What camera is this? Is it a good deal?

Started Mar 9, 2013 | Questions
francesco from rome Forum Member • Posts: 90
What camera is this? Is it a good deal?

Hi,

I hope to be in the right forum Please tell me if otherwise.

I have seen an used camera in a local shop, it is a Leicaflex with a Leitz summicron 50 f/2, for 350 euros. The state is reported as "good", which is a step down from the first one, denoted as "optimal".

As far as I can tell (from wikipedia), this is a SLR and not a rangefinder. Could you guide me to understand if it is a worthy camera or not? Is there some feature that I have to check to avoid issues? Is it overpriced? Is there some online guide to serial numbers to understand the actual production date?

In short, and keeping in mind the price, do you think it could be a nice experience for a photographer whose only experience is with DSLR (namely, canon) ? Or would it probably be frustrating? I would like sooner or later, if time and space permit, to try to develop BW film.

By the way: I know that Leica is typically known to be very expensive. The (relatively cheap) price of this used camera hints to the fact that it doesn't share the same quality/feel/... for which the brand is famous?

Thanks,

Francesco

UPDATE: By reading better the wikipedia article, I have found a link to the list of S/N, namely http://www.cameraquest.com/rtype.htm

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jedinstvo
jedinstvo Senior Member • Posts: 1,914
You're looking for a film camera?
1

If you are planning on shooting film I think you're crazy! Digital is so nice. But I confess, I still shoot film once in a while.

The Leicaflex was introduced in 1965 and at first was not widely accepted by photographers. The first model, which was called simply "Leicaflex," had some very peculiar features. However, the quality was absolute tops. Still, that's a 40 year old camera and nothing lasts forever. You might have to spend $400 to get it into good working condition. You might also have to spend nothing...there were two subsequent models of Leicaflex following the original. The Leicaflex SL came out in about 1967 and was an excellent camera. The SL2 was the last Leicaflex and is one of the best SLR cameras ever made. A wonderful camera. I used them in commercial work for at least 20 years. In 1975 or thereabouts Leica introduced the Leica R3 which is a reflex but no longer carried the Leicaflex name.

Sounds to me like you are new to photography. My advice is start with digital. There are reasons to shoot film but they are obscure. It's sort of an art student sort of thing now. If you're the heavily pierced, disturbed looking young man at the corner table in the cafe, wearing a beret and a black turtleneck, chain smoking Gitanes and reading Das Kapital, a film camera might be for you. Otherwise, digital is the way.

Vetteran
Vetteran Senior Member • Posts: 1,139
Re: What camera is this? Is it a good deal?
1

Is it a Leicaflex or Leicaflex SL?  They're different.

The Leicaflex was the first Leica SLR and perhaps the first SLR ever in 35 mm format.  I'm not totally familiar with the Leicaflex as I own a Leicaflex SL which was the next model with a much improved metering system and some other stuff, which I can't recall. The SL version is more desirable. Here's a picture of a Leicaflex.

Leicaflex

As I said,I own a Leicaflex SL.  It's a very fine camera for an all mechanical camera and the viewfinder is very bright.  It's more desirable.  Here's a picture of the SL.  Note the difference in the viewfinder.

Leicaflex SL

For both the Leicaflex and the SL version, typically, they've all been CLA'd and the mercury battery converted over to an silver oxide/akaline and the meter recalibrated.  If it hasn't been CLA'd in a few years, that will cost you $150+.

I would recommend you visit the http://www.l-camera-forum.com/leica-forum/ as there is a dedicated Leica R/Leicaflex forum and much more knowledgeable people.

The Leicaflex SL is a great camera, but heavy.  It's a tank.  If the camera you're looking at is an Leicaflex SL, the price is good contingent upon your inspection.  I would defer to someone else if it's the Leicaflex as I am unfamiliar with their pricing.

Good luck.

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Warm regards and very respectfully,
VETTRAN
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OP francesco from rome Forum Member • Posts: 90
Re: You're looking for a film camera?

jedinstvo wrote:

If you are planning on shooting film I think you're crazy! Digital is so nice. But I confess, I still shoot film once in a while.

The Leicaflex was introduced in 1965 and at first was not widely accepted by photographers. The first model, which was called simply "Leicaflex," had some very peculiar features. However, the quality was absolute tops. Still, that's a 40 year old camera and nothing lasts forever. You might have to spend $400 to get it into good working condition. You might also have to spend nothing...there were two subsequent models of Leicaflex following the original. The Leicaflex SL came out in about 1967 and was an excellent camera. The SL2 was the last Leicaflex and is one of the best SLR cameras ever made. A wonderful camera. I used them in commercial work for at least 20 years. In 1975 or thereabouts Leica introduced the Leica R3 which is a reflex but no longer carried the Leicaflex name.

Sounds to me like you are new to photography. My advice is start with digital. There are reasons to shoot film but they are obscure. It's sort of an art student sort of thing now. If you're the heavily pierced, disturbed looking young man at the corner table in the cafe, wearing a beret and a black turtleneck, chain smoking Gitanes and reading Das Kapital, a film camera might be for you. Otherwise, digital is the way.

Hi,

I fear that I am not heavily pierced, don't smoke and hopefully I am not too disturbed looking. On the other hand, I hold a ph.d. in physics which may, or may not, be related with a passion with "doing things by myself" and chemistry is an old passion. Developing film is a good way to set up a small lab

Thanks for the advice about digital: I know rather well the pros and cons (in terms of cost), even if I've been photographying only since 3 years.

My personal motive for trying film is the same for which I try to print as much as possible (with a canon pp9500 mk II): I feel that only a print is a real picture and that I am unable to fully appreciate an image if I see it only on screen.

That said, thanks for the advice about the age of the camera. I will check if it is an original model, an SL or an SL2. Do you think that the price is reasonable or it is probably overpriced?

Thanks,

Francesco

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OP francesco from rome Forum Member • Posts: 90
Re: What camera is this? Is it a good deal?

Thank you Vetteran, your message has been really useful to me. Thanks for sharing your pics and for the link to the forum. I will try to understand the model. Just one (naive) question: what does "CLA" mean?

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Cadder Senior Member • Posts: 1,746
Re: What camera is this? Is it a good deal?

francesco from rome wrote:

Just one (naive) question: what does "CLA" mean?

Cleaned, Lubricated and Adjusted

Cadder

OP francesco from rome Forum Member • Posts: 90
Re: What camera is this? Is it a good deal?

Cadder wrote:

francesco from rome wrote:

Just one (naive) question: what does "CLA" mean?

Cleaned, Lubricated and Adjusted

Cadder

Thanks Cadder

Francesco

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paulhofseth Regular Member • Posts: 188
SL

The SLs sometimes have aged prism coatings, but that will be easily visible in the viewfinder. Otherwise it is one of the brightest you can get. Also, on some, the lens release button was plastic and tended to wear.  The meter of the SL is less sensitive than in the SL2, which may not matter that much if you are shooting landscapes. If the lens takes the 55mm+series 7 filter and not the earlier series 6, the lens formula is optically identical to the current Summicrons.

Rumour has it that Leitz lost money on each of them, but since they sold in huge numbers, that may perhaps only be true of the last ones. The SLs are suprisingly cheap at the moment, but that may not last as both collector and anachropile user interest may increase. The lenses stay expensive as they are excellent and can be used on most current digital cameras.

p.

OP francesco from rome Forum Member • Posts: 90
Re: SL

And, as far as you can tell, the Leitz summicron 50 f/2 is one of "those" lenses?

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paulhofseth Regular Member • Posts: 188
Re: SL

If you ask whether the earlier and the latest Summicron versions both will keep their value, the answer, based on past data, is that they will probably keep it better than most other 50es.

p.

BSweeney
BSweeney Contributing Member • Posts: 903
Re: SL

The Summicron-R 50/2 is probably worth the asking price, given that it is in good condition. The new M model 240 and "mirrorless" cameras have pushed prices of R glass up. A rangefinder version of the Summicron 50/2 of that era would run double the asking price.

The original Leicaflex - I had one for a short while, prefer the Nikon F2AS over it. The original Leicaflex is a good, solid camera- Leica's first attempt at an SLR. The focus screen is an "aerial" view, not as easy to use as the Nikon screens. The SL and SL2 improved this dramatically. If it is an SL2- you are getting a fantastic bargain. An SL- in good shape, also a bargain.

I sold the Leicaflex with 50/2 Summicron for ~$220 about 5 years ago. Again- prices are up due to the new mirrorless cameras.

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