Leica MP - successor to the M6TTL
After more than six months of rumours about a follow-up to the M6J, on 2 Mar 2003 Leica announced at the Los Vegas PMA the Leica MP, the M3-inspired, all-mechanical successor to the M6TTL.
In a nutshell:
- Basically a M6 "classic" with M3 trimmings (see this topic elsewhere in the FAQ for a detailed comparision between the M3 and MP)
- All mechanical shutter mechanism with "improved tolerance" in the internal gears (with claims of smoother film advance and shutter button operation)
- M3-style film advance lever, smaller shutter speed dial & (controversially) 1960s cylindrical rewind knob
- Brass top and bottom plates, improved rubber-texture body covering, no red-dot or "Leica" brand on the camera front plate
- In May 2003 rumours surfaced that the ISO film-speed dial was to be replaced by that used on the M7, mainly to rationalise production costs. This was confirmed in Sept 2003 by Tendy Mulyadi, who notes it's now identical to that of the M7, although of course the EV compensation dial has been omitted
- TTL flash support removed & you can trigger a flash at any s/speed again (the M6TTL and M7 will only fire at X or below)
- Because there is no TTL electronics, the MP has removed the 2.5mm camera body height added to the M6TTL & M7
- Most importantly for some, the s/speed dial has reverted to the rotation direction used prior to the TTL
- Like the M7, there is a Low Battery warning light in VF display
- Different body finishes depending on VF magnification: 0.72 (black paint), 0.58, 0.72, 0.85 (silver chrome)
- The "black Paint" finish is (controversially) designed to rub off easily to provide a brassed, "heavily-used pro" look. In June 2003 there was a discussion about this at <Photo.net: #005Jxf> - and about how durable this finish was. Surprisingly the consensus was that it's pretty tough! This was supported by Leica's own marketing spiel in the "Body" portion of the Flash movie in their old MP site: “And when, after prolonged intensive use, the black lacquer wears down to the bare brass on some edges and corners…”. N.B. this "toughness" does not mean it is totally impervious to scratches — many report in June 2003 at <Photo.net: #005O2F> that the B.P. finish is actually quite easy to scratch off!
- RF patch flare has been "eliminated" by redesign of rangefinder mechanism and optics, mainly by re-introduction of a small condenser lens in the RF light-path
- Leicavit-M rapid film advance (black paint & silver chrome)
- No self-timer, but then again the original 1960s Leica MP didn't have one either!
- Accessory, detachable M-Rewind crank (again, black paint & silver chrome)
- Same battery requirements as the M6TTL
- Manufactured at Solms in Germany
- The MP is not a limited edition collector's item but rather a general production model to complement the all-electronic, battery dependant Leica M7
- Initial dealer price is $US 2600
- Weight is approx. 600 g (with battery, without camera cap), slightly heavier than the M6 but roughly the same as the M6TTL
The MP was released in late March 2003 and most users report that it does live up to the pre-release hype. It appears the wind-on mechanism is smoother and that the RF patch flare issue has (finally) been solved.
Japanese Leica MP6 - same camera?
Some of you may have heard of a special, 400-cameras-only edition "Leica MP6". It this just the MP in disguise?
Yes. It appears that only the top-plate engraving, serial number and Vulcanite-looking leatherette are different, with everything else identical to a stock-standard MP. Many suspect the MP6 was just a "turn-a-quick-buck" edition targeted at the (rabid) Japanese collectors market:
In June 2004 Emanuel Lowi sent me the following note about the Japanese special edition Leica MPs:
In addition to the 400 Japan-only black paint finish MP6 cameras (which resemble the black paint M2 cameras of yesteryear), Leica Solms also sold eleven (11) silver-chrome MP6 cameras with matching silver-chrome Leicavit M winders, engraved with the old-style script "Leicavit" marking.
Japanese special-edition "Titanium" MP
According to <digi-came.com> in April 2007, a Special Edition MP was made to commemorate the first anniversary of the Leica Ginza camera store.
Before you get too exited: only 150 copies (so few that they don't rate a mention on the old "Leica Special Editions" page!), they were all shipped to and sold in Japan; the body-shells are Titanium plated only, not solid Ti; finally, the cost was ¥ 898 000 (crikey!).
There are too many to list, but the following will get you started…
- Leica's main MP page can be found here
- Photo.net Jan 2006 online review by Howard Blumenthal
- Sutterbug Dec 2004 online review by Roger W Hicks
- Photography Review online review by Allen Perkins
- Aug 2004 Leica Forum discussion about whether the MP lives up to the hype and is worth the price - <Photo.net: #0098je>
- April 2003 Leica Forum discussion comparing the new MP vs the older M4, M6TTL and M7 - <Photo.net: #004uq1>
- Tom Abrahamsson's take on the MP and new Leicavit rapidwinder can be read in the LUG mailing-list archives at <LUG - v24/msg07126.html> and <LUG - v24/msg04480.html>
- Leica Fotographie International had an in-depth profile with plenty of illustrations in their LFI Magazine edition 2/2003 at pp.28-35.
- Stephen Gandy's quickie info page:
- Erwin Puts technically detailed (but star-struck) review: