Leica M4-2 - When one Leica isn't enough
Old 02-26-2017   #1
dugrant153
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Cool Leica M4-2 - When one Leica isn't enough

Hi everyone, there's a chance I may pickup a second Leica (an M4-2) ... to go with my current Leica M6. I just picked up a CV 50mm F1.5 lens to go along with my CV 35mm F1.2.... long story short, I'm giving up large SLRs (1D series) to go with the amazing Leica rangefinder system and go with a 35/50 setup for my work

Anything to look out for with regards to a Leica M4-2?
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Old 02-26-2017   #2
Robert Lai
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Most teething issues should be sorted out by now.
The original PC sockets were mounted on a plastic base that cracks with time. I'm sure by now that service people have changed them back to the sturdier metal ones.

About half way through the production run, a condenser was removed from the rangefinder path. This removal increased the chances of the RF patch flaring. The same flaw persisted in the M4-P, M6, and early M7. The MP changed it back and improved the glass with multicoated surfaces.

If you're fortunate, you'll find a mid-production M4-2 that still has the M4 style viewfinder/rangefinder (with condenser), but has most of the teething troubles worked out. When I had my camera overhauled by Don Goldberg, he told me that mine had the condenser in there. Saved me the $250 to upgrade. Mine didn't really have any issues. I routinely send my new old cameras to Don, as these cameras are getting older, and could use an "oil change".
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Old 02-26-2017   #3
dourbalistar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lai View Post
About half way through the production run, a condenser was removed from the rangefinder path.
Interesting note, Robert. Any indication when the change occurred, in terms of year or serial numbers?
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Old 02-27-2017   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugrant153 View Post
Hi everyone, there's a chance I may pickup a second Leica (an M4-2) ... to go with my current Leica M6. I just picked up a CV 50mm F1.5 lens to go along with my CV 35mm F1.2.... long story short, I'm giving up large SLRs (1D series) to go with the amazing Leica rangefinder system and go with a 35/50 setup for my work

Anything to look out for with regards to a Leica M4-2?
At this point in time, nothing that you wouldn't look out for with nearly any camera.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dourbalistar View Post
Interesting note, Robert. Any indication when the change occurred, in terms of year or serial numbers?
It was a running change in the 1979 production run of the M4-2, as far as I can determine ... probably midway through the '79 serial numbers.
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Old 02-27-2017   #5
Robert Lai
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I don't know the exact serial number for the changeover.
My serial number is 1525xxx, which dates from 6/27/1979.
So, based on what Godfrey is stating, mine may be one of the last ones to have the condenser lens.
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Old 02-27-2017   #6
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M4-2 is my main film camera, even if it shows some parts of the other frame if 35mm lens mounted and it has light leak once in a while or something. But at least it is smooth to advance again after local 280$ service and some broken part changed...
If you like 50, why not to get M3? They aren't expensive either. M3 is the best Leica made film M, IMO.
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Old 02-27-2017   #7
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Had an M4-2. I liked the VF because it wasn't tinted like the older models.

The flash post on mine broke off so it's definitely a weak point and quite expensive to replace (if you use flash). I also don't like the advance lever with the plastic tip.

In the end I sold it and settled for an M3 and M2. Might buy one in the future just to match with a V3 35 summicron I currently own. They age similarly (bought were anodized IIRC)
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Last edited by bucs : 02-27-2017 at 04:29. Reason: Misc
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Old 02-27-2017   #8
lawrence
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugrant153 View Post
Hi everyone, there's a chance I may pickup a second Leica (an M4-2) ... to go with my current Leica M6. I just picked up a CV 50mm F1.5 lens to go along with my CV 35mm F1.2.... long story short, I'm giving up large SLRs (1D series) to go with the amazing Leica rangefinder system and go with a 35/50 setup for my work

Anything to look out for with regards to a Leica M4-2?
I expect you've thought about this but what about the metering? Won't you miss the TTL metering you have with the M6? I find on-board metering a huge time saver and a space saver too. Of course there are those who can manage without it but personally I find it essential.
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Old 02-27-2017   #9
dugrant153
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lawrence View Post
I expect you've thought about this but what about the metering? Won't you miss the TTL metering you have with the M6? I find on-board metering a huge time saver and a space saver too. Of course there are those who can manage without it but personally I find it essential.
I would. I find the M6 metering (mine isn't the TTL version) amazingly accurate and super usable. An M4 came up for sale that, with some trade-ins, makes it very affordable. Ideally I'd like another M6 with an 0.58 but they're hard to come by.

My M6 also has the condenser problem and I haven't bothered to fix it. Instead I put some scotch tape over it and it kind of lowers the framelines but blocks a good chunk of the RF glare.
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Old 02-27-2017   #10
dourbalistar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
It was a running change in the 1979 production run of the M4-2, as far as I can determine ... probably midway through the '79 serial numbers.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robert Lai View Post
I don't know the exact serial number for the changeover.
My serial number is 1525xxx, which dates from 6/27/1979.
So, based on what Godfrey is stating, mine may be one of the last ones to have the condenser lens.
Thanks for the information Godfrey and Robert! Short of knowing the exact serial numbers when the change occurred, is there a way of telling whether the condenser is there by looking through the viewfinder? When comparing, would the one without the condenser lens be more flare prone?
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Old 02-27-2017   #11
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If you plan on shooting 35/50, I'd go for an M2. Unless you're wedded to black, in which case black M2s are pricey, pricey, pricey.

FWIW, I absolutely love my M2.


Leica M2, April, 2010 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr
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Old 02-28-2017   #12
dugrant153
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I think the rewind knob on the M2 and M3 would drive me nuts as I have slippery fingers.... but they do look beautiful
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Old 02-28-2017   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugrant153 View Post
I think the rewind knob on the M2 and M3 would drive me nuts as I have slippery fingers.... but they do look beautiful
There's a solution to that! Our proprietor, sells rewind cranks:


Check Out My Nifty New Rewind Lever, July 04, 2011 by Maggie Osterberg, on Flickr
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Old 02-28-2017   #14
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I also swear by my M2. No frills Leica (relatively speaking!)

Quote:
Originally Posted by maggieo View Post
If you plan on shooting 35/50, I'd go for an M2. Unless you're wedded to black, in which case black M2s are pricey, pricey, pricey.

FWIW, I absolutely love my M2.


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Old 02-28-2017   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dourbalistar View Post
Thanks for the information Godfrey and Robert! Short of knowing the exact serial numbers when the change occurred, is there a way of telling whether the condenser is there by looking through the viewfinder? When comparing, would the one without the condenser lens be more flare prone?
It would be more flare prone. I have an M4-2 from the same batch as Robert's (15257xx) and mine seems to have some flare, so I suspect mine doesn't have the condenser. I've used older Ms with the condenser and newer ones without and I'd say the flare shouldn't bother you, it only show under certain conditions and can easily be worked around. This is especially true if you don't have an issue when using the M6.

-Thomas
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Old 02-28-2017   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugrant153 View Post
I think the rewind knob on the M2 and M3 would drive me nuts as I have slippery fingers.... but they do look beautiful
Nonsense. The knurling of the knob will abide.


Frankly, I like the knob better than the cranky-wanky.
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Old 02-28-2017   #17
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... the cranky-wanky.
Sounds like Rolleiflex.
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Old 02-28-2017   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugrant153 View Post
I think the rewind knob on the M2 and M3 would drive me nuts as I have slippery fingers.... but they do look beautiful
Quote:
Originally Posted by maggieo View Post
There's a solution to that! Our proprietor, sells rewind cranks
Correction, at one time our proprietor sold rewind cranks. They have been sold out for several years.

For me the knob is not so much slippery but just annoying in use.
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Old 02-28-2017   #19
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Originally Posted by trisberg View Post
It would be more flare prone. I have an M4-2 from the same batch as Robert's (15257xx) and mine seems to have some flare, so I suspect mine doesn't have the condenser. I've used older Ms with the condenser and newer ones without and I'd say the flare shouldn't bother you, it only show under certain conditions and can easily be worked around. This is especially true if you don't have an issue when using the M6.

-Thomas
Thanks, Thomas. I just got an M4-2 in the same batch as yours and Robert's, but a bit later in the year (15268xx). Haven't had a chance to properly test the camera, but good to know the flare isn't obtrusive.
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Old 03-01-2017   #20
dugrant153
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So I had a chance to finally try out the camera in the store. Everything looked good but for some reason the focus wouldn't "snap" like it does on my M6. I tried to explain that I thought the rangefinder was misaligned on the vertical axis but others seemed to be fine with it.

I don't know if the M4-2 had a different focusing patch setup than the M6 but when the images align on the M6, it's perfectly clear... all the time. The M4-2 was sometimes clear but almost like it didn't align properly or didn't "snap" to being super clear.

Also, the metal eyepiece was doing "wonders" to my glasses... (scratches)

I ended up taking a very regrettable pass on it but knew I probably could not live with the rangefinder not snapping to attention like my M6.

Decided to pick up on an older 1Ds for what I need ... but if I go back to Japan, I'll have to pickup another M6!
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Old 03-01-2017   #21
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Sounds like a case of G.A.S to me!
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Old 03-01-2017   #22
dugrant153
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Sounds like a case of G.A.S to me!
I gotta be honest.... it probably is G.A.S.

In my defence, I was going to trade-in a chunk of equipment so I'd have a net loss of equipment but....
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Old 03-01-2017   #23
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I suspect the RF was slightly out of vertical alignment. Very easy to adjust, but I would expect the seller to do that.

Cheers,
Dez
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Old 03-02-2017   #24
Daryl J.
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My Youxin Ye-rebuilt M4-2 is my default camera. In any format or medium. And yes, there are other Leicas available for my use. And no, it's not in great condition cosmetically; prior to my use it was beat up pretty badly.
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