywhere. You buy at your own risk and there may or may not be any return allowed.

Then you will need to buy a lens. This can end up being a life long obsession, or you can buy one and stay with it forever. My recommendation is to start with a Summicron 50/2. It is very hard to go wrong with this lens. There are various versions but you don't need to buy the latest one, unless you want to. All of them are very good lenses and were considered Leica's flagship lens.

Finally, do you want a meter in the camera? Do you want auto exposure available? Or would you prefer to work with an entirely mechanical camera that uses no batteries and pick up an external meter. Any of those options will work. The M7 has aperture priority auto exposure and can be purchased new or used. The MP has a meter on board but no auto exposure and can be found new or used. The M6 TTL and M6 are very much like the MP but are only available used. The M5 had a meter in the camera and is available used. These are a bit larger and different than the rest of the M cameras but are very well built cameras. The M-A is Leica's newest film camera and can be found new or used. It has no internal meter and is entirely mechanical. The older Ms from M4 backwards are all great alternatives and they are all mechanical cameras with no meters.

The Leica M film camera is still a terrific way to record what you see and I do recommend that you try it out. Exactly which path you take to ownership will depend a lot on your finances. Fortunately there are several ways to own a Leica. Good Luck!
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Old 10-17-2015   #24
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Go out there and get one before it gets too late. And then get going putting some good amounts of film through it.

It doesn't matter exactly which one you choose, as long as you get something overhauled/or new from a reputable dealer.

A tool that makes you happy just picking it up will inspire you to get out there and make photographs - the more the merrier!
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Old 10-17-2015   #25
Pfreddee
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Thank you all so very much for the kind encouragement! I haven't settled on which model to buy, yet. I know how to process my own B/W film, and I suppose I could learn to do color, but for me, 35mm says Black and White Photography. I do like color, but I find B/W a wonderful challenge, technically and artistically.

I grew up with B/W photography, and I'm still very attached to it. For color, I usually go digital. Occasionally I'll get a roll or two of Ektar 100 and see what comes out. For me, the process of making the picture is as important as the results.

Thank you all again!

With best regards.

Pfreddee(Stephen)
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Old 10-17-2015   #26
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Hi Pfreddie,
The condition of the M Leica you buy is important, When I read the review of the Leica M4 in Camera 35, I wanted to own one. I bought the first used M4 I found advertised. Turned out that a hole had been burned in the shutter curtain and then patched before I bought the camera from a camera store in Los Angeles. I had the shutter curtain replaced at my expense. Still have my M4 forty some years later. Have thought I have been better off buying a new M4. The capability of changing lenses quickly is of little value if you don't have lenses to interchange. I often carry a 35mm, a 50mm, and a 105mm lens in my bag and am trying to find a way to add a 25mm lens to that outfit.It's fine to begin with one lens and add a longer focal length lens or a wideangle lens when you feel the need. I hope you have the opportunity to experience several M Leicas and buy one you like. I still like to use my M4 and M2 forty years later.
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Old 10-17-2015   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ray*j*gun View Post
When you are ready, def buy from a member. There are usually some nice choices in the classifieds and you will have a better chance of getting the right camera from the start.

I'm not trolling but for example, I have a near mint M2 that I may list soon which I would not sell to a collector or some clunk-head on Ebay.

Don't wait to get a Leica there is nothing else like it IMO.

Ray
Good advice from Ray. Most here are enthusiasts and look after their gear. Most cameras will have had some recent use unlike a lot on auction sites which have sat idle for years. Get one thats already had a recent cla and you should be fine.
Most important is to get one with good clean and good contrast rangefinder patches. If possible look through and try focus before you buy or get a return policy agreed. Everything else can be fixed easily if necessary. M2, M4 or M6 if you like a meter. Add a 35 C Biogon or 50 Summicron and your sorted
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Old 10-18-2015   #28
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No mention of the best of them all, M4...?

Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBingham2 View Post
Pfreddee,

+4 (GO FOR IT!!)

That said, tell me about what sort of cameras and lenses have you used over the years. There are a number of Ms out there and each has it's own strengths and SuperPowers.

The M6 has a built in meter, M7 is AE (Aperature Priority), the M3 is wonderful with 50's and 90's, the M2 ROCKs with 35s, the M5, while larger, is every bit an M, loved by some folks with bigger hands, even the MD (no finder built in) is fun with a 15mm lens attached.

You need to own an M, the question is which fits what you want to do today.

Tell us more so we can help.

B2 (;->
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Old 10-18-2015   #29
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Go and buy one. You deserve it.

But try as much as possible to settle for one
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Old 10-18-2015   #30
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One which is working and you are willing to pay for.
Plenty of choices between 700-1300.
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Old 10-22-2015   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pfreddee View Post
I haven't settled on which model to buy, yet. I know how to process my own B/W film, and I suppose I could learn to do color, but for me, 35mm says Black and White Photography. I do like color, but I find B/W a wonderful challenge, technically and artistically.

I grew up with B/W photography, and I'm still very attached to it. For me, the process of making the picture is as important as the results.
Hi Stephen,

I'm around your age and a few years ago, also found myself able to get the camera of my dreams. Of course, it was a Leica.

I bought an M3 with a dual range 50 Summicron. The camera was confining (restricting??) with its limitation to 50mm to 135mm lenses, but wonderful.

Since, I've had an M2 (which I would recommend due to its 35 to 90 mm finder), M4, M4P and M6. All of which I would recommend because of their individual attributes. (Now, I prefer my M4).

I suggest though, that your early dream camera/s may be the place to start.

Based on my experience in Australia though, make sure that to process your film, you can always get the chemicals or that there is a local processor.
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Old 10-22-2015   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iphoenix View Post
Hi Stephen,

I'm around your age and a few years ago, also found myself able to get the camera of my dreams. Of course, it was a Leica.

I bought an M3 with a dual range 50 Summicron. The camera was confining (restricting??) with its limitation to 50mm to 135mm lenses, but wonderful.

Since, I've had an M2 (which I would recommend due to its 35 to 90 mm finder), M4, M4P and M6. All of which I would recommend because of their individual attributes. (Now, I prefer my M4).

I suggest though, that your early dream camera/s may be the place to start.

Based on my experience in Australia though, make sure that to process your film, you can always get the chemicals or that there is a local processor.

Actually the 35mm with goggles lenses are also great on the M3 - such a big field of view. Tack on a working Leicameter and you've got a versatile system with 35, 50, 90 and 135mm options (once you get over the Frankenstein look of the set up)...
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Old 10-22-2015   #33
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Hi,

If you've always wanted it, then you should buy it. A little of what you fancy does you good, as the song goes.

But try to stick with just one. Once the numbers get into the hundreds it's pointless and you start to forget what you have and where they are and then the unused ones start to deteriorate.

Regards, David
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Old 10-22-2015   #34
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Go for it -- I bought my M4 on this forum this year, for a great price and recently CLA'd. If you pay 20% or so more, you can buy from Tamarkin or KEH or another reseller and have a warranty. But the good news is that if you buy a quality M in good shape, there is little risk. Film Leicas (unlike digital anything) hold their resale value. Best choice I ever made, and I never thought I'd love a camera more than my Crown Graphic. Advice? I thought about which one for a while, and eventually it came down to what most on RFF will tell you -- it's whether or not you need an in-camera meter. By the way, the best RF accessory is free --- it's this forum and its members, IMHO. I've learned an awful lot in a short time here!
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"Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in." -- H. D. T.
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