Leica M6 vs. M7

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by judit_langh, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. Hello All,

    After some years of toying with the idea, I have decided to get a Leica M system. I have been using digital
    SLRs as well as a Hasselblad, but I need something more candid, smaller and lighter and less threatening
    for portraits. I also like to photograph children -- fast moving objects.

    So my question is this: given that I have not used a rangefinder before and I am not so used to quick
    manual focusing, should I spend an extra $1,000 or so for a used M7 (which has apperture priority and I
    gather, some other comfort features), or is the difference between the M6 and M7 negligible enough so I
    will be OK with a nice M6 ?

    Thank you in advance.

  2. Oh.

    I was expecting to see some pictures of a fight between a M6 and an M7.

    Seriously, before you kick down any money on either of these, why not rent one and see if an RF is even your cup of tea. Otherwise, there isn't much else in the way of automation on the M7 to make much of a difference. Both are quite manual.
  3. Though I am a Leica lover I urge you to consider carefully whether it is the best tool for fast moving subjects. For someone with rangefinder experience it definately is. For someone with primarily SLR experience it takes quite a while to get used to a Leica. I started with an M3 some time ago and after many years of using Nikons it took me quite a while to get used to the Leica. Finally getting an M6 with it's great and dependable meter made a big difference. But you may miss a few shots that you would have gotten with an SLR until you get very familiar with the Leica.
  4. They are both great cameras. Do you need an automatic camera or can you live with a
    manual mechanical camera? If the latter, you'll find the M6 and M6 TTL pleasure to use.
  5. Agree w/ both answers.

    Small, light, less threatening, but used to take photos of fast moving kids ? How about something like a Pentax K100D (small, light, modestly priced, image-stabilized dslr body) with a quality prime autofocus lens mounted on it ? Pentax has a number of those lenses, at various focal lengths.

    It's just a thought.
  6. I agree with others here. I have two active boys, 4 and 6 yrs old. I've been using rangefinders for 20 years now, so I know my way around them. But when getting shots of the boys at hand I reach for something with A/F, unless I'm in bright enough light (outdoors) to stop way down for tons of DOF and then I just frame and shoot. But indoors, with an M you end up spending way too much time focusing on...nothing.
  7. Consider a Contax G system - you get aperture priority AND autofocus and the lenses are unbeatable, esp. if you shoot slides. The slides will pop when you look at them on a light table. The Zeiss lenses are legendary for their quality and they are (dirt) cheap compared to Leica glass. You can buy a Contax G with three lenses for about 1K!!
  8. M7 is the king of rangefinders!!!
  9. Judit I would agree with all the above comments regarding RFs/SLRs and kids. Having said that I started my rangefinder experience 4 years ago with a Leica M6TTL. Two years ago I upgraded to an M7, which is a perfect camera for me and IMO a better camera than the M6TTL. If you are used to aperture priority automatic exposure you would love the M7 because it's meter system is truly excellent. If you can afford it I would say get the M7.
  10. The MP in black paint is a peerless looker - especially with a chrome 50 'lux hanging off the front. AE is useful but not necessary if you put a little effort into thinking about light and use some lovely TRX and its almost MF digi back latitude. The Leica M and its fast glass is a very capable portrait set-up for available light/candid shooting - but focusing a rangefinder is no faster than focussing an SLR set-up - both tortoise like slow in comparison to a modern auto focus SLR.
  11. I've owned and used M6/M7/MP. I've used them for my fast moving 3-year old and find the easiest to be the M7. All I need to do is focus.

    With kids its best to use a wider angle lens. On occasion I'll use my 90mm Elmarit-M. Of course you need to shoot fast, not like the shooters who do all sorts of contemplation before releasing the shutter.

    Today you can find M7 in excellent condition for circa $1750-$2000. So the differential need not be $1000, given that a nice M6 runs about $1000-$1200.

    I say the above because you've said you were new to RF. Many of us more familiar with Leica RF don't have a problem with the M6 or the MP in fast situations. I'm actually more comfortable focusing with my MP, than with my D200 auto everything.

    And your right about the candids. I've used TLRs and Hasselblads and for me anyway I can see the difference between contemplated shots and faster action type shots. The faster action seems more dynamic. Good luck - Paul
  12. See if you can borrow an M camera before you split hairs over M6 vs. M7 and take the big
    plunge. I use my M6 to photograph children but it's definitely an acquired taste.
  13. I would choose M6 for negatives (b/w) and M7 for slides.

    "I need something more candid, smaller and lighter"

    M certainly fits the bill

    "and less threatening for portraits."

    M is good for environmental portraits, not so special in the studio.

    "I also like to photograph -- fast moving objects."

    M is the wrong tool, but I suppose can be used with wideangle and prefocused with small enough aperture.
  14. maybe someone in your area can let you use his M camera. try it for a weekend. if you decide
    to get either one, i recommend a .85 finder as it's easier to focus 50 and 90mm lenses.
  15. there was a girl who used to visit the forum and she was from san francisco also. maybe
    somebody here remembers her name.....
  16. m7 is a simple elegant camera that will work great for you once you learn how to use it.
    M6 is almost as good, but aperture priority auto exposure is a nice and practical feature.
    Manual or autofocus? It just depends on the particular situation. In my experience
    manual focus is ultimately more reliable, but if you have a good autofocus system it can
    work well too. Makes for part of the bulk though.

    With a rangefinder, there are a few ways to get the subject in focus. One is actually using
    the focus patch to focus on the subject... Another is focusing on a still object a similar
    distance from your subject and using depth of field to make up for lack of pinpoint
    accuracy, another is estimating the distance and setting the lens accordingly by sight or
    feel and again using depth of field.
  17. Back when I made my beans with a camera I used view cameras, a Speed Graphic, a Rolleiflex, a Contax, and a Leica. Over the years I have possessed several SLR's and all manner of lenses and attachments. Today I use my cameras only for pleasure -- usually Leica but occasionally a Rollei or an ancient Superb. For the chores you describe I would recommend one of the Leica M's, mainly for the choice of lenses -- either Leica or aftermarket; but mainly because it is the most flexible and practicably useable system. I rarely even use the meter in my M6, because I hate having to depend on batteries. If push came to shove it would be little trouble to revert to how I started -- a Leica III and Elmar lens.
  18. I'd vote for the M7. Having owned and used the IIIc, M4, M6 and M7, each during its "life span" over a 60 year period, IMO, the M7 and its AE is the best of the bunch.
  19. pretty much what Ray said. both are fine, if to choose, i prefer the M7.
  20. I like to use a M6TTL and a Nikon F6 for family (mainly children) film shots.

    Focusing all M cameras: the RF patch is great for moreless static subjects, when childrens run or move fast, there is no way to place the patch in something with movement. I need to pre-focus on the DOF scale.

    Exposure: The AE M7 is much faster than M6. You can point to whatever middle grey reference, use exposure lock and ready. The M6 is faster than mechanical SLRs but slow to have perfect exposures when you are in a hurry and light is changing. Obviously, the M7 is worth the money if you want this feature.

    My experience: As my main reason to use a Leica is its all-mechanical concept and the pleasure of hanging them, I like to use only fast B&W wide latitude films with my M6 for the above reason. DoF scale focusing works great if you have enough light to have a corect DoF.

    For good children color chromes the F6 is unbeatable. I use it because results are astounding and I don`t want to waste money on badly exposed slides. For color prints, DSLRs are best.
  21. Chromes or negatives? Definitely as Ilkka said...
  22. I've been using M's for over 30 years to photograph children and have M3, M6 and M7.
    One thing they are not is suitable for pictures of young children without a lot of experience. Children most fast and often and unless you can control the environment and movement in a studio setting you need constant manipulation of the focus. At the best, the M7 allows one to only have to focus and the M7 is all I use now for children.
    The advantage of the Leica M is the current generation of Aspherical lenses and I use the 75mm Summicron and 35mm Summilux Asph's. I do not use the 90mm Summicron Asph for portrait work because the depth of field is too narrow using the slow K64 is use. The 90 is only used for sports and then again only with the M7.
    You must, as others have suggested use the M7 before purchasing because it is a big investment for a body and even one lens. -Dick
  23. I own a M6, but I never use it to photograph children, especially fast moving ones. You'll need an autofocus digital camera with a wide lens that allows you to focus close. Since you prefer a compact camera, a Nikon D50 with a 20 or 28mm AF lens would work, or a Canon G9. The AF/wide set up will allow you to shoot close, engage (talk, laugh, play) with the child, and shoot without having to bring the camera up to your eye level. Just aim from your waist/chest level (child's eye level) and keep on shooting. The digital feature gives you instant feedback on composition and child's expression so you know whether you took the million dollar shot or not. With a Leica, you have to zone focus, wind the film, bracket your exposure, all that movement is just too distracting to a child. Another thing is the most important element in child photography is the expression. Mom couldn't care about the composition, the bokeh, the film vs digital debate, or even the focus.

    So my advice is buy a M6 since you want one, then use the left over money you save from skipping the M7 and get a Canon G9.
  24. I use my M6 TTL all the time to take shots of the kids - and the results are often spectacular, but it is not much fun if they are fast moving. I find an SLR much superior here. It all depends on the children in question and how they behave in front of a camera. If I could afford it and felt more motivated I would get the M7 over an M6. The auto shutter is probably helpful and gives you one less thing to have to worry about - especially as an M7 can become an M6 on manual operation.
  25. Just hope that D50 autofocus can zone in on a moving subject because unless you have an
    eagle's eye you won't be sure of much trying to see through that viewfinder..
  26. Ray, you didn't get my point. You use a wide angle lens and auto focus so you don't have to look through a view finder.
  27. Hi Judit,

    I haven?t read all answers your question has received, so sorry if I am telling the same that some one has already said. I have used the M6, the M7 and now and MP. First I have to say the Leica rangefinders are not fast photographic cameras unless you master the pre configure everything technique, that means, pre set aperture, so you can have enough deep of field, and pre set shutter speed (with the M7 you can have aperture priority). If you want to photograph fast moving objetcs, the real problem here is focusing, some times the range finder window flares at the precise moment you need to focus, some times it is not easy to say if the rangefinder spot is aligned, or some times the object you want is faster than you. What I do most of the time is to use a focal-length-aperture combination that gives me engouh deep of field distance to move so I don?t have to focus, I move around instead, and have the shutter speed pre set, that aproach favors short focal lenght lenses, I use 35 mm or even 24 mm, but if you want 75 or 90 mm is going to be more difficult. Another point here is composition, a DSRL or a Hasselblad allows you to compose inside the viewfinder, but the rangefinder window is not as precise, and the lens lines inside can be confusing at first.

    So my advice is to rent before you buy, going from DSLR or Hasselblad to Leica M means a different photography aproach, with the Leica you take the picture in your mind, with the DSLR you can do it in the camera viewfinder, with the Leica you must be "in" the picture. All in all I guess for your needs a M7 will be fine, is a great camera, so I advice you to search for serial numbers to have the ones with the best rangefinder, later numbers.


    Jorge Saravia.
  28. Robin,

    That is a lovely picture!
  29. M6 is cheaper the auto exposure is not an issue, M6 does fine !
    I DO confirm (Having owned both) that HAND HELD, pictures are sharper with a leica than with a Hasselblad. I think this is due to less rattle during exposure. Also Leicas are lighter thus easier to hold steady! On a tripod older blad lens are not so great so leica is not far behind with a slow film.
  30. Hi there, I don't agree at all with these guys pushing you toward a dslr. If you want a Leica, get one, for sure. I just had a kid, and I use two digital cameras to take pictures a Fuji F11 and a Nikon D70. Both are great, but sometimes, I would love to be able to control focus, you cannot do this with a digital camera, you point the sensor at the subject and the camera focuses, less control and slows you down.

    I get great photos with both cameras though, so they do the job, but like you, I would like a Leica M. If you can afford it, get the M7. I had a Bessa R3a last year which is a poor man's M7, only paid $300 for it! It has a better finder, 1-1, noisier shutter, is more flimsy and drains the battery if you do not switch it off after use. If you are at all worried about money, get one of these instead, with a 40mm 1.4 lens and you will be in business. The G Contax is also a good option, probably the best lenses of the entire bunch, but batteries run out and is a little noisy, not mention a pain in the ass to focus, but it does have autofocus so is very fast, when it gets it right.
  31. I've made a good living from photograhy for 30 years. Trust me.

    A reason not to buy a Rangefinder for portrait work. You will want to (in most cases) isolate your subject from backgrounds. The beauty of an SLR is what you see is what you get. Any complete fool can focus an SLR quickly when the lens is wide open. Rangefinders distract from the 'moment'. Its also impossible to know exactly how the 'sibject' will relate to the background. SLR's are unbeatable for this. Backgrounds are AS important as the subject.

    If yopu can control you subject then an M with a Noctilux will give you an artistic edge.

    If you want your pics to look like point and shoot (what is it the snobs call it....reportage?) then get an M with a Summicron.
  32. Not a response, a question . . .
    I'm not sure you'll read or even get this, but I'm wondering what you decided about the Leica, and if you did get either model, what's your experience been? Thoughts, suggestions?
  33. As there are SO many answers saying the same thing,, ( you are making a bad choice )
    as in:
    ' should I drive a porcshe 4 or a porsche 4s for roaming around my farm, I have been driving a ford tractor, ,,,,,?'
    The answer is,, you HAVE the right tool, you obviously dont have the right lens.
    Get a lens, that is FAST!!! 24 1.4 outrageous expensive
    or 28 1.4 VERY expensive
    or, 35mm 1.4 affordable,
    50 1.4 a great deal
    I think,, for fast moving kids,
    a 35 1.4 on a full frame digital SLR is unbeatable
    else a the same type lens on a cropped sensor SLR
    this is three years later,
    I would say,,
    for $1000 get a Nikon D7000 ( or Canon equivalent ) with a 35mm 1.4 or 1.8 lens, or
    for $2000 get a Nikon D7000 and a 28mm 2.8 lens ( since you could shoot at 6400 ISO, thus saving on the lens cost of a 1.4 ), or
    for $5000 get a Nikkon D700 and a 24 1.4, this is the DREAM package.
    I LOVE Leica rangefinders, they are SO convenient fast smooth and wonderful compared to my 4x5
    but, are also not competitive for your subjects ( fast moving subjects ) like a NEW digital SLR with a fast Wide lens.
    They are all three separate purposes.
    leica RF
    new high ISO digital AUTO SLR
    ( there are many 'other' kinds too, like peanut butter proof P+S or holgarific lomo polaroids)

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