Leica M4 — it's just a camera right?
Why all the fuss over the Leica M4, which was discontinued way back in 1975?…
A couple of reasons — (1) rose-coloured baby-boomer nostalgia for the 1960s and (2) the M4 is the last Wetzlar-era Leica with rapid-load and rewind, and yet maintains the hand-built quality of the much-loved M3s.
Want to know more? Check out the following LHSA Viewfinder article by Roy Moss (Viewfinder Volume 34, #3, 2001). It is perhaps the most detailed monograph you can find on the M4 anywhere:
<lhsa.org/pdf/343leicam4.pdf> (PDF 170 KB)
Less misty-eyed readers will quickly notice the article doesn't actually give any reasons why the M4 is so "great", rather than merely repeating over and over that it (somehow) is. Hmmm…
Another thing the article forgets to mention is that the M4 does not work with either motordrive or rapidwinder because it lacks the internal drive coupling. So being an M4 user means always advancing the film by hand using the wind-on lever only.
A better source for reasons why many believe the M4 to be the "ultimate" M Leica, can be found at <Greenspun.com: #008ZBA>.
BTW, not everybody coddles their M4 - see this link to photos of Garry Winogrand's "near mint, a few slight signs of use" Leica on Stephen Gandy's Camera Quest site:
Also see this link to rock photographer Jim Marshall's beaten-to-death M4 (warning - the small photo of the camera is a whopping 510 KB):