Leica R or SL questions

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Leica Photography : One Thread

If any of you were going to purchase an older Leica R (R3, R4, or R5) or an SL which would be the better choice. I'm told that the R3 can't be fixed everywhere an R4 or R5 are.

What are the lens compatibility issues? I know the ROM lenses are for the R8 but I don't know much else. I'm thinking about something for use with a couple of zooms and maybe one macro lens. Something like a 28-70 and a 70-200. I've got an M for the fixed focal length stuff but there are times you just want a zoom?

-- mark ackermann (mramra@qwest.net), March 20, 2001


I have been happily using an R3 for a few years ago that I picked, mint, for half the price of an R4. From what I've seen in Shutterbug this is still the case, because I think of the larger size of the R3. I have verified that Gerry at Kindermann Canada has no problem fixing this camera and has a good supply of parts. Check their website at 'www.kindermann.ca'. Personally I like the feel of the camera, and it has all the features I need (spot, multi exp, etc). The only downside I've found is that if you want motor operation, it takes a specific drive (and you must have the R3mot to do this) that can be difficult to find. For the price I think the R3 is a great camera.

-- Bob Todrick (bobtodrick@yahoo.com), March 20, 2001.

Mark, I have an R4. It's very good for the money, but I get frustrated by the difficulty of reading the shutter speeds in anything less than a fully illuminated (typical outdoor daylight) scene. You can see the LED's that correspond to each shutter speed, but the actual speed markings are lighted only by the general finder illumination. I would rather have an R5 because the LED's actually display the speed, rather than just a dot lighting up next to the speed marking. I find that the size and shape of the R3 affords a better grip on the camera than subsequent models, but didn't like the less bright finder.

-- Bob Fleischman (RFXMAIL@prodigy.net), March 20, 2001.

Thanks for the help. How about the lenses? What's the deal with 1 cam, 2 cam and 3 cam lenses? Which bodies do they work with?

-- mark ackermann (mramra@qwest.net), March 21, 2001.


The R3 can be fixed by Leica just like any other Leica R camera including the SL and the original Leicaflex. Best deal is the SL in my opinion - real beauty (with a very bright screen) and a bargain but no hotshoe and the meter less sensitive than the later Rs. ROM-ed lenses will not fit the SLs without modification. The R3 is also probably a bargain. The R4 is fine now but if you can afford it I would go for an R5 which offers TTL flash. In general I suggest if you want to use zooms go for an R then you should pick an R3 or later as all later zooms (except some of the very early Angenieux type) will have the third cam and may not have the second cam required for use on the SL - this is particularly the case if you pick the later (manufactured in the last ten years or so) zooms.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), March 21, 2001.

If you are going to pay Leica prices for zooms, then you have a very narrow choice. The current 35-70/4, 80-200/4, 70-180/2.8 and 105- 280/4.2 are the only ones (plus the discontinued 35-70/2.8) that are Leica-designed lenses. The 28-70 is a Sigma design, identical to one Sigma made in other mounts and sold at a fraction of the cost. The older 35-70/3.5 and the 80-200/4.5, 75-200/4.5 and 70-210/4 were Minolta lenses produced in Leica mounts. This is not to say they were bad lenses, but unless you already are heavily into Leica R and want a couple of zooms, you could do just as well buying a Minolta manual SLR and a couple of older zooms, which altogether would cost less than the R body alone. So what if parts weren't available, you didn't spend that much. If you do choose one of the "true" Leica zooms you will be well-rewarded. In terms of bodies it doesn't matter that much, as all of the R series will accept those zooms (not the Leicaflexes) and as of now Leica still repairs them all. The main thing you should look for is one in very nice shape, because even though they've got parts for them, the service is very expensive and in the case of the R3 or R4 probably almost as much as the body itself. My personal favorite R is the R6, which is a mechanical body. I own one of these, an R6.2, R7 and R8. The R6 is about 2/3 the price of an R6.2 and works just as well...how many times have you used 1/2000? The R8 is the most versatile of all, but it is huge by comparison. The R7 is a fantastic body, but not much less expensive than an R8. I personally avoid the R3-R5/RE because they lack mirror lockups and viewfinder diopter adjustments, both of which are requirements I have of any SLR.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), March 21, 2001.

To cam or not to cam:

Cam Link

Info is there.


-- Art (AKarr90975@aol.com), March 21, 2001.

I agree with Jay about the R6, although it is said that the R6 has a noisier shutter. The most irritating thing about the R6 I had was the aperture illuminating light being constantly flicked on which drained the battery very fast and you needed to constantly remember to switch it off. In the R6.2 the direction of the switch was changed so you do not accidentally flick it on during use. A small thing I know, but I found it annoying. Personally, I have never found the mirror lock up necessary for lenses up to 180mm on either the R6 or R6.2 or the SL, but I do tend to agree with Jay about the desirability of a diopter adjust.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), March 21, 2001.

My R6, R6.2 and R7 all have the same finder light swith configuration...switch down=lights on, switch up=lights off. Maybe they made the change in late R6 bodies rather than waiting for the 6.2. In any case the finder light goes off with the meter display. The shutter in the R6 is not noisier than the R6.2, in fact at 1/250 the R6 lacks the strange 2-sound clack-buzz of the 6.2. The shutter is also no less precise than the 6.2's (as some Leica books state), as I have checked both with a digital tester and they've equal tolerances...which, BTW, are quite remarkable for a mechanical shutter. Much more precise than any other I've checked, almost as consistent as an electronic shutter.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), March 21, 2001.

A follow up to Jay's post. I owned an R-E for a brief time. The R5/R-E does have an eyepiece diopter correction. Jay is correct that these cameras do not have a mirror lock up function. Ask yourself how often you would use it. Some people do find it handy. I cannot recall ever using MLU; it's not a deal-breaker for me. The TTL flash capability of the R5/R-E is quite poor. TTL flash can only be used at the sync speed of 1/100. When the flash is set to TTL this speed is forced by the flash regardless of your selected exposure mode, including manual. I like slow-speed flash. I would have preferred an R6/R6.2/R7. Ultimately I just switched SLR brands.

-- Robert Schneider (robslaurat@earthlink.net), March 26, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ