Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2001/03/19

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: Re: [Leica] old vs. new quality and viewfinder images
From: Henning Wulff <>
Date: Mon, 19 Mar 2001 23:17:20 -0800
References: <>

At 8:40 PM -0500 3/19/01, Emanuel Lowi wrote:
>For years I was one of those people who asserted that Leica M 
>cameras of yesteryear
>were much better built than today's M6. My views were based on the 
>differences in the
>sound and the feel of cameras of the different eras. I also was told 
>by respected
>independent repair people about a few small features that had been changed.
>While this may not be the definitive experiment, I thought the LUG might be
>interested in my result.
>I have used a rather shabby-looking M6 as my main working camera for 
>a long time.
>Indeed, it's somewhat downtrodden look and feel was my main evidence 
>for the decline
>in Leica quality. Well, recently, after a time spent collecting odds 
>& ends parts
>from various older cameras, I re-skinned my trustworthy mule with a 
>complete set of
>original Wetzlar M4-era black paint outer parts. I also re-covered 
>it with the Fargo
>stuff that looks like vulcanite.
>Imagine my surprise when I discovered that the re-cloaked camera's 
>sound and feel had
>been transformed too! Now when I wind and shoot, the shutter sounds 
>just like an M
>camera of old. All the controls now feel smoother and indefinably 
>nicer. I am not
>Some wiser person than me may be able to explain why switching to 
>painted brass parts
>should make such a huge difference. I can tell you that what was 
>once a very ordinary
>well-used M6 now has the heft and silky precision operation of a classic M4.
>I also converted the innards by installing an M3 rangefinder unit. 
>All things being
>equal otherwise, I can say that the M3 finder is a big help for 
>viewing and framing
>with my 50mm and 90mm lenses. But I also find that the M3 viewfinder 
>is slightly less
>bright than the former M6 unit. I am beginning to wonder whether the increased
>brightness of today's M6 is the cause of the infamous flare problem 
>(note that most
>remedies for the problem involve dimming the finder image with tape 
>etc.). In any
>case, the differences in viewing with the different eras of finders 
>are not as huge
>in use as you may imagine (the larger magnification of the M3 is 
>great, but so is the
>brightness of today's .85 M6).
>Aside from the few changes that may weaken specific non-critical 
>features (e.g., like
>the frame counter plastic bits) and the few others that are definite 
>(e.g. today's steel lugs are tougher and more easily replaced), I no 
>longer believe
>that today's M6  is fundamentally inferior to yesterday's M2/3/4.
>I do find, though, that the lens diaphragms of today aren't as 
>reliable. Apparently,
>the pins on which the blades are fixed aren't finished as smoothly 
>as they once were,
>causing friction wear at the attachment point. This has caused 
>problems for me with a
>few lenses made in the early '90s
>Emanuel Lowi

In 40 years of Leica use and ownership, I've always (with one 
exception) found that the new stuff was rougher, harsher, louder and 
therefore seemed of lower quality than the older stuff. I've come to 
realize that Leicas need a reasonable break-in period of a few 
hundred rolls of film to smooth off the harder edges. They then 
behave like the smooth, quiet machines like that old M3 that we used 
to have.

Fresh from the factory, all the gears etc. are still hard edged, 
producing some high frequency overtones and feeling a bit rough at 
times. After 500 rolls they are just getting ready for their main 
role in life.

The only exception has been the LHSA camera I got just recently, 
which is smoother than my 10 year old M6, and almost as smooth as my 
30 year old M4.

- -- 
    *            Henning J. Wulff
   /|\      Wulff Photography & Design
  |[ ]|

Replies: Reply from Mark Rabiner <> ([Leica] paw site)
Reply from "Stanislaw B.A. Stawowy" <> (Re: [Leica] old vs. new quality and viewfinder images)
In reply to: Message from "Emanuel Lowi" <> ([Leica] old vs. new quality and viewfinder images)