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Discussion in '35mm Cameras and Accessories' started by chip j, Jul 16, 2017.
I've got numerous F2's and Leicalflex SL's (no SL2). My sense is that the F2 is more robust; it was designed for long term hard professional use.
Two known issues with the SL (not sure about SL2) are the flimsy lens release lever and desilvering on the prism.
I've never touched one of the all Leitz SLRs. They cost a LOT more than the F2, I've never had a fault with my many F2 cameras. Now I'm curious about SLs.
One more thing: if you don't like the sound of the F2, you'll really dislike that of the Leicaflex (that is, if the SL2 is anything like the SL; the R8 is totally refined).
Beautiful viewfinder though.
I have used sos and and sl2 since they came out. I also have a Nikon F2. The sl2 has a more pleasing aesthetic design compared with a F2 fitted with meter prism. Since I use F2 with plain prism this observation for me is not valid. However, I do prefer the semi spot meter of the SL2.
Both cameras are rugged and can take a lot of abuse. In the days of mayor Dinkens muggings were common in Central Park. A thug approached a friend demanding his Leicaflex. Holding the camera by its strap he swung SL hitting mugger's head and decking him. Camera remained in perfect condition.
Which to choose? I like both. Leicaflex needs lenses with 2 or 3 cams. My plain prism F2 can use both non-ai and air lenses. I find neither shutter/mirror particularly noisy for an slr. If you want quiet get a tlr.
I heard that story back in the 80s, although the camera then was a Nikon F2.
Regarding the cams on the R lenses, the best compatibility chart I've seen is on Karen Nakamura's site:
So, for SL, SL2, a 2-cam lens will give you everything you need.
There is an error on the chart saying an R-only lens won't mounton on the Leicaflex cameras - some do. My Summicron-R 50mm R-only lens mounts on my SL. I have later added the 3rd cam to the lens.
E. von Hoegh may have heard he story in the 80s, but this happened in the late sixties or early seventies. I probably got the mayor wrong but I knew the person involved in this incident. Sadly, he has been long deceased. We always told him to relay the story to Leitz but he was afraid of legal implications.
I've handled the SL and SL2, i'd say the Nikon F2 has the same quality externally, except for the lens release button on the Leicas. Internally, who knows... Some camera techs say that the Nikon F2 internals are the best ever, on the other hand perhaps the Leicaflexes have as great (or better?) internals, but the construction is reportedly non-modular so they are a pain to work on. So perhaps camera technicians don't like to work on Leicaflexes.
As for external build quality, my original Canon F-1 has a higher quality of fit and finish than the Nikon F2 and, i dare to say with no remorse, as good or better than the Leicaflexes i handled. This is no surprise, since historically Canon wanted to surpass Leitz rangefinder lenses, and the F-1 was designed with the clear (and only) intention to surpass Nippon Kogaku and its Nikon F camera.
In any case, if looking for really high build quality, take a look at the Contarex cameras. Better built than the Leicaflexes. On the other hand, the Nikon F2 is a better-designed camera than all of them (Leicaflexes, contarexes, and the original F-1).
For really high build quality in lenses, the Pentax Takumars get my vote. Besides, of course, the Leitz and Zeiss offerings.
What does it matter? The question should be how many Nikon F2's and Leicaflex SL2's are still being used today? That answer would clearly be the Nikon F2
As for build quality of lenses, don't forget Minolta Rokkors, many were built as good as the Leica's (and some Leica lenses were made by Minolta).
Just as importantly, it's easier to find quality service for F2's and the metering heads than I imagine it would be for Leicaflex. The cost would probably be more reasonable. Sover Wong and Cameraquest are two that come to mind.
I agree with Flavio on the Pentax Takumars - I have some of the older M42 lenses and they're the smoothest, most well-built lenses I've used.
An interesting thread on Liecaflex vs CaNikon build qualitiy by Guss Lazzari: https://www.photo.net/discuss/threads/leicaflex-sl-s-vs-r-s-debate.232289/
was "inside" these Leicaflex Standard, SL & SL2 cameras, I couldn't
believe how "linear, consistent, stable & accurate" the shutter
speeds were on virtually all of these cameras. One day to my
astonishment, I discovered that the gearing in the shutter mechanism
for the 1st & 2nd curtains couldn't be physically scratched by my
stainless steel tools! I believe that the Leica precision and the
choice of materials were the reason for things such as this. Many
including me give the vote for ?the best SLR ever made? to the
Leicaflex SL2. (The last & most featured Leicaflex)
No, they don't. https://www.ebay.com/i/262879632215?chn=ps&dispItem=1 It's the lenses that get you. I've often wondered if one could be converted to F mount.
It is hard to find Nikon SLR which isn't build classy, if not sexy. Including F2. But Leica SLRs are often is the in opposite for my taste. SL2 gives me mixed feelings. Zenit, Canon FTb and Kiev-19 Ugly Betties comes to my mind.
I have true Leica cameras. Which are M series to me. But for SLR my choice is Nikon. I'm proud owner of FG-20. It is slim and hot!
I'd like to have a Contarex lens converted to F mount!!
What exactly do you mean by "better built"? How much physical abuse the camera can take before it breaks?
That seems to be the typical criterion. "I dropped my camera off a water tower and it still goes 'click', wow what a tank!!" kind of nonsense.
The reality is, there are probably not more than a few (three to five, if that many) people here -active posters that is- qualified to make the assessment of whether a camera is well designed and well constructed. We do have many self styled "experts", however in most cases their comments and advice give them away as self styled. I've never been into a Leicaflex, any model, and according to the serial number my F2 was Soverised a couple years before I got it. I can say from personal experience that a Nikon F is comparable, and need make no apologies to, an M3 Leica. The smoothness of the M3 in this respect means nothing, it has no mirror to raise. One of the more cheaply constructed cameras is a late Pentax K1000, and look at the reputation for reliability they have.
Perhaps the intent of the question is more like "could I run 500 rolls through this camera and have few or no problems?"
The comparison is somewhat between cameras that are not equals. The F2 was designed for professionals, is modular (different heads, screens, backs, motor drives, etc.), and likely received professional CLA's at regular intervals. Its reputation was earned over decades. The Leicaflex was designed more as a high-end camera for well-to-do amateurs and less so for professionals. It has neither the features nor accessories that a pro camera has. Still, it may be extremely well designed and built. It's fair, I think, to say that in general the Leicaflexes haven't seen the amount of use an F2 has.
The only indirect evidence we have is to compare the percentage of working cameras that remain out of the total production run.
I was meaning Rolls-Royce vs Cadillac.
Your point is well taken.....
Perhaps a "better" question would be...What camera of the 1950-1990 time frame was not built well.?
I am getting away from them now, but my Canon 'A' Series have taken 2-3 years of pretty normal, street photography use.......In and out of bags, in and out of cars, around my neck and wrist...clanging into stuff, hot and damp weather.
I never had my Canon A-1 or Canon AT-1 give me any trouble from what i would call Honest/Normal use.
Well, they're both automobiles, but there the comparison ends.
I should have been more clear. When NEW they cost double the price of a F2. That's why Leitz had to work with Minolta on later models. If I hit the Powerball I would buy them all.
The SL2 costs a lot more than the SL nowadays and offers little more functionality. If you want value for money, buy an SL instead of an SL2. But avoid the series with the red plastic lens release button. I bought 2 SL's recently. They cost a lot less than a Nikon F2 and they are great camera's. But the biggest advantage is: they come with Leitz lenses. I compared my Summicron 50mm F/2 against a Nikkor 50mm F/2 and the difference in sharpness, contrast and color rendition is significant!
I actually bought the Summicrion lens for use with an adaptor on my analog and digital Canon EOS camera's. The SL bodies came as a "bonus" at very low cost. But now that I started actually using the SL body with the Summicron lens I reall like them!
So far several pieces have been called better built.
No one's mentioned the early ALPA's. The camera didn't have sheet metal covers,
No dents or dings on this one. Like anything else though, it will scratch.
the body was also the chassis. Love it when the rep stands on the lens mount and it didn't collapse.