Leicaflex questions/ experience?

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Hi, I was just offered the chance to pick up a beautiful Leicaflex standard for a really good price. Im thinking about picking it up as body to just use occasionally for fun, probably just building a 28/50/135 lens set. I dont intend to use it in place of my M system or my Nikon Slr's. My questions are for those that have used the leicaflex-- is the central microprism screen difficult to get used to? Is there anything else you can tell me about it in actual use, as opposed to specs? Any input will be appreciated. Best,

-- marke Gilbert (Bohdi137@aol.com), June 05, 2002


Marke I have been using the flex standard for well over thirty years.It was my first Leica. The central microprism is very easy to get used to and with the lenses that you are planning for it should work perfect. The meter reads a coresponding angle to the 90mm lens. Mabe its because of extended use but I find the camera very comfortable to work with. It has the very solid feel of the Leica and my feeling is it has a better and more solid feel than the R's. I also have some Nikons and find that using the flex is much easier. Again mabe habit. I know the standards around here are going for around $200 w/o lens and for that kind of money I the Camera is an excellent value. Good shooting Andy

-- andy wagner (yxandy@hotmail.com), June 05, 2002.

make sure the price is as good as you think (by checking ebay if nothing else). the standard leicaflex goes for surprisingly short money.

-- roger michel (michel@tcn.org), June 05, 2002.

The Leicaflex standard's central-only focusing is no more difficult to adjust to than an M's rangefinder patch, but to me (and to most everyone who looked at the Leicaflex and then didn't buy it)it was a typically-Leica affront to accepted technology for the sole sake of being different. As was the non-TTL meter.

If you really want an old Leica SLR to use, as you say "for fun", pass on the Leicaflex and go straight to an SL. That cures all the ills of the standard.

-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), June 05, 2002.

... what andy and Jay said ...

I'm using both th Leicaflex Standard and Leicaflex SL and though they have some similarities, in operation they're very different critters. The central microprism focussing won't be a problem if you're accustomed to your M camera(s) but for someone expecting to be able to focus over then entire viewscreen the SL is a much better choice.

I'm using the Standard as my slow film/landscape camera (not wanting to purchase & carry a Medium Format system in addition to my SL system). The Standard has a real mirror lock-up that the SL lacks. There's a trick to pre-releasing the SL's mirror that's fairly reliable but the Standard's MLU has no risk of knocking the camera out of position (as the SL's pre-release trick may).

The central microprism is usable with lenses as slow as f/4.5, if your eye is well-centered in the viewfinder. As andy mentioned, the meter coverage approximates that of a 90mm lens but any metering should be done with the camera oriented for horizontal format since the meter is best shielded from excess light from the sky only in that position. I use this camera with lenses from 21mm to the 75-200 zoom, no macro or 200mm+ lenses. The meter battery cover protudes fromt he front plate far enough that it will interfere with the aperture ring of some lenses (the late 250, for example - one reason I don't use the 250 on this body). Other battery covers, like from the SL or SL2 will fit and provide better clearance and look even more dorky than the original.

All things considered I like the Standard's heft, precision feel and smooth operation but since it doesn't provide most of the typical SLR's advantages over a rangefinder I wouldn't use it as my only SLR nor would I pay big $$ for one.

-- Douglas Herr (telyt@earthlink.net), June 05, 2002.

I would hold out for a good price on a SL. it is not much more expensive, but it is more of a camera. I was in the same situation you were in and picked up a very used SL and find that i am using much more than i ever expected because it just feels so right in my hands.


-- greg mason (gmason1661@aol.com), June 05, 2002.

Ah Doug we are similar creatures. You've expressed my feelings much more eloquently

-- andy wagner (yxandy@hotmail.com), June 05, 2002.

I used an SL for many years, it had all the features I wanted (except for mirror lock-up capability) and none of the features I didn't want (automation, etc.). I'm very sorry I don't still have it. I think there was little that was ever really "improved" in the subsequent models - I'd recommend taking a look at an example of an SL too.


-- Art Waldschmidt (afwaldschmidt@yahoo.com), June 05, 2002.

I own an SL. I mostly use the microprism and not the ground-glass (and also have used Nikon's 'clear screens' on F/F2s), so I could probably get along with a 'Standard's' clear screen, but I'm glad I have the SL. The Standard's one main advantage is true mirror lockup, although the SL does have a '1-frame-at-a-time' workaround. But OTW I prefer the TTL metering and cleaner prism design of the SL.

The film wind is a little strange on both - the lever has so much stand-off in the 'ready' position that you are essentially winding 'forward' around the end of the camera instead of 'sideways' across the back (if that makes sense). This can be an advantage in that the wind lever never gets tangled up in glasses frames.

There is also no true ratchet to the wind - your thumb HAS to move all the way to the front of the camera eventually, although you can get there in multiple strokes. After a REALLY busy (rare!) day shooting only the SL my right thumb joint gets a little sore.

I find the Leicaflexes to be much easier to hold steady than most of the R-models, and with a much larger screen than the 'high-eyepoint' R8.

I use a soft release because the Leicaflex release hides down inside the shutter speed dial - I find the soft release makes for a more consistent release point (I don't use them on Ms BTW)

Neither the SL or the Standard have hot shoes - fortunately Vivitar still makes PC cords.

I paid $450 for a black SL - I would only consider a Standard price to be 'really good' if it was under $250.

-- Andy Piper (apidens@denver.infi.net), June 06, 2002.

I suspect that the standard Leicaflex has a brighter screen even than an SL, which is a nice feature. I also suspect that the meter (albeit non-TTL) is more sensitive (read: more accurate) than the SLs when the light gets low. This is the biggest pain about the SL. Let us face it, for 90% of all metering (excluding macro) the 90mm lens view meter will be just fine - it is just a case of getting used to it. You can also use cheap one cam lenses on the beast (not that there are many). I think if the price is right I would snap it up. I think that $250 would be a fine price. The original set of lenses for the 'flex are very nice too. (35,50,90,135)

-- Robin Smith (smith_robin@hotmail.com), June 06, 2002.

Like Andy, I too was lucky enough to get a black SL for $450. Beautiful camera, and one I find very easy to use with long tele lenses. But I also have two standards and a chrome SL. They are all fine cameras, but they (particularly the standards) require some experience to be comfortable. The light meter on the SL is better, but I do a lot of my shots without metering (learned this in the 1940s when I couldn't afford a meter!) and the standard is fine if you like to guess the exposure. (Also, I found a 21mm SA at a much lower price that you could get one in the M configuration; it's a great lens, better than the f:4 that replaced it for the SL.)

-- Jack Matlock (jfmatlo@attglobal.net), June 06, 2002.

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