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Thread: M4-2 second roll report

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    M4-2 second roll report

    My first roll of film in the M4-2 determined that the camera was working well but the rangefinder needs a calibration adjustment. That didn't stop me from pushing a second roll of XP2 Super through the camera ... I decided to fit the Skopar 35mm f/2.5 lens and work stopped down to f/5.6-f/8 to accommodate the rangefinder's miscalibration.

    I found the local Walgreens has a clean C41 processing machine ... Woo hoo! That's a 5 minute walk from my desk rather than a forty minute round trip drive to the camera shop, and a dollar less on negs only processing. And they cut them more accurately than the camera shop too. :-)

    The negs ran quickly through my scanner yesterday. More and better results this time .. I'm relearning my exposure technique for film ... and it also pointed out that I need to relearn how to scan for best data with the latest version of Vuescan. So instead of processing a few photos to post, last night I stayed up to the wee hours testing different settings on the scanner. Now I have what I think is a much better scanning config so I'll rescan the batch tonight to test it.

    This is fun. :-)

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Enjoy the camera, they are fun to use. I got an M4-2 a couple of weeks ago as well. I think currently it's the best value in the M line along with the M2 as long as you get one that's in good shape and doesn't have any of the issues that gave it a bad reputation. Haven't used it much yet, should make more time for this.

    -Thomas

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by trisberg View Post
    Enjoy the camera, they are fun to use. I got an M4-2 a couple of weeks ago as well. I think currently it's the best value in the M line along with the M2 as long as you get one that's in good shape and doesn't have any of the issues that gave it a bad reputation. Haven't used it much yet, should make more time for this.
    What issues gave the M4-2 a bad reputation? Other than the early production run problems mentioned in articles like http://nemeng.com/leica/016b.shtml and being considered a cheapened down M4, of course. Mine is from at least the second or third production run, seems to be just before they changed the viewfinder optics but after they'd cleaned up the initial production run problems.

    My favorite model for years was the M4-P, which is virtually identical except for the viewfinder. I picked the M4-2 this time around because the simpler viewfinder is more to my liking. This one is very nice for a BGN grade camera ... it isn't quite as velvety smooth on the film transport as my last M4-P was, but then again that M4-P had been completely overhauled by Sherry Krauter just before I bought it and was effectively a new camera.

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    What issues gave the M4-2 a bad reputation? Other than the early production run problems mentioned in articles like http://nemeng.com/leica/016b.shtml and being considered a cheapened down M4, of course. Mine is from at least the second or third production run, seems to be just before they changed the viewfinder optics but after they'd cleaned up the initial production run problems.

    My favorite model for years was the M4-P, which is virtually identical except for the viewfinder. I picked the M4-2 this time around because the simpler viewfinder is more to my liking. This one is very nice for a BGN grade camera ... it isn't quite as velvety smooth on the film transport as my last M4-P was, but then again that M4-P had been completely overhauled by Sherry Krauter just before I bought it and was effectively a new camera.
    As long as my camera has no issues and is working fine, I will not worry about those bad reputations mentioned in reviews or whatsoever. The important thing is that you are getting the pictures that you want. What ever Leica model I use, whether its an M4-2, M4-P or an M5, I will make use of its purpose and not worry about its story. The important part is that you are capturing the stories that you want with these cameras. But of course we need to make sure that they are in good working order, that they will not break or malfunction in the middle of an assignment. And that is were CLA's and overhaul comes in.

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by iver aldas View Post
    As long as my camera has no issues and is working fine, I will not worry about those bad reputations mentioned in reviews or whatsoever. The important thing is that you are getting the pictures that you want. What ever Leica model I use, whether its an M4-2, M4-P or an M5, I will make use of its purpose and not worry about its story. The important part is that you are capturing the stories that you want with these cameras. But of course we need to make sure that they are in good working order, that they will not break or malfunction in the middle of an assignment. And that is were CLA's and overhaul comes in.
    Agree 100%.

    I've heard stories of how horrible some piece of equipment is in a review many many times, yet found that in my own extended use of the same piece of equipment it always functioned perfectly for me. I don't really know what to make of this, all I can do is shrug and pick what I like, then use it and maintain it as I always do. If something breaks and is worth fixing, I fix it. Very few of my cameras have ever broken down.

    I don't think we can ever be completely sure that a specific piece of equipment won't break in the middle of a job ... That's why we have backups for such work.

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    Agree 100%.

    I've heard stories of how horrible some piece of equipment is in a review many many times, yet found that in my own extended use of the same piece of equipment it always functioned perfectly for me. I don't really know what to make of this, all I can do is shrug and pick what I like, then use it and maintain it as I always do. If something breaks and is worth fixing, I fix it. Very few of my cameras have ever broken down.

    I don't think we can ever be completely sure that a specific piece of equipment won't break in the middle of a job ... That's why we have backups for such work.
    Your right about having a backup. I have a friend who had his m4-2 for years now and it has been working perfectly ever since he got it. I want one too or maybe an M5 even if it is bombarded by bad reviews. Our work should not rely on such reviews, its how we trust our cameras to capture the photos we want. Happy shooting!

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    I always found that reviews I found from people were nearly always from disgruntled folks

    I think by nature we rarely hop onto the net and go to a forum with " wow this is a great camera!" but its easy to find posts with

    " My m4/5 doesnt work, how the hell did Leica make a piece of....."
    or " M5 problems, please help"

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by dude163 View Post
    I always found that reviews I found from people were nearly always from disgruntled folks

    I think by nature we rarely hop onto the net and go to a forum with " wow this is a great camera!" but its easy to find posts with

    " My m4/5 doesnt work, how the hell did Leica make a piece of....."
    or " M5 problems, please help"
    Indeed.

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    What issues gave the M4-2 a bad reputation? Other than the early production run problems mentioned in articles like http://nemeng.com/leica/016b.shtml and being considered a cheapened down M4, of course.
    That's the article I was thinking of. I get the impression from reading online that the early batches indeed did have some problems, but I would expect these cameras to either be fixed by now or not work at all. Maybe we shouldn't search online . I didn't really care anyway and bought my M4-2 and haven't had any problems.

    -Thomas

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by trisberg View Post
    That's the article I was thinking of. I get the impression from reading online that the early batches indeed did have some problems, but I would expect these cameras to either be fixed by now or not work at all. Maybe we shouldn't search online . I didn't really care anyway and bought my M4-2 and haven't had any problems.
    As dude163 said, sometimes it seems that three-quarters the "reviews" posted are posted by someone with a chip on their shoulder for some reason.

    I did go back to Steve Gandy's "Leica M serial number by type" listing again to check where in the production run this was made. I was in error: mine is the 1,786th out of 2,000 made in the first production run which started 12/7/1977. It's kinda fun to be able to find that out ... :-) It does need the rangefinder to be serviced: it's both out of alignment and the calibration is off. It'll get done as soon as my local camera tech can take it in.

    In the meantime, I may next fit the Skink zone plate I purchased and see what kind of fun that produces.

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    It does need the rangefinder to be serviced: it's both out of alignment and the calibration is off..

    AHA!! see ! the internet was right!!

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by dude163 View Post
    AHA!! see ! the internet was right!!
    LOL!!!

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    The vertical alignment on mine is out as well, but I think that is a common ailment across all different M models. Might get that fixed some day if it starts bothering me a lot.
    Last edited by trisberg; 13th September 2011 at 15:02. Reason: confused horizontal alignment with vertical :)

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by trisberg View Post
    The vertical alignment on mine is out as well, but I think that is a common ailment across all different M models. Might get that fixed some day if it starts bothering me a lot.
    Oh yes, I've seen the same mis-alignment and mis-calibration on every model Leica M I've owned (hmm ... M4-P, M6TTL, M3, M2, now M4-2 not in any particular order). In the case of this one, it's simply a 33 year old camera that has been jostled enough over time to warrant an adjustment, far as I'm concerned. Even though its out of adjustment, it's completely reliable as to how far it's off so I can still use it to focus accurately. :-)

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    oJack At Breakfast


    Leica M4-2 + Skopar 35mm f/2.5
    Ilford XP2 Super, scanned with Nikon LS-40

    This is one of my favorite photos from the second test roll. I chose it to experiment with Vuescan scanning settings as it is a very difficult negative .. the background is nearly completely blocked up, the foreground is underexposed. It certainly expresses the whole range of tonal values.

    After four configuration tries, I arrived at a set of settings that produces what I feel are very good results even with this rather extreme negative. I'll go back and apply them to the rest of the roll ... I had Vuescan capture to DNG encapsulated TIFF files and also output a set of raw uncorrected files, so I can re-process without having to run the film through the scanner again ... and then I'll have another gallery to post.

    thots:
    - Film is a lot more work than digital ... !
    - This tiny little Skopar 35mm f/2.5 is a superb lens!

    enjoy! comments always appreciated.

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    I like this photo - the pose and his facial expression are natural and pleasant.

    I suggest maybe the blacks were brought up too much in his shirt because it looks like a bit of scanning noise appearing (?). I can imagine this was a difficult neg.

    My shooting regime of late in sunny weather (mostly with medium format film) is to use incident metering, overexpose by one stop (basically, meter at half box speed) and underdevelop by cutting dev time 20%. This compresses the tonal range pretty effectively with most B&W films I've tried. Makes for a fairly dense negative but without blown highlights. When I'm scanning I only try to ensure there are no hotspots or dead areas. Then, I can bring the blacks back easily (I use Silver Efex). Your photo might have benefitted from that, but I'm not sure about the process with chromogenic film.

    This car was heavily backlit by the morning sun. Note the shadow detail. Fuji Acros 100.


    lone tree car show by mike thomas, on Flickr

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    The RF is not difficult to adjust on the M4-2...if you are game for a DIY.

    I always wonder how accurate these stories are about reliability over certain production runs, serial number cutoff, etc. Maybe it was just a handful of cameras that met the criteria, and over time became accepted as fact over hundreds or thousands of production cameras...

    In my experience, the only thing affected is the price. Kinda like the German vs Canadian lens manufacture...never could see a difference in quality, but many people will pay more for German.

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by mathomas View Post
    I like this photo - the pose and his facial expression are natural and pleasant.

    I suggest maybe the blacks were brought up too much in his shirt because it looks like a bit of scanning noise appearing (?). I can imagine this was a difficult neg.
    The neg was quite challenging indeed ... it's right on the edge ... but the vertical noise striping only appeared once it was down-sampled to the web resolution. Likely there and unnoticeable in the full rez image but the downsampling has the effect of increasing local contrast gradients, making them visible. I made a print for Jack this morning and they don't appear in the print.

    Image processing can be such a tricky thing. :-)

    Quote Originally Posted by mathomas View Post
    ... My shooting regime of late in sunny weather (mostly with medium format film) is to use incident metering, overexpose by one stop (basically, meter at half box speed) and underdevelop by cutting dev time 20%. This compresses the tonal range pretty effectively with most B&W films I've tried. Makes for a fairly dense negative but without blown highlights. When I'm scanning I only try to ensure there are no hotspots or dead areas. Then, I can bring the blacks back easily (I use Silver Efex). Your photo might have benefitted from that, but I'm not sure about the process with chromogenic film.

    This car was heavily backlit by the morning sun. Note the shadow detail. Fuji Acros 100.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathomas/6121752994/
    lone tree car show by mike thomas, on Flickr
    When I'm shooting standard process B&W films, I long ago developed an approach similar to these ideas, but rather than increasing exposure drastically or cutting development time I minimize agitation technique with diluted developer and a pre-wet pass. What this does is allow the developer to exhaust itself locally in high density areas while it continues to work on the low density areas. My goal is negatives that lend themselves to scanning (scanning is much easier with thin negatives) for maximum data without blocking highlights and retaining speed and shadow detail.

    With C41 process B&W films, the final film image is all dye, not silver grains, so it is quite difficult to block up highlights unless you overexpose grossly. Depending on what you're after, you adjust contrast and graininess by modifying the sensitivity rating ... XP2 Super works extremely well at ISO 200 to 800, where 200 nets a denser, smooth, lower contrast negative and 800 nets a thin, grainy, highlight biased negative. Both are pretty easy to scan, the "best" for a given scene is adjustable within this range easily. While this test roll was rated at the nominal ISO 400, I more often rate XP2 Super at ISO 320 or 640 depending upon the subject type. Since the process is constant and the highlights do not block up, I can change the ISO setting mid-roll to manipulate contrast as I choose.

    The thing that I really had to work on and re-learn with this negative was the behavior of the scanner and VueScan in various different settings combinations. I found that the best output for subsequent processing in Lightroom was a 48bit RGB TIFF with a slight inflection on the dark and light contrast control points, where I combined the channels into a monochrome rendering in Lightroom rather than in VueScan's rendering to output. It had the effect of smoothing and compressing this scene's wide dynamic range to facilitate image processing.

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    Re: M4-2 second roll report

    Quote Originally Posted by monza View Post
    The RF is not difficult to adjust on the M4-2...if you are game for a DIY.

    I always wonder how accurate these stories are about reliability over certain production runs, serial number cutoff, etc. Maybe it was just a handful of cameras that met the criteria, and over time became accepted as fact over hundreds or thousands of production cameras...

    In my experience, the only thing affected is the price. Kinda like the German vs Canadian lens manufacture...never could see a difference in quality, but many people will pay more for German.
    Thanks, but since it needs both vertical and horizontal alignment, and my guy with the right tools and experience to do it perfectly is five minutes away and will charge only a modest amount to do it, I'll just wait for him to get back into operation and let him handle it. KEH will most likely pick up the cost as well as the camera is covered for repair under their warranty for a year ... it will cost less to have my local guy take care of it than to ship it back and forth and have their service do the job.

    There's certainly a lot of "value" added to things on the basis of an idea or notion rather than in real function or quality. Since I was specifically looking for a modest-cost user, this M4-2 rated as BGN was quite a buy in my opinion. Even if I pay for the RF adjustment myself, I'm still $400-500 under what I see paid for M4-2s in "EXC" condition on average, and there's no guarantee that those don't need one adjustment or another either. :-)

    BTW, by the chart I mentioned at Cameraquest.com, officially Leica made 16,000 M4-2s in eight batches from 1977 to 1980.

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