When I decided to plunge into film photography, the decision to stick to Canon was already made. Admittedly some thinking had been given, largely influenced by being inexperienced with rangefinder shooting and price. So I went on to pick up a handful of Canon film bodies together with way too many lenses.
That was done to find what focal length works for me on top of relying on a reliable autofocus system. More attention can be placed at what’s most important, making the photograph.
Big, bright viewfinder
Doesn’t require batteries
Maximum shutter speed
Leica M Mount
585 grams (Body)
195 grams (Lens)
From 3000 USD
Three years later, it seems that I've gone against what's been set out as this M6 has been added to the arsenal. No, I’m no Leica snob even though I’ve got a Q because that tells you how much I do not trust myself to focus with fingers. The Mamiya did help to get past the rangefinder/manual operation anxiety hence here I am.
The itch began when I considered diving into the M system but wasn’t sure to go digital with the M10-R or analogue, MP 0.72. After weeks of alternating between the two in silver, this M6 presented itself in pristine condition; moreover it is only 15 minutes away. The caveats were that the camera came with no box furthermore it must go with the Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 II.
Sure I prefer a Leica lens so after exchanging our concerns, he’d let both go for the price of one M6 TTL in mint condition so I caved in. And back to going digital or analogue? Problem solved.
Well, the M6 is a stranger to no one. Industrial design at its best. Fits like a glove. It doesn’t require a battery to function. Blah.. blah.. let’s not forget, loading film into one is a pain, there’s no auto shutter speed also matching patch on a viewfinder can be tricky. So, to keep letdowns to a minimum, TMax 400 was loaded.
More was pulled from the canister and looking through its viewfinder for the first time, patch matching concerns were gone. The spool caught on, the viewfinder is the biggest, brightest I’ve ever seen. The 135 mm frame line does help me in composition. If anything, the trickiest part of operation is shutter and aperture balance which is similar to the Yashica FX-3 Super 2000.
Onto the Voigtlander, the construction is all metal down to the aperture ring and it does feel good in the hands. Its dimension is really impressive for having a large aperture. Its profile is well paired to a vintage camera with minimal obstruction through the viewfinder until a hood is put on. Focus is accurate and smooth enough for an untrained shooter nevertheless I wish for the tab to be a tad larger for better grip.
The M6 is compact in size but one is not light despite some parts being made of magnesium alloy instead of brass. The shutter dial is annoying where you’d need to turn all the way to 1000 should you wish to fire at this speed and all the way back to turn it off. That aside, 1000th of a second is the fastest shutter speed which is slower than the Yashica SLR which can also be used without batteries.
The biggest downer would have to be cost of entry. M6s on this side of the world start from 3 thousand US dollars and more is required because they do not come with a lens. Be prepared to spend another for used Leica glass so for this sort of money, I can see why people would go for a Pentax 67 or a Mamiya 7 instead. Furthermore, the Leica M6 or any rangefinder camera is only as good as the photographer. If one is not used to this style of shooting, it is faster to paint pictures with another camera system. Certainly not something for the casual shooter.
The much hailed shooting experience of a Leica M6 lives up to expectation. Regardless of what pictures are being created, the combination of turning of knobs, shutter sound and cogging the advance lever is one of a kind. I guess history is just going to repeat itself. It is once again time to move the older stuff to bring in Leica glass and possibly another body at the right price because it is always good to have a spare.
How much these things cost will automatically make someone handle one with care like keeping it away from rivets on the jeans. That aside, it is commonly known that anything with a red on the camera is worth something so going to shoddy areas with a Leica M6 isn’t a good idea. So ‘investing’ into something this pricey and not being able to use it everywhere does make the whole equation daft. Watch prices have skyrocketed thus an M6 could very well be the next best thing to turn to.
Shot on Leica M6 TTL paired to a Voigtlander Nokton Classic 35mm f/1.4 II MC