The Leica MP Film Camera Review – Film is NOT dead!

The Leica MP Camera Review – Film is NOT dead!

By Steve Huff

Well, it’s Friday and many have been on the look out for the “Friday Film” update. Well, today I have a VERY SPECIAL edition because I decided to post my Leica MP real world use review which will be filled with all kinds of film shots taken with this beautiful FILM camera. Sorry if it was posted late but I had a BUSY day with some cool new deliveries that arrived today 😉 More on what those were later! But yes, the film love continues here at stevehuffphoto.com and I know there are MANY of you out there who also are spreading the love.

I will say this right up front. The Leica MP SUCKS!!! Yes it really sucks, but not in a bad way. What I mean is that it sucks all of your emotion, all of your creativity, and all of your passion and it sucks it right in through its big, bright, and beautiful viewfinder. Then it slaps all of that on the frames of film that flow through its body like a freight train loaded with memories.

The MP is about as classic as they come these days unless you want to buy an M2 or M3 which many say is the best film M ever made. My only complaint with the early M’s is  that they do not have a built in meter and I like to keep it light, so I prefer the meter in the MP to be IN the camera. Other may prefer an M2 or M3, all personal preference really.

But I am here to write about the MP and the MP is simply gorgeous. It is minimal in its design and with No Leica red dot on the front. Just a slick, smooth, all mechanical camera. Mechanical Perfection as Leica calls it. The Leica logo is on the top plate which is made of solid brass, as is the baseplate. The original MP was made in 1956 and in 2003 Leica re-introduced the MP to the joy of many Leica shooters.

It is still the same camera today and actually their current “top of the heap” mechanical film M, but the price of admission is HIGH. A new MP from a Leica dealer that doesn’t discount is about $4600. Crazy expensive, but for the past few years film sales have steadily declined due to the digital craze. Leica, well, they are Leica. They raise prices every stinking year and with lower sales of their film cameras, the MP and M7, they had to raise the prices to offset the loss in sales. But I can feel it in my bones…film sales are going UP right now. There is somewhat of a “happening” going around and many photographers are either going back to film or trying it out for the first time or adding film to their digital kit like I did.

The Leica MP with the Black Paint 35 Summicron ASPH attached

The MP Features and Build

The MP is a BRICK. It’s very solid and holding it gives you the feeling that you are holding a camera that is a precision instrument. As much as I love the M8 and M9, the MP just feels much better in your hand and I think it’s due to the fact that it feels like a solid mass of sweetness. It inspires confidence. When I took delivery of my first MP in 2004 from B&H Photo I pulled it from the box and I was immediately impressed with EVERYTHING about it. The look, the feel, the quiet “snick” of the shutter. It is the best feeling and built camera I have ever owned. Some of the old Nikon film cameras are also built like tanks but the MP, to me, is “pure”. It has everything you need and nothing that you do not. It’s a dream camera for those who want to keep it SIMPLE.

Think about it. All you need in a camera is a shutter, a shutter speed dial, a lens, a way to control the aperture and advance the film. Also, a meter is nice to have and the MP has a great one. This is what the MP has, and that is about it. Unlike the techno super whiz bang digitals of today the MP is stripped down to the basics and I like it. Leica has kept the same philosophy with the M9, and that is a good thing IMO but some of my most memorable images were shot with a MP with Tri-X film. Those two things go together like butter and toast. If you shoot a Leica M you HAVE To at least shoot one roll of Tri-X if you never have. Great film for street shooting.

The black paint of the MP is so sexy and just think, if you use one daily for 20-30 years it will age like THIS one (scroll down to see the image in the post).

The MP comes in black paint which is semi shiny but really nice looking. Some say it is too shiny but I like it. It reminds me of  the paint of the M8.2. The M9 is more of a dull finish in comparison. You can also buy an MP in chrome which also looks quite nice but I have never seen one of these in person, only pics.

The MP in chrome

MP enhancements over the M6 classic. Why spend more on the MP?

I guess you can think of the MP as a modified M6 classic. A simple, basic, reliable and beautiful all mechanical film camera. Just writing about it is giving me goosebumps, but I’m a camera nerd so I guess it would. Ha ha. There are indeed differences between the M6 and MP and I have been asked by several of you what those are. Many of you have asked  “Why sell an M6 for an MP”, “You should have kept the M6 and had the finder upgraded” or “What does an MP give you that the M6 does not”. Well here is your answer! The MP is in fact an improvement over the M6 in some ways but it’s also an emotional thing. The M6 is FANTASTIC but the MP is the ultimate for Leica M fans. My opinion of course. It has been said that once you hold and shoot an MP, there is no going back to any other film M.

Here is the partial list of enhancements that the MP has over the M6:

  • New flare free finder
  • New shutter curtains
  • Slightly smoother film advance due to better internal parts (shutter break base board is made of bronze in the MP)
  • Brass top and bottom plates. M6 is Zinc.
  • Better paint job 🙂 Well, the black paint is a beautiful sight IMO.
  • It’s the same size as the M6 classic, smaller than an M6 TTL
  • Better metering. The M6 classic wont meter in really low light, the MP will plus lower battery drain.
  • Nice top plate engraving which is just cosmetic, but nice.
  • Rewind knob is the old classic style which is good and bad. Its good because mid roll you can stop and it will hold its place. With an M6 if you let go it starts to spin and you lose it. The MP rewind is slower though, but very solid.
  • Anti scratch coatings on windows
  • When metering with the MP you have the red dot confirmation between the two arrows

So for me, the MP is the ULTIMATE film M. It’s the FINAL film M. When I had a chance to buy one for not much more than I could sell my M6 for I jumped…HARD.

Here is the feature list of the MP:

Lens Mount Leica M bayonet

Focus Modes Manual only

Exposure Modes Manual only

Exposure Metering TTL (Through-The-Lens) selective center-weighted

Metering Range EV -2 To EV 20 with f/1.0 lens At ISO 100

ISO Range 6 – 6400 (manually set)

Shutter Speed

1/1000 to 1 second

Bulb

PC Terminal Yes

Flash Mounting Hot shoe – X-sync up to 1/50th sec

Film Transport Manual (optional winder available)

Viewfinder .72x magnification. Bright-line frames for 28, 35, 50, 75, 90 and 135mm lenses automatically engaged with attachment of lens. Optional viewfinders for 21 and 24mm lenses mount in the flash shoe.

Viewfinder Info Over/under and correct exposure indication (LED Classic > 0 < manual metering, LED Battery status)

Diopter Correction Optional -3 to +3 available (attachable to existing eyepiece)

Self Timer No

Remote Control Possible with optional standard mechanical cable release

Multiple Exposure No

Power Source Two (2) SR44(76S) 1.55v Silver Battery or one (1) DL76 Lithium

Dimensions 5.4 x 3 x 1.5″ (138 x 77 x 38mm) WxHxD

Weight 1.3 lb (600g), including batteries

My MP History

I bought my first MP back in 2004/2005 and shot with it daily for months. I must have shot a roll a day with that camera and I even had it around my neck when I almost died in a massive car accident. I can’t say the MP saved my life, hell it didn’t even help. When a car pulled out of a liquor store right in front of me while I was going 40MPH my MP slammed up and smashed me in the head before my airbag went off. Car spun into the other side of the street and I was a bloody mess. The accident gave me a huge jolt and the MP gave me a HUGE gash. My car was totaled, I was a wreck, but the MP was fine. Yep, I cleaned the blood from the MP a couple day later and sent to Leica for a cleaning and it was as good as new. It was not even scratched.

My film of choice back then was Ilford HP5, Delta 100 and 400, Tri-X, XP2, etc etc. I was a black & white fanatic with that MP and the majority of my images taken with it were family memories. I have not looked at those scans in about 5  years so while preparing for this review I decided to pull out the hard drive they were on to load them up. Luckily, that old HD fired up and I was able to scroll through those memories on my gorgeous Imac 27″ display. There is some dust/scratches on my negs because they were the first rolls that I developed myself, and scanned back then.

These were scanned on a Nikon Coolscan V in 2004/2005. One thing I can say is that the metering in the MP never let me down. As simple as it is, it just seems to work in almost any situation I put it through.

Leica Mp and Voigtlander 15 which is a FANTASTIC lens on film

You guessed it, the Leica 50 Noctilux at F1 on the MP with Ilford Delta

Noctilux at F1 with TriX

In a move I would regret for years and years, I ended up selling my original MP to fund the newly released M8 when it came out. As much as I hated to sell it I HAD to. I do not have the luxury to have several cameras that cost several thousand dollars. If I want a new camera, I have to sell what I have. In other words, my camera budget is limited and with Leica, one camera and a couple of lenses almost takes it all up! So I sold the MP and enjoyed the M8 for a few years. But deep down I always missed that MP. I always said that I would buy one again someday, even with the future of film unknown.

Well, here I am 6 years later in 2010 and I have managed to acquire another MP! I was so excited about it that I made a video of it the day it came in.

I bought this one from Ken Hansen (email here). It was old stock..REALLY old stock. Like 2003 old stock. I though UH OH, its gonna be sticky, stiff, or just not feel “right” but Ken gave me a great price on it and it’s NEW so it has warranty and all. Due to some paint scuffs on top he shaved the price down so I could not pass it up. I sold my chrome M6 and bought the MP. Then a few days later I ordered a Artisan & Artist half case from Popflash along with a spiffy Artisan & Artist leather strap. I now have a fully equipped MP that is ready for action 🙂 All I have been able to shoot lately is boring stuff around my house but I will soon be giving it a workout while on a mini vacation on some Mexico beaches next week. Can’t wait.

The MP with the Artist & Artisan M3 case and Leica 35 Summicron ASPH lens. This is one handsome camera. This one was taken by my son with his Nikon D3000.

It Has Soul

It’s a fact. The MP has soul. It has feeling and it has the capability to bring out a confidence in you when you shoot with it. Not sure what it is but I am going to call it the “MP Mystique”. I think the combo of its good looks, super build, minimalistic controls and being all mechanical all adds up to a terrific user experience. Yes, the MP just has it. Throw in a roll of Tri-X or ANY black and white film and you have an instant classic that is able to produce some very nice photos. Especially when a Leica lens is attached because after all, it is the LENSES that make the magic happen. You could shoot a $500 Voigtlander bessa with a $3000 Leica lens and get the same results but if you want a lifetime film camera then it has to be the MP.

I shot the MP everywhere. Street shooting, low light, bright light… it has never failed me. The center weighted metering is so simple but so effective, even more so than in my M9 (I know I already said that but it never fails to impress me). That could be the latitude of film talking though. Here are a few shots from the street with the MP and 50 Cron from 2005:

Stanley 2005 – Leica MP and Tri-X

Rodney 2005 – Leica MP – 50 Cron – Excuse the horrible scan. I used bad water when developing and this is what happened. It would take me hours in photoshop to remove these so I am putting it here as a reason to take extra care when developing your negatives! This was shot on Delta or Tri-X, can not remember as i was using both at the time.

How About The Leica M7? Which one should I buy?

Well, the two film cameras Leica sells are the MP and M7. They are both fantastic. Both of them are the best rangefinder cameras you can buy new today. Period. End of story.

The main differences between the two is that the MP is all mechanical. It has a mechanical shutter, it has all manual control and it’s design is minimal without any fancy fluff. It’s discreet in all black and you could be out on the street shooting and no one would know you have a $4600 camera around your neck. It has old school charm AND looks, and that is a good thing. Also, if your battery runs out in the MP you can still shoot with it as the shutter does not need the battery to operate. The battery in the MP is only for the metering.

The M7 on the other hand has an ELECTRONIC shutter so it needs the batteries to control it. It also has Aperture priority so if you do not want to mess with setting the shutter speed AND aperture then the M7 may be the better camera for you. My only niggle with the M7 is that with the electronics in it there is more opportunity for trouble. If your batteries die in the M7 its ALMOST useless. You still have 1/125 and 1/60s shutter speeds so it is still usable in certain light. I had an M7 but it jammed on me in the first week and I had to have Leica repair it. Then they had issues with the DX which detects what ISO film you loaded. I decided I wanted something all mechanical so that is when I went for the MP. I did own the M7 first and enjoyed it but the MP was calling my name, so I caved.

But really, both are fabulous and these days any bugs that the M7 had are ironed out so I would feel secure in buying either. The way to decide which to buy is to ask yourself what you want in a film rangefinder. If you want to shoot faster and have AE, get the M7. All you have to do is control the Aperture. It’s the same as the M9. If you want a solid as a rock all mechanical RF, the MP is the winner. It’s all up to you. Both are the same price new.

The M7’s are also beautiful. Yea, Id sell a kidney for one of those Titanium M7’s 🙂

How about other rangefinders?

To shoot and enjoy film you do NOT need a Leica camera. These are for those who simply want the best rangefinder for 35mm film. You can gain entry into shooting film with a Voigtlander Bessa R2M FOR $600 or so. Or a Zeiss Ikon. Both are great cameras though not up to the Leica standards for build and ruggedness. The Zeiss has a SUPERB viewfinder but I just did not get the same joy shooting it as I did with my Leicas. Still, if I could not own a Leica I would but the Zeiss Ikon or a Bessa and shoot away! That Bessa in black paint is pretty nice looking, no doubt.

My Conclusion…

Well, as you can tell by my glowing review, I love the Leica MP. I think it is the finest film rangefinder made to date. I like it better than any M that has come before it. The MP and M7 are the ultimate for shooting 35mm film. PERIOD. I feel lucky to own one and really hope I can hang on to this one for life. I can not imagine that anyone interested in film being unhappy with a Leica MP. You can buy them at any Leica dealer. B&H Photo, my fave photo shop EVER sells them but they always sell them pretty quick and go out of stock fast. Ken Hansen sells them but I think he is all out as well. They may be hard to find but B&H has a used one in 8+ condition HERE. Get it while it lasts 🙂 You could always return it if its not in good condition.

THAT’S ABOUT IT! I mean, what more can I say when you are talking about a camera that Leica calls “Mechanical Perfection”. I already talked about the pros but what about negatives? Well, some dislike the rewind knob but I like it. Yea, it’s slow but when you let go it stays put. Some dislike the shiny black paint but I feel that is what gives the black one its beauty. Others dislike the classic advance lever but it is fine by me. If I had to complain about something it would be the fact that the max shutter speed is 1/1000th due to the cloth shutter used in the Leica M film cameras. But, that is easily cured with an ND filter for sunny days. I like to shoot wide open so if you do too, an ND filter will be needed for your lens.

All in all, for me this is my perfect film camera just as the M9 is my perfect digital. But remember, FILM IS NOT DEAD! Go shoot some if you can!

I hope you have enjoyed the review for the MP. If you are getting into film be sure and check out my recommended film and stock up! I have my fridge loaded with film and I am having a blast trying the many different film stocks. I do have a warning for you though. Shooting film is addicting! Don’t say I didn’t warn you 🙂

The great thing is I always have the original negatives stored away for future scanning or use.

Here are more images I shot with my new MP, all using Ilford XP2 and exposed between 200 and 800 ISO. Yes, this film REALLY CAN be used at these ISO’s with great results and standard processing at your local drug store! Thats where these were processed.

1st three shots, MP and 35 Summicron – Black Paint Edition – LOVELY lens! Ilford XP2 C41 B&W film

50 summitar – XP2 – Exposed at ISO 800

35 cron at F2

and some older shots from 2005 – All with Tri-X and various lenses


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84 thoughts on “The Leica MP Film Camera Review – Film is NOT dead!

  1. Just revisited this posted after having bought back my MP sold in 2010. It’s still the most beautiful film camera out there. Thanks for these posts Steve, great and inspiring job

  2. Just purchased an MP with a Summilux 50mm 1.4. Simplicity and great engineering. Forget economic rationale….there is nothing more important than food! I looked at M3s first but the prices and condition were too high and too low respectively. While the M3 may be an icon I rate the MP higher and found vendors willing to negotiate discounts. Film has a dreamier quality than digital and it makes you develop skills and think. Sadly these attributes are waning in today’s lifestyle. Maybe that’s the attraction of film for many of us old enough to remember when such things were valued. I am now like a 12 year old kid again waiting with anticipation to pick up the prints. My D4 hasn’t been out of the bag since I purchased the MP, that says it all for me. (And I hope that film and developing services live long and prosper!).

  3. In Indonesia, Leica MP price is crazy…they sold it USD 4.800 to 5.000. I bought it mint around usd 4.300. But i love it so much…

  4. Glad to see you trumpeting film. I’m also very pleased to see that Leica are still producing two film cameras. The M7 clearly appeals to those who like a degree of automation. I bought a pair of M4-P bodies around a dozen years ago and use them with Voigt 25mm, Leitz 40mm and Leitz 90mm lenses. I’ve also got an MD2 with 21mm f3.4 Super-Angulon and viewfinder that is brilliant in cities. I tend to use external handheld meters and often the Sunny 16 rule. Film tends to be XP2, so when my films are developed and scanned onto disc, my old Leicas become digital. I’ve not gone digital, too much to learn, seems like another language. I cannot afford an MP but am pleased it has been produced – full marks to Leica for producing a body that has so many of the traits of the earlier, much loved and world beaters of yesteryear. I hope you all derive as much pleasure in using your Leicas as I do mine.

  5. Nice review, thanks, Steve. I can’t agree with you more on how you feel about MP.
    I started with M6, switched to MP, and later added an M7.
    I now use both MP and M7.
    Even though I have a deeper attachment to MP, I find myself with M7 more often.
    I am thinking of switching MP to M3 with an extra lens…^^

  6. Very interesting reading. We at Lyndon State College in the Visual Arts department start the students in film. The course is always full and the students purchase inexpensive film cameras. In fact many find that their many of their family members have cameras that they can use. They develop film and print in a darkroom and every semester the class are full. Myself and the instructors have numerous Leica cameras that we use. I have a M3, M5, M7, M8.2 and M9-P. The camera I like best is the M3, just the view and the feel of the camera along with film is poetic. It is hard to say which is better film or digital but one thing that always comes up, once you know film you become a better photographer, even with digital. As many of you have mentioned it makes you slow down and think about what you are photographing. Film will be around in our life time as others have set and it will become the artistic side of photography.

    We do have some very expensive and electronic imaging machines like the DSLR’s but the true nature that we are all arriving at is the image. How best to communicate the image and mood of a event in our time. Try film and work with it to find that sweet spot of meditation of walking around with a camera that puts me in a different dimension and place. I walking around town the other day with my M3 and no film in the camera and just loved the idea of capturing moments in my mind.

    I thank you reading and enjoy the journey in the light!

    Harry

  7. Recently compared film samples – Leicas and LOMO LC-A+. And I find that there is no difference between shots on Vario Elmarit and these Russsians which now assemled on cameras in China.
    Indeed, why it should be? That Russian factory makes a space cameras and other hi tech optic as well.

  8. Hi,
    After using the X1 for year, and blown away by the results, finally decided to get a M7 with a ELMAR-M 50 f2.8. I have not played with film in YEARS!! LOL. Question is what type of film do you guys recommend?? DX, non DX??
    For now, I want to start with AUTO AE to get used to using a ranger since I am way to DSLR “washed”..

    Thanks
    -Klaus

  9. Digging through some of your old film posts Steve and saw some of the pictures you took with your MP here. Wow. You mentioned the developing suffered from some dirty water or something. Maybe it is just me but boy, do these look good. Talk about having soul oozing from a photograph.

    Hope you enjoying shooting with Seal on his tour.

    Best,

    Stephen B

  10. Steve, Tom, Barry,

    I realize this thread is pretty old, just found it. Nonetheless, as an occasional amateur for several decades, I wanted to express my appreciation for your dedication to your craft and willingness to share it with others. My fondest memories are shooting SLR B/W and having sometimes access to a darkroom. Perhaps my next realization was that a Rollei 35 (with a broken meter) bought at a garage sale created some of the best photographs I had ever taken.

    More on topic, largely due to my experience with the Rollei, I bought a Leica MP when they first came out, with the 35/2A and 50/2.8 compact lenses. I can’t provide any professional analysis of results other than to say the photos are astounding and the package is as compact as possible. Of course, the mechanical presence is that of a fine Swiss watch. It’s rather like being in possession of a vintage sports car. The only downside is the high dollar value of what one is carrying around in today’s travel environment.

    Regarding film? Well, I’ve added a couple of other Rollei 35s (meters don’t work either), and a Nikon FM2 to the formula. Given that I’m retired, like it or not, it will be my own fault if I don’t take advantage of the best or last days of film photography.

  11. The comments so far re. the quality issue between film & digital are interesting. I think what is becoming apparent is, it’s not a case of whether digital is sharper than film, so much as the feel that the final image projects.
    A perfect example of this…. I recently read a review of the capabilities of the latest Nikon D3 variant (I forget whether it was the “x” or the “s”). In order to demonstrate the capabilities of this camera in taking virtually noiseless night pictures at 25,000ASA or thereabouts, the reviewer took shots of an English churchyard lit only by moonlight. The results were truly amazing. Every tiny detail hidden in the darkness of the church was revealed; in fact, if it hadn’t have been for the star filled sky, I would have sworn it had been taken by late afternoon sunlight.
    And herein lies the dilemma. For me, if I take a picture of a churchyard by moonlight, then I actually want it to look like it was taken by moonlight, I want it to contain areas of inpenetrable darkness, this is what gives such a night shot it’s atmosphere and “mystery”.
    If I wanted the church to look like it was taken in late afternoon sunlight, then wouldn’t it be preferable to go back at five o’clock the following afternoon?
    There’s no doubt that the best digital gear gives amazing quality, but I’ve noticed that such high levels of smooth detail give off a certain “plastic” almost surreal feeling…..I personally prefer a little grain in my pictures, providing it’s sharp. To me it looks more “real”…which is why I prefer film, but at the end of the day, it’s just my personal opinion.

  12. How can digital be sharper Tom? When it uses a bayer pattern? It is by definition diffracted and an approximation of what detail goes where.

    You may be referring to sharpness but confusing that with the edge contrast that bayer based systems introduce to make up for the inherit fuzziness of the bayer approximation?

    Again all the excuses for why film is not as good as digital all seem to rely on the fact that the operator is not a master of his craft. Then again, I don’t shoot stock stuff for corporate pamphlets.

    1. Film curls and the light reflects and refracts within the emulsion taking away some of the sharpness. There are however, some films that are sharper than others. Also, prints from film depend on a second optical system – either a scanner or an enlarging lens – which further softens the image. Again, don’t get me wrong, this is what gives images shot on film a very special appeal. Without the razor sharp edges, tones have smoother transitions. But it is a different look. Just like shots taken with a M8 or M9 look different than those shot on a digital Canon, etc.
      I print for dozens of photographers and hundreds of artists, galleries and museums. I see the files day in and day out. Good digital work is sharper. I do however, get some bad digital work in to print and some bad film work as well. It happens. And early Canon work suffered from yellow and peach blooms and early Nikon shots had problems with the reds and greens. But that was from first and second generation cameras. Film’s teething pains went the way of ortho films.
      So, let me rephrase: photos shot on my M8 look sharper than those shot on my M4 (with the same lenses) using Provia or HP5 film. Shots taken on my Toyo View with an Apo Rodagon using my BetterLight Super 6K scanback look sharper and have much more dynamic range than those taken with the same camera/lens using Provia or Tri and then scanned and printed.
      That said, some of my favorite personal work was shot using a Linhof and infrared film and printed as platinums. The same type of work done with my M8 and a 93 filter, just does not even come close.
      I think the point is that film is great for some projects and the world would be a far poorer place if digital took over completely, but for deadline paying jobs, digital is often the only solution.
      However, my daughter will probably have to pry my 41 year old M4 out of my cold stiff hands but my M8 will be traded for a M9 and my M9 for a M10, etc.

      Tom

  13. You’re dead right about Ektar film, but I’ve also noticed a steady improvement in other films too, often un-announced. Interesting you should say that film is the original upgradable sensor. You’re right, in that with a manual camera, the only limitation on quality is the film in the camera, plus the quality of your lens.
    The rest is all down to you, the photographer. The best computer in the world is free…everyone’s got one, it’s called a brain. Yet all too often, when you see photographers working with digital cameras, it’s as though their brains have been made redundant by the chip inside their latest digi, as they rush around afflicted by a kind of motordrive madness, in the belief their digital will do it all for them.
    I get better pictures with film cameras, because film cameras slow you down, and make you think about what you’re doing, you need to think about the angle the light’s coming from, think about the composition, think about depth of field of sharpness, then manually set your camera accordingly. If you’re doing “people pictures” then using your photographic knowledge, you preset exposure, distance etc., and you get a better timed result…no time lag while the autofocus autofocusses… often inaccurately!
    The success of digital, is witness to how easily people become trend following sheep, willing to part with thousands for the latest full frame SLR, when a secondhand Nikon FM2n or Olympus OM1n film camera will give just as good a result for a small fraction of the price of the latest digi wonder, but of course you need to have developed the photographic skills to to get the best out of them.

    1. You make some good points, Barry. And I do still shoot an occasional roll of film in my M4 or a few sheets with my 4×5, but 99% of my work is digital. Why? Two reasons. Most of the time, I need to review my work immediately. I can not afford to wait for a lab when my client is paying $800 for a helicopter or $1,000 for a charter boat. Nor can I afford to pay for them or for a reshoot myself because something went wrong. I should “just take my time, just be a better photographer,” you say. Well, over the years, I have had waves soak my film and rolls drop out of open doors. I once had a young lab tech open a box of exposed 4×5 film in the day light to “get the rolls out”. Hundreds of very expensive accidents happen. At least with digital, I know I have what I am going to need for the job before I call it a day.
      The second reason is a bit more controversial. I simply get better quality from digital. If I expose properly, I get better highlight detail, more saturated colors and just plain sharper images than I ever got with film.
      You might dismiss that with a “he doesn’t know what he is doing” or “if only he used this or that, film would be better”. Well, I’ve made my living either reproducing art or in advertising all of my working life. In ancient times (80s) I would shoot 8×10 chromes, process them in my own E6 line and then scan them on my Crosfields (huge drum scanners). The results were pretty spectacular for the time. But today, when I go back over those old chromes, all I see is the dirt and scratches or the inky shadows or the shifted colors caused by variations in the film batches or in the chemistry. I know that I can do so much better now using my digital tools. Moreover, I print for hundreds of artists and photographers using my big Epsons. I see the files and the prints everyday.
      I do not want to start a film vs digital debate. Rather I think that film has a look that can be very beautiful. And it is a wonderful challenge to go out and shoot your visions, process the film to get that full scaled negative and print, tone and frame the perfect print. Doing that is alchemical bliss. But it is no longer practical in today’s work-a-day world. Still, like I said, I do use my old M4 occasionally. And one day I might just pull the cover off my Omega, dust off the trays and mix up a batch of dektol. I can still smell the hypo on my hands when I dream…

      Tom

      1. Like you Tom, I have also shot digital for the past ten years or so. As a pro news photographer, newspapers leave you no option.. I also agree with you about the quality issue, my argument isn’t about the final end quality of digital, more about the overall reliability/value for money issue.
        It was perhaps unfortunate that I was around working when the first digi cameras were introduced…..those early Nikon/Kodak/Canon digi SLR’s were launched as “state of the art” etc.etc., they were in reality…awful!!!…Not only was the quality well down on film, but they suffered endless problems of excessive battery drain…hopelessly inaccurate flash exposures (particularly daylight fill-in) etc. etc.
        Perhaps my views are tainted by those early experiences with digital….but not totally.
        Ten frames a second digis, have made a big difference to the way photographers behave on assignment……Have you ever been in the middle of a crowd of paparazzi at a photocall, wanting to take time and trouble to set up a picture of an actress for the best result…..only to find that all others around you are leaping around like headless chickens with their ten frames a second digis going at full blast because they are frantic just to get a few frames sharp???! I’m afraid that’s what it’s like being a Press Photographer today, which is why I decided to retire early from a profession that once used to be enjoyable and satisfying picturewise, but I’m afraid is not any longer.
        My point is, with film cameras like the Rolleiflex and Nikon FM2..you couldn’t behave like that, the equipment demanded that you took your time and went about an assignment with thought and precision.
        Now that I’m semi-retired, I devote myself to stock photography, and have switched back to film, because I not only prefer working with cameras that are not reliant on battery power (important, if like me you enjoy exploring wilderness areas where the nearest charging point may be ten miles away!)…..but also with film, I have a hard copy negative/tranny, that can be scanned and stored onto any system that may be thrown up in future. I’m not sure about the longevity of digital stored on DVD’s…….some colleagues have found that digi pics stored some years ago, have gone corrupt. The stock library I use are quite happy for me to shoot film and have not mentioned any quality problem with the scans.
        I appreciate that when you’re commissioned, these days there is usually no option but to shoot digital, such is the hunger for “instant” results, and of course there is the security of being able to review the image.
        It’s just that I hate to see beautifully made cameras like Leicas, Nikons, Rolleis etc. going to waste when they were made to last a lifetime, and are capable of producing first rate quality when in skilled hands.

  14. To those of you stalling on purchasing a Leica or any film camera, because you’re worried about future film availability, fear not!….Kodak have recently launched the new Ektar 100 colour negative film, the finest grained colour film around, they wouldn’t have done that if they thought there was no future for film photography. I’ve shot several rolls and am even thinking of using it for my stock photography in place of Fuji tranny. Here in England, there’s a bit of a shortage of the stuff, such has been the demand!
    Dealers here tell me they’ve noticed a resurgance of interest in film cameras, probably because photographers are waking up to the “Great Digital Con.”…..They spend thousands on the latest digital wonder, only to realise that a year or so later its value has plummeted, thanks to manufacturers bringing out “new models” every 6 months. After five years or so, it ends up obsolete, on some “old technology scrapheap”, just like the laptop computer, without which, it is useless.
    My film cameras; Nikon FM2n’s were purchased in the early 1980’s, are still going strong, like Leicas, they were built to last a photographic lifetime, and unlike the digital stuff, are actually holding their value.

    1. Yeah, Ektar is beautiful stuff. I’ve shot a roll of 6x9cm in my Fuji, and it came out really great. Looking forward to shooting a few more rolls for fall color this weekend. Film is the original “upgradeable sensor” (I like digital too, though :-)).

  15. Steve, Steve, Steve … why would you worry about a “scuff” on the top when you have supplied a picture of the most gorgeous old black paint/brassed camera ever !! You should be thankful you were not charged EXTRA for the paint scuff at the top !!! 😉

  16. Hi Steve, my Name is Tony. Is it possible for me to call you? I have some questions about the MP? I just purchased one this morning.

  17. At a time when I was considering selling my MP, this article has renewed my appreciation for it. I had forgotten about so many of the things that make it exactly what you describe: the ultimate M (for the minimalist camera nerd). Whereas the M3 and M6 classic come close, the MP is a perfect blend of both, right down to details such as the rewind knob (slower but more solid), the anti-glare viewfinder, the brass top plate, etc. Years ago I was talking with a single-engine private pilot and he said yeah sure it’s expensive but the way I justify it is I use it a lot, whenever I can. So why not apply the same logic to the Leica? Put some film in it, carry and shoot daily.

    It would be nice to zero in on the ideal lens, too – the best blend of focal length, performance and mechanical quality. Here, perfection would be the 35/2 Summicron-M in silver (I prefer the feel of the brass instead of the aluminum… yes, you can feel it in the handling). Other contenders are the 35/1.4 ASPH in black (too heavy in silver), or the 50/2 Summicron-M (silver).

  18. Well, for those who wanted to see my M6 shots with my test roll, I have FINALLY run a roll through it. I used Fuji Reala film that i shot in 5 minutes to wait for the roll to be developed in one hour while I waited for my dog to be groomed. LOL! If you want to see the results of shooting a roll of film with a M6 Leica film camera, a 50mm Summicron lens and a roll of Fuji Reala, (the film that is now supposedly discontinued), click on the link.

    http://myleicablog.blogspot.com/2010/05/first-color-roll-through-m6-camera.html

  19. Love those film and film camera reviews, Steve. Keep it up!

    Film may be outdated, technically inferior, expensive, whatever, but there will always be more life in it that in a digital 125.000 ISO noise-free 50 MP+ high-res RAW file. Simple as that.

  20. Hi Steve,
    I know exactly how you felt when you got your MP. I just got mine today.
    Here is my first experience with it: I had to force myself to read the light. With the M7 when I was lazy – and that was the case most of the time, as there is the Auto mode – I rarely thought about the exposure. All I did was thinking about exposure compensation. Today, after I loaded the first roll of film before and looking at the exposure indicator in the viewfinder, I thought about the light and guessed the exposure. Got it almost right. Then I did the same in other light, and another one. Suddenly I started to think about exposure in terms of shutter speed and aperture combination. The result is, if tomorrow I am taking a photo in the same place, I know exactly what settings correspond to the light available. OK, I know many might say that welcome to the real photography and that I just reinvented the wheel. But just in one day, using MP instead of M7 I learned something. I know I could have done the same with the M7 but I did not have to, so I did not do it.
    Just wanted to share my first day experience with my new MP.
    Thanks for reading this.
    Miklos

    1. You are absolutely right.I was lazy too until i had no “priorities”. But you only learn how to shoot without priorities….

  21. Film rules … “Film Is Not Dead, It Just Smells Funny”

    Regarding batteries for M7, they are so small one can carry 10 pieces easily. If one can carry film, the batteries are like nothing.

  22. I know exactly what you mean by paint marks on the body. I bought a silver MP after I sold my first one to a friend… and when I got it I noticed that the sides were worn and the protective cover on the bottom plate was gone… I wasn’t very pleased.

    I went through Amsterdam airport the other week and the security person asked me to take out my camera and I asked him to be careful.

    He said, yeah yeah, it’s expensive, maybe 800 EUR, I said, about 8000 EUR (mp + 35 cron asph, 50 lux asph), he was silent after that.

  23. Miklos,

    You mentioned that you know a very highly skilled Germn camera technician in SF, can you let us know who it is? It will be a very useful information when I don’t have time to send it to DAG.

  24. Great review Steve!
    I really share your enthusiasm, lets all hope that film does remain alive… such a great medium that renders images in a totally unique way compared to digital. I’ve been shooting with an M2/M8 combo and was on the lookout for a nice black MP but snapped up a Grey M9 instead.. Im too time poor for developing and scanning at the moment.. and without access to a quality scanner, I was craving much larger print sizes.
    Cheers
    Dan

  25. Great review, Steve, it was a lot of fun to read it. On other hand I wish you had never written it. I just bought a silver MP for 3K. Comes pretty much like new in box and with all the packaging from the original owner. The main reason why I decided to buy the MP and soon will be selling my M7 is the fact that it is fully mechanical. First of all I want my Leica film camera for life, so I figured if something happens to the M7 say in 15 years from now, there is more chance that nobody can fix it if it is something with the electronics. I know a very well respected and highly skilled German camera technician in the SF Bay Area. He told me that he can fix anything up till the M6. Not the M6TTL and not M7. That is is the main reason I decided to get the MP.
    BTW, anyone is interested in a MINT M7 silver?

  26. the mp looks awsome!!!
    but the best cases and straps for leica are by far luigi crescenzis from leicatime roma!!!

    thanks for your website steve your doing a great job!!!!!

  27. Hi Steve,
    My fav film is Provia NC 160. Natural, not overblown colour as I get with digital.
    I tried a comparison with Provia VC and Ektar, but found them too colourful.
    Apparently Ektar is very popular,…but I think it’s because it resembles digital in the too saturated colour.
    I hope this helps others who might want to regain the pure look of the old days!!
    Best,
    Angus

  28. Hi Steve,
    I, too, yearn for the good old film days. Digital is great…love that E-PL1…love my E-510/14-54 HG lens, but you know what,…inspired by you to revisit film, I have decided to take a tentative step back/forward into the waters of film. My first new/old camera is an Olympus XA, recently purchased on eBay for $100. And I love the look of film even through the 30 year old lens of the XA!!
    I used to enjoy a Contax G1, and a Leica M6…sold them both to go digital, but I am heading back!!
    Good on ‘ya for reviving our interest in film…my wife has always said …” your pics on film just look better “. Go figure…but you know what?…she’s right.
    Here’s my new cam…http://www.pbase.com/gusmur/image/124150735.jpg
    Hope this link works.
    Will post pics from our upcoming Outer Banks vacation in July.
    Best,
    Angus[img]http://www.pbase.com/gusmur/image/124150735[/img]

  29. I AM SO JEALOUS!!!!! LOL
    I was waiting to get my iPad to read your review here, so I finally got to sit down today and enjoy it like a good book. The result? I want to pitch a fit like a 4yo and scream “I want one toooooooo!” I’m seeing a savings account in my future with the sole purpose of getting an MP, though I’m tempted to hold off on paying some debts and using some of my tax refund for a beauty like this instead!

    Your site is just dangerous Steve 🙂

    Great review and great photos… I look forward to whole lot more from you and your wonderful new toy!

  30. Steve Huff wrote:

    “Also, MP’s are selling as are M7’s and I mean NEW. I have spoken with at least 8 people in the pa””st WEEK who either bought a new M7 or new MP. To me, the $2600-$3300 for a used MP is not bad when you think about it.”

    Then there’s the super lucky among us like me who just bought a silver M7 that had never had a lens mounted on it. God is it ever in perfect unused shape. $2500. No tax, no shipping. I ended up paying $1500 for a “like new” silver 50mm Summicron but add Cali sales tax to that. Still, that lens was previously owned by someone for a month, someone who buys a lot of Leica equipment and therefore was given a certain leeway to return the lens after sending in the warranty. So it’s new but sans the Passport warranty. With tax, that lens new would have been close to $2200. I saved $450 there. The digital revolution is working magic with film body prices. I don’t know whether that factors into the kind of deals you can get on Leica bodies but it could be helping. I just really really lucky on the lens.

    I’m also blown away by the XP2 Super. I have two rolls but I don’t know when I’ll get through the Ektar 100 to finally shoot them. STOKED that I can take them to the Walgreens for $2.14 processing. I am really looking forward to exposing light to film for the next many years with my M7. So glad I’ve found this Steve Huff “community” and Steve, whose choices and reasonings and tastes so often sound like my own, but with so much more experience than I have with film and Leica… It’s a great time to do this. Can’t wait to get a small body of images together so I can finally strut my stuff.

    db

  31. G’Day John,

    If you have no investment already in a brand – then go for an Olympus OM camera. Small and to the point. I learnt on them many years ago too. If you are into Nikon, then an F80 for the modern – but simple and light body (I have three of them) or an FM/FE/2 unit as well.

    The main thing to keep in mind, is that if you are going to use fast glass so 1.4/1.8/1.2 – then you need an OLD camera or a new camera with an OLD focus screen. Newer focus screens were made for 3.5 zooms and you can’t see any dof change in the view finder between 2.8 and 1.2 and you will find it impossbile to get sharp shots wide open.

    I say this because those smallfast primes are cheap and are par the course for a small film body. So definately do check them out. If you look back into the camera through the lens and can only see the central part of the focus screen you have a newer and “Brighter” focus screen which is no use for faster than f2.8. If you can see all four corners you are in luck. Pressing the DOF button too should also show you. New bright screen – no change. Older and darker more course screen – then you will see changes.

    Cheers,
    RF.

  32. Hello Steve!, Hello Fellow Photographers!,

    What a great post!!!!! What a great site Steve!!! Thank you so much for your Amazing work!!! So inspiring !!!!!!

    OK! I’ve got to try a film camera!!!! I’ll start with a budget of $150, and if it’s pure passion like you guys, I’ll take the next steps : Voigtlanders-Bessa, Zeiss, maybe eventually an M.

    What would be a good model to start ???
    I saw these on eBay. (they all come with a 50mm f/1.7 or f/1.8 or f/2)
    – Minolta X-700
    – Minolta X-570
    – Pentax ME
    – Pentax Asahi K1000
    – Olympus OM-1n
    – Canon AE-1
    – Canon Canonet

    *** What would be my best bet with these ?!!

    *** What mount should I go for ??? (to easily find FAST lens .. 35mm & 50mm f/1.4 or even faster)

    Thank you sooooooo much !!!!!!!
    Can’t wait to start shooting film !!!!!!

    John
    [email protected]

  33. Damn Steve!

    While I may question the selection for the final top 10. One thing for sure is that you are not just a dude talking tech crap on the net. Your shots are what I always end up looking at for extended periods of time and then reading comes last….. 😉

  34. Eric,

    I think Steve is a genuine camera enthusiast, and his enthusiasm is what attracts others like him. You don’t have to buy any of this stuff to enjoy the site. There’s a lot of great informative stuff here in addition to camera reviews. Keep up the good work, Steve.

  35. @ Jaydee – I would love to review/try out a Bessa and may do that soon. I have shot with one before for a brief time. Louder shutter, different feel but the newest models look pretty nice for the money. A way to get in to RF without breaking the bank.

    @ Gary – I don’t see it happening. Actually, I think the opposite will happen with the M10.

    @Aaron – I se M3’s go for between $600 and $1100 usually. Never used the external Leica meter, maybe someone else can chime in on that.

    @Eric – Its gorgeous and crazy expensive. I think used they go for $13k, with the 50 lux though. Beautiful.

    @ Elaine – Hows the M6 coming along? Did your 2nd roll load OK? Have fun with it!

    @John – Thanks, enjoy the MP!

  36. I just picked up an MP myself through eBay. I figured I could spend $7K on a new M9 which would last me 5-8 years or I could spend $3K on a used MP which would last me a lifetime. Will be stopping by your site more often to see more of your film fridays with your MP.

  37. I got a deal on eBay. I got a M6 in mint condition, only 15 rolls went through it, along with a Leica 50mm Summicron lens for 2K. The lens is in mint condition too! So, the deals are out there. You just have to be persistent.

  38. Steve –

    how much should a good condition fully working chrome M3 be going for and is the original external Leica light meter a good performer/practical solution?

    Thanks!

    Aaron

  39. I’ve said before elsewhere that I hope that future digital M’s become more and more like the MP. Failing that, I would love a grain free 1600 iso color film.

  40. Hi Steve,

    Any chance you could also do a review of the Bessa rangefinders? Particularly interested in the R3A, and how it compares with the Leica film cameras.

    Jaydee

  41. With all the film you’re shooting don’t be surprised if you end up with a Contax or a Leica point and shoot camera. I just bought an Olympus Stylus Epic for 50 dollars that augments my Bessa-R4A nicely.

    A 20 megapixel, full frame, point and shoot, with a 35mm f2.8 lens for $50 dollars. (20mp when scanned with my Nikon Coolscan V).

  42. Steve love the review – I am interested in the pricing as well.
    I have to agree with you on the pricing. The lowest I have seen a m6 go in a couple of months is 1100, most go around 1300-1700. TTL and Chrome comes at a premium. At this point in my life, I am not sure I am ready for my end all be all MP. I think I may go with the bessa. I know I will want a film Leica at some time, but I am not quite sure I am ready to pony up the $$$.

    One thing I have noticed about film cameras, it that it is (almost) all lens. I purchased an EOS 3 for my canon system because I thought my old rebel G was not quite there. No difference. I cannot see any difference in my pictures between the almost top of the line and the entry level Canon. I suspect I will see the same phenomenon between the MP and the bessa.

    Anyway, thanks for the great reviews. Maybe you could try out a Bessa or Ikon and give us a first hand comparison.

  43. I bought an M6 with 35mm summicron ASPH on eBay a few months ago for $2100. The 35 ASPH often goes for $1700 by itself. The M6 body is by no means mint, but it’s in great shape for a user camera and focusing and meter are all spot on.
    This was after missing out on a chrome M6 with 28mm, 50 and 90mm crons for a buy it now price of $3100. I hesitated, thinking I would wait
    to put in a bid to try to get it for under $3000. When I realized how stuipd I was being a half hour later someone else had bought it. I felt pretty dumb afterwards.

    The point is that there are bargains to be had if
    you keep an eye out and are patient. Lenses with M6 bodies tend to go for a discount because people are often looking for one or the other, not both. People tend to dump all their old film gear at once with little thought as to the value of the lenses. This is particularly true of old Nikon and Canon 35mm Slr’s, BTW. At one point when I was looking for a 50 cron I considered buying one with an M6 body and then selling the body. I have seen m6’s with 50 crons sell for around $2k a number of times.

  44. Awesome review and pictures with a GREAT camera, Steve. Hard to put the MP down for sure. I do like the exposure lock on the M7 but for some reason I think the metering on the MP is more accurate. May just be me but I usually get better results with the MP than my M7.
    I know the M3 does not have an “on board” meter but I know if you stick your eye through one with a clean finder, you won’t go back. That .92 is just so bright and clear, it’s incredible. Still the best finder ever. The MP is the only camera that recaptures most of the M3 magic but in my view nothing beats an M3.

  45. David is little off on his $$ amounts. Beater M6’s usually go for $1000 by themselves. When I say “beater” I mean scratched up, faded, and WELL used. Not a problem with that but things CAN go wrong and many of these beater cameras need a CLA, which is more money.

    Most decent M6’s these days sell for between $1300 and $1800 by themselves. Add a good lens and the price goes up. You can get a Zeiss Planar for $500-$600 used if you are patient. Here is one M6 for $995 that is well used but appears to be in good working order. I was in this shop a few weeks back and held this exact M6. Felt good, looked worn but probably works well.

    http://www.collectiblecameras.com/product.php?productid=168824&cat=360&page=1

    Also, MP’s are selling as are M7’s and I mean NEW. I have spoken with at least 8 people in the past WEEK who either bought a new M7 or new MP. To me, the $2600-$3300 for a used MP is not bad when you think about it. Sure, it is expensive but the M9 is not? The MP is every bit as good as the M9, if not better because it will last you FOREVER. You guys know i love the M9 but I have to call it like it is. The MP is better made, better feeling and if you have the desire and patience to work with film it may be the better option.

    Same goes for the M7. I’m so enamored with film these days that I feel like doing something to help it out. More of us should shoot some film in addition to digital. It’s really enjoyable and anyone at any dollar level can join in the fun. As low as $150 for a camera and lens with a Canon AE1 or Oly OM1 to the ultimate with Leica M6, MP, M7 or M2, M3. The in betweens like the Zeiss Ikons or the lower end Voigtlanders. All great choices really. I find film looks REALLY good with just about any lens I have tried.

    BTW, an M6, M7 or MP is EASY to load with film. Takes 10 seconds. Why does everyone seem to think these Leicas are difficult? Took me the same time to load the Zeiss Ikon or a Contax G2 as it did the M7 or MP.

    Steve

  46. Hi efix,

    Where did you see a good M6 with glass for $2,000? I see them on eBay but they seem to go for far more.

    Thanks,

    Duncan

  47. efix,

    I read an interview recently in which Christian Ehrhardt of Leica said that film cameras make up 5% of Leica’s sales, and that most of those sales are to Japanese collectors. In other words, almost no one is interested in buying a brand-new Leica MP to actually shoot with. The reality is that the world is awash in film cameras, so whether it’s $4600 or $2300, there’s no good reason to buy a Leica brand new.

    The very fact that there is any demand at all for new Leicas shows that Leica is very smart about its pricing strategy. Leica is a luxury brand, and the Leica MP is a super-luxury product. I suspect that Leica loses money on every MP it sells, but continues to produce them because of the “Halo effect” that the MP has upon their digital cameras — it maintains the perception (or illusion) that Leica is still a camera company, as opposed to an electronics company, which is what most other camera companies really are.

    The high price creates the aura of exclusivity around the Leica brand, and makes people willing to shell out for their cameras. If they cost less, they would lose their aura of exclusivity and people wouldn’t be interested in them. Case in point: Zeiss has the same heritage (Zeiss Ikons were considered to be better than Leica during the time of Henri Cartier-Bresson) and the same quality optics, if not better in some instances, but there is no cult around Zeiss.

    There is nothing wrong with wanting a Leica MP, but be clear with yourself as to why you want it. If you want a camera as an object, you should buy a Leica MP in like-new condition. There are lots of them out there, because most people who buy them quickly realize they’re not magic cameras and they never put more than a few rolls through them. This amounts to a nice subsidy for the rest of us — it’s why Steve has been able to buy two brand-new cameras in a row for half-price.

    However, if you want a camera to actually shoot with, I’d suggest buying a used M6 classic, or better yet, a TTL, which is more practical for real photography. They can be easily found for less than $1000, or $2000 with a good lens. You’ll still have the same experience and the same photos, but you’ll use it more because you won’t have to treat it like a piece of fine china, obsessing over ever scratch. The Zeiss Ikon, from what I’ve heard, is even better for practical photography — clearer viewfinder, better ergonomics, and easier to load. In my opinion, there’s no good reason to get a new Voigtlander when you can get a used M6, M3, or Ikon for less. The best argument for a used M6 is that you can always sell it for what you paid for it, if not more.

    1. you think leica are losing money each time they sell an mp for $4000

      hmmm

      i think they are making a big fat crazy profit ….

  48. Hi Steve,

    Great review on the MP, but man your wife must be getting jealous! (ha-ha) I’ve just recently ordered the M7, can’t wait. Serioulsly considered the MP but opted for the M7 simply for the Aperture priority feature. Just gives you that extra edge for getting a quick snap.

    Daniel
    ps; (just a suggestion here, buy some flowers for your wife). Cheers.

  49. Thanks for the sound advice, Garry. The problem is that I’m a design-nut (and so share Steve’s passion for Apple hardware and software) and, well, there is something about Leica design… even if every pic I take looks like crap, I’d be happy taking them, LOL.

    I’m thinking about getting an M2 on eBay. It won’t cost too much and it has most of the benefits of the MP, it seems. No meter, but maybe I’ll try using it without one. (gulp)

    Plus, the crazy in me likes the idea of using a very old camera and film in our digital times.

  50. Steve,

    Nice review. I didn’t even know about the MP until recently, so thanks for the information.
    I want one! Are the chrome ones rare?
    Thanks
    Tim

  51. Duncan,
    I think film will continue to be made so long as it is not loss making, same for any business. I shoot film almost exclusively and while it it is a bit of a concern long term that film will continue to be produced, I think it is a lot further away from obsolescence than digital. Say if you’d bought an MP when it came out in 2003, and bought a digital camera for the same price, the MP will still be worth really quite a lot, the digital would likely be close to worthless, assuming it was still working.

    If you’re not comfortable with $4k on an MP, look at the Bessa models, Zeiss Ikon, or maybe look second hand. Invest in film and lenses more than the body and you can’t go far wrong.

  52. Beautiful camera, beautiful photos!

    I wonder if film is actually coming back in the real world. We who read this website are obviously passionate about it, I just wonder if people outside of the photo blogosphere are interested in learning film as well. It’s one thing for rangefinder enthusiasts to order it by the carton, but what about the guy with the kit rebel from walmart?

    Personally, I’d love to see film take over the world again. We’d all be better photographers for it. Maybe we are now blessed to live in a special time technologically?

    We all have access to the immediacy and quality of digital, while the many who have stumbled back to film are rediscovering the magic of physically capturing a moment on celluloid. Maybe the “practice” on digital will make film a more powerful medium for a new generation?

    Anyway, keep shooting, Steve! In your spare time (plenty of that, right?) I’d love to see more film development and scanning tips!

  53. Steve !!!!!!!

    You’re SUCH an INSPIRATION to Photography Lovers !!!

    Tell me Steve, what would be a good “starter” kit for Rangefinder/Film Photography ?

    After reading your entire website, I thought of these :

    Camera : Voigtlander Bessa-R2M ($648)
    Lens : Zeiss ZM 50mm Planar F2 ($780)

    Other ideas in camera bodies or lens (“as starter kit”) ???!!

    Your website is so rich in information. Thank you so much Steve. I love your passion!!!

    – John

  54. Steve, Is the front of the viewfinder on the MP glass or plastic? It took me 3 years to realize the M6 is plastic on the front. Never understood why Leica chose to opt out of glass, maybe because we get finger prints on it all the time. Maybe the cleaner MP view is glass related, true?

  55. Hi all,

    I would love to buy film, but I’m worried about how long it will be around. Have any film makers made a commitment to keep producing in the long term?

    I’d hate to drop 5k on an MP and then find I can’t use it in a few years’ time. 🙂

  56. hi steve,

    you have to find a Bronica RF645, you owe it to yourself.
    i used it for 3 years and it was amazing.
    It’s a MF leica.

  57. Again, great results with that XP2 – I definitely have to try out shooting it at different ISOs with my next roll. I now have a roll of HP5 loaded into my Yashica since I asked my photo dealer to get me one before I knew how flexible XP2 is. If I don’t totally fall in love with the HP5, I’ll get some more XP2 in the future!

    When reading your article I had a thought. You said Leica were raising prices (which of course any company does from time to time) due to 135 film still being on the decline. I wonder how that goes together. Shouldn’t they LOWER prices, so that more people will consider buying a film camera and shooting film again? (Also considering film is experiencing some kind of a renaissance at the moment.) Wouldn’t that acutally HELP to get sales back up? With a new film M at $ 4.5k, most film newcomers (or re-comers, for that matter) will resort to the used market, which won’t help Leica’s sales at all. Just a thought anyway.

  58. For a real world daily shooting the Zeiss Ikon is the best film rangefinder produced today… PERIOD! 🙂 . The weight is perfect, it has a fantastic viewfinder, batteries you find everywhere and loading film is so easy.

    Like many others I went back to film from the digital world last year. My initial plan was to get a Leica M but finally I opted for a new ZI. It has just been joy ever since.

    Steve, thanks for an inspiring blog. Keep up the good work.

  59. film is really addictive, i was really surprised when i went to fuji dealer and saw 120, 4×5 and 135 films in different iso, the manager told me that film is coming back, most japanese pro loves to shoot film, and most of them are leica fanatics too. i strongly believe that film has more soul and life. something that a photographer must experience.

  60. Greetings from Belgium! I’ve just bought a second hand MP chrome 0.85 and I agree with everything you say about the MP – it’s an absolute joy and it just feels soooo good! Off to shoot the local Mayday rally and concerts – should be fun. By the way thanks for your website – very enjoyable.

  61. Hi Steve,

    I have a quick question hopefully you can help me with. I recently bought a second hand 35mm summicron asph. It’s in mint condition but one thing is bugging me.

    It seems to have a little play on the apeture ring. It seems to go past f2 a little and past f16 the other way round. It clicks at f2 and it can go a bit further around still. Is this normal ?

    Thanks in advance

  62. Nice review Steve, thanks.

    I shoot the same 2 cameras as you Mike and agree and echo every point you make. In fact at first I thought no meter would be a chore and although I’ve bought both a Sekonic L-208 & L-308s I find just like you I’m not using them very much and getting used to “sunny 16” ……. or more like a “dull 4” here in England! lol. Mind films like BW400CN or XP2 are pretty forgiving I find.

    The M8 is a fat bloated pig to hold in comparison to a film M like the MP or M2, I’ve been looking for a grip for ages but they are thin on the ground and keep getting fingerprints over the RF window trying to hold the thing. Still I honestly thought the M8 was the camera for me until I got my M2 now I know what I wanted all along albeit the expensive way of getting there especially as the M2 only cost me £299.

  63. I think I’d love an MP, too. However, I’m pretty darn happy with my recently-purchased M2, which has many of the attributes of the MP, except for the internal meter (and of course, the insane price). Still, I appreciate the way the MP combines the best features of the past with useful features of today (or of 1975).

    I also find, like you, neither the knob rewind nor the old-school film advance bother me. I also find that I don’t miss the light meter (and that really surprised me). For outdoor shots, I just use “sunny 16”, and I’d guess I get 90% good exposures that way. I do have a meter for indoor or weird lighting environments.

    I guess I kind of like the slower, more contemplative way I work when using my old M2. It’s a nice contrast to the slightly “quicker” experience of shooting my M8 (and the much quicker experience of shooting a digital SLR).

    Regarding the handling/feel of the MP. I think it’s entirely due to the size of the camera body and the better covering (at least compared to my M8). Film Ms are just more dense and easier to grasp. I literally hate shooting my M8 without a case. With my M2, I haven’t felt the need for a case (the desire for one is another matter :-)).

    Anyway, nice article, and I can see why you enjoy your MP so much. It’s for many of the same reasons I like my M2 so much.

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