Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1996/10/07

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Subject: Re: Leicaflex
From: "Charles E. Love, Jr." <>
Date: Tue, 8 Oct 1996 00:01:16 -0400 (EDT)

At 10:10 AM 10/6/96 -0400, you wrote:
>What are the thoughts and opinions of people in this group regarding the
>Leicaflex SL and SL2?  Good cameras?  Great cameras?  If given the choice,
>should I opt for a used R series camera (R3) or the Leicaflex (realizing
>that automation is nice but not a necessity)?  How about lens compatibility?
>I'm trying to find an affordable way into the Leica reflex system and am
>torn between these two different options.
>BTW, I'm 45 and own an early production M3 (as well as an old Canon F1 and a
>Nikon F).
I owned two SL2's, and have used my brother's SL.  They are, in a way, great
cameras.  They are the last "real" Leica-designed reflexes--all of the R's
but (I hear) the R8 are based on Minoltas.  They sound and feel
wonderful--mechanical music!  Their subjective quality "feel" is high--many
people feel they are the most magnificent SLR's ever built.  But they are
somewhat limited.  They have only a match-needle spot meter and manual mode,
so your shooting will be somewhat deliberate with them.  They have no motor
capability, except for the special SL and SL2-MOTs, which are incredibly
expensive and heavy.  Indeed, an SL2 by itself is very heavy.  I loved them
but found myself always choosing the "R" cameras except when I needed a fix
of the SL2 quality feel.  

As for lens compatibility, SL's and SL2's require either two or three cam
lenses.  This means they can use older Leicaflex lenses (with the exception
of the really ancient ones for the original Leicaflex, which have only 1
cam)  and the more recent lenses, with the exception of some lenses which
Leica calls "R only" lenses which have only the third cam ( I think Leica
has dropped this practice now, so you can get every lens in 3-cam).  In
addition, the SL cannot use some Minolta based lenses--the 24 and the first
80-200 zoom and the fisheye come to mind, but there may be others--because
the mirror will hit the protruding back element.  This was fixed with the
SL2.  In practice, this means SL2's can use most everything.  One
exception--there is only one doubler they can use, a special version of the
first (non-APO) 2x converter--the others work only with the R's.

Then there's price.  SL's are a good deal cheaper than SL2's, partly for
functional reasons (the SL2's meter is more sensitive, and it has a new
shape) and partly because Leitz made a lot less SL2's.  SL2's are expensive
enough so that you can get a very nice, late R camera for the same money.
You can get a nice R3 for a LOT less, and it will do more--spot and
averaging metering, aperture preferred shutter, and an electronic shutter.
But then there is the subjective wonderfulness of the Leicaflexes--if you
like your old Canons and Nikons, you'll LOVE the Leicaflexes!.

BTW, don't consider the original Leicaflex as a user.  It has an external
light meter and a fascinating aerial image viewing screen (which can't be
used with long lenses).  More important, a lot of lenses won't fit it--the
"brow" over the lens opening keeps the fatter lenses from being put on the
camera (like the 35 1.4).  This recommendation comes despite its fine
construction--it's the equal of the SL and SL2 in that way.

Have fun and good luck--Charlie
Charles E. Love, Jr.
517 Warren Place
Ithaca, New York

Replies: Reply from Bert Keuken <> (Re: Leicaflex)
Reply from James J Dempsey <> (Re: Leicaflex)