Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/12/13

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Subject: Re: [Leica] Survey results: R8 Reliability.
From: Nick Poole <>
Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2000 12:26:19 +0000
References: <>

Martin Howeard, Visiting Scholar, CSEL, OSU, wrote:

>There *appears* to be a pattern here -- later cameras seem less prone to
>problems than earlier ones.  In particular, we can note that all cameras
>with a s/n of 2,298,xxx or less have developed problems.
>Ultimately, I guess, the question is: Would I personally buy an R8?  The
>answer is, yes, I would.  It is the best manual focus SLR out there, in my
>opinion.  <Snip>
>However, at the moment, as a struggling PhD student, I need to divert my
>funds towards other things than esoteric camera equipment.

Thanks for an interesting summary of your findings! While the sample 
is too small to draw definite conclusions (as you acknowledge) it is 
nevertheless indicative of a pattern.

Somewhat tangentially, but in response to your closing remarks (with 
which I sympathise, having been a penniless PhD student myself) my 
experiences with Leica SLR's have been rather chequered, as follows.

First buy was an SL2 which has performed faultlessly since 1976 and 
is still my workhorse 35mm SLR (but I prefer, and use, M6's for most 
situations not requiring long or macro lenses).

Then came a (new) R3 about which the less said the better! Poor 
battery/meter performance, viewfinder a backward step from the 
clarity of the L'flex IMO. Ergonomically not in the same class. 
Disposed of after a couple of years. SL2 still solidly reliable.

As each new model (R4, R5, R7) appeared, all were tried on an 
extended loan basis (dealer friend!) to see if I really needed - as 
I'd convinced myself I did - the added convenience of auto exposure. 
While auto exposure was pretty accurate in most general situations, I 
too often found the lighting demanded accurate spot metering and I 
would revert to manual. In the end it seemed that convenience was 
less important than 'concentrated intuition' (phrase intentional), so 
I never settled on any of these. SL2 still utterly dependable, 
although I acknowledge that familiarity of long use might constitute 
an unfair advantage when comparing with the R's used only for a month 
or so.

I then bought (and still use) an R6 on an occasional basis. 
Initially, its small size troubled me (as do all the R bodies) but an 
R-Grip helped. However, it still feels too small to me, and I can see 
how the superior ergonomics of the R8 would be a powerful incentive. 
But the point I'm taking so long to get to is this - penury might 
prompt you to think about a second-hand Leicaflex. I have two and 
only one has so far been in for lubrication (no adjustment needed) in 
nearly 30 years! The shutter is astonishingly accurate (despite the 
constant assertion that no mechanical blind can ever equal that of an 
electronic shutter) so if you admire superlative mechanical 
engineering, a L'flex is on a par with the M cameras, IMHO.

Finally, I work slow and deliberate (so I'd never make a street 
photographer) and my remarks should be seen in that light. Of course, 
if you need the programmes offered by the R8 there is nowhere else to 
go. But I have many pro photographer friends who admit that the 
percentage of their work that depends on anything beyond manual is 
surprisingly low. And as for auto-focus!!! They all use it, but wow, 
you should hear their comments! (I may post some of these one day, 
but I'd run the risk of more than flaming from the manufacturers!)
Thanks again for your research,

In reply to: Message from Martin Howard <> ([Leica] Survey results: R8 Reliability.)