Why I think the M6 is the best Leica rangefinder


by Bellamy /

6 min read

Why I think the M6 is the best Leica rangefinder
I have been through a lot of cameras in my time, and I have owned a few different Leica bodies. I have also got the enviable position of being able to try out more cameras than you can shake a stick at, and I have come to a conclusion that may put a few noses out of joint.

I think that the Leica M6 is the best M-series analogue rangefinder camera that Leica ever made! Now that I have your attention let me explain myself.

Leica has made some great cameras and I have had the great pleasure to be able to have used almost all of them (still not got my hands on an 0 or an Elmax). While the M3 is a stunning piece of engineering and design, there are things about the camera that stop me from owning one. Mainly the lack of 35mm framelines, that is a biggie for me as I shoot pretty much exclusively in 35mm.
Then what about the M2 I hear you ask, that has 35mm framelines. Well, yes it does, but it also has the original vertical film rewind, which is too fiddly for me, I want to wind my film fast and get things done. OK then, the M4 is the camera that you are looking for, it has the angled winders, the framelines, the bright viewfinder and quick loading. Unfortunately, no, it is not. Whilst the M4 is a beautiful camera, which ticks many of the right boxes, it is missing something that I want, something major.
I want a meter in my camera.
There, I said it. I want a meter in my Leica, not on my Leica but in my Leica. So, for purists I am a heathen or something. But no, I feel that the true evolution of Leica design was to have a meter in the camera and I think that the M6 is the camera that has done this perfectly.

So why do I like the M6 so much? What about the MP? The M7? They have meters in them.
Basically for me the M6 is the ultimate user experience in a Leica camera when you really want to get the most out of your camera. Don’t get me wrong, I would love to have an MP, but at the same time I don’t want a camera that I would have to cradle, as they do tend to be rather fragile beasts. The MP is made to such high standards that it doesn’t take much to put it off kilter. If you have the money then this is not really a problem, but many of us don’t have the money. And for the price of one clean MP, I can have 2 stunning M6’s. I could even have a black paint TTL and have change, a lot of change. This is a big thing for me. If I am out shooting on the street, I would like to be able to have 2 bodies with me. 2 bodies means 2 different focal lengths and more shots. Buying 2 MP’s would require that I sell some of my organs, which I am rather attached to.

Shooting with a Leica camera is expensive enough, it doesn’t need to be overly expensive. I handle a lot of really amazing Leica cameras, special editions and whatnot, and it makes me feel a little bit down sometimes as I know that some of them will never be used. They will sit in a box, in a safe or on a shelf and never have a roll through them in case it lowers the value. This is such a shame, it is a camera and it yearns to be used. The M6 is not immune to this either, in fact the M6 has had more silly special editions than all of the M cameras, and some of them are downright daft.
But a regular run of the mill M6 is not all that expensive and it will last you a very long time indeed. A sound investment I think.

The M7…well, I am not a big fan of that particular camera. It is not really much of anything in my opinion. It was meant to be the next step, the evolution but it came at a difficult time. Digital cameras were finally starting to be taken seriously and I think that Leica had reached the peak with the M6, what else could you add? I think Aperture priority has no place on a Leica M camera, it makes things too easy. A Leica is meant to be something that you learn to use, something that you have to develop a relationship with. The M7 is also full to the brim with electronic whatnots and thingummys, which is all the more to break down. This brings me on to my next reason why I love the M6.

The M6 is a mechanical camera, that happens to have a meter. One of the very few. If the camera runs out of batteries you can still use it, you just cannot use the meter. The MP is the same in this respect, but again it is the price issue that trumps it.
I love the fact that my M6 will power through roll after roll of film and I don’t have to worry about a battery running out, as if it does I can get 2 LR44 cells pretty much in any convenience store or electrics shop.
The M6 is also tough, very tough. The zinc alloy top plate is tougher than the original brass plates of old (although it doesn’t get the beautiful brassing over time). I have found my camera to be something that I don’t have to be concerned about in the rain, or any adverse conditions. It just keeps on going. You can really work one of these cameras, knowing that the worst is going to happen is that you will need to have it serviced after a few years.

There are other things I like about my M6 too. The viewfinder is clean and uncluttered. The shutter is very very quiet, so I can shoot just about anywhere. Loading is fast, and rewinding is very fast. The camera is very well balanced. There is one thing that I hate when walking with a camera and that is when the camera is poorly balanced so that it tips over or rolls to the heavens. When I have my Summicron on the M6 it is perfect.
The build quality is excellent, despite the purists saying that Leica’s were never the same after the M3. True, that camera was almost over-engineered, there is no way that could be replicated. Some people say that the Solms M6’s are better than the Wetzlar M6’s, but there is very little in it that most people would notice.
I would love to give you some flaws, some cons, but I honestly cannot think of any. I have been using my M6 for a year and a half and it just keeps on getting better. It has become and extension of my hand and I know the camera intimately. I think that this is the sign of a perfect camera, when you know it so well that you could use it in your sleep.

So that is why I think that the M6 is the best film rangefinder that Leica made. It is not overly expensive, it is tough, it is extremely well made, and it has everything that you could possibly need in a rangefinder camera.
The other M series cameras are all brilliant cameras in their own right (I have a soft spot for the M4-P) and I am not saying they are no good, but they don’t have everything that I need from a rangefinder. If only they put a meter in the M4 then I would say that the M4 would probably be the same. But they didn’t.

I am sure that there are plenty of people that disagree with me or may think that I have lost my marbles, and I would love to hear your opinion on this. What do you all think? Please comment and tell us what you think. What is your favourite M camera and why?

If you are looking for an M6 then I can help you to find one, and then you can be as happy as I am with mine. Please mail me by clicking here.
Want to know a little bit more about Leica cameras? Then you should click here.

74 comments on “Why I think the M6 is the best Leica rangefinder”

    Jeremy Choo September 5, 2012 at 11:33 am / Reply

    Great article about the M6! I have 1 and have been exclusively using it for the past 1 and a half years with a 50mm DR cron attached. Its a beautiful and robust camera (I usually wrap it in a cloth (or a worn out t-shirt) and stuff it in my backpack when I don’t feel like lugging my camera out into the streets. It holds up to all the punishment I hurl at it and it still never fails to deliver =]

    Only problems I have with it is the occasional viewfinder flare in rare situations, which is unfortunate. I am not sure this problem is present in other M’s as I haven’t handled any other M before. But it has made me sometimes miss the occasional shots which is rather frustrating. Besides this small quirk, this camera is primed to be my companion for many many years to come =)

    Colin Corneau September 5, 2012 at 11:42 am / Reply

    I pretty much agree with all of this article. I’m an M6 owner, it was actually my first Leica and I love it – like you, it also has grown to be a sort of extension of my hand and eyes.

    I haven’t used its meter for a few years now, although along with one’s own intuition and experience it does just fine.

    I’d be curious to see a real-world shooting comparison between the M6 and, say, a Hexar RF or Zeiss Ikon.
    Hey who knows, a comparison of this type could even evolve into a regular feature here (you’re welcome)

      richard August 25, 2013 at 7:42 am /

      after the m4 they used cheaper materials for the condenser, that is the reason for the blinding light from the side. i had a classic m6 and this happened every time i shot w/the sun at my side. i am trading for a ttl m6, and hope this isn’t so frequent. that is the only problem i had w/the m.

    Cody September 5, 2012 at 11:54 am / Reply


    I came into Leica with the M9 and immediately loved the rangefinder system. Nothing compares.

    I grabbed a M6 ttl and it is my most used camera now. This camera has soul.

    Jeff Lewis September 5, 2012 at 12:01 pm / Reply

    I agree 100%. I have an M4 and carrying a handheld meter is a pain.

    Chris September 5, 2012 at 12:15 pm / Reply

    Jeremy – if the flaring bothers you enough you could upgrade the viewfinder to an mp finder.

    ZDP-189 September 5, 2012 at 3:14 pm / Reply

    “I want a meter in my camera.” LOL, you remember that day in Kowloon Park? I need a meter. In fact, I now need a meter so much that I prefer aperture priority. That means an M7 or ZM.

    The build quality of M3/M2/M4 was never equalled. The M3 is an absoute classic, the M2 has the framelines and simplicity and the M4 is supremely practical.

    Even the tinny (tin can-like) little CL and CLE have their place.

    I think everyone’s idea of the best camera will vary with their needs and personality.

    Although I must say I was impressed with the smoothness of the advance lever on your M6, but maybe that’s partly down to the quality of the CLA

    Greg Williamson September 5, 2012 at 3:36 pm / Reply

    Nice article. Any thoughts on the M5? Its absence from your comparisons is glaring.

      Bellamy September 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm /

      There are other articles on the site about the M5. I am not a big fan of the camera. It is interesting, but there are just too many issues with the camera that I cannot deal with. The balance issue being the main one for me.

    Wayne September 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm / Reply

    I agree that M6 is the best. But i still love my M4-P, because it’s my first M and i know light meter is not going to be a problem if my leica were spoil (because there is not meter). So i’m using VC meter II.

    Nonetheless, i don’t mind to have a M6 too. ;)

    Nick Hensman September 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm / Reply

    First I have to say Great Article.

    I recently started shooting with an M6 after lots of research, I find the light meter is very accurate but always evaluate with an off camera meter.

    I upgraded from a Voigtlander Bessa R4a which in comparison feels like a toy camera.

    I plan to have my M6 CLA next year and may ask to have the viewfinder upgraded if this is possible.

    Mike September 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm / Reply

    You wrote “I think Aperture priority has no place on a Leica M camera, it makes things too easy. A Leica is meant to be something that you learn to use, something that you have to develop a relationship with.”

    Interesting. One could, I suspect, say precisely the same thing about a light meter in a Leica…

    I’ll grant you the point if you’re shooting chromes, but if you’re shooting colour negative film, then the dynamic range is so large that one only has to be in the ballpark to get a reasonable exposure. Just err on the side of over-exposure (Portra 400, for instance, is just fine at as much as a stop or more over box speed). And if you’re shooting B&W negative film, then you have even more latitude.

    Calum September 5, 2012 at 7:11 pm / Reply

    I was lucky enough to have been lent a Leica black M6 for an entire semester. And it impressed me so much. Hopefully an m6 will be my first Leica.

    Louis Woolf September 5, 2012 at 9:27 pm / Reply

    Hi Bellamy, Hope you are well. Any word on those plastic film boxes yet.
    More importantly, How much can I expect to pay for a MINT black M6 with box and papers that does NOT need to go back to Leica. Virtually new. Let me know

    Jeff Wieser September 5, 2012 at 10:53 pm / Reply

    We want film holders!

    Great article. I shoot an M3 with a 50mm Elmar-M and I must admit sometimes I wish my camera had a light meter. However, I do not miss the flashing red lights in the viewfinder. I never realized how obnoxious they were until I got the meter less M3.

    Your next article should be about the best LEICA M lens. I have a love for the collapsibles due to their portability, however they lose a stop.

    Dacnard September 6, 2012 at 1:36 am / Reply

    Cool article. I have to say that even though the best Leica is the one with you, the M6 is also my weapon of choice.
    Certainly the M6 flares, I had it upgraded with anti flare optics (though not by Leica) and now it is excellent. I like it very much to have a built in metter, it is important to keep it mind that this is only for reference purposes, after taking the reading you have to change your exposition to meet the image you have in mind.

    If anyone is interested in more M6 reading, I wrote a post on my blog about it a while ago



    Bob Rogen September 6, 2012 at 2:39 am / Reply


    I agree with you, on all of your points, 100%. I have felt the same ever since I got my first M6 in early 1989. It is the perfect use-it-everyday Leica. And I am definitely “coming clean” here by saying that, because I also own six other Leica M cameras besides my two M6 cameras. So sometimes it is hard for me to justify all of the other Leica M cameras, as well as the collection Nikon and Canon and LTM cameras. There: I said it. My “problem” is that I love each one of those cameras when I hold them, use them, exercise them. But it is the two M6 combination (0.72 and 0.58 cameras) that go out the door with me most, whether around the block or around the world. Maybe it’s time to clean house….. (By the way, you do have an MP right? That rare gray titanium MP???). Be well, Bob

    Jon September 6, 2012 at 1:57 pm / Reply

    It’s quite the M6 love fest for the M6 here, but allow me to be a contrarian :D

    I’ve owned and shot with two M6TTL’s but never grew attached to them. Great cameras for sure, but despite knowing full well that I didn’t need to be precise with exposure when shooting colour negative or B&W film I always fell into this “chase the meter diodes” mode when shooting with them. By that, I mean I was always fiddling with the shutter dial or aperture ring at every small change in the exposure value to get the middle diode to light up for the correct exposure. That got old very quickly.

    So call me lazy or a non-purist, but I have decided that if a camera has a built-in meter it may as bloody well have aperture priority auto as well. And lets be honest, aperture priority auto is just plain convenient, and makes for a much faster shooting experience. Which translates to fewer missed decisive moments. Isn’t that what its all about?

    So which is my choice of aperture priority auto M-mount camera? I tried a Hexar RF, and it was a great camera with an amazing feature set, but I wasn’t fond of the low magnification finder and hefty weight. I still have and am still trying to learn to love a Leica M7 (onto my second sample), though for various reasons that’s not going so well. So my main shooters now are a pair of Zeiss Ikons. They’re not perfect cameras (I’d love to be able to combine the good bits of the M7 with the good bits of the Zeiss Ikon) but they’re perfect in all the areas that matter to me, like the gorgeous clear finder for example. Long live aperture priority auto cameras!!! Just be sure to carry a spare set of batteries.

      Ruhayat February 12, 2013 at 1:03 am /

      I agree with you, Jon. My first Leica was an M6TTL, which I shot with for 2 years. I loved the thing but the blinking red lights always brought out the OCD in me and I just HAD to get the dot right. That slowed down my shooting quite a bit. I then got a meterless M4-P which made shooting faster cos I didn’t bother with nailing perfect exposure everytime, but for colour I wished I had a meter since I tended to underexpose.

      It wasn’t until I got an M7 that a built-in meter finally made sense to me. Now I can get perfect colour exposures – especially because the M7’s electronic shutter has in-between ranges when you use AE – without having to slow down my shooting. But just to be safe I have an MD-a as backup and for B&W. Yep, one should always carry at least 2 M cameras: one for colour the other for B&W, and one for wide angle and the other for normal focal lengths. :)

    Anais September 7, 2012 at 12:43 am / Reply

    Well said sir. Most eloquent. However, there is one matter you need to shed some light on: M6 classic or the TTL?

    Keep up the GREAT work!

    John Berner September 7, 2012 at 2:00 am / Reply

    For the most part I agree, those are all the reasons I picked one up. Like I said on FB though, its still not quite perfect for me. I’d love a larger VF like on my old Bessa R, preferably with a bit more space around the 28mm framelines as well. And ergonomically its a little funky. The thumb grip on the back of the Bessas is a huge deal for those of us that hold our camera in our hand while we walk around and shoot. If you ever run into a franken Leica that fits that bill though, let me know. I WILL buy it.

    Daniel September 7, 2012 at 8:00 am / Reply

    Hi , I have also a M6 TTL 0.85 bought just few weeks ago and share your comments about it . I have a question : what is the reference of the rectangular hood mounted on the summilux 35mm/F1.4 shown on the first article picture ?? thks

    Nate September 7, 2012 at 11:58 am / Reply

    Totally agree.

    How tough are M6’s? Here’s a story about what happened to my first M6, on a very wet Bangkok day.


    Summary – they’re freakin’ tough.

    Louis September 8, 2012 at 7:28 am / Reply

    I just inherited a m2 and i have to say that the m6 compared to that just feels like garbage in my hands, light, hollow…and for me the feel of a camera has a big influence on hom much i use it and how much i enjoy using it.

    The MP takes the biscuit for me, its perfect.

    Dez September 9, 2012 at 3:42 am / Reply

    I agree with you on most points, I have an M6 myself. My main complaints with the M6 (and most older M’s) is the pathetically slow maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 of a sec, and the horrible rangefinder flare that can occur if the camera is pointed anywhere near a strong light source.

    Dominic September 12, 2012 at 10:42 am / Reply

    Great article Bellamy I completely agree with you.

    I’ve had my Leica M6 for around 5 months now and absolutely love it. I’ve pretty much forgotten about digital and have stuck with film.

    Yes the M6 may not be as heavy and solid as the M2. It may have a crappy maximum shutter of 1/1000 sec. But I wasn’t about to spend a fortune for an MP or have to carry around a light meter.

    I’m happy to have purchased my M6 and intend on keeping it for life.

    Erik September 13, 2012 at 9:37 pm / Reply

    I’ve always considered the M6 to be the best compromise of the M cameras. Not to expensive, no (potentially) fragile electronics interfering with the shutter speeds and a meter.

    Still I ended up with an M2. Partly because the deal seemed to good to turn down, which can turn out to become very expensive when buying used cameras (the price was based on it looking a bit scruffy yet mechanically it is sound = a good user), and to me it is the prettiest of the M’s, which you might say shouldn’t matter.. but it does! I like the original rewind, the cleaner front than the M3 and I actually prefer the simplified frame counter of the M2.

    I am tempted to get a black M6 too though.

    Jerry October 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm / Reply

    Very nice article. I own an M6 non-TTL 0.85 for years and it has worked just fine. I always shoot with a 50mm lens on it while the viewfinder is so bright and clear (though there is still flare). One drawback on this M6, in my opinion, compared to an MP, is the shutter feels less sturdy – it gets more vibration and noise when it fires

    TommyNA November 4, 2012 at 10:14 pm / Reply

    I couldn’t agree more with you that M6/M6TTL is the best Leica ever!

    I have and using two M6TTL, a black M6TTL with 0.85 viewfinder which I used with 50mm or longer lenses and a silver M6TTL with 0.58 viewfinder with a Summicron-M 1:2/35 ASPH exclusively attached to it. I like the M6TTL for its “” but I still dream for a classic silver M6 with 0.72 viewfinder.

    I have tried the MP but don’t like its weight, rewind knob and especially its higher price but for sure will treat myself one if I have enough money. I have also tried the M7 but hate its electronic shutter and I am not alone, a friend of mine sold his M7 for a classic M6 :)

    Clinton November 24, 2012 at 12:21 am / Reply

    Zeiss Ikon ZM

    Christian Nagasawa November 28, 2012 at 6:24 pm / Reply

    Hi Bellamy. After speaking to you at the workshop a few weeks ago I’m really intrigued. If I sell my M8 I can easily afford an M6 (right?), and I’m 90% sure I’m gonna do the switch. When I decide to buy one I’ll send you a mail!

    AkivaPhoto.net (@kashapero) January 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm / Reply

    Gotta go with the M3 on this one. I like the rewind knob (different strokes for different folks). I use a Voigtlander Nokton 40/1.4 on mind on I love it. Plus the focusing is the best bar none. just had it CLA’d at Solms so I am good for another 50 years.

    kydaido February 22, 2013 at 8:16 pm / Reply

    M5 is so much better a M workhorse than M6. A better meter, better viewfinder no flare and a kick ass shutter dial.

      Andrew January 21, 2016 at 3:07 am /


    Asif February 25, 2013 at 5:12 am / Reply


    I have the M6 too! A question I wanted to ask your users, and you of course. Which film do you usually use, for street photography in good light. I use the Ilford Delta 100 – but I’ve seen a few friends use the HP5. Which one would you recommend?

    Or would it be Kodak for you?

    Let me know.

      Bellamy February 26, 2013 at 7:21 am /

      I use either Tri-x or Neopan 400 pretty much exclusively.

    Justin March 6, 2013 at 1:49 am / Reply

    I just purchased a M6 with a 50 cron, I can’t wait to pair it up with the M9 when I visit Hong Kong and the Philippines in a few weeks! I’m sure I will be more than happy with it!

    Sas March 19, 2013 at 11:18 pm / Reply

    Consur, just brought an m6 the body is a little scratched, but i am kind of glad it is cos i can go rough with the camera and not to worry too much about damage, gives me the courage to use it frequently n take lots of photo…….
    3000 EUR for an MP…thatb basically is a materially better version of M6?
    Dont think thats wise…….. Prefer to spent more on a goood summicron 35 f2 asph..
    All the best!!

    Andrea Taurisano June 10, 2013 at 1:17 am / Reply

    I completely agree with your analysis. It took me a several years journey throug a M7, a M8 and two M9-Ps to eventually return where it all started: to an M6. Now, it all makes sense again.

    Ruhayat July 20, 2013 at 7:43 am / Reply

    I have an MP and love it, but the socialist side of me could live just as happily shooting an M4-P for the rest of my life. I like the look of an M4 black paint, and that camera might be even better than the M4-P, but I have never used it so cannot say. As it is, the M4-P is a logical choice: basic, robust, workmanlike, and the best bang for the buck in Leicaland. Pair it with a 40mm M-Rokkor or Summicron-C and you’d have one great package that should last you for years, that costs about the same as a single user M6 body.

    Chrisoa120 July 26, 2013 at 5:17 am / Reply

    I have just bought a M6 TTL with a Summilux F1.4 35mm, version 1, . 2nd best lens in the world (according to Steve Huff). I must be doing something wrong because the negs are way to contrasty. My favourite cameras Rollei 6000 or Mamiya 7 mark 2 give beautiful, sharp, nicely contrasted negs and pics, They are super creamy, with a fantastic quality. Question; am I expecting too much from my Leica? Or do i need to change the camera to an M9. Help!!!!!!

    James Mignogna August 12, 2013 at 12:58 pm / Reply

    I think that this topic is largely subjective. Which is actually pretty cool. I mean the M remained largly unchanged right up to the 8, but the fact that so many people have so many different opinions on what makes the best M speaks to the fact that Leica knew how to craft a variety of options that speak to their users.

    Personally I do love my M4, because it is a robust, elegant and quick shooter that is as beautiful as any camera they ever made… But it’s still not my favorite. My favorite is one that I was lucky enough to buy for $250! Well, to be honest I bought an Alpa Reflex 9d for $250 in koreatown in NYC and then traded it for this camera in a store in Burlington, VT. My favorite Leica is the M2-R.

    My first Leica was an M2. I beat the hell out of it, and it served me well for a decade. As much as I loved that camera the 2 does have two basic flaws that are not really that much of an issue, but do slow things down. One is the spool load. The second is the knob rewind. That rewind is much stronger than the articulated cranks found in the 4 an later Ms, and I feel is way sexier looking, but damn, it’s pretty slow. The other thing is that Ms before the 4 required the film to be affixed to a removable spool… Again slowing things down. There was one exception, the M2-R was produced in 1969, concurrently with the first M4s. It shares the drop in quick load “petals” found in modern Ms. So that speeds things up. I’ve solved the rewind issue by affixing a Wasserman rewind crank. It’s large diamond cut knob is much easier to grip than the folding crank, plus it keeps that classic look ;) Some people would criticize the Wasserman crank for the tendency it has to scrape the top plate over time, but that kind of use wear I think only increases the beauty of a true user camera. Again it comes down to a subjective opinion.

    As far as metering is concerned I do most of that to eye, and if I want to get critical I carry a spot meter. So a meter is not a big thing for me. Lastly I prefer the all metal construction of the film advance on the 3s and 2s. I find them more durable, comfortable and attractive.

    So my subjective pick for the best is the Leica M2-R (with a Wasserman crank).

    Markus Spielmann September 17, 2013 at 5:46 pm / Reply

    Couldn’t agree more with you – I love my M6 TTL, tough, reliable and a beauty in addition to all of that….

    Martin October 3, 2013 at 3:30 am / Reply

    Nice post and wonderful comments. My two cents: I just traded an M3 for an M6 with the .72 finder. My main lens is the Zeiss Sonnar 1.5. I am also a glasses wearer. I could never clearly see the frame boarders on the M3 and the opening to the viewfinder was glasses-destroying metal. That of the M6 is rubberized and the the 50mm frame fills about 80% of the viewfinder without my having to jam my face up against the camera, which I think is perfect. I think one would get much the same framing effect with an M2 and I may get one as a second body.

    Brad November 14, 2013 at 4:42 pm / Reply

    My first M was an M6 0.72 and it just happened to be a panda version. I got it and a 35 Summicron IV for the amazing price of $2200 back in 2007. Nowadays you pay about that much for just one of them! We had many adventures together and it taught me about photography all over again. I acquired several lenses but the 50 Summicron III became the favorite. Regrettably I had to sell all my M gear after a big move and I went back to shooting the cameras I learned on and still owned, my beloved Nikon Fs & F2s. You can’t shoot them as low as an M but learning how to shoot on the Fs made it possible for me to be able to shoot even lower on the Ms (down to ⅛ for example).

    After much saving, I was recently able to get another M6, this time an 0.85 version. A good friend of mine would often let me admire her TTL 0.85 (including the 50 Summilux pre-ASPH, all bought new) back when I still had my 0.72 Panda and I was thoroughly smitten. I need vision correction but I mainly wear contacts so I still get adequate room around the 50 framelines, something that many eyeglass wearers cannot. Since I will be using 50 the most, I wanted the larger 50 framelines and higher focusing accuracy and so far I’m loving it.

    Choosing the first lens to get was a very hard decision. I thought about getting another 35 Summicron IV but they’re pricier than ever. I then began finding lots of minty 50 Summilux pre-ASPHs for great prices (they’re still out there!) and I sort of had my heart set on one of those but then after some good fortune, I suddenly found myself in the previously-unfathomable position of being able to afford a used 50 Summilux ASPH and if I really stretched it, a brand spanking new one. The used ones I found were between $3450-3800 without any kind of warranty so I decided to bite the bullet and get a new one with the 3 year Passport coverage.

    I couldn’t be happier. The 0.85 VF is infamous for flare but I haven’t had any problems so far. I actually had it happen quite a lot with my 0.72 so I don’t think the issue is isolated to the 0.85 VF. In any case, I found a mint example and it sounds and operates even better than the first one I had so I’m on cloud nine. My next body will be another single-stroke M3 to replace the one I had. Eventually I’d like to get an M2 and maybe and M4 as well but as far as plentiful, affordable, metering Ms go, I think the M6 (especially the 0.85) takes the cake.

    Paul Hart November 21, 2013 at 8:26 am / Reply

    Spot on.

    My journey has been M6 – M7 – M8 – M9 – then some unmentionable brands – then back to M6. Not even going near the M240.

    Greg Williamson March 11, 2014 at 10:07 am / Reply

    I must admit I’ve never shot with an M6 but doesn’t it have LED metering indicators? I much prefer a needle. Also, I know I’m in the minority here but I prefer a knob rewind. In my hands it’s actually quicker. I find the little cranks to small for my fingers.

    That said, I still think the very best M is the M5. Bought mine from Bellamy a year ago and just love it.

    Rob Skeoch March 11, 2014 at 7:39 pm / Reply

    Interesting comments about the M6. I’m on my fifth one over the past 25 years. They don’t wear out but do get stolen, dropped in rivers and sold for fresher ones. I use mine daily on a documentary I’m doing on my fathers fight with cancer.
    For street photography I’ve been using the Leica O, a camera you mentioned and was made from the design of the 1923 model. It’s fun to use, and that’s what cameras were made for, and I’m starting to get better shots.
    I blog on using the Leica O at…. http://thepicturedesk.blogspot.ca/

    Bing March 11, 2014 at 8:24 pm / Reply

    Agree completely.

    It’s the best user Leica for me: M6ttl with upgraded MP Finder.

    1) I want a meter yes, inside not on.
    2) the shutter speed is intuitive together w the metering arrow not reversed.
    3) no coddling. Couldn’t do that with the M6 black paint (which I eventually sold) and the MP.

    Chuck in a black one in the bag for black & white film and a silver one for colored film and I’m a happy camper.

    Sekander March 23, 2014 at 1:07 am / Reply

    Wow Bellamy, thanks for this mega useful article, which I read for the first time in October 2013. That totally convinced me to get an M6 at that time.
    Needless to say, no regrets, after 6 months! What I find impressive is the “tick-tack winding mechanical sound” it produces when shooting at slow speeds starting at an 1/8 sec. It’s a masterpiece of high level precision. When you get to 1 sec exposure time the sound becomes almost like “music”. Love it. It’s fun to get back to shooting film with such a specimen.

    A Levy April 11, 2014 at 1:03 pm / Reply

    Before buying an M6, I rented one through my local camera shop. I enjoyed the pure and simple experience of shooting with it. The images are great and unique, and shooting at slow shutter speeds (without a tripod) yields excellent results. I ultimately bought a used M6 in 2006 (mine was made in 1984!) and have taken it around the world. It’s performed flawlessly. I have a 35mm and 90mm lens and they are both lots of fun to shoot. I could not agree more that this is the best Leica rangefinder – all of the features you need and an overall great value.

    Gunston May 7, 2014 at 10:20 pm / Reply

    so, which one should i get?
    M6 classic or M6 TTL ?

      Carlos October 4, 2014 at 4:58 am /

      I have both.
      Both work.
      If you want TTL-flash (not very typical use of an M6) you need the TTL.
      I have a TTL-flash, but use manual set-up. Want to control what the flash does. But don’t use it much.
      And when your M 240 stops working on software or any other bug, the M6 continues taking pictures, both.
      dependability: both M6
      ergonomics: M6 TTL (big speed dial)
      digital: M240
      B&W: Film
      compact: M6 classic

      it’s more important to get a good one.

    Pavel September 26, 2014 at 4:16 am / Reply

    Hi Bellamy! What strap do you used for this M6 shoot? I can’t identify. It looks perfect.

    Joshua Hopkins October 22, 2014 at 12:26 pm / Reply

    “The MP is made to such high standards that it doesn’t take much to put it off kilter.”

    This is really just incorrect.

    ” I think Aperture priority has no place on a Leica M camera, it makes things too easy. A Leica is meant to be something that you learn to use, something that you have to develop a relationship with.”

    It’s interesting that you say this but also say that the M6 is better than previous models like the M4 because it has a meter. There’s no purist opinion about it; the meter is a crutch. Any kind of TTL meter can only do it’s best to average what you point It at. Learning to use a Leica is learning to use a camera without the meter so that you can work very quickly, as this is what the camera is designed for. A meter will always waste time, and without proper handling won’t even give the best exposure. Reading light condition is not difficult and light doesn’t vary much under a few basic conditions, so it is easy enough to set the camera to get a more accurate exposure than the meter will provide for tried and true sunny or cloudy days, or in other situations you are not used to, you estimate based on experience and the way the light reflects and set the camera. If you under or overexpose, you learn from it, but the results are usually useful anyway if you’re using something like Tri-x or HP5. An in camera meter is almost silly in that it’s not accurate enough, but won’t be any more accurate than you are unless you’ve never taken pictures before. A few rolls of film through various lighting conditions in one week without a meter will have you exposing very easily, and you are never far off. Don’t waste your time with the meter, an M6s usefulness comes only in those very early or late times of the day when the light is changing and it can be a quick indicator of the general range of exposure as your eyes fool you and adjust. Other than that, the M6 isn’t worth the extra money over the M4-P for 28 frames or even the M4 or M4-2, for just a meter added on.

    Gunston February 16, 2015 at 6:52 pm / Reply

    what do you think Leica M240, is it the best digital M and more completion in modern era

    Giles Penfund November 30, 2015 at 7:00 pm / Reply

    Very interesting article and one which I whole heartily agree with. I’ve had and use my M6 for over 25 years and its has seen me through several war zones and more than a few documentary stories without a single glitch.

    Its simple robust and as you so eloquently put is is just perfect for the task in hand. For me -I’ve owned an M2 – its the ultimate Leica M camera and the height of design and functionality. I have an M8 which for me is the next best thing (despite all the little niggles). I did have a desire recently to get an M Monochrom but then realised I already had one of the original and best in the shape of the M6. Phew saved myself £5K plus….

    Many thanks for the really interesting article, and kind regards

    Frank Petronio January 20, 2016 at 9:25 am / Reply

    I agree about the M6 but I send mine out to get the unnecessary and distracted 28 and 135mm framelines removed. The finder flare has rarely been a practical concern. I prefer the .0.72 classics.

    Every M2 and M3 I’ve owned has been lovely but developed age-related problems like crystallized cement in the optics, hazing, etc. I’ve also been a sucker for cheap beat-up “users” and learned the hard way that yes, Leicas can wear out. At least to the point of being uneconomical to repair. Now I do pay attention to cosmetic condition not because I’m a collector but because poor cosmetics indicate imminent problems.

    Nice article, I agree with you about 35 Sumicrons being the best overall lens.

    Andrew January 21, 2016 at 3:04 am / Reply

    I hear you on the M5 having different (not worse) balance, but other issues? It is built to the same standard as the M3, M2 and M4. It has the largest (and best) rewind crank of all. It is the easiest to load (improved over the M4 system that is still used in today’s MP and the M6). It has a built-in meter that is better than the others due to its needles instead of LEDs and being a true spot meter. Shutter speeds in the viewfinder, but out of the way so as not to clutter. Shutter dial overhanging the front. The list goes on.

    I think the M5 is not only the best Leica analog M design, but the best Leica camera design period. Once accustomed to it, it is the fastest and easiest to use of the lot, and after a simple meter calibration (Sherry Krauter did mine) the batteries are just as easy to find as the M6’s.

    I started on an M6, but once I handled the M5 I had to have one, and it quickly became my absolute favorite film camera.

    AlexanderSnel January 25, 2016 at 10:54 pm / Reply

    I’ve had mine for over a year now, As my first rangefinder camera it to me a LOT of getting used to. Focussing was a real pain in the beginning, bringing me to the point of selling it.

    Then, I decided to take it with me on holiday to Italy last summer, giving it one last chance to become the camera for me that everyone was talking about so dearly.

    First of all, I never had any doubts about the quality of the camera, the build quality is the best I’ve ever seen, Solid and simple, but good looking and functional. I like the light-meter, but I can understand people have feelings about it. Film advance is great, Just be carefull to load it properly, and see if the film catches on correctly. Lost me half my holiday pictures. At least I’ll never do that wrong again, I’ve learnt my lesson the hard way!

    I have in the meantime managed to figure out the focussing, using a bit more pre-focussing as well, and I’ve actually purchanges a Carl Zeiss Biogon 35mm 2.8 with a focussingtab (this definetly completes my focussing experience). My 50 Summicron from the early 70’s only had a focussing ring, which works, but the tab makes it worth your while for sure!

    Other than the user experience, People don’t ever come over to me checking out my camera as they do with my Rolleiflex, it’s just not there, and I love it.

    All in all a great camera!

    Ordis April 20, 2016 at 12:21 am / Reply

    Hello Bellamy,
    first of all I want to say that I enjoy very much reading you, I’ve learned a lot about cameras.

    Speaking about the M6: I have had a black M6 and now I have a Titanium M6 (the best M6 in my opinion, what do you think?). But there are two issues that don’t allow the M6 to be a flawless camera.
    First: the flare in the rangefinder. It can be very very… very annoying in some situations. You are concentrated to get the shot and suddenly you can’t focus.
    Second: this is a very BIG issue. The brighline frame of the M6 is much smaller than the actual 50mm frame. Wich means that if you frame something, you will get like about 5% more of what you meant to in the negative. This has always been a big issue for me as I have lost many photos due to this. I cutted out some elements wich I didn’t want in the photo, and when I saw the negatives, those elements were there.
    I’ve heard that the M3 has a much more accurate frame dimension for the 50mm lens, what you get is what you’ve framed.
    What do you know about that?

    Thank you.

    Pepe May 15, 2016 at 9:25 am / Reply

    Good and passionate article, I partially agree with your definition of the M6 as the best Leica camera. I went from M8.2 and M9 (both cameras which I still own and use) to M3. That is the best camera. I can shoot without meter (as it was originally meant to be done for real photographers after few months of being a photographer) as well as, with a meter. If without a meter, I have a much better M6, if with a meter, I have exactly the M6, only better. In any case, I do want to get one M6 whenever I can.

    Giuseppe July 20, 2016 at 4:42 pm / Reply

    I go back to M6 from lot of years of M2/M4/M4-2/M4-P. Yes is an flawless camera and the meter is an useful tool to get quickly reaction to do shots for “carpe diem” situations.
    I confirm!

    Noel November 5, 2016 at 6:08 pm / Reply

    Great article
    I am going to be one of the Naysayers. For me it’s the M5. I love the M7 for it’s super quiet shutter and it’a aperture priority. I love the M6 for it’s mechanical excellence (I don’t really rely on ttl metering. It’s always out). No doubt the M6 is brilliant.
    Nevertheless although, it’s the most unloved, ugly duckling of all the M’s, the M5 to me is the best M.
    You can see both shutter speed and aperture in the viewfinder together with the meter. It’s loading system is foolproof and the positioning of the shutter speed dial allows you to change the shutter speed without moving your finger from the edge of the camera. It’s not the prettiest M but it is probably the most user friendly orientated M. Relative to an M240, it’s light as well.

    Mr Leica (Matt Osborne) December 3, 2016 at 7:09 pm / Reply

    Hi Bellamy,

    I notice (from reading 90%) of the comments nobody mentioned the M6 film advance jamming up mid roll of film? It is a known problem for some M6s and my M6 jams at around 25 exp. Otherwise a good camera. Not sure if anyone mentioned the functional hot shoe on the M6 either. The M2 and M3s I have are great but I can’t sync to off camera flash easily with them. The hotshoe is the biggest M6 plus for my style of photography.

    Here were my initial thoughts when I bought my M6 classic – https://mrleica.com/2015/12/27/leica-m6-classic/


    Jorge December 16, 2016 at 11:00 am / Reply

    Great article. I stumbled upon an M6 for sale. It seems to be a Wetzlar with Leitz logo in front. It does have a real serial number engraved, however the shutter speed dial seems plasticky, which I found odd. Is it supposed to be plastic?

    Larry March 4, 2017 at 12:44 pm / Reply

    Ooh lots of comments! What fun. Yes I agree with JCH, having experience with only 3 of these Leicas. The M6 is good all round. I gave up an M3 and a M7, and have the M6. The reasons are slightly different. I use a 50mm Zeiss lens 1,5. The lens is good, and well, one doesn’t actually look through the lens to see the shot. So I like the 50mm focal length because of the perspective in the photographs: more to my taste. That would make me a candidate for the M3. M3 was off for repairs and the M6 was pressed into service as a spare. Well the M6 was better to me. The main reason is eyesight. With the M6 I can see better, using the 1.4x viewfinder accessory. Better than the M3. So when the M3 came back, it was sold. The M7 had a bit too much junk for my tastes. I really don’t mind aperture priority, but I won’t use it. I would prefer to reach up and click the shutter speeds myself, especially because I only rarely shoot as metered. I don’t use a camera meter either, having become used to using a pocket meter before ever owning these Leicas. So I found the extra electronics unneeded: and that reduced my enjoyment of the camera. I came to similar conclusion for slightly different reasons. And yes, I like the looks of M-A and MP, and am surprised to hear they are not reliable.

    Geoffrey Marshall June 30, 2017 at 10:36 pm / Reply

    I’ve got the M6 and M3 plus a couple of screw mount leica, I prefer using the M6 but only because of the meter, the M3 feels better in the hand. Maybe I should sell them all and buy a MP. ;-)

    Leica M6 Lover Dominik July 1, 2017 at 4:10 am / Reply

    Great article about the LEICA M6 cameras. I love love love my M6 Classic. Georgeous camera and I completely agree with you that this modell might be the best Leica you can buy. Fully mechanical with extra electronic light meter, great view finder, quick film loading system and great value for money.

    Taiwo Oladele July 3, 2017 at 7:22 am / Reply

    For my hobby as a retired man, M6 or MP which one do you recommend? Each of them, I need to compare the price. Thanks.

    Suman March 5, 2018 at 5:43 am / Reply

    I also like leica brand, i like uour review for leica! are you providing leica sales here?

    eric April 11, 2018 at 2:28 pm / Reply

    The M6 is a top camera, yess, it is difficult to say the opposite. There is also other brands : A Zeiss Ikon is a great camera, a Rollei 35 RF an excellent one if you like to use 40 mm, 50 mn or 80 mm. But none have the Leica touch. The CLE is a pretty killer until it breaks : …electronic analog camera now …good luck for serving. I ve used 2 M6, nothing to complain despite flare. My favorite is the M3 for 50mm. Why ? Feeling ! You have a M3 in your hands, this is gorgeous. I mean a M3 in good conditions : impressive ! Try one ! M3 is the best photographing experience

    Al May 7, 2018 at 9:07 pm / Reply

    Doesn’t this argument kill your battery criticism of the M7 ??

    “I love the fact that my M6 will power through roll after roll of film and I don’t have to worry about a battery running out, as if it does I can get 2 LR44 cells pretty much in any convenience store or electrics shop.”

    David Wignall September 10, 2018 at 1:49 pm / Reply

    When I got into film again a few years ago I started using my old faithful clunker, the Canon TX SLR. I loved the fully mechanical function which meant that whatever aperture, shutter speed and focusing I dialled in would stay there until I decided to change it. After using fully automatic SLRs and DSLRs for 15 years it was refreshing to get back to actually “making a shot” instead of “operating” an automatic machine. I also liked all the controls in their traditional place; the right place. What I didn’t like so much was the bulk and loud clunk. So I saved up for a Leica.
    The M6 is a refreshingly manual experience in a world of automation. Its operation is also very pleasant, being slick, quiet and just plain “classy”. This camera is just asking to be used.
    The viewfinder is the best reason to use a rangefinder IMHO because it basically gives you a compositional frame to work with. When I use an SLR I continually raise and lower the camera so I can see outside the frame. With a RF I don’t need to.
    I don’t know if the M6 is THE best Leica RF but it hits the all the right spots for a well designed fully manual photographic tool that has all you need without any frills or gimmicks. This camera forces you to make decisions and therefore to be a true photographer. Whether you’re a good photographer or not is up to you!

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