R kit - Your Thoughts

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Hi All,

Just sold my Nikon F4s with 80-200f2.8 and 35-70f2.8 lens to get into a R kit. I had a play with a friends R7 and the 100 APO macro lens, very nice. I love the feel and build quality of Leica. I would like your recommendation on a body and a two lens setup. I am considering a R7 with 80-200f4 and 35-70f4, staying in line with my previous Nikon kit. I had a look at the R8 but I was not overly impressed with the shape, I guess I still love the classic shape. I shoot chrome for a stock library and only need a simple kit when traveling. Any thoughts ?.

Regards Mick

-- Mick Turner (mnturner@bigpond.com), March 01, 2002


I would go with your initial idea. If those two worked for you with the F4s, there probably was a reason. I would start there. I would suggest that you rethink the R8. The price difference between the R8 and the R7 is very small. Since they are both electronic cameras (unlike the R6.2)I feel the R8 is the better choice. The shape is disconcerting at first, but I quickly learned to love it (in my hands, it handles as well my partner's F100).

-- RP Johnson (rpjohnson2@mindspring.com), March 02, 2002.

I agree with Mr. Johnson. The strange and bulky R8 is a joy to handle. Give it a second try. Personally it's the design of the R8 that still annoys me but that's another story. I have a R7 for sale. Thoroughly CLA'd by Leica in december and in a great cosmetic condition. Comes with a guarantee. E-mail me if you're interested. Well the R7 is a good leica with a solid feel, a highly accurate electronic shutter, a precise meter and above all takes those magnificent leica lenses. Overall it's a great body for those lenses. Cheers

-- Hem Gurung (hgurung@libertysurf.fr), March 02, 2002.

I have the R6.2 and the SL I love both and shoot with both. I agree that the R7 makes a better travel camera as it is smaller and lighter than the R8. The SL is similiar in size to the R8 and some times it just feels good to have a large heavy piece of metal in your hands, especially for portrait work. You might want to re think you zoom lens purchases though. With the exception of some newer and very expensive zoom lenses, Zoom lenses have never been leica's strength. Leica's strength is in their prime lenses. You might want to pick up some and let your feet do the rest of the work. you can scan old posts to see what people think of the various lenses.

-- greg mason (gmason1661@aol.com), March 02, 2002.

Congrats :) Thanks for getting into the R system. Needs more guys like you.

-- Alfie Wang (leica_phile@hotmail.com), March 02, 2002.

I was just evaluating a bunch of slides I shot over the last few weeks with M & R Leica and EOS. The best and most consistent of the bunch are with the R system. I use the R7 and a couple or R4 for backup. I use 28 elmarit, 35 cron, 50 cron, 90 new elmarit, occasionally 135 and 180. No weak spots. I agree that a new R8 makes good sense as it is a bargain right now and the most advanced of the Leica R bodies. I like the 80-200 idea but vote for a couple of primes for more speed and quality. Maybe the 50 cron (inexpensive) or the new 50 Lux which has a great reputation, and either a 35 cron and/or 24 or 28. Good luck.

-- Don (wgpinc@yahoo.com), March 02, 2002.

Mick- I agree with the others in that you should give the R8 another chance. It is a better camera and it really grows on you!! The lens choice is somewhat controversial. Some people have state that the prime lenses are superior to zooms. This notion is no longer correct according to Erwin Puts, author of the Leica Lens Compendium and, as everyone else in Leicaland will tell you, the eminence grise and guru of Leica optics. The newer Leica zooms ( 35-70mm F4, 80-200mm F4, 70-180mm APO F2.8) are equal and in the case of the 70-180, superior to their respective primes. Their relative slowness can be compensated by using faster film. I have used the 35-70 and 80-200 and have found them to be marvellous lenses. Erwin is right! BTW, I would also advise you to pick up the above mentionned book ( editor: Hove books) as it is not only a masterpiece and will teach you alot about fundamental optics but also serves as the definitve authority on almost every M and R lens ever produced.

-- Albert Knapp MD (albertknappmd@mac.com), March 02, 2002.

Hi Mick,

First welcome to the Leica R! I currently use the R8 with several primes and the 35-70/4 zoom.

I have no experience with the R7 so I cannot comment. I find the R8 to be very easy to use, even when wearing gloves. The controls are easy to locate by feel and most all settings are displayed in the viewfinder. This is a big help when shooting under certain conditions or when you do not want to take your eyes off the action.

I have not experienced any operational failures of the camera. When weight is an issue I carry one body with a set of spare batteries.

The motordrive blends with the R8 body beautifully. I wish the frames/second rate were higher but do not find it a problem, except when shooting sports. I do wish the drive accepted AA batteries as well as the leica battery pack.

Even if you start with the R7, don't rule out the R8 as a possibility later.

I really like the 35-70/4. It is part of the kit I carry when weight and space must be minimized. The macro setting on this lens has also come in handy. For me the major drawback of this lens has been the slow speed. I like to shoot slow speed films and always seem to be in the middle of a roll when I need to shoot in poor light. Now I carry a 35/2 with me all the time, just in case.

I recently traveled from Munich to Rome with just the R8, the 35-70/4 and a 24/2.8 and found there was not much I could not find a way to photograph. When I am lucky enough to travel where photography is the intent, I carry prime lenses and leave the zoom at home.

I hope some of this helps. As you can tell I am partial to the R8. However, I doubt if you can go wrong with the R7 and any of the newer Leica zooms.

Best of luck

-- Scott G (PFD261@hotmail.com), March 02, 2002.

If you will be travelling with just one body and 2 lenses, then the R7 would be the way to go from my experience. Owning just one R8 body for travel is a major risk, considering its poor reliability record, and the fact that you will not be able to get service or buy a cheap backup body on-location in most places, like you can almost always find a Nikon body. The R7 has a better reliability record, plus for the weight of 1.5 R8's you can carry 2 R7's with each lens mounted. I travelled with the 35-70 and 80-200 on 2 R7's a great deal, with an R6.2 in my baggage as a 3rd backup.

That said, you should be aware that the R7 has only a 1/100 flash sync and limited ability for partial-flash setting in daylight fill- in. You basically need to set the camera in shutter-priority or P mode and let the camera set a -2/3 ratio, or go manual and diddle with the exposure compensation dial each time. The R8 is still way behind the F4 in the fill-in department (in A mode it sets an obligatory 1/250, so you need to use other modes to get slower speeds along with flash) but the SCA 3501/3502 adaptors do let you set your own fill ratio. Also the R7 allows spotmetering only in manual or aperture-priority modes, and only averaging metering in P or shutter- priority modes. Depending on how many of your F4 features you used, you might find the R7's quirks an inconvenience. The film loading in the R8 is also a lot quicker. R7's require slipping the leader into the takeup spool backwards, then drop the cassette into the left chamber. With R8 you just thread the leader across like the F4, close the back and wind on 2 shots. The R8 also permits second- curtain sync, and has a viewfinder display closer to the Nikon. The R7 uses red LED numerals at the bottom and right side of the finder. The R8 also has a 6-segment matrix metering mode, very similar to the F4. (In all, there the technology of the R8 is quite near that of the F4, except that it has no AF--embarrassing, if you consider the F4 predated the R8 by eight years.)

In terms of lenses, you can hardly beat the 35-70/4 and 80-200/4. They are virtually IMO faster than the 35-70/2.8 and 80-200/2.8 Nikkors because you can get performance at f/4 that the Nikons need f/5.6 to match. You might consider waiting a couple months for the 21-35 3.5-4 to hit the market, and combine that with the 80-200/4 and a 50/2.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), March 02, 2002.

Hi Mick:

Jay is right about the lenses, at f4, the Leica should be pretty good, better than some Nikon at 5.6

Mind you, the R7 is heavy, especially with a zoom as those mentionned.

The R system is also a bunch of fixed focal lens you would like to explore too.

The R7 is a great camera with a constant result for slides. Once you know it a little, you are having fun. Got one since 5 years now and it is really a great camera, easy to use.

If you prefer zooms, go for it, you will enjoy the whole set. Here I have a SP Tamron 70-210/F3.5, heavy but nice. An alternative for for a tight bugdet.

Cheers. X.

-- Xavier d'Alfort (hot_billexf@hotmail.com), March 02, 2002.

I recently added a great loking R7 body and a 50mm Summicron Leitz- Canada lens. I am nowing also thinking about additional lenses to add. Probably I will get one wider one like the 28mm, and I have found a great 90mm Summicron. That wil probably it for my budding R system. As far as the shorter 35-70 zoom, I think that is a fine choice as a matter of convenience. But perhaps the 80-200 zoom wil be a bit heavy, on top of the R7's wieght? I just prefer the image quality from faster, prime lenses, and don't mind changes the lenses as necessary. Tha being said, I'm rediscovering the strengths of the 50mm, and would probably use that one lens most of the time during and overseas travel vacation. Regards.

-- Steve Brantley (sbrantley@nccommerce.com), March 02, 2002.

Mick: I also changed from Nikon to Leica, but I had both Nikon AF and Leica R for at least five years until I dumped all Nikon equipment. As a AF and Zoom user, you are thinking of the 80-200 f 4 and the 35- 70, for the R . That is a typical approach of someone coming from Nikon or Canon systems. I did the same, and sold the horrible Leica 28-70 and the very nice but big Leica 70-210. Now I use prime lenses and donīt feel limited. I have two legs to zoom in and out. Primes are smaller, brighter , lighter and above all better. Go for your favorite focal lenghts, buy them used, and carry only two or three of them at first. I use the 28, 60 macro and 135 on the R and the M system is used with the 90/2.8, and 35/2. But I never carry the whole thing. good luck with your choice.

-- Marco Hidalgo (marco_hidalgo@hotmail.com), March 03, 2002.


I see nothing at all wrong with your choices, unless you also need macro, in which case either the 100 APO Macro or the 60 Macro will do very well.

I have owned both R7 and R8 in the past and I liked them both. Although the R8 has a number of superior features, as mentioned by Jay, I didn't find myself using them a lot (except for the faster film loading, of course!) I personally found the R8 more comfortable to hold but it all depends on the shape and size of your hands.

The R8 has a couple of annoying features: the right-hand strap lug is badly positioned, such that the carrying strap interfered with my shutter-release finger; and the exposure counter is an LCD display that is invisible unless the camera display is activated.

The R7 viewfinder display is its weakest feature IMHO, the tiny red LED figures being difficult to read. The R8 VF display, on the other hand, is a masterpiece.

-- Ray Moth (ray_moth@yahoo.com), March 04, 2002.

Hi Mick: I have a R7 and R6. I used the R6 primarily to shoot travel photos on a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam. I bought the R7 for a subsquent trip to China and Japan. I used Fuji Sensia 100 on both trips (a great, cheap and stable film). I shot the R7 on program mode most of the time. When my slides taken with the R7 returned from processing, I noticed that the exposures were not nearly as consistent as the manually metered shots taken with the R6 on the prior trip. After further experimentationl, I have found the R7 meter to be every bit as accurate as the R6 but prone to being fooled in the averaging modes if the subject is not of average contrast. Obviously, I made a mistake of using the program mode to bang away without using my brain. I now use the R7 in the manual mode or aperture preferred spot mode most of the time. I get consistently well exposed film. I have wondered if the R8's multi-segmented meter system is more reliable in auto-exposing slide film. Select your lenses with care, there is a fabulous selection of R lenses but a few are not as good as the best. Good shooting. Doug

-- Doug Landrum (dflandrum@earthlink.net), March 04, 2002.

If you get an R8, buy it new with the Leica USA warranty; do not buy it used; no exceptions. Pay the extra $$$ for a new one. R7's are good cameras, but are overpriced when used and in mint shape; about $1100? I've had the R7 and R8 and the R8 is just more comfortable and better viewfinder. R8's grow on you. R7's are nice but can be more diffcult to hold than an R8 when using telephoto lenses. If you have the bucks, spring for the new R8. My experience has been with R3,4s,7,and 8 is that all R bodies have about the same reliability.

-- Joe Barbano (joseph.barbano@symmetron.com), March 04, 2002.

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