Leica R4: A Leitz-Minolta SLR Collaboration

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A PHSNE member is thrilled with the newest acquisition to his collection, a Leica R4. “The Leica R4 family of Leica 35mm SLR cameras was launched in 1980. The initial design was a joint venture based on Leitz’s co-operation agreement of 1972 with Minolta, whose own version was launched in 1977 (Minolta XD series).” http://camera-wiki.org/wiki/Leica_R4R7 Initially called the R4 MOT Electronic, available in black and chrome. A simplified version, the Leica R4s, with a subsequent MOD-2 (-P in Europe) was launched in 1983, and both were in production until 1985.

In 1984 Leica offered a special limited edition R4 in gold and brown skin. Features of the R4 include a Leitz mirror box, metering, and a distinct body design. The same body and chassis were used for all subsequent Leica R models up through the R7, ending in 1997. “Like the trend setting Olympus OM-1, the R4 was much smaller and lighter than its predecessors. Also the design was sleek and rounded in contrast with the starkly angular appearance of the R3.” At its 1980 launching, the camera was named Leica R4 MOT Electronic, suggesting advanced technology. But with the motor drive optional, the name did not catch on and by 1981 was known simply as the Leica R4. With the motor drive optional, “Leica recommended using only 36 exposure rolls as the camera would stop at exposure 36, preventing film tear out.” Two SR44 or LR44 batteries are required to power the R4; without them only 1/100s and bulb shutter speeds work. The R4 features a metal bladed electronically-controlled shutter built by Seiko. The manual settings include whole stops from 1s to 1/1000 sec., X flash sync, and an automatic stepless from 8sec. to 1/1000 sec. A 1/100 sec. mechanically timed speed was provided in event of a dead battery.“

Although developed as a joint venture, Leitz made their version somewhat differently, especially the exposure metering system and the top cover design and controls. Unfortunately three of the four series of this camera were encumbered with electronic circuits problems. This relates to cameras with serial numbers below 1.600.000. However, those working after 20 years, or more, are either repaired or not likely to give problems. https://camerapedia.fandom.com/wiki/Leica_R4

More references: https://www.apotelyt.com/photo-camera/leica-r4 eBay asking prices for the Leica R4 run from $200 to $750 or more, depending on condition and lenses.

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June 5 — Vladimir Khazan on the Exakta

To everyone who participated in this year’s Photographica 89 — Thank You!

Get ready for 2023: PHSNE’s 50th year and Photographica 90

Dealers: Contact Show Manager John Dockery

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Coming Up

May 1 – Philip Pressel & the Hexagon KH-9 Spy Satellite Stereo Camera

June 5 – Vladimir Khazan on the Exakta

A Big Thank You

To everyone who participated in the years’ Photographica 89!

Get ready for 2023: PHSNE’s 50th year and Photographica 90

Dealers contact show manager John Dockery through the