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More new rangefinders are waiting to find space on dealer's shelves!
Rumors are rampant in Japan of new rangefinders being readied for market in light of Cosina's outstanding success with the Voigtlander Bessa. Rumors, confirmed and yet to be confirmed, include:
New Confirmed Cameras
October 2006: Leica M8 digital released at Photokina
March 2006: Bessa R2M and R3M Voigtlander introduces mechanical limited editions with special collapsible 50/2 Heliar
September 2005: Leica LHSA MP-3, Solms and LHSA hit a home run with this re-creation of the fabled MP of 1957. 1000 cameras will be made, 500 black paint and 500 chrome, with a retro style 50/1.4 ASPH and Leicavit. .72 finder, 35,50,90 framelines, M2 style film counter and dog eared strap lugs like the original, TTL metering, M6 Leicavit/motor compatibility. As special edition Leicas go, this is one of the best!
May 2005 Last Production Voigtlander R2S 50/3.5 Heliar S Limited Edition, one of the sharpest lenses ever made now available in Nikon RF mount INFO
NEW Nikon Black SP! To most dedicated Nikon collectors, there is no Nikon quite as desirable as the black Nikon SP. On January 14th 2005 Nikon announced a new limited production run of 2500 SP's mounting the 35/1.8 Nikkor. This is a dream come true to many long time Nikon collectors, but they are now sold out at the factory and never officially exported out of Japan! INFO
Photokina 2004: Leica 50th Anniversary M7 Titanium was introduced at Photokina. Only 50 will be made, with a set of 3 matching titanium 28/2 ASPH, 50/1.4 ASPH, and 90/2 ASPH lenses. Initial sales were by lottery. List price is a cool $25,000, but many will likely sell for more. It is the same camera as the 500 set M7 Titanium, but with a different engraving for each year of Leica M production. They are said to be a quick world wide sellout.
Photokina 2004: M7 Titanium 50th Leica M Anniversary was introduced in November 2004, with 30 body parts including the top and bottom covers machined out of Titanium. I believe this is a camera first. Production 500 sets with titanium 50/1.4 Aspheric. Price with 50/1.4 is an ever so affordable $10,500.
Photokina 2004: Leica introduced its a la carte make your own custom M camera program. Loaded with options, this is a valuable program long dreamed of by many hard core Leica fans. See the CameraQuest al la carte Buying Guide.
Photokina 2004: Leica introduced its Oskar Barnack edition of the "Leica Prototype 2" . It is a reproduction of one of Oskar's first prototype cameras from 1913. Amazingly, with the camera you get an original print made from a Barnack original negative. This is very well done part of rangefinder history.
Photokina 2004 saw the introduction of three new M mount rangefinders made by Cosina: the Voigtlander Bessa R2A and R3A, and the new Zeiss Ikon, complete with a mostly made by Cosina Zeiss lenses. The R2A and R3A are the first aperture priority Cosina Voigtlander cameras. The R3A is the first 1:1 Leica M mount film camera. The R2A is identical, but with a .7 magnification finder. Another first is the new 40/1.4 in M mount, the first 1.4 40mm lens covering full frame 35mm.
Leica 50th Anniversary MP grey chrome Anthracite Titanium was made for the Japanese home market. 400 were produced with matching Leicavit and 35/2, with 200 more bodies only. It has a .72 finder, and classic old style vulcanite body covering. The box is clearly labeled "Leica M Series 50th Anniversary Model" but unfortunately the body has no such engraving. It's a beautiful camera, but why no 50th engraving on the body and winder? Because the engraving was reserved for the big dog, the titanium M. Only a handful of the Japanese 50th M were officially imported into the USA with USA warranty.
PMA 2004 in Las Vegas saw the introduction of the Cosina made Epson RD-1, the world's first digital Leica M mount rangefinder. The 6 MP milestone camera is priced at $2999. Epson proved with this camera why they are not known as a camera retailer. What could have been an incredible sales success was shot down by inept marketing.
October 2003: A new LHSA MP made in grey hammertone, with matching hammertone Leicavit MP and special chrome 35/2 ASPH Summicron. Production 1000, commemorating LHSA 1968-2003. Available January 2004. The hammertone is a particularly handsome finish and should be very popular with collectors.
October 2003. A new chrome Hermes MP with chrome 35/2 and red leather became available. Production 500 units. If I am reading the press release right, this may be the first of a yearly Hermes Leica, as the French luxury company is Leica's largest stock holder. I hope they do a better job on next year's Hermes Leica. This one is badly over priced, and rather plain without the traditional Leitz style top engraving, NO Hermes engraving on the back of the top plate (what were they thinking?), and rather garish reddish body leather. What is right is 1) a bound book style instruction book 2) a magnificent thick chrome body cap 3) a very well done heavily chrome lens shade. Still, if you are looking for good Leica investments, look elsewhere. This one is overpriced and not that well thought out.
Leica MP Finder Upgrade for Leica M6 and MP introduced September 2003, $275 to get rid of occasional rangefinder patch flare
Voigtlander SC 28/3.5 and 50/2.5 in Nikon Rangefinder Mount September 2003
Nikon RF and Contax RF SUPER WIDES: September 2003 introduced the introduction of the Voigtlander SL 12/5.6 and 15/4.5 in Nikon F mount with mirror lock up. Add the Voigtlander F-S adapter, and these super wides work great on classic Nikon and Contax Rangefinders (not the Contax G series).
Voigtlander Prominent fans were surprised in May 2003 to see the new Voigtlander Prominent 50mm lens adapter. It allows the use of the fabled classic Voigtlander 50mm lenses on either classic Contax rangefinders or Nikon rangefinders -- with full rangefinder coupling!
Voigtlander 35/1.2: At PMA 2003 in Las Vegas Mr. Kobayashi announced the 35/1.2 Nokton, the fastest 35mm lens ever made for any full frame 35mm camera.
Leica MP March 2003: At PMA in Las Vegas, Leica introduced an upgraded mechanical M with improved finder. It is kind of an upgraded mechanical M6 with better fit and finish, an improved finder, improved smoother film advance, and surprisingly a M3 type rewind knob. Leica currently has their best M lineup since the M3/M2 in the mid 1960's. Also introduced was the new Leicavit MP -- a trigger winder. Long term the black paint MP will probably be worth more, but the special edition MP-6 for the Japanese market with real Vulcanite will be worth the most.
Rollei 35 RF: Rollei announced its Leica priced re-badged silver Bessa R2 as the Rollei 35RF in January 2003. Three lenses are announced: 40/2.8, 50/1.8, and 80/2.8. The lens barrels are believed to be made by Cosina, the glass by Zeiss, while the assembly is done in Germany by Rollei. Who wants to buy a $1900 Bessa R2 with a 40/2.8 lens? Unfortunately for Rollei, it is the first interchangeable lens 35mm Rollei RF. If they were selling it for half that price, it would be a different story. Alas, the over priced RF quickly died in the marketplace.
M6 TTL 999: In December 2002 Leica announced the official end of M6TTL production. The last 999 cameras, divided up into 333 .58 finders and 666 .85 finders, are specially engraved. The .58 versions offer higher collector potential, with lower production and a more popular finder. The box and documentation looks beautiful. Unfortunately the Leica script and special 999 numbers are PAINTED on instead of engraved. ugh. Sorry folks, personally I would not invest in this one.
M7 FLAG: Alas, in November 2002 Leica announced a not so memorable "Flag" M7, showing the flag of various countries on the top plate. For the US, 100 were announced with the US flag painted on the top plate. I am not sure what other flag versions will look like, but the US version looks downright tacky to these eyes with a painted instead of an engraved Old Glory. The paint will wear off much sooner than the chrome finish. In my opinion these will be among the most "undesirable" Leica collectibles. Gag me with Hermes bag.
Voigtlander Bessa R2S and R2C: At Photokina in September 2002 Cosina announced the new Bessa R2S in classic Nikon Rangefinder mount, and the new Bessa R2C in classic Contax Rangefinder mount. These are the FIRST production cameras ever in these mounts to offer TTL metering, or trigger winder, not to mention the brightest finder and RF patch EVER for these mounts. This is a big deal for Nikon and Contax collectors who have waited forty years to have such a camera to shoot with. Also announced were 28/3.5, 50/2.5, and 85/3.5 lenses, all in Nikon S rangefinder mount.
Black Nikon S3 2000 JUNE 2002 Nikon Released a Black Paint Version of the S3 2000. It was the first Nikon Rangefinder since 1963, a milestone event for Nikon Rangefinder fans.
Voigtlander Bessa R2: Cosina introduced their metal bodied R2, with M mount in February 2002. Selling at less than 1/4 of the price of the Leica M7, the R2 is sure to become the standard entry level M mount camera. Available in either black or olive paint, and with trigger winder capability.
Leica M7: Leica introduced the long awaited Leica M7 with Aperture priority exposure control in late February 2002. Filling a pent up frustration for AE, the M7 will be a Leica best seller at least in the short term, and is likely to push down used M6 prices. The M7 is actually quieter than the M6.
Voigtlander Bessa Heliar 101 Sets: Introduced in December 2001, Voigtlander's CEO Kobayashi gave shooters and collectors alike an early Christmas present. This special version of the Bessa T commemorates the 101st anniversary of the Voigtlander Heliar lens design. It comes in four paint finishes: black, olive green, navy blue, and gray. Special matching color winders will also be made. The big news, however, is the limited production 50/3.5 collapsible Heliar lens made only for this limited edition set. Amazingly, Popular Photography proclaimed it was the "best lens we have ever tested, a treasure."
M6 TTL Titanium November 2001. Leica re-introduced the tough Titanium finish for 1000 new limited edition Titanium .72 M6 TTL cameras. Thankfully the new Titanium cameras will not have the Emu simulated body covering of the previous Titanium M6. Happily the simulated red Buffalo leather pattern be more aesthetic than its big bird ancestor, but I still don't think Leica has got it right. When is Solms going to finally introduce the Titanium with a STANDARD body covering? Also available will be 500 each 35/2 ASPH, 50/2, and 90/2 ASPH special Titanium finish lenses. This is a very nice camera, much better looking than any of the other M6 TTL except the LHSA version.
Voigtlander Bessa T: Introduced in March 2001, the Voigtlander Bessa T is Cosina's 1st Leica M mount camera. It is a very retro design, and in many ways amounts to an updated Leica IIIf with M mount and TTL metering. It is also the least expensive Leica M mount camera ever made.
Dec 2000 "Japanese Market M6" stamped "Leica" in Leica script on top plate. I'm told there are six versions -- your choice of chrome or black chrome with .58, .72 or .85 finders.
Dec 2000 -- French Fashion House Hermes buys 31% of Leica stock. OK, so it's not a new rangefinder, but it will probably mean more new Leica rangefinder products with the Leica's deeper pockets.
Not cameras but new Nikon Rangefinder Lenses: Voigtlander introduced the first lineup of Nikon rangefinder lenses since Nikon discontinued them in 1964. The wides in NRF will also fit the classic Contax rangefinder. Confirmed are the 35/2.5, 25/4, and 21/4 available in 2001. 2003 saw the addition of the 50/1.5 and 85/3.5, followed by the Voigtlander SL Nikon F mount 12/5.6 and 15/4.5 which are usable on classic Nikon and Contax rangefinders with the Voigtlander F-S adapter.
New Limited Edition Konica Hexar RF with 50/1.2: Photokina, September 2000: Not a company to be left out in the cold with all the new limited edition millennium coming out, Konica announced the Konica Hexar RF Limited. 2001 units will be made for the year 2001. It is a Hexar RF with titanium covers and a new 50/1.2 Hexar M lens, sold only in a kit. See http://www.konica.co.jp/photokina2000/hexarrf/index.html
New M6 TTL with .58 Finder: introduced at Photokina in September 2000, this is a M6 TTL body with a lower magnification .58 finder. It is marketed for those wearing eye glasses, as it allows eye glass wearers to easily see the edges of the 28 and 35 frames, something not so easy with the .72 finder. Framelines are 28, 35, 50, 75 and 90. There is no 135 frameline, or what many hoped for, a 24 or 21 frameline.
New Leica Null Series: At Photokina in September 2000, Leica also introduced a new retro edition of the Leica Null Series, the camera made by the hands of Oskar Barnack, when he invented 35mm photography as we know it. No effort has been spared in making a faithful copy to the highest standards, for the serious collector or the eccentric shooter. Though not a rangefinder, this camera is the daddy of all 35mm rangefinders, and 35mm SLRs too for that matter. See http://www.leica-camera.com/produkte/msystem/0serie/index_e.html
Bronica, yes, Bronica, introduced a new 120 film rangefinder in 645 format at Photokina. Introduced with it are 45/4, 65/4 and 135/4.5 lenses. See http://www.tamron.co.jp/english/whats/new_rf645.htm
LHSA Black Paint M6 Special Edition Black Paint M6 made for the Leica Historical Society of America. Since Leica stopped taking orders for this camera June 30th 2000, it is heading for collector's status. A beautiful camera, latest information is that 650 of the .72 finder versions, and 500 of the .85 finder versions, were produced. In my opinion, the best looking of Leica's new M6 black paint cameras.
Green Leica M6: The Leica Hong Kong dealer has apparently ordered a limited edition of the M6 Millennium with .72 finder in military green paint. See http://www.leicafanclub.org/ Production guess to be less than 300.
M6 Black Paint ICS Much like the M6 Millennium, but ICS limited edition.
M6 Black Paint Oresund Bridge Much like the M6 Millennium, but commemorating new bridge from Denmark to Sweden.
Leica M6 "Year of the Dragon" 2000 camera, made for the Far East market. Black paint, .85 finder, built on the M3 style rewind M6 Millennium body, 500 said to be produced.
New Nikon Rangefinder: February 23, 2000 Nikon has made it official, announcing a new very retro styled chrome "Nikon S3 2000 MILLENNIUM MODEL" Rangefinder. Aimed at the collector's market, the S3 2000 is a near duplicate of the classic 1958 S3 including the classic Nikon S rangefinder mount and no TTL metering, chrome only. See Profile
Leica's new black paint M6 Millennium was released in January 2000. Based on the .72 TTL M6, it has the traditional Leica engraved script top plate (like the M3/M2/M4), black paint finish, and a M3 style rewind knob. The production run is 2000 cameras. List price in the US is expected to be about $3000 for this instant collectible. For a traditional Leica nut like me who has yearned for the return of the black paint finish and engraved Leica script, this is wonderful news indeed. This camera is obviously aimed at collectors. I dearly hope Leica offers the black paint finish and engraved script top plate as a regular option on the M6 TTL with a standard M6 rewind lever. Pics at Leica Site. A .85 finder version is also said to be available in Japan on special order. See Profile Unfortunately Leica a few problems as far as paint quality control. Many Millenniums show a thin paint coat, and machining marks under the paint. Later M6 paint models show a better paint job.
The Bessa R, a rangefinder version of the Bessa L, was introduced in January 2000. Also introduced was a new compact 35/2.5 "pancake" lens. LTM mount, TTL metering, framelines for 35,50,75,90 lenses. See Profile
Konica's Hexar RF with Leica M mount was released in October 1999, a very interesting camera well worth considering. See Profile An odd surprise is that the finder of the new Hexar, the finder of the Contax G2, and the finder of the Hassy/Fujica XPan all come out of the same factory that generally no westerners have ever heard of -- truth can be stranger than fiction. In contrast the finder for the new Cosina / Voigtlander Bessa is produced by Cosina, and is much brighter than any of its Japanese competitors.
The Once and Future King? There are more than a few people who maintain Leica will re-introduce the non-TTL "classic" M6 to replace the M6 TTL 12/2000. It turned out to be the new version of the Leica MP, introduced in March 2003 at PMA in Vegas.
Leica M6E ?? Rumors that Leica would introduce the M6E at Photokina in September 2000 were popular, but unfounded, though Leica's CEO Mr. Cohn referred to as an "improved M6" in the German press in October 1998, which was originally reported to CameraQuest as the M7, though in fact no designation was mentioned by Mr. Cohn. ALAS, the only M6 introduced at Photokina 2000 was the .58 M6, although Leica officials did confirm an unnamed M project with AE. I doubt we will see it anytime soon. Strangely enough there was indeed an M6E in 1983, but due to the high cost, the camera we know today as the M6 "Classic" was produced instead. Only one working hand made prototype of the M6E with Copal shutter, AE exposure, and a detachable 4 fps motor is believed to have been produced. Long a rumor, Leica introduced the M7 February 2002.
Pentax was recently given US patents on a new rangefinder design. If you are interested, search under "Asahi" in the patent records.
Who knows what new Rangefinder will make it to the marketplace, but these are great times for the Rangefinder Enthusiast!
Revised: July 23, 2006 . Copyright © 1998-2004 Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved. This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.