Leicaflex - worth buying?

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I came across an original Leicaflex the other day, and I'm wondering if I should buy it. I currently shoot exclusively 10x8" and 5x4" B&W, but may like to have a 35mm camera for shooting slides, mainly when I don't have my large format cameras with me.

The Leicaflex seemed reallly good to use - smooth film advance and shutter, and simple controls. From what I've read it doesn't have TTL metering, and it also has an obscure focussing system (that I didn't notice at the time, probably because I'm not used to 35mm cameras).

It had a 50mm f2 lens, and the glass looked in excellent condition, with only some wear on the black barrel. The camera looked in very good condition as well. The dealer was asking about $280 for body and lens, and I'm not sure if this is a reasonable price.

Also, there was a lever next to the lens that I wasn't sure about. It was underneath the self timer, and it seemed to stop down the lens under certain conditions, but it then wasn't possible to open up the lens until the shutter had been pressed. Any ideas about what it's meant to do?

Any experiences of this camera, and advice on whether I should buy it, would be most welcome.

David Nash

-- David Nash (nashcom@btinternet.com), September 06, 2001


I have an original Leicaflex with which I bought 10 years ago due to a fair price at that time. Two lenses included 2/50 and 2.8/90. Later I also bought a 2.8/180 (old type). Mostly I use my M4 and M6 but I must say that at that price ($280) I think it is a good investment. I mean the lens is quite good and you can buy extra lenses at reasonably fair prices. A Leicaflex without lens is about $200 here in Sweden today. The lever is for locking the mirror. At some circumstances this may be a good idea. The metering i none TTL. Just a simple meter. Not so good in my opinion. I prefer a handheld meter also when I use my M6 TTL. But I think you have better be sure about the function. Ask about shutter speeds and so on because the repair cost is about the price for the camera. The quality of the lenses at those days don't differ to much from todays lenses. I is not always easy to see the difference between prints from my old 2.8/90 Elmarit-R (Leicaflex) and new APO 2/90 Summicron-M (M4,M6). Good luck! /Lars

-- Lars Kristensen (krislars@algonet.se), September 06, 2001.


Only US$280 for a Leicaflex with a 50mm/f2 lens is an incredible deal! You are right about the strange focusing system though. For more information about this camera, check this out: http://www.wildlightphoto.com/leica/STD.HTM

If you decide not to buy this camera, can you email me the dealer's phone number? :-)............

-- Muhammad Chishty (applemac97@aol.com), September 06, 2001.

The original Leicaflex is a beautiful camera and will fit most Leica lenses (although you can save piles of money by buying single cam (unusual) or 2 cam only lenses (common)). The original 50mm Summicron is a superb lens too.

The screen is superbly bright - I think it is probably the brightest of the Leica reflexes. Part of the reason for this is that there is a fresnel lens instead of a ground glass or microprism screen. This means the image is very bright, but also that it is an aerial image - the upshot of this is that you cannot use it focus the lens - it is always sharp. Focussing is carried out using the microprism part in the center.

There is no TTL metering - the meter has a 90mm lens view (like the MR meter for the M3 to M4-P), but is more sensitive than the TTL metering in the next model the SL. I doubt this is any impediment to any photographer who knows what they are doing - but macro or extreme telephoto photography metering would be harder.

You also have real mirror lock up (won't find that until you get to the R6 +and even theirs is prerelease-type). This is probably what you were fiddling with. I have a feeling that you can get the mirror to lock up, flip up on exposure but not return, or give full instant return, selected using the three way switch on the front. As it has full mirror lock up you could use the original f3.4 21mm Super-Angulon which is a non-retrofocus lens if you are interested.

Shutter speeds are continuosly variable by the way.

Disadvantages are no TTL metering (not much of one really), aerial image (could be, but screen brightness is superb), heavy ("diesel-Leica", true - but feel the quality). No real depth of field preview due to aerial image.

I think that $280 is a reasonable price for this. I have always rather wanted a Leicaflex Mk 1, but I have an SL already. The lenses for the Leicaflexes and the Rs are very good and expensive, but not as expensive as M equivalents.

It is still fully repairable by Leica.

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), September 06, 2001.

I could not resist buying a leicaflex with a summicron-r 50 a few weeks ago. I made realy great slides with it and the lightmeter which is not ttl is not a real disadvantage for me. Since that 50mm lens focuses up to 50 cm, it can be used even for portraits. It needed service since I did not get all the frames exposed (due to the shutter which wasn't used since decades ?)which is not a surprise for a camera of about 35 years old. I am completely satisfied with that camera.

-- Frederik Boone (frederik.boone@harol.be), September 06, 2001.

David, as other have mentioned, this is a great price. If you can live with its quirks it's well worth the cost, and if you don't like it, re-sell it for a profit. It's a no-lose deal.

BTW the lever you're not sure about is the mirror lock-up. Turn it so it points down and it locks the mirror up. Turn it to horizontal and the mirror doesn't return until you advance the film (I think - I haven't tried it lately).

-- Doug Herr (telyt@earthlink.net), September 06, 2001.

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