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Thread: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

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    The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Hey folks,

    I usually live over in the nikon forum, though also had a brief fling with MFD.

    Lately, and by lately I mean the last year and a half, I've started to have a bit of an itch for a Leica kit. I chose to play with a mamiya digital kit last summer while I had a decent sum of cash lying around (said pile of cash turned into a house down payment after I sold the kit). I've started saving up for new floors and counters and lasik surgery, but will be waiting about a year before doing that. So I have an account with money that's going to make me roughly $12 this year. I'd rather play with some camera stuff. Haha. last summer it could have been an M9 and new 35 cron. This time around, a film body and some ancient bang for the buck 35.

    Ideally, I'd like as modern a body as possible, and a lens with the special Leica sauce that's closer to free than the cost of a new car. Not that concerned with speed, but the faster the better. Obviously 1.4s are out. I don't care about condition as long as its functional and not a total beater. Just need to be able to resell it by, say, February. I also want it to be coupled so the viewfinder works...I barely have patience for manual focus, so I'm not hoping for the best with zone focus or matching up numbers. I like my fuji 690, so I know at least I enjoy RF focus.

    There's an M6 on CL here at 1400, body + CV 35/1.4. I'd probably want to sell the voigtlander in favor of a Leica, but not put much additional cash in. Is this reasonable? Seems like it, but you guys would know better. Is there some equally pleasing but more economical route?

    Thoughts?

    Sorry for the long winded post, and thanks for the advice.

    Cheers,
    Daves
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Can't go wrong with an M6, M6 TTL or M7 body. A Zeiss Ikon isn't a bad choice either.

    As for lens, maybe an older pre-ASPH Summilux or Summicron. The Voigtländer 35mm f/1.2 Nokton would get you both speed and some "special sauce" wide open for not a lot of coin. But... It's on the larger/heavier side. The f/1.4 isn't a bad choice either; fast, small and reasonable IQ.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Thanks for the reply DN.

    I'm definitely not afraid of big glass...just big price tags. Lol. Alas, they are a hallmark of Leica.

    I've also had an eye on the M4...anything that would drive me nuts on that body? I like saving a couple hundred where I can that doesn't bite me.

    I definitely want to put a Leica lens on though. I want to experience the mythos. I can put a good deal of fabulous zeiss on my Nikon (had, and was mesmerized by, the 100 makro for a while). Though it's an option eventually if i go insane and keep this kit beyond my projected timeline. Lol

    I want to keep the lens cost as low as possible without sacrificing too much. I'd prefer f2 if I can get it, but f2.8 is fine also. It's more about the look than anything else. Ideally I'd like to keep this whole project around that $1400 mark I'd initially be shelling out if I bought the CL listed kit. I can stretch, but not much without being uncomfortable. And I'm also slightly biased against the made in Canada products, but won't rule them out outright.
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    As for glass if you're willing to spend the money. The 35 Summicron ASPH might be the best all around lens available. if you HAVE to have a Leica lens. Like others mention the 35 Nokton 1.2 version 2 is worth checking out as well if you desire speed. The bokeh rendering is somewher between the 35 Summilux and 35 FLE rendering. So very modern while affordable for the average shooter. If you're open to other brands then the Zeiss offerings are good choices as well.
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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    I wish I were willing to spend the money. I'm relatively constrained on budget.

    I imagine I'm confined to summarons and summarits, rather than crons and luxes and ASPHs (oh my!).

    Speed is good, but Leica magic, low price, and rangefinder coupled are my must have options. Speed is a very distant 4th.

    CV and Zeiss are pretty much out. This is sort of a brief dip in the Leica waters...not staying long enough for pruney fingers...yet.
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    The 35mm F2.8 Summaron is a good choice if you are on a budget and must have Leica.

    (Added) The 35mm F2.8 Summaron and Nikkor 35/2.5 are the same basic optical formula. The Nikkor 35/2.5 was made in Leica Thread Mount, perhaps a little higher contrast than the Summaron. Also worth looking for as Leica lens prices have skyrocketed. Mine is in S-Mount, compares quite well with the Summaron F2.8 which I ended up selling.
    Last edited by Brian S; 9th April 2012 at 05:13.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    There is no such thing as a free lunch.

    While you can get most any M body from the M6 Classic on up, the lenses that command attention, hold value, and are easy to sell when you want ... are priced accordingly for the very reason you want to try to scratch your Leica itch.

    IMO, most any M-50/2 Summicron will deliver all you hope and wish for, and give you that classic Leica feel, especially on a film camera. Except for cosmetic changes and a built-in hood in 1994, the optical performance of the M-50 Summicron has remained relatively unchanged from 1979 when it set the benchmark, and has remained one of the best, if not the best 50/2 lenses out there.

    LEICA 50mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M (1979-today)

    A M-50 Summicron is like money in the bank, only more fun

    -Marc

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Quote Originally Posted by dmeckert View Post
    .... relatively constrained on budget.... imagine I'm confined to summarons and summarits... Leica magic...CV and Zeiss are pretty much out....
    Oh well, maybe you have made your mind up and have come to a forum where the often reflex response is to send people off to queue for a new Summilux. But in the spirit of the second part of the thread's title; you could do a lot worse than the incredible Zeiss 35mm f2.8 C-Biogon. You could do a lot worse, but I don't think I could do better, for my work, [at any price] than this gem of a lens. Sean Reid, and Erwin Puts offer interesting reading on the C-Biogon.

    It's not a Leica; but it is an artist's lens. And my 'diamond' vcopy has no resale value whatsoever as it's a lens-for-life.

    By the way, I worked with a Fuji 6x9 for some time and I think you'll find the Leica viewfinder and rangefinder patches much easier to frame, and focus with.

    .................. Chris

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    thanks for the continued discussion, i appreciate the perspective provided.

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian S View Post
    The 35mm F2.8 Summaron is a good choice if you are on a budget and must have Leica.

    (Added) The 35mm F2.8 Summaron and Nikkor 35/2.5 are the same basic optical formula. The Nikkor 35/2.5 was made in Leica Thread Mount, perhaps a little higher contrast than the Summaron. Also worth looking for as Leica lens prices have skyrocketed. Mine is in S-Mount, compares quite well with the Summaron F2.8 which I ended up selling.
    interesting. i shall have to look into it. i feel like i've read the summaron gives a very old school look to images. definitely checking these out.

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    There is no such thing as a free lunch.

    While you can get most any M body from the M6 Classic on up, the lenses that command attention, hold value, and are easy to sell when you want ... are priced accordingly for the very reason you want to try to scratch your Leica itch.

    IMO, most any M-50/2 Summicron will deliver all you hope and wish for, and give you that classic Leica feel, especially on a film camera. Except for cosmetic changes and a built-in hood in 1994, the optical performance of the M-50 Summicron has remained relatively unchanged from 1979 when it set the benchmark, and has remained one of the best, if not the best 50/2 lenses out there.

    LEICA 50mm f/2 SUMMICRON-M (1979-today)

    A M-50 Summicron is like money in the bank, only more fun

    -Marc
    i just want the cheap lunch. lol. leica bologna on white, as it were.

    resale is important...so i may have to stretch a little i guess. there's always time, i can just wait a couple months if necessary.

    i like 35 as a wide nomal, but if i can grab a 50 cron reasonably it might be the way to go. i hated my 50 on a DX sensor for so long, my gut reaction is to forget how much i like it on full frame and film.

    Quote Originally Posted by Chris C View Post
    Oh well, maybe you have made your mind up and have come to a forum where the often reflex response is to send people off to queue for a new Summilux. But in the spirit of the second part of the thread's title; you could do a lot worse than the incredible Zeiss 35mm f2.8 C-Biogon. You could do a lot worse, but I don't think I could do better, for my work, [at any price] than this gem of a lens. Sean Reid, and Erwin Puts offer interesting reading on the C-Biogon.

    It's not a Leica; but it is an artist's lens. And my 'diamond' vcopy has no resale value whatsoever as it's a lens-for-life.

    By the way, I worked with a Fuji 6x9 for some time and I think you'll find the Leica viewfinder and rangefinder patches much easier to frame, and focus with.

    .................. Chris
    it definitely seems that way. and i'm usually the first to recommend someone run out and grab the latest nikon G lens instead of cheaping out. the price gap is just tremendous between brands. my beloved 85/1.4G set me back $1600 in a trade, but i shoot a goodly percent of the time with it...it'll live in my bag for probably 10 years. grabbing something equally regarded in the leica system will cost 3x that.

    i'll have to read up on the Zeiss. i know i like zeiss lenses already in general, so i could certainly do worse.

    good to hear the leica is easier to frame and focus. the fuji isn't bad, but could have stood improvement for sure. that camera and i are really starting to get along.
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    I just published part 2 of my 35mm rangefinder lens shootout on Steve Huff:

    The Great 35mm Rangefinder Lens Shootout – PART 2 – Close Up and Wide Open – by Brad Husick | STEVE HUFF PHOTOS
    Brad Husick

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    If you have to have Leica, then you have to have it!

    If labels can be put aside and performance of a lens is taken into consideration,

    may I recommend the zm 50mm planar. In no way inferior to the summicron in performance..imho. Some maintain it exceeds the cron in performance and flare resistance. The oof are super.

    For the 35mm I am in agreement that the tiny zm 35/2.8 c is a gem of a lens.

    I have them and use them on digital and film; have no complaints whatsoever.

    Best of luck in your choice.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    I wrote up an in-depth review of the Zeiss Biogon T* 2/35 ZM that might be worth a look. It's a really nice lens for not a lot of money. Optically better than the Voigtländer lenses (zero distortion). Lovely lens - as is the entire line.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Quote Originally Posted by dmeckert View Post
    I wish I were willing to spend the money. I'm relatively constrained on budget.

    I imagine I'm confined to summarons and summarits, rather than crons and luxes and ASPHs (oh my!).

    Speed is good, but Leica magic, low price, and rangefinder coupled are my must have options. Speed is a very distant 4th.

    CV and Zeiss are pretty much out. This is sort of a brief dip in the Leica waters...not staying long enough for pruney fingers...yet.
    Leica and low price are not 2 words normally associated in the same sentence. I get where you're coming from and I've recently added many Leica lenses to my kit where I felt they were the best available option. A few notable exceptions are my ZM 50 Planar for a great and affordable walk around 50 that I prefer personally to the 50 Summicron... it just happens to be 1/3 the price. The other non-Leica I have is 35 Nokton 2. I can't say enough good things about this lens so far. I don't care for the classical styling personally but optically I'd say it's 90-95% of the lens of a 35 Lux FLE. It's EASILY the best Voigtlander lens that I've owned which includes the 28/2 Ultron and 50/1.5 Nokton. I know speed is a distant 4th on your list but consider the wide open character in choosing as most lenses render pretty similar once you stop down.
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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Very interesting reading. A lot of really great insights.

    It's a good point to consider, the wide open rendering. It's how I plan on using it nearly all the time. More than pretty bokeh in the background, I'm concerned with the transition from in focus to out of focus. It's one thing I love love love about the 85/1.4G that's almost permanently affixed to my d700.

    Maybe I'm almost convinced to give zeiss a shot...maybe. (and in which case, would getting an Ikon instead make sense if it can be had at a decemt price?) I still feel like I'd need to get the Leica out of my system though. Haha. It's all a fun experiment, so I could start somewhere and always play the buy and sell game like I did most of last year.

    Checking out your reviews in a bit Brad and DubNeg. Thanks

    Thanks also rayyan...good seeing you over here as well. The zm 35/2.8 seems pretty spectacular. So much research to do. It's tough to want to go for pure quality for once, since this is all about intangibles and magic for once. The name may win out. Or not.

    You've all been wonderfully helpful. Much appreciated.
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Leica experience on a budget? Okay, I will move on from the glaringly obvious fact that having an empty bank balance and a standing debt with your Leica dealer IS part of the Leica experience....

    Get a used Leica/minolta CL + 40mm f/2 summicron bundle kit
    (or a Voigtlander Bessa body new with any 35 or 50mm lens you can afford).

    Then pick up a 90mm f/4 or 90/2.8 tele-elmarit (thin) with hood.
    Add a used Voigtlander 21mm f/4 skopar + 21mm viewfinder.

    You should be able to put this tiny and versatile kit together for well within your budget. If you like it and want an M9, you can keep the lenses (though you may have to swap out the 21/2 due to red edge effect on the M9 sensor) and the CL will make a nice film backup for exotic travels if required. I use the 40/2 on my M) and have no problems using the 35mm frame lines.

    Good luck.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Hello Daves.

    Re: the Zeiss Ikon film rangefinder. I have one. Not much in use however.

    The build quality is nowhere as brick-like and solid as the M. But not cheap
    plastic either. Feels good in the hand. Film loading is as I would want it to be,
    from the rear rather than the bottom. Let's not discuss the reasons for this.

    The viewfinder is the best I have used..bar none.

    I have had issues from the beginning with vertical misalignment of the rangefinder. Has been to Germany and corrected.

    More automation ( ' A ' ) and shutter speed.

    But I would advise looking for an ' M ' rather than the Zeiss box. Re-sale also
    comes into it.

    Go for the ' M ' body. As Mr. KR mentions..the ' M ' system is unhindered
    by progress and proud of it. And, it would appear, a lot of others agree..
    with their checkbooks in hand!

    Regards.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Quote Originally Posted by rayyan View Post
    Hello Daves.

    Re: the Zeiss Ikon film rangefinder. I have one. Not much in use however.

    The build quality is nowhere as brick-like and solid as the M. But not cheap
    plastic either. Feels good in the hand. Film loading is as I would want it to be,
    from the rear rather than the bottom. Let's not discuss the reasons for this.

    The viewfinder is the best I have used..bar none.

    I have had issues from the beginning with vertical misalignment of the rangefinder. Has been to Germany and corrected.

    More automation ( ' A ' ) and shutter speed.

    But I would advise looking for an ' M ' rather than the Zeiss box. Re-sale also
    comes into it.

    Go for the ' M ' body. As Mr. KR mentions..the ' M ' system is unhindered
    by progress and proud of it. And, it would appear, a lot of others agree..
    with their checkbooks in hand!

    Regards.
    that sounds extremely reasonable. it's a shame the zeiss vf is better, but unhindered by progress sounds like a great mantra, and resale value is of utmost importance. i like the idea of brick-like feel, and the red dot definitely has some appeal (even though so many tape it up).

    i'm sort of considering the zeiss lenses now...i've been on flickr all day and it looks like they produce gorgeous images. i've seen people say the 35/2.8 biogon produces out of focus effects similar to the f/2 despite the smaller aperture, shot wide open.

    the other thought i had was renting a couple lenses and seeing how that goes...drop $100 and have a bit of fun one week.
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Quick update.

    I've found an M6 (from a member here)...and decided to start off with the ZM 35/2.8 C-Biogon (found on Fred Miranda). I like the look of it from what I've seen on Flickr and in reviews in this thread. And if I want a change, I don't figure it will be hard to make happen.

    Thanks for all the input.

    Now the hard part: waiting for it to all get here.
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Cant wait to see the pics...

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    congratulations on your purchases. i suspect you'll be pleased with the camera and the lens (zeiss fan here) - post your thoughts and pictures when you have the chance.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Sweet, congrats! That C Biogon is ridiculously nice.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    thanks guys. such good helpful advice.

    everthing has arrived, and is in great shape.

    i nearly had a heart attack thinking the meter wasn't working, but the internets tells me that earlier M6 Classics had a meter that cut off when there wasn't adequate light by a large enough margin, but activated when you got closer. i replaced the batteries for peace of mind, and now that that's out of the way all seems to be well.

    the small size of the kit is AMAZING. it's so much more compact than i ever imagined, even knowing the dimensions. but still feels wonderfully solid. the Zeiss focusing nub is a little odd, i have to say. haha.

    i've got a roll of Tri-X in now, which i'll process and scan at work (high school art/ceramics/photo teacher) on monday, assuming i finish it over the weekend.

    i'll post up any winners on monday or tuesday hopefully...in this thread, and maybe in the analog forum as well if they're worthy. haha. no real models planned...i'll just torture my friends, and maybe the occasional stranger.
    --David
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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Having issues with roll 1...the developer at school was in iffy shape, not to my knowledge (the other photo teacher - a painter - mixes the chemistry). And having a difficult time with the subtle curl of the film an the epson v700 film holder.

    I may wet print and scan some, or just make crummy low res scans to share.

    Very likely gonna send out all future film to my usual lab for dev and scan. (I'd get the BetterScanning ANR glass if I knew my job were secure).

    Photos soon hopefully. :/
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Also...a few observations from the first roll.

    I question the accuracy of the meter...dunno of its typical of the M6 or just mine. Things seem a little underexposed generally. I'm guessing it's more an issue of learning the meter's tendencies and how it's weighted.

    I got used to the basic functions pretty quickly. Still getting used to focusing with the smaller (though higher quality) RF compared to the fuji 690iii.

    My only real gripe so far is the skinny focus ring on the 35/2.8 c-biogon. I'm used to thicker, and the nub on it isn't proving that useful. Considering moving to the 35/2 biogon if I can't adapt to it over the course of my first batch of film (about a dozen rolls). Though I do like the rendering of the c-biogon from what I can tell so far, and it's petite size.
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Regarding the meter, use it as you would a hand held meter, take a reading from something, like grass. Don't point it at the scene in the viewfinder unless the scene is very evenly lit. Regarding curly film, try Ilford HP5 instead of Tri-X, it doesn't curl.

    Steve

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Quote Originally Posted by 250swb View Post
    Regarding the meter, use it as you would a hand held meter, take a reading from something, like grass. Don't point it at the scene in the viewfinder unless the scene is very evenly lit. Regarding curly film, try Ilford HP5 instead of Tri-X, it doesn't curl.

    Steve
    Aaaah...I see.

    Thanks for the heads up! I'll give the metering a try...and I'll pick up some hp5 in my next batch of film. Haven't shot a roll yet, but is the lack of curl specific to hp5, or ilford in general? I have pan f plus in this batch, apart from the tri-x, as well as a couple rolls of new portra 400. At least it's not efke...that stuff has a nightmarish curl.

    Cheers
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Not the greatest samples...but here they are none the less...

    My bestie, with chicken soup:


    His roomie's cat (as per tradition with new camera gear):


    And finally, a bottle and a champagne flute that are completely unrelated:


    Future film definitely going to the lab.
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Let me congratulate you on your purchase, because this is one purchase that you will probably never regret. I have never used a hand held meter but the in camera metering has always been accurate to within tolerable ranges. Avoid the itch to buy more lenses. If the itch to buy faster glass must be scratched, so be it, but be careful. Again, congrats. And ENJOY.

    I have a black M6 .85 TTL and a chrome M6 .72. I also have a Sony a900 with some mixed glass (minolta and zeiss/sony) but I prefer the Leicas to the Sony by a wide margin. If I could afford an M9 and pay for it without my wife finding out, I would probably buy one.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Quote Originally Posted by MikalWGrass View Post
    Let me congratulate you on your purchase, because this is one purchase that you will probably never regret. I have never used a hand held meter but the in camera metering has always been accurate to within tolerable ranges. Avoid the itch to buy more lenses. If the itch to buy faster glass must be scratched, so be it, but be careful. Again, congrats. And ENJOY.

    I have a black M6 .85 TTL and a chrome M6 .72. I also have a Sony a900 with some mixed glass (minolta and zeiss/sony) but I prefer the Leicas to the Sony by a wide margin. If I could afford an M9 and pay for it without my wife finding out, I would probably buy one.
    thanks

    it just seems to want to underexpose a bit...but that could also be my staunch ETTR digital shooting habits coming into play. haha. gonna try a few different things with the 2nd roll, as per suggestions, and just playing around.

    i may have to fight the itch to buy more. though the moderate magnification, and cost of magnifiers, will keep me away from fast portrait lenses i might otherwise lust after. i may end up with a faster lens...but less because of the speed, and more because the C-Biogon has a very skinny focusing ring, where the f/2 biogon has a little more real estate to work with. if i could afford a cron it would be a moot point. and i adore 35ish lenses...my fave is the fuji gw690 at 38mm equivalent, or so. *ignores itch for something wider...and something more suited to closer portraits...especially some of the 50 DRs going at reasonable prices* :P

    i'm really enjoying it so far...the difference between the tri-x shot of my buddy, and what digital would've done, is pretty huge, i think. we'll see as i get a hang of shooting the leica, and using it in situations where i usually use digital, and have slow film done at the lab i like.

    if i could afford an M9 without maxing one of my credit cards, i totally would. especially with the prices dropping like stones in anticipation of the M10.
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    I think you should buy a used m8 , then you get the digital convenience and the Rangefinder Leica experience .

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Quote Originally Posted by dude163 View Post
    I think you should buy a used m8 , then you get the digital convenience and the Rangefinder Leica experience .
    That may happen at some point as well. I worry slightly about the investment aspect of the digital bodies though, since this is a planned time frame for now. (I could also just look at any depreciation as a rental fee).

    Ive also been wanting to shoot more film lately. It has a charm all its own.

    AND unless something goes horribly wrong...I will be teaching photo full time next year, and my job is safe. Found out on Friday. This means the v700 will be with me all summer...so the better scanning glass may be headed this way, along with some chemistry that won't be shared with 100 teenagers. Lol
    --David

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Quote Originally Posted by dmeckert View Post

    ....
    if i could afford an M9 without maxing one of my credit cards, i totally would. especially with the prices dropping like stones in anticipation of the M10.
    Hello Daves.

    My experience teaches me otherwise. M9 prices are not dropping like stones; dropping sure as with digital but not as other brands.

    Without maxing out on cc! They must love you at your bank.

    Enjoy what ever you get in good health and fortune. But pause before you commit.

    Kindest regards.

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    Re: The Leica itch, and the quest for a 35mm gem

    Quote Originally Posted by rayyan View Post
    Hello Daves.

    My experience teaches me otherwise. M9 prices are not dropping like stones; dropping sure as with digital but not as other brands.

    Without maxing out on cc! They must love you at your bank.

    Enjoy what ever you get in good health and fortune. But pause before you commit.

    Kindest regards.
    By "like stones" I don't mean like canikons do, lol (I think I could get $800, if i were lucky, out of my well-traveled originally $2k d300 setup)....but I've seen a bunch of m9s for sale around 4.8k...where 6 months ago they were at $5.4k and last summer when I was looking $5800 was a great buy. Though they may be stabilizing, we'll see when the M10 is released if they creep down a few hundred more. Still way over budget...I like having 2/3 of my credit limit available. Haha!

    For the moment, $100 gets me chemistry and ANR glass inserts for the scanner...which can also be used at school for advanced students anyway if I lose my mind and my will power. :P

    Thanks mate
    --David

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