I have used a Leica M4 for a while now, and I feel ready to make a review. My M4 is from 1968, but it looks almost like new. I got the silver version with the beautiful Leica inscription on the top plate. I think this is much nicer than the cameras with the red Leica-dot on the front. I will try and explain the most important – and least important features of the M4 below.
The camera has a load of advanced functions. On the top of the camera, there is a small wheel that you can turn. If you turn it, it clicks nicely and if you look close you can see a lot of small numbers. There is also one letter; a capital B. Next to the wheel they have put a small silver button. This is, however not that thougt through. There is a small hole in it, where water can pour down. Not good if you want to swim with it or if you forget to take it off your neck as you get into the shower.
The hole-button has a lever connected to it, that you can pull with your thumb. If you pull it until it stops, you can take a picture. But it makes almost no sound at all, so people around you wont notice that you take a picture. Luckily most of the people around you will see you as you try to change the film. To do this you must dismantle the camera partly. The bottom plate must be removed and you can open a hatch on the back of the camera. When you finally are ready to take another picture, most of the people has gone home.
On the top plate there is a small window with more numbers. The problem is that in this window you can’t see all the numbers at the same time. And it only counts to 36. But when you change the film it goes back to 1 again, which probably is just as good.
On the front there are two levers. One is on the right and one is on the left. They both have some advanced functions that you hardly ever use. Honestly I can say that these two levers are a little to much. The camera gets much more complicated to learn to use. A camera doesn’t have to have all these functions. After all we are only humans…
The large hole in the middle can be used for fitting a small, very expensive, glass tube. With this tube, you get much sharper images. You do however have to sell your car to buy one.
Luckily Leica didn’t put a lightmeter in this camera. That would probalby have pushed it over the top. Now you can just trust your instinct.
All in all this is a camera loaded with functions – almost to many. As I said, there are some things that makes this a camera unsuitable for beginners. It can make the photography process go a little slower – BUT! But – if you do learn to handle all the buttons, cranks, wheels and levers you may find that this is a rather compenent little guy.