I have not used SLRs for a long time, my previous one being a Nikon FM3a (sold it), but I still keep my father’s Nikon FE for old-times sake. I also have a friends’ F3HP on hand, so I’ll use these two for comparisons.
The Leica wins hands down in build quality. It’s somewhat heavier than the FE, and about the same as the F3, but it feels far more solid than either. The film advance lacks the ‘scratchy’ feel of the Nikons and is very smooth.
In terms of size, the Leica is the smallest of the three, being very close to the FE. It is roughly of the same height and depth, but it’s a tad less wide. Coincidentally, the bottom of the ‘leather’ half-case for the Bessa series fits the R4s comfortably.
One strange thing about the R4s is that the shutter release seems to lag for a fraction of a second before the shutter opens. It’s a far cry from the immediacy of the M-cameras. I wonder if it’s a problem with my specimen.
The shutter noise from the Leica is quieter than the Nikons, but not as soft as my M4-2. I don’t think it sounds too obtrusive.
I can’t speak for the metering accuracy or the viewfinder brightness because I don’t have a lens yet, but I will update this review when the Summicron arrives.