Inexpensive 35mm VIEWFINDER cameras with Leica mountS

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xkaes

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I'm exploring what available as an inexpensive -- but well-built -- 35mm VIEWFINDER (rangefinder not needed) camera -- with either a Leica 39mm screw mount OR a Leica M bayonet mount.

Basically, a Leica M1-type camera -- with either a Leica 39mm screw mount OR a Leica M bayonet mount -- and a LOW price.

A small size would be a BIG PLUS!!!

Any suggestions?
 

momus

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A Bessa L is probably your cheapest bet, but like everything else, the prices may have gone up on them. You could put a viewfinder in the hotshoe.

eBay is showing sold listings for them at $130 and up, plus shipping.
 

cramej

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I believe one of the Zorkis or Feds was viewfinder only. One could also use a Yashica YE or earlier Canons. They would be fairly inexpensive.
 
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xkaes

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The Zorkis and Feds had rangefinders, and they weren't small. Maybe the DRUG -- if I could find one.

Some of the Chaikas might work, but they are half-frame.

I'm not opposed to a rangefinder or a meter, but these tend to make the camera larger.

Perhaps a FED 5B. Anyone have experience with that one?
 
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Huss

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What is inexpensive? If you are looking at a Leica M mount type camera, the cheapest non-vf camera would be an Md-A or Md-2. But I think they are now over $500 easy.
I use an Md-A w/ separate OVF and it is excellent w wides.

For LTM - the Bessa L is nice but very fragile. Be careful winding the film and the plastic gears in it strip easily. You can't wind it as if it was a Leica. Or Nikon/Canon/Pentax/Minolta etc. Ask me how I know! Also the body is fragile, with the rubber surface basically melts/corrodes with use. But it has a v nice built in meter and the shutter release is very satisfying.

I also use a Leica IF, no rf/vf, use a 'hot shoe' add on finder. Fun but fiddly compared to the Bessa. But looks so sweet. I think those are over $500 now too.

If you get a decent, working Bessa L, I think that's the best option for the $$$.
 
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xkaes

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Well, I can get a FED 5B for $50-60 shipping included. That sounds good to me, but if there is something similar, but smaller, I would pay more.
 

reddesert

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The Zarya is a viewfinder-only version of an early FED.

The early versions of both FED and Zorki are closer in size to "Barnack Leicas" (FED 1 and Zorki 1 certainly, FED 2 and Zorki 2 possibly). These are a little more expensive than the later versions I think. By the time you get to a FED 5 they are somewhat large and ungainly, but cheap because they made so many.

Probably the high quality while not very expensive way to achieve a small M39 body is to buy a Japanese Leica copy, like a Leotax, Nicca, or Yashica (or Canon but the early ones are collectible). There are some Japanese sellers on ebay that have good track records.
 

Don Heisz

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The early Fed and Zorki copies of the Leica II are basically the same as a Leica II. A Leica I would be the smallest and best example of what you want. It may be possible to get a beat up one of those pretty cheap. The Fed and Zorki copies have either been turned into counterfeit Leicas or are pretty much almost as expensive as a Leica IIIa. I'd certainly get a IIIa if I had none of these and wanted one to use. There is no value in not having a rangefinder. I think the IIIa is still the cheapest Leica.
 
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xkaes

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I'll take a look at what Yashica made. These should be fairly easy to find. The Minolta 35II looks good, but they are all over $200.
 

cramej

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I'll take a look at what Yashica made. These should be fairly easy to find. The Minolta 35II looks good, but they are all over $200.

I'd be wary of the Minolta 35s. The shutter curtain cement gets weak with age and will separate from the drums. If you desire to replace the curtains, it's not too difficult without disassembly, but if more than that needs servicing they're not nearly as friendly as the other Leica clones.
 

dynachrome

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If the rear of your lens does not protrude too much then you might consider an even cheaper option like a Vivitar V4000S or a Promaster 2500PK Super. These are very light and small and will give TTL metering. Adapting them to Leica 39mm thread should not be difficult. The Bessa L has no mirror so it can fit lenses which protrude into the area where a mirror would be. It also has a shutter which is more effective in keeping out light because of the absence of a mirror.
 

nosmok

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The Zarya is a viewfinder-only version of an early FED.

I had a Zarya-- the problems with it are 1) the built in 50mm viewfinder, which if you want a specific non-50mm lens kinda is redundant plus it makes it lumpier, and 2) mine had the holiest curtain of any FSU camera I've ever owned. A FED-1 is smaller than the Zarya anyway.

I went with Huss's solution-- I have an earlier document Leica with 2 shoes side by side for RF and VF or 2 different VFs. Mine is smaller (top to bottom) than his, but lacks the lower shutter speeds, and tops out at 1/500. It does have 'B' though. And it was a lot cheaper than the M-Da at the time.

ETA: Ah, I see Huss has 2 MD's-- the first, red one is the same model I have.
 
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cramej

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If the rear of your lens does not protrude too much then you might consider an even cheaper option like a Vivitar V4000S or a Promaster 2500PK Super. These are very light and small and will give TTL metering. Adapting them to Leica 39mm thread should not be difficult. The Bessa L has no mirror so it can fit lenses which protrude into the area where a mirror would be. It also has a shutter which is more effective in keeping out light because of the absence of a mirror.

The registration distance is far greater for K mount cameras than LTM so you'll never get infinity focus.
 
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xkaes

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The Chaika is looking better and better -- IF the lens mount-to-film distance is the same as the Leica.
 
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Huss

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Really hard to find a working Chaika. There's a reason so many are sold body only - the lenses have been harvested to be used on other cameras.

A working Chaika with a Leitz LTM lens would be cool. Assuming the focus is correct. And it works. It just seems that the odds of throwing away money is very high with this one.
 
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xkaes

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I've had a few Chaikas over the years and they all worked fine. On the one with the meter (Chaika 3?), the meter was dead, but so what.

Unfortunately I never tried any of them out with another Leica thread lens, so I have no idea if it would work. They are now long gone -- but not because they had problems.

And I wasn't thinking about a LTM lens on the Chaika. I was thinking of other lenses that I could put on a LTM.
 
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Sirius Glass

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I have one Russian made viewfinder for 80mm lens for 35mm viewfinder cameras and two Chinese new ones one 38mm lenses and and one for 35mm lenses. All work well and are accurate for the appropriate focal length lens.
 

Don Heisz

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The Chaika, so far as I know, does not work with LTM lenses. It is the same mount but you need to adapt the Chaika lens to use it on a Leica. I doubt you can adapt (or would want to adapt) Leica lenses to work on a Chaika.
 

madNbad

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Igor’s Camera Exchange has a 1F (like the red one Huss posted) listed for $350. It would be a good choice but it is seventy years old and may need service.
 

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Buy an early Canon RF (like the IVSB). If the RF bothers you remove it. I had one listed on here for ages (with lens) for less than $100. Finally traded it with an other member for his AGFA>
 

henryvk

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I'm imagining a FED Zarya with the viewfinder removed. The protruding part of the top cover would be sawed off and plugged up with a little 3D-printed cover, cemented in place, with the cold-shoe for the 35mm VF on top of it.

That's your poor man's Leica I:

zarya_i.jpg
 
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guangong

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Sometimes trying to save money costs more than just buying a good camera from a reputable source.
 
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xkaes

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The ZARYA/ZARIA/ZARJA/ZAPA seems like the best bet. Despite not being mass-produced, there are over two dozen on EBAY right now -- starting at $50. The small viewfinder is not much of a problem -- I see it as a plus.
Thanks for pointing that out. I have a small Vivitar 19mm lens that should work out well with it -- no need to worry about focusing!
 
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  • Reason: OP already fond Zarya. My post is redundant.

__Brian

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Prices on the Canon 7 and Canon P are way down. Both take 35mm lenses, and have parallax corrected framelines.
$150 gets a decent user these days.
 
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