Ok let me start by saying, yes this was not a purchase made out of necessity. It was purely out of desire. But come on, when was the last time you bought something because you actually needed it? Not very often if you're like me!
I went for the M6 as my first Leica primarily because it has such a legendary history, and is reputed to be one of the best 35mm cameras ever made, or so I read a lot when researching it! I also wanted a film camera because it will never age. This particular camera was made in 1998. So after 20 years it's still going strong, and will likely go for another 20. I had vague plans of buying the M10, the latest digital camera. But the price wasn't the main reason I chose not to. It's because every digital camera, regardless of how great it is at the time, will age. Technology moves on, and there will always be the lust to get the next one.....and so on. That doesn't happen with film. After searching and searching, I found a reputable dealer specialising in Leica film cameras and lenses, took a brave pill, and ordered. Then began 24 hours of waiting......
Immediately after it was delivered, I was like a manic 6 year old unwrapping Christmas presents! This was actually my first time even handling a Leica. They are exquisitely made. I thought the Hasselblad was a thing of beauty and craftsmanship, but this is on another level. I can really see why these can last decades even with a lot of use. It's also a hefty lump too! Combined with even the 50mm summicron, which is by no means the fastest 50mm lens you can buy, the weight is comparable to a DSLR and large lens.
When having the mandatory play just after it was delivered, I did have a slight initial panic when I thought the meter wasn't working. I fitted the brand new batteries supplied with the camera, and upon setting a shutter speed and half depressing the shutter release......nothing. I read the manual before receiving the camera, so I knew what I was expecting to see in the viewfinder, but no red LEDs. I checked the batteries again, checked the contacts. All seemed fine. After some frantic googling, I discovered that the meter only activates when the film is advanced. Phew!
The film also loads in a very different way to most 35mm cameras, and what I'm used to with my Olympus. The whole base plate is removed, and the film is inserted into the bottom of the camera while feeding the roll into the middle of the take up spool. I must have not quite placed the film right the first few times, as when I advanced the film, the dial wasn't turning. It took a few attempts to learn exactly how to place the film in the right position for it to take up properly.
The controls couldn't be simpler, and that's one reason to love Leica cameras. Just a shutter speed dial on the body, and the usual controls on the lens. Nothing more. And you don't need any more.
The meter will take some getting used to, as unlike my Olympus which is almost automatic (it's essentially an aperture priority camera in auto), this M6 simply tells you if the exposure is 'correct', under or over.
It's also a little 'backwards' in that you set a shutter speed, and then adjust the exposure by turning the aperture ring on the lens. That's fine in a lot of situations, but I mostly shoot in aperture priority. So I may want to shoot at f/2, so in the Leica I will have to adjust the shutter speed accordingly. A little awkward as you have to use your right hand ideally. I'm sure it'll take a couple of rolls at least to get used to this, or start shooting the 'Leica' way.
It didn't take long before I loaded the first roll itself. I only took a couple of shots around the house, getting used to focusing with a rangefinder. I can see it will take some getting used to. This is the first time I've never looked through the lens, so to speak. At least even with the EVFs on the Fuji, you still see what the lens is seeing, and with an EVF, that is a true 'what-you-see-is-what-you-get' image. Looking through a rangefinder is always the same. No matter what the aperture, or any other setting. That threw me a little at first too, because you can't preview the depth of field, or at least see roughly how an image will look with parts in focus and parts out of focus. With a rangefinder, everything is in focus. Even framing can be a challenge, as even though you have frame lines to guide you, you sometimes can't picture the final image, as you're always seeing much more than that. It's kind of hard to explain, and maybe these are just niggles that you settle into over time. But these were just my first initial observations.
I'm looking forward to the challenge though, and this is definitely a camera I will use a lot.
Here's a couple more shots of this beauty I took in our studio at work, literally moments after it was delivered. Boo-tiful!