Which Leica SLR for macro

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I am an M user who is considering adding a Leica slr body and lens for macro photography. Find a used SL2 or go with a R6.2 or R8? which would you suggest and why and should I start with the 60mm or 100mm macro lens. Thanks in advance for your responses

-- Hank Graber (hgraber@narrativerooms.com), May 18, 2001


I like the heft and marvelous viewfinder of the SL and SL2, the viewfinder especially for macro work. I haven't used an R6.2, or an R8 with a macro lens so I can't comment on either one, although I was very impressed with the R8's viewfinder with the f/6.8 Telyts. An advantage of both the R6.2 and the R8 is the mirror lock-up feature, very handy to have for long exposures.

Both the 60 and 100mm macro lenses will give you excellent image quality. One advantage of the 100 is the longer working distances which reduces the chances of casting a shadow on your subject.

-- Doug Herr (telyt@earthlink.net), May 18, 2001.


Doug has offered you good advice. He is a veteran user of the Leica R system. Which camera and lens you buy will depend to a certain extent on your budget. I use both the M and R system with a number of camera bodies and lenses. A reasonable macro starter kit for you would be to get the SL (about $400) and a used 60mm/f2.8 macro lens (2-cam or 3-cam, $500-$700). I guarantee that you will be astounded by the quality of the slides produced by the 60mm macro lens!

If you like to use TTL flash a lot (and I do!), then get the R8. A new 'gray market' R8 can be bought from DeltaInternational.com for about $1350. The R8 has mirror lockup, and also a unique built-in flash meter that will work with any flash. With the R8, you will need a 3-cam or R-cam/ROM lens. The 100mm/f2.8 APO-Macro-Elmarit-R lens is even better than the 60mm macro lens! You can get a used lens for about $1300-$1600.

Whichever combination you choose, you will be happy with the results! Have fun with your Leicas! ...................................................................... ...............................................

-- Muhammad Chishty (applemac97@aol.com), May 18, 2001.

I'll add one more note on flash and why I'd also recommend the R8. Currently there is no TTL ringflash available for the R system (there was an adaptor made for a long-discontinued Minolta ringflash but they're scarce as hens' teeth). However, with the R8's built-in flashmeter you can use any ringflash and get a TTL reading, which is nice especially if you're using bellows. If you have no need of a ringflash then any R body from the following: R6,6.2, 7, 8 would do just as well for macro as they all have a mirror lockup facility. Any of the R's can be set up with a couple of older small Metz 2CT2's on a macro bracket with some ND gel taped over the tubes to cut the power, but a pair of SF20's (only usable TTL on R8) would be ideal. For serious magnification (1:1 and greater) you will definitely also want the all-matte focusing screen as the rangefinder/microprism will drive you nuts. As to the lens, the 100 has a couple of advantages. First, the increased subject distance permits more flexibility in arranging lighting, either floods or flash. Second, the narrower angle of coverage helps to reduce unwanted background distractions. I don't own the 100 as my nature/macro system is Nikon, but I did pick up a 3rd-cam-only 60 at a good price and it has eclipsed the 50 Summicron in use. The 60's front element is deeply recessed and so it isn't provided with a hood. The filter threads are at the front of course, but I found that a generic 55mm rubber hood will not vignette and does help shade the filter.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), May 19, 2001.

Macro Elmarit 60/f2.8 is my favorite lens, because it covers from 1:2 to infinity, can be used as a macro lens or standard lens, the only camera and lens combo matches the versatility of a Minox TLX. Macro Elmarit 60/f2.8 was rated five star lens by several test labs.

David Muench used a Macro Elmarit 60/f2.8 for macro and some of his landscape photographs.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), May 19, 2001.

As for the choice between 60 macro or 100 macro, it depends very much on your intended object to macro-photograph.

If you use yout macro lens for life flowers, butterflie, dragonfly etc, a 100mm macro offers the advantage of greater working distance. If you do a lot of copy stand macro, on samples, stamp, coin, document etc, then a 60mm macro is easier to work with on copy stand

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), May 20, 2001.


The advice already given here is good. I would just add the point that mirror lock-up on the R8 is easier to use than on other R cameras, in that:

- to lock up the mirror requires only a touch of the shutter release, followed by a second touch of the shutter release to take the shot. You don't need a second cable release (or some kind of pin to poke in the hole), like you would with the R7, for instnace.

- you can use the self-timer with mirror-lock if you want to avoid touching the camera to take the shot. The R7 doesn't allow this.

My macro lens is the 60mm, which I like and which, as others have said, can serve as an excellent general purpose standard lens. On the other hand, the 100mm, which I have never tried, is reputed to be even better (but more expensive!)

Regards, Ray

-- Ray Moth (ray_moth@yahoo.com), May 20, 2001.

Find a used SL2 or go with a R6.2 or R8?

Like others, I too like the SL2, but I would not advise you to get it really in preference to either the R6.2 or R8. The SL2 is always expensive so I feel you are better off paying a little more and getting the current models which offer TTL flash and better (more sensitive and spot/center-weighted options) metering. If weight is not an objection to you I think the R8 would fit the bill - added to this its flash capabilities might edge out the R6.2. from the competition.

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

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