I got into the Leica business last summer by an accident. To be precise, I had some m/39-glass already for my A7, but never had a Leica body because Leica is synonym for expensive, and I’m a sparfuchs, as germans say.
But exactly for that reason I could not resist when I saw an M4-P with a jammed advance on display at Walters camera in Tuebingen, Germany. It was only 100 eur, and otherwise mint, so I took a gamble, and after ~40 minutes of digging into the intricate innards of the camera with the help of youtube, it was fixed to working order. The final touch was the plastic tip for the shutter advance, which was missing originally, and was sent to me by Leica AG for free after I had requested the price quote for the part, or M3 lever. They did not even charge for shipping, and also included a set of screws to attach it, in case I lost one. Count me impressed!
Otherwise the camera does need a CLA as the 1/1000 speed is not working properly in cold weather, but I’m fine with that for now. Heck, I would even shoot it at 1/50 exclusively if that was the only speed working! The haptics is just superb! Some people say that M4-Ps are inferior to M3s because film advance and shutter are not as buttery smooth, but that’s complete nonsense! I just can not help but smile when I advance film, and can not imagine anyone putting a winder on that thing. Another important point for me is that according to serial number, the camera was produced sometime in summer 1983, i.e. is the same age as me! I will never sell it.
Glass-wise, I have a lot by now, mostly off-brand (i.e. cosina and russian glass), with the most recent addition being the glorious 50 1.1 from 7artisans. I tried it on A7 first, and did not like that much, but then attached it to where it belongs, and that’s what emerged from the first roll of expired Ilford 100 I went through. Given the sunny weather I exposed by eye for ie50, and tried to push the lens hard, shooting a lot wide open and against the sun (no hood used!). Still, I had hard time selecting the five frames as most of the roll turned out to be surprisingly good. Overall rendering reminds me my Jupiter 3, but with better central sharpness and overall contrast. Developed in HC110, which is my goto developer until I run out of concentrate, and “scanned” using the slide-duplicator attached to A7. I deliberately left the black borders un-cropped as it adds to the atmosphere in this case.
I must admit that the lens has also shortcomings. It’s big and heavy by Leica standards, has rather poor corners at infinity up until f11, funky bokeh and color on digital, but I can live with that for the price. Looks great both on Leica and A7 too 🙂 I highly recommend the lens for b&w film, and with some reservations also for digital.
You can find Hamish’s Leica M4-P review here
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