Why The Leica M6 is the Perfect Camera (But,You Don’t Need One)
Photography is a personal creative journey. On our journey we should select a tool that will help us along the way. When it comes to cameras, the options can easily become overwhelming.
Megapixels, pixel size, lenses, weatherproofing, DxO scores, and on and on are discussed. The most important thing though, is that you have a camera that you enjoy using.
The exact post escapes me, but photographer extraordinaire Michael Friberg had a blog post years ago. In it, he talked about camera equipment. One point he made stuck with me and still sticks with me: he stated that a bad photo at 6 megapixels will still be a bad photo at 100 megapixels, or something along those lines.
It’s so true.
There was a time when the only camera brands I knew about was Canon and Nikon. Until one day, someone said, “Those are good brands, but they’re not as good as a Leica.”
From that day forward, I became a little (lot) obsessed. Legendary photos were taken with a Leica. Icons of photography used Leica. The most expensive cameras were <sigh> Leica.
Finally, in 2015, I bought one. It was a black M6 in really good condition. In 2015, film camera prices, even for a Leica, were much lower than what they are now. Mine was in fantastic condition and the cost was $1,300.
From the first time I’d clicked the shutter button and listened with delight as the shutter made its almost-silent click, it was an infatuation for the M6. That love stemmed from the fact that the Leica rangefinder involved me in the process of photographing like no other camera had before.
You select the shutter speed and aperture, then click the shutter button. It’s a little more “work” to make good pictures with a Leica, but it’s also quite rewarding to see your photographic results after being deliberate with the composition, shutter speed, aperture—you know, photography.
There are, of course, other cameras that are simple, but, the Leica is extremely well-built and the quality is palpable when holding one. It has a substantial heft that feels like quality. And, most importantly, it’s pure joy to use.
Do you need one? Of course not. I’ve never been able to identify what camera was used to make an image, just by looking at the image. There are many good and beautiful cameras out there that are more than enough for a photographer’s needs. I picked up a Canonet QL17 GIII for under $100 and I was blown away by the quality of the images, and the shooting experience as well.
The prices for Leica cameras have increased dramatically. I found mine for $1,300 (remember, it was 2015 when I bought mine) and the cameras have doubled in price. Some scoff at Leica as a rich person’s toy. They are indeed expensive. At their current prices, I don’t think I’d replace mine if something were to happen to it. An important note though: a good used Leica can be purchased for about the price of some of the current digital cameras. Also, Leica film cameras have not only held their value, but have increased in value.
Actually, if you’re looking for a great film camera and have Canon lenses, just buy the Canon 1V and be done. That camera is exquisitely engineered. But, there are heaps of options out there. The Olympus PEN, the OM-1, the Nikon F2, F3, etc. There are a lot of wonderful cameras.
Leica M6—and almost all of the Leica film cameras—has the potential to offer a rewarding photographic experience to anyone who uses one. It’s not necessary to have one to enjoy photography though, please know that. Also, the Leica M6 is perfect…for me. It’s up to you to use a camera that you feel comfortable with and that allows you to make the types of images you want. And, that is the most important thing.
“The single most important component of a camera is the twelve inches behind it.”Ansel Adams
The paramount objective is for you to be taking pictures with whatever photographic tool you have that allows you to make images and have fun.