How to buy a Leica?

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Hi,

I am growing a little tired of my Fed3 because of the dim and small viewfinder. So I have found a couple of M2's and M4's that are on sale in Stockholm right now. They sell for around 4000 - 5000 SEK (615 - 770 USD). I'd need a lens too of course.

The features seem to be comparable. Mechanical shutters and large viewfinders. I already held the M2 in my hand and it felt good. And now comes my question: what should I look for when checking them out? Shutter fired beautifully on the M2 specimen that I held, no lens attached though.

Expose a test film for shutter checking, I guess. Clean view- and rangefinder glass? How can one know that it has been properly kept?

For a start I will most probably attach a russian Industar 61 (which is screwmounted, so I need an adapter). I'll buy a Leica lens a bit later.

Thanks in ahead for your excellent advice. I really mean it.

Erik
 

Ian Grant

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I'd go to an official Leica dealer, that way you get a camera that's been checked and usually tested/serviced. My experience when buying my M3 a few years ago is that's actually the best way to get value for money and a camera that will be working perfectly and last many more years.

Ian
 
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Erik Petersson
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Thank you Andreas, that site looks really useful. I'll print it tomorrow.

I don't know if there are any Leica dealers in Stockholm for used gear. Well, I found a quotation for a M4 in C condition for just above 900 USD, that was in a store.

Well, well
 

Nick Merritt

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That's not too high a price for an M4, especially if there is a store warranty -- don't know what "C" condition is, though.
 
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Erik Petersson
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C is a camera which has been used, but still has guarantee. D is without guarantee. B is used, but "as new".

But I am tempted to buy the cheaper M2 or M4.
 
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C is a camera which has been used, but still has guarantee. D is without guarantee. B is used, but "as new".

But I am tempted to buy the cheaper M2 or M4.

Hej Erik,

Jag använder en M2a sedan ett par år tillbaka och gillar den skarpt. Köp en som ser fin ut och skicka den sedan på service. Ett fint objektiv att börja med är en Summitar 50mm f2. Underbar optik. Eller en Summicron förstås.

Sorry for the Swedish, everybody else. I get very excited when I see fellow Swedish people. :smile:

- Thomas
 

JLP

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Can't blame you Thomas, I even get exited when I see a Swede here and as you know I am a Dane. :smile:

I think those prices are good if these cameras are in good condition and don't need a service.
One thing to consider is what kind of lenses you prefer to use, I think the M4 is a little better if you will be using both wide angles and short tele lenses.
 

John Koehrer

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The M4 has an advantage or two.
Easier film loading and self resetting film counter. It also has a frame for 135mm lens, no big deal at (to me)
It also has a more modern rewind knob with crank handle.

The M2 has to have the take up spool removed to load film unless it has a rapid load adapter in it.

Framelines are 35/50/90mm......... M4 adds 135.
M2 has several variations. Lever or button rewind, and with or without viewfinder preview lever. The early cameras had the button, no preview, no self timer and a Leica sync plug. Adapters for the plug are inexpensive.
It would be easier for you to see the differences if the cameras were side by side.

In either camera, Look at the screw at the top of the lens mount. It should have a black seal usually with a script Leica "S". Look at the curtains with the back open, look for pin holes or wrinkles. pinholes are $$$$.
Check the shutter speeds, if the slow speeds hesitate or hang up that's $$$, rangefinder alignment, both vertical and horizontal. Vertical is easy, move the rangefinder lever in the camera body and while looking through the finder the moving rectangle and stationary one should not have a slight"shadow". Horizontal needs to have a known good lens installed to check infinity.
 
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mexipike

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The rangefinderforum.com site has a very active classifieds section and I feel you could find a very trustworthy great leica there.
 

Brian Legge

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Finder issues are expensive to repair. Make sure the finder and rangefinder patch are in good condition.
 

JohnRichard

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Or, you could get an old lady from church to donate some "old camera stuff" to you, and end up with a free M3...
You'll have to spend some dollars in a CLA, but hey, It'll outlast me!
 

phelger

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Erik,
unless the seller explicitely states that the camera has recently been through a general CLA (clean, lubricate, adjust) you almost certainly have to have it done yourself. There are several excellent Leica repair shops in Europe, they will set you back some hundred(s) euros but then you'll have a camera working for you the rest of your time! I bought an M3 in not too brilliant condition, had it serviced and although it doesn't have the looks of a museum piece, it's works a wonder and is just soooooo pleasant to handle. I think 600$ for an M2 is about right and the choice between M2 and M4, hmm.... I would select the cheaper one!
good luck
Peter
 

E. von Hoegh

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Erik,
unless the seller explicitely states that the camera has recently been through a general CLA (clean, lubricate, adjust) you almost certainly have to have it done yourself. There are several excellent Leica repair shops in Europe, they will set you back some hundred(s) euros but then you'll have a camera working for you the rest of your time! I bought an M3 in not too brilliant condition, had it serviced and although it doesn't have the looks of a museum piece, it's works a wonder and is just soooooo pleasant to handle. I think 600$ for an M2 is about right and the choice between M2 and M4, hmm.... I would select the cheaper one!
good luck
Peter

And to this I would add "and has the paperwork to prove it". Seems like half the leicas on feepay have just been serviced.:blink:
 
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Erik Petersson
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Hi and thanks for your excellent tips. I now handled the M4-P as well, but I was put off by the bad contrast of the rangefinder. Even my fed3 is better in that respect. Search continues.

After searching the web I found that Bessa r3 has a 1.1 viewfinder, which Leica never made. There is one for sale outside of Stockholm. Just another possibility...
 
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Hi and thanks for your excellent tips. I now handled the M4-P as well, but I was put off by the bad contrast of the rangefinder. Even my fed3 is better in that respect. Search continues.

After searching the web I found that Bessa r3 has a 1.1 viewfinder, which Leica never made. There is one for sale outside of Stockholm. Just another possibility...

There are people who swear by their R3 bodies and I actually owned an R3A for a while, the 1-1 finder is a very nice feature but I got to admit after handling Leica M bodies I would never ever be happy with a VC range finder, just a total difference in smoothness, quietness, handling and feel, but that's just me.
 

cliveh

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For what it's worth, I think the M2 was the best of the M series.
 

phelger

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I bought a Bessa R2(or3?) some years ago. It.s a nice little thing but far far from a Leica. Mine needed serious adjustment (range finder) after 18 months. I sold it and bought the M3 , never regretted that
Peter
 

daleeman

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An M2 would be your best choice. You could even put a screw mount to M mount adapeter on your screw mount lens.

My M2 is one great machine. Hope you can purchase one.
 
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Erik Petersson
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Thanks,
I am still looking, and I think a camera will turn up sooner or later. I'm looking for a beat up camera. My cameras tend to get scratches, and I dont't want to destroy something nice.
 

Ed Bray

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I was lucky, I bought a very nice condition 1969 M4 for 500 Euros ($650) from ebay (German seller), not mint but in very nice Exc+ condition, I have checked the shutter and the speeds are accurate and the first 2 films through it showed nice spacing, rangefinder seems to be reasonably accurate with my lenses and the exposures were as would be expected.

My intention was to buy at that sort of figure and allow for a CLA, at the moment I am just happy to be using the camera and will arrange for a CLA later.
 
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Erik Petersson
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Thanks again for your help last month. I have not found the Leica I am looking for yet here in Stockholm. I'm considering an M2, -3 or -4, it should be in perfect working condition, but looks do not matter. Better some scratches, I guess, so I won't ruin it.

Now, it seems that I am going to London the second week in January. Do anyone of you know a good shop in London?
 
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