Long term value of black M4 vs M7
Old 04-15-2014   #1
helvetica
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Question Long term value of black M4 vs M7

My crystal ball is a bit cloudy at the moment, and I was hoping to tap the collective wisdom of the forum to shed some insight into a curiosity of mine.

I came across an individual who was wanting to sell a great conditioned M7 and an equally nice (looks nearly unused) M4 - black paint, Wetzlar made for the same price - basically you could not get more apples to oranges within the M lineage.

Aside from the manifold differences in actual operation (meters, batteries, and electromagnetic shutters - oh my!) how do you speculate they would hold up in long-term value? The camera will be bought to be used, so it's not going into a vault for ten years.

For starters, used M7's have already taken ~$3k worth of depreciation at market rate. Seeing as that M6's never seem to drop below the $1,000 barrier, it seems unlikely that M7's will drop below ~$1500. Alternatively, Black M4's seem to maintain their value even with significant brassing, as collectors seem to view it as "character".
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Old 04-15-2014   #2
yossarian123
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If you're buying it be used, then I'd go for an M7. In the long (long) run, then the M4 is probably a safer bet since parts should always be available. Who knows how long the electronics in the M7 will be supported.

I have both an M7 and a (chrome) M4 - the M7 gets way more use even though the M4 is the prettiest camera in my arsenal. The shutter is noticeably quieter and AE is nice to have. The biggest complaint is finder flare compared to the M4.
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Old 04-15-2014   #3
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A black paint M4 is a glorious thing of beauty and an amazing tool. As a low production variant, it will hold its value long after the M7 becomes a paperweight (read that with a grain of salt. I like hyperbole.)

If I were in your position, I'd jump on the M4.

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Old 04-15-2014   #4
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That of course speaks to the many practical differences that are left out of my simple question. If one would be used more than the other, (for example, due to the inclusion of a meter alone!) then the whole question would be rendered purely academic.

-- edit --

..but since we are discussing across a forum and not actually shooting - the question stands valid!
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Old 04-15-2014   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helvetica View Post
That of course speaks to the many practical differences that are left out of my simple question. If one would be used more than the other, (for example, due to the inclusion of a meter alone!) then the whole question would be rendered purely academic.

-- edit --

..but since we are discussing across a forum and not actually shooting - the question stands valid!
It comes down to personal preference. I don't like the Leica viewfinders with the bright LEDs from the meters, nor do I like the cluttered modern finders with six framelines instead of the clean four of the M4. I prefer cameras without meters and without batteries but that's a personal preference, again.

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Old 04-15-2014   #6
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I wouldn't want to speculate on the long term value of any Leica M camera. If they are both in great shape then buy the one you like the most. If you use it for awhile and resell you can probably expect to get at least 80% of your money back, maybe all of it. But unless you are an experienced collector who knows the exact worth of the camera I wouldn't buy it expecting to make money down the line.
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Old 04-15-2014   #7
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M4... You will never regret buying it.

The M7 is brilliant but if you want to speculate on future prices look whats happened to the M6. Is a modern MP an option?

If someone asked me what to buy to actually take photos with then the M7 would be what I would recommend.
But I'd still grab the M4 to actually use for myself.
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Old 04-15-2014   #8
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So a quick question for you non-metering body types, do you ever regret (stronger than miss) not having a meter? Specifically, those special shots in difficult lighting, do you ever silently curse not having an M6/M7? Not so much that you might be wrong - more that you might mess up a once-in-a-lifetime shot due to a bad metering guess. Obviously the run-of-the-mill summer day in a park need not apply, as you can just sunny-16 / shade-5.6 a guess close enough.
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Old 04-15-2014   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helvetica View Post
So a quick question for you non-metering body types, do you ever regret (stronger than miss) not having a meter? Specifically, those special shots in difficult lighting, do you ever silently curse not having an M6/M7? Not so much that you might be wrong - more that you might mess up a once-in-a-lifetime shot due to a bad metering guess. Obviously the run-of-the-mill summer day in a park need not apply, as you can just sunny-16 / shade-5.6 a guess close enough.
I have faith enough in negative film that if I guess within a stop of correct, I'll get a perfectly good negative. I usually err on the side of overexposure in difficult or highly colored light.

These days I find that with digital capture, light meters are absolutely necessary but my preferred medium of B&W is so forgiving that I can use "sunny 16" during the day and my own "urban 2.8" at night in city lights.

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Old 04-15-2014   #10
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Never. With a little experience your judgment in difficult lighting would mostly be better than the in-built meter's reading. I have an M6, but I take the M4 every time I use a Leica.
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Old 04-15-2014   #11
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I find that a difficult question to answer but from personal experience with rather unreliable repair-service provided by Leica (NJ and Solms, Germany) in case of my M7, my recommendation would be the BP M4 if .... you could test the camera for let`s say one week with the right to return it. The Achilles heel of the M4 are the shutter ribbons, requiring rather smooth operating gears.

Personally, I use M7 sometimes (which I only really keep because of it`s very unique SN#) and M4-P/M4-2 most of the time. For the latter a Seconic Twin-Mate L208 meter helps in most situations or I guestimate exposure. The AE system of the M7 is really helpful in some cases, for example those days with quickly changing light outside when the exposure range varies about 5 stops.

Living in Japan the other problem is getting the correct batteries for the M7, they are only sometimes available and if then the price is about US$ 9.0 for a single C1/3N (spell?), a set of two lasts for about 100 rolls 135-36 under mild temperature conditions and with only few long-time exposures.
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Old 04-15-2014   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helvetica View Post
So a quick question for you non-metering body types, do you ever regret (stronger than miss) not having a meter? Specifically, those special shots in difficult lighting, do you ever silently curse not having an M6/M7? Not so much that you might be wrong - more that you might mess up a once-in-a-lifetime shot due to a bad metering guess. Obviously the run-of-the-mill summer day in a park need not apply, as you can just sunny-16 / shade-5.6 a guess close enough.

I have two un metered bodies and , like many ,am able to guess the light even in difficult conditions.
I still miss having a metered body though.
Like many decisions regarding camera choice ,its mainly because of habituation.

However I would imagine that the M4 would hold its value more than the M7 .
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Old 04-16-2014   #13
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Originally Posted by Michael Markey View Post
I have two un metered bodies and , like many ,am able to guess the light even in difficult conditions.
I still miss having a metered body though.
Like many decisions regarding camera choice ,its mainly because of habituation.

However I would imagine that the M4 would hold its value more than the M7 .
Hi,

I'll second that...

But, a big "but" btw, buying as an investment means getting one absolutely mint in the original box etc, etc. Buying it dirt cheap and then, somehow, managing to sell for lots and lots of cash (and not paying income tax too). And while you wait the camera and box have to be separated and stored in the right conditions and you must never, ever touch or use it...

So what's the point? A camera locked away in a safe might be a long term investment but how do you value pleasure of using it against the wear and tear of using your investment?

As for meters, when you can't meter by eye using the funny 16 RoT a hand-held meter is preferable. OTOH, you might like the snapshot style of the M7...

Regards, David

Last edited by David Hughes : 04-16-2014 at 01:48. Reason: Finger trouble.
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Old 04-16-2014   #14
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I have a brassed black paint M4 and a TTL. I came across the M4 for a very decent price, gave it an overhaul at Solms and still paid less than what I've seen brassed M4s for, in private sales, at reliable camera shops and at venerable auction houses.

It is, simply put, a sublime camera. Quiet, uncluttered and understated.

I don't usually shoot slide film with it (though I do sometimes) but for b+w and colour neg it's great. So, no, I don't miss not having an exposure meter because when I use it my mind is in meterless mode somehow (and if I need to meter I use iZoner on my phone).

Your first question was about value, though.

My impression is that the price of black paint M4s varies a lot. Meister Camera Berlin has two in stock. The cheaper of them is "C" condition, which is very conservative given how it looks - 3300EUR, the more expensive one is 4400EUR. Aperture UK has a brassed one (much more brassed than mine) for 1890GBP. At the recent LP Foto auction in Stockholm a brassed (though not much; however it needed CLA (sticky speeds) and had a dent and vulcanite damage) BP M4 opened at about 800EUR but was not sold (yes only two 0s).

BP M2, however, tend to have much higher prices, even when heavily used. Personally I find this odd since the M4 is much nicer ( ).

Whether BP M4s will increase in value is anybody's guess. Personally I think that in a few decades the value of all rare cameras will have increased. However, that may also go - but to a lesser extent - for pretty much all pre-M7 film cameras, rare or not, since there are finite numbers. As for the M7 specifically, though, perhaps the same will not happen since it is still being made and Leica has no (known) plans to stop manufacturing it.

Anyway, all this to say that if you've found a nearly unused BP M4 in good working order for the price of an M7 these days, I'd say it's a good price indeed. And if you're buying it to use, then kudos to you - that's how it's supposed to be.

Now, whether you'd prefer the M4 over the M7 is another, highly personal, matter that is difficult to advise on. I can only say I am happy I have one metered and one unmetered M because they complement each other really well.

Good luck
Philip
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Old 04-16-2014   #15
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An easy choice for me ....Black paint M4
Though I never think about resale value of my photo equipment
I buy what i can afford and Lust after
I take good care of it and move unto the next when bored or in favour of something else

Best of Luck & most Importantly... Enjoy !
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Old 04-16-2014   #16
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uhm...
It all depends on their buying price really.
You could loose instantly thousands on the M4, even if it's supposed to hold its value better.
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Old 04-16-2014   #17
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Thank you, all - your collective opinions mirror what I was assuming to be true. As a quick aside, perhaps "investment" was too aggressive of a word, as making money (increasing total value) is not my goal as much as keeping overall value.

Photography is an expensive hobby even when shooting "pedestrian" brands like Canon and Nikon, but I find it more palpable to offset large purchases with sales of unused / under-used gear. To this end, I prefer spending my limited resources on things that hold value well over time - such as good lenses, as opposed to to the latest-and-greatest digital bodies.

If you buy a $1,000 [something] that you (with reasonable confidence) can sell later for ~$1,000 - then you are approaching the hobby with some proximity to fiscal responsibility.


...now if Leica ends up being as superlative as is often described by emotionally charged words, then you've got another problem: only buying, no selling!


additionally: note I said hobby - if your photography is on your client's budget, then 5D mark III / D800e all the way!

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Old 04-16-2014   #18
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Just wanted to relay my experience, but not totally sure it will help with your decision.

I purchased a stunning black paint M4 from a member of this forum just over a year ago. Had it fully CLA'd. Works like a dream.

Needed to fund other projects and since I wasn't using it much (its my 3rd body), I made a difficult decision to part with it.

Up for sale on this site and a few local websites, and I have yet to receive one serious offer.

Purchase the camera you love and forget about resale value. Markets change, economy changes and demand changes. There are no guarantees.
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Old 04-16-2014   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helenhill View Post
An easy choice for me ....Black paint M4
Though I never think about resale value of my photo equipment
I buy what i can afford and Lust after
I take good care of it and move unto the next when bored or in favour of something else

Best of Luck & most Importantly... Enjoy !
Yes, this. You can't worry about future resale value if you intend to use it. It's a camera. It's meant to be used.
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Old 04-16-2014   #20
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M4, especially in BP. It is my current favorite, having just arrived at DAG for a complete service!

Quote:
Originally Posted by philipus View Post
It is, simply put, a sublime camera. Quiet, uncluttered and understated.
That is it!
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Old 04-16-2014   #21
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Personally I have been thinking about the same possibility recently. I love the look of M4 and the fact that they are 100g lighter than M6-TTL. And I can save some bucks for another lens if I change to M4.
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Old 04-16-2014   #22
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That is it!
and I see our M4s are 274 numbers apart.
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Old 04-16-2014   #23
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Buy the m4..
But that said..
After I got my m6..
My M3 lay fallow..
Why..the meter..pure and simple..
As I hate guessing light and wasting frames..
But that said..
When I got my GH1..
Both the Leica M's..
Just sit unused..for years now..
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Old 04-16-2014   #24
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To those who can predictably meter the light with their eyes, my hat's off to you, but for me a camera without a meter is just a waste of film. It takes enough time to make a good print from a good negative,let alone an iffy exposure.
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Old 04-16-2014   #25
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To those who can predictably meter the light with their eyes, my hat's off to you, but for me a camera without a meter is just a waste of film. It takes enough time to make a good print from a good negative,let alone an iffy exposure.
Peter

If I only shot B&W, I could do without a meter--and usually do. But I shoot color slides a lot, and it's a waste to have anything but perfect exposure (or as close to perfect as I can get).

I think the whole notion of blinking lights being distracting is overblown too. I don't find my M6 distracting. And if I ever do, I can always just take the battery out. I love my M2, but it just makes more sense for me to use my M6 when a meter is useful.

The M7 is the modern M5. Some love it, but more malign it. Whether that's the case "in the future' remains to be seen.
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Old 04-16-2014   #26
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I have an M7, I like it.
Im lazy, sometimes I throw it on auto and it works, dont have to think.. Never had any exposure issues, does a good job.
As far as resale value, I dont really care, I already know that someday the camera will just sit on a shelf, not usable, either cause its broken and not reparable, or there is no film, but i bought it with the intent of using it, Im pretty sure I will get 1800$ worth of use out of it, so after that point, o well..
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Old 04-16-2014   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by helvetica View Post
So a quick question for you non-metering body types, do you ever regret (stronger than miss) not having a meter? Specifically, those special shots in difficult lighting, do you ever silently curse not having an M6/M7? Not so much that you might be wrong - more that you might mess up a once-in-a-lifetime shot due to a bad metering guess. Obviously the run-of-the-mill summer day in a park need not apply, as you can just sunny-16 / shade-5.6 a guess close enough.
The difficult lighting conditions are specifically where meterless body shine for me. The only exception is a robust matrix metring system a la Nikon post 1990.

In difficult conditions, an incident meter is a godsend, and it helps you shoot much faster. With a center weighted meter, you are forced to dance the AE-lock dance, and when I shoot fast and furious I sometime miss a step and might forget to, say, dip down the camera and lock exposure and instead shoot straight into a "difficult light" that ends up throwing off the meter reading.

Depending on your style of photography, a meterless body and a compact incident meter can help you work faster and more accurately than with a center-weighted metering camera.
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Old 04-16-2014   #28
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I think I need to start consulting you guys on my investments. There are so many of you that know FOR SURE that the BP M4 will hold its value. If I have learned anything in life it is that nothing is FOR SURE.

IMHO, if you intend to use the camera, buy the one you would enjoy using. If you prefer working with an in camera meter then buying the BP M4 will be a waste of your money, no matter how many people are positive certain it will hold its value of the long term. If you don't enjoy using the camera then buying it is a waste of your time, no matter how fiscally responsible you consider it.
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Old 04-16-2014   #29
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Agreed, bean counters and politicians like "fiscally responsibility" the rest of us enjoy taking photo's and, well, need I say more?

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Old 04-16-2014   #30
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The days of values going up or staying the same for old film equipment have probably peaked. I see everything declining in film. If you want to own for 1 year and then resell when "bored" you may do OK. If you think you'll use any camera for 5 or 10 years and resell for the same amount you may be disappointed. For 50 years eople buy a $25,000 car and watch it depreciate 25% in 5 years. It's been a fluke some old cameras haven't done that for 10 years. Because the rest of them (SLRs for example) dropped by about 90% starting in the 2000s. In 20 years I doubt anyone will want a film camera, and even Leicas will be worth almost nothing. Just like the folding Kodak Brownies of the 1920s. Wait long enough, maybe 40 years, and they may start to go up again for "collectors." It's not worth thinking about. Buy what you want and go use it.
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Old 04-16-2014   #31
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Aside from the manifold differences in actual operation (meters, batteries, and electromagnetic shutters - oh my!) how do you speculate they would hold up in long-term value? The camera will be bought to be used, so it's not going into a vault for ten years.
The M4 is more likely to hold a higher percentage of its initial purchase price than the M7, imho. But the longer you own the camera, the less reliable the speculation becomes.

The M7 is more likely to give you a higher percentage of properly exposed slides and negatives than the M4, unless you are competent at working with meterless cameras or rarely shoot in challenging light.

Which is more important to you, better images or better value?
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Old 04-16-2014   #32
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Playing the odds, An original black paint Leica will hold value better than a chrome model of the same camera.
A black repaint and you're not going to get your $$ from having it done.

So, M4 BP for me
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Old 04-16-2014   #33
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If you're looking for an investment, buy bonds or something.
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Old 04-16-2014   #34
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So much for investment advice.

Interest rates are starting to climb. Not the best time to buy bonds.

Buy the M4 or M7. Or the M6, or maybe an M3.

At least you will get to enjoy your money for awhile instead of handing it off to some banker somewhere.
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Old 04-16-2014   #35
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So much for investment advice.

Interest rates are starting to climb. Not the best time to buy bonds.

Buy the M4 or M7. Or the M6, or maybe an M3.

At least you will get to enjoy your money for awhile instead of handing it off to some banker somewhere.
But that's the fun of the internet - endless speculation and postulating! I still think there's a valid middle ground, one one hand you can get into the "paralysis of analysis" but the mentality of "buy what you want" is not always feasible - hence my conspicuous lack of summiluxes, noctiuxes, and other pretentious tubes of glass.
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Old 04-16-2014   #36
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...summiluxes, noctiuxes, and other pretentious tubes of glass.


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