Thoughts on Cameras

9 Reasons you shouldn’t own a thread mount Leica – Guest post by Dominik Mrzyk

Quite recently, Hamish published an article about Barnack Leica’s giving 7 reasons to own one. Well, he mentioned all the advantages of these cameras, but he didn’t mention their disadvantages. And I found a few of them.

Some introduction: I own a Leica IIIf. I haven’t spent any money on it. Yes, you read that correctly. I got a Mamiya C220f with two sets of lenses as a gift from a friend (cheers Adi, thank you again!). After some time, I’ve decided to trade it for a Leica (well, not directly. I’ve traded the Mamiya for money and then the money for a Leica). So, I’ve got it for free. Hence my views aren’t affected by money spent on it.

Before I’ve got a IIIf, I always (read: for last 6 years) dreamed about a Leica, and an M5 was (and still is) my favourite. I’ve tried a lot of cameras: both film and digital, compacts, instax, rangefinders, SLRs, TLRs, mirrorless etc., but none of them made me stop thinking that a Leica would be better. So, when there was a possibility to get one, I’ve had no doubts.

I had got a Leica, I’ve paired it with a Jupiter-8 (I’m a poor Polish student, mind you), loaded it with a Fuji C200 and started shooting. At first, I was in awe. Such a beautifully engineered machine. So small. So quiet. So solid and delicate at the same time. So clean lines. So simple. So complicated mechanisms. Beautifully designed. Looks fantastic with my old leather strap (taken from a Fed-5B case) (sorry no money for artisan straps here ;)).

I felt so good. It felt so good on me. I’ve been taking it everywhere, to my university, to my fiancée, to a library, even when I was doing some groceries, the Leica was with me. Because you never know when you’ll need it.

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So I had plenty of time to get to know her and I started to see her flaws. As it always happens with love…

Quiet, but…

It is silent. But bloody hell, don’t say it’s super silent. Did you shoot with a leaf-shutter camera? Sure, a leaf-shutter has its limitations, but a IIIf shutter has them too! I understand that a Leica shutter is quieter than an SLR one, but hey, even cheapo Olympus Trip 35 is more silent. Not to mention all of these Japanese fixed-lens rangefinders!

So slow

It is SO slow. I started shooting because I wanted to preserve my memories, some beautiful and everyday moments. I’ve wanted to have them ‘saved’, stored, captured. Some people call it “personal photography”, but I believe it’s something more. It’s like a stream of memories. You live something and you capture it, here, now, instantly. Good luck with doing that with a Barnack Leica and 50mm lens. Firstly, you have to set your exposure (meter, set the aperture, set the shutter speed). Secondly, you have to focus (and it’s not easy with my IIIf, I haven’t CLA’d her, because $$$, so the RF isn’t perfectly contrasty). Then, you compose. And after that, you press the shutter button. And you cannot be always prepared, because you have to live – hold a hand of your beloved ones, pet your pet, use your hands to eat, you get the point. I found that for this type of photography, even a cheap 35mm compact is better – because it ‘frees’ you from thinking about a lot of things – and let’s you both live the moment and capture it (I’ve bought an Olympus AF-10 Super and it’s perfect for this).

It may be (and probably is) my fault, but for me, it’s easier to shoot my life (memories) with an autofocus film SLR/compact. It’s so faster. I’m more confident of my results. And when shooting with a Leica, I’m never sure if I nailed the exposure (I don’t have an external meter, I cannot be bothered to get and use one), composition, focus etc. There are so many things that I can screw up when shooting with a Leica – and I don’t want them to happen when I’m shooting my life and memories.

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1 meter minimum focus

Also, you cannot focus closer than 1 meter (3 ft). Yes, it matters unless you don’t pay attention to the details (but you do, don’t you? You want/bought a Leica because of its small details).

Parallax Error

With the closer focusing comes the parallax error. I hate it. I’m trying to remember about it, I’m trying to compensate when I’m framing and then I end up with my subject in the center (and not in the one of the “strong points”) or some elements cut out of the frame (when I saw them in a viewfinder). Really, it drives me nuts.

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Leader trimming

What can slow you down even more, is the trimming of the film leader. I highly recommend doing it at home, when you have some free time. It takes a while. And after 3rd roll you starting to ask yourself “is this really necessary?”.

No meter

No built-in meter. I know, it’s an unfair one, this design is hundred years old. But we have meters now, and I’m using this camera now, in 2016. In Poland. Where in the winter it’s dark from 15:30 (3:30PM) to 8:00 (8AM). When the light varies from a street to a street (they are quite narrow and dark here). I’m rather good at using Sunny 16 rule, but still, from time to time I’m getting some terribly over- or underexposed frames (and I’m crying when I’m scanning them).

Problems with FSU lenses

Little problems with FSU lenses. They have a different focal register or something like this (google it, it’s fairly simple to find and quite difficult to put into words here). I’ve been trying and doing my best, but still, I haven’t got a single perfectly focused photo, when shooting at 1 – 1,5m distance (read: a portrait).

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Expensive

A Barnack Leica is expensive. I know Hamish wrote something opposite, but for me, €200 isn’t the same as for you. In Poland, 80% of people earn less than €400/month and me myself, I’ve been working for €1/hour previous summer (that gives €8/day or €160/mo.; don’t let me even started on economics and politics). But I get that people in the West earn a lot more and paying €200 for a camera isn’t a lot (using some simple calculations, it’s like 200PLN or €50 for me). I get that. You pay €200 for a camera that will serve you for next 30 or 40 years, maybe even 60. Ok.

But then, look into my eyes and promise me you won’t use another camera. You won’t buy another one. If you cannot promise it, the argument about the long lifespan is simply invalid, because after buying a Leica, you’re still buying other cameras (and adding the cost).

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Me personally, I’ve bought a Canon 50e with a battery pack and a kit lens (35-70) for a €20 last month (cheers Urban!). Ten times less than my IIIf cost. TEN TIMES. And it uses cheap AAA-batteries (I’m using accu’s, it’s even cheaper). It has an autofocus, a big viewfinder, A METER, semi-autoexposure modes, it is compatible with a lot of lenses (hello m42, of course you lose AF but then you have these adapters with AF confirmation, it’s still easier to be sure about your focus than it is with a IIIf).

Okay, I know, it may break and I won’t get it repaired so easily. But then, it was 10 times cheaper. I can buy another one. And another one. And another one. I can buy 10 of them at the price of one IIIf. Crazy.

And you say you love mechanical cameras and hate electronics? Cool. Take a look at Pentaxes (Spotmatics, K1000), Prakticas (I’ve been buying these for €5/piece). You can mount some fantastic Zeiss and Pentax glass to them (which is cheaper than a Leica glass, too). If you want a rangefinder, get a Kiev. It’s a Contax in a Soviet body. And same, if they break, you just buy another one. Or just buy 10 at once and store them in your closet.

As you can see, a Leica is expensive in comparison to these cameras. And it isn’t any better. It just has “Leica” engraved on top.

It’s just a camera

Concluding, I don’t think that everyone should have a Barnack Leica. It’s definitely nor the best camera, nor the camera for everyone and nor for every purpose. It has a lot of flaws, disadvantages, comparing to other cameras. It’s not the perfect camera. BUT! If you’re serious about your photography, especially when you’re shooting street photography, you should try to get one and shoot a few rolls of it. Then, either you’ll love it or… poof, magic is gone. It’s just a camera.

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56 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply
    Alex
    January 8, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    I get where you are coming from with this, I was lucky enough to inherit a Leica M3 and 3 lenses from my late grand father and as much as everyone raves about the M3 the speed is the thing that I struggle with. I love the camera and really love the quality of the photos it makes but I end up reaching for my minilux more as I just point and shoot.

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      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 9, 2016 at 8:11 pm

      This is exactly what I meant. I really like the IIIf, but I’m even happier with my €2 AF-10 Super… As you said, just point and shoot. It’s essential when shooting family, pets or just memories.

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    Reply
    Francois
    January 8, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    I can understand the frustration and the economic reality. First you’re working with a camera that is about 65 years old which probably was never revised over the years and a jupiter lens, however interesting this lens is, it is hard to compete with current lens/camera combo.
    Leicas can be both a joy and a frustration and you’ll have to accept its shortcomings if you want to enjoy them, it takes time but it’s worth it.
    At the end of the day, a camera is a tool and you should enjoy using it, if not, you won’t use it and then you should find another camera.
    However, Leicas are amazing engineering machines and with proper maintenance (cla) and Leica glass it’s hard to appreciate them and the creative potential they offer. You should first have a cla done on the body and find a 50mm elmar 3,5, this will mean a month’s salary…but a lifetime of pleasure.
    In closing, good luck for finding the perfect camera, I’m still trying after 30 years….

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 9, 2016 at 8:17 pm

      I get your point, totally. But for now, a Leica glass is way beyond my budget – and investing in Canon EF (or m42) lenses seems more reasonable.

      Of course, Jupiter-8 isn’t the best lens ever, but I loved it on my Kiev/Contax a year ago. Also, it’s fantastic stopped down to f/5.6 on my mirrorless camera (yet it’s a bit too tight for a crop sensor).

      I know what I want from my perfect camera: a big, good viewfinder (preferably with frames), quick af, silent motor, a focal lenght between 28 and 40mm (f/2.8 or faster), EV correction, flash modes. I don’t really care about the size. Oh and it should take film, not memory cards. Any ideas? 😉

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Marco
        February 25, 2016 at 4:43 pm

        I have never tried one, but it seems to me that you are describing a contax G2 😛

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    Reply
    Dee Sallows
    January 8, 2016 at 11:25 pm

    A wonderful post. I enjoyed every bit of it.
    Like the gear shift on a classic car, it helps to know what you are doing.
    Thank you.

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      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 9, 2016 at 8:19 pm

      Thank you for your kind words! And yes, it’s like with classic cars – it’s nice to ride them from time to time, but you wouldn’t drive it on a family trip 😉

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    Reply
    Blinx
    January 8, 2016 at 11:58 pm

    I thought Hamish rather over-egged the advantages of a Barnack Leica as a practical, working camera for a modern photographer, though I commend him for trying. Old cameras certainly can be put to good use but they need to be “worked”, with exposure and focus constantly adjusted in anticipation of the perfect shot, because if you don’t plan ahead until it arrives you’ll certainly have missed it! I’m sure this is the way Cartier-Bresson used one in its heyday.

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      Reply
      Hamish Gill
      January 9, 2016 at 7:00 am

      Ooooo I do like an eggy pudding though! 😉

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        Reply
        Blinx
        January 9, 2016 at 1:16 pm

        Haha, nice one! Defining best value in a camera is notoriously difficult. Late model consumer SLRs sell for ridiculously small sums, often with a lens. They make incredibly practical film cameras as all the technological know-how had filtered down to entry level, the AF was very good, they have a pop up flash, manual overrides and typically sell from about 99p to twenty quid with a kit lens. The only thing they lack is kudos and feel factor.

        For the best value mix of both, I’d opt for a Nikkormat. Hand built to the same standards as the F and F2 (which was very high indeed as Nikon wanted to compete with Zeiss and Leica), more practical than a Barnack with a wider variety of top quality lenses at much cheaper prices, and for pocket money prices. I’ve noticed Nikkormat’s have risen in the last eighteen months from rock bottom, but a good one shouldn’t set you back more than £50-100 today and will probably outlive the user.

        • Avatar
          Reply
          Dominik Mrzyk
          January 9, 2016 at 8:24 pm

          Totally agree on preparations to shoot! Same with your words on entry level SLRs – I’ve used Canon 300 and it was terrible. That’s why I love 50e (Elan II) – it’s robust, metal (at top part), solid, weights a lot and it’s kinda ‘automatic’, which I like.
          I’ve been thinking about jumping into m42 more, maybe a Spotmatic body, as m42 lenses are the cheapest in Poland. I’d like to try the Nikkormat, but the lenses costs A LOT here. Anything like the Nikkormat but in m42? I plan to buy a manual focus body.

          • Avatar
            stevy
            December 14, 2016 at 10:10 am

            Hi Dominik, great review. I’ve been using pentax ESII AE mode, and M42 lens Takumars family.
            the lens are sharp and great even the 135mm super sharp. It’s cheap too the pentax ESII, last stroll from pentax for m42 camera.

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    Reply
    Gary Sandhu
    January 9, 2016 at 2:47 am

    Don’t sell it – you’ll just end up buying another leica 🙂

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      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 9, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Haha I don’t plan to! I’m thinking about giving it away, doing something like Hamish is doing with a “Travelling Yashica” or just keeping it for myself, though I’m using the Canon and Olympus a lot more these days (faster, easier to use with flash). Thanks for commenting!

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    Reply
    A Bearman
    January 9, 2016 at 4:58 am

    Bravo! I enjoyed this.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 9, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Thank you, it means a lot to me!

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    Reply
    Stephen
    January 9, 2016 at 8:49 am

    Sodit…

    I’m off to buy a Leica Q….

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Matthew Maber
      January 9, 2016 at 11:07 am

      Or a Panasonic XYZ 😉

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        Reply
        Dominik Mrzyk
        January 9, 2016 at 8:28 pm

        The biggest problem with any digital Leica is the price. I know it’s their bussiness strategy, but it’s sad they are, as a company, more for money than for photography.
        And as Matthew says, just get a Panasonic. Or Fuji. 😉

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    Reply
    Matthew Maber
    January 9, 2016 at 9:51 am

    Good read for sure. Tempers my desire for a iiia somewhat. Though I still want one. Or an M2… Hmm

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      Reply
      Blinx
      January 9, 2016 at 1:26 pm

      An M5 is the one to get ; ) A cult within a cult, and not a lot more folding money than a Barnack.

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        Reply
        Matthew
        January 9, 2016 at 1:29 pm

        Nahh, Im after an M2 partially for its classic looks, the M5 is too big and weird.

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          Reply
          Blinx
          January 9, 2016 at 4:22 pm

          “the M5 is too big and weird”

          You say that like it’s a bad thing! After the M5, the M2 is my favourite M-Series Leica, but I’ve never actually owned one. I fancy a Barnack but they make even less sense than an M with a 3rd party lens, and a nice clean screw mount Leica and period Leica lens or two that hadn’t succumbed to fogging or scratching, takes the camera out of the fun price range and into serious decision territory. I’m not very good at getting rid of cameras, so couldn’t even try one for size with the intention of selling on. It’s one way postal traffic I’m afraid.

          • Avatar
            Dominik Mrzyk
            January 9, 2016 at 8:31 pm

            Shhhh, I’ve wanted an M5! But due to notorious problems with meter in this model, I’d rather go for M2 or M4-2 (super cheap and looks fantastic!).

          • Avatar
            Halka
            January 12, 2016 at 5:39 pm

            @dominik (cannot reply to your post for some reason, so posting above):

            Dude! Super cheap? I thought 200€ was an investment! 🙂

            Thanks or the article, it did cool off my desire for a Barnack quite nicely. Two hundreds for a camera and then at least a hundred for a ‘proper’ western lens (although a J-8 would tide me over for a bit, sure) is really too much for something that I would invariably find too frustrating in day to day use. Canon P seems to be a pretty solid deal, with more modern features like (gasp) a hinged back, but still not even close to FSU stuff then it comes to price.

            It seems I need periodical reminders that I already have plenty of perfectly good cameras already, but I imagine it’s no different for anyone else.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 9, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      DESIRE is the key word when it comes to Leica 😉 You may desire it, but you definitely don’t need it!

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Blinx
        January 9, 2016 at 9:34 pm

        The light meter is on a moving cell, it’s the same as the CL and both M5 and CL cameras are still working accurately many years later. The only incompatibility is with collapsible lenses, a few ultra-wide Leica lenses and FSU wides with extensive rear elements. Most lenses have no such problems.
        When I researched the M5 one theme kept repeating, users who’d had one and sold it said it was the Leica rangefinder they most missed. Another point was that an M5 in excellent condition was harder to find than other M-Series Leicas, because they were most likely to have been used by professionals. I’ve certainly formed an attachment to mine. On the theme of M42 cameras, a Spotmatic is as good a purchase as any. I don’t know if Chinon cameras made their way to Poland, but they retained the m42 mount into the automated period and are available for very little money.

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    Reply
    Filmosaur
    January 9, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    If you find using any manual rangefinder camera slow, you’re doing it wrong. Assuming you’re shooting negatives and not slides, if you must, meter in advance, once, and be done with it. Set aperture and shutter, zone focus (10ft/3m is good for 50mm in the street, wider lenses just make it easier), and that’s it. Wind and shoot. If you put a 28mm or wider on it, it’s essentially a P&S, as you basically never have to focus. Between that and 50mm you might need to make an adjustment now and again, but it’s not that hard. Sure, if you’re using it for landscapes or portraits, you’re going to take more time with the settings, but if you want to shoot quickly there’s absolutely no reason you can’t so it with a screwmount Leica or any other manual RF. I’ve used this type of camera to shoot in the streets of New York – not a slow-moving environment – for years, as many have done for decades before me.

    All the other stuff is basically personal preference or convenience; personally, I dislike plastic cameras, cameras that depend on batteries, cameras that automatically load and wind the film, and especially cameras that think they know better than I do when it comes to exposure and focus, but to each his own.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 14, 2016 at 11:00 pm

      That’s true what you have wrote about shooting with a manual camera – but only when you shoot on the streets. And I know it and this is how I shoot streets, too! And as you pointed, it becomes more complicated when shooting portraits – and “life”, as I call it. The light varies more (outdoor, indoor, reflective surfaces etc.), and you focus much closer!

      Thank you for this comment!

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    Reply
    jeremy north
    January 9, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    I seem to be the only dissenting voice here. I admire Dominik for having a go in his second language, but none of his points stand up to scrutiny.
    You could make these comments about any camera. There is always another that is quieter or cheaper or easier to use. As for the Polish economy, what does that have to do with anything? Never mind the scissors or Soviet Union lenses.
    I thought Hamish’s original post was just a stream of consciousness musing. A “hey, why not consider a LTM?”, rather than a rallying cry to say that no-one serious about photography would be without an early Leica.
    I am no Leica fanboy or apologist. Quite the opposite. I can think of only one reason to own a Barnack Leica. History. Nobody can argue with that! Barnack invented 35mm photography.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Blinx
      January 10, 2016 at 11:01 am

      35mm cameras prior to Leica: http://corsopolaris.net/supercameras/early/early_135.html

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 14, 2016 at 10:56 pm

      Actually, English is my third language, after Polish and French 😀 Thanks!

      Of course, you’re right, they will be always a better camera. The point of the articlle was to show that a Barnack Leica isn’t the best camera and has its own flaws. That’s all.

      As for Polish economy, I’ve included that because it is important to remember that words ‘expensive’ and ‘cheap’ are relative. The more you go to East, the less people earn. You may say that iPhone is affordable, but it costs more than 2 months of hard work in Poland. See? That’s all.

      And as Blinx already commented, Barnack didn’t invent 35mm photography. 🙂

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    Reply
    Urban Hafner
    January 11, 2016 at 8:33 am

    So you’re actually more of a fan of the cameras that got this site started then Dominik? 😛 But as many already said, metering every time isn’t really necessary. I’m not totally secure with it myself but I’m sure you and I we will get there if we practice enough. That said, I don’t use my meterless camera for family shots either. 😉

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 14, 2016 at 10:51 pm

      That’s the point! As I already mentioned below, I don’t care about the meter when shooting on the streets, cityscapes, architecture etc. I’m guessing by Sunny 16 and adding a stop or two just to be sure. But for family shots, that’s different. These photos mean more to me, I don’t want them screwed up.

      (A lot of commenting here seems to believe that I’ve never shoot a meterless camera. I did. Like, for most of my film shooting, with zorki’s, fed’s, the Mamiya, Lubitels, Smiena… You know me!)

      • Avatar
        Reply
        stevy
        December 14, 2016 at 10:24 am

        I feel you when it come to shot family trip or occasion. They are the most tough client for us. You photo can be blurry (so called artistic) can be dark (like batman movie). But family pics, you can’t go wrong man. Or else you budget for photography cut off. Or your wife only allowed you to bring digital :).

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    Reply
    Tony
    January 11, 2016 at 5:08 pm

    I appreciate reading opposing viewpoints, but of all your reasons not to buy a LTM camera, the one that is least convincing to me is the lack of a light meter. If that is a criterion, then one would pass over many iconic film cameras that were at the heart of photography from its inception. In 2016, to continue your point, if you really need a light meter (and you don’t) you can use an iPhone light meter app, or buy one of the perfectly good incident meters on the market.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 14, 2016 at 10:45 pm

      Of course, you’re right. A lot of iconic cameras hasn’t a meter. But it was just my opinion, on shooting a Barnack Leica, used as a notebook, diary, whatever. No meter doesn’t really matter to me when shooting streets – but when I’m portraing my siblings and friends, I want to be sure.

      A meter would add up to the cost. And even a cheap meter costs more than metered SLR.

      The point of this article was to point out cons of a Barnack Leica, and no meter is a con in my view/shooting style.

      • Avatar
        Reply
        Dominik Mrzyk
        January 14, 2016 at 10:47 pm

        (One more thing, I know you all hate when I’m speaking about the economy – but I have to mention that iPhones are used in Poland by rich people and their kids. Average Polish use a cheap android phone.)

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    Reply
    Thom
    January 14, 2016 at 10:35 am

    A 50mm elmar 3.5 can be had for €100. A 90mm Elmar 4 for €50.

    Leica mount is expensive for: Fast and wide. But since with a barnack that means external finders and slightly questionably focusing… There’s not much value. Little reason to go iopeter. That said, on an M2 or later; the Iopeter 12 is amazing.

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 14, 2016 at 10:41 pm

      “Expensive” and “cheap” is relative. That’s what I meant when speaking about economy.

      And yes, J-12 is fantastic for the price!

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    Reply
    Ric Capucho
    January 14, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    (cough) M6. (cough, cough).

    Set hyperfocus (set yer aperture and then move the infinity symbol to the same number on the focus ring) – then leave it well alone. Follow the “follow me” internal exposure meter using the speed dial only – then leave it well alone. Then snap away to yer heart’s content. Dunno what the fuss is all about in terms of slowing yer down. Do it my way, and yer speed up.

    Ric

    • Avatar
      Reply
      Dominik Mrzyk
      January 14, 2016 at 10:38 pm

      Hi Ric, I think you missed my two points. Or even three of them.

      First, I point out that a Barnack Leica is expensive. Buying an M6 is not an option, it costs 3 times more than I will earn per month after finishing my 5-years studies. Also, buying an M6 won’t improve the IIIf itself. It’s not a solution.

      I know what the hyperfocal setting is, and again – you missed 2 paragraphs. I’m mostly shooting “life”, memories, when I shoot in low light and at close focus distances (0,7-2m). Hyperfocus won’t help here 😉

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        Reply
        Ric Capucho
        January 15, 2016 at 8:11 pm

        Hi Dominik,

        Ok, I was making a bit of a provocative point recommending an M6 to a recent Polish student. And I have quite some professional history on Poland, and very aware that local salaries are difficult for such an expense. At least at this point of Polish history, as the Polish economy is definitely going to change – by growing like hell. 🙂

        I’m also quite sure that you and your family didn’t put you into university without hopes for a successful future… even if it will take a while. Furthermore, I’ve just turned 51 years, and looking back my “cash broke” university years and the years after now seem to be very brief in my personal life journey.

        “So slow”… that was the other important point I took away from your post. My hyperfocus approach definitely related to my own street photography, even in low light. But I concede that point ‘n’ shoot home and family situations might need something quicker. So buy yourself a point ‘n’ shoot for that. I just use my iPhone.

        Therefore I’m more with Hamish on the point: a Barnack or whatever Leica, or a premium film camera such a Rolleiflex would be an amazingly instructive way of getting into (and staying in) film for many of us. And may well be something to look forward to whilst building up your own life and career. And the slowness is the point for me and many others, not the problem at all. Does anyone need auto everything for landscapes on a tripod? Or even street, if you use my approach? Or for (joke) astrophotography? Many genres of photography don’t need auto anything. And many others are or would be improved if only people would just get away from the *speed* that the DSLR has to offer,

        So, in summary, buy yourself whatever film camera bargain you can afford, and I look forward to your post some time in the near future when you finally get whatever camera you truly want.

        Ric

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    Reply
    Brad
    January 15, 2016 at 1:29 am

    I felt that by the time Hamish wrote his article he perfected his workflow with the Barnack so the article represents the *possible* zen of the LTM experience, perhaps not what one might experience immediately after acquisition, especially if one has no experience with such cameras. I feel like that perspective was missing in this article. The complaints are valid but one of those essential things Hamish mentions when working with these vintage cameras is acclimating yourself to the limitations. Surely, changing lenses is slow(er). Yes, you may have issues achieving critical focus if your RF is not calibrated and sparkling clean. Yes, there are nuisances in the loading that require you to prepare the film in advance but overall I think these cameras give you not only nostalgia (even if you were never alive to use them when they were state of the art) but also that very intoxicating feeling of being accountable for your results regardless of the year and accordingly, regardless of the state of current technological advancements in photography. I mainly shoot M cameras because of their consolidation of those essentials but I also have come to appreciate the advantages (and build quality) of the original Nikon F, the early Hasselblads, and 4×5 Graphics among others. It’s true that the LTM cameras are even more compact, more subtle, and more reliable than many of those being churned out by the thousands per day in factories across Asia but it’s also true that LTMs are not for everyone. Perhaps this cautionary tale is apropos. Perhaps this will inspire someone that has only ever known digital homogeny in the form of 500 photos per day on Instagram. Photography should be a discovery and as a continued user of film in 35, MF and LF we should explore ALL options.

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    Tony
    January 15, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    I think Brad has stated it well. An LTM camera is not for everyone. Many who are satisfied to point and shoot with digital cameras that take care of all those little details like aperture, shutter speed, and ISO will not be happy with an LTM, or a film M, or possibly any film camera. But a few people might be inspired, discover a new interest they had not even thought about, and do something great.

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    Tony
    July 19, 2017 at 9:25 pm

    I have used a Leica III since 1981 and never used a lightmeter. I use a chromogenic film XP2, and have virtually never had an error. This article is full of errors. A pity as it will turn some screw Leica inquirers off.

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      Hamish Gill
      July 21, 2017 at 8:42 am

      Hi Tony, this was written as an answer to my post giving 7 reasons to own one – link

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    John Robert Young
    October 21, 2017 at 9:40 am

    Dear Sir

    Leica’s of all types require judicious handling. Like fast cars, which you cannot just hop in and drive, the Leica camera requires great skill. Professionally I have been using Leicas for well over fifty years and I am still learning. It is important to use equipment with which you are comfortable. Quite clearly a Leica is not for you. As you are well aware, it’s not the camera that takes the photograph.

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    Steven Uttley
    November 11, 2017 at 12:40 pm

    The lens is the thing. A camera is just a lightbox. Consequently you’re probably better off with a Leica lens on a Russian rangefinder than a Russian lens on a Leica in principle. In practice I understand that the 2 sets of M39 lenses are not entirely compatible for technical reasons and that accurate focusing is an issue. Consequently that Jupiter will probably give much sharper pictures mounted on a Russian body.

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    James Ashmore
    May 22, 2018 at 7:10 pm

    Today shooters dont acquire a IIIF for practical photography unless theyre an enthusiast. The M camera was specifically designed to overcome the inherent issues in the predecessor. My advice is to save up and trade in for a M42, which isnt cheap for you but is far more useable ss a photographic tool. You can download a perfectly good free exposure meter app on your smartphone and take readings from that. After a while youll be able to estimate the reading accurately through experience. Its no bad thing to take your time and think about each shot and your technique will improve as a result. Good shooting!

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    Bubba Jones
    October 30, 2018 at 3:49 am

    “…then, it was 10 times cheaper…” that is arithmeticly impossible. Remember from grammar school “Times” always indicates more never less. Thus one item can cost ten times more.

    Cordially,
    Bubba

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      Hamish Gill
      October 30, 2018 at 7:20 am

      Your comment is also grammatically incorrect. And besides, “10 times cheaper” is turn of phrase, it’s poetic licence, it’s expression to enhance a point. The wonders of the English language, expressed by someone who doesn’t speak it as their first. I wonder, would you do so well in Polish? I know I wouldn’t…

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    Bubba Jones
    October 30, 2018 at 1:53 pm

    Good morning,
    Thank you for your polite and cordial response. Allow me to disagree, “10 times cheaper” is not a turn of phrase, it is a phrase repeated without consideration of its impossibility thus it cannot enhance any point. Poetic license is for embellishing, “10 times cheaper” is not embellishing it is blatanly false. In any language “10 times cheaper” would not make sense. Again, times indicates more, never less.

    There are many words incorrectly used, the reason is they are repeated all without consideration for their correct meaining. It is interesting that a dictionary is now most often used for spelling rarely for definitions. As an example the following words are almost always used incorrectly, jealous for envy, anxious for eager, podium for lecturn, Buffalo for Bison, wind for wend, the list goes on. If nothing is said nothing changes thus their incorrect use is again perpetuated. When words, and phrases are incorrectly used it makes understanding the written or spoken language a challange.

    Truly, I very much enjoy your articles and 35mmc site. I look forward to reading many more articles. Your information is a great help for myself and others; you must be commended.

    With cordiality, politeness, and respect we can agree to disagree.
    Bubba

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    Hal
    October 30, 2018 at 8:28 pm

    Hamish, Bubba was being a bit pedantic, but I’m curious, where’s the grammatical error you said he made?

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      Hamish Gill
      November 3, 2018 at 10:40 am

      I was being pedantic in return… I’d have added a little more punctuation

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    frank
    September 5, 2019 at 8:16 pm

    i’ve got an M5 and the IIF. A Rolleiflex is quiter and gives better images than either.

    However, the Leica’s are excellent. Of the two, I find the little IIF prettier. I enjoy both, but I enjoy the IIIF more. It IS slower in EVERY way, but that’s the point. I am enjoying the process. If I didn’t enjoy the process, i would just snap away with my dslr.

    PLUS, the IIIF looks and feels like a jewel. It’s like a fine watch (which is another obsolete item).

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