The Leica MP is touted as “the ultimate tool”. Admittedly, my perspective may be influenced by the contrarian in me, but I’ve always been quite skeptical – it’s the most expensive full production Leica film camera, but precisely how great could it possibly be when compared to others?? Until recently, the Leica MP was actually the only full-production Leica M film camera I hadn’t shot with. So when Des (at all times good bloke and follower of 35mmc) decided he’d become pleased to loan me his MP, it appeared like too great a chance to miss!
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Leica MP: Price
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Leica MP: The basics
The Leica MP is a current production camera out of Leica. Never to be recognized incorrectly as the absurdly valuable 1950s MP or the present-day digital M-P – I’m discussing the existing model 35mm Leica MP. By 2018 this camera is among 3 film cameras created by Leica alongside the M-A and the M7. The M-A may be the non-metered camera, the M7 is the battery reliant version with an aperture-priority autoexposure mode, and the MP sort of sits in the center as the content medium with a light meter, but can be fully (and supposedly “perfectly”) mechanical – more on that in a mo…
The Leica MP essentially will come in 3 varieties, the black paint, the silver chrome and the design-your-own “a la carte”. The black paint appears to be the most typical and I suspect is more sought after. In all honesty, I don’t personally start to see the black paint as the attractive finish most appear to. The glossiness gets tarnished very easily with fine scratches, and finally wears to brass on the corners. That said, I know that I’m in the minority here. A lot of people seem to discover the brassed appear very appealing. Leica even goes as far as to say on their site that “After years of hard use, when a little bit of bright brass begins showing through, it’s a sure sign to savvy photographers that the camera and its owner have shared many memorable experiences”.
Regarding a famously brassed camera such as for example Sean Flynn’s recently discovered M2, I’ll quite happily admit that some reverence applies. However when it’s simply deterioration directed at a camera over years useful, to my mind all it amounts to is certainly a tiny tatty looking camera – albeit a well developed one. Of course, beauty is normally in the attention of the beholder, and as stated, many people find this patinated aesthetic very appealing. Fair enough I say – if you want that type of thing who am I to argue? For my tastes, Personally, I choose the more utilitarian appearance of the silver or especially the black chrome finish.
Mechanical Perfection and the Leica Mystique
We mention all of this as it’s not the tastes of other photographers that I wish to pick at, it’s Leica’s play on the brand mystique that rubs me up the wrong manner. So far as I can gather, when Leica launched the MP it had been touted as the best Leica M film camera. Looking at Leica’s website, they never actually explicitly say what MP stands for – though it really is implied using one of the subheadings on the primary Leica MP internet pages that it means “Mechanical Perfection”.
This notion of mechanical perfection is something I could get behind, but combine it with a black paint finish that may lightly wear “after years of hard use” and you have a camera that perfectly fits both negative and positive sides of the Leica brand image. Yes, they make lengthy-lasting and durable cameras, but it’s nearly enough to market a camera that lasts quite a long time through the quality of the build. With the black paint not being for as long-lasting as the camera, it means that those around who owns the MP can observe – as Leica says – “that the camera and its own owner have shared many memorable experiences”.
By saying this, to me it feels similar to Leica is wanting to utilize the reverence that folks connect with the famously heavily used cameras of famous brands Sean Flynn and countless Magnum photographers. They play on people’s really wants to end up like those photographers, and even the idea that having a camera that’s like those photographers’ implies something positive to those around them. If this isn’t the case, at best, they are playing on the theory that people prefer to showcase their expensive things.
Leica MP: The Leica MP used
It probably appears like I’ve been just a little harsh about this camera up to now, or at a minimum such as this review has been weighted toward the negative? I believe it’s worth considering that most of them originate from very subjective preferences between the different Leica models. I’ve been lucky enough to possess tried all the full production run Leica cameras now, with the M4-2 being the only person I’m yet to create about. There’s a couple of things I’ve realized as I’ve worked my way through them. The foremost is that the differences between all of them are fairly minor. But also for the M5 (and CL if it counts) all of them are predicated on the M3, with only small changes between them. Some changes may seem like advancements, plus some might appear as backward steps based on preferences. The next realization I’ve to arrive at is that the often tiny changes between them can still look like huge issues when you compare one which fits one’s ideals to 1 that actually ever-so-slightly doesn’t.
In reality whilst I’ve been using the Leica MP, short of the handful of occasions strangers have asked me about any of it, I haven’t really considered my distaste toward the black paint. With a little bit of practice, I’m sure I’d overcome the slight oddness I discover with the light meter when working with this camera alongside my digital Leica rangefinders too. Actually, in using the Leica MP, it’s probably fair to state that a few of the skepticism you may have caught a glimpse of previously in this article has been diminished.
I’ve found myself very impressed with the feel of the Leica MP; this MP at least. In comparison to my Leica M-A, which despite a few of its even more traditional features feels fairly utilitarian if you ask me, the MP just feels more refined. The flat black finish of the M-A plays a component in this, however, the feel of the shutter advance differs too – it feels clockwork. It feels correct, nevertheless, you can experience the gears in the mechanism. The same could even be said of my M3. Advancing the shutter in this Leica MP, you can hardly feel a hint of the mechanism, it’s just perfectly smooth… So perhaps MP does are a symbol of Mechanical Perfection? Or possibly I just eventually have borrowed an especially nice copy? In any event, ignoring my own preferences for an instant, it’s definitely fair to say that MP feels as though an incredibly well-crafted camera that is a pleasure to shoot with!
Leica MP: Conclusion
Putting away my minor quibble with the rotation of the shutter speed dial, the inexplicable usage of plastic, and my distaste at the non-sense Leica peddles about the black paint, it’s hard to argue with the Leica MP. The truth is, a lot of people who find the Leica MP to end up being the perfect Leica for them won’t be fazed by the rotation of shutter speed dial or become fussed the usage of plastic. Instead, they’ll most likely find an exceedingly well developed Leica camera with a simplistic but useful built-in light meter. Additionally, those who agree with the Leica mystique will without doubt like all that worn black paint guff, and the ones who don’t will most likely simply ignore it as inconsequential marketing tripe and can get on with appreciating the patinated aesthetic by themselves terms as their camera ages.
As such, it’s fair to state that I’ve possibly harshly picked holes in the Leica MP. The “issues” I’ve highlighted are so minor really that they probably seem daft to those that shoot and value this camera. The truth is though, whilst acknowledging that every time I review a Leica M film camera I discover myself arriving at the final outcome that the differences between your models are even more subtle than I previously thought, I also find myself more strongly identifying the precise features I’d like from a Leica, and for that reason become more particular about which of the models suit me best.
The crux of my point is, however nice the Leica MP is really as a camera, it’s not the right camera for me personally. It’s also the most expensive/valuable standard production run Leica M film camera. So whilst most articles concerning this camera consider the view that it’s the embodiment of “mechanical perfection”, the consequence of years of refinement of the Leica M concept, as well as perhaps even the ultimate Leica film camera, had been I to get one I’d end up being paying over the chances for features and fluff that I don’t need and that doesn’t wash with me respectively.
The truth is, if the Leica rangefinder concept is right for you, there’s greater than a handful to select from. Because this one may be the priciest and is “the best tool” it doesn’t mean it’s the proper specific Leica camera for you personally. Of course for individuals who find the mix of features to match the best (and may spend the money for premium), they are really in for a delicacy – there’s no doubting that the Leica MP is usually an excellent camera!