The Leica M6 was introduced in 1984 and produced until 2002. A fully mechanical camera, it only has one mode — manual, that requires the photographer to set the aperture and the shutter speed, with assistance from the built-in battery powered meter. I have often used the camera without the meter, relying on the “sunny f/16 rule” and experience to set my exposure. As I mostly use negative film, and at that, black-and-white, my exposure settings are accurate enough to fall within the latitude of the film.
Its cloth focal plane shutter is very quiet. It makes a “snick” sound. And because there is no flipping mirror as in a single lens reflex (SLR) camera, there is little vibration and noise. I can handhold the camera with a 50mm lens to as low as 1/8 of a second and get sharp photos. I use the 35mm Summicron-M on the camera most often, however, for street photography.
The main body of the camera is a leatherette-covered block of aluminum with zinc top and bottom covers. The workmanship is second-to-none.
The camera does not have autofocus. It is focused manually with the aid of a rangefinder that when properly adjusted and if the photographer has decent eyesight is incredibly accurate. The viewfinder, however, is not known for its accuracy since you don’t view the image through the lens, but it is more than good enough when used for the type of photography that it is intended for and also in the hands of a capable and experienced rangefinder photographer.
It’s a classic and my favourite 35mm camera.