The Leica M4 was introduced in 1967, and replaced the 1954 Leica M3. The Leica M4 is by many photographers and collectors alike considered the epic model of the Leica rangefinder cameras. The reason is the finder optics and the superior mechanical quality, not convincingly equalled in later models. However, the question of which is best, boils down to preferences with regards to the finder magnification and which finder frames are needed. Otherwise, there is actually not very much difference among the classic Leica M's, other than the early Leica M3 with double stroke wind lever, the rangefinder-less M1, and the slanted Leica M4 rewind

The Leica has a particular shutter sound that connoisseurs appreciate, and there is the highly appreciated feel of quality in every detail. Never the less, the modern Leicas are far removed from the original handmade screw lensmount cameras built of an aluminium tube, steel spindles, and brass plates screwed together. The M-body is a metal casting machined to close tolerances, and every component made to perform reliably under strenuous conditions. The four-pronged lensmount is quick and reliable, and the relevant parallax compensated field-of-view frame is automatically shown in the finder. The standard lens for the M4 would be any number of top quality Leica Lenses.

Leitz in Wetzlar was long convinced that their camera concept was perfect and could be made to suit any conceivable task within reason only by providing specialized accessories. In the beginning, this worked fine and any institution with a minimum of self-respect would acquire a Leica outfit for documentation work or for their microscope. The camera finder was not suitable for telephoto focusing and framing, so a reflex housing was devised for long lenses and close-up work, using the SLR principle. It is a truly adaptable system.

This being the case, it took Leitz particularly long time to realize that the SLR camera actually could make some sense after all. The Leicaflex was introduced in 1965, and was a beautiful, outdated camera from early on, but eventually the Leica range of SLR cameras caught on, and they are still an item to consider some forty years later; but the remarkable fact is that so are the Leica M cameras!

  • Leica M3 (1954-1966) viewfinder magn. ×0.91, frames for 50-90-135mm
  • Leica M2 (1958-1967) viewfinder magn. ×0.72, frames for 35-50-90mm
  • Leica M1 (1959-1964) viewfinder magn. ×0.72, frames for 35-50mm, no RF.
  • Leica M4 (1967-1975) viewfinder magn. ×0.72, frames for 35/135-50-90mm

In addition, there have been several shorter runs of models, like the MP professional and the MD with no finder. Se Leica M chronology list.


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