Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1998/11/30

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Subject: Re: [Leica] actual leica question...
From: Walter S Delesandri <>
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 17:32:01 -0600 (CST)

The best deal on a Leica today is a "user" M4-2.  I've seen 
several in the $650-750 range.  I've owned and used 
the M4-2 and M4-P as well as the older bodies, and they're 
the best buy.  They don't have the "collector" appeal, or the 
finish quality of the earlier Ms, but they're tough 
workhorses.  I've used two CLs, fun, but they're built cheap and 
the metering system is a disaster waiting to happen.  The 
CLE is now virtually unrepairable (thank you japanese) but 
was a neat camera.

The screw mount cameras are a cult.  They weren't even the 
best cameras when they were popular.  The post-war Contax and 
Nikon/Canon RFDRs were much better, with FAR better optics than 
Leica--AT THAT TIME......I love the IIIF etc, but they're a 
pain in the ass.  I used to have a couple, and used them when 
I wanted to pretend to be a 50s journalist!  

I don't buy the posts that state that the newest lens designs 
are the only ones to have, but if you want to USE the junk, 
stick with 60s or later M lenses on the M4 or later bodies.
Earlier lenses are notoriously bad about scratches/fog, and 
earlier bodies are not as usable as the M4-2, M4-P etc.  And yes, 
I've used M3s, M2s etc for years.  I just got tired of not having 
the 35 and (pseudo) 28 frame in the camera.  My second choice of 
course would be an M2 (it has 35mm frame) BUT for the same price 
as a reasonably clean, late M2, you can get an EXC++ M4-2.

It's hard to use a FED, etc, unless you're also a repairman.
The screw mount copies don't take M-lenses, of course, and 
the only screw Leica lenses worth using (late, clean, etc.) 
are now priced in the stratosphere.  If you just want a RFDR, 
and are willing to use Canon lenses, the "lesser" bodies
(canon P, L, VI-t) are reasonable in "hard user" condition.
I'd hate to see you have to get one repaired, tho....I've owned 
and used them all, and as a repairman and photographer, I'd 
go with the "undesirables" -- a canada M4-2 user!!

Welcome to the cult -- no turning back now....