Budapest Models – Leica Ms

Budapest Models – Leica Ms

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

January 2017

Budapest Tram

Model Photography

I’m writing this post on the flight home after 3 days of model photography in Budapest, Hungary. As usual, I booked myself up with models each day shooting 8:00-18:00 on the full days.  The models were a mix of agency models from NumberOne Model Group, friends of the model agency, models I met on past trips and a few pro-active models that organised a direct booking with me through Instagram (@MrLeicaCom).  I stayed in an apartment in Central Budapest and used this as my base. The ideal plan was to shoot outside on location as much as possible as we were located close to the Chain Bridge over the Danube river and opposite Buda Castle.  Unfortunately the weather was below freezing and there was ice in the river so we had to shoot inside for the most part.   The apartment was different to how I envisioned from the online photos with almost no window light and none that was bright enough to use for photos.  As such I had to get creative with my artificial lighting so bare this in mind for every indoor photo.

Budapest Models

Leica M Gear

I carried my Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag and in it packed the following Leica cameras and lenses (except the Summarit 50/1.5 that I added separately after).
  • Leica M 240 camera (digital body)
  • Leica M4-P 35mm film camera
  • Leica M4-P 35mm film camera (II)
  • Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens
  • Leica Summarit-M 50mm f2.5 lens (new)
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 lens (1950s)
  • Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 lens + SOOKY-M close focus goggles (1950s)
  • Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 (1950s lens)
  • Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8 lens

35mm Film – The Plan

The plan for Budapest was to try to keep it simple and shoot mostly black and white film after having shot a lot of colour film on my last model photography trips to Poland and Budapest.  I packed mostly bulk loaded Kodak Eastman Double-X 5222 film but also some fine grain films to shoot as a comparison. Other films included Ilford Pan F 50 and Ilford Delta 100 film both which I regard very highly and also some Kodak T-Max 100 as I love the black blacks of T-Max.  I had thought about taking only B&W film but from fear of missing out I packed a few rolls of C41 Fujifilm Fujicolor C200 (as I like the fine grain), some Kodak Portra 400 (as I haven’t home developed Portra film yet) and a roll of my bulk loaded Kodak Vision3 50D. All these films are daylight balanced so no need for lens filters. (I use an 85B filter for my tungsten balanced films).  I plan to have one Leica M4-P loaded permanently with Kodak Double-X as my do everything film and in the other Leica M4-P camera use films specific for that model shoot.  I will try to shoot a few photos on both cameras so I can compare the results of different film stocks. That was the concept!

35mm Film – The Reality

In reality it didn’t happen as planned and after 2 days I had only shot less than 1 roll of colour film and 1 roll of black and white film. Why?  Shooting film (in addition to digital) is not suitable for all models or all situations.  When I create artificial light with strobes I cannot see the results until I have taken the photo digitally. This is fine if a model allows me to take a photo with both cameras without moving dramatically but some models move on every click of the shutter so are unable to repeat a pose that may have caught my eye and that I deemed good enough to capture on film.  Additionally some models inspire me more than others and for these models I shoot a lot more film than for those where the photos are not really my style.  I also prefer to shoot film outside to inside as I find outside photos more interesting but this is not always possible in the winter months.  I did manage to do some quick outside photos (and moreso in the last day in an attempt to use the city location) and most of the film was shot during these times.

When I was photographing a model against a white wall in Budapest I tried to avoid using film (mostly) as in Poland perhaps 80% of the photos had a plain backdrop which can be very boring to view unless the model is particularly interesting. I also tried to limit all photos taken against a plain white wall for Budapest where possible to try to make the photos different to Poland and hopefully more interesting as a result.  Although the apartment had almost zero window light it did have some unusual features so I tried to use every inch of the house to make pictures. Some areas of the apartment were used on multiple model shoots but that can only be expected when working with lots of models in a relatively small space.

Miss Universe Hungary 2015

Leica M Lenses

Taking an array of different Leica M lenses to Budapest was a real plus and the biggest differentiator when comparing to other model photography trips i’ve done in the last 12 months. I had 1950s vintage Leica lenses; Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5, Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 and Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5,  that captured low contrast softer focus images with a nice glow and then lenses like the Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO that gave high contrast super sharp very modern looking photos. I found I used the Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 and Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 lenses the least I think. The new Leica Summarit 50mm f2.5 lens was used the most (especially with film on the Leica M4-P cameras) and then the vintage Leica Summarit 50mm f1.5 and Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5 were probably used equally for inside photos. The Leica Summicron 75mm APO was used most outside. After shooting on 35mm lenses for so long I found the 75mm focal length too long much of the time and it more difficult working at a distance from a model, especially for fast focusing. I can’t imagine now how I used to shoot models on a 200mm Nikkor prime lens in my preLeica days.
I imagine most fellow Leica shooters would question why I bought the f2.5 50mm Leica Summarit lens when I have an f1.0 Leica Noctilux, f1.4 Leica Summilux and f2 Leica Summicron 50mm lenses already which all require lens light and give arguably better bokeh and better subject background separation. The truth is the small lens size is more important to me than all of those features (*When I have a choice of what light to shoot in.  Obviously for a Leica wedding a fast lens is the correct choice as I cannot control the light in every situation).  I often control the brightness of my strobes with the lens aperture to balance artificial light mixed with available light. As such the lenses are stopped down anyway a little so none of the faster Leica glass benefits would be seen or used. I also stop down a little sometimes when shooting film to get a balance of sharpness, detail and depth. Despite this comment, for the vintage lenses in Budapest I shot them wide open 99% of the time to get the maximum vintage look effect. I would also do the same with the Noctilux f1.0 otherwise there is little point in using this lens in my view.

Budapest Models

As with all trips the models varied enormously in personality, background, vision, style, experience and ability. Models that can create their own hair and makeup have an advantage over those that don’t and who don’t use an MUA (make-up artist).  Dancers often create the most elegant shapes and poses with their bodies and actors often create the best emotions and expressions with their faces. Models with an interest in clothes and fashion may have a huge wardrobe of clothes to chose from and those models in good shape can wear pretty much anything (or nothing!) and still look amazing.  Models with 3-5 years plus experience can also bring great ideas to the shoot from past experiences.  I guess to summarise, experienced models are often much more focused to get a job done and hopefully get the new images they desire for their model book/ portfolio.  For Budapest I experienced a mixture of all of the above in varying combinations but what impressed me the most was that they found time to fit in the shoot amongst often crazy busy schedules juggling work, business meetings, study, exams and other photo shoots both before and after me.  I think this level of commitment to a shoot is one of the most difficult characteristics to find no matter how beautiful the model.
Some of the models I met previously continued to impress and really were a pleasure to work with.  A few of the new faces I met were also a real delight to collaborate with and I think I grinned ear to ear throughout many of the shoots. I feel very fortunate to meet such individuals and I think it is these experiences that fuels my desire to find similarly talented people in the countries I visit. When very experienced models are smiling at the back of my camera LCD and saying they like our work it gives me a real boost and is also quite humbling.  I wouldn’t expect this sort of excitement or comments from professional models that have received photos a hundred times before.

1950s Leica Elmar 50mm f2.8 + SOOKY-M

Thoughts

I like to have a debrief in my head after each model photography trip to try to understand what worked well and what I could do better.  If you have followed me for a while you may have noticed I like to cycle through my different film cameras to keep it interesting (for myself!).  I have used the 2 Leica M4-Ps cameras together with the digital Leica M 240 on the last two trips so I am tempted to take a medium format camera for the next overseas shoot.  The biggest limitation I have is my hand luggage size and the camera needs to create photos different to what I can do with a Leica camera to make it worth while.  I find all rangefinders have the same limitations whether a Leica film camera, Hasselblad Xpan, Mamiya 6 or Fuji GF670 and can’t focus very close thereby producing similar pictures.  The Mamiya RZ67 is just huge so too big to pack, the Hasselblad 501c can fit with one small lens attached (but I need to repair the shutter release button housing that had come off) The Mamiya 645 is slightly smaller than the Hasselblad so mighbe be an option.  The Fuji GA645 is the obvious small medium format camera choice but again I can’t get super close (0.7m).. Hmm.
As with the last three model photography trips for the next visit I will try to work outside more, weather permitting.  I think I will always pack both colour and black and white film as sometimes the models clothes really benefit from being captured in colour.  I will wait to develop the C41 colour film from Budapest before deciding if I prefer the film colours of ECN-2 motion picture film crossed processed in C-41 chemicals or the more standard C41 film colours. *ECN-2 film is the Kodak Vision3 film I use.  I hope the photos are as nice as I remember after all this blurb!  Coming soon but mostly digital for the reasons detailed above.  (I think the final count was 4 rolls of 35mm film, 2 B&W film, 2 colour film and sorry no film comparisons.  Maybe on my next trip!

Leica Summaron 35mm f3.5

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Poland Models – Leica Ms

Poland Models – Leica Ms

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2016

Mr Leica - Poland

Happy New Year!  I wrote this on the flight back to the UK after spending four nights in Poland visiting my model friends in Sopot. It was a Christmas present to myself to fill the quiet time between Christmas and New Year!

As with all my model photography trips I like to be busy and make good use of my time and this was no exception. I only had 3 full days in Sopot but managed to still do 12 photoshoots (even after cancellations). A big thanks to Malva Models who recommended many of the models for this visit.

Leica Camera bag

I took my Billingham Hadley Digital camera bag and in it fitted the following:

  • Leica M 240 camera (digital body)
  • Leica M4-P camera (with B&W film)
  • Leica M4-P camera (II) (with colour film)
  • Leica Summilux ASPH 50mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Nokton 35mm f1.4 lens
  • Voigtlander Color Skopar 35mm f2.5 lens
  • Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8 lens

I do love Leica M cameras for many reasons but one of their best features is their size. I can carry 3 camera bodies and 4 prime lenses in the same space as a DSLR and a zoom lens. This is a huge help to me when I’m shooting overseas with models.

I bought a Leica M4-P film camera after my last trip to Budapest as wanted a Leica M body with a hot shoe so I could use strobes with film. My Leica M2 and M3s only have cold shoes so it is not as easy. A few weeks before Poland I decided to buy another Leica M4-P camera body as saw one at a good price and that way I could pack both Leica M4-P cameras and load one camera with colour film and one camera with black and white film.  (This is the reason why I have two Leica M3s too.  Both M3s are in need of slight recalibration but I hope to start using those in the summer when using available light only as the M3 viewfinder is the best Leica M viewfinder bar none I think).

Hotel photoshoot

Kodak Motion Picture Film

For this trip I decide to pack all home rolled bulk loaded Kodak motion picture film. For colour film I rolled equal amounts of Kodak Vision3 50D (daylight balanced film like the Cinestill 50D), Kodak Vision3 200T (tungsten balanced film) and Kodak Vision3 500T (tungsten balanced film and the same film stock as Cinestill 800T). For black and white film I recently bought myself a 400ft bulk roll of fresh boxed and sealed Kodak Eastman Double-X film. I used my 35mm bulk film loader to run off whatever film I needed.

Polish Girl

I was in Poland last December too, staying in Gdansk, and the days never seemed to get light. For this visit I thought I could shoot Kodak Double-X at ISO 1600 if needed and Kodak Vision3 500T at ISO 1000 or more with ease. I also had a speedlight with me for backup. Luckily the Sopot hotel on the sea front has much more light and even though the weather was cold it was brighter and blue skies one day. I managed to persuade a few cold hardy models to join me on the beach for pictures as I prefer outside photos where possible. I managed to shoot mostly Kodak Vision3 50D film (for colour photos) but it was under exposed a few stops for some pictures so it will be interesting to see the results. I shot the black and white Kodak Double X film at anything between ISO 100 and 800 on the same roll. Kodak Double-X is great for this and so too is the Kodak Vision3 500T. I could shoot either of these films all day and not meter the light once and still get results.

Polish Model

Models

Despite not seeing many of my regular models I still managed to do 12 shoots with up to 5 shoots on a single day. I worked 8:00-18:00 to use as much of the daylight as possible but still used the speedlight a lot inside to try to add interest.

A big thanks to Monika at Hotel Bursztyn for having me again and in no particular order thanks to models; Natalia, Marta, Karolina, Agnes, Agata, Magda, Dagmara, Gosia, Teresa, Aleksandra and Kasia. Also big thanks to MUA Kate and Marta!  I felt I discovered some amazing new talent so hope to work with some of the girls again when I return in spring 2017. Lastly thanks to Gdansk based clothes designer ATR Wear that supplied some of the clothes used in the photos.

Thoughts

I had hoped to shoot less in the hotel and use the local area more but the weather was just too cold on the whole to do much outside for very long. After doing overseas model photography trips for quite a while I now realise there is no one camera setup to suit all situations. In Budapest I shot mostly on 35mm lenses and craved a wider focal length. In Sopot I could have easily used 50mm on two camera bodies as 35mm was a little too wide for the plain hotel rooms. I did use all lenses including the 28mm Leica Elmarit-M ASPH but found I usesd the faster lenses the most in the low light. I might be tempted to take the 75mm Leica Summicron APO on the next visit to Poland to get a different perspective as I have shot on mostly 35mm lenses for over 12 months.

Leica Elmarit-M ASPH 28mm f2.8

As it has taken me so long to post this I have already shared both digital and colour film photos on my Flickr, Instagram (@MrLeicaCom) and Facebook pages.  I will wait and process more colour film negatives and develop the black and white film and then share a blog post for the film pictures shot on my Leica M4-Ps. Here are some more digital Leica M240 photos until then –

Winter Sun
Empty Beach
Agency Model
Hate U 2
Lingerie Shoot
Beach Photoshoot
 

Pipeline

I realise I have so many promised and unposted blog posts to come but to recap here are some posts on their way for 2017

  • Ukraine Models 2016 – Leica M240
  • Ukraine Models 2016 – Nikon F4 + Kodak T-Max film
  • Kodak Vision3 50D Film
  • Kodak Vision3 200T Film
  • Kodak Vision3 500T Film
  • Leica Elmarit 28mm f2.8 ASPH
  • Leica Summarit 50mm f2.5
  • Budapest Models 2016 – on Film (various)
  • Leica Weddings 2016
  • Poland Models 2016 – on Film – Leica M4-P

Leica M Camera Buyer’s Guide!

Leica M Camera Buyer’s Guide! (Film Ms)

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica

December 2016

Leica M3 Portrait

How did this post come about?

When I think back to buying my first analogue film Leica M camera I’m not sure how I decided to buy the particular camera I did.  Lots and lots of research I guess but I don’t really remember finding any information that summarised in simple terms how each Leica M camera is different or perhaps best suited my needs.  It doesn’t help that Leica M cameras all look pretty much identical to the untrained eye too! In this post I try to list some of the main differences between each Leica M camera which might hopefully make it easier for you if you are looking to buy a Leica M film camera.  Please note I have only covered Leica M film cameras and it does not include Leica digital cameras.

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Leica M Camera Timeline

Here are all the major Leica M film cameras released from oldest to newest (excluding special edition cameras and showing the approximate release date/ production start date).

  • Leica M3 (1954)
  • Leica M2 (1958)
  • Leica M4 (1967)
  • Leica M5 (1971)
  • Leica M4-2 (1977)
  • Leica M4-P (1981)
  • Leica M6 Classic (1984)
  • Leica M6 TTL (1998)
  • Leica M7 (2002)
  • Leica MP (2003)
  • Leica M-A (2014)

Generally speaking the higher the M number the more recent the camera was released (with the exception of the Leica M2 that was built after the Leica M3, the M4-2 and M4-P that were released after the M5 and with the Leica MP and M-A being the most recent).

Common Featurers to all Leica M Film Cameras

*to my knowledge for the cameras covered in this article

  • Maximum shutter speed 1/1000
  • Flash sync speed 1/50
  • Rangefinder focusing system
  • Uses 35mm film
  • Leica-M bayonet mount lenses (or L39/M39/LSM/LTM Leica screw mount via adapter)

Leica M3 + Summicron 50 DR

Leica M Camera Buyers Guide

Framelines – bright lines in the viewfinder for composition

  • Leica M3 – 50,90,135 (individual framelines – so only see one at a time)
  • Leica M2 – 35,50,90 (individual framelines – so only see one at a time)
  • Leica M4 – 35/135 pair, 50, 90 (Individual & pair)
  • Leica M5 – 35/135 pair, 50, 90 (Individual & pair)
  • Leica M4-2 – 35/135 pair, 50, 90 (Individual & pair)
  • Leica M4-P – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica M6 Classic – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica M6 TTL – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica M7 – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica MP – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)
  • Leica M-A – 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 (pairs – see 2 framelines at a time)

Viewfinder magnification / options

  • Leica M3 – 0.91x (most magnified viewfinder)
  • Leica M2 – 0.72x
  • Leica M4 – 0.72x
  • Leica M5 – 0.72x
  • Leica M4-2 – 0.72x
  • Leica M4-P – 0.72x
  • Leica M6 Classic – 0.58x / 0.72x / 0.85x (0.58x is for use with winder lenses)
  • Leica M6 TTL – 0.58x / 0.72x / 0.85x (0.58x is for use with winder lenses)
  • Leica M7 – 0.58x / 0.72x (0.58x is for use with winder lenses)
  • Leica MP – 0.72x /
  • Leica M-A – 0.72x

Rangefinder focusing

  • Leica M3 – 1m to infinity (close focus goggles allow focusing from 0.478m)
  • Leica M2 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M4 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M5 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M4-2 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M4-P – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M6 Classic – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M6 TTL – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M7 – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica MP – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)
  • Leica M-A – 0.7m to infinity (can use lenses with close focus goggles)

Battery required to take a photo?

  • Leica M3 – No – N/A
  • Leica M2 – No – N/A
  • Leica M4 – No – N/A
  • Leica M5 – No – Battery only needed for light meter
  • Leica M4-2 – No – N/A
  • Leica M4-P – No – N/A
  • Leica M6 Classic – No – Battery only needed for light meter
  • Leica M6 TTL – No – Battery only needed for light meter
  • Leica M7 – Yes&No – Can use at 1/60 & 1/125 only without battery
  • Leica MP – No – Battery only needed for light meter
  • Leica M-A – No – N/A

Brass or zinc top plate/ base plate (brass dents / zinc cracks)

  • Leica M3 – Brass
  • Leica M2 – Brass
  • Leica M4 – Brass
  • Leica M5 – Brass
  • Leica M4-2 – Brass
  • Leica M4-P – Brass (earlier cameras) Zinc (later cameras)
  • Leica M6 Classic – Zinc
  • Leica M6 TTL – Zinc (Mostly)
  • Leica M7 – Brass
  • Leica MP – Brass
  • Leica M-A – Brass

Precision components (brass) or cheaper components (steel/plastics)

  • Leica M3 – Brass gears (Least cheap components)
  • Leica M2 –  Brass gears (Some cheap components)
  • Leica M4 –  Brass gears (More cheap components)
  • Leica M5 – Steel gears (More cheap components)
  • Leica M4-2 – Steel gears (Even more cheap components)
  • Leica M4-P – Steel gears (Even more cheap components)
  • Leica M6 Classic – Steel gears (Even more cheap components)
  • Leica M6 TTL – Steel gears (More cheap components)
  • Leica M7 – Steel gears (More cheap components)
  • Leica MP – Brass gears (Some cheap components)
  • Leica M-A – Brass gears (Least cheap components)

Hotshoe or coldshoe (for flash photography)

  • Leica M3 – Cold shoe (can still use a flash via sync cable)
  • Leica M2 – Cold shoe (can still use a flash via sync cable)
  • Leica M4 – Cold shoe (can still use a flash via sync cable)
  • Leica M5 – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M4-2 – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M4-P – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M6 Classic – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M6 TTL – Hotshoe & TTL flash with SF-20 unit
  • Leica M7 – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica MP – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)
  • Leica M-A – Hotshoe (can use common flash such as Nikon)

Built-in light meter

  • Leica M3 – No
  • Leica M2 – No
  • Leica M4 – No
  • Leica M5 – Yes
  • Leica M4-2 – No
  • Leica M4-P – No
  • Leica M6 Classic – Yes
  • Leica M6 TTL – Yes
  • Leica M7 – Yes
  • Leica MP – Yes
  • Leica M-A – No

Film rewind mechanism

  • Leica M3 – Rewind nob (slower)
  • Leica M2 – Rewind nob (slower)
  • Leica M4 – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M5 – Rewind ratchet on base plate
  • Leica M4-2 – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M4-P – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M6 Classic – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M6 TTL – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica M7 – Rewind crank (faster)
  • Leica MP – Rewind nob (slower)
  • Leica M-A – Rewind nob (slower)

Film loading separate take-up spool insert

  • Leica M3 – Yes (slower to load)
  • Leica M2 – Yes (slower to load)
  • Leica M4 – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M5 – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M4-2 – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M4-P – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M6 Classic – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M6 TTL – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M7 – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica MP – No (has quick loading film mechanism)
  • Leica M-A – No (has quick loading film mechanism)

Viewfinder condenser / prism (risk of being unable to focus without it)

  • Leica M3 – Yes
  • Leica M2 – Yes
  • Leica M4 – Yes
  • Leica M5 – Yes
  • Leica M4-2 – No condenser removed – risk of flare/ ghosting/difficulties to focus
  • Leica M4-P – No condenser removed – risk of flare/ ghosting/difficulties to focus
  • Leica M6 Classic – No condenser removed – risk of flare/ ghosting/difficulties to focus
  • Leica M6 TTL – No condenser removed – risk of flare/ ghosting/difficulties to focus
  • Leica M7 – Yes
  • Leica MP – Yes
  • Leica M-A – Yes

Leica M6 by Olympus Pen-F

 Small Print

*Please note

  • The information is sourced from personal experience and a range of websites
  • There are many many Leica M camera variants/ specials that may not fit the above
  • Leica cameras continued to evolve so some traits may overlap from last/next model
  • Information is simplified and generalised but there is full detail on other websites
  • I own Leica M3s, M2, M4-P, M6 Classic and have not used other models
  • Non-factual comments such as ‘faster’,’slower’,’cheaper’ is a generalisation
  • This review does not include the M1 or MD models
  • External viewfinders are available if you want to use a lens wider than the frameline
  • Some camera lenses have close focus goggles such as the Leica Summicron 50mm DR
  • The Leica M3 can be used a 35mm lens using 35mm focusing goggles

**Mistakes

  • If I have omitted some obvious information or have classed a camera incorrectly (being for the majority of cameras produced for that model as I know there are lots of camera variants) please let me know and I can update it.

Leica M6!

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Mr Leica - in Action!

***Enjoyable

I hope you find this very simplified guide of some help.  I enjoyed researching the information and I now know how to distinguish the difference between my Leica M2 and Leica M3 at a glance from the front!  The Leica M3 has a plain frameline illumination window and the Leica M2 has a fresnel type illumination window (vertical stripes in the window next to the viewfinder window). 🙂

Matt

Leica M4-P

Leica M4-P

Matthew Osborne Photography / Mr Leica
December 2016

12 months on since my last Leica camera purchase, the Leica M6 Classic, I found myself buying another Leica M film camera.  It was completely unplanned (as usual) and I happened to have a free hour researching cameras online.  I stumbled across to me what seemed a real bargain.  The often less regarded Leica M4-P.

Intro

The Leica M4-P is a 35mm rangefinder camera like all other analogue Leica M film cameras.  I bought a black chrome M4-P and it has a 0.72x viewfinder the same as my Leica M6.  The Leica M4-P was in production from 1980 until around 1986 and was based on the earlier Leica M4 camera and followed the Leica M4-2. leitz-m4-p-black2

Leica M4, Leica M4-2, Leica M4-P

To take a step back, the Leica M4 was released in 1966 and saw Leica introduce a few new camera features including; a film rewind crank to replace the vertical rewind knob of the M2 and M3 (will make rewinding film so much faster!), a new angled film advance lever and faster film loading by removing the need for the separate take up spool (as used in the Leica M2 and M3).

The Leica M4-2 was released in 1977 and was similar to a Leica M4 but with a hotshoe rather than a cold shoe (The Leica M2 and M3 also have cold shoes).  The later Leica M4-P variant was similar to the Leica M4-2 but also had 28mm and 75mm framelines added so it could be used with the newer Leica M lenses. Frameline pairs are 28/90, 35/135, 50/75 meaning you always see two framelines in the viewfinder.

As a Leica photographer and a strobist and someone using a Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 ASPH lens and Leica Summicron 75mm f2 APO lens three words above have already sold the camera to me – “hotshoe”, “28mm framelines” “75mm framelines”. (OK it was 5 words sorry!)  More details below.

Leica M4-P is regarded as not the best Leica M camera

  • The M4-P saw the start of Leica using precision parts as part of a cost reduction program and it is said the M4 and later Ms are not as smooth as the earlier Leica M3 and Leica M2
  • The Leica M4-P has zinc top and base plates not the traditional brass plates
  • The Leica M4-P was built in Midland, Canada not Germany to save cost (with an exception to those cameras made in the last year of production when production was moved back to Wetzlar, Germany in 1986 before being replaced by the Leica M6)
  • The Leica M4-P has no lightmeter but is otherwise similar to a Leica M6 so why not just buy a M6
  • The Leica M4-P has a “cluttered” viewfinder with too many framelines (vs. the older Leica M3 and M2) but is the same viewfinder as the Leica M6
  • The Leica M4-P is said to suffer from flaring in the viewfinder (the same as the Leica M6)(I don’t remember experiencing many issues with my M6)
  • The Leica M4-P Leica red dot is positioned on the front right side of the camera rather than front centre to hide the adjustment screw

So why do I need another Leica!?

I guess I don’t really need another camera but I managed to construct a good argument for the purchase!  Here is a summary of the Leica M4-P vs. my other Leica M cameras.

Leica M4-P vs. Leica M3

The Leica M3 viewfinder does not have 28mm or 35mm framelines and does not have a hotshoe so I can’t use the M3 with flash triggers and off camera flash.  The M3 also has the slower to use film take up spool and rewind knob which are not ideal if working fast at a Leica wedding or on location with a model / client.

The Leica M3 is arguably better built and smoother to operate than the Leica M4-P.  The Leica M3 has THE best rangfinder viewfinder,  I think, if using 50mm lenses.

Both my Leica M3 single stroke and Leica M3 double stroke cameras currently need recalibrating to be able to use accurately with fast lenses like the Leica Noctilux 50mm f1.

Leica M4-P vs. Leica M2

The Leica M2 viewfinder does not have 28mm framelines for accurate framing with the Leica Elmarit-M 28mm ASPH. (I have just used the entire M2 viewfinder field of view as 28mm to guesstimate to date).  The M2 like the M3 does not have a hotshoe so I can’t use it with flash triggers and off camera flash.  The M2 like the M3 also has the slower to use film take up spool and rewind knob which are not ideal if working quickly.

The Leica M2 is arguably better built and smoother to operate than the Leica M4-P.

Leica M4-P vs. Leica M6

The Leica M4-P is basically the same as my Leica M6 Classic, just without a built-in light meter.  The same viewfinder/ framelines, same zinc top plate and base plate, the same film rewind knob and film loading .

My Leica M6 currently jams at around 25 exposures so I bulk load my own film so not to waste the last 10 or so shots on a standard 36 exposure roll of film.  It can be repaired but other than that the M6 is a great camera and I use the M6 perhaps the most of my analogue film M cameras because of the hotshoe.  The faster to operate film rewind crank is also a great help.

Leica M4-P vs. Leica M8 / Leica M9 / Leica M240

For completeness, the Leica M4-P is better than my Leica M8, Leica M240 and the Leica M9 I replaced as the M4-P is analogue! I probably don’t need to say any more other than to use the hashtags #believeinfilm, #filmisthefuture ! 🙂

Summary

So to conclude, when I saw a used Leica M4-P camera (on sale at a reputable online store in the UK) at almost half the price of my Leica M6 Classic and half the price of my new Leica Elmarit-M 28mm f2.8 ASPH lens (*Blog post to follow) and that I can use with flash and hopefully shoot an entire 36 exposure roll of film in I jumped at the chance!

I buy Leica cameras to use rather than to polish so to get a slightly more used Leica camera at a discounted price is far better for me than a mint boxed camera at full price.  I am also not a Leica puriest as for one I use flash photography a lot but also I don’t mind too much where a camera was made or if the top plate is made of zinc or brass.

Leica M4-P, welcome to family! 🙂

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