19/01/2020

Is there actually much difference between Leica cameras with Canon and Nikon?

Question by Andy: Is there actually much difference between Leica cameras with Canon and Nikon?
Leica cameras are so pricy, but how much different the quality of the photos are comparing with Canon and Nicon.

Best answer:

Answer by Paul R
There are a few differences, not to say one is better than the other, just different styles.

The success of the Leica camera is really defined by 35mm film (referred to by some as the leica format), before the Leica came along people were using roll film cameras in 60 or 120 format which made the cameras massive.

Leica cameras accepted smaller rolls of film, but to get decent quality out of the smaller negatives required very high quality high resolution lenses.

Leica cameras are for the most part rangefinder cameras. Rangefinders are a bit different in use to an SLR, firstly you don’t see through the lens, which can actually help with catching ‘the decisive moment’ as you can see the subject before it comes into the guidelines for that lens.

Leica cameras are also very well constructed with precision engineering and are made in limited production runs, all of which keeps the quality control and exclusivity up.

Rangefinder cameras, including Leicas, don’t have a mirror and so can be very very quiet in operation, making them a good choice for social photographers. They are also more compact than SLRs making them less likely to attract attention and to fit in a pocket.

Rangefinders have their limitations: They aren’t great with very wide angle lenses and terrible with telephoto lens over 135mm, although even 90mm is probably better.

SLRs have benefits in terms of accuracy in composition, TTL metering (if you filter a metered leica you need to adjust the ISO to compensate) and the sheer range of lenses that they can work with.

I am firmly an SLR user, but have owned a couple of compact Ricoh GR rangefinders which require a very different approach to photography and get results you just wouldn’t try with a heavier less compact SLR.

If I were wanting to try a rangefinder then I would go for a Contax T2, which are currently stupidly cheap and have AF, AE and take superlative Carl Zeiss lenses, if you want a metered Leica M camera without the extreme expense look for a Minolta CLE, it had a 28, 40 and 90mm lens and although cheaper than contemporary Leicas, was actually the better camera to use.

If you want a digital rangefinder without the Leica cost then look for a used EPSON R-D1.

If you want a modern Leica experience then look for a used Panasonic Lumix DMC L-1, a kind of digital SLR/ rangefinder hybrid. It was exactly the same camera as the Leica DigiLux 3, and one of the nicest DSLRs to use, very similar layout to a manual film camera with shutter dial and aperture ring.

Failing that, it needs to be Leica.

But to answer your question, a Canon EOS 1D series or Nikon D3 series with the right glass will be as well engineered and as good optically as the Leica m8, m8.2 or m9, but it’s more about the actual experience of using. They are very different beasts.

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