Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1997/03/20

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Subject: Re: Leica Alternatives
From: Marc James Small <>
Date: Thu, 20 Mar 1997 22:45:12 -0500

At 09:07 PM 3/20/97 +0000, Peter Jon White wrote:

>I think we're going off the deep end here. I don't know when the 
>Nikon or Contax was discontinued. I believe the Canon was gone by 
>1970 or so. But whenever it was discontinued, by then the other two 
>were long gone. Many of the lenses available have fungus growing on 
>them and still command ridiculous prices by collectors.
>Sure, if you look long and hard enough you can assemble a useable 
>system among the cameras you mentioned. But very few people can 
>afford to use cameras that can't be serviced. And who has the time to 
>try and find all of the components? Old or new Leicas and lenses are 
>available everywhere you look.
>Need a bellows? There are 15 or 20 advertised in Shutterbug each 
>month. Need a 200mm lens and a Visoflex? No problem. You can have it 
>Fed Ex tomorrow.
>Canon doesn't make parts for the 7 anymore. I assume Nikon doesn't 
>make parts for the SP anymore, and Zeiss Ikon is only a fond and 
>distant memory to people with too much time on their hands. My M3 
>from 1955 can be rebuilt practically from the ground up with brand 
>new parts. Try that with the Contax.

I suspect the deep end here is Mr White's.

First, there are a number of parts for the M3 which are no longer
available.  There are a number of parts for the Contax cameras still
available new.  The Contax design, as a whole, is somewhat more rugged.
So, all in all, the chance of having a functional Contax IIa or IIIa or M3
is about the same -- in fact, I have a fully functional run of all the
Contaxes, Prewar and Postwar.  Every M3 I've ever owned needed overhauled.  

Second, I cannot comment on Nikon or Canon, but will claim a modest amount
of knowledge and experience with Zeiss lenses.  I have never noticed that
Zeiss lenses have any greater propensity for fungus than do Leitz lenses.

Third, you neglect, of course, the continued production in the Ukraine of
Contax cameras until 1986.  Thus, you can have a Contax II clone
significantly NEWER than your M3.  And most of the later production lenses
made in the USSR or its successory states are multi-coated.

There's nothing wrong with the M Leicas -- shucks, an M6 and some Rolleis
are my daily shooters.  But let's not shortchange the Contax system or make
it into something it wasn't!


Marc James Small
Cha Robh Bas Fir, Gun Ghras Fir!
FAX:  +540/343-7315