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Farewell to two Leicas

Top: M6 - gone, bottom: M3 - gone

Leica prices seem to be rising, so it makes sense to hang onto those red dotted light-tight joy boxes, but finances (truthfully: other purchases) have forced my hand.  I’ve just said farewell to two Leica Ms.  Since getting my mitts on an MP, I haven’t put any film through either of these, so it seemed to make sense to let them go.  I sold them to a nice chap over coffee.  He’s already an M6 user with a 50 cron and a 28/2.8 asph, looking to try the two-body approach.  Or perhaps he just saw a good price?

The M6 I owned for about six years.  It was a wonderful servant.  Such an honest camera, it proved itself time and time again.  No way I would have sold this if I didn’t have an MP, and was sorely tempted to keep it anyway, such was the great story behind it.

The series of dents you can see on the top plate date from when the original owner dropped it from the back of this motorbike 20 years ago.  Some kind person sent the camera Leica in Germany, who fixed it up and tracked down the original owner from the serial number. That original owner also happened to be an army medical officer, and this camera went with him to the top of K2.  You can’t imagine stories like that with the Fuji X100in 20 years, can you?

The Leica M6 is, for me: Paris, 2006.

I will always associate certain cameras with certain locales, as most of my concentrated photography happens when travelling.  This M6 will forever be Lisbon in 2005, and Paris in 2006, with a 35mm Summilux out front and Tri-X in the film hole.

The M3 is a more recent purchase, 15 months maybe.  It is of the dual-stroke, Buddha ears, self timer, lever rewind variety. Shooting this with and a 50 is as pure a Leica experience as exists – most enjoyable.  It’s a bit rough.  The finder patch is a little less contrasty than the M6, but it more than makes up for that with that generous magnification and uncluttered frameline.  The reason I never bonded with this as I did the M6? Occasionally the shutter would fail to cock on wind.  That is, it would take two dual-strokes – that’s a total of four strokes for the arithmetically challenged – to cock the shutter, and you would lose a frame of film.

The M3, less glamourously, will forever be London Wall and the Barbican high walks.

3 Comments

  1. Derek Sikes wrote:

    Nice blog, keep up the good work!

    Monday, July 11, 2011 at 00:18 | Permalink
  2. Hi Harrison,

    I am an avid film photographer and have had the pleasure of shooting it for the past 2years. I have a nikon FM that has just experienced its first problem with the winder. I am looking into getting an M6, would you be able to shine some light on your experiences with the body and the lenses.

    Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 03:33 | Permalink
  3. Harrison Cronbi wrote:

    Commiserations regarding your Nikon FM. It’s always a sadness when a good film-chewer goes lame.

    My experience with the M6 has been all positive. Since selling the one pictured in this post, I have actually sold my Leica MP and bought another M6 in black. Having shot with the FM you will be somewhat familiar with the simplicity of the focus, compose, expose process with the M6. The Leica is solid, compact, quiet, reliable and inviting to shoot with. Pair it with a 35mm or 50mm lens and you’re good to go. Forever. Having used a Hexar RF, I now can’t help but feel the 0.72x Leica finder is sub-optimal for 28mm shooting, but it is usable at a push. It 28mm is your prime focal length, it is well worth looking for a 0.58x M6 TTL. Conversely, if you never dream of going wider than 50mm, you will appreciate the extra magnification of the 0.85x finder.

    There is a much-repeated debate on the rangefinder and film-shooter forums, which goes something like this: If your budget would only stretch to a Leica lens (on another make of body) OR a Leica body (with a non-Leica lens), which would you choose? I fall firmly in the Leica body camp. While there are plenty of awesome M-mount lenses from other manufacturers (Konica/Zeiss/Minolta/Voigtlander), all other bodies I have tried fail to approach the experience and satisfaction of their Leica cousins.

    I think the M6 is the best value Leica body right now, costing not significantly more than good condition M4s and excellent condition M3s, but a fraction of the cost of the functionally similar MP and the battery-dependent M7.

    Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 09:26 | Permalink

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