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Just bought an R8 - What have I done?
Old 06-20-2014   #1
Johnmcd
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Just bought an R8 - What have I done?

Picked up an R8 and winder (but no lens yet). Have had an itch for a couple of years now. I love my OM2, will I love this too?

Any experiences with the camera (and lenses) would be greatly appreciated, good or bad.

Cheers - John
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Old 06-20-2014   #2
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Jealous, always wanted to get into the R, but I am too far down the rabbit hole with the M.
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Old 06-20-2014   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johnmcd View Post
Picked up an R8 and winder (but no lens yet). Have had an itch for a couple of years now. I love my OM2, will I love this too?

Any experiences with the camera (and lenses) would be greatly appreciated, good or bad.

Cheers - John
The 35mm SLR I wanted desperately in the 1990s but could not afford, the lenses were simply too expensive for my pay grade.

In the past year, I've acquired the much older Leicaflex SL (my first obsession with Leica reflexes) and a bunch of mostly 1970s/1980s lenses for it. Absolutely wonderful lenses, and a great solid tank of a body. It's everything I had imagined it should be.

For the R8, you really want to get the more recent lenses with ROM connections to take full advantage of the camera's features. You can get at least a listing of the various lens options from the Leica Wiki:
www.l-camera-forum.com - Leica Wiki

I hope you enjoy the R8!

G
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Old 06-20-2014   #4
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Thanks Godfrey for the link. I take it the older lenses will still work in manual mode?
Waiting for it to arrive in the post (to coincide when I return from a trip). Will be a killer not to have a lens ready to go.
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Old 06-20-2014   #5
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There is a table here that outlines the cam and cameras situation with the R glass.

http://www.photoethnography.com/Clas...as/Lens-R.html

I do not have an R8 but did get to try one out, it sits incredibly well in the hand.

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Old 06-20-2014   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tejasican View Post
There is a table here that outlines the cam and cameras situation with the R glass.
http://www.photoethnography.com/Clas...as/Lens-R.html
...
That's the clearest discussion of the 1, 2, and 3 cam business I've seen! Thank you for the link! Now I need to go home and see how many of my lenses are 2 cam and how many 3 cam... ;-)

G
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Old 06-21-2014   #7
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Had an R8 for one roll, was not so keen on how it worked, you've got to look in the finder to see exposure comp. settings, plus it was vast. Far bigger than most of the medium format cameras I've had, and makes most 35mm cameras look like those little fake keyring cameras you get.

Maybe if you have big hands it feel better, but it was more trouble to carry about than a Hasselblad or Rolleiflex. Even it was small, I think the Nikon FM3a is better thought out.
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Old 06-21-2014   #8
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My take on this is as follows:
Manual focus SLR's are great for a couple of things: precise framing, particularly close up, and use of lenses over 50mm. In practice, this means that these are NOT street cameras, and also are NOT landscape cameras of choice. They are fantastic cameras for "composed" closer up photography and above all for portraiture.
You will need to check the focusing collimation between lenses and screens, and possibly secure some alternative screens, as in my experience many lenses are not "married" happily to normal screens. I use R4's and R5's, and have had some problems to overcome in this field.
Now, what is the point of using a Leica R ?
- The lenses, for me particularly the older Mandler designs, that are less sharp, but have less contrast (great for B&W) and wonderful bokeh.
The first lens you should get is the ME60/2.8. It is a genuine gem, and it solves all the close up uses, as well as is a great general purpose lens.
Hazy Daisy lenses: 50/1.4 v1 and 80/1.4 - these have a unique signature at wide apertures, then they sharpen up nicely above f 4.0.
Best non extreme portrait lenses: Summicron 50/2 v1 and 90/2 pre apo.
Great short tele, a bit on the sharp side: Elmarit 90/2.8 v1.
Nice longer lenses for little money: Elmarit 135/2.8 and 180/2.8 both v1.

ME-60/2.8

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Old 06-21-2014   #9
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I second the recommendation of the 60mm/f2.8 macro. Incredible lens.

It looks like prices for R lenses are on the rise, no doubt due to the mirrorless camera craze and R glass being usable with adapter on most if not all of those cameras.

Another favorite is the 100mm f2.8 APO, but I think they still command a healthy price. As always, KEH is a good source not only for pricing but for good, clean lenses.
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Old 06-21-2014   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
My take on this is as follows:
Manual focus SLR's are great for a couple of things: precise framing, particularly close up, and use of lenses over 50mm. In practice, this means that these are NOT street cameras, and also are NOT landscape cameras of choice. They are fantastic cameras for "composed" closer up photography and above all for portraiture. ...
Hmm. Some of my very best street photography has been done with a Nikon FM, F or other manual focus SLR. ;-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
You will need to check the focusing collimation between lenses and screens, and possibly secure some alternative screens, as in my experience many lenses are not "married" happily to normal screens.
IMO, the Leicaflex SL has one of the very best focusing screens I've ever used in a 35mm SLR. It mates beautifully with all my R lenses.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
Now, what is the point of using a Leica R ?
- The lenses ...
Absolutely. I mostly use my R lenses with a Sony A7 body nowadays ... I bought the A7 specifically to use with the Leica R lenses. My R lens kit now spans from 19mm to 180mm. There's not a one in them that I can say is anything less than excellent, and most are sublime. :-)

G
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Old 06-21-2014   #11
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Thumbs up

wow, ive been tempted more than once to buy such a camera, but after a while i realise i must buy new lenses and the best and faster ones that are needed to shoot film are so expensive...beautiful camera thou.

At least you can buy the Digital Modul and make a huge but more thrilling cmaera.

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Old 06-21-2014   #12
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Always thought this the most handsome camera ever made.
Seriously?
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Old 06-21-2014   #13
mfogiel
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@Godfrey
My SL2 misfocuses with ALL lenses below 135mm, although the 90mm are off only 2cm at 1m
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Old 06-21-2014   #14
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I could never own a camera without a lens, it'd kill me . Hope you enjoy the camera!

An aside, why is the R8 (and maybe R9) so large? I never looked at them before this thread.
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Old 06-21-2014   #15
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Congratulations, the R8 is a great camera. It was my first Leica and I bought it to use a 35 summicron I'd bought the week before. I used various lenses on it, all 3 cam. 35 f2, 50 f2, 60 f2.8 and a 90 f2.8 all fabulous. I eventually sold it and both my R4's and bought my first M. The viewfinder is very nice. My only complaint was that the mode dial used to move far too frequently when in my bag. I could have taped it I suppose like I do all my Nikon digital gear but never did. That mode dial subsequently had a lock feature fitted on the R9. My Leica SLR use is now 2 Leicaflex however I would use another R8 anytime.
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Old 06-21-2014   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rodchenko View Post
Seriously?
Different strokes for different folks. So thankful we all have different taste buds.

On a different note I always wondered why the Leica R system never gained the popularity with photojournalist like Nikon did. & the few journalist who did go the Leica route chose the M system.
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Old 06-21-2014   #17
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Ha, yeah. It's a magnificent piece of engineering, but I didn't think anyone would have it in their top 10(0) for looks.
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Old 06-21-2014   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
@Godfrey
My SL2 misfocuses with ALL lenses below 135mm, although the 90mm are off only 2cm at 1m
Sorry to hear it. Both of my SLs are right on the money. You should probably get the SL2 focusing system adjusted.

G
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Old 06-21-2014   #19
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Originally Posted by gb hill View Post
Different strokes for different folks. So thankful we all have different taste buds.

On a different note I always wondered why the Leica R system never gained the popularity with photojournalist like Nikon did. & the few journalist who did go the Leica route chose the M system.
The cost of lenses was the biggest blocker.

In the late 1998s I had been using a Nikon kit nearly 20 years and was interested to upgrade. I set up "what if" lists of Nikon, Canon, Contax, and Leica R8 systems, all the high-end body and the same set of four focal length/speed lenses. Nikon and Canon priced out very close (around $5000), Contax was a bit of a premium (about $6300) due to the CZ lenses. The eye opener was the Leica R8 ... $16,000. The body was only a bit more expensive, the cost of lenses astronomically more.

While I very much appreciate the quality and 'goodness' of the Leica R lenses, it was simply beyond my pay grade to afford that kind of basic system cost, and I imagine the same is true for most photojournalists. I feel so lucky now that I have actually assembled a ten-lens Leica R kit that cost me less than $5000 AND the lenses work so well not only on the Leicaflex SL but on the Sony A7.

G
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Old 06-21-2014   #20
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With few exceptions, R`s were good cameras. The better lenses have become really expensive because the adapt to digital.

You can get a very nice lens set for not too much if you stay away from the APO `s and 21/35 zoom, 35/70 2.8, last version 50 1.4, 80 1.4 Be sure to buy 3 cam lenses.
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Old 06-21-2014   #21
gb hill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
The cost of lenses was the biggest blocker.

In the late 1998s I had been using a Nikon kit nearly 20 years and was interested to upgrade. I set up "what if" lists of Nikon, Canon, Contax, and Leica R8 systems, all the high-end body and the same set of four focal length/speed lenses. Nikon and Canon priced out very close (around $5000), Contax was a bit of a premium (about $6300) due to the CZ lenses. The eye opener was the Leica R8 ... $16,000. The body was only a bit more expensive, the cost of lenses astronomically more.

While I very much appreciate the quality and 'goodness' of the Leica R lenses, it was simply beyond my pay grade to afford that kind of basic system cost, and I imagine the same is true for most photojournalists. I feel so lucky now that I have actually assembled a ten-lens Leica R kit that cost me less than $5000 AND the lenses work so well not only on the Leicaflex SL but on the Sony A7.

G
That $16,000 price tag estimate is astromical, especially on a photojournalist salary I woud think. Didn't realize the lenses were so expensive. I always assumed Nikon gear too expensive for my budget, one reason why I chose the Canon fd system.
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Old 06-21-2014   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gb hill View Post
That $16,000 price tag estimate is astromical, especially on a photojournalist salary I woud think. Didn't realize the lenses were so expensive. I always assumed Nikon gear too expensive for my budget, one reason why I chose the Canon fd system.
The top end Nikon and Canon lenses were always pretty close once the Canon F1 series came out. Prior to that, the FT/FTb etc were a bit lower than comparable Nikon bodies and the FL/FD lenses were a bit lower as well. Canon set its sights and pricing models on Nikon in the middle 1970s and achieve virtual parity in market share by the time they tossed the FL/FD mount and went to EOS.

Photojournos could afford a Leica M and a couple of lenses, but most SLR equipment was always going to be bought on the basis of having a much larger lens kit to work with, the big advantage of SLRs over RFs. Leica did not compromise on lens quality or price. Just too rich for the rank and file like me when it was all new...

I just passed on a mint R8 for sale myself. That was my Object of Desire in 1996-1998. My Leicaflex SL bodies will do for the little 35mm film I shoot these days. I'm just really happy that I have the lenses I always wanted now, and that they perform so well on the Sony A7 body. :-)

G
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Old 06-22-2014   #23
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Just flying back to Sydney after a week in Madrid (photos to follow). On the plane I saw a documentary on Anton Corbijn. And I am 99% sure he was shooting an R8/9 along with a H'blad. That's some serious street cred!

Thanks for all the info and advice. Passed up on a 50/1.4 on ebay as it got too expensive. Looks like a trip to KEH before I can appreciate the VF.

Cheers - John
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Old 06-22-2014   #24
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The 50 summicron is the better lens. I seem to remember that there were two different 1.4's and the 1st version wasn't great.
Fwiw, Leica R 'wasn't great' could well be someone else's perfection.
I've not had a Leica lens, both M and R that I didn't like the look of the pictures.
With other manufacturers I've always had to cherry pick.
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Old 06-22-2014   #25
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Originally Posted by nobbylon View Post
The 50 summicron is the better lens. I seem to remember that there were two different 1.4's and the 1st version wasn't great.
Fwiw, Leica R 'wasn't great' could well be someone else's perfection.
I've not had a Leica lens, both M and R that I didn't like the look of the pictures.
With other manufacturers I've always had to cherry pick.
re: bolded ... Yes!

I have both a '64 Summicron-R 50/2 (single cam) and a '72 Summilux-R 50/1.4 (three cam). Stopped down to f/4-5.6, they are virtually indistinguishable in rendering qualities. From wide open to that point, they have very individual rendering signatures. The 'Lux has a lovely softness and glowy quality, while still maintaining detail, wide open which quickly turns to the biting sharpness at f/5.6 where the 'Cron is more sharp and flatter field even wide open, the transition to biting sharpness is quieter.

Love 'em both. :-) Of course, the 'Cron is stop-down metering only on the Leicaflex SL and the 'Lux is fully compatible with the SL's open aperture metering. Both work beautifully on the A7.

G
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Old 06-22-2014   #26
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
re: bolded ... Yes!

I have both a '64 Summicron-R 50/2 (single cam) and a '72 Summilux-R 50/1.4 (three cam). Stopped down to f/4-5.6, they are virtually indistinguishable in rendering qualities. From wide open to that point, they have very individual rendering signatures. The 'Lux has a lovely softness and glowy quality, while still maintaining detail, wide open which quickly turns to the biting sharpness at f/5.6 where the 'Cron is more sharp and flatter field even wide open, the transition to biting sharpness is quieter.

Love 'em both. :-) Of course, the 'Cron is stop-down metering only on the Leicaflex SL and the 'Lux is fully compatible with the SL's open aperture metering. Both work beautifully on the A7.

G
I have a series 1 summicron 50 that has been on my black SL from new, think it's 2 cam but maybe 3 converted. For some reason that I can't explain in technical terms I just like the pictures more than the 2nd version. It's sharp enough even at f2. Open aperture metering with the extra cam.
To get the best from the v1 it has been said somewhere that it needs the uv filter attached. Mine has been from new.
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Old 06-22-2014   #27
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Originally Posted by nobbylon View Post
I have a series 1 summicron 50 that has been on my black SL from new, think it's 2 cam but maybe 3 converted. For some reason that I can't explain in technical terms I just like the pictures more than the 2nd version. It's sharp enough even at f2. Open aperture metering with the extra cam.
To get the best from the v1 it has been said somewhere that it needs the uv filter attached. Mine has been from new.
Interesting .. I think I've shot with it both with and without the UV filter, not noticed any difference really. But next time I have it out I'll do some testing.

Mine could use a CLA, and Leica USA says they can still do the single-cam to later model update (amazing ... it is a 50 year old lens!). Only thing is that since I use it mostly on the A7 now, a CLA will cost about $100 through my local tech where having Leica update the mount and do the CLA will cost about $400 or so. I've been thinking about it, but still haven't decided.

They're all good performers really. With these R lenses, it's more what you like than whether the lens is good...

G
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Old 06-22-2014   #28
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How big is the hunchback of solms compared to, say, a Nikon F4
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Old 06-22-2014   #29
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I played with one at a camera store. First, I loved it (it was a Leica, it's a VERY original design)... but the weight was one reason for concern... and the viewfinder wasn't all that great. Perhaps outdoors it may be, but indoors, and with not quite dim light, but not bright indoor lighting, it was a pain to focus it.

The truth is that after that I never got why the R body was that hot among some people... The M, I get, but this one... I don't.

But I respect those who like it.
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Old 06-22-2014   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SolaresLarrave View Post
I played with one at a camera store. First, I loved it (it was a Leica, it's a VERY original design)... but the weight was one reason for concern... and the viewfinder wasn't all that great. Perhaps outdoors it may be, but indoors, and with not quite dim light, but not bright indoor lighting, it was a pain to focus it.

The truth is that after that I never got why the R body was that hot among some people... The M, I get, but this one... I don't.

But I respect those who like it.
Got to say that I think you are the first person that I've heard knock the viewfinder on an R8! Each to their own but I found it to be better than everything apart from a Leicaflex. Granted I used it mainly with a 60 and images just popped in and out of focus no matter the ambient light.
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Old 06-22-2014   #31
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How big is the hunchback of solms compared to, say, a Nikon F4
Don't get me wrong here, I'm a bona fide Nikon user through and through but the F4 is the only F series I disliked. My recollection is that it was bigger than the R8. Mine had the larger battery pack. Ugly to look at and neither one thing or the other. A hybrid camera mixing analogue controls with a/f. Thank heavens they dreamed up the F5. The R8 is way nicer to use than an F4. I don't say it's more reliable, just nicer!
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Old 06-22-2014   #32
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How big is the hunchback of solms compared to, say, a Nikon F4
In specification, they're close in size and weight. In the hand, the R8 feels much nicer, smaller.

G
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Old 06-22-2014   #33
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Thanks
I'd like to pick up a Leica R system one day, but it seems to me, its either deal with flaky electronics, shutter lag, or an "ugly" + large camera, if I want to use one that has AE
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Old 06-22-2014   #34
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Thanks
I'd like to pick up a Leica R system one day, but it seems to me, its either deal with flaky electronics, shutter lag, or an "ugly" + large camera, if I want to use one that has AE
A serviced R3 maybe? I've had a total of 4 R4's I think and 3 of them had electrical issues, mainly mode dial switch related but don't forget that these cameras are 30 years old now and likely been sat in a closet for 20 of those. The other had been serviced by Leica and was basically a new R4 and I really wish I hadn't sold it. My point is that if you want any old camera to work as intended without issue then it needs to be serviced with the correct and preferably new service parts.
All old cameras have their issues, it matters not what make they are. Read enough here and you will find more Leica M's going off for CLA than anything else has ever been talked about.
Shutter lag? I know what you mean with regard to the operation of the R4,5,6 and 7 but I never missed a shot with mine and I believe it's not actually lag, more shutter release travel and mirror dampening.
Ugly? I'd say a metered F or F2, an F4 are ugly but because they have stood the usage test have become ikons and therefore desired by people as the bench marks for others to try and achieve. I'd say the R8 and R9 are incredibly well designed SLR's with big easy to use controls, protected re wind and very smooth operation.
If you want to use R lenses I would not hesitate to use R bodies as long as they have been serviced like any other camera we discuss here.
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Old 06-23-2014   #35
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Quote:
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@Godfrey
My SL2 misfocuses with ALL lenses below 135mm, although the 90mm are off only 2cm at 1m
The Macro Elmarit is a special lens. It miss focuses on my R5 too, but I manage to get fantastic images from it even though I sense that I miss focus. The out of focus areas and the whole image over all has some beef to it that I can't explain.

Leica R5, Macro Elmarit 60/2.8
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http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=143101
Old 06-23-2014   #36
leicapixie
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http://www.rangefinderforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=143101

Congratulations!
Many opinions here but get a lens!
The original 50mm Summicron-R when released was considered the sharpest
normal lens yet tested..1964?
The cam problem is easily solved, the cost not!
I have had friends who told me of very high prices to do cams and calibrate.

Price wise the R-lenses were so expensive, that it killed sales..
Please don't tell me about the cost of German labor.
The truth is quite a few lenses were Minolta and one a Sigma!

The "Hunchback of Solms" is a fitting comment.
Not sure what to call those bloated SLR's from Canon and Nikon.
Many are same size or larger than a Pentax 6x7!
That needed wheels for transportation..

Get a lens that works, use the rig.
Decide.
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Old 06-23-2014   #37
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Thanks for the continuing commentary. All great information. Just waiting for the camera to arrive then it looks like I'm off to KEH for a Summicron

Thanks - John
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Old 06-23-2014   #38
skopar steve
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Some early models had interface issues with the winder. Something to look for. I had one with 35, 50, 90, and 180mm lenses. As others have mentioned handling is great. As I recall the R8 also has a built in flash meter.

Yes it is large for a 35mm body. And with it's size comes a little extra weight. However unless your 4'5" tall and weigh 65 lbs, it should not be an issue. I've never found using a large camera for "street photography" to be an impediment.
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Old 06-23-2014   #39
nobbylon
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I seem to remember the 'made in Portugal' ones had very little if any issues.
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Old 06-23-2014   #40
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outstanding lenses of the R-lineup are imo

28mm 2.8 elmarit vII E55 -> best 28 ever made (on any system imo)
100mm 2.8 apo macro -> stellar
180mm 2.8 apo -> jaw dropping

as mentionned before, ther isn't basically a 'bad' lens available for the Leica-R system.

all of them don't come cheap, are rather hard to find, but are worth every penny imo
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