Leica Camera AG has been a synonym for cameras and lenses with permanent values such as reliability, consistency, and immaculate quality for more than 100 years. We were recently invited to Wetzlar, Germany – the hometown of Leica – to experience the relaunch of the ever iconic M6 in person.
History of the Leica M6
If you’ve been an ardent fan of photography, and Leica, you would know that the original Leica M6, a 35mm rangefinder camera that was introduced to the world in 1984 was one of the most popular Leica film camera model.
From 1984 to 2002, Leica painstakingly handmade almost 175,000 units of the Leica M6, which served the best photographers all around the world as a crucial instrument to capture their views of any and everything around them.
Among Leica’s rangefinder cameras, the Leica M6 holds a special place in the world of analog photography, and was considered a painful departure when it was discontinued in 2002.
The Grand Return of the Leica M6
What do you know – the new Leica M6 is now back with a bang!
40% of people who have always used film have never stopped using film, despite digitalisation across the globe. 32.6% of people returned to using film in tandem with digital – and these are true Leica fans. Out of pure respect for Leica’s deep history in film, Leica’s journey, and the fans – Leica decided to relaunch M6 back into production.
The new edition of the legendary rangefinder camera was met with resounding applause – and one may wonder why and how a 38 year old camera fit into today’s landscape.
Analog photography has made a raging return, with everyone these days going back to the traditional ways of photography and ditching digital cameras for certain aesthetic shots.
Key Upgrades To The New Leica M6
2022’s version of the Leica M6 leverages on the modern version of the Leica M rangefinder with a 0.72x magnification.
All of its optical surfaces are now coated and is less sensitive to stray light, and the light meter in the latest M6 now shows you the correct exposure via a red dot, in addition to the two original arrow symbols.
The new M6 also comes with a battery warning indicator, and the exposure meter in the M6 measures light with a brightened area on the mechanically controlled cloth shutter. No more overly exposed photos!
If you own the original Leica M6, you’d remember the top cover design which was made of die-cast zinc – which has now gotten a facelift. The latest M6’s top cover is now milled from solid brass and fortified with an abrasion-resistant black lacquer. You don’t have to worry about your darling M6 getting scratches easily.
Just like the original 1984’s version of the Leica M6, the latest edition is also adorned with the classic red Leitz logo. Talk about a massive facelift, yet retaining its classiness!
The 35-mm camera preserves all other typical character traits such as the ever familiar slanted rewind crank for the film. The latest M6 comes with an even more optimised rangefinder to ensure even higher level of functionality. Compared with the original M6, the 2022’s version also focuses heavily on the essential photographic functions. Rest assured that the new M6 will definitely still retain the best quality, or even better, really.
Here’s a complete cheatsheet on the Leica M6’s specifications – we compiled them here so you don’t have to do extra desktop research!
Camera Type: Analogue rangefinder system camera (35 mm)
Dimensions: 138 x 40 x 77mm
Weight: 575 g (without battery)
Material: Closed full metal housing, Top cover and bottom cover: brass, black finish
Lens Mount: Leica M bayonet
Operating Conditions: 0°C to +40°C
Interfaces: ISO accessory shoe
Tripod Thread: A 1⁄4 DIN 4503 (1⁄4”) with stainless steel in the base
Viewfinder: Large, bright-line rangefinder with automatic parallax compensation
Parallax Compensation: The horizontal and vertical difference between viewfinder and lens is compensated automatically in line with the relevant focus
setting. Congruence of viewfinder and actual image.
The size of the bright-line frame matches the distance:
– at 2 m: the exact sensor size of approx. 23.9 x 35.8 mm
– at infinity: (depending on focal length) approx. 7.3% (28 mm) to 18% (135 mm)
– less than 2 m: less than film size
Viewfinder Magnification: x0.72 (all lenses)
Wide-base Rangefinder: Split and superimposed image rangefinder shown as a bright field in the center of the viewfinder image.
Shutter Type: Focal plane shutter with rubber liner, mechanically controlled
Shutter Speeds: Mech. shutter: 1 s – 1/1000 s | Flash Synch: up to 1/50 s
Shutter Release: Two-stage: Power up (activation of exposure meter) – Release. Integrated standard cable release thread.
Loading: Manual with quick wind lever or LEICAVIT M, motorized with LEICA MOTOR-M, LEICA WINDER-M, LEICA WINDER
Rewinding: Manual with telescopic rewind knob
Frame Counter: On top of camera. Automatic reset after removal of bottom cover.
Working Range: 70 cm to infinity
Focus Mode: Manual
Exposure Metering: TTL (exposure metering through the lens), with working aperture
Metering Cell: Silicon photo diode with convex lens to the top left behind the camera bayonet.
Film Speed Range: Manual setting from ISO 6/9° to ISO 6400/39°
Metering Principle: The light reflected by a metering spot in the center of the 1st shutter curtain is metered. The metering spot has a diameter of 12mm and therefore corresponds to approx. 13% of the full negative format or around 2/3 of the short side of the corresponding frame in the viewfinder.
Exposure Control Mode: Manual shutter speed and aperture setting, adjustment using LED light balance.
Flash Unit Connection: Via accessory shoe
Synchronisation: On the 1st shutter curtain
Flash Sync Speed: 1/50s; slower shutter speeds possible
Flash Exposure Control: Via computer control of flash unit or via guide number calculation and manual
setting for the required aperture.
2 Silver oxide button cells (PX76/SR44) or 1 Lithium battery (DL1/3N)
Every part of the camera is painstakingly and carefully handmade and assembled in Germany – truly embodying Leica’s dedication to photography. The latest M6 is one the most reliable companion for those who appreciate the lasting and contemplative nature of analog photography.
Overall, I was very impressed with the Leica M6, and it’s by far one of the best rangefinder cameras I’ve ever had the honour to embrace and use. When it comes to 35mm rangefinder cameras, the Leica M6 is unparalleled. If you’re looking to own your very first Leica, the M6 is a worthy contender.
Analog photography teaches one the art of mindfulness, and how to slow down in the bustling urban life.
Out of the 36 frames in analog, you decide which scenes in life you want to click the shutter to immortalise the moment forever.
Priced at SGD$7,500, the Leica M6 will be available globally at Leica Stores, the Leica Online Store and all authorised dealers from early November 2022 onwards.