Leica M6

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by rossb, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. Thinking of trying out a Leica M6 and I figured first up is to decide on a lens. So I checked around and I think that the Voightlander ultron 35mm f1.7 would be where I would start. KEH has a M6 with a .85 magnification is the reason I started thinking about it.

    Given the 35mm focal length would a .72 or .85 rangefinder be preferable?

    And the next question is I wear glasses. Does the viewfinder have eye relief for people with glasses? I do not want a diopter as I wind up putting my glasses on and off constantly and it's a deterrent to quick photography.
  2. I have the 35/1.7 Ultron- the 0.72x finder would be best for it. You can always add a 1.25x magnifier for longer lenses.

    My Leica M2 with 0.72 magnification was fine with glasses, I suspect the M6 is even better.
  3. When a 28mm finder frame was shoved into a 0.72 body, framing accuracy was lost. This was a serious problem with the 0.72 M6 I had. Things may be better with the 0.85 version but I do not know.
  4. Thanks for the answers. It sounds like then each camera model has a different eye relief. Which is tough really for a guy like me as an internet search really brings up nothing about it at least for me. It would seem that a premium camera would have that information readily available.

    mukul-dude I do not quite understand what you are saying. I guess I do not know what framing accuracy is. Are you saying the 35mm frame lines do not work correctly because the camera has 28mm frame lines.
  5. Dude, I am "Dube".

    The 0.72 magnification came in with the M2, whose widest finder frame was 35mm. With the M4-P Leitz retained the same magnification but stuffed in a 28mm frame. As a result, 50mm and wider frames in that and successor bodies (0.72) are not accurate. For this reason I regretted buying an M6 and not an M5. I had a 35mm Ultron, by the way, and I think it would have gone well with an M5.
  6. I wear glasses too, and am a left-eye shooter (which makes it a little bit harder to keep the eye centered and the RF patch visible). I have only experience with the M5 and the M6 (0.72x) (with the M5 unfortunately modified to show the 28mm framelines (the infamous M4-P upgrade) and hence quite similar to the M6 finder, so I never got to enjoy the original M5 viewfinder). Eye relief in either case was abysmal (what could possibly be the reason to make the ocular that small (and without a rubber ring in case of the M5)?), even the 35mm framelines were hard to see all at once for me. Mukul already mentioned the framing accuracy, which for me was never anywhere near what even the worst SLR finder offered. In other words, framing was either too loose or too tight, almost never exactly what I thought it would/should be. One of the main reasons I never took a liking to rangefinders in general. Another issue often encountered with the M6 is the "RF patch whiteout" caused by Leica saving a few pennies in the construction of the rangefinder; this can be remedied by what's know as the MP upgrade where Leica put a proper condenser lens back into the rangefinder; reportedly, the 0.85x M6 are slightly worse than the 0.72x with this flare issue. <br><br>I have not handled a 0.85x M6 but based on my experience with a 0.72x M6, I can only imagine an even poorer visibility of the the 35mm framelines (similar to the 28mm ones on an 0.72x viewfinder).<br><br>I am quite certainly in the minority, but of all the M rangefinders, I find the M5 to be the one with the best handling (but surely not the best looks). It's shutter speed dial protruded past the camera body and could easily be turned with one finger; the shutter speed was also shown in the viewfinder together with a very nice needle exposure meter indicator (which allowed to quite accurately guess at desired under- or overexposure). There is the issue with the batteries and the possible need to calibrate the exposure meter when the original (and no longer available) mercury cells are replaced with Wein cells or with the adapter that holds silveroxide ones. Incidentally, the M5 was also the last M that was built the old-fashioned "adjust and fit" way and the last whose entire production was manufactured in Wetzlar.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  7. Sorry about the name spelling. Having a camera that will not focus properly is not high on my list. I will see what others say as the thread moves along.

    Basically I wanted to use a 35mm lens all the time. Thank you for your comments.
  8. Dieter, Thank you for your comments. I was figuring on the M6 because it's popular and it has a modern meter and battery style. Fast and accurate focusing is important to me so I guess maybe I will put the Leica on the back burner.

    thanks for all the comments.
  9. That's what a rangefinder can deliver, given a bit of practice, proper technique and absent any flare issues (RF patch white-out). If one is used to - as I was - focusing anywhere on a matte viewfinder screen in an SLR, being restricted to a central RF patch takes some getting used to (as is not having any indication of DOF). On the plus side is that the brightness of the viewfinder does not depend on the maximum aperture of the lens, it's always equally bright. <br><br> Personally, I found the limitation to a fastest shutter speed of 1/1000s with Leica film rangefinders always a tad restrictive and sometimes infuriating. Nothing an ND filter couldn't cure in most cases ... But once other manufacturers offered 1/2000s, 1/4000, or even 1/8000s (not that I ever had the need for the latter), 1/1000s felt (and was) limiting. The need to take off the bottom plate of the camera to load film and the fumbling to get the film loaded properly was another negative for me. <br><br>You've got the rangefinder itch, so the thing to do is to scratch that itch and rent one and try for yourself; you'll find out quickly enough whether it works or doesn't work for you. As has already been said in a previous thread, a rangefinder is an acquired taste; one either likes it and takes to it almost immediately, or one hates it and turns ones back to it quickly and forever. In my case, it didn't provide any advantages but created plenty of issues on its own that interfered with my photographic process.<br><br>
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2017
  10. You guys have been very helpful. Thank you.. I will think about it for a while. I am going to go look at some tomorrow. It's a big drive but I am motivated and have the day.

    I suppose if I bought an .85 rangefinder and used a 50mm lens I would be better off with the focus thing. KEH has one.
  11. I've had the 0.85X finder, and the 0.72x finder. If you want to use the 35mm lens almost exclusively, then the 0.72X magnification of the viewfinder is easier to use. I wear glasses, and I found the 35mm framelines hard to see with a 0.85X finder. You have to pan around with your eye to see all 4 corners.

    With the 0.72X finder, there is a 28mm frame which is very hard to see with glasses. However, the 35mm framelines are easy to see and compose with.

    The 0.85X finder will have greater focusing accuracy for the 90 and 135mm lenses. However, at the focal lengths of 35 - 75mm, you will not suffer in focusing accuracy for having the 0.72x finder.

    What Mukul Dube is referring to is framing accuracy: how well the framelines compose a picture relative to what you get on film.
    Earlier 35mm framelines (on the M2 - M4) were a bit farther apart. They represent the field of view with your lens set at 1m, which was the minimum focus distance of Leica rangefinder lenses in those days. When Leica added the 28mm framelines in the M4-P onwards, they pushed the framelines for 35mm a bit more towards the center. Their reasoning is that the minimum focus is now 0.7m, and these framelines give you the field of view at 0.7m. As you focus towards infinity, more and more of the "edges" will show up on your film that the frameline won't show. The reason is that as you focus closer, the lens actually becomes slightly longer in focal length, so it becomes slightly "telephoto", and has a narrower field of view than when the lens is at infinity. So, at infinity you have more stuff on film than what you saw in the finder. You can always crop to restore the view you had when composing.
  12. Thanks Robert for the comments. Very informative.
  13. Welll today I am going to make a day trip to see a Leica M6. It's Camera West and I have bought gear from them back in the day when they were in Monterey.

    I will know after I check it out if I am a Leica guy or not. Camera West is probably the only game around for a non-internet Leica purchase. However the things are expensive and I will not just snap one up. I still have a lot to learn about them.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  14. Nothing wrong with the focussing of the M6 -- it's the framing accuracy that's off. Dieter has pointed to another serious problem with the M6 finder -- "RF patch white-out" -- which is not present in the M5.
  15. Well this morning I checked the website for Camera West, Walnut Creek and they had Three M6 camera's for sale. So I grabbed some coffee this morning and made the 90 mile drive out there. When I walked in a wandered about for a minute and found the used stuff. There was one M6 in the cabinet and some other models and two M5's. The young lady came up to me and she was very pleasant for sure. I told her what I wanted to do but wanted to browse around a bit first. Then I came back to the used stuff and the single M6 was not there. I was trying to decide if I was having a senior moment and the young lady came up to me again and I asked her if there was an M6 in the cabinet and she said somebody had just this moment called and bought it. So I asked if I could look at a Leica with a .72 magnifcation and a 35mm lens on it. She went and got the M6 out and put a lens on it and let me look at it all I wanted.

    I thought the camera was very nice, in terrific condition. The focus is in reverse of my Nikon and the viewfinder was bright enough for sure. I liked the focusing rangefinder patch and feel that it would take no time at all to get very fast with that. The 35mm framelines were up to the edge of the viewfinder and with glasses on I had to really scrunch up to get it all in. It would be ok and of course I could go with a diopter and then I would be in the same shape as a pair of young eyes using the camera.

    It makes me wonder where the frame lines would be on a 50mm lens.

    Anyway I like the camera and I am going to buy one. I do not know where one is for sale however. The girl said the guy that owned this store also owned the Leica store in San Francisco and I thought I would drive out there with my wife and make a day out of it.

    Dube I do not want the M5. I do not really like the way they look and I do not want to do a battery conversion thing.

    The M6 that was bought under my nose was $1500.00 and very clean. They called it a "9". Not mint but I did not see any scratches either. Serial number was 1795xxx
  16. I found I could use the 35mm frame OK on a 0.72 M6 TTL, but the eye relief is not good. I do wear glasses. How well you can see it will depend on the topography of your glasses. The 28mm is impossible to see without moving your eye around, but it works at a pinch. For anything important I used a 28mm viewfinder in the hotshoe. Although the framing on the 50mm is not very accurate, I never found this a problem in practice. I generally just used to frame everything very tightly in the viewfinder with the 50mm. I did not notice any significant issues with 35 and 90mm. Parallax is something that will always be there, which means the camera is just not the right tool if predicting the precise relationship of objects within a photo is vitally important at closer distances. You can't fix that, unless you are shooting an M with Live View. I did get the focusing patch upgrade, because I could, not so much because I needed to.

    I am with Dieter though: the M5 is the nicer camera for those of us who also like reflex cameras, but this view is a minority one within the Leica community and, of course, the M5 almost ruined Leica as it sold very poorly.
  17. If you put a 50mm lens on the .72 are the frame lines fully expanded in the frame like the 35mm lens or is there a bit of room around them.

  18. There's more room around them. The magnification of the finder does not change (unless you swap the camera or use the eyepiece magnifier), so a smaller area of the finder is outlined as the focal length increases. You may find this helpful: http://www.tamarkin.com/sites/default/files/general/_vf_magifications.jpg That lever on the front of the camera allows you to preview different pairs of framelines without changing the lens. The 50mm frame feels rather undersized on the M6 - perhaps it's accurate at 0.7m, but I don't have a 50 that focuses closer than 1m, so I'd rather it was slightly larger!
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017
  19. Thanks for the link. I guess I just need to see some camera's.. Kind of hard as it's a big deal just to get out and see something with everything so far away. ​
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2017

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