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Leica starter system MP or M7



I'm looking to buy into the Leica system and can afford around £3-3500 ($4500-5000) and can't decide what to go for.

My heart wants the MP (understated, purely mechanical, stunning) but my mind tells me I'd get more use out of the M7 (AE, etc). This is my first venture into rangefinder world and I am just so undecided. I don't want to buy one and then wish I'd bought the other.

Once I decide which body to go for I have another problem ...

I can probably only afford 1 lens;
50/1.4 Summilux
50/2.0 Summicron
50/2.8 Elmar M
35/2.0 Summicron
28-35-50 Tri-Elmar (although I'd like a faster lens than f4)

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on the MP and what they believe would be the best single starter lens ...

... My thought is to go for the MP/M7 with a 50/1.4 Summilux. What do you think?
It's probably and excommunicable offence to say so on a Leica Forum but had you thought about a Contax G2. I am a great Leica fan and have and use a number of classic Leicas. In the end the fact that I could have a G2 plus the three prime lenses of 90, 45 and 28 all of which on Photodo's web site equalled or exceeded the MTF's of their Leica equivalent and then have enough money over to go on a good photo holiday decided me. The viewfinder is not quite as good as the latest condenser M7/MP but it's not bad. You have up to 1/6000 shutter speed and the option of manual or autofocus. You have the option of a very good but rather slow 35-70 zoom lens, to which the viewfinder motors itself as you zoom. It's not quite as well finished as the Leica but being all made from titanium, probably just as robust. I think it's certainly worth a look. I now await the explosion from M owners! Wilson
I would go for the MP and the 35 summicron - any time - why ? I like 35 with 24x36 and and I managed for 3 years before I got my second M lens (a 90 mm.) Besides it is easier to get a 50 later and cheaper! but again a 1.4 for low light portraits might be the thing for you. The M7 - dont like it - like the M6 TTL its slightly bigger then the M6 and MP and feels wrong - you might feel the other way around so try them out berfore you make up your mind
You really want the opinion of someone who has used both... All I can do is play "what if I could spend $5000 in Leica M products", and tell you my thoughts (my Leica Ms are two M3, 1957 and 1961 vintage): to take pictures, I would go for the M7. I like the idea of the MP (that is one of the reasons why I bought the M3s last year), but the truth is that AE is much more convenient.
Not owning any of the newer lenses, all I can say is that I would always prefer the faster lens, so I would either wait for the new 50mm 1.4 Summilux asph or get the 35mm 1.4 Summilux asph.
Best regards,

<font face="arial,helvetica">Welcome David. Perhaps this information will help:

Leica Bulletin 58 2/2004:

"To make it easier for people to enter the special world of Leica 'M' and 'R' Entry Sets have been introduced. Each set includes a camera body and lens to enable you to start producing Leica images straight away, as well as offering a saving on prices of the separate items.
The 'R' set includes a LEICA R9 body and LEICA VARIO-ELMAR-R 35-70mm f/4 zoom lens, both in black finish for £2398.00. The 'M' set, priced at £2548.00, contains a Leica M7 and a Summicron-M 50mm f/2 lens, in black."

So, M7, 50mm Summicron for £2548... and I am sure you can better that if you bargain hard. Spend the rest of your budget on a secondhand 35mm Summicron, and save up for a 90mm f2.8. You are then, as they say, sorted.

Now, that should settle once and for all, all the recurring arguments here and elsewhere about what should be a beginner's first lens... Leica has spoken!


Your pounds-sterling budget suggests you might be in Britain and possibly near London. So I suggest you look up the web site of Christies, the auction house there, and see what Leica stuff they have -- and it's a lot of stuff -- and what they sell it for at auction.
I also believe that because you say this would be your first venture into range finders, I suggest you move in much more slowly, buying a much less expensive Leica outfit-- to see if you like it.
If you do, you can always venture further. If you don't, you may find that it will take a while to sell or to get near what you spent.
You also mentioned that you might be able to afford "only" one lens, so I believe even more so that you move in slowly. The MP is top-of-the line and, therefore, pricey. You don't need to spend so heavily the first time around. -- bob cole
>Hi David: Be prepared for the proverbial infinite number of replies. Apparently you have a reasonable amount of money to spend, and the question can be reformulated so as to ask where you might receive the best "bang for the pound". I would consider a used M6 TTL ( the meter is really very easy to use and although the automatic exposure of the M7 is nice, you can do quite well "on your own" as it were ). The MP is a wonderful machine, and feels fabulous in one's hands. However, the M6TTL will do quite nicely for a first M camera; indeed, leave off the TTL feature and you can purchase an older M6 at a really good price. One lens...hmmmm...I like my TriElmar very much, and have it more or less permanently mounted on an M6 body. Great for travel, and I have not found the f4 limiting when one considers the fast films now available. On another M body, for travel when I might need the extra speed, I keep the new 35/1.4; however, if funds are an issue, the older 35/2.0 is a tiny master-piece that is really fine for all of your uses. Might be able to find a good used one at a nice price. It was my first lens, and I would never sell it. Another "sleeper" would be the collapsible 50/2.8 which never really gets the credit it deserves. Mated to the M6 the outift is so light and small that you can almost fit the entire package in your pocket ( as you can with the older 35/2.0 )! By the way, with the M6TTL, the SF 20 flash is light, convenient, and does the job for a very reasonable price. Can give you some extra " exposure security" with the TriElmar...As you see, so many choices, so little time.

By the way David, there are many reliable places to find used gear. If you have any trouble, I am sure that many here can provide realiable sellers.

All the best,

Elliot([Delete this line and type your message here]

Differences between the M7 and MP also include weight and size. The differences between the cameras are comparatively small but they can be significant in practice. If you have large hands then the M7 may be the way to go. The extra weight of the M7 will also help you handhold at slower shutter speeds. Some people prefer smaller lighter cameras.

Unless you need the extra stop for, theatre work, or DoF compression for ex&le, then a 50 summicron would be perfect. Don’t discount the 35 summicron, either. You can do a lot with either of these lenses. Keeping things simple often has its advantages. There are plenty of photographers that limit themselves to either one of these FLs and repeatedly churn out stunning work.

The VF magnification for the camera you purchase will really depend on which way you may wish to build on the system in the future. ei. Whether you intend to go in for longer lenses or concentrate on wider angle work.

I believe it all depends what kind of photos you like to shoot and under what type of lighting circumstance. I started off with a used classic M6 + 50mm f2 this year. At that time, I didn't even know anything about Leica's M range and it was a very cautious approach into this system for me. I have never looked back since embarking on the Leica rangefinder system. Photos are mostly street shots and portraits.

Recently, I purchased a used M7 + Summilux 35/1.4. It was a different camera from the M6 but shooting is a lot faster in the aperture priority mode. I find this lens & camera combination great for me. The exposure meter is really good, though it helps if you have experience what to do in high contrasty situations.

If you shoot like me in the streets, I would go for the M7 + the fastest lens you can afford. Just pre-focus and shoot! Choice of lens focal length would depend on what you like. If you are not a hurried shooter and have more time photographing your subjects, the M6/M6TTL [I do not have any experience with the MP] would be as good and at a lower price.

Then there would be the debate on the M7 being battery reliant etc but this should not bother you as the batteries are eaily available. I believe you should buy what you like in your heart but do put more thoughts on the type of lens you want.

Hope this helps.

Rgds - Daniel