Review Leica M6 the King of 135mm
“Shooting with a Leica is like a long tender kiss, like firing an automatic pistol, like an hour on the analyst’s couch.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson
Why does it need to be a Leica? This is the first question that I asked myself when I first joined the world of photography many years ago. I started to take photos around 8 year ago. I have used a digital Nikon camera D750 for many years. It’s great, it’s getting a job done, it’s making me a lot of money back then and I never have a problem with it. I think we are a great couple. Until 2 year ago I started getting into the world of film photography when I first started. I still resist to use a leica or buy one (anyway it’s too expensive for me) at that time.
But after I have been shooting film for a couple months I have a chance to use it for a few months. Then I decided to buy one for my own.
So let’s talk about the history of Leica. Leica is a German company that manufactures cameras, lenses, binoculars, rifle scopes, microscopes and ophthalmic lenses.The company was founded by Ernst Leitz in 1869 (Ernst Leitz Wetzlar), in Wetzlar, Germany. At that time the camera still was big, difficult to use and hard to carry around. The first 35 mm film Leica prototypes were built by Oskar Barnack at Ernst Leitz Optische Werke, Wetzlar, in 1913. Intended as a compact camera for landscape photography, particularly during mountain hikes, the Leica was the first practical 35 mm camera that used standard cinema. 35 mm film. The Leica transports the film horizontally, extending the frame size to 24 × 36mm with a 2: 3 aspect ratio, instead of the 18 × 24 mm of cinema cameras, which transport the film vertically. And this camera is developing into the Leica M system which is the best rangefinder film camera in the world. Not just only M system but Leica also do the Slr camera line that they call the R system is a basic rangefinder camera transform to the Single lens reflex camera that was popular at that time.
Not only created just a film camera but Leica produces the enlarger for printing pictures from negative, digital camera, polaroid camera, Lens, optical for a rifle, binoculars, microscope, case camera and strap along with other accessories. Nowadays Leica are collaborating with a lot of companies to produce the special camera for sale such as Leica M6 King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand Golden Jubilee Edition, Leica Hermes, Leica India edition, Leica Thailand edition, Leica M6 Sultan of Negeri Brunei Darussalam Silver jubilee GOLD.
Leica is involved and has been a part of the world of photography for a very long time. A lot of famous photographer such as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Thomas Hoepker, Alberto Korda, Dennis Stock, and Marc Riboud are using leica to taking a iconic photo such as Death of a Loyalist Soldier, Gandhi’s body at Birla House, the day after his assassination, Le Peintre de la Tour Eiffel, James Dean on Times Square, Che Guevara, Muhammad Ali and a lot of more historical photo untill today.
In the past the leica was the professional camera for the photographer but nowadays leica is an accessory for rich and celebrity people. Now we can see a lot of celebrity using it such as John Mayer, David Brown, Chirstian bale, Seal, and Johnny Depp.
The first time that I use a leica camera I feel the difference between my previous camera and the Leica M6. The build quality is magnificent, the mechanicals are perfect, the shape of the camera is well designed, easy to grip, access and control. The shutter is soft and firm at the same time it’s bone to be a camera for a professional. I know this might sound crazy but when you use this it kinda gives you more confidence when you are shooting a photo and it encourages you to go out and shoot more often.
The Birth of M6
Why does it need to be Leica M6? Why not buy the Leica mp or m3 or the other model? Well the answer of this question for me is The Leica m6 is the perfect match for me. Well the leica m6 have the two versions of it and it is the first model in Leica camera that have a built in Light meter. So the first one we call the Leica m6 Classic that was introduced in 1984 it’s come with two colors which is black and silver. It’s a basic 35mm rangefinder camera that have three viewfinder are 0.58 ( for 28-90, 35, 50–75), 0.72(28-90, 35-135, 50–75), and 0.85(35-135, 50–75, 90) to choose from depend on lens that you want to use with it. The shutter speed of Leica m6 is from Bulb mode to 1/1000 second. and it also comes with a light meter to check your exposure before taking the photo that makes your life easier more than the M3, M2 or M4. After Leica success from the Leica m6 classic in 1998 Leica released the second model of Leica m6 which is Leica m6 ttl so the difference between two cameras is the TTL version is tinker and the can sync flash with TTL system. Apart from that everything’s the same not thing fancy.
The good The bad and The ugly
The leica m6 is the camera that will give only two answers to the people. Love it or Hate it because it kinda expensive (the price are around 2000 usd for use condition 3000 for mint condition and the can go up to almost 6000 usd for special edition such as black paint or M6J that only sell in the japan) and it’s notting fancy compare to the other camera in the market back then. It’s a manual film camera with no auto exposure, no auto loading, no advance and rewind, so most people who never use leica will think that leica is kinda stingy because they think with this price they should get a new technology that helps them take a photo easier when comparing to the Contax G2 which is have auto loading, focus, advance and rewind in the same price. But Leica has a reason to make the M6 to be a pure mechanical camera because this camera will last forever, System of the leica m6 are pure mechanical they no need to use a battery to fire a shutter, no electrical part (apart from the light meter) so this mean you don’t need to worry about camera broke because of electrical part which is the reason of most of camera are broke. Another reason that Leica is not giving you a fancy feature to this camera is because they want you to concentain to the photography, to select the scene, choose the subject, adjust the speed, change the F stop and finally step your press the shutter button to freeze that moment forever.
To dream an impossible dream
After I deal with the finance thing so I have a chance to get my dream camera which is Leica m6 and the 35mm Summicron Version 4 aka King of Broke, to be my primary camera. So here is my setup M6 with 35KOB along with my favourite film Kodak Portra and Tri-x 400. Here are some photo from my trusty M6
Leica m6 with Kodak ektar 100
I prefer my own camera so do you.
After I have my own Leica I have never used another camera since then. ( Well I mean for the 35mm not for the media format camera lol) I have a lot of cameras but the Leica M6 with 35mm Summicron Version 4 aka King of Broke is my go to camera for every situation. I know the leica will give me a picture that I can work with, I can trust this camera that it will work every time and everywhere I need no matter how cold the weather is in the NYC winter or the heat in the Arizona desert in summer time, You don’t need to worry that the camera will broke I can trust it and leaving’ my life with leica, or you need to do it’s just go out chose the film load into the camera and enjoy with it. Another reason is the leica is a small and quiet camera the people your taking photo they will never know that you’re already took their photo and it kinda be friendly to the people that you will taking photo among the street. Not to mention this will give me a good feeling when pressing the shutter button. It’s kinda like driving a sports car in the street.
Before we go
As my love was film photography so about 2 year ago I decided to open a Film lab. So if you are a film photographer and want to develop your film you can send it to us, our shop is located at Warehouse 26, Sukhumvit 26, Bangkok, Thailand. We are a small community if you are interesting in the film photography feel free to talk to us.