Home Film Leica M6 2022: A mix of essay and review

Leica M6 2022: A mix of essay and review

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Occasionally over the past few months, I have I wondered what post-hypnotic suggestion pointed me unswervingly in the direction of the latest retro Meisterstück from Wetzlar, the Leica M6 2022. Was it a madcap idea to shell out the best part of €4,000 when I already own a pristine and fully serviceable M6 TTL that does the same job? The decision is subjective, but based on solid perceptions.

The new M6 is a wonderful tool, the perfect companion for the optics that snap into the M bayonet to lock photons precisely into film emulsion. But it is more. It’s a symbol, a statement. It is proof that it is still possible today to build a highly engineered device that will most likely last for decades. The Leica M6 2022 can even be described as an exercise in high-technology, but technology of a type that will last more than a few years. All this, perhaps, that explains my apparent madness.

Anyone who raises their eyebrows sceptically at the term “high-tech” in relation to the M6 should get rid of the misconception that this term applies only to devices overloaded with microelectronics. On the contrary, everyone must have realised by now that this usually has a catastrophic effect on durability. Yet “High-tech” certainly also encompasses a device like the Leica M6 2022, which consists of a myriad (more than 1100 parts) of fine mechanical and optical components with extremely low manufacturing tolerances.

The electronic part (the exposure meter) plays only a subordinate role for the camera. In positive terms, this means that the camera also works if the battery fails. After all, the M6 itself works without electricity. It uses the kinetic energy that is supplied when you cock the shutter.

If you were to rank tech devices in terms of repairability and expected lifespan, you could look at the bottom of the list for almost everything that surrounds us daily. But the M6 will always be near the top for longevity.

Metaphysical considerations

As a teenager, I read Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” series. It’s a future scenario of a super-civilisation centred on the planet Trantor, which had been completely built over as a megacity. A scholar discovers the principles by which civilisations rise and fall and calls this science “psychohistory”. Foreseeing the fall of the empire, he founds the “Foundation” on a distant planet to preserve the knowledge of mankind. The decline of civilisation is exemplified, for example, by the fact that technicians could maintain machines but could no longer repair them or that spaceship drives could no longer be built because the knowledge had been lost.

This idea of “Psychohistory” immediately reminded me of the work with the provocative title, “The Decline of the West”, by the philosopher Oswald Spengler, which we had been discussing in history class at the time. Asimov had clearly cheated there. Spengler compares all high cultures, finds parallels in the course and schedule of early times, maturation, flowering and inexorable decline and thus also establishes a certain predictability. This is psychohistory. Spengler’s views were already the subject of controversy and criticism in his time.

The decline of the West

When the original M6 appeared in the early 1980s, I had just graduated from high school and was training to be a car mechanic because I originally wanted to be an automotive engineer. Well, obviously, nothing came of it, but that’s another story. Anyway, I repaired cars that were designed in the 1970s, everything from the Opel Kadett to the Chevrolet Corvette or Cadillac Fleetwood. In the event of defects, everything was repairable — in direct contrast with today.

It was seldom necessary to replace entire units in those days. I could have dismantled and reassembled a Solex carburettor wearing a blindfold. A car from that time could still be on the road in 50 years (provided there is fuel and the odd spare part or two), but there will never be any vintage cars (classic cars) from our present. My sadness about this is, of course, limited. But if I could today buy a newly manufactured VW T2 or T3 “Bulli” with a four-cylinder horizontally opposed “boxer” engine on the rear axle, would I take it? In a heartbeat! To hell with all assistance systems!

That is sentimental wishful thinking, of course, even without mentioning the thorny matters of driving safety and emissions. Even leaving cars aside, everyone who saw the light of day before the millennial generation is guaranteed to be aware of technical objects from their youth and professional environment that more than adequately served their purpose. It’s not that they were indestructible, but you could repair them with simple means almost until the end of time.

When I did my military service as a medical officer in 1990, I had treatment units from the medical supplier Ritter AG in my dental group. They dated back to 1974, yet had everything I needed (and need, even today). Turbine, contra-angle, handpiece, ultrasound. The subtle difference to my current tools is simply that these ancestors had no electronics. For example, bicycle valves were used as non-return valves, a ten-penny item if they became calcified. Today I have to pay at least €500 for my Sirona units because it is guaranteed that only complete assemblies can be replaced.

The other day, my radio and TV technician was here (he is retired) and looked wistfully at my Pioneer amplifier. “There’s nothing that good any more,” was his comment. And the radio: my parents’ radio, a “Grundig Zauberklang” (“magic sound”) from the 1950s, is ready for use in my study (I like to use it as a support for the Colorchecker card which you can see in the M11 Hands-on, for example).

The 1979 Olympus XA from the forge of the great Yoshihisa Maitani

One push of a button and the valves get warm, and the “magic eye” on the front slowly starts to glow green. As long as there are still waves in the ether, it will receive them. Or take my plumber, referring to our Vaillant gas boiler: “Don’t replace it as long as the exhaust gas values are acceptable; you won’t get this quality again.”

And to come back to cameras: It’s not as though it were only the high-end (professional) cameras that were made in such a way that many still operate perfectly. No, even the “normal” consumer cameras were obviously made to last, if not for the proverbial eternity, and no comparable contemporary product can match that. Jörg-Peter Rau has just published his wonderful review of the Olympus 35RC, which belongs to this category. But no wonder, because this is a device from the workshop of the great Yoshihisa Maitani (a nice short biography here). I have an Olympus XA, one of the absolutely most ingenious small pocket cameras, also intended for the wider market at the time.

I could go on like this forever. So, is this now the delusional transfiguration of the past or has something gone wrong in terms of production technology since the end of the 90s at the latest? Certainly, this wouldn’t be the industry’s perspective. Everything, absolutely everything, has been degraded to a disposable product. And, of course, digital cameras do, too, even if they have the red dot (which noticeably lengthens, if not negates, the effect).

It is fair to say that the fault cannot be placed solely on the manufacturers; the changed purchasing behaviour of consumers is as much to blame. For example, the product cycles of cameras (of any brand) were more than ten years until the turn of the millennium. The M6 was produced from 1984 to 2002. The onset of digitisation of many devices since the late 1990s also implies the use of integrated circuits. Moore’s Law (which is actually not a law of nature, but a rule of thumb) describes that the complexity of processors (and you can include image sensors in this) doubles every one or two years.

In the past, the consumer didn’t see the need to upgrade their film cameras every few years. But, suddenly, there were significant performance gains in digital cameras in a relatively short time. For many, it absolutely had to be “the latest and greatest”, and the industry responded with radically shortened product cycles. Longevity was no longer a factor, and neither was repairability.

This, I know, is speaking broadly, and we can assume that Leica (as a special case) does much to keep its products alive as long as possible. But they still don’t quite get out of the digital rot dilemma. The repairability alone does not solve the problem of missing spare parts because suppliers simply no longer produce them (for example, M8 or M9 sensors).

That’s the cue to throw in one of the reasons (there are many) why I still shoot analogue. You have negatives. You have to bend over backwards with digital files, copy them constantly and make backups because it is utopian to expect a hard drive to remain undamaged after a few years. Negatives stay the course. The effort is low, you store them dry in a drawer, and you can take them out and use them after 50 years (or much longer).

Over time, I have always made sure to photograph my family (the growing children!) and friends on film as well as digitally. When everything digital goes down the drain, the negative remains.

My grandfather was a keen amateur photographer and left me a margarine box of 6×9 negatives (many of them taken before the war). You can make prints just as easily as on the day the negatives emerged from the developer. Some have suffered a tad, undoubtedly, but dust or scratches can be removed. I’d like to see how people in 70 years’ time will resuscitate their smartphone memories.

As so often, I had doubts about whether I should publish my deepest thoughts in this way. This item has been on hold for a long time. But just a few days ago, I read an almost identical “rant” on Casual Photophile, and it showed me that I’m not alone in my quirky views.

The Leica M6, comparative evolution

The Leica M6, built in 2022, skips 40 years of decadence (by the way, this word comes from the Latin cadere: to sink, fall) and, for me, is an object that might have emerged from a time machine. That’s why I bought it, even though I already own an M6 TTL in excellent condition.

What I first felt to be an irrational, impulsive action (hence “posthypnotic” in the opening paragraphs) turns out to be at least partially justifiable in retrospect. In general, the M6 TTL is seen as the “top of the evolution” of mechanical Leicas. Opinion may be divided on this (I think the M4 is pretty close, for example), but let’s accept that thesis for the argument that follows.

I used to have a “classic” M6 and later replaced it with an originally packaged M6 TTL that a dealer in Hong Kong had had stashed away for 20 years (and that purchase was another of those “must-have” moments). That was before the M6 boom, which started around 2018 when it was suddenly hyped like crazy on YouTube, and this subsequently drove up prices.

On the one hand, of course, this “new” TTL was a beautiful object in black chrome and still had the coveted viewfinder magnification of 0.85, which is optimal for a 35mm focal length and suited my preferences very well. The light meter display in the viewfinder now had a dot in the middle. It’s not just cosmetic because it enables finer adjustment of the exposure (depending on which diodes light up together and how intensively). The M6 TTL became my favourite tool when I wanted to capture moving subjects in changing lighting conditions, for example, in theatres or concerts. In dozens of articles on my website, you can find pictures from the classic M6 and the M6 TTL. Most recently, in the post on the new Apollon scans (sorry, this link is available only in German) in March of this year. Shortly after this, I acquired the new M6…

…a decision which I have oft pondered on. The purchase decision was indeed impulsive, but not as irrational as I had assumed. When Leica announced they were re-launching the M6, initially, I wondered why they didn’t resurrect the TTL version. This, according to popular prejudice, is the “best” M6.

Perhaps at this point, the supposed superiority of the M6 TTL has to be addressed: That the large shutter-speed dial wheel is in the “logical” direction of rotation. Admittedly, I also parroted the mantra faithfully in the past. But in reality, it’s not an argument at all. Because first, the small wheel of the classic M6 (and also the new M6) is easy to operate with one finger when looking through the viewfinder.

Second, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to remember the direction of rotation, since you simply turn the dial against the arrowhead with your finger placed in front. That becomes “muscle memory” in no time at all. And the “logical” direction of rotation with the M6 TTL also comes with the penalty of a slightly higher housing. Just a few millimetres, I admit, but it is similar to the difference between the M240 and the M10 in body depth. The new (or classic) M6, therefore, feels a little more compact than the M6 TTL.

And there’s more: Some M6 owners had to learn the hard way that it is not a good idea simply to leave any exposure time on the speed dial. Because a little pressure on the shutter release activates the exposure meter, and that often happens in the camera bag. With the result that the button cells are sucked empty in no time. You have to remember to set the M6 (classic or new) to “B” when not in use, and then the exposure meter is inactive. Unfortunately, the speed dial with the “OFF” position added to the TTL is no progress at all compared to the M6. Because whether you are forced to consider setting the camera to “Off” or “B” doesn’t matter at the end of the day. You can still forget it.

The improved display of the light balance in the viewfinder has been adopted faithfully from the M6 TTL.

The only real advantage of the M6 TTL has not been removed at all with the new Leica M6 2022 model. That’s the improved exposure meter display in the viewfinder.

With the two arrow-shaped diodes on the Classic M6, it was certainly possible to distinguish between overexposure and underexposure by half a stop. The additional dot in the middle makes it easier and refines it to quarter stops (although one can object that quarter apertures are pretty irrelevant for film).

The range of the exposure meter had also become greater with the TTL: -2 to 20 EV (-1 to 20 EV with the classic M6), and that is the same with the new M6 2022. The latter also displays a battery symbol in good time next to the LEDs before the button cells become too weak.

What the TTL can also offer is the extended flash function. Since I don’t use flash at all (and that may be my ignorance), that’s not a factor for me. I find it difficult to get pleasing results with on-camera flash (deer in the headlight effect). You risk crushing all the beauty of ambient light in a scene. Fill-in flash options are also limited because of the necessary exposure times of 1/50s or longer, which can be just too long for moving subjects. That’s not to say you can’t get pleasing results with flash (or modern LED light sources); it just takes more work and finesse than simply fitting one on top of the camera. Of course, there are people who really get into it.

The blessings of the Leica M6 2022

But in other respects, the new M6 surpasses both the classic M6 and the TTL, if only marginally in some respects. First, the rangefinder is clearly superior; it is “state of the art”. I also find that the viewfinder magnification of 0.72 suits me very well, despite my preference for a 35mm focal length, because in this way, I can see the 35mm frame completely, even when wearing glasses. And the fact that 28mm is also included as an option is a bonus. Due to my laziness, it’s also the case that I manage without an attachable viewfinder, even with a 21mm lens.

Sure, the 0.85 viewfinder of the M6 TTL (they also came with 0.72 or 0.58) is often over-hyped. It tends to blur the focus patch, which can become completely white and unusable at certain angles to the light. This was also the case with the classic M6.

The new, modern rangefinder in the current model is so much more anti-reflective that it no longer matters at all. It is as bright and clear as the M11’s finder, and such an improved viewfinder makes image creation that much easier, in terms of composition and particularly in focus. I suspect the rangefinder is more accurate than film requires. But hey, why not a little overkill?

Let’s summarise briefly: The new M6 is a camera with the dimensions of the classic M6 but with an improved exposure meter (light balance and extended measuring range) and battery indicator in the rangefinder. It has superior properties (brightness, coating of all optical surfaces) and a high-precision exposure meter. The housing of the original M6 Classic was made entirely of die-cast zinc; now, it is die-cast magnesium. The top plate and baseplate are made of milled brass, all in all, of higher quality and probably also more stable. Some inner workings of the modern M6 certainly come from the Leica MP, and the components for this are extra robust. “The finest materials and manufacturing techniques of the highest precision,” to quote Leica marketing jargon.

Behind this is the fact that Leica fortunately never disposed of its production machines for many components of the M6 (they are in Portugal), and the know-how was also available. For example, how to sew shutter curtains and open up new supply chains for them, in the specific case of the rubberised cloth that used to come from a raincoat manufacturer. With well over 1000 parts making up the camera, there are many that you can’t just conjure out of the blue. Here is an interesting article about the production.

And apparently, the start of production of the new M6 didn’t go entirely smoothly either. There was a batch of cameras from the early series where pressure plates caused scratches on the film (“scratchgate”, I think it was called). Something like that is always embarrassing and, of course, especially worrying considering the claims and marketing statements made by Leica. Unfortunately, it leads to the usual malice and, of course, dissatisfaction (in different degrees) among those affected. In any case, my M6 produces negatives with a flawless surface. I became aware of the problem only through the article on Macfilos.

Undoubtedly, a film camera is incredibly complex to manufacture, and even more so if, unlike Leica, you start from scratch. That’s why no other manufacturer has come up with something like this in such a short time. Pentax has started a project to develop a compact film camera with a fixed focal length lens (fast, wide angle), which makes it sound like a film Q). The know-how is also a factor here: They were able to bring back older engineers who could tell them how to do it.

Black chrome paint, as used on the TTL, is nice but is now considered unfriendly to the environment during production. A special paint is now used. I have both cameras in front of me. The feel of the surfaces (chrome or lacquer) is identical and cannot be distinguished with the naked eye. Pleasantly smooth. I say that because in an interview on “Three Blind Men and an Elephant”, Andrea Pacella (Leica Marketing) said it was the same paint as that used on the M11. I’ve never handled a black M11 but remember complaints about its roughness. From the descriptions, it sounded more like sandpaper.

Compared to the other film Leicas (the MP and M-A that are available for purchase, if you can get them), the slanted rewind button with crank makes it effortless to change films (the “quick loading system”). Small detail, but makes life a lot easier. Of course, this applies to all M4 and M6 models.

There is another thing that comes with the market launch of the new M6, which is not a limited edition but should remain in production. Supply chains for components and spare parts are established and optimised, which also affects the repair options and value retention of the classic M6 and TTL. For example, the exposure meter of the classic M6 could no longer be repaired; this is now possible again (and you will also get the useful spot in the middle if you have the meter changed).

In practical use

And which M6 is now the best? Always the ones you have, of course! I have owned all variants in service over the years and always felt that I had the best tool for analogue rangefinder photography in my hands. The attraction of the camera is the consistent renunciation of “bells and whistles” (of which there were enough in analogue cameras of the 80s, and they grew further in the 90s). It offers only the absolute “basic” functions that are required. Part of the hype is based on that.

Especially with the M6 TTL, I captured a lot of “action” at events, although everything is fully manual. For people with modern, fully automatic devices, it is difficult to imagine that this is possible, but it requires minimum effort. And if the “dismantling” of the TTL in the “Comparative Evolution” paragraph creates the wrong impression: If you’re not such a sentimental crank as me and have a well-preserved M6 or M6 TTL, there is no reason to upgrade because of the marginal advantages of the new M6 described.

The “new” Leica M6 has nevertheless been optimised a little and made more user-friendly for me, even if only on a bean-counter basis. It has been my companion since March, mostly with the 35 Apo-Summicron or Ultron bolted to the front. From March to June, I sent some Silbersalz 250D films through the camera’s film transport, trying out all possible and impossible exposure situations. I have scattered photos throughout this article, and I hope they reflect the range that you also have with analogue possibilities. Of course, modern digital devices go beyond these limits. But with a little improvisation, more can be done in analogue than perhaps a “digital-only” oriented photo enthusiast would expect. And for feeding the ego, there is perhaps the side effect that a little more initiative goes into the analogue image creation process.

It’s not significant that I used only Silbersalz film; it has more to do with the supplies I had in the freezer. But accordingly, they were also developed in Stuttgart and digitised with the Apollon scanner. The original files are around 140 MP, and the images on the website are just 2560 pixels per side.

I always develop a certain ambition when the lighting conditions tend towards low light, and 125 ASA is actually quite limiting. With a 35mm lens, I still dare to take photographs at 1/8s handheld, and that is definitely possible with a rangefinder camera (which has no mirror wobble). Of course, the M6 is not the only camera to which this applies.

The longest selectable exposure time is one second (after that comes “B”: expose as long as you want), and even with 125 ASA, you can still capture plenty of photons. Since I’m far too lazy to lug a tripod around, I always find a railing or something to support the camera. Even in very dim lighting conditions, the “antiquated” exposure metering of the measuring cell in the housing works excellently via the reflection on the shutter cloth.

The measuring cell for the exposure, at the top left of the housing, aligned exactly with the bright spot of the shutter curtain

Initially, I still sometimes pulled out the Gossen (or cheated: if the M11 was there, set the exposure values and watched what came out in live view), but that proved to be superfluous. This provides me with another opportunity to mention how silly it was of Leica to abandon this method of measurement on the M11. And the subsequent justification that the manufacturer of the semiconductor (the measuring cell in the housing) is discontinuing production is implausible. So where do they get the parts for the M6 or the necessary spare parts for all other M models with this hardware equipment?

In normal lighting conditions, you don’t need to get excited; the M6 is a reliable companion for capturing everything in your private life (holidays, excursions, family celebrations) on film and making it future-proof for many years to come. If there is a lot of movement in the picture and there is enough light (or there is a correspondingly sensitive film in the camera), you can get by with the shortest time of 1/1000s to freeze even very fast scenes.

Two photos taken with the assistance of the bridge railings for support

On the Ardèche, I was able to take photos of whitewater canoeing with the Leica M6 just as easily as with the M11. Focusing with the most advanced rangefinder Leica has to offer is a dream — in any light. The one in the TTL is excellent, but the one in the new M6 is superior. Of course, if you didn’t have the comparison…

With a “normal” lens in front of it (not with a brick such as a Noctilux), the M6 is comfortable to wear (it’s lighter than the M11) and is very unobtrusive. This means that if subjects notice it, they tend not to feel pressured. You have the well-known bonus of holding a retro camera, totally unthreatening. I enjoy just carrying the camera with one lens and capturing what makes for good compositions for the chosen focal length (be it 35 or 50mm).

I’m assuming the Leica M6 2020 is a sturdy camera. I’ve often taken the camera with me on my bike; it sometimes scraped along the rocks on an intensive hike (but no trace of these encounters can be found). The camera has already been hit by rain and heat, and I see no reason to pack it in cotton wool. Cameras like this have to cope with everything; otherwise, I can’t use them.

Conclusion

Now, you could say that all of these things apply to practically every analogue M-Leica. But (apart from the M-A and MP) none can be bought new. If you own an M6 TTL in such good condition as I do, there is little rational justification for purchasing the new M6. I have also spoken about my motivations which, to put it mildly, are more beyond the cerebral cortex.

I tend to keep my cameras in top condition, but many owners prefer to show the wear and tear of the years on their devices. Here we are back to the topic from the beginning of the article: Of course, film M models can be kept forever, and that is what is special about Leica. But I just find it fascinating to be able to use a “new/old”, fully mechanical camera with optimal components.

Technology from forty years ago, but reset to zero again. And that, finally, is the main reason for purchasing the new M6: a fully mechanical “state of the art” camera, like new without the slightest wear and tear, built to last for generations.


Visit the author’s website (in German)

Read more from Claus Sassenberg on Macfilos

The Leica M6 on Macfilos, introduction, reviews, comments



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26 COMMENTS

  1. Great article! As was said before, the photos do all the talking. Wonderful colors coming out of that Silbersalz!! Too bad they don’t offer 120 film (or at least, I could not find any….)

  2. Dear Mr Claus Sassenberg

    Thank you for your most interesting article regarding the new Leica M 6. I normally read your articles on your own website, to keep my German ship shape .I fully understand your fascination of owning a brand new mechanical Leica Camera. At my 14 years birthday I was presented by my mother a brand new Leica IIIg Camera which I still own and use . After only 48 years the shutter was worn out and must be repaired, which was possible. But how “disappointing” I thought Leica was for lifetime, as the ads said when I was a boy. As you can imagine this is som time ago.On the other hand my Leica M9 after 3 years needed a new sensor, and it can no longer be repaired.

    I fully understand your frustration over modern technology which can’t be repaired ( In am myself partly responsible as I am an engineer) I have travelled around most of the world with my camera if there was something wrong with it I was myself able to repair it.. But people who are able to make such repairs are more and more rare. Repairing by myself my modern camera is not longer possible. If I take my digital camera apart I would be standing as Moses by the red Sea and not knowing what to do because I could not get any spare parts.

    The gentleman who don’t understand your fascination on the fully mechanical camera and the other older mechanical things , ( he may think it would be more appropriate with an app on his smartphone)is probably not teknical educated and do understand the term technische Schönheit it’s common in your language and in my language.

    if I was a professional photographer I would use digital cameras because it functions, it’s cheap and it’s quick. I believe that most of the readers of this block are amateurs and do photography for fun. As amateur I am interested the process , it is not the results which are the most important part.

    The main difference between digital photography and photography with film is that you are forced to think think forward .In digital photography you don’t have to think, you have to correct your mistakes in some kind of software. I fully understand why the late Erwin Puts switch back to film photography.

    I hope you will continue to write your interesting articles on your website.

    Yours sincerely

    Paul de Kruiff

    • Paul,

      There are some of us (me included) who do not do “post processing”. At least not yet. For me, shooting jpegs only is a little like shooting slide film: you think before you shoot if you want to be pleased with the result.

      One other comment: not to be argumentative, but Moses did know what to do; he “read the instructions” !

    • Dear Mr. de Kruiff,

      thank you for your kind words and it is a pleasure to meet a reader of my own website here! And let me assure you: I don’t think it’s the fault of the engineers that things turned out the way they are now (I wanted to be one myself, and I still have to “engineer” things in my profession (apart from the inevitable medical requirements), so I can relate).
      As to the “not understanding” Gentleman, what irks me is not that he is of another opinion, but that he is very rude about it and doesn’t seem to realize it.
      But yes, us being all Amateurs, we are allowed to indulge in “the process” itself, as fortunately there is no client awaiting results.
      And I miss Erwin Puts.

      All the Best,

      Claus

  3. I applaud Leica for continuing to produce and especially service Leica M film cameras. That being said, I thought about buying one last year and decided against it. I looked at Leica R and Nikon F instead and ended up getting a Leica R6.2 and a Leica R8. As long as these excellent cameras are available for a fraction of the cost of a Leica M6 it in my opinion does not make much sense to buy a brand new M6.

  4. Interesting article. I have an Agfa Billy Record from 1934 which still works perfectly and produces lovely images despite being almost 90 years old. As does my Leica M2 from 1960. It is a pity more things aren’t made to last nowadays.

  5. The caption to the 1st photo shows: “The Leica M6 2022, with 50mm Summicron (Leitz Canada)” ..but as far as I can see, Leitz Canada now makes circular saw blades, not cameras.

    Their own website says: “The Leitz Group is the world’s leading manufacturer of tools for the professional processing of solid wood and wood derived materials as well as plastics, non-ferrous metals and composite materials”. No cameras there, so perhaps some slip-up.

    I’m looking forward to Ford re-making the Model T so that I can hand-crank the engine, travel at 20mph (..if I’m lucky..) and freeze on winter roads. I mean, that’s what you want from a car, isn’t it?

    Or maybe I should wait for Daguerre’s descendants to offer a new Daguerrotype camera.

    Would you buy a re-issued mains-only Medium, Short and Long wave valve-powered radio which can’t receive VHF/FM broadcasts? Would you buy a re-issued black-&-white 405-line TV? ..Would you write this review with a goose quill?

    Instead of putting essays here on the internet, surely it’s preferable to distribute them by Dockwra’s or Hill’s penny post, with a portrait of Queen Victoria or King Charles on a little sticker..?

    Nostalgia’s not what it was..

    • I don’t think you can comment much more begrudgingly than that, nor can the content be more misunderstood with such malicious intent. But that says more about you than it does about me.

      • No malice intended, Claus.

        What I’m saying is that if one already has an M6, why buy a ‘new’ one? The pictures won’t look any different. I’ve got a few old Leicas which work perfectly well ..an M3, an M4-P (28mm finder), a IIIb, etc. But why buy a ‘new’ version of one of those? Why not just use what one has, and maybe buy a few different lenses to use on the existing camera(s)?

        It’s not as if a ‘new old’ camera has a better sensor; just put a new, improved, roll of film in an old M6.

        You asked the question right at the start of the piece: “Was it a madcap idea to shell out the best part of €4,000 when I already own a pristine and fully serviceable M6 TTL that does the same job?”

        And, simply put, my answer is ‘Yes’ ..I’m just replying honestly to what you asked us. No malice intended.

        David.

        • I must say I don’t fully understand this dispute. But I will state that your paragraph starting with “What I am saying . . . ” would have gotten the point across to begin with more succinctly, without the appearance of malice.

    • If nostalgia is “not what it was” David, how do you explain the fact that I went to a store yesterday in Tokyo that has an entire floor devoted to selling vinyl records and the sales of this product are increasing and outselling a more modern one like compact discs?
      If nostalgia is not what it was, how could Leica produce and sell a new version of the M6? Nostalgia will always be what it is.
      Applying your thought process to a modern product .. If you already have an iPhone,why buy a new one? Yet people do even though the new features are often not needed or significant.Why do I still listen to music on compact cassettes when I could easily stream music? Because I enjoy the process of recording and also listening to music without having to use menus. I simply insert the cassette and press play. Also because of nostalgia which for me anyway, is the same as it has always been.

      • Nostalgia has been very strong with my generation (Called baby-boomers in the USA).

        But we are dying out. Will later generations take up the nostalgia mantle? Have they already?

        • As Stephen says, there is great demand for nostalgic products among the younger generation. For several years, Leica M6 “classics” have been growing in popularity among young film enthusiasts. So much so that prices of these last-century models have grown apace. It’s not uncommon to see £3,000-plus price tags for well-presented M6 and M6TTL models, so the leap to a new M6, as described by Claus, is not all that great.

          Answering your point, Martin, I believe there will always be nostalgic interest in products of yesteryear, often products made just before one was born. I have this feeling about old cars and motorcycles, not to mention old cameras, and I still keep a couple of manual typewriters on a shelf in my office. They come in very useful for filling forms, and I often get one of them down, stick in a sheet of paper, and type randomly as a perverted form of relaxation. The deep path of the keys, the familiar old clack-clack-clack, and the perambulating carriage can be thoroughly therapeutic. Each to his own.

          • Annotations and Clarifications:

            “Nostalgia’s not what it was..” ..I’m sorry that this went over some people’s heads: it’s a (..well known?..) Joke. A bit like “Deja vu all over again”. It’s ‘self-referential’ ..it means that some people long for a previous version of nostalgia which was better than the one we have today. That some people – not anyone here, of course! – are never satisfied with what they’ve got, and long for an older, or re-hashed-older, version of it.

            Glad I cleared that up! (Did I..?)

            Mike says “..there is great demand for nostalgic products among the younger generation..” ..very true. But – unless I’m hopelessly wrong – I don’t think that Claus belongs to “..the younger generation..” and I get the impression that he’s more my age (..just turned 76 three days ago ..aaarrggh). So the appeal of a re-issued old Leica, for Claus, is, I think, NOT the same as its appeal to a “..younger generation”. Apples and Oranges.

            “..I went to a store yesterday in Tokyo that has an entire floor devoted to selling vinyl records and the sales of this product are increasing and outselling a more modern one like compact discs?..” ..COMPACT DISCS? ..are “more modern”? ..they’ve passed and gone. They’re next in line for a nostalgia revival: music is downloaded or streamed nowadays ..keep up, Stephen. (Joke.)

            There is no need to feel personally insulted, Claus. You decided that you wanted a new-old M6. Why be insulted if I choose not to? ..What suits me clearly doesn’t suit you, but why should you pay any attention to my opinion? If my opinion doesn’t match yours, then just ignore mine. My opinion carries no weight; I’m just one of many millions of people. What suits you, suits you ..you don’t need to pay any attention to me.

            You asked a question, ““Was it a madcap idea to shell out the best part of €4,000..” etc ..and I responded. I’m not saying you were wrong, I’m just saying that in my opinion – because you asked – I think it’s daft. But I’m just a person with an opinion which doesn’t coincide with yours ..it’s not the end of the world; no need to feel offended. I like the photos of Monsieur Lartigue: I think they’re ‘innocent’, delightfully framed, convey a simple love of life ..whereas others may think them ‘self-indulgent’, reflecting a privileged lifestyle, inconsequential ..different people have different attitudes ..there is no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ..just individual opinions.

            I like the photos which I take ..other people may think they’re rubbish. That doesn’t bother me, as I take them for me, not for others’ approval. I have no interest in what other people think of my photos, or my hobbies, or my photo equipment ..I enjoy it all for what simple pleasure it gives to me only.

            Your delights and mine may differ ..so what? ..Don’t let that spoil your weekend.

            ..My views really are unimportant for you. Enjoy, instead, your own ideas ..and enjoy your M6!

    • HI David
      I quote:

      “The caption to the 1st photo shows: “The Leica M6 2022, with 50mm Summicron (Leitz Canada)” ..but as far as I can see, Leitz Canada now makes circular saw blades, not cameras.”

      . . . and then you carry on from that observation.

      But Claus only said his M6 was made in 2022, and 50mm Summicrons were made by Leitz in Canada for many years.

      . . . which seems to make the rest of your post pretty beside the point?

      All the best
      Jono

      • Hi Jono,

        I (mis-?) understood the reference “(Leitz Canada)” ..in those brackets.. to be – as is normally the case here on Macfilos – the credit for the photograph. As in “(Image Jonathan Slack, reproduced with permission)” under one of your pics in the article ‘RocknRoll Straps rescue the new Panasonic Lumix S5 II with its slots instead of lugs’.

        I’d have realised that it was simply a ‘Leitz Canada’ lens if the caption read “The Leica M6 2022, with 50mm (Leitz Canada) Summicron”.

        I think the rest of my comment ..”I’m looking forward to Ford re-making the Model T so that I can hand-crank the engine..” etcetera.. still stands.

        Yours with best wishes, David.

  6. Hi Claus, thank you for writing this very enjoyable and thought-provoking essay. It brings many thoughts to mind and so I apologize for the length of this comment! Firstly, when I heard about this camera I put my name on the waiting list at the Leica Store in Miami, since like you, I thought it would be wonderful to own a camera that would continue to function for multiple generations, provided it was well looked after, and access to film and servicing remained possible. I was imagining it becoming something like a family heirloom, and more likely to be retained and passed on than a large item of furniture or a Royal Doulton dinner service. I even thought of leaving it boxed and unused, in perfect condition, for those future generations. However, I do not know whether my children, or their children, would share my interest in photography and appreciate such a camera. Also, having become so accustomed to digital photography, the thought of shooting film seemed onerous and intimidating. So, I have taken myself off the waiting list. Since the camera is supposed to be in regular production, rather than a limited edition, I suppose I can change my mind if I feel pangs of regret. A further thought was prompted by the point you made in your essay about the longevity of negatives. My first experience in a darkroom was making prints of photographs of my four grandparents, all lined up at my parent’s wedding – a rare opportunity to have such a photograph taken. This would have been in the early 50’s. The negatives were thirty years old when I made the prints. It was a magical experience to see the image swimming into view in the developer tank. If I could locate the negatives now, I bet they could still be used to generate those prints. Once again, I really enjoyed that essay! All the best, Keith

    • Hi Keith,
      thank you very much for your kind words! It’s perfectly ok that you enjoy the blessings of digital photography and understandable that you don’t want to deal with “analogue” limitations anymore.
      I myself am currently more fixated on the Q3, which is quite the antithesis to the M6.
      Best, Claus

      • Hi Claus, I hope the occasional sarcastic comment you encounter will not discourage you from continuing to post your outstanding articles on Macfilos! All the best, Keith

    • I had to be dragged, kicking and screaming, as it were, into the digital age. First with Fujifilm X100 series, now with Nikon Df.

      That was nearly nine years ago. I thought I had left film photography behind forever, but now, thanks in part to Macfilos articles, against all odds I have recently purchased two Nikon F2 bodies. Dug out some rolls of film I had lying around, and looked into a local lab. (I still have all my darkroom equipment, but that might be a bridge too far).

      I have been using MF AiS lenses on the Df, so shooting film again should be a very natural transition (if rearward).

  7. Thanks for this article. This is one of the cases where your photos may speak louder than your words: the evening and night photos are amazing (and quite lovely). I would never have guessed they were possible (as an aside: has color film technology advanced since my film days in 1970?).

    The theme of the article reminds me of my spouses lament: she was trained as an electronics technician: with an oscilloscope she could spot the defective component on a circuit board, use a soldering iron to remove it and she’d likely have a new one in her kit. She was her company’s top tech in the American western states.

    An obsolete skill? No, that kind of thinking, that kind of skill, is never obsolete. But she has been made obsolete: it’s cheaper for a company to replace the entire circuit board than to pay a skilled tech to repair it.

    Case in point: our (previous) house was hit by lightning, starting a fire …. when we were allowed back after 18 months of repairs, our first floor furnace would attempt to fire up, but immeditely shut itself down. The techs were mystified, until spouse spoke up: “Do you think the lightning damaged the circuit board?” It never occured to them.

  8. Rather off topic. My wife and I were watching the 2022 film “Love & Gelato” last night. Our heroine, a young American woman just graduated from high school, makes a trip to Italy per her mother’s last wishes. Mother had gone on such a trip when she was a young woman.

    When she arrives she is gifted with her mother’s diary and camera, from a man who had known mother. Enough of the plot.

    The camera is obviously a Leica just from a glance. I freeze-framed a shot to get better info. I am not a Leica guy but I am fairly sure it is an M3. Of course our heroine is observed clicking away without advancing the film, just as if it was digital. Typical “Hollywood” screw-up.

    Just some useless trivia on my part.

    • And of course there is no need to focus. Just snap away, press the shutter and the focus and film advance is automatic. Isn’t it?

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