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Leica M Compendium: The Handbook of the Leica M Systems (Hove Compendia) Hardcover – May 1994


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Hove Books; 1st English Ed edition (May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897802056
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897802052
  • Product Dimensions: 20.2 x 1.7 x 26.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,178,441 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on 9 Sept. 2009
This is a fine book by Jonathan Eastland on Leica M cameras and lenses. It's a little out-of-date: it doesn't include the M7, or the M8 and M9 digital cameras. Nevertheless, it's still an excellent resource and will remain so for many more years. Besides, if you're looking to get your first Leica, you should consider the less expensive, older M models. In which case, this book will be very useful.

Chapter Highlights
The 'Leica M Compendium' is reminiscent of an old text book with black and white photos and its style of layout. There are ten chapters and a few appendices. Weighing in at a little under two-hundred letter size pages and a list price of fifty-dollars, you get a hefty book at a chunky price. However, it will be worth it when you start buying Leica equipment.

When buying an expensive Leica film camera, you can expect skepticism from friends. Therefore, you need to be able to converse about the attributes of a Leica if only to defend yourself. Chapter 1 covers the history and attributes of each Leica camera. For instance, despite what you might think as a newcomer, the M3 came before the M2, and it before the M1. Chapter 2 goes through the Leica lenses made, listing the attributes of each lens and suggests situations in which each would be useful. These first two chapters account for about a third of the book and they alone make it worth having.

Chapter 3 basically explains how to use a rangefinder. This includes not only the built-in viewer, but also viewers that you can purchase and attach to the top of the camera. The last couple of pages of this chapter introduce Visoflex attachments, used to convert a Leica camera into a reflex camera. This is useful with long focal length lenses. Chapter 4 explains how to use a Leica with a Visoflex.
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By Dr. J. TOBIAS on 19 Jan. 2010
Verified Purchase
comprehensive coverage but not including the latest models....due for an update soon so if you have an M8 or M9, wait for the next edition.

contains loads of generic useful tips for rangefinder users.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 4 reviews
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The best independent user review of classic Leica M system 9 Feb. 2007
By Let it Be - Published on Amazon.com
This handbook by Jonathon Eastland is probably the best independent user review of the more than half century old reknown Leica M rangefinder series of 35mm manual focus film cameras.

I am glad to have read this book before I purchase my first used Leica M series camera, it had helped me made my informed choice for purchase ownership and use.

This book featured the Leica M series, the Leica M1 to M6, Compact Leica CL from the first introduction of the Leica M3 (introduced in 1954), M2 and M1 to its incarnation in the form of Leica M6 with ample coverage and discussion on M-lenses accessories and special commemorative (collector's) models.

From this book, I have learnt that the Leica M series of camera has remained unchanged in layout and design without major substantial product modification and a new Leica M still carries a hefty price tag since 1954. The latest Leica, the now out-of-production M6 as featured in the book with the basic machine (yes it is a photo making machine) as the M3 introduced in 1954 and unlike the digital stuff today, mechanical Leica Ms (other than the M7 & M8) and the CL can fully function as a camera without batteries. Majority of the interchangeable M-lenses designed and produced since 1954 are top performers in 35mm photography and still could be used with the current production model, the mechanical Leica MP, the latest M-lenses could also be fitted on the same bayonet mount on older Ms. In fact except for the CL and M5, all Leica Ms has the same exterior.

The author has a little of everything for everybody from the student photographer, professional photographer, weekend shooter, camera collector-investor-speculator to a general reader who had randomly pick this up from a bookshelf. This book also has generous examples of nice photos made by the author.

Readers should be forewarned that the subject of photography is NOT the main discussion in this book but discussion is centred on the tool, the Leica M camera and how it would add value to your kind of photography.

If you intend to buy and read this book for a understanding of the Leica system you may like to know that despite its detail coverage of the Leica M system, this book is NOT updated with the most recent development because the Leica M rangefinder camera has just recently (in 2002/2003) gone semi electronic/automatic with the introduction of the M7 (a muted WoW for being 30 years behind the Japanese in technology) and had gone into the arena of digital photography with the recent introduction of the Leica M8 camera-the digital M in 2006 (a BIG WOW) while without Autofocus M-lenses.

IMHO a radical update of this book may not be due despite the recent changes with the introduction of the digital M8. As far as analog photography is concerned the Leica M system is near perfection and the technology would reamin very much the same as long there is 35mm film cartridge and a darkroom available.

I am speculating that once this handbook goes out of print it could instant become a collector's item for Leicaphiles and collectors like the many vintage out of production Leica M camera reviewed in the book.

For readers who are doing research on 35mm "analog" film photography and Leica, I would heartedly recommend this handbook together with the Leica R Compendium by the same author as compulsory read. Reading both handbooks would give the interested reader an understanding of the German side of the development of the 35mm film photography.

Not a "Leica M camera for dummies" book but an overall balanced and informative special interest book which deserves 4 stars.
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
Very good discussion of M version Leica equipment. 24 Sept. 2004
By Jack Bert - Published on Amazon.com
It is written intelligently and to a good depth for a sort of advanced overview book. The author goes in depth as needed without boring with excessive technical details and the author's experience shows with good comments. He covers a bit on how rangefinder cameras are unique. M6 and old Leica M bodies are introduced with moderate detail. Film loading is shown for early and late cameras. He comments on new and old lenses but not on all lenses (1994 copyright with reprint of the same in 2001) so the only Aspherical lens mentioned is 35mm F/1.4. Visoflex is discussed. Overall this is a sort of advanced beginners book written for the Leica's more intellectual market yet it has a personal edge that endears.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Still a Solid Leica M Reference 9 Sept. 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
This is a fine book by Jonathan Eastland on Leica M cameras and lenses. It's a little out-of-date: it doesn't include the M7, or the M8 and M9 digital cameras. Nevertheless, it's still an excellent resource and will remain so for many more years. Besides, if you're looking to get your first Leica, you should consider the less expensive, older M models. In which case, this book will be very useful.

Chapter Highlights
The 'Leica M Compendium' is reminiscent of an old text book with black and white photos and its style of layout. There are ten chapters and a few appendices. Weighing in at a little under two-hundred letter size pages and a list price of fifty-dollars, you get a hefty book at a chunky price. However, it will be worth it when you start buying Leica equipment.

When buying an expensive Leica film camera, you can expect skepticism from friends. Therefore, you need to be able to converse about the attributes of a Leica if only to defend yourself. Chapter 1 covers the history and attributes of each Leica camera. For instance, despite what you might think as a newcomer, the M3 came before the M2, and it before the M1. Chapter 2 goes through the Leica lenses made, listing the attributes of each lens and suggests situations in which each would be useful. These first two chapters account for about a third of the book and they alone make it worth having.

Chapter 3 basically explains how to use a rangefinder. This includes not only the built-in viewer, but also viewers that you can purchase and attach to the top of the camera. The last couple of pages of this chapter introduce Visoflex attachments, used to convert a Leica camera into a reflex camera. This is useful with long focal length lenses. Chapter 4 explains how to use a Leica with a Visoflex. Most readers can probably skip this chapter.

In Chapter 5, Eastland covers many of the accessories available for the M system. This includes the Leicameter (a separate light meter) and some of the film winding attachments for faster winding. This chapter also discusses lens hoods, filters, and flash guns. You probably can skim this one, slowing down to the parts in which you're interested.

After Chapter 5, the book becomes more of a tutorial and less of a historical and factual reference book on the Leica M cameras and lenses. Chapter 6 involves the basics, a 'Getting Started' booklet of sorts on the M camera, explaining how to load the film--a very different experience with a Leica camera--and all that relates to that subject. It also explains how to focus the camera--also different with a rangefinder--and how to take pictures with a Leica M camera. Photography is all about exposure of the film (or the image sensor) to light. To that end, Chapter 7 explains the light meter system of a Leica M camera.

Chapter 8 is a nice chapter on photograph composition (but not too basic) and selecting the proper lens for various situations. It also has some good text on street photography, something that makes the Leica popular among photojournalists. Following this, Chapter 9 explores some practical considerations related to photojournalism. In Chapter 10, Eastland provides an afterword about Leica cameras and great Leica photographers.

Summary
If you're new to Leica cameras, especially if you're thinking of buying your first Leica, you should consider buying a used, older M model Leica from a camera store (e.g., Adorama) or from ebay. It will cost you a few thousand dollars less and, since Leica cameras are so durable and change very little between models, it will probably work just fine. By the way, don't confuse a Leica III with a Leica M3: it uses a different type of lens. If you think you might buy an on old Leica M camera, you definitely should get this book. Even if you're going to get a new model, you'll still find value in it. So, get a copy before you buy your first Leica camera and put some time in reading it carefully, referring back to it as you shop.

Given the nature of the Amazon culture, this review is shorter than I'd prefer. However, on my web site I have a longer version of this review, which includes a reading guide for the book. You might want to check that out once you buy a copy. See the left margin of my Amazon profile for the address of my photography related web site.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Leica M Handbook by Jonathon Eastland 25 July 2007
By James Kennedy - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
If you are a Leica M enthusiast, this book is for you. Well written, well illustrated, and a wealth of information on cameras, lenses, and accessories up through and including the M6 classic. Profusely illustrated with mainly B&W photos, and a lot of good practical advice on how to make best use of the equipment. Highly recommended!
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