Leica R3 Owners: Meter responsiveness?

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Nitroplait

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I posted this question on l-camera-forum.com but have received no response so far.
Maybe I am lucky that there are more users with Leica R3 experience here.

I have just developed a film from a new-to-me Leica R3 (1978).

Unfortunately the film was marred by a light leak, so my hope to evaluate auto-exposure accuracy can not really be performed before I have dealt with leak.
It is a minor fix but I can't do it if I want to return the camera.

My return window is closing soon and before making my decision, I would like to ask R3 owners about an observation I have made:

The meter needle seem to be accurate compared with a hand held reference meter, BUT it is relatively slow in responding to changes in light (or changes in aperture).
I understand the R3 is equipped with relatively slow CdS cells, but the needle in my older Nikkormat EL (1974) - also CdS cells - responds notably faster.

Now, if the electronics of auto-exposure in the R3 works independent of the visual needle readout - it wouldn't bother me, but if I have to wait 2 seconds after I bring the camera to the eye, it would be a problem.

Any R3 owners out there who could shed a little light on what kind of responsiveness/behaviour I should expect from the meter?

Thanks.
 

miha

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The meter needle of my R3 MOT responded* with no observed delay or sluggishness.

As long as it worked properly. I don't use the camera any more as it started to play tricks on me (the shutter in A mode doesn't follow the speeds suggested by the meter needle any more).
 
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The meter needle of my R3 MOT responded* with no observed delay or sluggishness.

As long as it worked properly. I don't use the camera any more as it started to play tricks on me (the shutter in A mode doesn't follow the speeds suggested by the meter needle any more).

Ok- thanks. That could indicate that either that there isn’t a correlation between needle readout and the electronic setting of the speed, or that your shutter has lost its precision.
Did you happen to verify shutter-speed on manual settings?
 

miha

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In manual mode the speeds sound accurate. The problem I experienced with my R3 in not uncommon for this type of camera.
 

xkaes

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The R3 is a Minolta XE-7 in Leica clothing. I had an XE-7 for several years without problems. I remember that the needle was slower to respond to light changes than newer cameras, but I never had a problem with exposures. I assume that the shutter in AUTO mode is the same as where the needle is when the shutter release is pressed, but I never tested that. It would be easy for you to check -- regardless of your light leak.

Point the camera at a dark object and make sure the needle points to 1/2 second or so. Then quickly point the camera at a very bright subject and immediately press the shutter release. You can tell if the shutter is still at a slow speed or not.
 

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The R3 is a Minolta XE-7 in Leica clothing.

However it's the metering (no spot option on the Minolta) that is totally different to the XE-7...
 
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The R3 is a Minolta XE-7 in Leica clothing. I had an XE-7 for several years without problems. I remember that the needle was slower to respond to light changes than newer cameras, but I never had a problem with exposures. I assume that the shutter in AUTO mode is the same as where the needle is when the shutter release is pressed, but I never tested that. It would be easy for you to check -- regardless of your light leak.

Point the camera at a dark object and make sure the needle points to 1/2 second or so. Then quickly point the camera at a very bright subject and immediately press the shutter release. You can tell if the shutter is still at a slow speed or not.

Good point. I’ll try that.
 

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However it's the metering (no spot option on the Minolta) that is totally different to the XE-7...

While the R3 has a spot-metering option, when this is not being used, the metering is the same as in the XE-7. I wouldn't call that "totally different". And regardless, no matter which metering method is being used, the needle will operate exactly the same.
 

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While the R3 has a spot-metering option, when this is not being used, the metering is the same as in the XE-7. I wouldn't call that "totally different". And regardless, no matter which metering method is being used, the needle will operate exactly the same.

The R3 can measure twice as much light: EV 18 vs EV 17; it's a different metering system. As for the needle operating the same regardless of the metering mode used is not correct either. On the R3 when in spot mode, the needle retracts when the shutter button is pressed halfway down and locks the exposure. It's risky to give advice to a Leica user based on your Minolta experience.
 

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It sounds like what's risky is to use the R3 spot-metering method -- if pressing the shutter release half-way locks the exposure before the needle has settled on the correct shutter speed -- as the OP fears.
 

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It's been eons since I used an R3, but I seem to remember that it had a strange sort of memory regarding the meter. It was either w/ the spot feature, or the 'A' feature. There was a way you could lock exposure, but it wouldn't register as being locked in the viewfinder? Something like that.

They're old cameras now, and mine felt as heavy as a Nikon F4. When I sold it and went to an R4/R5, it was like going to a compact camera.
 

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They're old cameras now, and mine felt as heavy as a Nikon F4. When I sold it and went to an R4/R5, it was like going to a compact camera.

Exactly how I felt when I moved from the Minolta XE-7 to the Minolta XD-11 -- which are the basis for the Leica R3 & R4. The XE-7 is a great camera, but like the earlier SRT cameras, it is heavy -- lots of metal, and mechanical parts. The XD-11 and the R4 went more electronic -- and lost a lot of size and weight -- and even added features.
 

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SNIP: They're old cameras now...

Very old indeed, with electronics that didn't age particularly well. However the mechanics were top notch - best in class shutter lag of only 38 ms and super smooth film winding mechanism. R4 feels way more sluggish in comparison.
 
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Point the camera at a dark object and make sure the needle points to 1/2 second or so. Then quickly point the camera at a very bright subject and immediately press the shutter release. You can tell if the shutter is still at a slow speed or not.
It's been eons since I used an R3, but I seem to remember that it had a strange sort of memory regarding the meter. It was either w/ the spot feature, or the 'A' feature. There was a way you could lock exposure, but it wouldn't register as being locked in the viewfinder? Something like that.
Thanks for all the input.
Just to sum up on my observations based on xkaes suggestion:
One apparently have to wait for the needle to settle - in Auto mode the shutter will fire at the speed indicated by the needle.

And it turns out that responsiveness is much better in average metering mode than in spot meter mode. I must have observed the sluggishness in spot mode.
That makes the behaviour much more acceptable to me and I will keep the camera.

@momus - the lock behaviour you are referring to, is the half depression of the shutter release in spot mode, which will cause the needle to drop to the bottom of the display - so you can't review at what speed it is locked.

Strange usability choice, but not unusual behaviour for auto cameras at the time. The needle display in Nikkormat EL and Nikon FE have no visual indication when you engage their exposure lock - (it didn't appear until the FE2 in 1983).
On the R3 - at least you know that the lock is engaged as long at the needle remains dropped.
 
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Very old indeed, with electronics that didn't age particularly well. However the mechanics were top notch - best in class shutter lag of only 38 ms and super smooth film winding mechanism. R4 feels way more sluggish in comparison.

I agree. Although both are inexpensive today, the feel of the R3 and R4 is a world apart.
If one can find a functional R4, it is probably a better user, but it certainly does not inspire the feeling of "no compromise" solidity of a time long gone - as the R3 does.
 

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On the R3 - at least you know that the lock is engaged as long at the needle remains dropped.
The R3 locks the exposure even in average metering mode, it is just that the needle doesn't show it!
 

miha

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I agree. Although both are inexpensive today, the feel of the R3 and R4 is a world apart.
If one can find a functional R4, it is probably a better user, but it certainly does not inspire the feeling of "no compromise" solidity of a time long gone - as the R3 does.

+1
 

xkaes

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And it turns out that responsiveness is much better in average metering mode than in spot meter mode.

That is inexplicable to me, but I suppose if you are using spot-metering you are not in a rush anyway.

Thanks for the feedback.
 
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