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What should a new Leica M4 owner know?
Old 09-25-2018   #1
mward
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What should a new Leica M4 owner know?

Hi guys, new to the forums although I've been lurking for a while. I've shot professionally and taught at the university level (zone system, in particular) but never owned a Leica. I've always wanted an M4 and finally purchased one. It's on the way. I own a Canon IVSB and VI-L so I'm familiar with those rangefinders but not Leicas in particular.

As someone who is new to the system, what sorts of things should I know that may not be obvious?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 09-25-2018   #2
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If you need repair or modification, send it to Don at DAG Camera. He also carries spare parts.

Some general tips (not M4 specific):

Don't leave the camera pointed at the sun. You'll wind up with burn holes in your shutter curtain.

https://www.dagcamera.com/store/p145...urtain%3F.html

Before removing base plate to remove film, check tension with rewind knob (it should spin very freely).
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Old 09-25-2018   #3
madNbad
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Always insure the rewind crank is turning when you advance the film. The tulip is very easy to load but misses often happen. Drop the cartridge in, pull out just enough leader to fit in a slot, make sure the sprocket holes are engaged, close the back and replace the bottom plate. Wind on twice and your're ready to go. Have fun and welcome to the forum.
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Old 09-25-2018   #4
Gregm61
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Do you wear glasses? I just picked up a hard rubber cover for the metal eyepiece from DAG to keep from scratching my glasses. It just mounts over the fitted eyepiece. He also has used M6 (rubber) eyepieces if you ever wanted to have the original metal eyepiece replaced (Leica no longer sells new ones).
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Old 09-25-2018   #5
BillBlackwell
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mward View Post
... As someone who is new to the system, what sorts of things should I know that may not be obvious? ...
Congrats on your purchase!

Others may disagree, but IMHO the M4 is arguably the best M camera Leica ever produced. There are allot of reasons for this I won't get into here.

Be that as it may, I'd expect it to need a full CLA, regardless of what the seller may have told you. Shooting an M camera with dry lubrication can actually damage the shutter. The slow speeds (up to a 30th of a second) have very distinct sounds in normal operation. And the RF patch should be crisp and clear.

Have it checked out when it arrives. I'd expect most anyone who is experienced with Leica M cameras can tell you if the shutter is okay or in need of a CLA.
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Old 09-25-2018   #6
presspass
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I agree with Bill - the M4 is the best of the Leicas. Fit and finish of the M3, much easier to load, advance film, and rewind. Hope you enjoy it.
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Old 09-25-2018   #7
slantface
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I absolutely love the M4! I now have three M4's including two original black paint M4's (in addition to other M models). I can't say much more than those above have already stated, but my advice is try not to get too addicted! The lenses, and M cameras in general can be very alluring. I now have "too many" bodies and lenses, but I can't help myself when I see another beautiful M4 or a lens I've not yet tried.

Congrats on the purchase and it sounds like you're well equipped to jump right in on the M4 based on your teaching experience and your familiarity with the Canon IVSB. Different animals in their setups sure, but not so jarring that you won't pick up the M4 in less than an hour of use.
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Old 09-25-2018   #8
froyd
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Tip number one: don't ever sell it!

Tip number two: careful with the lens release button until your fingers gets used to its position. I had the unfortunate experience of seeing my lens tumble to the floor my third or fourth day of ownership because I had accidentally released it!

Tip number three (from Mr. Hicks): if you have a chrome body, you can scribble your film info on the bottom plate with a pencil to make up for the Leica's lack of film window.

Tip number four: if the M4 body is indeed chrome, try to stick mainly to chome lenses because it's a well-documented fact that they take anywhere between 5 and 10 times better pictures than black lenses. :P
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Old 09-25-2018   #9
Bill Clark
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Welcome to rangefinder.

Use the camera as you use others you own. I have a few lenses but I find the 50 f2.0 is my favorite. I only use black and white film.

When the time comes, you can have your M4 rebuilt and it will last even when your grand children may take a fancy to film photography.

Enjoy and have fun with your Leica M4.
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Old 09-25-2018   #10
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Start with this.
http://www.butkus.org/chinon/leica/l...4/leica_m4.htm
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Old 09-25-2018   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
... if you have a chrome body, you can scribble your film info on the bottom plate with a pencil to make up for the Leica's lack of film window. ...
On the back door there is a dial with a red and black dot in the middle with three pie-shaped triangles on it.

Well, the inner dial rotates -
The first two triangles are for color film - daylight and flash;
The third triangle is for black & white.

Rotate the inner wheel with your thumb until the 'point' on top of the applicable triangle is pointing to the ASA/DIN matching the film.

No writing on the base-plate required.
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Old 09-25-2018   #12
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Old 09-25-2018   #13
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Welcome to the M4 appreciation society. You've had some good advice...Don't sell it...Have DAG fix it. It is a spectacular photographic tool. Use it & enjoy it.
Love mine! <3
IMG_6114 by [url=https://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/]
Flickr
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Old 09-25-2018   #14
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+2 on sending to DAG. Don is a little more expensive and his lead times are longer but it is WELL worth it. Your camera will come back running better than new. Beware other techs that are self trained that you hear referenced regularly. And if you need a lens service, do not send it to anyone but DAG or (or Leica) you may be sorry. Just my experience. Welcome to RFF and the world of Leica.
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Old 09-25-2018   #15
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Oh I had to get a black one. I saw a picture of Gene Smith shooting a black M4 one time and so that's what I had to have. I actually ended up with an M4-2. The 35 is one of my favorite focal lengths so I wanted to get those native frame lines.

My local repair guy is David Feely here in Longmont - Key Camera/Procam Serivces and I know he does a bunch of Leica work. Been doing it forever. His shop is like a museum. Honestly if anything went wrong I'd take it to him first. I know DAG has a great reputation on here but being able to walk in the door and bug my guy is nice. He's doing a CLA on one of my RB lenses right now so we'll see how that goes before I let him look at the Leica.
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Old 09-25-2018   #16
froyd
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBlackwell View Post
On the back door there is a dial with a red and black dot in the middle with three pie-shaped triangles on it.

Well, the inner dial rotates -
The first two triangles are for color film - daylight and flash;
The third triangle is for black & white.

Rotate the inner wheel with your thumb until the 'point' on top of the applicable triangle is pointing to the ASA/DIN matching the film.

No writing on the base-plate required.
Yes, of course, but the dial does not record film lenght, date loaded, chromogenic BW vs silver, E6 or c41, etc. For the way I shoot, that's useful info, but YMMV.
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Old 09-25-2018   #17
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Fold about 1cm of the film leader back before you try to load the film. It'll keep the film in the tulip and make loading easier and more reliable.
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Old 09-26-2018   #18
David Hughes
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RTFM and RTFM again before touching the camera, then RTFM.

Enjoy it but be warned that you are standing at the top of a very slippery slope...

Regards, David
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What should a new Leica M4 owner know?
Old 09-26-2018   #19
PunkFunkDunk
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What should a new Leica M4 owner know?

When in conversation, continue to refer to it as my camera and not my Leica or you will become one of those people
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Old 09-26-2018   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillBlackwell View Post
On the back door there is a dial with a red and black dot in the middle with three pie-shaped triangles on it.

Well, the inner dial rotates -
The first two triangles are for color film - daylight and flash;
The third triangle is for black & white.

Rotate the inner wheel with your thumb until the 'point' on top of the applicable triangle is pointing to the ASA/DIN matching the film.

No writing on the base-plate required.
Its an M4-2 just use a pencil.
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Old 09-26-2018   #21
Roger Hicks
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The most important thing to know is that there is ALWAYS someone who tells you that you should have bought an M1-2-3-5-6-7 instead...

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-26-2018   #22
Roger Hicks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PunkFunkDunk View Post
When in conversation, continue to refer to it as my camera and not my Leica or you will become one of those people
Well, no. Lots of people have more than one camera, and I don't use "one of my Leicas" the same way as I use "one of my Nikons" or indeed "one of my Gandolfis." In fact I don't use my M9 in quite the same way as my M2, or my Df in the same way as my EM.

Cheers,

R.
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Old 09-29-2018   #23
mward
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Well here it is. I took it over to my local guy, he checked all the shutter speeds and gave it his seal of approval. It's really clean, I have no idea how a camera from 1978 looks so good, it must have spent its life in a box.

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Old 09-29-2018   #24
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Oh! Now you will have to refer to it as "my black paint Leica M4-2". Don't worry, everyone will be jealous. Beautiful Leica.
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Old 09-29-2018   #25
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Black chrome.....
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Old 09-29-2018   #26
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Black paint black chrome... I know the purists care but I don't... yet.
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Old 09-29-2018   #27
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What lens are you going to use? Nice find BTW.
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Old 09-29-2018   #28
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All you need to know is that it's just a box to hold your film in (and you won't need to know the zone system w/ 35mm film).
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Old 09-29-2018   #29
mward
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Right now it's got a Jupiter-12 on it. I can't afford any fancy Leica glass right now, but I'm thinking a Voightlander Color Skopar 35mm to start. I shoot mostly black and white and 35mm is about my favorite focal length.
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Old 09-29-2018   #30
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The Color Skopar is a good choice and a really fine lens. The Zeiss 35 2.8 Biogon ZM is a little more money but they often show up second hand in good condition for a fair price.
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Old 09-29-2018   #31
mward
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This Jupiter 12 is a copy of a Biogon. I need to print some stuff from it to see if it's actually good, but so far the negs look alright.
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Old 09-29-2018   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mward View Post
Well here it is. I took it over to my local guy, he checked all the shutter speeds and gave it his seal of approval. It's really clean, I have no idea how a camera from 1978 looks so good, it must have spent its life in a box.

Did you clone out the serial number?
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Old 09-29-2018   #33
Richard G
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An M4 owner should know that the only thing an M4-2 owner is missing is the self-timer. My Canadian M4-2 and tabbed version 4 Summicron 50 replaced a stolen M4. I loved the M4-2. Black camera and black lens a lighter package and took some heavy treatment and gave me some of my best shots. Enjoy it.
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Old 09-29-2018   #34
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Quote:
Originally Posted by froyd View Post
.......(from Mr. Hicks): if you have a chrome body, you can scribble your film info on the bottom plate with a pencil to make up for the Leica's lack of film window.
You can also get some appropriately sized "peel-easy" price stickers and write on them. At the end of the roll they can be transferred from the camera to the film cassette if the info. is needed for processing.
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Old 09-30-2018   #35
David Hughes
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Hi,

If you want Leica lenses it makes sense to ignore the f/1's and f/2's and look instead at the f/2.8's. The Summaron 35mm f/2.8 is a good starting point for a lot of people and some never move on as it's a great lens.

BTW, I like the Jupiter-8 but it needs an adapter and will start you off on another wild goose chase.

Anyway, have fun.

Regards, David
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Old 09-30-2018   #36
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Congratulations and a long friendship with many exposed memories.
The M4-2 a great camera, like all Leica-M's.
Lenses are easy, think of previous experiences.
The 50mm or 35mm Summicron are superb.
Most prefer the 35mm with largest frame..
My preference always the 50mm.
Learn to check a lens BUT preferably buy with warranty and return policy..
Loading contrary to internet is easy. The Easiest camera to load.
Get lens soonest and send film thru!
Again all the best!
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Old 09-30-2018   #37
Erik van Straten
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M4-2's can have problems. The early series are to be avoided. What is the serial number?

They were made in Canada on new machines. These machines were not set up properly.

Erik.
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Old 09-30-2018   #38
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An M4-2 with a Skopar 35/2.5 would be a great future package - then just get going with a bunch of film and see if you like the Leica M style.

And if you can stay away from the Leica lens Kool-Aid, you will have more money for film.
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Old 09-30-2018   #39
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Yes, I cloned out the serial. It's a 150xxxx, later in the run right before the m4-p but not so late that it has the m4-p stuff on it.

I was bummed to find out that my Serenar 80 and 135 won't work on this body. The rangefinder arm is in just the wrong spot. From my google-fu it appears this is a common problem and nobody has a solution for it.
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Old 09-30-2018   #40
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Could be that this is one of the problems. The man who told me about those problems, an old Leica-employee and repairman, died a few months ago, so ...

It is not from the first batch. M4-2 starts at 1480001.

Erik.
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