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M2 or IIIg which would you choose
Old 09-11-2016   #1
lxmike
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M2 or IIIg which would you choose

I know they are different beasts, with associated pros, cons and characteristics, but if you had to choose between owning an M2 or a IIIg which one would you choose and why. I would be shooting solely with a 50mm lens, as this is my favourite focal length. Many thanks, in advance, for sharing and/or offering up your thoughts and opinions
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Old 09-11-2016   #2
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I would go with the M2, because of future repair issues. Also, should you ever have the irrational urge for another lens, you have a wider choice.
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Old 09-11-2016   #3
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m2 for the viewfinder
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Old 09-11-2016   #4
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If you are shooting only with 50mm--why not an M3? The M3's viewfinder is practically made for the 50...and the IIIg still has the very small viewfinder and a separate rangefinder window, if I remember correctly. There is an early M3 for sale in the classifieds right now (not mine)--seems at a good price, too.
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Old 09-11-2016   #5
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Do you wear glasses? I prefer the mechanics of shooting with the IIIg, but had a difficult time seeing the framelines with my glasses, causing me to spend more time composing shots (which isn't always a bad thing). The M2 is a fantastic camera as well with a stunning viewfinder and will be much easier for composing with a 50 if you wear glasses. In the end, both are AWESOME cameras and I think it boils down more to which mechanics you prefer.
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Old 09-11-2016   #6
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Out of the M3, M2, III and IIIf that I own, it is the M3 that gets the most use. But the III is the most lovely old Barnack. So it depends on why you're using the Leica...
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Old 09-11-2016   #7
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The IIIg is the only Leica that I ever got rid of, but kept my M2.
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Old 09-11-2016   #8
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If you're buying it to be a shooter, as opposed to a shelf queen, I'd go with the M2 for the reasons listed by others. The Barnack's are beautiful cameras, but I find their viewfinders tiresome after a while. The M2 is just a far more "modern" camera as far as focus/framing/film advance, etc.
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Old 09-11-2016   #9
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Thank you chaps, food for thought, I will let you know how I get one, oh and feel free to chip in with more thoughts, I indeed wear glasses by the way
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Old 09-11-2016   #10
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M2, as for reasons people have already stated.
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Old 09-11-2016   #11
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Sophisticated though the IIIg is, I think it's the ugliest Leica, much more of a brutalist monster than the M5, which I like. The M2 is like an Italian sports car: beautiful in every way. And that viewfinder. I hate the M3 viewfinder.
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Old 09-11-2016   #12
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I know everybody is going to say "M2" because "new and improved!." I am faced with a situation going the other way, having both and most likely having to sell one. It will probably be the M2 that leaves. Why? The unscientific reason is I just enjoy the iiig more, it's the one I grab if going out. I know that's going to convince no one, nor should it. If I was trying to decide based upon nothing but spec sheets, I would buy the M2. Having and using both, has given me a different answer, the iiig. None of the "disadvantages" of the iiig have ever impacted my photography in actual practice-and I emphasize my photography. I don't miss focus or miss framing any more often with the iiig than I do with the M2. The loading "issue" is a mountain in a molehill. If the M3 was such a huge, undeniable, world altering event, why would the iiig have been introduced after the M3? Obviously some people, actual photographers who used the things, preferred the Barnacks. And, if it was "just to use up existing parts" they would have just kept on with the iiif.
The iiig just feels nicer in my hand, and presents no downsides to me so that's the one I will probably keep. It's smaller, enough smaller that it feels nicer to me to use. If you have a 50 you like which is available in ltm, that seals it.

As a design object, the iiig is just a purer realization of original purpose than the M, something which is very obvious to me every time I pick them both up. Too obvious, perhaps. That rear door flap on the M is what engineers call a kludge. Yes, it serves a perceived need in the marketing department, but what if you don't have that need yourself?
To me, the difference between the iiig and the M2 is like the difference between a 1966 MGB, and a 1973 MGB. Those nauseating bumpers on the "new and improved one" will help you if you crash. I'm not going to crash, so thanks, but no thanks.
The iiig just seems obviously nicer to me as a physical object. I'm not a working pro, I just do this for fun, so that matters to me.

Anyway, people are going to list pros and cons from the spec sheet. If the "advantages" of the M2 had ever been an actual photographic advantage to me I would be keeping the M2, but I can't say as they have. The "imponderables" of the iiig will be what makes me keep it.
(But, as someone else noted, if going for an M with a 50 only, the M3 seems a better choice than the M2).

The only way to really know which one you are going to prefer is to own and use both of them for an extended period of time. Others can't predict which one you will end up preferring. There is more to life than a combined rf/vf.

Having said all that, for a 50, I prefer the iiib to all of them, but that's a different story
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Old 09-11-2016   #13
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I will say that the M2 is definitely easier to change lenses on, and the combined view/rangefinder makes composing and focusing easier.

However, there is a certain old fashioned quaintness with the IIIG. Neither camera is intimidating to others (compared to a digital SLR with giant zoom), but the IIIG definitely has that "little jewel" quality with its knobs and dials. It has a decent viewfinder frameline for the 50mm focal length, and 90mm corner makers. The viewfinder is centered over the lens, so that there is no lateral parallax. A recently serviced IIIG is smooth to use. By running your pointing finger along the front of the wind knob, you can wind the film. Or, you can obtain a Leicavit trigger winder for the fastest in manual winding. I use both options on my IIIG (I prefer the Leicavit, though).

With both cameras, rewinding is a knob affair, so no difference there. The fastest way to rewind is to twist the knob and move the camera in the opposite direction with the other hand. This is the same for both cameras.

Back to the viewfinders - both lack framelines for 135mm, so you will need an external viewfinder for either camera. I wear glasses, and I still do have to roam around the viewfinder to see the corners on my M4-2, which also has a 0.72x viewfinder. So, you may end up using external viewfinders for lenses wider than 50mm anyway, even with the M2.

With respect to the rangefinder, the 1.5X magnification of the IIIG actually gives it a slightly longer effective baselength compared to the 0.72x M cameras. The IIIG rangefinder also gives you diopter correction for your eyesight, which is lacking in the M cameras. The downside is that rangefinding and viewfinding are two separate acts on the Barnack camera. The downside to the Barnacks is lack of adjustment for minimum focus. The M series offers RF adjustment at infinity and at 1m (or 0.7m). For the LTM cameras, minimum focus accuracy is matter of accumulating tolerances, as the RF is adjusted only for infinity. The M2 RF is cemented together with Canada balsam, so there is a risk of element separation. On the IIIG, the only parts of the RF that may need replacement are the mirror, or the beamsplitter. Don Goldberg, and I'm sure others, have those parts.

Flash: Both synch at 1/50. The M2 has the Leica specific flash plugs that the M3 has, which means that you'll require an adapter for your flash cord. The IIIG has a standard PC flash synch port.

Lenses: the M2 can obviously take all LTM lenses with an adapter, as well as the M bayonet lenses. This gives you the widest lens selection. Of course, if you have to have what is technically the best lenses, you can put the latest APO ASPH lenses on your M2 (at a correspondingly high expense).
However, I have found the series of LTM lenses by Voigtlander to be of extremely high quality, and great value for the money. Many have been discontinued, but some are still available new from Cameraquest.

I would say get the IIIG if your personality likes unique and off beat. The M2 is certainly easier to use if you've used any modern camera. The usual RFF answer is - get both!
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Old 09-11-2016   #14
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I'm totally biased for the M2 since it was my first Leica over 40 years ago. It has been a workhorse and never let me down
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Old 09-11-2016   #15
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I have a IIIf and a Bessa-R (not a Leica M-2 but similar size and a similar viewfinder-rangefinder .68/M-2 is .72). The Bessa-R is much easier to work with, but I do use both - mainly because I keep my IIIf and collapsable 5cm Elmar lens tucked away in my shoulder bag. It is really tiny! So on Friday afternoon when I felt like taking some shots on my way to the metro stop, I reached into my bag and took out my IIIf. When space is at a premium the Barnack cameras are best; I would not carry my Bessa-R set up in my shoulder bag every day. Something to consider . . .
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Old 09-11-2016   #16
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As Traveller has said, the screw mount camera body will be a touch smaller. Which 50 are you planning to use - a rigid or collapsible one?

No one has suggested this yet: get both and decide which to keep based on your experience. I'd suggest though that everyone should have both a screw mount and an M mount.

Maybe after you've paid for the car repair.
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Old 09-11-2016   #17
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I like the smaller size, the higher rf magnification and the built-in diopter of the screwmounts. Contrary to just about anyone else, I find them easier to load too.

But no rule without an exception ... IIIg versus M2 - M2 no doubt.
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Old 09-11-2016   #18
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Barnack and collapsible 50 is something special. But some people aren't good with viewfinders on these cameras. I don't know how better is G one comparing older ones.
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Old 09-11-2016   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankS View Post
As Traveller has said, the screw mount camera body will be a touch smaller. Which 50 are you planning to use - a rigid or collapsible one?

No one has suggested this yet: get both and decide which to keep based on your experience. I'd suggest though that everyone should have both a screw mount and an M mount.

Maybe after you've paid for the car repair.
yes frank the car repair has somewhat made me rethink plans or rather changed my plans slightly but GAS is what it is, a camera clinic owner has offered me an M2 body for £375 and I have a canon ltm 50, (with adapter), to fit it but the IIIg appeals so ,uch to me and keeps nagging me
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Old 09-11-2016   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lai View Post
I will say that the M2 is definitely easier to change lenses on, and the combined view/rangefinder makes composing and focusing easier.

However, there is a certain old fashioned quaintness with the IIIG. Neither camera is intimidating to others (compared to a digital SLR with giant zoom), but the IIIG definitely has that "little jewel" quality with its knobs and dials. It has a decent viewfinder frameline for the 50mm focal length, and 90mm corner makers. The viewfinder is centered over the lens, so that there is no lateral parallax. A recently serviced IIIG is smooth to use. By running your pointing finger along the front of the wind knob, you can wind the film. Or, you can obtain a Leicavit trigger winder for the fastest in manual winding. I use both options on my IIIG (I prefer the Leicavit, though).

With both cameras, rewinding is a knob affair, so no difference there. The fastest way to rewind is to twist the knob and move the camera in the opposite direction with the other hand. This is the same for both cameras.

Back to the viewfinders - both lack framelines for 135mm, so you will need an external viewfinder for either camera. I wear glasses, and I still do have to roam around the viewfinder to see the corners on my M4-2, which also has a 0.72x viewfinder. So, you may end up using external viewfinders for lenses wider than 50mm anyway, even with the M2.

With respect to the rangefinder, the 1.5X magnification of the IIIG actually gives it a slightly longer effective baselength compared to the 0.72x M cameras. The IIIG rangefinder also gives you diopter correction for your eyesight, which is lacking in the M cameras. The downside is that rangefinding and viewfinding are two separate acts on the Barnack camera. The downside to the Barnacks is lack of adjustment for minimum focus. The M series offers RF adjustment at infinity and at 1m (or 0.7m). For the LTM cameras, minimum focus accuracy is matter of accumulating tolerances, as the RF is adjusted only for infinity. The M2 RF is cemented together with Canada balsam, so there is a risk of element separation. On the IIIG, the only parts of the RF that may need replacement are the mirror, or the beamsplitter. Don Goldberg, and I'm sure others, have those parts.

Flash: Both synch at 1/50. The M2 has the Leica specific flash plugs that the M3 has, which means that you'll require an adapter for your flash cord. The IIIG has a standard PC flash synch port.

Lenses: the M2 can obviously take all LTM lenses with an adapter, as well as the M bayonet lenses. This gives you the widest lens selection. Of course, if you have to have what is technically the best lenses, you can put the latest APO ASPH lenses on your M2 (at a correspondingly high expense).
However, I have found the series of LTM lenses by Voigtlander to be of extremely high quality, and great value for the money. Many have been discontinued, but some are still available new from Cameraquest.

I would say get the IIIG if your personality likes unique and off beat. The M2 is certainly easier to use if you've used any modern camera. The usual RFF answer is - get both!
GET both.........a philosophy that leads to a Divorce
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Old 09-11-2016   #21
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M2. It's a much better user.

But this is a call you really should make yourself by handling both.

The beauty of the previous Barnacks was diminished with the III G and it's bigger VF.
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Old 09-11-2016   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lai View Post
I will say that the M2 is definitely easier to change lenses on, and the combined view/rangefinder makes composing and focusing easier.

However, there is a certain old fashioned quaintness with the IIIG. Neither camera is intimidating to others (compared to a digital SLR with giant zoom), but the IIIG definitely has that "little jewel" quality with its knobs and dials. It has a decent viewfinder frameline for the 50mm focal length, and 90mm corner makers. The viewfinder is centered over the lens, so that there is no lateral parallax. A recently serviced IIIG is smooth to use. By running your pointing finger along the front of the wind knob, you can wind the film. Or, you can obtain a Leicavit trigger winder for the fastest in manual winding. I use both options on my IIIG (I prefer the Leicavit, though).

With both cameras, rewinding is a knob affair, so no difference there. The fastest way to rewind is to twist the knob and move the camera in the opposite direction with the other hand. This is the same for both cameras.

Back to the viewfinders - both lack framelines for 135mm, so you will need an external viewfinder for either camera. I wear glasses, and I still do have to roam around the viewfinder to see the corners on my M4-2, which also has a 0.72x viewfinder. So, you may end up using external viewfinders for lenses wider than 50mm anyway, even with the M2.

With respect to the rangefinder, the 1.5X magnification of the IIIG actually gives it a slightly longer effective baselength compared to the 0.72x M cameras. The IIIG rangefinder also gives you diopter correction for your eyesight, which is lacking in the M cameras. The downside is that rangefinding and viewfinding are two separate acts on the Barnack camera. The downside to the Barnacks is lack of adjustment for minimum focus. The M series offers RF adjustment at infinity and at 1m (or 0.7m). For the LTM cameras, minimum focus accuracy is matter of accumulating tolerances, as the RF is adjusted only for infinity. The M2 RF is cemented together with Canada balsam, so there is a risk of element separation. On the IIIG, the only parts of the RF that may need replacement are the mirror, or the beamsplitter. Don Goldberg, and I'm sure others, have those parts.

Flash: Both synch at 1/50. The M2 has the Leica specific flash plugs that the M3 has, which means that you'll require an adapter for your flash cord. The IIIG has a standard PC flash synch port.

Lenses: the M2 can obviously take all LTM lenses with an adapter, as well as the M bayonet lenses. This gives you the widest lens selection. Of course, if you have to have what is technically the best lenses, you can put the latest APO ASPH lenses on your M2 (at a correspondingly high expense).
However, I have found the series of LTM lenses by Voigtlander to be of extremely high quality, and great value for the money. Many have been discontinued, but some are still available new from Cameraquest.

I would say get the IIIG if your personality likes unique and off beat. The M2 is certainly easier to use if you've used any modern camera. The usual RFF answer is - get both!

some people would say offbeat describes me well, as for get both....the wife would kill me
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Old 09-11-2016   #23
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I just looked at M3 VF with both eyes open. It smokes all other cameras VF and frame lines I have used up to now with both eyes open and 50 lens. If G VF indentical to M3, it is better to M2.
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Old 09-11-2016   #24
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The LTM cameras before the IIIG had squinty little viewfinders without framelines. So, you composed with a fuzzy edged tunnel on the IIIF and earlier. The "ugly" (I disagree) IIIG viewfinder housing makes a VF that is beautiful to look through. Magnification is about 0.5X, so you can't do the two eyes open focusing routine that you can do with an M3, or an M2 with the 1.25X viewfinder magnifier screwed in.

I also do have a Bessa R. So, if finances are tight, you may want to obtain one of these. They take LTM lenses, and there is a built in light meter which is highly accurate. I view it as the M6 of LTM cameras. However, it looks thoroughly modern.

Doing the currency conversion, the M2 has an asking price of about $500 US. This leads me to suspect that it may be a beater. Check for dents, gouges, and marks. Bright marks are common on the top plate from an accessory meter. One of the things I look for is the integrity of the paint on the back door frame. If that is intact, then the camera has probably been babied, and spent much time in its case.

For all cameras of this age (M2 or IIIG), unless they have been serviced (with receipts given to you), you will have to assume that they need to be serviced before use. So, technically I own an M2, M3 and M5 (in excellent to mint condition), but they are all with Gus Lazzari awaiting an overhaul. They have been waiting in his queue for the past year and a half.

My current users are an M7, M4-2 and Bessa R. I still use the IIIG, and a Leotax S, and occasionally a Canon 7s (too heavy)....
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Old 09-11-2016   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Huss View Post
M2. It's a much better user.

But this is a call you really should make yourself by handling both.

The beauty of the previous Barnacks was diminished with the III G and it's bigger VF.
"The beauty of the previous Barnacks was diminished with the III G and it's bigger VF.[/quote]"

I agree 100 %, the IIIg does not give that bare bones Barnack experience of the earlier bottomloader Barnack Leicas. That is why I sold my example.
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Old 09-11-2016   #26
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Another vote against the IIIg. Kudos to Leitz for keeping the Barnack dream alive after the M3 was released, but the IIIg comes across as overcooked. Prior models are attractive for being simple and small. The M2 operates at another level (immersive VF, quiet shutter, bigger body) if you're into that stuff. I prefer my IIIb over M4 these days, unless an M lens needs to be deployed.
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Old 09-11-2016   #27
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I doubt you will be disappointed with either camera. Personally, I love using the Barnack LTMs, including the IIIg.

However, when I am trying to work quickly there is no substitute for an M, whether that be an M2 or any of the other Ms. My personal favorite is an M-A but it is only the latest iteration of the great M3, M2 and M4 cameras.

If I were left with a choice such as yours I am not absolutely certain what I would do. I would probably stay with the M-A.
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Old 09-12-2016   #28
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The Barnack cameras are primitive, small and quietly interesting!
In my opinion and experiences, read the following with caution.
Certain cameras seem to evoke specific styles of photographs..
Rollei TLR all seem 40' to 60's! My Rollei is my "tree" camera.
The original Leica Barnack "seem to make" very different images.
Kind of mysterious images, if original lenses are used.
The M models and their lenses are modern.
Maybe the softer images, a certain flare, all add to the look.

I agree the M2 on paper is better.
Your eye and heart may feel different!
Try use one with original 50mm Elmar or Summar.

I have only borrowed Barnack from friends..
I own a M2 and M3 which is my favorite M.
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Old 09-12-2016   #29
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I've had both and the M2 is still with me. The lllg is a nice camera but in terms of usability the viewfinder is not up to it in my opinion ... or at least I should say nowhere near the M2.
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Old 09-12-2016   #30
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I have an M2, but not a IIIg or any other "Barnack" Leica.

The IIIg is definitely more quaint, but honestly, the M2 is a thing of beauty in every way.

And as another matter of fact, combined range/viewfinder trumps separate range/viewfinder windows every time. For me, Rangefinders are about quickness. Separate composition and focusing steps have not the quickness.

EDIT: Can I go completely offbeat and say, if you want a 50 and something compact and somewhere between the quaint IIIg and the beautiful M2, a Retina IIa might be an option?
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Old 09-12-2016   #31
michaelwj
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M2 for using any day of the week.

You can also mount M lenses to an M2 along with anything you can mount to the Barnack which must more than double your options (not always a good thing mind you).
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Old 09-12-2016   #32
Erik van Straten
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The IIIg is smaller and lighter. When you have a good rangefinder image, and only shoot 50mm lenses, the camera is as good as an M2, but keep in mind that (via an adapter) M Leicas accept screw mount lenses, but screw mount Leicas do not accept M lenses.

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Old 09-13-2016   #33
FrankS
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Following along Erik's comment about lens mounts and lens options, your camera choice should take into account what cameras you have already.

I'm a believer in letting the camera find you. If offered a good deal, that could be the universe trying to give you direction.

In any case, it's fun to think about a new camera. Enjoy the anticipation!
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Old 09-13-2016   #34
grouchos_tash
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I have an M6 which is almost too easy top use haha

I also had a IIIf which I actually miss. It was a bit of a pain to load but to be fair I tend not to shoot more than one film in a day. It was lighter and I found the focusing to be easier than the M6 due to the magnification. I also really enjoyed the SBOOI viewfinder, it was so clear and bright!
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Old 09-13-2016   #35
megido
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As Erik said, the iiig is smaller and lighter, but I could not live with the finder blockage from any 50mm larger than the Elmar 3.5. Otherwise I would have kept it.
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Old 09-15-2016   #36
GarageBoy
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M2 first, IIIg later would be how I'd roll
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Old 09-15-2016   #37
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Quite honestly, I'd not bother with the IIIg. It's a bit of a b*stardized Barnack (I've had one) and I think I'd rather have a IIIc or IIIf: again, I've had both.

It's true that although the M2 is only slightly bigger objectively, it feels a lot bigger subjectively, so for me, the big advantage of a screw Leica is its small size. At that, it's not decisive. I still have a IIIa and I used it very little after I got my first M.

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Old 09-15-2016   #38
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Over the past year I have exposed 132 rolls of film in my Leica M-A and 26 rolls in my M3 (I do not own an M2.) I own several Barnack LTM cameras (5 or 6 at last count) and the only one with over 10 exposures this past year is the Leica Null, and it certainly is not a quick camera to use. Obviously, though I like the Barnack LTM cameras, I consider the Leica M design to be a much better user camera.

Of course, as in anything, your mileage will vary.
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Old 09-15-2016   #39
leica M2 fan
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Well I only have the M2 which is superb in every respect and a IIIb which I do like
very much. I think I would rather stick with the M2 over the G.
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Old 09-15-2016   #40
lxmike
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thank you for all the replies...food for thought, a wealth of information, l suppose another question would be M2 or M3 but l guess there are other threads that have answered this question before
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