My thoughts on The NEW Leica M6
They did it, they actually bloody did it! Yes, Leica actually re-released the M6, and not just as a special edition. This is the New M6. That’s right, the hype is real. But is it worth the hype? Well I have been taking this in and ruminating on it for a while. So, here are my thoughts on the camera and what this means for Leica and film photography in general. But before we get into that we must tip our hat to the Leica marketing team.
If you ever want to see a masterpiece of marketing, look no further than what Leica have done to build up the hype for this camera. The secret whispers, little snippets of rumors, all under the veil of cloak and dagger, building us all up. And the rumors flew, from the fantastical to the awfully cynical. But Leica just sat by and watched, waiting for their moment. And when they released they did it to great fanfare, bringing together a new generation of young and influential photographers in a big announcement in Wetzlar. This was a master stroke by Leica.
It’s no secret I am a huge fan of the M6. It was my first proper Leica rangefinder and I have written about the camera a lot. Initially I was cautious and somewhat cynical. I listened to some of the rumors and believed some of them too. Particularly the one circulating about the lack of qualified engineers to make the MP at Leica. So when the rumor circulated that this M6 would be a limited edition of 500 I fell for it.
Well, I stand corrected, kudos to Leica. Leica have shown that they do have what it takes to release a ‘new’ film camera. And it is new. It is not a restomod, which has creeped into cars and watches in recent years. This is a pretty huge undertaking.
Before we go any further we do have to talk about the price. And it is not cheap at $5295 USD. Shed a tear for us over here as it is 750,000 Yen thanks to the strong Dollar. But I really feel like you will be getting what you pay for here. A hand built camera, with brass top and bottom plates, black paint laquer, upgraded finder, and a later style meter. This is going to be a camera that will in theory last you a lifetime.
The price will certainly put some people off and there has been plenty of people making a fuss about the price. But we should remember that then the original camera came out in 1984 is was an expensive camera, and if we go by inflation it has consistently remained an expensive camera. In fact, the sale price for the M6 in 1992 is almost the same as the release price now, once inflation is taken into account. So there should be no surprise that the new M6 is expensive. And remember, Leica is a luxury brand after all.
Then there are folks that will say “just buy an MP instead”. Well, sure, but some people want an M6 and that’s kind of the point really. It is nice to actually have a choice for a change.
But what about the used market for M6’s? It has been surging in the last few years. Will the release of the new M6 change that? Initially I don’t think it is going to make any difference to the market, as we will not actually see any of the new cameras in peoples hands for a few months at least. In the long term I think it might help to level out prices a little bit. But there are always people who will want an original and are prepared to pay for that.
What I think we might see is a slight drop in the prices of used MP’s, as there will be a lot of people eager to trade in their MP for a new M6. This should make getting your hands on an MP that little bit easier. Maybe.
But more importantly, the cost of building a completely new camera, training technicians, building a parts supply infrastructure and having a repairs and maintenance department is hefty. And whilst Leica has an advantage in already having much of this in place, it will certainly have had to ramp the production up by some scale to meet what will be huge demand.
Despite the price this is going to be an extremely popular camera. As has been evidenced by the massive amount of social media posts and comments. Leica have shown that they do care about film, and by releasing this camera they are making a commitment to that. Many years ago I met Stefan Daniel and he told me he was a huge film fan, so I imagine it is cake day for him now.
But it wasn’t just the release for the M6 that was important. There was also more important news that Leica will be offer repair and service for all M6 cameras. All of them. Not just the new ones. That is going to be great information to some people who have been nursing their classics and TTL’s for the last few years, praying that the light meter doesn’t die. To do this is also a pretty big deal. To have the parts and the techs available means they are expecting demand.
So how will this affect film photography? Well it is certainly going to bring new customers in, who may have never shot a film Leica. Which is good for the film business in general.
But will other manufacturers take a chance like Leica? Initially I don’t think so. Leica has a unique position and has continued to produce film cameras. Whilst the other big players in the business ceased production. Starting up production on even an old model would be extraordinarily expensive. And Whilst Nikon, Canon and the others may have big names, they may have difficulty asking $5k for a new camera. It comes down to economies of scale, they would have to produce hundreds of thousands of cameras to be profitable, and they have determined that they cannot make it profitable, otherwise they would have already done so.
But that doesn’t mean that there will not be others that try. I think that a move like this from Leica could provide the push needed for other companies to take the leap. We have already heard rumors from Mint about a new camera and there will certainly be more.
Is it worth it?
Well, put it this way. I waaaaant one. Of course I don’t need one. I have a perfectly good MP-6, but my word do I want one. I love the look, I love the idea of a brand new film camera and I love the M6. Now if only that Yen could be a bit more friendly…
A maximum shutter speed of 1/1000 s in 2022? A synchro of 1/60 s in 2022? For 5000+ dollars? REALLY? I think it is a missed oportunity to renew the Leica M6.
They did renew the Leica M6. They’re called M7, M8, M9, M10 and M11. Seriously, if you don’t understand why some people prefer a cloth shutter over a metal shutter then I don’t know how to help you. The Nikon FM2 with a max speed of 1/4000 came out before the original M6 so it’s not like the technology didn’t exist back then. They made a deliberate choice to retain the horizontal cloth shutter in their Leica M and with that come certain technical limitations. If you want faster shutter speeds, get an R9. That’ll do 1/8000s and 1/250s flash sync.
Because it’s not a new camera. It’s the MP with an M6 top plate. Riddle solved.
Flash sync is actually 1/50th!
tell me, pls., what has a calendar to do with exposure, light, film? other than that film ages?
P.S. not the same “Carlos”.
Hi Bellamy, where did you see that Leica we’re continuing their support for the original M6? I had read that M6 meter boards were no longer being produced. Maybe a classic M6 with a non-functional meter can have a 2022 meter put into it? Thanks.
It’s really big news for the film world in general because it ensures that future generations are able to find these amazing cameras.
As an original M6 classic owner, lover and frequent user, i was really happy to see this news, even though I hope I never need to buy one because the one I have will last another 40 years!
MP has what? a meter board
old chips are not being continued,
but the industry has replacement parts in their architectural approach for decades, it was so in the tubes era and continued over transistors and chips until today.
everything is replaceable – even though not always 1:1
that’s what they did, establishing a newer meter board, the same as on the MP? I don’t know.
I don’t care, this will change every 5-10 years anyway, as manufacturer stocks are being efficiently managed. one chip today does what big boards have done in the past. space is not the issue.
Would Leica replace my bubbly zinc top with a brand new brass one, I wonder?
If you look at the side by side of the two cameras the top plate on the new one seems to be a little shorter. That doesn’t mean they couldn’t do it, I just wonder if that may require some other changes internally so it fits correctly.
I’m pretty sure they will replace it. Just email them and ask. They are usually quick to answer. My guess is it will be somewhat pricey and will take a very long time.
As for the dimensions in the picture in this article not being the same, that’s probably because one of them is an M6TTL (it has the bigger shutterspeed dial) which is a bit taller than the classic M6.
I just looked up the price of the M6 in the 90s and found a B&H ad from 1992. $2,450 for the M6 body only. In the inflation rate calculator, that’s $5,183 in today’s money. While expensive, as you mentioned, Leica has always been this way. And the new camera is right in line with pricing from 30 years ago. It’s actually surprising that they haven’t raised their prices. I imagine that they’ve automated some of the manufacturing to offset the cost.
I began with a M6 in 2006 and the one thing that I had always hoped for was a nice brass top and bottom plate. It’s just something I always longed for. And while the Millennium and a few other M6 models came along with brass plates, this new one is really exciting to me. Perhaps is part of my nostalgia; I suppose any excuse I can find to justify the purchase is fine with me. Either way, it’s time to start saving.
Finally some positivity around this release. I can’t understand how people are upset that Leica released a new camera. New film cameras getting released is a win no matter the circumstances
I agree that it is a great marketing move – and I appreciate the boost for analog photography. I share Rory’s opinion – they could have done a better update of the M6 – Why not go for the TTL model with the bigger wheel…. Shutters speed as Carlos mentions… and well… the price of the M6 was around $1650 – the new price tag is over the moon!
I am a bit disappointed about your comment, Bellamy.
It’s not a new camera, it just isn’t. It’s a cosmetic variation of the existing MP. Same brass building blocks, same shutter mechanism, same shutter curtain, same light meter, same rangefinder, same viewfinder – ALL THE SPECS, all the key pieces are IDENTICAL – the main difference between the MP and the “M6” is the top plate – and not much more than that.
This MP “M6 Edition” will be assembled by the same technicians, in the same Leica assembly location, sharing the same machines and sharing the same shifts used to put together the MA and MP orders – Leica’s output of M6 units will be as homeopathic as their MP and MA output – better brace for long wait lists as MP and MA orders now have to share the same manufacturing capacities with this new MP variant.
The gist: Leica takes the MP, slaps a newly designed, red dot, M6 design language, M6 engraving top plate on it – and everyone loses their shit.
Sorry Joe Greer, this changes nothing. It’s just an MP with an M6 skin at roughly the price I paid for a factory new 2020 MP. Yes, it’s nice that Leica lowered the price of the MP in 2022 by ~$500 this way – if you can stomach an MP with a red dot. The M6 is as accessible as the MP was in 2020. Fantastic.
Let’s just be real about it please.
Obviously it’s not a totally new camera if it’s modelled after an M6. But remember, the MP was not a new camera either. It was basically a retro M3 type version of an M6. Are the differences between the MP and the new M6 purely cosmetic? Not really. Yes, the internals are almost certainly identical. But the angled rewind lever and the M4 style film advance make a noticeable difference from a practical point of view. Since they discontinued the M7 a couple of years ago, there was just no current film camera in their portfolio that offered these practical improvements so reintroducing the M6 makes sense.
Side note: They did not lower the price of an MP either, the US dollar just got stronger vs. the Euro. In Germany the new MP and M6 are priced identically.
If I was Pentax, and sticking with DSLRs then I would also consider designing a new small film camera that worked something along the lines of a Pentax LX with auto focus and I think that would have a huge following and help keep their lens sales going.
They are probably the only camera company that could realistically create a film camera as they say they are remaining committed to producing a DSLR line of lens and cameras. Both Nikon and Canon are busy closing down their DSLR lens lines as they rush to mirrorless cameras.
Tell you what.
If I win the lottery with a sufficient amount of money, I will pull an “Andreas Kaufmann” – well somewhat as I’ll depend on winning money where Kaufmann inherited money through this family to buy Leica. I’ll buy up Pentax and I’ll direct Pentax to bring to market a high quality, 135 film SLR and set of lenses.
I’d also look into designing and bringing to market a high quality, compact form factor, fully mechanical 135 format panorama camera (SLR or rangefinder).
And of course I’d re-introduce a medium format 6×7 system back into the market, probably also fully mechanical or not electronics dependent.
Buy some lottery tickets too. I can’t be the only one with that pipe dream…
I am genuinely excited.
I wanted to note the sillyness of the naming scheme…
M3 > M2 > M4 > M5 > M6 > M7 > MP > MA > M6 again…
unsilly’d prior comment:
wonderful how much sense the naming scheme makes
Mfree, Mtwo, Mforever, MI5 (spy), Msex, Msexmore, Mporn, Maaaaaaahhhh, Msexyforevery
Mloving all of them.
I’m a bit surprised by the B&H pricing you mentioned. In 2000, the cost for a new M6 TTL was $1,995 USD. At that time Leica USA was offering $150 rebates, which brought the price down to $1,845. With the rebates, I was able to buy the M6, and a trio of new Summicron’s (35mm, 50mm, 90mm), all for under $6K from authorized Leica dealers (there were no Leica boutiques around back then). I believe that Leica pricing was consistent among all authorized dealers at that time. Accounting for inflation, the price I paid for that M6 TTL in today’s dollars would be $3,180 USD.
That was still a lot of money back in 2000. Leica gear has never been inexpensive and I certainly don’t mean to imply otherwise. But Leica has managed to reinvent itself as a lifestyle brand over the past few decades, and this has allowed them to outpace inflation. That is probably the only thing that has kept Leica afloat.
Do I think that $5K+ is too much for a M6 today? Yes, I do. But then I feel that many are willing to pay more than they should for Leica gear in general these days be it used or new. In the end, a $5K+ M6 is probably better than the realistic alternative, which is no Leica at all. Basically Leica did what it needed to do stay in business, and I can’t blame them for that. Though it makes for a good story, and an almost priceless one for Leica marketing, I don’t see this as a major win for film photography in general. However, should this spur on any of the other camera manufacturers to produce other new film cameras at more reasonable prices, then that would be a major win for film photography and Leica would be to thank for it.
the best all-round film camera on the market for decades
is still in production, still, not just again, but still
it gets a M6 tag, and a black-chrome finish,
some bits and pieces combined from others and BANG!
the NEW not so new best camera is there.
all Leica film cameras today cost approx. 5K, no sweat, it’s worth it!
the prices have been increasing year over year, as on every other product
want factor? sure! need factor? minimal. (I own a few.)
CHOICE it is! very welcome choice of variants. M6, MP, M-A, sadly no M7
I’d really wish Stefan Daniel would take the very best and modernize it to make it faster and more reliable – the M7.
All real photographer pros who are in their late days today have their fair share of Leica II/IIIF, M2, M4, M6, M7 evolution for good reason.
It’s been a beloved tool for them that got improved and that improvement was taken in for use.
Please launch a new M7!
thank you for the M6 variant and in advance for adding the M7, soon.
Now Fujifilm should release a film SLR, or better medium format rangefinder a la GW670. Let the competition for the film market grow. Its now obvious film is here to stay, as it should, There ought never to have been a market that kills its own historical market in a frenzy of greed. We have not yet explored analogue technologies to their fullest whatsoever. Digital overload is part of a policy of surveillance and monetary control, and its seeped into everything, hence why people want to return to tangible, craft based work that is unique in a sea of digital averageness and sameness. Film is also a superb way to store information. Hopefully this move will inspire new film cameras. The Chinese could do it now, and lets look forward to an African or South American brand in the future. With the education market and Hollywood there’s a potential for film to continue and for the price to stabilise.