M6 metering problem

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by mat_thornton, Dec 16, 2010.

  1. I have a M6 black—serial 1677848 from around 1985 (I think). Last week on holiday the meter started to play up. At first I thought it was a problem with the sun being to bright for the situation because the meter started to work again back at the hotel room but now it has stopped working all together in all lighting conditions. I have tried 3 sets of batteries, wiping the contacts on the inside of the back plate and inside the battery compartment. I have also tried all combinations of shutter and aperture settings under the sun and rotating the ISO dial to see if grit or sand had maybe got into the body and I still get nothing. I am now aware the I will probably have to send this off for repair, which brings me to a few points I would like more information on:
    Is this a general problem or does this tend to be an expensive repair? I am in the UK and wondered approximately how much this could cost me, from repairing a loose wire to replacing the meter board plus any recommendations on who/where I should send this to? It would be really helpful if anyone had any info/tips/help on this as I would greatly appreciate it.
    On a side note this is really annoying, as this will be the 6th time I have had to send Leica bodies back for repairs in two years. One body had to go back 4 times for a shutter lag issue and it's eventual replacement had a winder jamming probelm and now this. Should I get a voigtlander bessa instead? :)
  2. I was into Leicaflex R cameras back in the late 70's. Leicas were the worst cameras I ever owned.
  3. Vincent, I won't even dignify that comment with a response...
    Now, the meter circuit can be problematic on these classic M6 units. The first two items for any tech to check is the main "shutter charged" contact. (See provided picture of golden piggy tail contact) It's the only moving part in the meter FPC assembly.
    A short list of most likely possibilities:
    1. Check if contact or solider joint has fatigued.
    2. Clean both touching contacts in case of contamination.
    3. Confirm that a previous battery acid leak hasn't wicked to other neighboring FPC components.
    4. Confirm that the photocell in the lens mount chamber area doesn't need replacement.
    5. Defective diode at hybrid board. (Attached to FPC at battery chamber)
    6. Replace meter FPC assembly. (USA part only cost currently at $248)
    Labor rates vary depending on how far the tech has to go in these steps.
  4. bms


    Sorry to hear about your troubles. What were the other bodies?
    Don't know how expensive it would be to send it to the US, but there are a few good places in the US, and Gus (see post above) is highly recommended - he did a great job on my M6, about the same vintage.
  5. Vincent, the Leica M4 I bought new in 1970 is still going strong, despite hard use. So are all its lenses from that time except for one taken swimming (by accident) this year. I don't baby cameras, and have several non-functioning Nikon F and Nikkormats as proof. Neither your misfortunes nor my better luck should be considered proof of Leica's quality.
  6. Gus, Benjamin, Jim... Thanks for the information—very, very helpful.
    The other body I had problems with was another M6 classic silver and then this current one. The silver body had to be sent back 4 times to be repaired over a shutter issue. I accepted my current black body as a replacement, but that then had an issue with the winder jamming. Probably just a stroke of bad luck but it seems that I can only go a few months shooting without something else happening!
  7. What Leicas were worse than Rs from the 1970s?
    Actually, let's face it: pretty much anything produced in the 70s, including most cameras, were crap.
  8. Really Scott? I still use all my various Nikons, Nikkormats, and Canon EF's from the late 70's, and there is not hint they are going to fail.
  9. Agree with Michael - including on account of, dare I say it, the M5.
  10. Scott, you have got to be kidding.
    Canon F-1, Canon FTb, Nikon F, Nikon F2, Nikkormat FTN, FT2, FT3, Minolta XK, Minolta SR-T's, Pentax Spotmatic, Spotmatic F, Pentax KX, etc. Olympus OM-1, OM2....
    I didn't even own any of those makes in the 70's. I bought a different brand, and it's still going 36 years later, mechanicals and meter.
  11. I bought a Pentax 35mm in 1970 and it worked great. Sold it when I was broke and later bought a Ricoh 500 rangefinder and shot a lot of Kodachrome with it. It was a great camera to take on bicycle trips. Then I bought an OM-1 which was heavier but I toured on my bicycle with it also. It was my favorite camera of a lifetime. I lost it camping one time and have never really liked a camera all that much since then. I have a D200 and a FM2n and they both work great but I guess I would rather have a broken M6. With kids in college I need to not spend money on stuff so that will have to wait.
  12. If you haven't tried it already, run the film-speed dial on the back through its full range a few times. A factory tech suggested that at one of those clean'n'check visits at Glazer's years back. He said some corrosion builds up on the contacts in the film-speed dial, and you just have to scrub it off. I do it every time I change film now.
  13. I also have an early M6, and from what I understand the meters on early M6's tend to have issues over time. To some extent a good tech (Krauter, DAG, etc.) can "tune up" the meter to get it working again. (I am not sure what is involved in this mechanically and electronically--I only know that it is cheaper than a complete replacement.) If cleaning contacts and tuning up the meter does nothing, you are probably looking at a meter replacement (about $300 US). The upside is that you will get a newer (late M6/M7/MP) style meter with a greater range than the one that was in your M6.
    I had to send my M6 off three times within the first six months of owning it, but now it is fantastic! It seems that, more than most other cameras, Leicas change hands a lot, and it is hard to know how any camera has been treated. Also, as very expensive film cameras, they probably tend to suffer from disuse more than many other cameras. Finally, because they are expensive to have repaired by a qualified and trained tech, I would guess that many Leica M cameras have been serviced by untrained and unskilled hands (leading to other problems). All speculation of course!
    I hope it works out for you!

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