Getting a rangefinder again... R3A or M3

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by film_man, Jan 11, 2019 at 8:25 AM.

  1. film_man

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    Hi all. I'm looking to get a rangefinder again. I used to have a Bessa R3A for a while which was a great camera. I particularly loved the viewfinder even though the 40mm framelines were basically impossible to see. For various reasons I sold it but am now looking to get back to rangefinders. I intend to use the camera for quiet situations and for when I want just something light and small. Lens-wise I intend to use either the Voigtlander 40/1.4 or a Zeiss/Leica 50. No other focal lengths.

    So...I could get another R3a but where would the fun be in that! :D Additionally, given the prices these command noawadys I started looking at the Leica M3.

    For those who have used both, beyond autoexposure what am I losing with the M3? How do the finders compare between the two, is the M3 dimmer and is the rangefinder patch easier/trickier to see? Also, given a budget of £1000 for the body, is there anything else I should be thinking of? I suppose any other Leica 0.85x body is a candidate if the price is right?
     
  2. Saganich

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    I think it would be tough to find an M x.85 in that price range, but having owned an M6 x.85 I can say it is a nice set-up for 50 focal length. Sound like the viewfinder is of top import (I can sympathize as my eyes are not nearly as they once were even corrected) so even with x.85 you may feel it's a bit lacking. The closest to the M3 is the Bessa. The 40 would be OK on the M3 without glasses. If you want to be more adventurous a thread mount Leica IIIf or similar might be considered. The rangefinder is split into a magnified window (x1.5) for focus and one for composing. Film loading is the least convenient aspect of these.
     
  3. Ian Grant

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    The build quality of the M3 is much higher, can't comment on anything else. I've had my M3 for about 30 years and it's very reliable.

    Ian
     
  4. narsuitus

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    I have never used the Leica M3 or the Bessa R3A. I have only used the Leica M6, Leica M1, Contax G1, and the Canonet.

    Based on my limited experience, if I were in your situation, I would select my lens first.
    If I decided on the Voigtländer 40/1.4, I would select the R3A.
    If I decided on the Zeiss/Leica 50, I would select the M3.

    Since I prefer a 40mm focal length to a 50mm, I would select the 40/1.4 on the R3A.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019 at 10:48 AM
  5. OP
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    film_man

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    Oh, completely forgot about the Contax. Maybe the G1/2 is something to investigate too...hmmm...
     
  6. mshchem

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    M2 is an option too. I've settled on a M6ttl. .85 . I've had M2 and M6 .72 in the past, I kick myself for selling the M2, but I never liked the. .72 finder on the M6.

    I bought my current Leica from a fellow in Hong Kong who had 10 new in box M6ttl .85 ,this was a couple years ago. I think I paid 2300 usd. Of course no duties or tax here.

    I have a friend who has a Cosina made Voigtlander, he does a lot of good work with it.

    New Leica stuff has become jewelry for the wealthy. Too bad.
     
  7. ced

    ced Member
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    Go for an:
    Leica M6 TTL (.85X Finder/35-135mm) 35mm Rangefinder Camera Body, get a nice black one. If your budget is 1k sterling for the body you might just find one.
    Be careful about which Zeiss 50mm lens you put on as the Sonnar is great but wonky focus in the close ranges (takes getting used to & you need to know what is the closest distance the lens was calibrated for).
     
  8. danfogel

    danfogel Member

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    Another vote for M2. I use an M2 and two different 40mm lenses that bring up the 35mm framelines. With my glasses, what I see if approximately 40mm and it's a great set up. I use a hand held meter and mostly take incident readings. I would love AE sometimes, but not enough to trade away the feel and performance of the M2. So solid.
     
  9. Pieter12

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    The Contax G1/G2 is a great camera with great lenses. It is an autofocus, aperture-priority, motor-drive camera that can be used in full manual mode (not the film advance). The big difference for me is in the viewfinder. The Contax viewfinder is smaller (.57 with a 40mm lens, I believe) and positioned closer to the middle top of the body, sometimes confusing if you switch between a Leica (and most other rangefinders) and the Contax. On the plus side is the viewfinder zooms to match the lens (except the 21mm) rather than using bright lines like the Leica--and there is built-in diopter correction. A display visible in the viewfinder shows distance and shutter speed. The G1 sometimes has problems with autofocus, and won't fire. Manual focus is not as quick as a rangefinder (it's not a rangefinder camera). I'm pretty sure it will only take Zeiss Contax lenses, but they are all excellent. And film loading is easier, with a hinged back.
     
  10. Patrick Robert James

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    If you are going to use a 40 you might want to consider a Minolta CLE which has 40mm framelines. They are a lot less expensive than a M3.

    I've had an M3 for a really long time. I think it is best with a 90mm. My advice would be to get a camera that has a wider frameline than the focal length you want to use. The whole point of rangefinders is you can see outside your image to choose what to put in it. A Leica M2 or M4/M4-2/M4-P would be the way to go if you want a Leica.

    Hope that helps.
     
  11. mshchem

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    Contax is a great camera, the only "but" is it's all electronic. All the Leicas upto and including M6ttl are pure mechanical, the battery is for the light meter.

    "
     
  12. Huss

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    I’ve owned the Bessa R3a alongside my Leicas. I sold it after a few weeks as after the novelty of new camera wore off, I could not see picking it over an M3 to shoot with. The M3’s Vf is just perfect for 50mm lenses, the rf patch is larger, the camera is much smoother and quieter to use and quite frankly is just a joy to handle.
    If you are going to use a 40mm lens on it, just compose outside the frame lines.
     
  13. Huss

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    The Contax also has a very small squinty vf in comparison to a Leica or Bessa.
    The current film Leicas in production MA and MP are pure mechanical devices too.
     
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  15. Craig75

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    I had a G1 but the scale focus dial is unbelievably easy to move by accident.

    The fact they changed the focus dial and AF so quickly for the G2 shows how fatally flawed the first version was for many users.

    Try before you buy would be my recommendation with contax as its either a system you will love or hate.

    Sold mine for leica cl which i much prefer.
     
  16. mshchem

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    I agree, the gripe I have is the MP is a M6ttl with a crappy rewind knob, and it's only available with. 72x finder. 5 grand in the US. If I was rich, I would love to try a M digital model, but I spent all my surplus funds on a gently used Nikon D5. Fun, but it sounds like a machine gun at 12 fps.
     
  17. jtk

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    If you want ULTRA QUIET (dead silent) and can tolerate a 35/2 lens that's beyond Voigtlander....certainly in Summicron league...there's Konica Hexar AF.... there's a learning curve ... you can see an example on my Media (a cattle auction).
     
  18. OP
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    film_man

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    Thank you all for the useful opinions and
    Interesting notes on the frame lines. From what I can see there is plenty of space around the 50 framelines on the M3 so that should be ok with a 40? Your point about having space around is what makes the R3A not that good with the 40mm lens yet perfect with a 50. Thanks for that insight.
     
  19. OP
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    film_man

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    I looked at that one in the past, I think I want to have something with sufficient manual focus control. Which sort of makes the Contax and the Hexar AF a bit out of the question. Though would love to try one some day.
     
  20. OP
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    film_man

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    That's great, thanks. Would you say the RF patch is easier to use on the R3A or the M3? I vaguely remember that it sort of flared easily on the R3A, so making it a bit tricky sometimes to see.
     
  21. Paul Howell

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    For a lot less money what about a Canon P or 7, there are still good working 7s with working meters. The 7, rather than frame line has switchable finders for 28 to 90,been so long that I've had one don't recall is if has a 135 frame or not, the patch may not be a good a Leica but very usable, much easier to load. Will take the newer Votilander screw mount lens, the 40 would need an external viewfinder.
     
  22. Huss

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    Yes, on the M3 it does not flare. It also is bigger (IIRC, it's been a while since I sold my R3A). The M3 actually has a superior RF mechanism compared to the M2, as Leica made the M2's cheaper by removing a condenser lens as well as replacing the auto reset frame counter with the manual set dial.
     
  23. johnha

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    I've recently bought an M4 and Voigtlander 40/1.4 - for me it's a perfect combination (I prefer something slightly wider than a 50mm). The lens brings up the 50mm frame lines, but as I wear glasses and struggle to see the 35mm frame, the whole of the viewfinder I can see is roughly equivalent to 40mm. Alternatively I use the 50mm lines and allow for a bit more in the frame. I'm not sure if this would work with.a higher magnification viewfinder though.
     
  24. Ko.Fe.

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    M3 is not going to give as bright as Bessa VF, but it is just another category of manufacturing quality and handling pleasure.
    I had M3 DS CLE with original C seal. It was best ever build camera I had. I also had Bessa L, T, R and now R2M. Those are based on cheap Nikon FM10 made by Cosina. Bessa is nowhere near Leica. It is next to Zorki 4K how it looks like, turns lens up, not so good RF patch, film advance is Nikon FM feel, film rewind is kind of embarrassing and camera might give uneven frame spacing (related to cheap film advance mechanism). It needs half-case because exterior materials quality is bad.

    I have sold M3, because I don't like to use 50mm. And to be honest SBOOI VF gives more for me. It is true 1:1, M3 VF isn't.
    I'm keeping R2M for now as backup. My M4-2 needs at least 350$ service after recent 280$ service and half a year in the service shop waiting for parts...

    I had many lenses on M4, including 40/2 Rokkor CLE. It was not good. The main advantage of M3 is in accurate 50mm frames.
    Any 50mm lens will do. I used Crons, Nokton and load of FSU.
    Be careful with large apertures. On a bright and snowy day, f1.5 will burn the curtain in less than minute, without direct sun.

    Re-sellers used Leica M prices went up recently I couldn't believe it, but... M3 might be less affected. It is one of the most available for sale.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2019 at 9:14 PM
  25. OP
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    film_man

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    Great, thanks for the information.
     
  26. OP
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    film_man

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    Thanks. The more I think about it the more I'm kind of leaning towards a Leica body vs the Voigtlander, purely because I never had one so need to get that out of my system :D

    I found a photo of the framelines on the M3, it does look like the 50 lines are relatively positioned like the 40 lines on the R3a so I may have to rethink the M3 vs M4 (or any other M) question. Hopefully something will turn up locally so I can go and try it, it is easy to find an M body except an M3!
     
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