My Leica M6 / by Philipp Fiehl

So for 2 years now I almost exclusively used my M6 to shoot. And now I want to let you know, what my experience has been with this camera.

"Not another M6-Review!" - Yeah, yeah. This one won't be about technical stuff, just wait and see.

I got my Leica on ebay for 750 € plus shipping, which, at the time, was a bargain. On the pictures it looked clean and well maintained. Even the plastic bottom plate protector was still there. Although it said, that it had been sitting on a shelf to be admired for the last 20 plus years, I figured (it being a Leica) that wouldn't make any difference.

My Leica M6 just after unboxing

And after putting 2 test rolls through it, I wasn't disappointed. Almost all photos had turned out fine, metering and shutter speeds seemed to be more or less spot on. 

At first I thought that i'd use both my Voigtländer Bessa R2M (which I bought about 2 years earlier) and my M6, putting different films in each one, using the one more suited to the situation at hand. But soon I was using my Bessa less and less. The feeling of holding, carrying and shooting my M6 was just too good to not use it as often as possible. It's something about this camera that just deeply satisfies me, every time I pick it up.

So for the next six month, I shot everything with my Leica and was very pleased. It went to Tel Aviv with me, to Vienna and to Havanna. At the airport there, I took out the last film I had shot, put the bottom plate back on, cranked the film advance lever and tried to set the shutter speed from 1/250th of a second to 1/500th of a second. The wheel wouldn't budge. I tried to set it to a lower speed, which worked, but now I couldn't rotate it back to 1/250th anymore. I fiddled on the wheel a bit more, causing it to finally get stuck at "B" and not rotating anywhere anymore. 

My M6 was broken. There had not been any warning signs.

Unfortunately for me, from Havanna, I went directly to Vancouver, where I wanted to shoot on the streets for another two weeks. With the M6 broken and my Bessa back at home in Germany (yeah, I know, serious mistake) I had to make do with a Ilford Single Use Camera.

Back in Germany I sent my Leica to the Official repair service in Wetzlar, where they figured out that a part connecting the shutter speed dial to the rest of the camera hat given out due to wear. They replaced it, found a few other things that needed adjusting and sent it back to me with a two year warranty on all replaced parts. With it came a pretty hefty bill of 930 €, mainly for the working hours the technician had put into fixing my camera. (The part itself did only cost 37 €)

Sure, I could have tried third-party-repair-services, but most of them told me, Leica only sells the part needed to Repairmen trained by them. With them I would have paid almost the same price, just without the two year warranty. Considering this being the first time my M6 was sent in for repair and adjustment in 32 years (it was built in 1984) the price seems justifiable to me. It just so happened that I had the bad luck to purchase this particular M6 just 6 months before the failure occurred.

Would I buy it again? Yes, definitely. There's just something about it that makes it the camera for me. The one I just have to look at to feel inspired and wanting to go out and shoot a few photos.

Photography is a creative process, not a science, although some books on the subject might suggest otherwise. Don't choose your camera depending on stats and technicalities. Go with your gut and get the one that inspires and enables you to shoot the photos you want to make.

A brand name won't make you a good photographer.