To be frank, the Leica M4 is the most prestigious camera in the entire Leica M series. It incorporates the most advanced film loading and rewinding systems, the most ergonomic film advance lever, and the most advanced black chrome plating technology. A brand new black chrome M4, whether in terms of technology or workmanship, is considered to be first-class. Moreover, such a top-of-the-line black chrome M4 can still be found at a reasonable price. Although black chrome is more durable than black paint, collectors prefer the latter, with brass shining through where the paint has worn off, as it is their favorite.
No camera is as tempting as a black paint Leica. For Leica enthusiasts, once they get their hands on a black paint Leica, they cannot let it go. The worn-off black paint on the brass glows like the history of our rise and fall, inspiring us with wisdom.
Today, black paint has become increasingly popular and its price keeps rising. Actually, buying a current version of the black paint MP is also a good option since the MP has not been discontinued yet, and even used ones are often like new. However, if you use a black paint Leica, you must be prepared mentally because it will soon become old.
In the past, black Leicas made great contributions to war photographers, and now those aging photographers have contributed to black paint Leicas. When you wear a black paint Leica M4 on your chest, the images of the masters come to mind, giving you even more courage and strength – if this is true, then such a camera is truly priceless. Leica has become a cultural symbol, at least that’s how Leica promotes itself.
The most distinctive feature of the Leica M4 is its speed – fast film loading, fast film advance, and fast rewinding – all very practical. In addition to the speed, the M4 structure is a combination of the M3 and M2, with the counter from the M3 and the viewfinder from the M2, and was sold at a higher price than the M2 and M3 at that time. Therefore, regardless of the color, the Leica M4 is a very user-friendly camera.
Starting with the M4, Leica’s film advance lever had a bent corner and plastic washer. This design increased the contact area of the thumb during film advance, and the thumb could slide along the edge of the body to the end. Although the classic film advance lever of the M3 looks good, when the film is fully advanced, the finger must leave the body, reducing grip stability. The M4’s film advance lever design shortens the thumb’s movement, actually speeding up film advance and increasing grip stability. The film advance lever of the Leica M4 incorporates ergonomic design.
Additionally, the film advance lever of the Leica M3 and M2 rebounds to hit the shutter speed dial, leaving many scratches on the dial, which is a masterpiece of the old-style Leica film advance lever.
The film advance lever on the Leica M4 is indeed fast, making it arguably the fastest film-loading camera in the world. You can insert the film and immediately start advancing it. I wish the M3 had a similar lever. The military version of the Leica M2 had this quick-loading feature, as did the M2-R, the civilian version of the military model. However, sometimes I still enjoy the slow and steady process of loading film into the M3 and watching it extend from the hollow arrow. Is this just self-deception for a photographer?
The slanted winding lever of the M4 is very futuristic. It winds clockwise and is much faster than the M3’s lever. Ha ha ha, this is a great design for news reporters. We can see Leica’s efforts with the M4. Reporters are pressed for time and don’t want to waste it on rewinding film.
The M2 has a manual film counter that slows down reporters, so the M4 reverted to the M3’s automatic counter. However, the M3’s counter window was made of glass, which “easily shattered in bombings,” so the M4 switched to organic glass. Is this true? Or was it just because it’s easier to assemble than glass? It really was designed with war reporters in mind, but unfortunately, collectors consider organic glass to be a downgrade because plastic doesn’t last as long as glass… Designers design for today, while collectors think about tomorrow…
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. With the Leica M4 black painted, and not only with the M4, I can experience magic. Some M2s, M3s, and MPs black painted are also excellent.
“Black paint is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
The M3 and M2 were the last “all metal” Leicas. The Leica M4 has plastic parts for the film winding lever and autotimer and frame preview functions. These plastic parts are purely functional, and you won’t find any plastic in the M4 body.
“All Metal” or Comfortable
The plastic tip on the Leica M4’s film winding lever is actually a clever design that prevents jabbing and makes it more comfortable to use. I don’t know how they do it. People generally prefer “all metal” over comfort, and I do too.
Why is the Leica M4 Black Paint Cheaper?
Two “comfortable” features don’t make a “metal” one, but they do make a good excuse to save money. A Leica M4 black painted in good condition should not cost much more than an M2 or M3 black painted.
Leave a Reply