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1980's Leica

Leica M6

Leica M6

The Leica M6 is an interchangeable lens rangefinder camera. First introduced in 1984, the M6 was Leica’s most advanced mechanical rangefinder.

Like previous cameras in the M series, the M6 was a superb camera that came with impeccable features—some of which had never been seen in previous M-bodies.

Unlike its predecessor, the Leica M5, the M6 was widely accepted and resulted in it being in production for close to 18 years. 

Here’s a low-down of some of the features that make the M6 such an excellent camera.

Features of the Leica M6

One of the most notable features of the M6 is its metering system.

Although the M5 was the first Leica rangefinder to feature a metering system, the M6 came with a more accurate and reliable light meter.  With this center-weighted metering system, you can expect to get the best exposure every time you shoot. 

The M6 was also the first Leica rangefinder to come with a built-in LED display for the metering system. 

Another unique feature of the M6 was the big bright viewfinder. Like its predecessors, the M6 finder came with bright frame lines for different lenses.

But the M6 was a bit different. Rather than having individual framelines, it came with combined framelines for different lenses. These were:

  • 28mm and 90 mm lenses
  • 35mm and 135mm lenses
  • 50mm and 75mm lenses

With the M6, you had the choice of six optimized lenses—more than any other M rangefinder before it.

As if that’s not enough!

The M6 also came with a choice of three different viewfinders. With the M6, you had the choice of the:

  • 0.72X finder: This was the standard finder found in most M6.
  • 0.85X finder: With this finder, you lost framelines for the 28mm lens. However, the 0.85X finder is perfect for you if you use long lenses.
  • 0.58X finder: With this finder, you lost framelines for the 135 mm lens. However, this finder is perfect for wide-angle lenses.

Another great feature of the M6 is its shutter. Although not the fastest shutter—has a maximum speed of 1/1000 sec, the M6 shutter was quiet and fully mechanical.

If you’re a street shooter, the quiet shutter is a huge advantage since most of your subjects won’t even notice you photographing them—unless they are less than 1 meter away from you.

Another feature that made the M6 such a great camera was the fact that it was the last Leica mechanical camera. After the M6, Leica released the M7, which was a fully electronic camera. The only electronic parts of the M6 was the metering system.

If you’re a loyal fan of mechanical cameras, you’ll love the M6.

Design and Physical Build

One of the most notable features of the M6 is its simplistic design.

The M6 doesn’t come with numerous controls and buttons. This minimalistic and simplistic design allows you to focus on the photo entirely.

Another notable feature is the film advance crank. The plastic tipped film advance is smooth and easy to move.

The M6 is also relatively small and light. At only 560 g, the M6 fits comfortably on the palm. Without considering its depth, this camera is typically the size of an iPhone X.

Leica M6 TTL

The classic M6 was in production between 1984-1996. Between 1996 and 2002, Leica introduced the M6 TTL, a more advanced version of the M6.

The M6 TTL came with a bigger shutter speed dial, TTL flash, and a brighter viewfinder. Another difference between the M6 and the M6-TTL was the inclusion of an “OK” indication in the light meter LED—The classic M6 only displayed two  “> <” LED arrows.

Although minor additions, these changes made the M6-TTL more attractive to serious photographers.

Shortcomings of the camera

One of the greatest shortcomings of the M6 was the use of a tiny shutter speed dial, which made it hard to change shutter speeds when holding the camera to your eye.

And that’s not all

This dial also moved in the opposite direction to the meter arrows.

However, the introduction of a larger shutter speed dial in the M6-TTL solved this problem.

Final Thoughts

It’s no doubt.

The Leica M6 was a remarkable camera. Not only could it accommodate more lenses, but the M6 was also and is still a fun camera to shoot with.

It’s also one of the “cheapest” Leica bodies you’ll ever find.

If you’re on a budget and want to on an M camera, the M6 is the perfect camera for you.

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