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Film M recommendations for $1000-1200USD?
Old 10-02-2018   #1
RIVI1969
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Film M recommendations for $1000-1200USD?

Good evening,


For my upcoming December Korea/China trip I would like to bring a Leica M film body along with my beloved M8. Here in my city, there is a very well stocked store who sold, process and scans many different types of film at a very decent price so I am eager to get my film M.

I left film many many years ago when I sold my Nikon F3, Leica R5, and Hasselblad 500CM cameras so I am pretty new to the differences between the M film series, I already found some interesting articles I am reading, but I would love the opinion of actual users.

I am able to invest $1200 USD, so my question is which M would you choose for that money? My current M lens is a 35mm f2 and I have no problem using an external light meter.

My findings indicate I can find an M2, M3, M4 or M5 within that range. Oh, and if there is a fine, trusty dealer you can suggest to deal with will be great too.


Kind regards,
Ricardo
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Old 10-02-2018   #2
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You can sometimes find m3/m2 outfits with great glass for your price range. I like the Minolta Cle
with the 40mm cron. You can sometimes pick one up on the cheap and have money to spare for film and processing.

I recently picked up an m3 with a 35mm summaron. Sold the goggled summaron and bought a 50cron. All in all I spent 1100.
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Old 10-02-2018   #3
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There's a beautiful Leica CL on the classifieds right now for just $400, and it has had a recent CLA from Dag! That is one heck of a neat little travel camera, and if I still shot rangefinders I would buy it. So that's my recommendation....buy it.
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Old 10-02-2018   #4
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For 35mm the M2 is ideal, but any of the ones you note (except the M3) will work fine, so it is down to the individual camera. You have to get one that is ready to go, all service done.
A trusted dealer? I will mention "Igorcamera" as having cameras that are ready to go.
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Old 10-02-2018   #5
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M2, M4 and M5 would be better with your 35mm lens, as M3 does not have viewfinder lines for that focal length lens.
M4 and M5 have fast film loading. Later M2 also offers this feature, otherwise uses M3 style removable receiving film spool.
M4-2 and M4-P are compatible with motor film winders.
M5 has a built in light meter, but unless modified, requires unobtainable mercury button cells.
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Old 10-02-2018   #6
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M5! You can get an immaculate one for that price. Also, regarding the battery issue, you can get a cheap adapter from Japan Camera Hunter or elsewhere that allows you to use readily available hearing aid batteries.
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Old 10-02-2018   #7
farlymac
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The CL is a great travel camera, especially if you get the Summicron-C 40mm, and Elmar-C 90mm with it. It has frame lines for 40-50-90, with the 40 showing all the time. There is plenty of viewfinder room around the 40mm frame to approximate the 35mm frame. If you don't want to buy Wein cells for the meter, get the battery adapter. Got my kit for $1300.


If you want to stick with a metered model, you can get an M-6 Classic body for around $1000-1200. It has frame lines for 28-90, 35-135, and 50-75. The M-6 TTL will do flash control through-the-lens, but runs about another $400 on average. Plus you would need the dedicated flash model.


Then there is the venerable M2 with it's built-in 35-50-90 frames. But if you need a meter, it will have to be either an external mount, or hand held. The Voigtlander VC Meter II as a shoe mount is highly recommended. Used ones run under $200, a new one at B&H is $225. Come in chrome or black to match your body. Unlike the Leica MR 4, they take LR44 cells, and are less prone to scratch up the camera top.


PF
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Old 10-02-2018   #8
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I paid $800 for my m2 a few months ago from Sherry Krauter. She has a few M3/2 bodies in your budget listed on her site. I figure since she repairs them, it'd be in fully functional condition. Mine's a "user", looks wise, but it works flawlessly.
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Old 10-02-2018   #9
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I would just get one with 35 frames which was recently serviced. The rest doesn't matter.
If camera is not serviced recently then it is risky for the trip like this.
I would get just this camera and leave M8 at home.
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Old 10-02-2018   #10
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Originally Posted by Ko.Fe. View Post
I would just get one with 35 frames which was recently serviced. The rest doesn't matter.
If camera is not serviced recently then it is risky for the trip like this.
I would get just this camera and leave M8 at home.
I would agree with most of this. But do bring the M8. No sense in leaving it behind.
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Old 10-02-2018   #11
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Get a user M4-P and make sure the VF isn't cloudy. You get a ton of camera with an M4-P or M4-2 for less money than their older sisters. If you ever want to stick a motor or rapidwinder on, you can just swap the baseplate and you're off to the races.
That said, I have an M4 and I'll never sell it.
Don't get an M3 because if anything happens to the viewfinder you need another M3 to fix it unless you can find the parts (prism, beamsplitter) in good condition otherwise. That VF is a completely different beast than all the following M models. If anything happens to the VF of a 2, 4, 5, 4-2, 4-P you just have the parts available from the M6 and you're good to go.

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Old 10-02-2018   #12
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M2 if you're comfortable without a meter. M6 for a few hundred extra and you get a meter and 28mm frames
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Old 10-02-2018   #13
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Originally Posted by bhop73 View Post
I paid $800 for my m2 a few months ago from Sherry Krauter. She has a few M3/2 bodies in your budget listed on her site. I figure since she repairs them, it'd be in fully functional condition. Mine's a "user", looks wise, but it works flawlessly.

For prospective purchasers, be careful. Sherry may sell them, but unless she specifically states she has serviced them she has not.
A recent buyer (on this site I think) ran into that, when the camera he bought failed and she wouldn't warranty it as she said she hadn't serviced it.

As for recommending a CLE or CL, I have (and have had) both. If you are looking at a Leica M, they are not a substitute. What they are, is smaller rf cameras that use the M mount. The RF baselength is much shorter, especially with the Cl, which makes them less accurate to focus. They also are much more fragile w no spare parts left. When my CL broke, I gave it away for parts.
Both my CLEs - mint condition look like new - developed electrical failures where they would jam and could not advance or fire the shutter. They were kept in a dry box (with all my gear) stored without batteries. One I sold to a shop and the dood who bought it had it fail on him. It was working when I sold it. The remaining one did the exact same thing, and it's been out for repair for about 8 months now..

So yeah, stick with a Leica M!
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Old 10-03-2018   #14
aizan
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easy answer for me: leica m5. has a meter, and you can get one in mint, perfectly working condition for $1200. distinctive design makes you stand out like the nikon and contax rf shooters.
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Old 10-03-2018   #15
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M3 is IMO the best camera but not for 35mm. I'd suggest an M2.
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Old 10-03-2018   #16
David Hughes
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M2 for the sheer simplicity of the VF with its 35 -50-90 line up.


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Old 10-03-2018   #17
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Hi Ricardo,


Does it have to be an M camera? Leica's Sofort camera uses readily-available Instax film and is a tremendous bargain. More money for film!


Cheers,
Robert
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Old 10-03-2018   #18
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I recommend an M6. I got this one for about $1000 US from Japan (without the Elmar-M 50 lens). I think it was cheaper than average because the white lettering on Leica M6 had been picked out and the red Leitz button had been blacked over. It's great for a 35 lens.

John Mc

Last edited by mcfingon : 10-03-2018 at 06:38. Reason: Comment on lower than average price
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Old 10-03-2018   #19
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easy answer for me: leica m5. has a meter, and you can get one in mint, perfectly working condition for $1200. distinctive design makes you stand out like the nikon and contax rf shooters.
My favourite Leica M. Along with the M7.
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Old 10-03-2018   #20
Roger Hicks
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Dear Ricardo,

M2 for minimalist elegance.

M5 if you don't mind having a camera with all the elegance of a house brick.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-03-2018   #21
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The M4-P has all the features of the M2, plus quick loading and rapid rewind. And 28mm and 75mm framelines. The M4-P is newer than the M2 as well, and costs no more--maybe even less.
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Old 10-03-2018   #22
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The M4-P has all the features of the M2, plus quick loading and rapid rewind. And 28mm and 75mm framelines. The M4-P is newer than the M2 as well, and costs no more--maybe even less.
Dear Rob,

Well, yes. That was my point about minimalist elegance. The M4-P has too many framelines. And the rewind can be distorted by a knock: mine was. I also have an M2 -- with a rapid loading spool...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-03-2018   #23
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M4 1st choice M2 second. I would buy one and send it immediately to DAG with a note saying you need a CLA and it back by Dec.
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Old 10-03-2018   #24
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M2 works well for me but a CL often ends up being the choice for travel. If I could have only one it'd be the M2
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Old 10-03-2018   #25
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If you can get one in your price range, an M4. Quick load l, rapid rewind, and traditional Leica quality. The viewinder has four frame lines - 35, 50, 90, and 135 so it's not cluttered. A smooth shooting classic but no meter. Either use the M8 meter or get the tiny Sekonic incident meter. Whatever you get, buy it a couple of months before your trip and give it a good workout so you are comfortable with it and equally sure it's working well.
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Old 10-03-2018   #26
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The M4-P has all the features of the M2, plus quick loading and rapid rewind. And 28mm and 75mm framelines. The M4-P is newer than the M2 as well, and costs no more--maybe even less.
If you don't want the 28 and 75 frame lines, the M4-2 doesn't have them and gives a much cleaner view.
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Old 10-03-2018   #27
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I am almost decided on a beautiful silver M4 from Red Dot Cameras, comes with a 6-month warranty and it is well within my budget. I will do some final check on those M5's anyway, I know the exposure meter is a very useful feature and the M6 is out of my budget.

Thank you all for your suggestions!!
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Old 10-03-2018   #28
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For prospective purchasers, be careful. Sherry may sell them, but unless she specifically states she has serviced them she has not.
A recent buyer (on this site I think) ran into that, when the camera he bought failed and she wouldn't warranty it as she said she hadn't serviced it.
I see.. that's a bummer. Luckily she'd told me mine had been serviced a couple months before I bought it, but that's kinda messed up about the other guy's warranty, or lack thereof.
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Old 10-03-2018   #29
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Dear Ricardo,

M2 for minimalist elegance.

M5 if you don't mind having a camera with all the elegance of a house brick.

Cheers,

R.
The Union of House Bricks wishes to lodge a complaint and remind everyone that without house bricks, many houses would not exist.
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Old 10-03-2018   #30
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Hi Ricardo,


Does it have to be an M camera? Leica's Sofort camera uses readily-available Instax film and is a tremendous bargain. More money for film!


Cheers,
Robert
Robert, until I find an adapter to use my M 35mm lens on that Sofort, yes!
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Old 10-03-2018   #31
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I recommend an M6. I got this one for about $1000 US from Japan (without the Elmar-M 50 lens). I think it was cheaper than average because the white lettering on Leica M6 had been picked out and the red Leitz button had been blacked over. It's great for a 35 lens.

John Mc
I haven't seen an M6 for less than $1600... You got lucky I guess!
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Old 10-03-2018   #32
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Dear Ricardo,

M2 for minimalist elegance.

M5 if you don't mind having a camera with all the elegance of a house brick.

Cheers,

R.
Don't forget the M5 also takes better pictures of brick walls.
The M2 is for peeling paint.
The M4 is for seagulls.

Phil Forrest
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Old 10-03-2018   #33
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I don't have any experience with the M5, but for me, I'd recommend the M2 or M4. Both can be had for easily under $1,000, and you could even get another lens in your $1000-1200 budget if you wanted to.



Best of luck on the search, but there should be plenty of good options for you out there.
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Old 10-03-2018   #34
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M2 or M4. Use a small handheld meter, or there are many apps you can use on your phone that are accurate. After a time, you won't need a meter at all, except in the most tricky lighting situations.
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Old 10-03-2018   #35
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M4 1st choice M2 second. I would buy one and send it immediately to DAG with a note saying you need a CLA and it back by Dec.
This would be my recommendation, too!
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Old 10-03-2018   #36
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M4 1st choice M2 second. I would buy one and send it immediately to DAG with a note saying you need a CLA and it back by Dec.
I never understood the 'immediate cla' thing.. why not see how it well it works first? It might be just fine already..
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Old 10-03-2018   #37
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Good luck trying to get DAG to get anything back to you in a hurry. He's had my gear for over a year.
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Old 10-04-2018   #38
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I never understood the 'immediate cla' thing.. why not see how it well it works first? It might be just fine already..
Exactly. From http://www.rogerandfrances.com/subsc...icaphilia.html


The dangers of the 'CLA'

The main reason I said that the biggest enemy of old Leicas is arguably lack of use is that there is another candidate: the so-called 'CLA' or 'clean, lubricate and adjust'. At best, a CLA consists of a true strip, clean and overhaul: take the camera to pieces, remove all old lubricants and dirt, replace any worn parts, and reassemble. This is an understandably expensive undertaking, but if the parts are available, the camera may literally be restored to 'as new' condition.

Most people, though, are unwilling to pay a skilled repairer the kind of money that is required to do a full strip, clean and overhaul, and as a result, at the other end of the scale, a 'CLA' may consist of nothing more than pulling the works out of the body; sluicing them out with a fairly aggressive solvent, which removes most but not all of the old lubricants and dirt; squirting lots of (often unsuitable) lubricant in; then reassembling and adjusting the shutter tension to give more or less correct speeds. This may involve winding the tension up quite high in order to overcome the residual stickiness of the imperfectly swilled out old lubricants. Understandably, the camera then wears faster than before, and goes out of adjustment sooner.

It is a tribute to the build quality of old Leicas that they can withstand this sort of abuse, but the simple truth is that it is often better to send an old Leica to a reputable repairer for a straightforward repair of a known fault than to commission a so-called 'CLA' from one of the cheaper repairers. A good repairer will often do as much 'mucking out' as a low-grade CLA, but rather more skillfully, and the camera won't come back soaked with oil and smelling like a refinery.

If you want a full overhaul, a factory Leica service is the best bet, and probably the most expensive, but there are other repairers who are very good. Before you entrust an old Leica (or any other camera) to anyone for an overhaul, get as many opinions as you can about the quality of their work. There will always be a tiny percentage of people who are unhappy about perfection itself, and a rather higher percentage of people who are unhappy about paying the price of a good overhaul, but if there are significant numbers of complaints about someone, especially if they are specific and repeated ('the camera came back soaked in oil'), you may do well to look elsewhere.

You may also do well to look very closely at any second-hand Leica that is being sold as having had a recent CLA. Ask the vendor to detail the work done (a copy of the bill would be ideal) and note the name of the person who did the work. Perform the same checks as you would if you were considering sending the same camera to the same repairer.


Cheers,

R.
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Old 10-04-2018   #39
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Yeah, if you really do want a CLA, make sure to send it to someone who actually does a CLA. There are so many shops out there who will take the camera in and "service" it. To be fair, some of those shops might be excellent and true to the service. Others are not! There is a reason why the same 4-5 names keep showing up on the forum when the prospect of a CLA comes up. I happen to use Don (DAG) and could not be happier. True that he is a bit swamped. He does try to get "rush" orders back on time.


Oh, and a real CLA is not cheap. Just so ya know.
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Old 10-04-2018   #40
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I forgot to chime in with my recommendation for the OP....
Ah, looks like everyone else already made it. I will reiterate the advice about the CL. Its a cute camera and I use one with a 35 lens, but it is not a substitute for an M. The RF base and service difficulties have already been mentioned. The meters on them are fragile (mine has a moving needle, but crazy erratic readings), but if you find a good one, the battery adapter works fantastic. In short, I'd recommend one at the sub-$300 range (as mine was).

Now, since those battery adapters work great, the M5 is an obvious choice for a metered M at $1000 or below. We all know its not as sexy as the remaining Ms, but it is a photo-making machine (said with my "monster truck" voice). You would probably be happy with one. I recommend a 3-lug over 2-lug because I like my neck strap to function as god intended

And last. In my neck of the woods, there were perfectly functional M6 classics for sale at the $1000 mark (average) about 6 months ago. A look around today suggests a creep up in prices, but that's "asking prices", I don't see much moving. So....just maybe an M6?
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