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Leica C3? Not after what I saw today.

Terry Rory , Aug 29, 2003; 09:11 p.m.

I am entering, dangerously, into another spell of quality P&S lust. Last time I caught this I ended up buying the magnificent Ricoh GR1-V (which is serving me well.)

The time before that it was the Contax T2. The current object of lust is the Leica Minilux Zoom highlight set with CF flash. Whilst getting some film processed today I was having a good look at the Leica C3 zoom compact and, well, it is horrible. It is made of really plasticky plastic and really thin cheap aluminium. The door when closed feels insubstantial and moves in and out about 1mm. (Is it really light tight or liable to ping open at any moment?)

The viewfinder is awful. It is dull and unfocused compared to my Ricoh or the old T2 viewfinder. The zoom's rocker switch is a hit or miss affair and you cannot tell what the camera has focused on. (My GR1-V is very positive and fast to focus and gives utter confidence with the information in the viewfinder.)

Everything about the C3 felt as if it was about to fall apart at any moment. Far worse than any Yashica T5 which were quite solid despite being all plastic and NOT being Leica. (Both of my two daughters have T5's so I know they are robust.)

This does'nt bode well for me thinking about the Minilux Zoom. Do they also feel tacky and loosely screwed as the C3 and have rubbish out of focus viewfinders as well? I hope not.

I may be looking into buying a Mint used Contax T2 or a new TVS Zoom whilst they are still available for reasonable prices. (I could not justify £699 UK for the T3 and I dont like its high battery use or it's toggle menu selection for flash etc.)


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Erik L. , Aug 29, 2003; 09:37 p.m.


Have a look at the Olympus Epic 35mm/2.8

This is by far the best P&S ever made. Super simple, tiny, and it features a spot-meter function that is great. I recently lost mine, and was able to replace it with a new one for $65.

It makes great images.


Todd Frederick , Aug 29, 2003; 09:43 p.m.

I endorse Eric's suggestion...buy an Olympus Epic 35mm f/2.8. I have one now that I just don't use that I'd be happy to sell for $60 inc. USA shipping...classic black. Outstanding lens.

Right now I'm using digital, and that's my next suggestion: take a look at what a good compact digital camera can do for you.

I was a total unbeliever until I bought an Olympus C-5050. The C-5050 is like a mini Leica! I call it my "Digital Leica."

Andrew Hall , Aug 29, 2003; 09:56 p.m.

OT: if you need a zoom, consider the Konica Lexio 70 and Fujifilm Zoom Date (a.k.a. Silvi) F2.8 with 24-50mm lens.

Terry Rory , Aug 29, 2003; 10:10 p.m.

We already have an Olympus Mju II 35mm f2.8 (which my wife uses). We have 2 Yashica T5's which my daughters use. I currently have a Ricoh GR1-v and enjoy it a lot. But it is 28mm focal length and I want a compact camera with moderate zoom (35 - 70 or similar) of a premium quality with a great lens for up to around £500 - £600.

Obviously I have my SLR gear (Contax / zeiss manual focus) but there are occasions when camera bags are banned (family outings etc.) when a high quality compact with a top lens will be very useful.

The candidates I am considering are Leica Minilux or Contax TVS because of the quality of the glass.

What I am asking is if the Minilux has poor quality build like the C3?

Andrew Hall , Aug 29, 2003; 10:36 p.m.

The Minilux does not have a zoom lens. Do you mean the Minilux Zoom? It has a Ti shell and a very tiny viewfinder. You can't expect these compact zooms (even Leica or Contax) to have comparable quality with the T5 or Epic. They are designed more for convenience. (The TVS III is the current Contax version.)

My Z2X has virtually the same lens as the Minilux Zoom. It can be quite susceptible to flare and you have to be careful shielding it from stray light, though the lens quality is okay. The zooming is not stepless.

IMO I would trade this for the Konica or Fuji if only for their wider/more usable zoom.

michael foster , Aug 29, 2003; 10:36 p.m.

the answer to your question, trevor, is no. The minilux is MUCH better built than the C3. The c series is shit. The minilux's are quite nice.

Andrew Hall , Aug 29, 2003; 10:45 p.m.

BTW, the flash of my Z2X (which is really a cheaper version of the Minilux Zoom) is next to useless at the longer focal lengths because of the slow lens.

Todd Frederick , Aug 29, 2003; 11:05 p.m.

Oops...I ment to say that I'd sell my fuji 1.0mgp for $9,000 less extras...sorry!!!

Terry Rory , Aug 29, 2003; 11:13 p.m.

Mike and Andrew thanks.

Re-assuring to know the build of the Minilux Zoom is higher than the C3 I investigated yesterday.

I did actually mean the Minilux Zoom version. (Sorry)

Not so comforting to find that you think the quality of zoom lenses in the TVS III and Minilux Zoom is pretty poor.

The intention is to go out with 2 top quality compacts. My GR1-V with its 28mm and the Minilux zoom (or similar) to take the range up through 35mm - 70mm (and its ability to take an upright CF flash)

For serious photography I have other gear but on occasions when I am with family / friends / or on family holidays etc it is good to have compact equipment that can go in a very small bag with nothing more than a table top tripod and a spare film or ten. It also allows for use in places where SLRs / tripods etc are simply not tolerated but where P&S users are ignored.

Despite all that I do not want to drop my standards of image quality and so I assumed Leica and Contax would be the best choice (even with zoom)

Maybe I should be looking at a 40mm f2.4 Minilux or an old (but mint) T2 but they are both too close in focal length to my GR1-V and I would prefer to keep that and use it as well.

I guess what I really need is a good quality compact P&S with a 70 or 80mm prime!

PS. Todd why are you trying to sell me on digital stuff when I am asking about film cameras?

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