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Roger Hicks -- Author of The Rangefinder Book

Roger Hicks is a well known photographic writer, author of The Rangefinder Book, over three dozen other photographic books, and a frequent contributor to Shutterbug and Amateur Photographer. Unusually in today's photographic world, most of his camera reviews are film cameras, especially rangefinders. See www.rogerandfrances.com for further background (Frances is his wife Frances Schultz, acknowledged darkroom addict and fellow Shutterbug contributor) .

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Old 06-28-2014   #41
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When I was a teenager (a long time ago) I learned 35mm photography on my father's IIIf with the classic Elmar 50/3.5. Later, when he bought an M4-P, he gave me the IIIf. I inherited the M4-P. Both are still performing like new and I use them regularly. When you're accustomed to them, shooting with a Leica is intuitive, and the quality of the lenses and mechanics is always satisfying.
My father wouldn't think of using any camera but a Leica.
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Old 06-28-2014   #42
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Just wanted to see what they were like so in 2009 I took some of the money that I had saved up to buy a 5D MrkII and used it to purchase a M4-2 and Summarit 5cm lenses, Since then I've tried an M5, M6 and M8 before finally ending up with my current M8.
M. Cary
Trying to see something new whither I'm visiting someplace new or a place that I've visited many a time before.

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Old 06-28-2014   #43
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I'd been playing with russians since the fall of the wall. The zorki 6 felt like a maniac exhibitionist girlfriend. It's an ok camera, but it frivolously opened it"s back on about two out of three films I put through it. She is like a girlfriend who has gone astray not once or twice, but repeatedly; there is no trust between us. The fed, with the F.E.Dzherzinski marking, was fun to use, but it had a gummy lens. A fed 3 started falling apart as soon as I used it. The zorki 2-C is a bit of a pain, small and fuzzy viewfinders, and switching from focusing to framing is a hassle.
Lately I got a fed 2, and I was rather happy with it. The viewfinder is on a par with the zorki 6, the film loading is reasonably practical, and it doesn't mind wether you change speeds before or after cocking the shutter.

But then, surfing the world wide interwebs, I discovered that, allowing for a little scraping, an old M was quite affordable. Having read multiple glowing reviews of the M3 and its' extraordinary viewfinder (one of which i found on Mr. Hicks' excellent website), I scraped, I found one I liked on fleabay, I bid for it and lost the bid at the last minute. Oh the thumping of the heart! Grand expectation, unsatisfied.
But the same seller had an M2 for sale, and I got that one.

Looking through the viewfinder of the M2 changed my life. I'm no spring puppy, most of the formative and truly surprising moments of my life have happened quite a few years ago, but looking through the M2 was just such a moment for me. That it was followed by the sweet kiss of the shutter made this into a spiritual experience. The clunks and clatters of hasselblads and nikons have long been a big part of my photographic experience, and the russian rangefinders are rather discreet, compared to slr cameras, but the leica's shutter is a kiss, a whisper that only the photographer hears.

Of course, this meant that I really had to have an M3. And I got one. And it was the right choice. The M3 sports a 50, the M2 carries a 28. I carry one, or the other, or both.

The M2 lost it's rewind button (it's an early one, with the push-button), so that has to be repaired.

Still, I'm sold. I'll be a leica fanboy for the rest of my life, I'm afraid.


photos by lukitas
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Old 06-28-2014   #44
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This is where I saw my first Leica; where I held my first Leica. I was a kid that wandered in off the streets, and was instantly mesmerized. I couldn't afford a Leica, but that didn't stop me from buying a Minolta 7s; the first camera I ever bought.

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Old 06-28-2014   #45
... likes film.
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My father gave me his Agfa-box when I was about 10 years old and later let me use his Robot Junior with the amazing Schneider-Kreuznach lens. This raised my interest into photography and I started buying and reading photo books, the most fascinating a collection of 50 years LIFE photographs, which I studied over and over. At the end of high-school I bought my first serious camera, a Nikon FM with 50/1.4 lens. Later I added an F3HP, 105/2.5, 24/2.8, and 200/4. That was my kit for about 18 years until I went to Japan.

When the D70 came out I got fascinated by the possibilities digital offered and how easy it was to get some nice pictures with only a few mouse-clicks. Some time later I replaced the D70 with a D1x and added a 17-55DX and also 70-200VR lenses. The D1x with 17-55DX became my standard kit for a couple of years but two things started bugging me. At first it was very difficult to use that camera in low-light at night (even with a 35/2.0) and second the weight and size. At that time Leica announced the M8.

I had never forgotten about the Leica camera and some of the famous photographers who used this camera masterfully. The M8 was out of reach financially so I bought a new Epson R-D1s instead with a couple of CV lenses. This compact and light camera - when compared to my D1x - was much better suited for my style of photography and only a couple of month later the D1x and the zoom lenses got sold and replaced by a Leica M6 classic and a 35mm Summilux pre-ASPH. I also again started developing BW film by my own after a long break since my high-school days, which got me even more hooked. Since then many Leica cameras and lenses have come and gone, the fascination and fun when using Leicas has never deceased.
- Gabor

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Old 06-28-2014   #46
Emile de Leon
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1st time I saw a Leica in the flesh..was in the mid 60's..it was my pops..my older brother had it..it was an LTM..
I thought it was the ugliest and most old fashioned cam in the world..I was 9..I wanted a Nikon slr..that was the good one..or so I thought..
Fast forward 20 years..saw an M6 reviewed in Modern Photography mag..thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world..couldn't afford it...
Fast forward 5 years..sold my Toyota Celica with over 100K on it..and bought an M3 kit w/DR from Peipuls camers shop in Holyoke Ma..I wanted the M2 that sat next to it....but he steered me away from..he said that one has problems..
the M3...was a dentists cam..and mint with case and all the fixins..
About a year later got the M6..brand new..
But the M3 was the 1st..
And the 1st Leica..is always..the best..
My last Leica though..I got a couple of years ago in a trade..an LTM..
Man..that has to be the best Leica ..ever..hahaha!
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Old 06-28-2014   #47
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I have been photographing since the mid 80's. Always had a weakness for landscape photography and usually thought that a person in the shot just ruined it. I still think so but I always wonder why. So, a few years back I set out to figure out why. I hate posed pictures. Shortly after, I also stumbled upon street photography and Leica. Have not looked back. I continue to practice landscape photography but it is the only time I use my dslr and digital. I have an M2, IIIf, and a minolta CLE. Absolutely love them. I continue to work hard at getting better at street shooting.
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Old 06-28-2014   #48
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I had always used Nikon cameras and lenses, and had a three year long romance with the Hasselblad V system. I became interested in Leica cameras and lenses in 2002 and when Leica introduced the MP in 2003, I took the plunge by purchasing a black paint MP 0.72 and a 50mm Summilux (non-ASPH) from Tamarkin, then located in NYC.

Over the years, Leica M cameras and lenses have slowly taken over my photographic endeavors to the point that now I hardly ever shoot with anything other than my M kit. As for that black paint MP, I traded it in on a black M240 a couple of montha ago. Not to be thrown out of the film shooting racket, I still have an M4-P to use with my M lenses.

I also shoot panoramics with my XPAN II and its 45mm f/4 lens, and occasionally put a roll of film through my Rollei 35SE to keep it from stiffening up.
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Old 06-28-2014   #49
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It was 1967 and I'd been using Pentaxes a few years. I had a new Spotmatic and was looking for a second body for a wide lens. Olympic Camera Center in Seattle showed me a 9-year used M2, and it was sweet to handle and operate. Besides, many "hero photographers" used Leica. That M2 was $150, and they suggested a new 35mm Summicron for $164.50. I was set, and still have that gear. When the CLE came out about 1982 I got one for the AE and lens compatibility. Still have that too. In some ways I preferred to use the CLE but the M2 clearly had it on quiet precision.
Dougís Gallery
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Old 06-28-2014   #50
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In the 1950s and '60s, a couple of uncles of mine shot Leicas. I became (dimly) aware of them at that time. Around 1970s, one of said uncles got me a Nikon F, which I used for many years. Work and family intervened, but about ten years ago I found myself in a position to resume a beloved pasttime, and I started investigating rangefinders including Leicas. At that point, it became a matter of simply biding my time until a Leica came along at a good price. One did (an M2). I've still got it. And I've picked a couple more Leicas since.

FS: Zeiss-ZM Planar 50 plus hood, Pentax MX, Voigtlander Ultron 40/2.0 SLII in Pentax K-mount, Takumar 100/2.8 and 35/3.5 lenses: See my ads in Classifieds

M3, M2, R2A, IIIc, IVSB2, & T, and assorted LTM & M lenses
Minolta XD11, Pentax ME Super, and assorted MD Rokkor and Takumar lenses, Rolleicord III, Rolleicord Vb, Rolleiflex Automat MX-EVS

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Old 06-28-2014   #51
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Bought my first Leica, a IIIc when a freshman in college in the late 60's. I already had an slr (Mamiya/Sekor 1000tl) but was always looking at Leica's and Contax's. One summer, I finally scraped up the $49 to by the body at one of the many camera shops that lined 32nd street in NYC back then. It took another couple of weeks before I could afford a collapsable 5l0mm 1.9 Canon Seranar for another $39. Like Roger, still have the same IIIc traded the Canon for something else-- a 35mm 3.5 Summaron I think. The rest was history
Fuji GS 645, Nettar 6x6, Kiev III and a bunch of other stuff
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Old 06-28-2014   #52
Ride, dive, shoot.
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I started shooting when I was 12 or 13 with a beaten up SLR to document my motorcycle racing team's races.

Fast forward many years, I got a Zorki-4 by chance that introduced me to rangefinder photography. I lost the Zorki in an unfortunate circumstance, and I went back to shooting with FM3a for a few years.

Then I bumped into RFF. I was browsing for a while as a guest without registering, and I finally decided to give RF camera another try. That was M6 classic 0.85. Well that got me hooked. From there, there was no turning back. I went through M6, M4, M3, M2, MP, M4-P, CL, M8.2, M9-P, and M9. Now I'm settled with M Monochrom, and I'm about to get another M2 which I'm intending to keep indefinitely.
- Sug

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Old 06-28-2014   #53
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Desperation, pure and simple.

Unfortunately, for what I like to do most of the time nothing beats the M9 and a nice lens.

I tried alot of the options.

Luckily, M9s are not as expensive as they were.

For me, the romance is simply the results.

The camera itself is simple, which I like, but way too big, too heavy, and for high speed work above 35mm, it is not very easy to focus.

Not to mention you can't close focus at all.

bla bla, I love the thing, but I hope someday for compact FF M with live view and decent focus aids.

Back in the day I thought the Canon FTb was the "S" LOL
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Old 06-28-2014   #54
Ronald M
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I had multiple Spotmatics and a dozen lenses. Problem was I simply could not make a print the same quality as the B&W paper sample books. A neighbor loaned me an M3 and without changing anything else, the prints got a certain luminosity and were quite lovely.

Digital came and I bought Nikon as Leica had nothing, but then a son of mine bought a M8 used. I bought one also and a M9p later.
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Old 06-28-2014   #55
Charles Binns
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Ken Tootell - funny sounding name of a dapper Lancastrian who showed me to the 'clocking on station', my first day at work August 6th 1968. A week later he showed me his M2 and the fine Monochrome prints he had made, he also decided I was going to become a Photographer. The cost of a Leica seemed way beyond reach - but aspirational seeds had been sown. Early 20's I bought a Leica IIIg in fine condition, later a fellow worker brought a bag to work and asked 'is this worth anything?'
Bag contained a Leica M3, 35 Summilux with Goggles and other bits of Leica goodness - via the AP Classifieds a fair price was established and it was mine. Fiftieth birthday present from my wife - A Millenium M6, with a rare screw thread 35 F2 Summicron Aspherical giving me a 'Panda' Leica. Sixtieth birthday present from same wife? An M9.

I still own and use all these cameras as well as a good range of accessories and a Focomat 1c and IIc. The IIIg and M3 have both been overhauled by Leica. 90% of my photography though is with the M9 and the 35mm F2.0 despite owning a Nikon outfit as well.

My cup runneth over, they make me very happy to both own and use.
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Old 06-29-2014   #56
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In one of my regular visits to Salvos around two years ago I saw an old camera bag with a price tag of $10. I opened the bag and it was a Leica CL with Summicron-c 40/2. I paid the ten bucks with a huge smile on my face. The body was dead though. Youxin Ye told me that he can't repair it but offered another copy with a working meter . The price was fair and I then bought an Elmar-C 90/4. So my Leica days started with a $10 body and 40/2 lens!
35mm Rangefinder: Leica CL | Yashica Electro 35 GSN | Olympus XA
35mm SLR: Olympus OM2-N | Minolta Maxxum 700si | Minolta Maxxum 9000 | Zenit 12XP | Ricoh KR-10 | Nikon FG-20 | Canon EOS 50
DSLR: Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D
35mm Zonefinder: Olympus Trip 35
35mm P&S: Olympus mju, Olympus mju zoom 140, Minolta Weathermatic 35, Canon ML AF 35
CSC: Sony NEX 5N


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Old 06-29-2014   #57
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My first introduction to photography was through my dad who took all the family photos with a Yashica-Mat. I was then taught the science of photography and the art of the darkroom by a friend when we were 12 years old using a Diana-like plastic camera and the venerable Spotmatic F and projected the negatives through a very serviceable Meopta enlarger. One more camera along the way was another of my dad's acquisitions, a Nikomat with very various Nikon lenses (of which the 50mm f1.4 and 105mm f2.5 were my favorites). My best photographic tutorials was the family subscription to Life Magazine (I was noticing that my favorite photographers used Leica's) and a weekly trip to the public library to load up on any photography books I could find. By my first year in university, I acquired my first M3 with a 50mm f2.8 Elmar and within months I had given that to my girlfriend at the time who was doing photography in her art program. After getting another M3 with a goggled 35mm Summicron, I had a photographic experience of a lifetime! I met a retired Life Magazine photographer, Michael Rougier, who lived just on the outskirts of town where I lived and I bought from him one of his M4's! He offered me a second M4, but the viewfinder window was cracked and being on a student budget, I just didn't have money to get this one and get it fixed. Years later that M4, the M3, and my whole kit of various lenses, viewfinders, etc. were stolen. That was nearly 3 decades ago, and I've been using a non-button M2, a late M4-2, an early M4-P, and a classic M6 since...
I just looked and I see that M. Rougier is still listed in the phone book.
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Old 06-29-2014   #58
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Around 2004, reluctant to jump to digital, disatisfied by recent and declining film SLR, I felt I had a problem.

In the past, some rangefinder experience : a Minolta Cle a long time ago, casually used a nice small Olympus, and had a Linhof 4"x5" I used at times hand-held.

Less needed long or special lenses (evolution in a seasoning amateur life), to the point that I realized that I simple Konica Hexar AF made much of my photo.

When an M7 met me, I took it and didn't looked back since.
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Old 06-29-2014   #59
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I had ridden the bus up to Chicago to shoot on the streets with my Rollei. It was winter and Iíd been out all day working in the cold when I ended up in front of Central Camera. Iíll just go in to warm up while I look at the used cameras, I thought. Turned out it was Demo Day; reps from all the major brands were there. Big crowd at the Leica rep. I knew about the Leica M series, of course; a lot of photographers whose work has always inspired me shot with them. But even used ones cost so much that I had never seriously considered it. Iíd never even handled one. And there also seemed to be a sort of snob or perfectionist factor attached to them that turned me off.

Iíd used rangefinders before: the Olympus XA and a Fuji GS645S, but Iíd never really bonded with either of them. I decided to play with the Leicas to convince myself that I didnít want one, so I wouldnít have to wonder about it any more. After waiting in line I finally got to handle an MP with a 28mm lens. Wow, the finder was amazingly bright. The viewfinder patch was worlds away from the Olympus and Fuji, with crisp edges that you could use like the split screen in my Nikon FM. The controls felt satisfyingly precise, you could move the shutter speed dial with one finger, and the shutter itself was really quiet. The viewfinder offered a different way of seeing than an SLR prism or a waist level ground glass ó one I wasnít used to, but I started thinking maybe I could work with this camera.

I handed it back to the rep, but really couldnít ask him any questions; he was besieged by others asking if there would ever be a digital M (This was before the M8Ö he was non-committal, but they kept pressing him.) I turned to a rep seated beside him, telling him about how I had tried it out to convince myself it wasnít the right camera for me and it was having the opposite effect. ďItís a Leica; whatís not to like?Ē he said. He told me how he used to own one, sold it and regretted it. And this guy was a rep for a different brand.

A while later I found a place that rented me an M7 for a week, and that led to me buying a used M6 with a 35mm f2 from the same era as the body. Itís become my favorite camera, the one that makes me happiest to use and the one I want to take everywhere.
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Old 06-29-2014   #60
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How did I start with Leica?

I really don't know. I think it was a mistake.

I was shooting an SRT102, a K1000 and a Contax II. I thought I was pretty happy with that.

I wanted to shoot digital but every dSLR I tried left me completely unsatisfied.

The M9 was the closest to mechanical I could find while still being digital. So I bought one.

It was an eye opening experience. I loved it. I thought to myself; "If Leica can do this good with digital, what were their film cameras like?"

It has been downhill ever since.

I still have the other 3 and shoot them regularly, but now I shoot a lot of Leicas as well, including that M9.
You gotta love a fast lens;

It is almost as good as a fast horse!
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Old 06-29-2014   #61
Graham Line
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Needed a quiet camera to shoot meeting photos with, and Malone Camera in Dayton, OH had a nice used M2 sitting there the one and only time I was in the store. An adjustment here and there, and it was great.
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I've been forty years discovering that the queen of all colors is black. - Henri Matisse
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Old 06-30-2014   #62
Matt Fidler
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I was a wildlife photographer lugging around Canon 1D bodies and 600 F4 upgraded to 800 F5.6 Canon glass. I then went the 5D mk2 route doing macro and landscapes. The final straw that broke my camels back was after lugging a Lowepro bag with 5D2 and assorted lens plus Gitzo and RRS ballhead up Snowdonia, god that was tiring. I must have been reading a photo mag soon after and saw the Leica M9 as it had not that long been released. A train ticket was soon purchased and i made my way to Leica Mayfair for an M9 experience. Really loved it and was even more amazed when we got back and reviewed the images. The camera was so easy to use, rangefinder focusing was simple enough and i didn't even need a user manual. 1 month later and the order was placed, 3 months later it was in my hands along with a 35mm Cron. I have since sold the M9 and Cron but have missed Leica so much that i am about to purchase an M in a couple of weeks time along with another Cron. I guess you never knew what you had until it's gone.
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Old 06-30-2014   #63
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First real camera was a Nikon F70 which I never really bonded with. Soon replaced by a Nikon FM2n. It was then that I knew that I loved small, heavy cameras with simple dials.

Later, after much deliberation, I bought a Minolta CLE with the 3 lens kit. A true gem of a camera that introduced me to rangefinders.

In the early 2000's I became distracted by digital with first the D70 then the D300 then one day, on a whim, I shot a roll of XP2 with the CLE and I fell in love with the film/rangefinder thing again.

Soon after that I was in a local camera shop that had one small shelf of Leica gear. They had a new MP body. I had just received my tax retrun so it made perfect sense to spend it on a camera body. Strangely it took a little while to bond but it has long since become the camera I would keep above all others.
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MP, M2, M9, CLE
28 Ultron, 35 Summicron Asph, 35 2.8 Summaron, 40 Rokkor, 50 Summilux Asph, 50 collapsible summicron, 75 Summilux, 90 Rokkor
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Old 06-30-2014   #64
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In 1980 a workmate had two cameras for sale. A Pentax Spotmatic with a 50mm lens and a Leica M2 with a 35mm lens.

Either for $100.

I had a Spotmatic, so I bought the Leica.

I still have the Leica, in fact I used it just yesterday.
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Old 06-30-2014   #65
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I can't remember why I switched from Nikon to Leica back 20 + years ago, but once I did I knew I had something special. These days I no longer use Leica, but I will always apprciate the M.
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Old 06-30-2014   #66
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My grandfather use to tell me there is no finer camera then a leica when I was very young (under 10 y/o, he shoots a iiiF) and that stuck. So when I got into photography I spent a number of years drooling over pictures online until I had a job that allowed me to save up and buy my first M6. Haven't looked back since.
Leica M6ttl lhsa + 35 cron asph/50 lux asph
Seattle, WA
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Old 06-30-2014   #67
Ben Z
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I got seriously interested in photography about age 11 after finding a folding Kodak 620 camera in the attic. Before that it was just plastic box cameras, and the pictures never came out well. Having the ability to focus and set aperture and shutter speed opened up a whole new world. And having to set them all by guess (no rangefinder, little DOF, and no lightmeter) was quite a learning experience.

One day my dad brought home a crumpled paper bag. Inside it were 2 Leica screwmount bodies and 4 lenses (35-50-90-135). He had mentioned my interest in photography to a client of his, an elderly bachelor, who said he had some cameras he never used and maybe he (my dad) would buy them off him. I was gobsmacked, because I knew what a Leica was. My dad did not, so after a couple weeks of using the cameras, when it came time to speak with the guy about selling, he wanted $500 for the set and my dad uttered a few profanities and gave the bag of Leicas back. A year later the guy's house burned to the ground, Leicas were destroyed.

But the Leica bug had bitten me, and a few years later in college a used M4 called to me from the campus photo store's case. Still have it (the M4 and the Leica bug )
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Old 06-30-2014   #68
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Bought a Canonet, liked shooting with a rangefinder. Bought a Yashica 35GS, enjoyed that too. Thought about getting a Bessa, but I knew i'd never really be happy unless I had a Leica body. Found an M6 on Adorama's used section for a good price and bought it. I think that was 2009. Still my most used camera.
my flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bhop73/
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Old 06-30-2014   #69
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I bought a Leica due to lack of alternatives.
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Old 06-30-2014   #70
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I started shooting film with my father's old Nikon F, then a friend showed me the virtues of the Rolleiflex, and I had the camera bug. So I bought a IIIf and Elmar and all was lost when I pulled the first roll out of the developing tank.

Leica, Nikon, Rolleiflex, Bronica, and/or Fuji X-Pro 1
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Old 06-30-2014   #71
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As a child I wanted a relationship with my father; I was into sports and he wasn't but he did collect cameras. I have always been interested in all things mechanical and his camera collection was quite extensive. Along the way I became quite fond of photography, and basically shot for my highschool yearbook, did a wedding, and some other professional jobs. However, the professional side of photography sucked the fun out of photography for me.

I learned throughout my years of trading and buying/selling cameras that the holy grail in 35 mm was a Leica. He found a man who had inherited a Leica M3 DS with an assortment of other Leica goodies, but had no interest in the camera. Unfortunately, the shutter curtain was broken, but he agreed to trade the camera for a smith and wesson 357 revolver (strange trade I know). The M3 was then serviced by Sherry Krauter, and came back in beautiful shape. I shot a few rolls through it and was utterly smitten. However, Dad would not allow it come out of its glass case with some serious stipulations. When I was about to graduate from college, he asked if I would like a Leica for a graduation present. I debated greatly what to get, and finally we found a Leica M6 TTL.

I was lucky enough to take the M6 on some great adventures and use it extensively. I still have it, and will never sell it.

I think for me the Leica was the culmination of a realization. I love photography, and well engineered devices. The Leica M6 was perfect in that respect as it is a quite underwhelming (in terms of sophistication), well engineered highly portable, high quality camera. After shooting F100s, and the first wave of DSLRs I craved a back to basic camera that really made me focus on composition and not much else. That is ultimately led to me to ask for a Leica. That and fondling the M3...
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Old 11-29-2014   #72
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With the birth of my daughter (that is her at 2 years old taken with the R9 and Apo 90 Summicron), I wanted something more than the Sony digital compact. I tried Canon and Nikon digital SLRs but they just didnt seem like cameras I could use (I grew up with Canon FD, Yashicamat and a Zorki 4k). There was no shutter dial, no aperture setting on the lens ... you had to read a manual. I mean, this is supposed to be a camera for heavens sake, not a video recorder.

Then the shop owner showed me the R9. Heaven. It fit into my hand comfortably (the Nikon 750D is the first Nikon that does that); I could immediately see how to use it. It was much more than the others and the offer was there of a digital back. So I bought it.

It was big and heavy and when I wanted something smaller and lighter, the dealer let me borrow an M7 with 50 summicron for the weekend. Heaven. I got quite a few keepers on the one roll of film I shot. I realized I didnt like the zoom lens on the R9. So, I ended up buying the M7 with a 35 summicron, and now .... I have a full house. M, M8, M7, M6, M3, Zeiss Ikon (the best viewfinder of them all), R9 with DMR and R4. Enough lenses that I only buy interesting ones now, not because I need the focal length. And numerous other film cameras of all manufacturers.

The M3 needs a service but I have put at least 3 rolls of film through each of the Leicas this year (except for the R4 which has a light leak).
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Old 11-29-2014   #73
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My grandfather had a Leica M3. I only saw it very rarely.

My father had a Leica IIIf. To him, it was almost a Sacred Object. He had Elmar 35, Summicron 50 and Hektor 135mm lenses for it, as well as the Visoflex and bellows for the Hektor. The bellows/Viso rig was used in his dental practice to document work that he did on jaw reconstruction, etc.

My first interaction with a Leica was learning how to use the macro rig so I could do the photography while he managed the patient. I was 9-10 years old at the time. I had learned how to process film myself at the same time by doing his in-office X-ray processing.

So when I got to high school, I dreamed of having a camera "like Dad's." My grandfather loaned me his Rolleiflex to learn with, my mom gave me her Argus C3; I used both a lot and looked forward to being able to buy my own camera. When the time came (1969, my sophomore year), however, it was a Nikon F Photomic FTn with 50/1.4 lens that my uncle helped me buy (meaning, I gave him all the money in my summer savings and he put up the rest ... :-).

Later that same year, I was down at Olden Camera in Manhattan for the umpteenth time, hovering over the used camera counter and salivating over the Leicas there. The salesman had gotten to know my face too well, he turns to me and says, "Hey kid, are you ever going to buy anything?"

"I want a Leica like that one," I said, pointing to one that looked like my father's, "but I can't afford that one." It was marked at $250 with a lens. I didn't even know what model the one my father had was at that time...

"Hmm. Lemme see," the salesman grunted and walked into the back room. About ten minutes later, he came out with two old Leicas each with a lens on it (turned out to be a IIf and IIc, Elmar 5.0cm, Elmar 3.5cm). "Okay, how much money you got?"

"I have a hundred and nine bucks," I pulled out my wallet and took all the money out, put it on the counter.

The salesguy squinted at me, plucked a ten dollar bill out of that and pushed it back to me. "You need that to buy a roll of film and get home. Take the cameras; no one wants this old junk anymore. Now stop hanging around the store and go bother someone else." I saw the grin on his gruff face as he said that.

They were beat-up old things, the IIc had some pinholes in the shutter (eventually put new curtains in), but they worked and I used them for the next fifteen years or so, when I wasn't using the Nikon F or any of the other of the train of cameras I bought and sold over the years. I loved the "old junk that no one wanted any more."

Both were ultimately lost in the line of duty ... but that's another story.

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Old 11-29-2014   #74
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In 2006 I was fudging around over at p.net with a D70 getting frustrated with the bone heads over there and someone suggested I check out RFF. I lurked here briefly then joined and started to realise that a DSLR was not the answer to learning much about photography so decided to get an old Fed and learn how to shoot film.

Smitten by the rangefinder bug I went throught the Leica collecting stage and at one point had thirteen of the things but eventually cut that back to a couple of cameras and a few lenses. I currently have an M2, Leica ll, 1930 1a and my M240.

I have numerous other cameras but I do believe the Leicas are a little bit special ... nothing else feel quite like them. The fit and finish is outstanding and they have a heft in the hand that defies their size. Some of the hype about them is over the top at times and the gangsters who sell them at Solms should be wearing a patch on one eye and a parrot on the shoulder ... but they are a great camera!
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Old 11-29-2014   #75
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After wrestling with a variety of SLRs, digital and film, I took a risk a few months ago and went with a Leica M6. I looked at a few others (Voigtlander, Zeiss Ikon, older 60s RFs) but once I felt the M6 and tried it out... I knew it was where I wanted to put my funds.

I am now grateful being able to accurately focus F1.2 in super dark environments with a super silent shutter with a camera that could probably go to more places than I could possibly go ... and still work.

CV lens though
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Old 11-29-2014   #76
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I came to photography sideways. My ex wife and I took up scuba diving in the mid 1980s, and we decided at some point that we should get a Nikonos camera to record our adventures underwater. Long story short I decided that photogrpahy was easier on land than under water and bought a film SLR as well. That in turn led me to develop an interest in older cameras.The idea of shooting with a fully manual camera - so I made all the decisions was appealing. And from there it was only a small step to Leicas. Fortunately my camera guy sold second hand cameras and was a Leica buff and it was him got me interested in rangefinders. From an M4P (he had one on his shelf that he was willing to discount), eventually three lenses for it, then an M3 and a couple of contemporary lenses for it as well, followed later by a LTM and lenses. The rest is history. In a sense all of that is past. I still own an M3 which gets a run occasionally, but my main shooting Leica is now an M8 as digital is just too damn convenient. But as I have aged and my eyes have deteriorated even that is now a struggle, except for static shots and I mainly shoot with digital SLRs (if I want their flexibility and creative potential) or small format digital cameras if I want convenience. So in a sense I have come a full circle, but I can never let go of Leica entirely. They still have a cachet that others lack. Its interesting - I frequently get admiring comments (in every case from a young woman) about my Leica M8, I suppose many of them have never seen one although they know it looks old (a bit like me) and interesting (a bit like me). :^)
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Old 11-29-2014   #77
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while studying my masters of fine art at st martins, i won an artist residency to beijing. after a month of shooting in china with my bessa r3a and 40 nokton, we ended up in seoul as my wife had an exhibition there after my residency. walked into a camera shop where an m6 with 50 cron started talking to me. walked out after parting with my bessa kit and £500 and a massive smile on my face.
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Old 11-29-2014   #78
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Originally Posted by Bill Clark View Post
I started buying Leica cameras and lenses a few years after joining this forum.
Me too. In the 70's my pride and joy was a canon ftb, and the only reason I knew what those were about was a great art teacher in the late 60's who had us all in the darkroom in 7th grade.

I really never knew about Leica at all.

I came here to learn about small great lenses for use in the backcountry on the Sony Nex-5, and came across many threads which lead me to believe the digital Leicas were the devil's spawn. I ignorantly joined the bashing myself at first, until Brian set me straight and showed me folks shooting the M9 on duty in Iraq.

At that point the M9 became formidable unobtanium, too heavy for my minimalist taste, but something special anyway.

I'd hoped the Sonys would get me there, but it became clear they don't touch the M9 and are essentially the same size.

Prices dropped to 3.5K and it was game over.
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Old 11-29-2014   #79
My M5s need red dots!
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I had loved photography as a teen and before. In fact, I was the official photographer in my family. Studies, work and life got in the way until much later, with a serious job in hand, I returned to it and purchased a Minolta manual SLR.

Fast forward two years: I recalled all the photos I had seen in the magazine Life, back in the day, and wondered how could they be made if it wasn't with an SLR. And I also got bored; photography with an SLR looked like the never-ending game of having the longest or widest focal length to me. Someone recommended a rangefinder camera, and I got a Canonet (which I loved and still have), which was soon followed by other Japanese rangefinders. Eventually, when I started liking my photographs again, I purchased my first Leica (silver chrome M6TTL, still have it) days before my 45th birthday. My wife looked up from her book, saw it in my hands and said "So that's a Leica?"

"Consider it the equivalent of a little, red sports car" I replied.

She smiled and continued reading.

It's been fun ever since... and she's been a patient model.
Check out
My Leica M4-2 Blog and/or
My Nikon D700 Neophyte's Guide
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Old 11-29-2014   #80
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It was 1969 in Viet-Nam and I could not focus a slr in low light, so I picked up a Canon 7Sz in Tokyo and a used Canon P. For lenses I got a 19mm, 35mm, 50mm 1.4 and a 100mm f3.5 and never looked back. In 73 I went to M cameras, today I use a Sony RX-1 and a Ricoh GXR-M module I still use some of my first M lenses and am quite happy.

My Gallery
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