Nikon RF or Leica M...
Old 10-07-2011   #1
RanceEric
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Nikon RF or Leica M...

Such a difficult decision...

I have aquired a decent Nikon rangefinder outfit over that last year or so. I shoot with my S3 quite often, (my S2 just sits on the shelf, unfortunately..) but I have always wanted an M (M2 or M3). I went with Nikon rangefinder initially because of the slightly more reasonable price tag, but the more I look at M's, the more I want one! (or two....) I can't decide if I want to keep my Nikon gear, or make room for an M outfit...

I should add that I already have a 5cm Summitar (LTM) to use with an M body, that I have never been able to part with after selling my IIc.. that just sits on the shelf being unused

Help me decide what to do! I can't afford to have both, so it has to be one or the other and seems to be an almost level playing field between the two...
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Old 10-07-2011   #2
xayraa33
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I would stick with the Nikon RF system that you have.
It is a great system.
Learn to work with the lenses you have now and slowly add one or two more in years to come.
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Old 10-07-2011   #3
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Put the S2 up for trade against an M2 or M3 body. Keep the S3. Gives you a bigger choice in lenses.

The "want to trade" section is free, as is want to buy.
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Old 10-07-2011   #4
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What are you hoping to gain by getting Leica M system instead of the very competent set-up you have now? Loading will be easier. Different Viewfinder, same performing lenses. Unless you feel like getting the latest ASPH Leica lenses I'd imagine. And it will costs you more money.

It's like switching form BMW to Mercedes or vice versa, or from Canon to Nikon.
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Old 10-07-2011   #5
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Well ... never change a running system they say Your Nikon RF system is unique and - if well maintained - as capable as any Leica M system. So if you do not want / need any of the lenses the Leica system offers over the Nikon system why change ?
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Old 10-07-2011   #6
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I have both Nikon S3 and 2 Leica M bodies. I love my S3s but if I had to choose between the two I would pick the Leica. I like the clearer viewfinder on the Leica. It would be very hard for me to sell the S3. I just don't think I could do it at this point. Jim
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Old 10-07-2011   #7
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Yep, the Leica is ergonomically superior, with regards to the rangefinder imaging.

I would pose that both are equal with film loading (i.e. completely removable back on the S3 vs removable bottom plate and spool on the M3).

But you can use so many more lens on the M, including the Nikon RF lenses if you buy an adapter.

So, my vote goes to getting an M.

....Vick



Quote:
Originally Posted by barnwulf View Post
I have both Nikon S3 and 2 Leica M bodies. I love my S3s but if I had to choose between the two I would pick the Leica. I like the clearer viewfinder on the Leica. It would be very hard for me to sell the S3. I just don't think I could do it at this point. Jim
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Old 10-07-2011   #8
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This is a very personal decision that we cannot really answer for you. Just remember, Leica lenses focus the opposite way of nikon lenses...and the aperture ring too. You might find that highly annoying in the short term.
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Old 10-07-2011   #9
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And if you're running the Nikon Historical Society why would you ditch the Nikons? :P

Having never used either, I can't offer much advice, but like jsrockit states it is a personal decision that you'll have to make for yourself.
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Old 10-07-2011   #10
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Admittedly I came to Leicas long before I ever tried Nikon RFs, and I've never owned Nikon RF. On the other hand, the reason I've never owned one is that I have owned Contaxes and Kievs, and the Nikons I've tried are too like them for my taste: poor ergonomics, a hopelessly limited lens mount, and too long out of production.

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Old 10-07-2011   #11
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Go for the M. You'll never be happy til you do. Make it an M2, as you're sure to want those 35mm frame lines sooner or later. My only M is an M3, and I have to use a goggled 35, and the goggles flare a bit. The Want to Trade ad is a good idea. That's how I got my Summaron. Also, If you can keep one of your Nikons and a 50, that would make a good backup camera for your M. I do that with my Contax IIIa.
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Old 10-07-2011   #12
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Yes. Really: keep both systems as such: the S3 with a lens or two, then an M2 with a lens or two. Or, to make it simpler, the following kits:

Nikon: S3 with 50mm f1.4

Leica: M2 with 35mm Summicron

Done.
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Old 10-07-2011   #13
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Do you have a chance to walk into a store and handle a Leica M body? I'd say do that instead of sacrificing gear to the Leica gods. Nikon is good, just as good as Leica in terms of performance. Granted, as it has been said above, there aren't as many lenses for Nikon RF and the VFs are different (not to mention that the focusing and aperture rings turn "backward" compare to Leica's).

However, as current Leica owner and Nikon RF aficionado, there's nothing like having both... I guess I'm not being too helpful here...

See if you can lay your paws on an M body first. I think if I had handled a Nikon S2 before buying it, I would have passed...

Probably. Not long ago, I wanted to sell my kit and wasn't able to do it.

Take care and best of luck making a decision!!
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Old 10-07-2011   #14
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First off, thank you everyone for your input...

I have thought about somehow trying to split the two systems, since I do love my S3.. I could part with the S2, but the S3 has grown to be my primary camera, mounted with the 3.5cm f/1.8 or 8.5cm f/2. I absolutely love those lenses. I'm sure if I was able to get the S-to-M adapter and keep those lenses, it might be slightly easier to trade off bodies.. The 1-to-1 finder and those two lenses in particular are the main reason this is such a dilemma! I think I will take the advice of several of you and try to sell/trade the S2...
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Old 10-07-2011   #15
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I'd try to get a cheap M2 or M3 without selling off the Nikon gear first. I got my first M3 for about £450, and it was something of a revelation for me. I never "got" the Leica thing when I had an M6, but with the M3, I did.
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Old 10-07-2011   #16
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Quote:
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I'd try to get a cheap M2 or M3 without selling off the Nikon gear first. I got my first M3 for about £450, and it was something of a revelation for me. I never "got" the Leica thing when I had an M6, but with the M3, I did.
Ideally, I would love to do that. but I'm sure if that's something I afford to do right now... I definitely understand. I wouldn't be very interested in getting any other M's other that the M3 or M2, except maybe an MP (if money was no object, of course haha)
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Old 10-07-2011   #17
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A couple of points: The 50mm f1.4 Nikon is Sonnar lens. If you sold that a Sonnar for the M would be the Zeiss. That is a very expensive proposition.
The Summitar is not a modern lens and there are certainly better lenses to build a camera system around.
The Nikon rangefinder system is easier to load than a Leica screw mount or the M2/M3.
Leica M3 does not have the viewfinder for a wider lens.
Older bargain Ms may need work.
Since you are on limited budget and have a complete older system why go with another system that is 50 or 60 years.
Personally, I would go with an M6 Classic as they can be found excellent working condition for not much more than an M3. They have a viewfinder for all the lenses and take screw mounts (with adaptors) as well as modern lenses. Plus you have a meter and an easier loading and rewinding system.
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Old 10-07-2011   #18
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Everybody has their own take on these. But, only you know how much you want to try a Leica M and life is too short to never getting around to doing it. I know. That is why I use an M3.

Before that I had a fantastic S3 2000. Even a relatively new Nikon RF like mine was difficult for me to bond with because of the patch and focusing. Had to sell it when I lost my last job in 2008.

Since then, I have used the M3 and find it much easier for me. Besides, you can always go back to the Nikon RF in the future. They wil always be around, so why not give an M a try?

They are both very good cameras and such but the Leica camera works best for me.
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Old 10-07-2011   #19
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It would be a great shame to sell off part or all of that splendid Nikon RF that you have, Rance. The grass always seems greeener on the other side. The things you don't have seem more attractive than the ones you have -- especially with cameras and things. I would advise against selling anything. If you keep the Nikon kit now, you can always sell in the future. While Nikon RF gear will always be available, one always seems to lose on buying and selling. You will likely pay more in the future to replace the things you sell now. You have decades ahead in which acquire kit and try out different possiblities. I would recommend waiting a while to buy a Leica M body until you can do it without selling off any of your current kit.
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Old 10-07-2011   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RanceEric View Post
First off, thank you everyone for your input...

I have thought about somehow trying to split the two systems, since I do love my S3.. I could part with the S2, but the S3 has grown to be my primary camera, mounted with the 3.5cm f/1.8 or 8.5cm f/2. I absolutely love those lenses. I'm sure if I was able to get the S-to-M adapter and keep those lenses, it might be slightly easier to trade off bodies.. The 1-to-1 finder and those two lenses in particular are the main reason this is such a dilemma! I think I will take the advice of several of you and try to sell/trade the S2...
If you don't "scratch that itch" for an M-mount camera its just gonna fester and grow, so I think you've made the right choice for you. And anyway, an S2 is easy enough to replace if you decide you want another one. An M2 or M3 fitted with your Summitar via LTM/M adapter will be a nice way to kick off your M-mount kit.

FYI the 8.5cm f/2 works on an S-M adapter, but the 3.5cm f/1.8 does not.
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Old 10-07-2011   #21
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Just saw your ad in the classifieds. The summitar is on the chopping block along with the S2 and some S-mount lenses, eh. Good luck with the sales!
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Old 10-07-2011   #22
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If I could have afforded a Nikon SP or even a S2/3 back when I started with Leica, I think I would have been a happier camper. With all the new available lenses for the Leica from VC and Zeiss, GAS tends to hit from time to time whereas the Nikons wouldn't have that same affect.
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Old 10-07-2011   #23
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I have both, but I prefer the M cameras. My choice has nothing to do with lenses, as the Nikon lenses I have tried are every bit as good as those made by Leica. It's not the viewfinder, the Nikon finder is quite good. The only real reason I prefer the M is it is more ergonomical. I don't care for the location of the shutter button on the Nikon S, which is rather awkwardly located to the rear, nor do I like the focusing, which, though more precise than the M cameras, requires more throw. The Nikon is designed to be focused with the middle finger in the focus wheel, which I have never been able to get used to. Still, I haven't sold my Nikon, it's an early S3, but looks as though it was just made last week.
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Old 10-08-2011   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
If you don't "scratch that itch" for an M-mount camera its just gonna fester and grow, so I think you've made the right choice for you. And anyway, an S2 is easy enough to replace if you decide you want another one. An M2 or M3 fitted with your Summitar via LTM/M adapter will be a nice way to kick off your M-mount kit.

FYI the 8.5cm f/2 works on an S-M adapter, but the 3.5cm f/1.8 does not.

Agreed!

Once you get the itch scratched you may find that you want the pinnacle of Nikon RF's, the SP black body! That is on my bucket list but not anytime soon, unfortunately with the dismal economy.

In the meantime, I am still scratching!
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Old 10-11-2011   #25
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Just saw your ad in the classifieds. The summitar is on the chopping block along with the S2 and some S-mount lenses, eh. Good luck with the sales!
Thank you! I decided I'm going to stick with Nikon RF, but I'm selling those to start an "SP Fund"... replacing the S2 with a body I will definitely use..

edit: and I sold my chrome 5cm lens to hopefully replace it with a black 5cm f/1.4 or the Olympic
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Old 10-11-2011   #26
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Thank you! I decided I'm going to stick with Nikon RF, but I'm selling those to start an "SP Fund"... replacing the S2 with a body I will definitely use..
Cool...you can scratch the Leica itch any time as well. The SP is the Nikon Icon for RF's.
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Old 10-11-2011   #27
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Cool...you can scratch the Leica itch any time as well. The SP is the Nikon Icon for RF's.
Eventually down the road I would like to.. but I'll stick with Nikon for now..
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Old 10-12-2011   #28
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Depends what you want. But for me, it's the Leica M. Had Nikon rangefinders--a S2 and a SP. While I initially bought into the whole Nikon mystique, I eventually soured on them.

Two things did this for me: first and most important was the dim and diffuse rangefinder patch. I shoot a lot in low light, and with the Nikons, focusing in such conditions was really a matter of guesstimation--as opposed to the sharp and bright rangefinder patch of a Leica. I got tired of the majority of my shots coming out either soft or out of focus.

The other thing was the fiddly lens change. After being used to simply slapping a lens onto a Leica, the whole bit with ALWAYS having to make sure the helicoid was set to infinity before changing lenses was a chore--too many times, in the heat of the moment, I found myself changing lenses without the helicoid set to the proper position--which could have caused damage to the camera. And of course, we have the weird thing with internal and external lens mounts....

Oh, and did I mention how noisy the Nikons were, as opposed to a Leica? The Nikons caused me some uncomfortable moments at acoustic music shows, as people complained about the noise of the shutter, which I don't get using Leicas.

So, it was goodbye to the Nikons. Leicas for me are just simply easier to use.
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Old 10-12-2011   #29
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Rance,

I would invite you to a NYC meet-up if you want to scratch that Leica itch. I own a really nice M3-DS that you could try.

Also a reason to keep the Nikon S3 is the 35/1.8 Nikkor. You could check out my 35/1.8 Nikkor in LTM on a M-body, but this is a hard lens to find to replace your 35/1.8 you currently own.

I will add that I'd love to own a Nikon SP one day.

Philly isn't that far away from NYC.

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Old 10-12-2011   #30
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Rance,

I would invite you to a NYC meet-up if you want to scratch that Leica itch. I own a really nice M3-DS that you could try.

Also a reason to keep the Nikon S3 is the 35/1.8 Nikkor. You could check out my 35/1.8 Nikkor in LTM on a M-body, but this is a hard lens to find to replace your 35/1.8 you currently own.

I will add that I'd love to own a Nikon SP one day.

Philly isn't that far away from NYC.

Cal
That would be great! Thanks.. The 35/1.8 (and the 85/2) and big factors in me sticking with Nikon.. I managed to get them for a steal, that I know I wouldn't be able to ever find in LTM..

Not at all. I try to visit there semi-regularly, but haven't in a few months, sadly. but I will be there next month.. Let me know when the next meet-up is, and I'll be sure to visit then!
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Old 10-12-2011   #31
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That would be great! Thanks.. The 35/1.8 (and the 85/2) and big factors in me sticking with Nikon.. I managed to get them for a steal, that I know I wouldn't be able to ever find in LTM..

Not at all. I try to visit there semi-regularly, but haven't in a few months, sadly. but I will be there next month.. Let me know when the next meet-up is, and I'll be sure to visit then!
Rance,

The October Meet-Up is scheduled for the 29th at Puck Fair at 1:00 PM. Earlier that Saturday morning is the PhotoPlus Expo at the Javit's Center and a group of us will explore the ehibition hall before the regular meet-up.

For November we have'nt scheduled anything yet, but what we do is generally schedule it so that it is convenient for guests outside of New York to attend.

In September we had a really great Meet-Up where Kristian (Leicashot) from L.A. showed up. We ended up going shooting afterwards. Also Matt from Chicago came. In the September Meet-Up we had a total of 7 M-9's including a M9-P.

Basically a bunch of gear whores who make fun of ourselves. BTW I'm really excited about using your chemistry to shoot Tri-X at 3200 ISO. THanks again.

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Old 10-12-2011   #32
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Rance,

The October Meet-Up is scheduled for the 29th at Puck Fair at 1:00 PM. Earlier that Saturday morning is the PhotoPlus Expo at the Javit's Center and a group of us will explore the ehibition hall before the regular meet-up.

For November we have'nt scheduled anything yet, but what we do is generally schedule it so that it is convenient for guests outside of New York to attend.

In September we had a really great Meet-Up where Kristian (Leicashot) from L.A. showed up. We ended up going shooting afterwards. Also Matt from Chicago came. In the September Meet-Up we had a total of 7 M-9's including a M9-P.

Basically a bunch of gear whores who make fun of ourselves. BTW I'm really excited about using your chemistry to shoot Tri-X at 3200 ISO. THanks again.

Cal
Unfortunately my cousin is getting married on the 28th, so I'll be out of town.. I'll have to wait until the next one..

Haha wow.. 7 M9's..

You're welcome! I look forward to seeing your shots.
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Old 10-12-2011   #33
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It would be a great shame to sell off part or all of that splendid Nikon RF that you have, Rance. The grass always seems greeener on the other side. The things you don't have seem more attractive than the ones you have -- especially with cameras and things. I would advise against selling anything. If you keep the Nikon kit now, you can always sell in the future. While Nikon RF gear will always be available, one always seems to lose on buying and selling. You will likely pay more in the future to replace the things you sell now. You have decades ahead in which acquire kit and try out different possiblities. I would recommend waiting a while to buy a Leica M body until you can do it without selling off any of your current kit.
Not really. To me, on the Leica side of the fence, the grass looks a lot greener here than it does on the Nikon side.

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Old 10-12-2011   #34
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Unfortunately my cousin is getting married on the 28th, so I'll be out of town.. I'll have to wait until the next one..

Haha wow.. 7 M9's..

You're welcome! I look forward to seeing your shots.
In November look for the thread "November NYC Meet-Up" and book the date you can make it.

BTW you would be the first to bring a Nikon RF'er to a Meet-Up.

Cal
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Old 10-12-2011   #35
Phil_F_NM
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If you want to try out a Leica, I have an M4 and an M4-P. It just so happens that I want to try out a Nikon RF. I've wanted one for years.

Send me a PM. I'm in west Philly. I'll shoot you my cell number and we can meet up and fondle each others' cameras if that works for you.

I regularly loan out my M4 to friends for weeks at a time, so it's no problem. As long as it's getting used, I'm happy.

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Old 10-12-2011   #36
jarski
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its rare to go into non-Leica's, as first RF-system these days IMO. I'd stick with what you have, maybe add nice 50mm + and visit Puck Fair of course
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Old 10-12-2011   #37
Brian Legge
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil_F_NM View Post
If you want to try out a Leica, I have an M4 and an M4-P. It just so happens that I want to try out a Nikon RF. I've wanted one for years.

Send me a PM. I'm in west Philly. I'll shoot you my cell number and we can meet up and fondle each others' cameras if that works for you.

I regularly loan out my M4 to friends for weeks at a time, so it's no problem. As long as it's getting used, I'm happy.

Phil Forrest
Hah. I'm jealous of people in Philadelphia now. I've been lusting after an M4 recently but have no idea if its irrational as I already have a mostly usable Canon P.
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Old 10-13-2011   #38
Paul Luscher
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Phototmoof, I guess I'd say I liked the Nikon RFs, but I just couldn't live with them...
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Old 10-13-2011   #39
Calzone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jonmanjiro View Post
FYI the LTM W-Nikkor 3.5cm f/1.8 only focuses down to about 1.05 metres, compared to 0.90 metres for the S-mount version. That extra 15cm (6 inches) makes a lot of difference when trying to get closer, so +1 for Nikon RF in that regard
The 35/1.8 is a great-great lens. Being without one would lead to remorse.

I will say I wish my 35/1.8 in LTM focused closer.

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Old 10-13-2011   #40
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I use M6's just because they are a relatively modern camera compared to the Nikons. And I always had trouble focusing the Nikons RF's
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