Leica M overview and how to choose a film-loading M

The Leica M was introduced in 1954 and the system is now 50 years old. The first model, the M3, has achieved a cult status as the best-engineered high precision 35mm camera ever. It is of course a matter of opinion what the designation 'best-engineered' really does refer to. Manufacturing quality may be defined in this way: quality is the fitness of a product for achieving its designated purpose. This does not imply high cost and high precision. (this quote is from Timings: Manufacturing Technology, Part 1, 1998). A ball bearing is not necessarily better than a spindle turning in a bush. Most people assume that the provision of plentiful adjustments points is the true measure of engineering quality. This is not true in itself. These points simply indicate that many adjustments are possible and may be required. It simply indicates that the design of the mechanism or the assembly of the components require frequent adjustments. A different design may not require any adjustment during and after assembly and during its lifetime.
I do agree that the M3 is an impressive instrument and a mechanical marvel. I do not agree that it is not possible to improve on that design or surpass its engineering. There is a heated debate between Leica aficionados which camera is best: M3 or one of the successors. The M4, the M5 and the M3 above serial number 1.000.000 have all been nominated as candidates.
A detailed analysis of every model and the differences between them does not reveal the truth. First of all, we have to understand that every technique has its advantages and disadvantages. Some people assume that heat-treating the surface of the gearwheel is a sign of superior manufacture. The engineer will tell you that the surface is hardened but the material below the surface is brittle and can break under stress. Secondly, you will need knowledge of the manufacturing process, the tooling, the accuracy of the finishing, the method of assembly and the quality control to get a feeling of the total engineering behind a product.
When we put all these aspects into one set of criteria, the M7, MP and M-A might be the best Leica Rangefinder cameras ever.
The family resemblance and the manufacturing technique of the several M models are so close that one could simply state that the M-range incorporates a line of precision instruments that are engineered and manufactured to a very high level of quality. This line runs from the M3 to the current models.
There are cameras out there that are engineered to the highest standards and are in the same league as the Leica products. The Canon F1, the Nikon F, the Canon EOS 1 and the Nikon F5 follow a different approach in engineering and manufacturing, but one would be not of this world to deny these cameras the status of precision-engineered 35mm cameras. The special feel and look of the Leica M is however unique.
With the large selection of Leica M bodies on the market, it is natural to ask which one is best. When I get this question, I always ask: 'best for what? Any M can deliver the results one asks for. An M3 can as easily develop a fault as the M4-2. An M3 finder has less flare, but then it cannot accommodate the 35mm frame and is difficult to use for spectacle wearers. An M7 .85 has a better shutter than has the M3 (more accurate) but has a somewhat higher noise level. Horses for courses.
The Leica M Series started in 1954, when the M3 was announced. The M3 has been designed by Mr Stein and his team as the best in rangefinder technology and in mechanical precision engineering. The M3 incorporated some ideas of the Leica IV (from 1936), but is clearly a new development. In the early ‘50s, the Canon and Nikon rangefinder bodies were improving fast and the aging III series could not cope with the requirements of new high speed lenses and more accurate focusing. Manufacturing techniques needed to be improved as well.
The number game.
In the beginning, Leitz, when designing and producing the M3, had no long range plans for this series The M3 represented all Leitz could muster as rangefinder technology and so the 3 stands for 3 frames. The success of the model M3 induced Leitz to produce a cheaper model, which by now could only be designated 2 (for less than 3). The M1 is a much simplified model and gets a 1 (even less than 2). So what started as an identification of number of frame lines became an identification for sophistication in features. With the M4 both types of designation were in place (more sophistication than the M3 and 4 frames.) With the M5 there was the original dilemma. So now identification of framelines was dropped and sophistication reigned. It seems that Leitz uses the number of frames as major identification when there is only one model to choose from. The M4-2 is a reborn M4 and here the 2 could be identified as M4 mark 2. As with the R6 and R6.2
The M4P has six frame lines, but now it seems that the "M4" designation is a classic symbol, the P standing for Professional. The M6 again has the 6 framelines of the M4P plus exposure measurement and now the upgrade and frame numbering works again.
The M6J (“J” stands for “Jubileum”, the German word for jubilee: a twenty-fifth anniversary, in this case however it was a forty year anniversary) is a special case as it is a M6 body with a newly designed viewfinder with four framelines and the topcover with M3 look.
How to check any M model.
It is clear that collectors wish to have pristine bodies which look as unused as possible. The only exception are the black paint bodies, which should look worn out.
For a user the signs of use are less important. Beware of bodies which have indents on the topcover. The rangefinder mechanism is sensitive to knocks and the indents might indicate that the body has been dropped or at least got severe knocks.
The internal mechanics are quite strong and heavy use will not wear the mechanism down. A well used body might be in a better shape internally than a body that looks as if it had little use. The shutter tension spring mechanism uses some grease and this will harden when not used regularly. The springs are very strong and there is no difference in wear and tear if you keep the shutter tensioned or not.
A good way to check a body is to listen to the slow speeds (1/4, 1/2 and full second). Here the slowspeed escarpment and geartrain should run smoothly with no hesitations. Trained mechanics can hear the sound of the faster speeds too, but not us mere mortals.
Another check is the smoothness of the shutter release button. You should press on the release button very slowly and note every change in resistance. Quite often you will feel a rougher spot at the end of the travel, just before the shutter releases. If there is a rough spot, the mechanical linkage is a bit less than perfect. It may be called a minor point as it will not affect the precision of the shutter. Still it is an indication that some additional checks might be worthwhile.
The shutter accuracy.
Much has been written or discussed about the M shutter. Well the M shutter from the M3 till today is a mechanically governed shutter with curtains made of rubberized cloth. The cloth must be attached to the drums with utmost precision. A slight misalignment here and the speeds are off. The same story with the speed governing mechanism. Any mechanical shutter will be less accurate than an electronically controlled shutter. Mechanical tolerances will ensure this. So any Leica shutter might be off for 25 to 40% of its nominal speed at speeds above 1/125 sec. It can be adjusted of course, but you should learn to live with a shutter that is very dependable, very quiet, very consistent in its travel speed, but not always accurate as to the engraved speeds.
My personal trick is to ask the repairperson to adjust the topspeed to 1/900 or even 1/800. That is within tolerance for my Kodachrome slides and the shutter will stay longer in shape as the highest tension is slightly reduced.
The famous ‘seal’.
Looking at the bayonet ring you will find at the 12 o’clock position a small screw that should be covered with wax. This screw holds the topplate and the embossing in the wax will tell you if an authorized repair person has opened the camera. An embossed Gothic L has been stamped into the wax when the camera leaves the factory. A raised L indicates a repair by Leitz. This custom ended in 1981.
Leica M3.
The M3 body has a physical rangefinder base of 69.25mm. ALL M bodies have this base. Every Leica book and Leica expert will tell you that there are two types of bodies, the ones with a 68.5 mm base and the ones with a 69.25mm base.
The Leica brochures are partly responsible for this story as they give the two figures. But Leica brochures, fascinating as they may be, are no substitute for engineering specifications. And these will tell you that there is only one baselength: the 69.25mm.
The viewfinder magnification of the M3 is 0.92, giving an effective base of 63.71mm. The optical construction of the M3 range/viewfinder is different from that of all successor models. It is more elaborate to build, more sensitive to shocks and abuses and it will get a yellow-tinted color cast when aging. On the other hand it gives a very clear (if not the most contrasty) life size view, that is remarkably flare free when used in adverse lighting conditions.
The 50mm frame is permanently visible, with broad white lines and rounded corners. No one knows why the corners are rounded, but it might be viewing area of a Kodachrome slide when in its carton sleeve.
The 90 and 135mm frames pop up when the corresponding lens is inserted.
There are many variants of the basic M3 and these are recorded quite extensively in the literature. Older M3’s had the continental shutter speeds (1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/250) and later ones the international range (1/30, 1/60 etc.).
There is a persistent but undocumented story that M bodies with a serial number above 1.000.000 are of higher quality and therefore fetch higher prices in the secondhand market. There is no reliable evidence ever presented to prove this assertion. My own research in the factory archives failed to find such evidence.
Any M3 in good condition is a delightful instrument for taking photographs.
It s drawbacks are few. The film loading is really cumbersome and should be replaced by a M4 type take up spool. Sometimes you will find this gadget on the market. The rewind knob is also a bit out of synch with today's requirement for fast film change. Be forewarned when buying a double stroke version. The clutch mechanism can fail after so many years in service and can not be repaired. But it can be exchanged for a single stroke mechanism.
The rangefinder of the M3 is a very durable mechanism, that hardly needs adjustment. There is one hidden problem. The flashsynchro contacts of the M3 are quite deep in the body and almost touch the M3 prisms. So a strong knock on the flash contacts could upset the rangefinder. You could ask a repair person to exchange the older versions for a newer international type.
All M3 versions focus to 1 meter, which might be a limiting factor if you use lenses focusing to 70 cm. Any M3 however can be adjusted to focus to 70cm.
The add on exposure meter I would avoid. It ads bulk and is less accurate than most handheld exposure meters currently on the market. A small Seconic or Gossen meter is more reliable, more fun and much more accurate. And that is why we want to take exposure readings, don't we?
If you like to take pictures with 35mm lenses and wider angled ones, the M3 with its basically 50mm viewfinder is handicapped. You might guesstimate the 35mm view, but that is quite rough. You could wait for the new 35mm Voigtlander finders to become available or find yourself an older one.
I used for a while an older 3.5/35mm lens with a goggle on my M3. It was really bad. The finder had a fair amount of distortion and the M3 does not handle in a pleasant way with this attachment. We clearly see the limits of the M3. In its defined area, almost unbeatable, but beyond that it is a bit stressed.
Leica M2.
The Leitz engineers had the same feeling and therefore the M2 hit the market in 1957. In 1958 the M2 outsold the M3 as a result of the big demand. Then the M3 picked up again and only in the two last years of production (1965 and 1966) the M2 became more popular again.
The M2 has a range/viewfinder with the same physical length as the M3, but with a reduced enlargement of 0.72, thus accommodating a 35mm frame. The other two are the 50 and 90mm. The opto-mechanical construction of the M2 rangefinder is quite different from the one installed in the M3.
There are stories that the shutter and rangefinder of the M2 are improved when compared to the M3. This is again a no-substance story. The shutter of the M2 has less height than the one in the M3, but most components can be interchanged freely. The rangefinder of the M3 is in fact different form the one in the M2, but both are equally reliable and rubust.
The M2 covers the most used focal lengths of the rangefinder camera from 35 to 90 and could be the only one you ever would like to use. The slow rewind is identical to the M3 as is the absence of an exposure meter. The add-on Metrawatt is not a good alternative.
Leica M1 and MD and MP.
These three bodies are special versions, for scientific, registration and reporter style work. They are seldom found and so loaded with a very high price tag. Forget about these unless you find one cheap in some backyard of the populated earth.
Leica M4
After 13 years of experience with the M2/3 versions Leitz became convinced that a too rapid film advancement did not generate problems for the emulsion and so the M4 with rapid advance lever and quick return crank was introduced. The amount of camera bodies that could be sold was declining (the SLR effectively killed all but a few RF systems) and the M4 with four framelines (35-50-90-135) tried to consolidate the M2 and M3 factions. Based on the M2 chassis and viewfinder (same baselength and magnification), the M4 was the answer of Leitz to the SLR competition. The 135 frame s very small and was omitted from the M2 for that reason, but now Leitz assumed that many users would use the M4 with the superb Tele-Elmar-M and defect the M3. Basically the M4 is an M2 with some ergonomical improvements, including a quick loading device that indeed improves the film change action. Some regard the M4 as the last M that shares the M3 production quality and the Wetzlar mechanical engineering. Again no reliable evidence has ever been presented to support such a claim.
The M4 handles very well, has that solid feeling of high quality precision engineering that is the hallmark of all M types and is a definite improvement on the M2. If there is a drawback it would be the more masculine look. The smooth bodycontours of the M2/3 are gone. It looks slightly more assertive, as if has to defend itself more (as indeed it had to do in the SLR dominated world).
Leica M5.
Weight is a 100 grams more than the M4 and its dimensions are also enlarged, 16mm more length and 12mm more height. Introduced in 1971 it incorporated a world's first: through the lens metering in an RF body. Weight and dimensions proved to be a critical mass. The Leica community did not accept the radical departure from the classical M-line. It proved to be traumatic for Leitz and even Leica today. The ‘classical’ body contours are fixed in stone as is the famous 90-60-90 dimension of the ideal female form. The M5 had breakthrough engineering, a most ingenious and accurate exposure system, but it failed to seduce the market.
Its shutter has speeds from 1/2 to 1/1000 and the viewfinder mask is a bit larger than in the M4, making it easier for spectacled users to see the full viewing area.
Its drawback is a restricted range of lenses that can be used, due to the exposure metering swinging arm in front of the film gate.
The M5 has many advantages: TTL exposure meter, wider viewfinder mask, improved engineering and only one problem. It does not feel like a classical Leica. The Leica CL (Compact Leica) on the other hand is too small. So here Leitz tried very hard to broaden the RF concept to a bigger audience with superb engineering and a two pronged approach to accommodate feminine users and the battle hardened pro. The rest is history.
The M5 proved to be indestructible in the most demanding conditions. It is the first Leica camera to be finished in black chrome, all the predecessors were in anodized black paint.
Leica M4-2.
After the commercial failure of the M5 and CL, Leitz decided to stop the RF production and concentrate on the SLR line. Only a few supporters of the M-line saved the M production. Machinery and production were transferred to Canada, where the M4-2 (M4 mark 2) was resurrected in 1978. Basically an M4 with some cost reductions (no self timer) it indicated the return of the RF line. The M2/3 series had an average production of 20.000 bodies a year. The M4-2 less than 5.000 a year.
Much ink and sounds have been used to discuss the Wetzlar versus Midland quality. The M4-2 had its share of harmless cost reduction (stamped counter dial where the M4 had chrome plated brass) but basically the blackening of gears, the machining of parts, the tight fitting tolerances were the same. In fact they should be as the tooling from Wetzlar had been transferred to Midland.
If some criticism could be made it is the fitting of the topcover to the body. Here the Wetzlar products just had a slightly tighter fit.
The M4-2 has a hot shoe for flash (unlike the M4) and improved M and X synchronization. If you need a Leica for studio flash or mobile flash work, this could be one to choose.
Leica M4-P.
The relative success of the M4-2 encouraged Leitz to continue the line. Maybe the not overly successful SLR range also influenced the decision. With the introduction of the M4-P a new range of very high speed lenses became available, stressing the domain of the M4-P (for professional) as the silent and accurately focusing king of available light photography. The M4-P has six frames (the 28 squeezed in as the 35 would be in the M3) and the 75 added). This Canadian made body benefited from the production experience of the Midland crew and had a number of engineering changes in the geartrain to accommodate a motorwinder. (also implemented in the M4-2). The somewhat stronger feel of the M4-2 and later models, compared to the smoother, gentler feel of the M2/3/4/5 has produced one of the all time myths in Leica lore. The allegedly better production quality of the M2/3 has been based on the feel of the shutter and the film advance lever. In fact the somewhat harsher feel of the M4-2/P and M6 could be attributed to tighter tolerances of the fitting of components and the hardening of stress-related parts (steel where in the M3 brass could be used that feels softer but is not as wear prone).
Leica M6.
This model weights 560 grams and has a TTL exposure meter, now using a white area on the shutter curtain as a reflection type exposure meter. The weight of 560 grams is just 15 grams more than the weight of the M3. This model arrived on the market in 1984 (the Orwellian year) and has been a consistent seller at around 10.000 bodies a year till today. It has no seal, an indication of the confidence Leica has in its engineering. The exposure meter is quite accurate, but can be way off to more than two stops when the lightning is tough. A small handheld incidence meter will always be useful to correct the occasional tricky situation. In my view the M6 is the best buy of all M variants. It has engineering as good as if not better than the previous models, its ergonomics are very good and the TTL exposure meter is quite helpful when taking pictures in environments with different luminance levels.
When using the M3 and the M6 at the same time, you note a very interesting phenomenon. The M6 disturbs the stream of consciousness less than the M3.
The M6 can be improved: its viewfinder is flare prone and will sometimes black out the rangefinder patch. The .85 version is a bit better in this respect. The rewind crank is too small if you have to do a lot of film during one shooting session. The battery cover can be lost quite easily and so a few more minor irritants can be added.
The M6 has been produced in two versions: one with a .72 magnification and one with a .85 magnification. This version of the viewfinder is almost as accurate, clear and large as the viewfinder of the M3 and is the most desirable of all M6 versions.
Leica M6J.
This model is a special version of the M6 with a topcover in the style of the M3. So is the film advance level and frame selection lever. The M6J has four frames (35,50, 90 and 135) and so is close to the M4. The M3 range/viewfinder mechanism could not be resurrected and so Leica had to design a new one, closer to the M2/4/5/6 types. Some will claim that the M6J has been built to a higher standard than the regular M6 types, which might explain its higher price. No evidence is being produced as usual with this type of claims. The M6J however has been assembled by the same people on the same production line as the regular M6 and shares all components, except the rangefinder mechanism and the topcover. It is highly unlikely that there is any difference in quality between the M6J and regular M6 types. The M6J has a 85 magnification which made it an interesting buy. Since the M6 HM (or M6 .85) it has lost most of its appeal for users. Collectors of course have different arguments.
Leica M6 TTL.
The latest version of the M6. It has a two millimeter higher body, caused by the higher topcover where room had to be made for the additional electronics (from the R8) to provide TTL flash functionality. The shutter dial has been enlarged and now turns in the same direction as the exposure indicators in the finder. The earliest versions had a sensor in the bottom of the body that could reflect some stray light into wide aperture lenses. Later versions had the sensor baffled a bit more.
On first sight the flash facility is counter intuitive to an M-Leica, which is mostly used as an available light camera. Still several situations exist where a mild fill-in of flash saves the picture. The SF20 is a capable performer, but adding this one to the body makes the M6 cumbersome and of course you can not use the 24mm with its additional finder. Again we see the limits of the M6 as a tool, and intelligent choices are to be made.
Nostalgic feelings aside, the M6 and M6 TTL versions with the .72 magnification are the most versatile of all M Leicas. Their precision engineering and mechanical quality and durability are second to none (within the Leica M range). As photographic tools they inspire confidence in their picture taking capabilities and they encourage a type of photographic image that is almost unique.
Classic or High Eye-Point or High-Magnification?
Currently Leica offers three versions of the M6 with different magnifications: 0.58, 0.72 and 0.85. The most recent addition is the 0.58. The question why 0.58 and not 0.6 can be simply answered. The ratio of the focal length of 35mm and 28mm is identical to the ratio of 0.72 to 0.58. There is one obvious difference between the 0.58 version and the other versions. The 0.58 has framelines for 28, 35, 50, 75 and 90. My testing of this body shows a very easy to use finder, that is very clear, has excellently clear and crisp framelines and a very clean rangefinder spot. While not completely flarefree under bad conditions, it is improved when compared to the 0.72 and 0.85 versions. The new finder allows for quite relaxed viewing and should be seriously considered by anyone who will use the M-body for hours at a stretch. An additional nice point is the fact that the redoubtable 24mm lens can be used with the 0.58 finder: the outer mask of the finder is approximately the angle of view of the 24mm lens. This feature is best used without wearing spectacles.
Accuracy of the new finder is without any doubt good enough for even the Noctilux and all 1.4 designs, up to the 75mm. The outstanding Apo-Summicron-M 2/90 ASPH can also be used without reservation.
The quality of engineering, assembly and tolerancing of the several M versions.
There is a persistent, but totally unfounded position that the Wetzlar based products are he best in terms of choice of material, care of assembly, quality control and a host of mostly intangible parameters. In the past the story was that Midland was not as good as Wetzlar. Later it became Wetzlar versus Portugal and now it is Wetzlar versus Solms/Portugal.
Let me start by stating that no one who has made claims for the superiority of one manufacturing location or base versus another one has ever brought forward substantial evidence to support the claim or has even defined what superior manufacturing quality is.
In my view choice of materials, the quality of machining of parts, the fit of parts should be measured if any quantifiable statement can be made. Choice of materials could be classified in terms industry standards as to the parameters of metal alloys, synthetic materials and other components: the stress coefficients, the durability estimates etc. The machining of parts would be defined in terms of surface roughness indicators, tolerance bands for dimensions and more industrial parameters. The same for the fit of parts.
Any quality difference between the M3 and the M6 should be quantified by stating that some M6 gear #205 is of inferior alloys, has a higher roughness indicator, Young’s modulus is lower and the tolerance is ±0.02mm where the M3 for the same gear has ±0.01mm. Or the roller bearing in the M3 shutter spindle is fitted in the M3 with a play of 0.005mm where the M6 has another value. Or the average breakdown period of this gear is 10 years in the M3 and 9 years in the M6.
I have been able to observe the assembly of the current M6, and discussed all the engineering measures with the production people and quality assurance people at the factory . I took great care to compare the M3 components with the M6 components : I watched while a qualified repairperson dismantled the M6 and M3 and I could discuss every small item with this person. I even repeated this procedure with a second person to check any bias.
My considered view is this: there is some cost cutting in the changes from the M3 to the M6. Basically however (shutter, rangefinder, transport mechanism etc.) the M3 and M6 are identical in all measures of engineering and production quality.
In reliability, durability and quality feel every M is a precision engineering mechanical masterpiece. There are real differences of course and they should be assessed intelligently. The change from brass to steel for some gears made the M4-2 suitable for the motorwinder (which I personally would never recommend) and the steel makes for more durable components. If the gears jam however the strong steel will destroy the winder mechanism, while the weaker brass gear will fall apart without doing damage to the mechanism. Which version is better?
The Wetzlar products were made in the tradition of the fully integrated production cycle, where most components were made in the factory or by closely allied suppliers. This was the traditional way of manufacturing as deployed since the start of the century.
The current M6 is built according to the modern, or maybe postindustrial technology of manufacturing, that blends manufacturing with the service industry.
The factory is now changing from a high cost handcraft based production and assemblage facility to a combination of new technology, lean production and supply chain management to produce the M models (and of course the R models too).
Nowadays the smooth and relaxed relationships between a manufacturer as Leica and its customers and suppliers defines a new type of manufacturing company, one that is capable and able to produce the opto-mechanical precision instruments to the same if not higher level of quality and precision as the previous type of industrial manufacturer that Leitz was.
The nostalgic feelings to the classical products of the Leitz era are quite understandable and even enjoyable. The idolization of the Wetzlar products to the detriment of the Solms products, shows a gross ignorance of the facts.
The classical Leica products as M2/3/4, and this is part of their enduring charm, evoke a feeling of confidence and material solidity, Current Leica products as the M6, while as reliable and durable as the predecessors, have a different look and feel. And some manufacturing changes are clearly the result of simple and harmless type of reduction of cost of production: the frame counter is a clear example of cost cutting. Sometimes the components have changed to implement a simplified assembly and so saving on labor costs. The change of filt for the shutter trapdoor to a composite material is such an example. These changes however are in part of a cosmetic nature. Cosmetic because the basic functioning and reliability are not jeopardized. The number of adjustment possibilities has also been reduced, partly because adjustments are not always necessary and partly because of cost reduction. In the latter case, we should have the camera adjusted a bit more frequently.
Bottom line we should accept that the M6 is as reliable and durable as an older one, is assembled with the same or even higher precision and tighter tolerances as an older one. We should also note that the M6 has an improved viewfinder and some nice additions as the exposure meter. On the other hand the M6 needs to be adjusted in slightly shorter intervals than the M2/3/4 when in heavy duty use and the simplification of some components make it a bit more sensitive on occasion. Let us have no illusions. Any Leica cameramodel can develop a fault. Look at a typical Leica repairshop and you will see every model represented: M3's as well as M6's.
The engineering of the current Leica M bodies, the quality of production and the high level of shop testing ensures that a new Leica M will function according to specs and with the reliability and longevity that is part of the charm of the Leica. Engineering is a human act however, and incidentally a fault will occur, such is Murphy's Law. 
Table of M models

ModelLeica M6Leica M6TTLLeica MPLeica M7Leica M3Leica M5
Lens bayonetM bayonetM bayonetM bayonetM bayonetM bayonetM bayonet
Lens range at introduction21, 28, 35, 50, 75, 90, 135; apertures from 1.0 to 4.021, 24,28, 35, 50, 75, 90, 135, and 28-35-50; apertures from 1.0 to 4.021, 24,28, 35, 50, 75, 90, 135, and 28-35-50; apertures from 1.0 to 4.021, 24,28, 35, 50, 75, 90, 135, and 28-35-50; apertures from 1.0 to 4.021, 28, 35, 50, 90, 135; apertures from 1.2 to 4.521, 28, 35, 50, 90, 135; aperturs from 1.2 to 4.0
Finderbright-line range- and viewfinder with automatic parallax correctionbright-line range- and viewfinder with automatic parallax correctionbright-line range- and viewfinder with automatic parallax correctionbright-line range- and viewfinder with automatic parallax correctionbright-line range- and viewfinder with automatic parallax correctionbright-line range- and viewfinder with automatic parallax correction
Rangefinder baselength69.2569.2569.2569.2569.2569.25
Finder magnification0.720.72; 0.58 or 0.850.72; 0.58 or 0.850.72; 0.58 or 0.850.920.72
Frame lines28-90; 35-135; 50-7528-90; 35-135; 50-75; (28-90; 35;50-75 or 90;35-135;50-75)28-90; 35-135; 50-75; (28-90; 35;50-75 or 90;35-135;50-75)28-90; 35-135; 50-75; (28-90; 35;50-75 or 90;35-135;50-75)50;90;135 (35 with additonal spectacles)35;50;90;135
Finder indicationsRangefinder spot, framelines, exposure diodesRangefinder spot, framelines, exposure diodes, flash indicationRangefinder spot, framelines, exposure diodesRangefinder spot, framelines, exposure diodes, flash indication, in AUTO: shutter speeds in half steps, long exposure counterRangefinder spot, framelinesRangefinder spot, framelines, selected shutterspeed with moveable needle and index needle, indication exposure meter area
Rangefindermanual, mechanical, contrast and split image measuring methodmanual, mechanical, contrast and split image measuring methodmanual, mechanical, contrast and split image measuring methodmanual, mechanical, contrast and split image measuring methodmanual, mechanical, contrast and split image measuring methodmanual, mechanical, contrast and split image measuring method
Exposure meterIntegral method over an area of 6mm image height (metering spot 12mm diameter) on shutter curtainIntegral method over an area of 6mm image height (metering spot 12mm diameter) on shutter curtainIntegral method over an area of 6mm image height (metering spot 12mm diameter) on shutter curtainIntegral method over an area of 6mm image height (metering spot 12mm diameter) on shutter curtainNone, external exposure meter coupled to shutter speed dialIntegral method over an area of 4 mm image height (moveable meter arm element 8mm in front of film plane)
Exposure handlingmanual selection of speed and aperture with over- and under exposure indication in findermanual selection of speed and aperture with over- and under exposure indication in findermanual selection of speed and aperture with over- and under exposure indication in findermanual selection of speed and aperture with over- and under exposure indication in finder: in AUTO stepless shutter speeds with aperture prioritymanual selection of speed and aperture, additionally clip-on meter with needle alignmentmanual selection os speed and aperture, with match needle alignment in finder
Meter sensitivity in LVLV -1 to LV20LV -2 to LV 20LV -2 to LV 20LV -2 to LV 20noneLV 0 to LV 20
Film speeds (ISO)ISO 6 to 6400ISO 6 to 6400ISO 6 to 6400ISO 6 to 6400film speed reminder dialISO 6 to 3200
Shutter speeds1 – 1/10001 – 1/10001 – 1/1000Manual : 1 sec to 1/1000 in full steps; AUTO 32 sec to 1/1000 stepless (indication in nearest half step)1 sec to 1/1000, intermediate steps possibleManual: 1/2 to 1/1000 (continuously variable) and 1 sec to 30 sec in full steps
Shutter controlmechanicalmechanicalmechanicalelectronical, mechanical speeds 1/60 and 1/125mechanicalmechanical
Flashcomputer control via flash unit or manual guide numberTTL, and SCAcomputer control via flash unit or manual guide numberTTL and SCA and HSScomputer control via flash unit or manual guide numbercomputer control via flash unit or manual guide number
Flash synchronisation1/501/501/501/501/501/50
Film transportmanual, mechanicalmanual, mechanicalmanual, mechanicalmanual, mechanicalmanual, mechanicalmanual, mechanical
Additional winders at introductionmotorwindermotorwinderLeicacit mechanical transport with trigger mechanism; motorwindermotorwinderspecial model (MP) with Leicavit mechanical trigger transportnone
Measurements (WxHxD)138 x 77 x 38138 x 79,5 x 38138 x 77 x 38138 x 79.5 x 38138 x 77 x 36155 x 84 x 36
Bootom plate dimensions333333333333
Weight in grams (body)560600585610595700