M4-P: Almost perfect?
Old 08-11-2018   #1
farlymac
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M4-P: Almost perfect?

I'll keep this short, and to the point.

I finally got a chance to take my newest Leica out for a spin, getting some photos of the environmental damage a large gas pipeline installation can do to the Earth.

The camera fills the spot in the bag where the CL used to sit, it now being relegated to one of the corner spaces. Which is just fine, because now I can have both cameras on a shoot without much bother of having to change lenses.

The Summicron-C 40 was on the M, while the VC Color-Skopar 21 remained on the CL with the VC zoom finder. That left the VC Ultron 28, VC Super Wide-Heliar 15, and Elmar-C 90 to occupy the other corners in the bag. I got the Winder M4-2 for it, but after hearing that noise which makes one think the shutter curtains could be ripped out at any moment, I decided to box it back up. (BTW, I ordered a Rapidwinder for it today).

Others have already raved about their Leica rangefinder gear, so I'll just say the only thing that could make the M4-P perfect is if it had a built-in diopter adjustment. It already has everything else I want.

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Old 08-11-2018   #2
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it's nice when when the gear fits the person.
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Old 08-11-2018   #3
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I sold clean M4-P and keeping trashed M4-2. I sold 40mm lens as well. Taste is different .

I'd rather see pipelines than paying for oil from sarabia.
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Old 08-12-2018   #4
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A lot depends on sample variation. My M4-P (first ever new Leica) was/is one of the worst I ever owned: rough wind-on (it's since smoothed out a lot), with an appalling black chrome finish that wore very badly, and I once managed to bend the rather flimsy rewind crank. I prefer my M2 and MP.

This sounds like I'm raining on your parade, which was not my intention -- but how many other Ms have you ever used?

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Old 08-12-2018   #5
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I've had my hands on every (non metered) Leica except the M-A and my M4-P is probably the ugliest of the bunch. That said it's still my favorite. I've compared it directly to a newly serviced M2 and preferred the more tactile mechanical feedback from the advance lever compared to the M2 which was a bit loose in its operation in comparison.

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Old 08-12-2018   #6
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Mr Hicks point is well taken. I also am a one Leica owner. Haven’t even had the opportunity to handle various models of the M film cameras. So, naturally, at least as far as 35mm RF goes, I believe my M4-2 is just the cats pajamas.
Now, 35mm overall, I’m afraid I still pefer SLR platforms. Just a personal preference of course.
Isn’t it wonderful we all like different cameras? Otherwise there surely wouldn’t be enough of “the one perfect” model to go around.
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Old 08-12-2018   #7
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Nice to read it gels with you. I really like mine, bought from another member here years ago. It’s not pretty, has a patch of vulcanite missing, but just has that certain something I love. But then i say to that about all my Ms ;-)
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Old 08-12-2018   #8
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There’s something beautiful and utilitarian about the M4-P. Until you get to the red dot on the front, right where my finger sits and makes it feel like it’s going to slip out of my grasp. Apart from that it’s an excellent M.
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leica --make your cameras eyeglass friendly
Old 08-12-2018   #9
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leica --make your cameras eyeglass friendly

Having used many leica film rangefinders my only long-term gripe is their squinty viewfinders which never took eyeglass wearers into consideration. If Zeiss can address those concerns with the Zeiss ZM why won't Leica??
It is past time for Leica to improve their eye relief and to make their viewfinders adaptable to diopter adjustment.
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Old 08-12-2018   #10
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Ah, I knew this would happen.

Perfection is always in the eye of the beholder, that's why I didn't go all gushy over the little details. Everyone has their own set of prerequisites of what a perfect camera would be like. So I refrain from denigrating any other brand/model/format.

I've owned quite a few cameras over the years, from 16mm to 4x5, and to me it has always been how the camera functions, what features set it contains, and how it feels to operate it. If the controls are in the wrong place, or too small to manipulate, or too fussy in the order they have to be operated, then it's just not for me, no matter how good the glass is.

The closest thing I have had to an M up to this date is the Yashica YF, the last of their interchangeable lens rangefinder models that were a holdover from the end of the Nicca designs. It looks like an M, has a winding lever, a flip-up back door for the film loading, bottom loads, and with a combined range/viewfinder including bright frames for 50mm and 100mm lenses (you use the whole finder for 35mm). But in usage, it's more akin to my Zorki-6 than a Leica M. It feels rough, still uses LTM mount lenses, and makes more shutter noise.

I've danced around this whole Leica thing for years, buying FSU gear first to see if I would like the form factor of the Barnack design, and then going through their series of improvements to the original in order to find what really appealed to me. It was quite the education, and I found a couple of favorites, but they are still Soviet built iterations of the real thing. A Nicca III-S, and Canon P got me closer, but not close enough.

To answer more directly Roger's question as to how many M's have I owned, well, this is the first one. But it's not my first Leica. That would be an R3 that came with the 28mm lens. But it has a meter fault (only works in one mode), so it was replaced with an R7. This was my "cheap" way to get into Leica because the lenses were quite affordable at the time, say a third of the price of M lenses of equal focal length. So I was hooked.

Then wanting to be able to use the M mount for speed of changing (faster than the Nikon S mount), I purchased a CL with the 40 and 90 -C lenses. I kitted it out with Voigtlander lenses to have the capability of shooting very wide angle with the 15mm Heliar, again saving quite a bit on the cost of the same in Leica.

After a few rolls though it was quite evident to me that though the compact design has its place in the way I do photography, it was not as an everyday camera. The M4-P hits the buttons for me. It's easier to hold and operate, has bright frame lines in the finder for 28-35-50-75-90-135mm lenses, so I can relegate the CL to using the 21 and 15. Faster loading system. Love the rewind crank. And it is so smooth in operation.

I considered an M2, Roger, but those have gone up in price recently. In fact, I looked at all the M film models to see what their features were. I thought maybe a M6 Classic would be the best with a built in meter, but like my CL you can't use collapsible lenses on it without some risk. And it added $500 to the base cost of the model. So I found this good looking M4-P at Igor's, and went for it. It was pre-dinged, so I wasn't obligated to keep it pristine for resale value. I want to use the dang thing! Being used, it also has the "already broke in" factor, and has been serviced at least once (the C seal has been replaced by a big glob).

Maybe some day I'll still get that M2, but for now I'll stick with what I got. I noticed, Roger, you didn't say you got rid of your M4-P. Do you take it out every so often to exercise it properly?

If I could get some of the other distractions in my life under control, I'd be using the living daylights out of a few more of my cameras, and maybe learn a thing or two along the way. But for now, I'll be happy getting to know the M4-P better.

To each their own, but keep shooting.

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Old 08-12-2018   #11
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Happy to hear You found your 'M' ... when it feels right to the eye & hand
then nothing will stop You

For me it's the M5... something so smooth in it's click, love it's size & weight keeps me steady

Congrats~ Enjoy!
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Old 08-12-2018   #12
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The M4-P is the only M series camera I've ever used and have never been disappointed with it. I couple it with a 35/2 Summicron, a 21/4 Color Skopar or an 90/2.8 Elmarit. It may not be the prettiest of the M series, but I don't care about that -- by now it's well-brassed but works perfectly. I find it easy & intuitive to use.
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Old 08-12-2018   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by summar View Post
The M4-P is the only M series camera I've ever used and have never been disappointed with it. I couple it with a 35/2 Summicron, a 21/4 Color Skopar or an 90/2.8 Elmarit. It may not be the prettiest of the M series, but I don't care about that -- by now it's well-brassed but works perfectly. I find it easy & intuitive to use.
All Ms are pretty similar, except the M5. The smoothest I've had have been M3s; the roughest, the M4P in question (but it's a lot smoother now). It really doesn't matter much.

I still have the M2, M4-P and MP, but one of the strap lugs pulled out of my M2 unexpectedly a few weeks ago so it's out of commission until I can be bothered to get it fixed. I sold an M3 and an M2 to get down to just 3 Ms when I got the MP.

They're all pretty well worn but the black chrome M4-P is undoubtedly the ugliest. I've also had two Leicas that were "too valuable to use": a mint, boxed IIIg and a black M3. I can't see the point in trashing a valuable or mint vintage camera, when you could sell it and buy a lot more usable kit that's cosmetically less pretty: it strikes me as brain-dead macho vandalism. And besides I'd rather have an M2 than an M3. Fair wear and tear on a new camera is another matter entirely, as my M4-P and MP bear witness. And my M9, for that matter. With used, as Farlymac says, buy it "pre-dinged". Interesting than an M2 should now cost more than an M4-P.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 08-12-2018   #14
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I've have about thirteen Leica M film cameras since 1970 or so. Nearly all models. I liked the M4-P so much I had two of them, simultaneously for a while. Never a problem with either.

I sold all my M cameras in 2004, then went back in for a film M in 2011. I picked the M4-2 instead of the M4-P due to the simpler frame line set and the earlier M4 style viewfinder optics. (Less flaring of the rangefinder patch...) But that's neither here nor there.

Enjoy your M! whatever model it is, if it suits you, it's a great camera.
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Old 08-13-2018   #15
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I took almost the same route as you did. My first m mount camera was a CL. After about 20-30 rolls I realized that even though it's a super nice camera, far superior to any of my other cameras, what I actually wanted was an M body. I purchased the M4P in late November 2017 and haven't looked back since.

Enjoy it, it's a fantastic camera! Plus you don't have to worry about actually using it and maybe scratching your camera
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Old 08-13-2018   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbharrill1 View Post
I took almost the same route as you did. My first m mount camera was a CL. After about 20-30 rolls I realized that even though it's a super nice camera, far superior to any of my other cameras, what I actually wanted was an M body. I purchased the M4P in late November 2017 and haven't looked back since.

Enjoy it, it's a fantastic camera! Plus you don't have to worry about actually using it and maybe scratching your camera
I saw this in a pick-up truck commercial: "Those aren't scratches, they're character lines."

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Old 08-13-2018   #17
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I have quite a few Ms and the one I like the least is the digital one...
All the film ones are just so nice to use. Some nicer than others, but as I can only use one at a time, I'm always loving the camera I'm using!
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Old 08-13-2018   #18
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I like the M4-P for its full-size framelines. I like my M6, M7, and MP for their strongpoints, but I really wish they had not downsized the framelines just to accommodate the closer minimum focus on these models! And I do like the looks of the M4-P. I think the red dot looks best placed down on the cover, and not on the top plate. And I think the black chrome is right for it. A very classy camera if you ask me! Yes, nearly perfect.
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Old 08-14-2018   #19
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I'm with Helen. I also have an M5 and I love using it and the pictures I create with it.


Some years ago I had an M9 and I didn't like it. Yes, the pictures I created with the M9 I liked a lot, but the feeling was "poor".


The most importante thing is the feeling you have with your camera, and if it is an M-4P or M5 or M2... it doesn't matter.


Congrats and enjoy it!
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