Home Cameras/Lenses Leica Leica’s M6 revival arrives at last: Series production, Leitz dot and brass...

Leica’s M6 revival arrives at last: Series production, Leitz dot and brass top plate

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The worst secret of the year has transformed into the best new film camera we’ve seen in decades and one of the prettiest Leicas we have ever had the pleasure to lust after. Leica’s reincarnation of the M6 “classic” is to hit dealers’ shelves in November, 38 years after the original was announced in 1984. It even bears the Leitz red dot in homage to the original production run, although Leica nerds will know it was replaced by the modern Leica badge a couple of years later.

We had the opportunity to examine the new M6 ahead of this announcement, and it is an absolutely gorgeous combination. The camera appears to be a perfect reproduction of the original M6, and the black finish is excellent, similar to that on the current M11 but a little shinier and smoother. It looks and feels just right, and I am certain this will be a winner for Leica. It will sell like hotcakes (to coin a phrase).

I defy any Leica enthusiast not to lust after this lovely little camera. And the silver steel-rim lens (see separate announcement) perfectly complements the reincarnated body, so that’s another burden for your credit card to bear.

The 2022 camera also incorporates a modern version of the M rangefinder, with an 0.72x magnification. It is equipped with a battery warning indicator, and the top cover has also been redesigned, now milled from solid brass covered by an abrasion-resistant lacquer. This replaces the previous version’s die-cast zinc.

The shutter-speed dial remains identical to that of the M6 and the current MP, working in the opposite direction to the more logical operation which was adopted for the M6TTL, M7 and all subsequent digital cameras. I asked a factory representative to comment on this. The newer mechanism would have resulted in a slightly higher body, which would have been contrary to Leica’s aim of producing a new version of a classic camera. As a result, the smaller shutter-speed dial, identical to the 1984 version, is also adopted instead of the larger dial used on modern cameras.

All the new camera’s optical surfaces are now coated and thus less sensitive to stray light. In addition, the correct exposure is now indicated by a central red dot in addition to the two arrows originally used. The central dot first appeared on the M6TTL and remained a feature of the M7 and is now used on all digital Ms. The M6 exposure meter measures light via a brightened area on the mechanically controlled cloth shutter, and recent achievements such as the optimised rangefinder ensure even more functionality.

Announcing the M6 today in Wetzlar, Stefan Daniel said, “The Leica M6 is a milestone in the corporate history of Leica Camera AG. Since 1984, countless iconic pictures have been taken with it; it was a part of the product range for over 18 years and is still a fascinating camera with an extremely high utility value. Conscious analogue photography, as an antithesis to the flood of digital images, is enjoying great popularity. Therefore, it was only logical for us to produce the Leica M6 again as one of the most popular representatives of this camera type”.

The Leica M6 is available globally in Leica stores and authorised dealers from 3 November 2022. The retail price in the UK will be £4,500, including tax.

All images Leica Camera AG

Note: In case you are worried about batteries, you will need two PX76/SR44 or one DL1/3N battery, both available from Amazon and other outlets.

PRESS RELEASE WITH FULL SPECIFICATION


36 COMMENTS

  1. Again, I used this camera with the new 35mm Summilux lens to take photos of Stefan and Mike together. The central exposure red dot and the arrows were more modern in style and were a deeper red than in the traditional M6. The focus screen was bright allowing a good view in a darkish room. The wind was also very smooth as was the surface of the camera. The shutter was near silent, much quieter than the older model. It looks and feels just like an updated version of the ‘traditional’ M6. Readers should definitely try one to see how it works for them, particularly those with the older M6. The M6 is my favourite film M with a meter. The speed dial direction does not bother me. I have every film M from the M3 through to the M7, other than the TTL. This one might tempt me to add to that.

    William

    • And I had everything (including the M6TTL) but not the M6. So I hope to now rectify that. I’ve also ordered the lens…

    • It is because the M6 classic is the most popular used film camera among younger users. That’s why the value has gone up so much. They didn’t want to re-do the TTL because it is taller and isn’t seen as a “true M6”. The M7 is too complicated and the shutter relies on magnets which are no longer available. While the M7 operates in Auto just like the M11 or M10, it doesn’t seem to have the cachet of the “pure” M6, the first M film camera with metering (if we exclude the M5)

    • Yes, a significant improvement on the original and, of course, that brass top plate puts it firmly in MP territory. I’m fact, I do wonder if it will replace the MP in the line-up.

      • I hope the MP continues. The MP has a more traditional Leica style in rewind mechanism, lacquer type, and no front branding. The MP is also known to have the nicest mechanical feeling of any Leica rangefinder camera, surpassing for some even the venerable M3, but perhaps the new M6 has inherited that.

        • The MP also has the all metal film advance and shutter winding lever and is offered in both the black lacquered brass or silver chromed brass finish.

  2. So Kodak is hiring hundreds more people to make film — just this month, “We’re hiring to keep up with demand for 35mm film, which has exploded over the past few years.”, “Over the last 18 months we’ve hired over 300 people, and we’re looking to hire more.”. I hope Leica is hiring more people to make film cameras — the longest training and most skilled of their craftspeople.

    • I agree. I probably would have bough a Leica MP a few months ago had it been readily available in US stores, unfortunately it was not and I went a different route which for me ultimately probably turned out better as well. Whether Leica offers 1, 2 or 3 film cameras is IMO not that important, what is important though is that they can increase their supply and get more film cameras out there.

      • Yes, it would be nice if the American shops had them in stock more often. From what I have heard, I think Japan is easily the biggest market for new Leica film cameras, and so I guess that is where Leica keeps sending them. I have also often found them in stock at some of the British and European shops.

        • From Jono elsewhere in cyberspace: “Leica have completely revamped the supply chain for components so that they should be able to produce the cameras quickly, and be able to repair them for the foreseeable future.” and “As I understand it . . the problem Leica have making the MP (and the M-A to a lesser extent) is that many of the parts were made by suppliers who no longer exist, so creating another camera with the same internals would be pretty stupid.”. Sounds good!

          • This is more or less what I heard. I was discussing this with Jono at the weekend. A Leica representative explained that up to recently, the MPs were made using old stock from the parts bin. But when they returned to the suppliers for new stuff, many of the companies had gone out of business. And others had destroyed the tools. So they have set up a new supply chain, as you say, and the inference is that it will speed up the production of all film cameras. Let’s hope so.

            Strangely enough, I had been under the impression that the MP and M-A were on backorder everywhere. And I had previously been told by a dealer friend that they were trickling in, and they couldn’t get enough of them. But today, in a little chat, I heard that one leading dealer had only one on back-order. So I don’t know what to make of all this.

            I thought that if the MP and M-A backlog is so great, the new M6 would attract a lot of patient buyers who would feel they could get a camera sooner. We will have to wait and see how this works out.

          • It sounds like demand might outstrip supply but not by much and we are probably talking small numbers for both.

      • With Stephan head of operations I do not expect dramatic proactive improvement of hiring and training staff which also impacts the service department and quick rangefinder adjustment. Leica is a premium unique product in many ways so that is the reason they will continue to survive the shrinking camera market while the rest of the manufacturers fight it out pursuing shrinking market with features enthusiasts and professionals do not really need.
        I think the new M6 is brilliant but film is no longer my cup of tea. However, there are a lot of people wanting to get back to the mindset of film – if only I had the space for processing film. But the M11 monochrom will fill that void in my joy of photography.

        • Stefan is one of that small band of CEOs who began at the bottom. In his case that was as an apprentice nearly 40 years ago. He knows every nook and cranny of the business and can probably still build and service a film camera himself. He certainly has the best interests of Leica at heart.

    • Or as a professional tool, which have always cost a bit. It is probably not for the average young user who sees film as a hip pursuit. Although those in their 30s are probably the youngest generation that grew up with film as the main medium, I hope there are still some youth out there who see film in a more traditional, old school way as the main professional format.

  3. My point is same as some happy special editions all seems to be addressed to that range of people. Except for the price. So, for an old guy with flowers shirt and shorts.
    It is a professional tool for romantic photographers still using film, like me. But I won’t buy one. It’s actually TTL (meter through lens), ain’t? It seems they keep the original battery model, quite a bit annoying.

    • Yes, many of the special editions are a bit questionable. And while I don’t think this new M6 was necessary in Leica’s current collection of film cameras, it is an interesting option to have, with some differences to the MP and M-A, and it is encouraging to see a new regular production film camera introduced.

      The metering is TTL, but there is not TTL flash metering (which was the “TTL” designation on the old M6 TTL). The battery seems fine to me for the light demands placed upon it. I imagine many users might also skip the battery altogether and use it with an external handheld light meter like the Spectra Cine Professional IV-A, Gossen DIGIPRO F2, or Gossen SIXTOMAT F2.

      • Those are of course wonderful cameras. For me already a bit heavy in the modern times of Fuji’s and CL. That’s just what I meant with TTL, thanks. Batteries (4x instead of 2x really hard to find now) are so fast consuming in my M7 and uncomfortable to fill.
        Since M8 I thought it was time to jump into something new. Now the idea of a new and affordable design for a film camera seems to me specially adequate in my opinion.

        • The question of batteries didn’t come up in any of my briefings, and, of course, I forgot to ask. It seems reasonable that they would have produced the new camera with the latest batteries in mind, so it may differ from the original in this respect.

          • It seems the same battery container. The originals were DL 1/3N by Duracell. Nearly impossible to find at least around here. They always worked really good in my experience. Since long ago the very common half size model (to use 4x, sorry the ones I have are reference less) is what available. Annoying and with a really short life every time I replaced them.

          • You mentioned the M7 before, where the batteries are also powering the shutter mechanism. On the M6 and MP, the batteries only operate the light meter and so have much lighter demands. Because the shutter mechanism is mechanical on the MP and M6, you can also skip the batteries altogether if you will not use the light meter.

            Leica specifies for the new M6: “2 Silver oxide button cells (PX76/SR44) or 1 Lithium battery (DL1/3N)”.

          • Two of the Maxell SR44W (357) silver oxide batteries made in Japan would do the job well.

  4. I watched a YouTube video the other day. The author, although grateful to Leica for being the only camera manufacturer that still puts out new film cameras, also stated that he thought the re-issue of the M6 would do little to nothing to advance film photography in general whereas a re-issue of the (cheaper) film Leica CL potentially could have had more effect Food for thought.

    • Hi, the market will speak. If I was a film buff in 2022, I would want a new M6 or new Nikon FM2 or new Minolta 9 or Mamiya 6/7. I find a lot of pontificating reviews critique anything Leica does. They do quite a bit right! I love my M11 and SL2-S. I would like a new CL but no manufacturer is perfect. However, as I pontificate, Leica will do well in the camera bloodbath that is coming as the general manufacturers battle it out. I appreciate the unique craftsmanship of Leica and have saved up over the years to a Leica system. It is not for sports but I do not do the specialty of sports. Luckily every other vendor is fighting for that market segment. 😅
      As my final observation, Leica is not doing anything for the film market. They are responding to a need for film film cameras that bring money in. A camera manufacturer of a few thousand cameras will not save the film market. This is like peeing into the ocean of film market and looking to see if it turns yellow. Seriously? Leica is only making new M6s as it sees a market opportunity with minimal investment. Even Stephan, I apologize for being somewhat negative, can understand an obvious market opportunity that has no risk and the upside is wonderful.

      I promise that this is my last Stephan negative remark if he can reduce my experience, twice, of 6 months of rangefinder recalibration down to two to 3 weeks. Seriously, what do you do if your name is not Thorsten or Jono? But I still love my M11 rangefinder as I have an SL2-S as a backup. By the way, if I become a LSI member, do I get to ask Stephan these questions at meetings or do I get hauled out by Leica security? However, I will not let Stephan ruin my joy of Leica as Voigtlander, Panasonic, and Sigma make my joy complete. Cheers!

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