Since the re-introduction of the new Leica M6, Leica has now no less than three film cameras to offer, that can be bought brand new. This may cause some choice overload when wanting to purchase a new Leica film camera.
In this article I will explain the differences between these cameras as well as the audience they intend to serve.
First of all, let’s discuss the main characteristics of each Leica film camera. This will also immediately highlight the differences between these cameras.
|Leica MP||Leica M6||Leica M-A|
|Framelines||28/90, 35/135, 50/75||28/90, 35/135, 50/75||28/90, 35/135, 50/75|
|Rewind||pull-out rewind knob||telescopic rewind knob||pull-out rewind knob|
|Leica Logo||No||Yes, with ‘Leitz’||No|
|Body||Brass top and base plate||Brass top and base plate||Brass top and base plate|
|Available colours||silver chrome and black paint||black paint||silver chrome and black chrome|
1 Alternative viewfinder magnifications of 0.85x and 0.58x are available as part of the Leica a la carte range
As you can see, there is not a lot of differences between these cameras. Especially with the Leica M6 and MP the differences are minor: same framelines, availability of a light meter, same viewfinder magnification and both offer brass top and base plates. The only difference is the rewind knob: the MP features a traditional knob found on the Leica M3, while the M6 features a knob that was first introduced on the Leica M4. Furthermore, the Leica M6 only comes in black and has a red dot with ‘Leitz’ on it. The MP and the M-A do not have a Leica logo.
Which Leica film camera to choose?
In conclusion, when you have decided you want a new film camera with a light meter, you can choose from the M6 or the MP. If you have set your mind to purchasing a chrome version, the Leica MP is your only choice. When you go a for black finish, then the rewind mechanism and the use of the Leitz logo may be the decisive factor.
On the other hand, if you want to go for the pure mechanical experience, then the Leica M-A is your only choice if you want to buy a brand new camera. Obviously, there is plenty of choice when you want to buy second hand. The M-A will always work as there is no electronics in this camera. When the battery in the MP or the M6 runs out, you are more or less left with the Leica M-A. The camera will still work, but no light meter. The M-A gives you that experience out of the box.
Choosing a Leica film camera
Finally, I’d say when you are coming from say a Leica M3 or M4 and used to shooting without a light meter, the M-A can be your preference for an upgrade: a brand new camera, but with the same shooting experience.
On the other hand, If you are looking to buy your first film camera and come from a digital experience, then the Leica MP or the Leica M6 should be a good choice for you. The choice is then whether you want to buy into the tradition of the Leica M6 or go for the Leica MP. The latter offers more colours as well as some customisation possibilities regarding the viewfinder magnification, but that is more or less it.
Choosing between the Leica MP and the Leica M6 is really about wanting to step into the experience of the Leica M6 tradition or not. A film camera that was introduced in 1984 and was produced by Leica until 2022 really is a great tradition to buy into. You’ll have to be patient when buying this camera, as there is a waiting list. Of course, you could buy a second hand M6, which will no doubt will see rising prices. The new Leica M6 uses some new coatings as well in the viewfinder against flare, so take this into account when making that decision.
Anyhow, it is commendable and impressive that Leica has re-introduced this legendary camera, including all the support and spare parts that come which this release.