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M6 Shutter bInnacuracyb vs M7 Electronic Shutter

jamesw

Well-Known Member
Hi --

Just about to invest in first Leica gear, after long SLR usage (will be keeping SLR for different kinds of work not suited to rangefinder).

I have several friends with Leicas and been fortunate enough to use an M6 recently, hence falling in love with a Leica.

I've been doing research, naturally, about which is the best Leica for me. The M6, or later, sounds about right, but I'm trying to decide whether to spend more on an M7 NOT because of Auto Exposure (like to work manual, although aperture priority is good too), but because I've read a few worrying posts on various forums about alleged innacuracies of the M6 mechanical shutter (usually at least 1/3 stop out?).

The M7, of course, has a highly accurate electronic control for the shutter...

But, how much difference does anyone notice in practice? Are all you M6 users out there having genuine problems with exposure due to innacurate shutter mechanisms?

It seems almost mad, superficially, to me that a camera as optically fine and well built as a Leica should have such an innacurate shutter - how much truth is there to this? The second hand price difference here between a good used M6 and a good used M7 is about £500... I could buy another, or much better Leica lens to go with the M6, or buy an M7 with more 'accurate' shutter...

Any insight appreciated!

James
 

colin

Well-Known Member
I've been using the Leica M6 since it came into being built in Solms. I've never had a shutter problem (or any other for that matter). The M7 is Leica's first foray into an electronic shutter in the M series. The R3 was their first electronic shutter in that series. No longer fixable! (Copal doesn't make the shutter anymore).I don't know about R4 to R7 shutters. Were they the same as R3? Who makes the shutter mechanism for the M7? Is it Leica, or is it made by a third party for Leica? (Like the CLS in the R3--Copal Leitz Shutter). Leica's experience with cloth mechanical shutters is as old as the cameras themselves. My vote is for the M6
 

ellie

Well-Known Member
I have never had a problem with any of my Leica M6s or the M7. The classic is now over 20 years old.
 

jamesw

Well-Known Member
Colin and Elliot - I should clarify, that the reports I have read were not discussing shutter 'problems' with the M6, or other mechanical Leica shutters, but rather that even a properly adjusted Leica mechanical shutter's timing is likely only to be accurate to +/- 1/3 stop due to mechanical tolerances - unlike electronic shutter timing which should be dead on every time, thereby removing one of the variables in getting accurate exposure. However, if this theoretical position isn't making much difference to working M6 photograpers (i.e. If you're all taking well-exposed photos even on slide film, etc most of the time) then its all academic and I may as well get an M6... Elliot - since you have an M6 and an M7, have you actually noticed a difference in exposure accuracy between the two? If I don't need to worry about this as a buying consideration, I'd much rather spend the extra money on a good lens for an M6 setup. Thanks again, James
 

colin

Well-Known Member
James, To start with, NO electronic shutter is going to be "dead on" everytime. Every shutter be it mechanical or electronic is built to tolerances. If you buy an M7 unless you blindly follow the manufacturer's ISO, you will conduct your own tests. If you buy an M6, you will/should do the same.
I shoot Vevia 50 and previously Kodachrome 25. I've never had exposure problems because of incorrect shutter speeds. I think it's all academic. What is important is that if your 1/125th is 1/100th, or your 1/500th is 1/600th that it is always so. I have shot with both mech. M's and elec. R's and have noticed no difference in exposure accuracy even with 25 ISO transpareny emulsion. Save your money and buy that extra lens to put onto an M6
 

wbesz

Well-Known Member
It is my view that the reason one chooses the M7 over the M6, is to gain the advantage of the AE.
This helps to take opportunity and candid shots quickly, and to deal in places where the light is forever in flux.
The fact that the shutter exposure is indeed more accurate is of secondary importance (clock-precision).
Nonetheless, exposure accuracy is a plus for slide films, but you still have to judge what you are using as the reference point.
I wouldn't worry about the longevity part, ..these days electronic parts are very good, ..at least for 20 years.
 

ellie

Well-Known Member
Hi Jim:

You know, I have never given the shutter speed accuracy even a passing thought. When there is an exposure error it is completely mine. I have never noted any "exposure accuracy differences ( sic )" between any of the M6s I have had, the M7, or the MP.

Good luck with your choice, and let us know how you are doing with your new lens!.

Elliot
 

jamesw

Well-Known Member
Colin, You're absolutely right, that's excellent advice, as long as the shutter speed is consistent it won't matter if its off by a fraction of a stop IF I carry out shooting tests and adjust accordingly. I suppose one should do this if the camera is serviced also, as I presume shutter tolerances may be adjusted at that time? Thanks for the advice! James
 

jamesw

Well-Known Member
Hi Elliot

Thanks for the clarification on that point. Its especially useful that you've used all the models of Leica I'm considering and haven't noticed any difference in practice regarding exposure accuracy on the part of the camera. I'll definitely be buying a nice M6, with either a couple of summicrons or possibly one good summilux... Now, whether to go M6, or M6 TTL...

James --

"Imagination is more important than knowledge" -A. Einstein
 

jamesw

Well-Known Member
William --

You guys are doing a fairly good job of convincing me not to worry about paying extra for an M7 on the grounds of exposure accuracy. Thanks for the advice.

James
 

cmdr

Active Member
James,

I would recommend getting an M7 if your Leica rangefinder will be kept long term. I have both an M6TTL and an M7, and will usually prefer to use the M7 for most situations, and the M6 as a back up. The later versions of the M7 have the updated MP viewfinder which does make it easier to focus, and glare on the focusing patch is not as evident with high contrast motifs. Furthermore, having AE with the M7 makes taking quick candids a joy to handle. DX coding is another feature that is extremely useful on the M7. In the heat of the battle so to speak, the DX coding feature ensures that you won't forget to adjust the ASA setting. I find that the electronic shutter of the M7 is a little quieter than the M6. With the M7, I use a Metz 54 MZ-4 flash and with the M7, I will usually use the rear curtain sync which is a feature the M6 doesn't have.

As far as buying a used body, one has to be extremely careful since there is no way to know the history of the body. Buying new is always preferred, but a new M7 is a sizable investment. Perhaps you could inquire with a Leica dealer to see if they might have a factory demo M7 with warranty available.

If I was in the market for an M body, based on my experience with using both, I would prefer to go with an M7 at all costs over an M6.

Regards,
Dale
 

wang

Well-Known Member
Why not consider an MP or M3 ?

Electronic M7 and M6 do fail in adverse conditions. They can also fail as time goes by. The mechanical cameras are more reliable in the long run.

In terms of investments in the long run, MP holds the price better than M7. The figure of the sale of new MP is better than M7.

If you are a heavy user of the cameras, you will understand how important reliability is.
 

grind

New Member
For what it's worth: Erwin Puts measured the shutterspeeds from the M6, next to the M7 in an M7-test review.
Puts said that both cameras were intense used, with starting this test.
See the link below:



My choice is also gonna be the M7. Not because of the AE-feature. But because of the on/off-button, at the shutterspeed-dial.
At the M6/MP this is only possible with an separate on/off-switch, named the 'Rose'. But this isn't in production anymore.
I've heard from an M6-owner, that his camera run through 2 batteries in an short time. Because the release-button can be easily pressed in the bag.
 

jamesw

Well-Known Member
Marco -- Thanks, that's potentially interesting. However, what are the +ve and -ve values? 100ths? 1000ths? Whole seconds? Percentages? Cheers, James
 

grind

New Member
Hey James,

Erwin Puts doesn't mention that. But i guess those are percentages.

Cheers, and have an good choice.


Marco
 

jamesw

Well-Known Member
Marco, Thanks for that. I have to say that if those are percentages then the M7 looks far more likely to get accurate exposures in all the most used speed ranges for handheld work (where I'll mostly be using it). Although only the 1000th is truly concerning - 30% is way beyond the latitude of slide film and pushing the latitude of print film as far as I'm aware... Hmm... Food for thought indeed! Cheers, James
 

gjames52

Well-Known Member
James:

A few tidbits:

As I recall Erwin Puts wrote that that the M7 was Leica's best.

I have a 52 year old Zeiss that is strong and has a Compur (leaf) shutter that still works. The original transistor still works too. My 25 year old OM 2's electronic shutter still works well, if not excellent, the metering is excellent, and so is it's AE exposure.

Zeiss states that their new viewfinder is the widest available and technically can't get any wider. "the base is 77mm effective 55mm".

So, whether than, just considering component quality issues, I would suggest determining what features will serve your photographic needs and desires. Eg. point and shoot, do you want to carry a meter all the time, do you want TTL metering, and flash, DX etc.

After you determine what fits your needs then get the one you really want, even if you have to wait awhile, as you will eventually buy one later or always wish you had.

Good Luck:

Gilbert
 

colin

Well-Known Member
James, The M6 is a "mechanical" camera, not electronic as Joseph suggests. If you are worried about "on/off" and battery drain then store the camera uncocked, as I do. 30% is less than a 1/3rd of a stop and well within the latitude of negative film, and acceptable for slide film. As previously mentioned, it's the "consistency" that's important. Lastly, on the issue of reliability and adverse conditions;I've had mine since Leitz became Leica(solms vs wetzlar)and have used my Leicas in minus 57 degrees celsius with no problems whatsoever, with the camera. You just don't get those temperatures on the IOW !!!
In summary from my experience, the M6 is Mechanical, Reliable and Accurate. The M7 may be some of these too, but it won't take better pictures and you'll have money left over for lenses, etc.
Historically, Leica is known for its mechanical and engineering precision, not for its electronics. Many will recall the early disasters of the R4 when Leitz were using Ferranti sourced electronic parts. As I said earlier, I don't know who makes the electronic shutter of the M7 but I doubt if it's Leica. I believe you will be able to get your M6(4,3,2) shutter repaired, long after the M7 is a distant memory.
 
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