Leica MP Rangefinder ‘review’ – film camera ultimate

A question that precedes this article was: How shall I write about a camera that Leica themselves refer to as the “Ultimate Tool” and ‘Mechanically Perfect’? Are these words an unbiased reviewer should even be using in our world of endless film camera options?

*for reasons I am banging my head against the table now, I used an expired in 2020 Portra 400 for my first roll on advice from a friend that the 1st roll usually sucks. Hence please be kind to the results from this 3-year-old expired film. 


If you are keen to own a rangefinder film camera and yearn for the ‘one’ that you hope to use for decades and to simply focus on this one sole camera, there is nothing close to the Leica MP choice-wise. One can always consider the Leica M-A Typ 127 if one is purist enough, or the 2022 M6 re-issue, and of course the older M3, M4, M5, M6 Classic etc but the MP will still simply be at the apex.

Kodak Portra 400 (expired 2020) on MP

In the end, I decided for the simple reason that I am hardly a seasoned film photographer, I should not be thick-skinned and attempt a review of the Leica MP but instead simply give a cozy heart-to-heart chat on how my experience of the Leica MP goes. 

Kodak Portra 400 (expired 2020) on MP

The Leica MP is expensive, period.
Instead the question to ask should probably be, “Is it worth the price tag?” 

The slippery slope towards the Leica MP. 

In 2018, I bought a Leica M6 Titanium from a friend that I used with a 35 Summicron. I absolutely adored its mechanical performance. It was my sole film camera until I sold it when the dreaded (but inevitably will to any M6 Classic) zinc bubbling issue started appearing. 

the “ex”, a beautiful M6 Classic in Titanium finish

After that, I tried a few options and settled for the Nikon 35Ti, a beautifully crafted full automatic camera that I still use today. Note this was way before our current hyper-inflated prices of 2022-2023. For example, I bought my spare Nikon 35Ti set (close to mint) for SGD450 (USD340), sold it to a close friend for SGD450, and now they easily go for SGD1300 (USD980) upwards for a mint copy. 

Then 2022 brought Leica’s M6 (re-issue), and I guess the rangefinder film camera bug bit again. I was deciding between the M6 (Classic) or not, but a friend’s advice was: 

  • Why spend close to SGD4000 (USD3000) for an easily 30+ years old camera which may not be fully repairable and may have been knocked or damaged in ways unknown to me. 
  • Buying once buying right actually saves one money. 
  • I already own a 35 Summicron and 50 Summilux; getting a film M camera means I can extend the use of these glasses I have already paid for. 

And that was how I ended up purchasing the Leica MP in Black Paint from John of Drew & Barry. I will 100% recommend them to anyone keen to purchase Leica equipment with a full legitimate warranty at a good discount off SRP. (Pls don’t buy parallel import sets if you are already splurging so much on a Leica, I have friends who learnt this lesson the expensive way)

MP with the M10-R at the side

I would have considered buying the Leica MP from the Leica boutique, but the person I would have bought from left, and I did not have much idea who to look for next. 

Kodak Portra 400 (expired 2020) on MP
Kodak Portra 400 (expired 2020) on MP

The Leica MP camera. 

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t taken in by the beauty of the MP in black paint. Like the digital M series, the MP has been relentlessly pared down to the basics of photography, yet with an overwhelming sense of how Leica has over-engineered Leica the MP to ensure that it fits the honor of being the most expensive film camera you can buy from Leica (with a 3 to 6 months long wait time to boot) 

The MP comes with a 0.72x viewfinder, perfect for primarily 35mm users. There is little, and if fact nothing for me to complain about how bright the frame lines are and how clear the viewfinder is.

Taking cues from the M2 and M3, we have the traditionally rotating shutter speed dial, the full metal frame line preview lever, the shutter advance, and the rewind knob in a beautiful black paint finish. Later versions come with plastic alternatives, which I never liked. The build is top-notch, and upon handling it, you know every single corner and component of it was obsessed over, and the MP is a sum of parts built to perform like a well-engineered Rolls Royce, where the cumulation of looks, feel, and performance is not seen as compromises to each other.

The Leica MP retains the later quick-load pronged take-up spool introduced in the M4. Not a big deal to some, but it does make my life easier. Rewinding the film is a simple affair.

If I were to be a ‘karen‘, I can question why Leica did not make the ISO dial and battery cover in metal instead of plastic, but then, Leica being Leica, would probably never bother to answer. 

*I understand the M6 (2022) should be an MP in its internal guts and slightly cheaper, but I always had a soft spot for the ‘P’ versions, and I see the MP as an M6-P version in a sense. 

The light meter

One of the reasons people consider the M5, M6, M7, and MP is the inclusion of the light meter. The MP has a 3 LED light meter which works very to the point and is easy to understand. 

Left (right-pointing arrow) LED-lit – underexposed
Left LED lit and center LED lit – 1/2 ev under
Centre LED lit – correct exposure
Right (left pointing arrow) LED lit and center LED lit – 1/2 ev over
Right LED lit – overexposed

(light meter description above from Hamish Gill’s 2018 review here)

Kodak Portra 400 (expired 2020) on MP
Kodak Portra 400 (expired 2020) on MP

I considered the Leica M-A, but I thought that if I was spending so much, it should at least be a practical purchase. I am hardly a purist and likely terrible at the Sunny 16 rule, so buying an M-A to only spend extra on an external light meter later doesn’t seem like a very brilliant move to me. 

Also, the MP can be seen as the mechanical alternative to the Leica M7, which is quite different in that the M7 sports an electronic shutter with an aperture priority metering system and is discontinued by Leica in 2018. 

Using the Leica MP

Obviously, the MP works the way it should, but it is an SGD7530 (USD5668) camera, and Leica makes sure you know that. 

The feel of the full metal shutter advance is butter smooth when you wind it; in fact, effortlessly smoother yet more confident than the M6 Classic I had. I will even say that it feels even better than the M-A. You feel that every single set was probably hand-tested to the same standard, and the deviation between sets is extremely small. 

And after that, you look through the 0.72x finder, where the interplay of the LEDs and bright lines helps one compose, and when you click the shutter button, there is this sense of satisfaction at how subtle yet firm click the shutter button goes. It is far from the ‘slaps’ the Sony A7 series gave, but instead gently lets you know, ‘it is done‘. 

You repeat the same process for another shot, and some will argue why not simply use an automatic camera. Well, just like how some people drive an automatic car for convenience, but some enjoy driving a manual car, or how some appreciate a mechanical watch over a quartz watch; it is simply a matter of how one likes the process of one’s photography to be. There is no right nor wrong; let us not be judgemental.

I like the automation of my Nikon 35Ti and the Zeiss optics on it, but comparing these two cameras do not make much sense because they are just so different.

But do note, if the electronics die, that is the end of the Nikon 35Ti too.

The Black Paint. 

A friend asked me why I settled for the black paint version when the chrome-silver version of the MP would have a more durable finish, especially given how easily the black paint would be diminished with use. 

How I hope my MP will look one day. Pictured Leica M4 from Drew & Barry’s IG account:

My best attempt at an answer would be I wanted the brassing to show as evidence of my time with the MP, an illogical answer yet perfectly acceptable to the romantics inside us and I guess, representatively of why one would pay the obscene amount of cash for the Leica MP when one can say, buy a Fujifilm Simple ACE disposable camera for 1/251 (0.00398x) of the MP’s price.  

Kodak Portra 400 (expired 2020) on MP
Kodak Portra 400 (expired 2020) on MP


Sure, there are many options. Like the Olympus OM1, GR1 IV, Yashica T4, Nikon 35 Ti, Contax series, Hexar RF, Zeiss Ikon ZM that I have shot with. These are great cameras in their own way, but in the rangefinder film world, nothing will ever come close to the Leica MP. People buy Leica for many reasons, but I would for the simple fact of the level of craftsmanship their cameras afford. 

Kodak Portra 400 (expired 2020) on MP

Moreover, the quality of Leica M optics is undisputed, and using an M film camera provides access to these in your image creation. Call me a snob, but I have always felt saddened at using film cameras with poorly made lens elements. 

In all, given a choice again, I will still go for the Leica MP. It is not just the camera but the sum of the rangefinder experience, optics, the quality of the build that comes together, giving credence to the Leica MP as a purchase amongst the many other film cameras.

However, the one issue I probably be ruminating over is how expensive (and more expensive) photographing with film will be going forward. And yes, if you are curious, I am still keeping my Nikon 35Ti.

Thank you for reading.


  1. All product photos and samples here were photographed by me. I believe any reviewer with pride should produce their own product photos.
  2. The film used was Kodak Portra ISO400, which expired in 2020.
  3. All images were shot with the Leica MP and the 35 Summicron ASPH, both my personal copies.
  4. This review is not sponsored. I do this as a passion and in my free time, and am keen to avoid the cookie-cutter copied pasted from company official statements style of many other review sites.
  5. The best way to support me is to share the review, or you can always help support me by contributing to my fees to WordPress for the domain using the Paypal button at the bottom of the page.

9 Replies to “Leica MP Rangefinder ‘review’ – film camera ultimate”

  1. Nice review. May I have more information on the hood for the 35 Summicron you have?


    1. Hi Kein, no problem. That’s a 12504 in chrome that came with the 35 Summicron in the M-P240 Safari set. This is also the same hood for the 35 Summilux pre-ASPH. Hope this helps.


  2. Greeting Keith. I hardly know whether to congratulate you on your newest acquisition or ask you what possessed you to pull the trigger for a film camera in this a day and age ha ha ha. If I did the latter that would be hypocrisy emerging as I confess to being a an owner of several Leica film cameras with even a new addition on the way. With the exception of my M3, my other Leica film camera was bought new from a Leica store. Your possibly philistine and ignorant friend who advised you to use expired film should be made to walk the plank ! The thing with film photography is that it depends upon the quality of the film stock, lenses used and if exposures are done appropriately neither straying into obvious under exposure or mild over exposure. Leica rangefinders are not very accurate when it comes to their maximum speeds of 1/1000 however anything below that is mechanically reliable.
    I recall unboxing my new Leica some time ago, it was an incomparable experience. They certainly pull out all stops in the packaging and they also included a roll of Tri X 400 in the box. My first roll was FP4+ B&W film and subsequently I have possibly run upwards of 3-400 rolls of black and white film in it with nary a problem. I would advise you to self develop B&W film if you wish for the best results. Possibly a compensating developer. Or just use Ilford DDX which is single use. It will give you very fine grained negatives with a little loss of detail. But the resulting Acutance is still miles above what you get by sending the negatives to the labs. 6 months after acquiring my Leica I received several honorable mentions internationally concerning my B&W work. I realised it wasn’t because I was using a Leica. Rather it was due to working with a camera which set restrictions upon me. A camera without the usual bells and whistles requiring one to meter and focus manually and function in a deliberate and intentional manner towards making a picture.
    I’m sure you have possibly acquired “fresh film” by now to make up for your use of exposures film. The cool kids would over expose Portra by a stop or two. But I’d say, let the light and your instinct decide. There is much to look forward to in the future if you decided to make this camera your companion. It might even be a friend to your kids in the future. So keep it safe. And it will capture life for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ah ha, I am still processing what possessed me to pull the trigger on the MP too. An interesting point you shared was “a new addition on the way” and I look forward to that. 300-400 hundred rolls is definitely what I hope to achieve one day with the MP and there is loads for me to learn regarding using film. Thank you for sharing your experience and yeap, fresh film has already been loaded.


  3. You have made me fall in love with this camera, Keith. Love the style you write in, and always looking forward to your articles.

    Liked by 1 person

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