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Comments about Leica Leica M7 0.72 35mm Rangefinder Camera Body Black with 0.72 viewfinder magnification - USA:
The Leica M7 -- as of this writing -- appears to be the last of Leica's film-based M-series. The M8, of course, is a digital camera; the key advance that the M7 offers, compared to the feature set already present in the M6 (which I also own), is aperture-priority automation.
As someone who has owned many 35mm cameras offering various forms of automation (shutter-priority, aperture-priority, programmed automation, etc.), it took me a while to appreciate the specific value of aperture-priority automation. For me, the main attraction of aperture-priority photography has to do with the ability -- in concert with fast Leica lenses -- to strongly influence an image's depth-of-field.....to make the subject leap out of the picture, letting the foreground and background fade into obscurity.
And this, actually, leads to one of my few quibbles with the M7. Using the kinds of fast lenses that will produce the requisite shallow depth-of-field (e.g., the 35mm f/1.4, 75mm f/1.4, or 50mm f/1.0), I find that I frequently have to settle for a less-than-wide-open aperture because the fastest shutter speed available on the M7 is 1/1000 of a second.....and this is often true even with the slowest film I can find. Which leaves us with.....after-sundown photography?
In terms of its operating characteristics, the camera just feels good to use; the operation is smooth and very unobtrusive. And the images that it produces are wonderful -- which, I guess, you'd expect, given the cost of the body and a couple of lenses.
The M7 is not the proper camera for the casual snapshooter. The required investment of money (to acquire the hardware) and time (to capture images -- yes, it focuses quickly, but it is NOT autofocus) will necessarily limit the M7's appeal to a comparatively small audience.
But for those who are not content holding their camera at arm's length and praying that the resultant image will be recognizable, for those who want to become more involved in the process of photography, for those who are viscerally attracted to fine machinery, and certainly for those who can afford the steep start-up costs, the M7 is a unique and wonderful instrument.