“Shooting with a Leica is like a long tender kiss, like firing an automatic pistol, like an hour on the analyst’s couch.”
– Henri Cartier-Bresson
The world has never pointed so many cameras. Every phone on every continent is capturing digital images. Billions of snapshots, Insta posts and selfies every single day. But how many of them qualify as actual photographs? For those who revere a photograph as a material object of lasting value, the new Leica M6 brings film back into focus.
The original M6 was launched in 1984, becoming iconic as the go-to image-maker for photojournalists and artists worldwide. The new camera is instantly recognizable but with hidden advantages: now the body is made of solid brass, not zinc, and the rangefinder shows focus with a handy red dot, as well as the traditional arrows.
Fred Herzog, Granville / Robson, 1959
Courtesy The Estate of Fred Herzog and Equinox Gallery, Vancouver © The Estate of Fred Herzog, 2022
Making, not taking, a photograph
For younger photographers who have never had a fully analogue experience, the new M6 is total immersion in handmade German technology. The M6 uses a cloth shutter and a thumb-activated film advance lever. That’s right … it makes all those distinctively satisfying whirrs and clicks that digital cameras try to mimic. And, of course, you’ll need to learn how to put the film in and take it out. Fun!
The world on 35mm
Leica, invented the 35mm film camera from scratch way back in 1924. Ernst Leitz was an optical engineer who made microscopes. In his spare time, he took photos with large bulky cameras. He was sure there was a better way — and 35mm film with its distinctive sprocket holes led to the handheld breakthrough.
Leica revolutionized what could be done with a camera. Over the next 100 years, the famous red dot symbolized the highest achievements in the art and craft of photography.
Famous Leica lovers
Who used a Leica with real 35mm film inside? Cartier-Bresson, possibly the greatest photographer of the 20th century. Alfred Eisenstaedt, who captured the unforgettable nurse-and-sailor kiss in Times Square. Robert Capa, the ultimate war photographer, and the influential Magnum Group. And, closer to home, the inimitable Fred Herzog who chronicled Vancouver in Kodachrome starting in the 50s.
And now you can too with the M6. If you need inspiration, check out Leica’s galleries in Boston and LA. You can learn more about photography by enrolling in Leica Akademie. And check out the award-winners from the 2022 Leica Women Foto Project Award.