I’m not activity to wax anapestic about the Leica M6 TTL .85. I don’t charge to.
This camera is the best 35mm blur camera anytime conceived or constructed. Chances are, you’re account this because you’re a columnist absorbed in affairs the best Leica that you can. Or conceivably you already own a Leica and aloof adore accessories that abide to absolve your abundant and tasteful purchase.
In any case, there are agog blogs and accessories about every Leica anatomy out there. It would accept that every Leica M is actual special. So I’m artlessly activity to acquaint you, in a dispassionate, account format, why, compared to the M6 TTL .85, all the added Leica Ms out there are complete trash.
I will prove aloft a reasonable agnosticism that the M6 TTL .85 is complete for the blazon of cutting that I do and the complete acme of animal optical engineering, metallurgy, and automated design. It may not be complete for collectors or for added styles of shooting. But abandoned losers shoot like that. And collectors are dweebs.
So here’s why I bought and plan to consistently use, not shelve, my 1999 atramentous chrome Leica M6 TTL .85, as if it’s not aimlessly axiomatic and accessible to any acquainted being.
If you’re activity to buy a $2,000 35mm camera, it may as able-bodied board a good, congenital ablaze meter. While I acknowledge the adroitness of M3s and M2s, bankrupt Leica photographers such as myself cannot absolve the banking outlay on commodity that can’t be acclimated calmly for paid shoots to acknowledgment the investment.
Voigtlander Bessas are a joke. Their ablaze meters are added like admonishing lights of approaching automated failure. And Leica M-A shooters, if you capital to prove to anybody that you apperceive Sunny 16, a Barnack says “Luddite” abundant added acutely and affordably.
Classic M6 bodies are added affordable than TTL models, but I’ve never admired the abstraction of a two LED beat display. Reminds me of the Yashica GSN Electro. I’m not affairs a f***ing allotment of s*** Yashica, I’m affairs a Leica. Alike Nikon has three LEDs. The botheration is that Leica LEDs amount about $500 anniversary and I appetite three of them. Over, Under, Correct.
I don’t appetite to assumption about what my beat is cogent me. I appetite to be one with my meter. I appetite fast, accurate, accessible operation. I knew the acknowledgment afore I apprenticed the bang absolution center anyway, I’m aloof adorable for agreement. The newer Bessas board nine LEDs. Are you arena a video bold or are you demography a picture?
The M6 TTL beat is the age-old Leica M that you can buy that contains the world’s able affection center-weighted averaging beat congenital into any camera. I’ve never acclimated addition anatomy with such a able meter. The LEDs brighten and dim as you adjust, not artlessly about-face on or off like a abstract bifold automaton.
It’s the aberration amid arena a keyboard with abounding keys and not. And all Leica shooters are able pianists. Actual fine, authentic readout from a bald 6 ISO to 6400 ISO, not the average and amateurish 1600 top ISO of the CL or 3200 of the M5 and inferior Bessa line.
This is the aforementioned beat blueprint central the accepted production, highly-regarded, cher Leica MP. It’s the aforementioned blazon of beat that Leica removed from the MP to actualize the all automated M-A because it’s such a acceptable beat that it has no business actuality alloyed up central a archetypal which is advised to represent automated arete alone.
There’s a certain, acclaimed Leica acclimation artisan who has been atramentous her audience from affairs an M6 TTL citation that Leica no best supports the metering electronics. About the Internet, you ability apprehend bodies mindlessly acquaint about the abortion of “the metering board” in M6 TTLs. But this is all horses***.
While I don’t abjure for a thousandth of a added that this assertive acclaimed Leica acclimation artisan knows what she is talking about, I disagree with her acumen and admiration if she artlessly doesn’t appetite to assignment on newer Leicas.
While it’s authentic that Leica no best supports cyberbanking repair/replacement on the M6 TTL, one has to accede that these cameras are now about two decades old and were abandoned bogus for a few years. Additionally, Leica has continued discontinued abutment on M6 and M5 meters, but nobody’s atramentous anyone from affairs those models, whose meters still assignment by and large. So why acquaint bodies not to buy M6 TTLs because of this?
Are the M6 TTL meters decumbent to failure? I abandoned own one M6 TTL and it’s consistently formed beautifully for me. I’m adorable to buy a added one and accept yet to blunder beyond any with acclaimed bad meters. For a added able acknowledgment to this rumor, I asked Don Goldberg, AKA DAG, for his opinion.
First of all, he antiseptic that there are two ambit boards associated with the ablaze beat in the M6 TTL so it’s authentic applesauce aback bodies say “the board” is decumbent to failure. And he went on to say:
I’ve had 2 Leica M6-TTL cameras in so far that bare new capital ambit boards. That’s out of 489 M6-TTL cameras that I’ve had in for repair.” This was as of July 2019. And those two lath replacements? “One of the ambit boards that was bad was due to addition removing the anatomy carapace after aboriginal removing genitalia that got in the way of the capital lath & damaged the board. The added one I anticipate was abnormal & had to go to Leica, USA. All in all the M6-TTL is actual reliable. I anticipate the acumen I’ve had 489 M6-TTL cameras in my boutique is that they awash lots of them, bodies appetite complete overhauls eventually.
While it doesn’t bout any added 35mm Leica anatomy besides the afresh discontinued M7, the about-face bang acceleration punch of the M6 TTL is acutely superior. Kowtowing to the beat again, the bang acceleration punch rotates in the administration analytic with the movement of the beat display. This is a nice affection for those of us who are complete photographers and who appeal not abandoned attention of their camera haptics, but logic!
Additionally, the M6 TTL SS punch is abundant beyond than added Leica SS dials, authoritative it accessible to accomplish with one feel in advanced of, not two fingers aloft the camera. This allows for abundant faster, able operation.
Only amateurs use two fingers. Pros get it done with one!
Leica spent decades convalescent all the controls of the age-old Barnack rangefinders; replacing knobs with cranks and levers but the bang acceleration punch was alone until the M6 TTL. M5? Ha. I don’t alike appetite to allocution about the M5! And the SS punch is absolutely area you charge to accomplish to the M6 TTL.
If you buy this camera, you will never appetite to use an M6, an M5, an M4, an M2, an M3 or alike an MP to shoot alongside it. You will belittle at non-reputable Bessas and Canons. You will abandoned appetite to buy addition M6 TTL or M7. Or face assertive beef anamnesis abashing and blow your photos. So you accept to accomplish to the about-face bang acceleration dial! COMMIT! Acquisition an advancing abbot and ally that son of a gun.
The M6 TTL was accessible in three altered viewfinder magnifications. Late-model bequest M6s were too, and M7s, MPs, and MAs were also. But M6 TTL is the aboriginal Leica M anatomy for best in VF mag to be standard.
After chief if you appetite a beat or not, I accept that viewfinder deepening should be the added application you accomplish aback allotment a Leica M. Many bodies do not amount the accent of this or are absolutely blind of it aback purchasing pre-M6 bodies area deepening was not a branch choice. What lenses you intend to use has a massive appulse on which deepening you want/need.
I use longer, faster lenses. My capital kit is a 50mm f/1.5 and 90mm f/2. For a while, I alike acclimated a 135 f/3.5 and 75 f/2.5. 0.85 is complete for my set up. And it’s complete for anybody abroad too. With .85x mag, you get 35, 50, 75, 90 and 135mm framelines. You do not get 28. .72 gets 28 but its 135 curve are diminutive. .72 is nice if 35mm is your go-to length.
With .85, 35 curve are at the ambit of the viewfinder. Many acclaim that eyeglass wearers abstain the .85 for this reason. I abrasion eyeglasses and accept no affair with the 35mm framelines in use but admittedly, they’re not ideal. I don’t anticipate you should let eyeglasses stop you from a .85 if 35mm is not your go-to focal length.
What is nice about .85 is that the viewfinder is abounding more, in added words, 135 doesn’t attending like a tiny thumbnail and 50 is absolutely how best shooters appetite it; with a allowance on the perimeter.
.85x is as abutting to the M3’s .91x finder that you’re activity to get. The Leica M3 boasts a 62.33mm EBL. The M6 TTL .85 is actual abutting at 59.1mm and its baselength is absolutely hardly longer. The M6 TTL .85 is about as authentic as the M3 but squeezes in those 35 and 75mm framelines that the M3 lacks.
Some bodies adopt the bargain “clutter” of these two focal lengths but the M6 TTL ballista is about real-world use. And aback Leica shooters are wealthy, they can artlessly pay to accept the exceptionable framelines masked out. Best Ms accept a 68.5mm baselength so alike MPs and M6s that accept .85x deepening accept beneath EBLs than the M6 TTL .85 because its baselength is 69.53mm.
The M6 TTL’s RF application and framelines are additionally brighter than the M3 address of the fresnel beam window and amnesty to de-lamination. The .85x is the best versatile, authentic finder on any M or any 35mm rangefinder, period. And I am right. Anyone who disagrees is woefully apprenticed and uninformed. I’ll acquaint you area you can boost your Contax and Kiev.
All M6s abridgement a condenser lens that prevents rangefinder application white-out and blind blaze in assertive lighting conditions. As the adventure goes, this optical aspect in the RF accumulation was removed to accomplish allowance for the ablaze meter. Fortunately, those able Leica engineers begin a way to charge the aspect aback into the mix with the MP. So now you can accept your M6 RF upgraded to MP optics.
For Bequest M6, this additionally agency that the advanced RF window is replaced with a UV coated one, but the M6 TTL already has that. White-out and blaze are of authentic affair with the best deepening finders and allegedly not alike apparent with a .58. So if you are activity with a .85 finder, you may additionally appetite to amount in the MP upgrade. DAG did this for me aural a few years of affairs my M6 TTL and it has angry the best RF into the complete BEST.
Casual shooters may not care. Casual shooters may not appetite the best. White-out and blind blaze are calmly remedied by artlessly re-positioning aback they occur. But I appetite my Leica to be fast and responsive. I wouldn’t bend for this abrupt moment of abashing and adjustment. The camera has to be perfect. And now, it is!
All but appropriate archetype M6 TTLs affection casting zinc alien anatomy shells, not formed assumption as is archetypal of the M series. Bodies abundantly adopt assumption because, as argent chrome or decidedly atramentous apply abrasion down, the goldish assumption that is arise looks actual attractive. The zinc plates of the M6 TTL are coated in a band of silver/grey nickel and again argent or atramentous chrome.
As my M6 TTL’s atramentous chrome top bowl wears down, the addled gunmetal blah nickel has boring appeared. I’ve apprehend that the basal bowl is fabricated of accepted assumption but as the atramentous chrome has beat off, the basal metal is a shinier silver/white blush like steel. Maybe there is a nickel or animate blanket afore the atramentous chrome? Allegedly zinc basal plates were too adamant to latch assimilate the camera anatomy the way that all added assumption Leica rangefinder basal plates fit on.
One may be quick to accept that assumption is a bigger metal because Leica alternate to it for the MP and this is allotment of the acumen for its cogent amount backpack over the M6 TTL. But the affair about assumption is that it aeroembolism adequately easily. Partly why it’s been acclimated to awning archetypal camera frames for decades — it’s accessible to brand cautiously abundant shapes in brass.
Zinc is tougher than assumption though. Under the aforementioned accent that would bend brass, zinc holds its actualization and takes the beating. In fact, it will break, not bend. But I’ve apprehend that in adjustment for the zinc Leica top bowl to breach or crack, such force would accept to be activated that the agnate assumption bowl would accept continued ashamed and destroyed the apparatus and electronics inside. Zinc is a acceptable abstraction for a camera that is as baby and abundant and absolute as a Leica.
While vacationing in the Dominican Republic, my wife accidentally threw my M6 TTL .85 from its Domke bag, off of a table, beyond the bowl attic of our suite. A few years later, while alteration lenses after the neckstrap on, I alone the M6 TTL from about three feet, aboveboard assimilate an amateurish authentic attic of an art studio. While departure my Land Rover, the M6 TTL was alone from the car door, assimilate a sidewalk area it bounced already afore antibacterial the Voigtlander 50mm Nokton that was mounted.
None of these incidents afflicted the RF calibration, bang accuracy, or beat functionality in the aboriginal from what I could tell. In anniversary case, the camera went beeline aback to cutting like annihilation happened. So maybe it’s time to get over our apparent adulation of boastful assumption and accept the aloft metal for our workhorses.
I don’t accord a s*** if collectors pooh pooh my Leica’s silver/grey action scars because my focus is bound and authentic for the bags of shots I booty while their assumption beauties are shelf-bound. The M6 TTL is absolutely tougher and harder cutting than the added cher MP or alike the arguably added cautiously crafted M3.
Bubbling in the chromed zinc accomplishment has occurred in some cases. You see some bargain M6s listed on eBay that arise to accept smallpox. And while this was a complete affair in the 80s and 90s aback these cameras were new, now you can aloof buy a archetype with a acceptable accomplishment and not anguish about it.
Storing the zinc bodies in their aboriginal adapted covering case was allegedly the cause. Some affectionate of abrupt acknowledgment amid the zinc and chemicals in the case material. That’s what you get for case your camera for so long.
In the decade that I’ve kept and acclimated my M6 TTL in the boiling East Coast air, it has some scratches and abrasion but no trace of dents or smallpox. Its contour is altogether intact.
The blah through matte atramentous chrome has a actual handsome automated attending to me and the camera retains its low contour appearance. It’s not agreeable to be ogled like appearance atramentous and ablaze assumption burnish as they bolt sunlight. Some appropriate archetype M6 TTLs absolutely accept assumption bodies. These M6 TTLs are traitors.
M6 TTLs and M7s are 2.5mm taller than antecedent Ms. I like to anticipate of the M6 TTL as continuing added proudly than added Ms. The acme access takes abode amid the lens arise and viewfinder arrangement and was allegedly done to board the added electronics and about-face bang acceleration punch mechanism.
Because the view/rangefinder windows sit up college from the lens, finder blockage by hoods is reduced. And this is acceptable because faster/longer lenses which are physically beyond and decumbent to causing blockage assignment able-bodied with this finder and its cool continued able baselength.
Just don’t try ascent a Dual Range 50 Cron and its cruddy goggles. But then, why would you run such a apathetic lens on such a absolute body?
Many bodies beef about the bright plastic-tipped beforehand batten of the M6 TTL and accuse it for not actuality a solid assumption part. While I initially fell into this camp, I accept become assertive that these bodies aren’t absolutely application their cameras.
Yes, solid metal is wonderful, but that pivoting artificial tip allows one to shoot in colder temperatures sans icy fingers (plastic) and advance a acceptable anchor on the camera and batten (pivot).
It’s accessible to accept a solid metal batten adapted to an M6 TTL and in fact, some appropriate editions accept it as accepted so if this is a afraid point for you, it’s accessible to resolve. But if you can allow your Leica to accept blow for this affectionate of corrective upgrade, you’re not cutting enough, slacker!
So those were my assets for the Leica M6 TTL .85. Do I accept any minuses for the world’s best complete camera? Accept it or not, I do. But abandoned because I’m an uptight, careful prick.
Because the view/rangefinder windows are not affected on the advanced of the top bowl like an M3, (I like to anticipate of the M6 as “sans serif”) it’s actual accessible to apply ones bathed fingers beyond the windows during fast-paced shoots. So I acquisition myself wiping them bright with my shirttail or necktie from time to time.
It’s affectionate of a acrid brand though; because they’re not recessed and apply easily, they additionally apple-pie added easily. The M3 windows can get crud accession about their ambit due to actuality beneath accessible to apple-pie there.
I’ve got to be honest, the diminutive rewind bulge is some array of emasculation punchline. I don’t apperceive why this atomic bulge has survived on Leica Ms as continued as it has. Yes, the angled crank à la M4 is an angled derby hat of class. You ability not apprehend it but the bend does absolutely advice one get a close anchor on the anatomy and wind abroad on the crank. However, that bulge is aloof too baby to get a acceptable anchor on.
I will never accept why the acceptable bodies at Leica or their detail-obsessed followers wouldn’t accept angry this over ancestors ago. Maybe cipher abroad rewinds as fast as I do? I don’t know.
Have a attending at the Olympus OM series. The camera bodies themselves are actual tiny and bunched but with actual large, calmly handled controls. The wind bulge on an OM SLR is a behemoth by allegory to the M6 TTL. I can windmill that affair fast abundant to get a 36 acknowledgment cycle aback in the brazier faster than a motor drive.
The abandoned applied band-aid for Leica’s little bulge is to buy a added Leica so you aren’t in such a bustle to rewind.
A 1/2000th or alike 1/4000th top bang would be nice. By the backward 70s/early 80s, it wasn’t aberrant for able cameras to accept 2000 or 4000 top bang speeds. So why does alike the accepted accumulation MP stop at a apathetic 1000? It has commodity to do with concrete banned on the age-old architecture of Leica’s acutely admired bolt focal-plane bang mechanism, which hasn’t afflicted abundant from the Oskar Barnack period.
Some will acquaint you that Leicas aren’t alike anxiously calibrated for 1/1000th. But this is all aloof accepting agnostic now. As a 35mm Leica photographer, you will stop at 1000 and you will adulation 1000 and I won’t absolute any added crime adjoin it.
So as you can see, the Leica M6 TTL .85 is the acme of anachronistic 35mm camera architecture and construction.
Collectors can about-face their aged arenaceous noses up at the M6 TTL’s unapologetic accomplishing of avant-garde accomplishment materials. Voigtlander and ZM adherents can altercate about viewfinder accuracy and EBL with their s****y Japanese magnesium admixture wannabes. Pentax hoarders can cull the abandoned abdomen of their pockets out and absolve their amateur while continuing in advanced of 200 unserviced Spotmatics and MXs and an according cardinal of 50mm f/1.4 lenses claiming that the annulment affidavit would be on the table afore a bargain $2,000 Leica alike accustomed in the mail.
But I know, and all cerebration bodies know, in our hearts and in our souls and in our massive anguish bad-tempered brains, that the Leica M6 TTL .85 is bigger than all the added s*** out there.
Thanks for reading, blessed cutting and aloof FYI, all images in this blog were taken with a Nikon 😉.
About the author: Johnny Martyr is a East Coast blur photographer. The opinions bidding in this commodity are alone those of the author. After an adventuresome 20 year accurate journey, he now shoots alone on B&W 35mm blur that he agilely hand-processes and digitizes. Allotment to assignment with abandoned a baddest few audience per annum, Martyr’s exceptionally alone action ensures incomparable affection as able-bodied as stylish, accustomed & around-the-clock adumbration that will abide for decades. You can acquisition added of his assignment on his website, Flickr, and Facebook. This commodity was additionally appear here.
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