*Firstly, a shout-out and appreciation to Ricky from Fotografiehaus for loaning the Leica M6 Titanium and 35mm Summicron to me for the review.
Speak the word Leica and more often than lot, people’s ears snap to attention and almost everyone will have an opinion on the brand ranging from : heritage, quality, expensive, photography, art, over-priced, pure, rangefinder, collectible, only manual focus? … and the list goes on.
After the sharing of the Yashica T4 point and shoot camera, today I am back to share my experience of the Leica M6 film camera, this time coupled with a much more modern lens, the 35mm Summicron V5, namely satisfying my curiosity of why the latter costs so many times more.
Leica built the M6 from 1984 onwards and there’s a huge range of variations, the one that I used is the M6 Titanium, a limited release of 6000 units. It sounds limited if one compares to the standard M6 but there are some strictly so limited that its not likely even ever seen outside, for example the Leica M6 50 Jahre fotoMAGAZIN with 1 piece ever produced.
So what’s different from using the Leica M6 and the Yashica T4?
In only 1 word that encompasses all:
I won’t go into the specs of the camera (a Google search will tell you more than I know), other than telling you that its a fully manual mechanical camera – from setting the shutter speed, aperture to the focusing and having to wind the camera every simple time before you take the next shot. The only thing you don’t change much is ISO which is supposed to align to the speed of the film you are shooting.
Holding it, one instantly feels a solidness in the quality, a camera you trust to handle the test of time and one that if taken care of properly, will be one that you can pass it down to the next generation , and of course that has always been a hallmark of the Leica M series (note: not all Leica series are built the same and the M series has always been their pride)
In case one wonders, obviously there is no LCD screen and one is able to set the ISO per roll at the back of the camera. Like a good Leica, controls are relentlessly pushed to the most simple of all that is necessary – leaving only 3 items at the top, the winder handle, frame number screen and yeap, dial for shutter speed which one uses in tandem with the aperture dial and focusing ring on the lens mounted.
Any review of a camera without sample shots to me is pretty lame, and of course I am very glad to share some shots from the M6, 35 Summicron setup. A quick note is all these were scanned directly from the films from the shop and have only been edited in terms of being cropped and straightened when necessary (obviously there’s no horizon line on the M6 lol)
The films used were:
Fujifilm Industrial 400 (fresh),
Fujifilm Superia 400 (expired) and
Kodak BW400CN (expired) and let’s start.
(this was shot through tinted glass)
There’s more samples to share of course, but I will probably leave it for another post as I plan to do a themed shot next.
Most notably, what blew me away was the significantly better image quality I was getting out of this setup. Its easily a league above the Yashica T4 and its again a reference to the importance of using excellent lenses. (optics).
Most might wonder, isn’t this rangefinder method of shooting going to slow one down? Its a very fair question of course, but remember here – I was shooting young toddlers, active ones who won’t bother posing for you or waiting for you to grab the shot and out of a close 90+ shots, I can say I had lesser than 3 shots lost due to misfocusing.
Once I got the hang of it, I was shooting faster than the Yashica T4, an auto-focus camera in comparison. No, the Leica M6 won’t ever match the DSLR level film cameras for speed and focusing accuracy, but that’s a different league altogether. But one buys a DSLR and a Leica M for very different reasons and uses.
and yes, I have decided to get one of this for myself too. Yes, it’s a camera design from 1984 and more than 30 years old, but one I know will last even beyond my generation.
Thank you for reading.