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Leica MP

Leica MP

Product Details

With the name MP, the new Leica rangefinder camera joins the line of reporter cameras that have been tailored specifically to the wishes of professional photographers. It is the purely mechanical alternative to the LEICA M7, whose electronically controlled shutter and aperture priority automatic exposure control offer more convenience and functions.The camera concept of the LEICA MP is tailored to the craft of the photographer! Every component of the camera was analyzed and improved meticulously, and it embodies the essence of more than 50 years of experience in optics and mechanical design. The optimized rangefinder facilitates highly accurate focusing, even under difficult light conditions.The MP is a 100% mechanical camera, the battery being necessary only to operate its internal light meter. All its operating elements are made of metal, so that it withstands heavy duty use under extreme conditions. Technical gadgetry is purposely limited to those features that truly contribute towards creating a better picture.

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Photo.net Review Excerpt

After nearly two decades with a Canon A-1 SLR, I decided to take photography seriously about five years ago. At the time, I took a class in large format photography, spent hours in a darkroom, bought a Hasselblad 501CM (see review), and joined a well-regarded group exhibit which included about fifteen of my images. I traveled to Japan with the Hasselblad, and returned with a lot of good material. As a convenience, I brought along a Leica Minilux, and that’s where this story begins.

My Minilux broke. Apparently, the problem is a common one: a “EO2” error having something to do with the electronic shutter.

Rather than getting it fixed immediately ($150 with no assurance that it would not happen again), I bought a Sony 5-megapixel digital camera, my first digital camera. Six weeks ago, I brought the Hasselblad and the Sony to China. My results were disappointing. The Hasselblad proved to be ill suited to shooting elderly people exercising in the park, and cumbersome when climbing the Great Wall; the Sony produced well-exposed snapshots with good clarity but no texture.

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Comments From Review (39)

Phil Brown , August 27, 2013; 06:03 P.M.

My answer is an M3 with a 50/2.8 Elmar.

Anyway, I'd just get a used M3-if you like that advance lever. They're all over the place for $1000. In camera metering doesn't matter to me. It's nice but 40 years of Leica-and other cameras-use has taught me that using an exposure meter makes you think about exposure a bit more. BTW, the old book The Rollei Way has a great exposure section that will improve anybody's pictures. I think PDFs are available. Not just for Rollei users.

And you can't beat the Elmar if you don't need the speed

Akiva Shapero , June 18, 2012; 02:27 P.M.

I have tried them "all". Rangefinders, SLR's, digital, mirrorless, FX DLSR's and for me the simple answer is an M3 with a 50/f2 Summicron. The only competition to this is when I put a Super Angulon 21/3.4 on my M3, oh mama!!

Steve Mareno , December 03, 2008; 10:07 A.M.

I think that the image from the Canon is as it should be. It's because it's being compared to a Blad and a Leica that it looks so bad. Keep in mind these are crops and surely look much sharper at full frame. I used to shoot Canon FD gear, and when I compare the images that they made to my Leica shots they look pretty soft. On their own they look fine. The Blad is a different sort of camera. Capable of producing huge (by 35mm standards) enlargements w/ crisp detail, but it isn't a camera that you can throw around your neck and go down to the market and seamlessly shoot candids. It's hard to beat 6x6 w/ 35mm. The MP, and for me the M7, are probably the best cameras for candids and informal portraits. Obviously the excellent build quality makes the shooting experience more enjoyable, w/ the added bonus that if you can find better glass than the Leica M or R I would love to know about it.

Scott Frindel Cole , September 03, 2008; 11:30 A.M.

As a use of both Leica and Canon, I must say I'm suspicious of the difference in the photos posted. The Canon 50 should not be so soft, especially at middle apertures. Something wrong, like a defective lens, or improper focus?

Mark O. , June 05, 2008; 05:53 A.M.

I have never seen a Leica neg, let alone owned a rangefinder, but I picked the bottom right immediately. I'm not sure why. Have I been bitten? There was something about the sharpness and the contrast. I can't explain it.

Leon F , April 12, 2008; 04:10 A.M.

Mechanical vs. automatic or digtial vs film? Before I owned the Leica MP, I had a Canon EOS 10D. On one of my trips I couldn't take the Canon with me and had to shoot with an old Zenith film SLR from Russia. I had more fun shooting with the Zenith than I had ever had with the Canon. With this film camera, I was actually "creating" something, rather than shooting, checking the lcd and re- shooting (a boring uninspiring process). Ofcourse the Zenith was old and not very good quality... . I kept it, sold my EOS 10D with all the accesoires I had collected and used the money to buy the Leica MP. Now, three years later, I'm still using the Leica MP and there has not been one moment that I missed the Canon or any digital camera. With the Leica MP there is no need to upgrade, it is the best built camera on the market and a sheer joy to use.

chaitanya das tamayo , February 18, 2008; 05:58 A.M.

amen, bro!

a willing receptacle for donations of "obsolesence" right here! ;-)

Kevin Cotham , March 20, 2007; 10:44 P.M.

Long live Leica and 35mm

I'm 35, and I've used 35mm cameras since I was in high school. The digital cameras today have certain advantages, but the feel of a mechanical 35mm camera between your fingers is something that they'll never get right. I started with a Maxxum 7000i, a good camera. But bought it because the sales lady pushed me into it rather than the X-700 sitting next to it. The mechanical nature, the tactile pleasure, and the intuitiveness of twisting knobs and rings is so much superior to pushing buttons. In fact, I shoot exclusively with mechanical cameras now. My Maxxum 7000i (still running strong) sits in a drawer most of the time. I shoot with a Nikon FM3A, Bessaflex TM, Zenit 122, Zenit ET, Spotmatic II, Argus STL 1000, and a Yashicamat 124 G. It isn't often you won't find the FM3a in my hands. Why, because it's intuitive and super reliable. That all being said, I've dreamed of owning a Leica M camera for years. The images their lenses produce is unmatched. I just hope they don't stop making them before I can get one. And I sure hope they don't stop making 35mm film before I die! Long live Leica and any other company that makes a product to last. Companies that make products according to the rules of planned obscelence should be the ones to disappear!

If anyone has one of these dinosaurs in their closet and wants to donate it to someone who'll use it, let me know.

Kermit Oswald , February 23, 2007; 05:14 A.M.

I believe that what each of you posted here is true for you and I appreciate the chance to read your comments.I just purchased an MP this week after looking for a new black paint model for monthes.The MP will become the newest Leica in an ongoing love affair I have had with these wonderful machines since I first held one and clicked its shutter nearly five years ago.They are simply amazing cameras and I have never had a problem with any of them yet.Pushing the shutter down is like being kissed by this wonderful friend.I started photography with a Kodak Brownie 40 years ago(loading roll film is fun!).Loading Leicas is a joy no matter where I do it because it's the start of something really special.(and I have never dropped the bottom plate yet!)The M8 can't give you that joy.It's a great digital camera no doubt, and will create clean and crisp 10.3meg images but it's not film!I own nearly all the Leicas since 1926(including the M8) and shoot film through most of them regularly.The quality of the images from those early models is astonishing even by today's standards. The Leaf Company ,I understand, now has a controlling interest in Leica(I believe) and will most likely push the digital products.I've used their Leaf DCBII digital backs since 1998.Not fun like film.I agree that the drugstore photo counter is fast becoming extinct and that film developing and printing will be soon done at home.But for many of us, that's exactly where it started anyway.The Leica is simply a tool. It just happens to be one of the best tools I've ever held in my hands.As long as I can find film to load into these Leicas I will do that and smile at the possibilities that we can share together.Oskar Barnack would be proud of all of us for that.

Paul A. - Los Angeles, CA. , February 22, 2007; 06:46 P.M.

I bought an MP because I want to see the black paint brassed. I've got it loaded w/ Kodachrome. When that is gone I'll turn to B&W.

Suk Hyun Joo , December 11, 2006; 03:30 A.M.

I also recently purchased a leica MP. Several yrs ago I bought a Rollei RF camera because lecia M was way out of by budget. But somehow my rollei gave me some disapponinting results, and thus I made up my mind to sell my Rollei and by a lecia. it was a hard decision wether to buy the M7 or MP, and selecte3d a MO a dicision I wont regret. It is simple to use, give sharp imagaes and contrast, and also compact enough. I use 50mm/f1.4 summilux lens and Zeiss 25m m lens(I couldn't afford two lecia lenses). I too think this camera would be with me as long I can focus through the veiwfinder.

Timothy Swan , December 02, 2006; 04:02 P.M.

The coveted Leica lenses are sharp... but its not particularly difficult or expensive to design a sharp lens the size and complexity of one for the leica M mount.

If you think the magic of Leitz optics is in the sharpness, then you really don't get it.

Roger Beverage , August 24, 2006; 10:49 A.M.

Either the Leica experience works for you or it doesn't. To me, my M3 is an ergonomic delight. The 35 and 50mm lenses can be focused with the tips of the left hand fingers, the shutter speed dial can be moved with the tip of the right index finger, with or without the meter, all without changing the grip on the body. You can shoot with both eyes open and it is as quiet as a mouse.

Spend the extra money for lens speed if you must but the F2 Summicron remains a benchmark of optical design.

I really don't understand the mechanical difficulties mentioned above relating to the new MP, but then, Leica is no longer controlled by the family.

I admit that the collectiblity of Leica gear makes me a little paranoid about taking it to certain places, I don't want to get bopped over the head for it, but in spite of a growing collection of Pentax gear, it is my go-to camera for most situations not requiring macro or long telephoto capabilities, motor drive, or where noise would be an intrusion.

As stated more than once above, you just need to hold one once.

Roger B

Jorge Diaz , August 02, 2006; 02:26 P.M.

There's a readyness that builds up when shooting with a Leica M that accounts for the capture of those key moments that tell the exceptional story.It is related to the price you paid for the equipment cause it implies the seriousness of your endeavor.On top of that there's the performance of the hardware. I have a Leica D Lux2 and it is a nice little snapshooter but the fact that you have to look at a screen and for this compromise the angle to be able to see the screen runs against this readyness build-up.I mentioned that it is a Leica for poignancy.It could be any other brand of digital.The filtering and algorithms that the camera adopts to interpret hues,color saturation ,levels and contrast is much less controllable with a processor that your relationship to the film emultion.Just some thoughts prompted by reading the review that I don't recall reading anywhere else...and after leaving my M6 at rest in favor of the digital experience I have started missing the analog capture.Especially from a Leica M.

Rui Nogueira , July 13, 2006; 11:05 A.M.

I do own an old Leica M3 with a 50mm F:2 lens. Nowdays I don't use it anymore. Mainly because it is meterless and loading film is a pain in the a$$. Then, when I want to shot b&w film I have a much better equipment, althought also obsolete today - a Nikon FE2 and those wonderfull nikkor AI and AI-S lenses. And the results are much better than those I used to get with the Leica. I would never pay $4K for a new Leica M and a standard lens. I think this is not a fair value for the money. Just my 2 cents.

Neil Peters , June 22, 2006; 08:03 P.M.

I've had a 35 year love affair with my M3 for a couple reasons. In one respect, its like when I play golf with my friend Chris. In his view "its not golf if you don't carry your own bags" (as in no cart, no caddie, lug that bag 18 holes and walk it). I think he's insane. Its exhausting. However, my MR meter has not been out of the box in 33 years. I guesstimate my exposures everytime. You get good at it, like its a lost art you get to work on, while you're also concentrating on the shot. The level of difficulty adds tremendously to the experience. Oh yes, I've lost dozens of great shots, being off on my evaluation of the light by 5+ f/stops. If its a must have shot, out comes the Elan 7. And many times I'll dupe the same shot with the Leica, now knowing the exposure. If you take alot of critical shots, I can see where this is a risky endeavor.

The other aspect is an article I read in the 70's. Someone using an SLR never sees the shot they just took. The mirror flips up and blocks it. Rangefinder, not an issue. Why is this important at 1/1000th of a second? Its not. The intent of the article was that an SLR user missed out on some spiritual connection at the moment of the exposure. I've never felt like I missed anything using the old F2, the Elan or the wonderful Mamiya 645. But for some silly reason, when I pick up the M3, I feel I have something extra going on. I know. I know. Its just me. But its real.

Ken Davies , May 18, 2006; 05:56 P.M.

If a new MP is expensive and (according to several of the above, sometimes unreliable), try the original for a fraction of the price: a good used M3. You won't have to buy batteries for it. You will, though, need a reliable exposure meter.

Brian Minnich , March 09, 2006; 12:11 P.M.

mp 35 f2 Fuji G 400

The difference in our thoughts is that for me it's not about the camera. It's about the final image not the tool in hand. I regard a leica the same as a holga.

Some people need lots of gear with lots of options. I've progressed to the simplicity of low tech in favor of the final image.

Etan Lightstone , March 09, 2006; 12:09 A.M.

Brian, I honestly don't buy it.

There is no voodoo null effect on creativity when you use a tool with more options.

It simply gives you more options. The mechanical simplicity of a Leica might put you in a certain state of mind of thinking simply because you know its a leica... but that's a giant load of placebo effect if you ask me :)

Brian Minnich , March 08, 2006; 10:53 P.M.

4x5 w/ 80mm hp5

I choose a mechanical camera for the same reason a writer would use a manuel typewriter over a computer. Probably the same reason Neil Young uses old Martin acoustics over Ovations. For me it helps cultivate the creative process.

I use digital, but it's more of a client driven choice. For all my personal, and a growing number of assignment work I use a hand held 4x5 field camera w/o a view finder and a mp.

For me, digital is too immediate and cultivates an afterthought approach to working. A lot of the instinct, vision and intuitiveness are stripped away with automation and instant feedback from the lcd.

SLR's, zoom lenses and all things digital provide infinite possibilities, but sometimes the raw vision in your head a simple mechanical click prove to be more powerful.

Etan Lightstone , March 08, 2006; 08:27 P.M.

The Leica market I just don't understand.

If you are a pro doing magazine shoots, journalism etc. you own an SLR. If you must an expensive one, but a leica rangefinder as "magical" as it, just doesn't get the job done. It's simply not versatile.

With that in mind... I can't possibly fathom spending $3,000+ on a camera like this. It certainly isn't going towards the astounding research and development going into these cameras.. because they are probably the simplest camera to design.. and the technology pretty much hasn't changed in years. The coveted Leica lenses are sharp... but its not particularly difficult or expensive to design a sharp lens the size and complexity of one for the leica M mount.

So someone with deep pockets who loves the gimmick buys it? I just don't follow...

JD Rose , February 25, 2006; 01:51 P.M.

I agree, bring on the Digital M...but, darn it, if it doesn't have a full frame sensor I think it will struggle.

Brian Minnich , February 16, 2006; 11:12 P.M.

Fire w/mp 24asph

I purchased an MP for it's "mechanical reliability" but it too has been plagued with problems. First, a loose top plate, then an unresponsive shutter button, now the shutter curtain locked mid roll and was unhinged when I opened the camera. It's at Leica repair now for the 3rd time this year.

I am quite disappointed, and hesitant to rely on the MP for a job.

On the upside, the 24mm asph is great, although I wish Leica lenses had a closer minimum focus.

Andrew Robertson , February 10, 2006; 02:23 A.M.

And sadly enough, Leica would prefer to cease operations than to be bought out. Probably, sooner or later, they will make a huge last run of cameras and lenses, sock them away in a warehouse somewhere, fire all the engineering and manufacturing staff (retaining the vital executives), and sell each camera and lens for $30-50K. Of course, they will keep the bold script and black paint.

What Leica needs now more than ever is that mythical digital M. Not two or three years from now, as is the current plan, but NOW. Two or three years might be too late.

Guy Hammond , February 03, 2006; 09:01 A.M.

The MP is probably the last great artifact of film photography: When Leica goes, the MP will be gone.
But we'll have the Zeiss Ikon instead...

David Finch , February 02, 2006; 10:20 P.M.

Yes, the End Is Near. The NY Times reports that 92 percent of all camera sales is now digital. Nikon is getting out of the film equipment business (only the F6 and FM10 remain, and only temporarily); Konica Minolta isn't making any cameras anymore; Contax will soon be history; rumors are that Pentax will soon go completely digital. Soon enough the drugstore color processors will disappear, to be followed by the consumer labs.

That's why if I didn't already have one, I'd buy a new Leica MP before it's too late. B&W film is relatively cheap to manufacture and can be developed in the bathroom sink. It'll probably survive for decades as a niche product. The MP is a great camera, particularly for B&W. It's right up there with the M3. The MP is probably the last great artifact of film photography: When Leica goes, the MP will be gone. Unless you own one.

Jan Virtanen , January 18, 2006; 02:54 P.M.

Leicas and hasselblads are for different things. Sure you can buy a largeformat camera thats even cheaper than both, makes negatives that are technically far superior to either one, but it does not replace them.

Howard B , January 15, 2006; 10:05 P.M.


Here's where we get into shades of grey.

The Leica's superior contrast can be mimicked in the darkroom with a Hasselblad negative.

But, the Hasselblad's superior texture cannot be mimicked in the darkroom with a Leica negative.

The overall Hasselblad negative is superior because it's larger and so, it contains more information (hence the texture). Is a lens to be judged on the basis of its contrast range or on the basis of its ability to render natural textures? Let the debates begin.

B T , January 14, 2006; 06:58 P.M.

The difference between the Canon and Leica images is impressive, given that the same film is used. Between Hassy and Leica it takes already some more attention to judge, but considering that one is 6x6 and the other 35mm... well...

Arthur Yeo , January 13, 2006; 02:20 P.M.

Howard, we would love to see some of the images you took with this MP. THANKS for sharing your thots.

Vivek . , January 11, 2006; 07:48 P.M.

Thank you Mr, B., Now, I can see a profile as well.

Howard B , January 11, 2006; 05:44 P.M.

I'm pretty sure I'm a real person. As it happens, I'm also an author of a new book for creative professionals, hence the link.

The missing piece of the story: I've been using a Hasselblad 501CM and a Minilux. When the Minilux developed a problem, I used a different camera, realized how much I appreciated the quality of the Leica lens, and started exploring other Leica options (more grown-up than the Minilux), hence the review of the full-scale rangefinder.

As for the film used in the Canon, Leica and Hasselblad, it was all Iflord HP5 (400 ISO).


Vivek . , January 11, 2006; 04:52 P.M.

Interesting review from someone who went to an expensive rangefinder from a failed Minilux.

Is Howard Blumenthal a real person? I clicked on the name and it takes me to a no man's site!

Steve York , January 11, 2006; 03:52 P.M.

I own two MPs (a 0.72 and a 0.58) -- one being relatively recent and the other being an older one with the old M6 iso dial. I've put a lot of film into the older one and have never had a problem. But the gent's experience above is disappointing. If I were he, I would demand Leica give me a new one -- sort of like the lemon law for cars. But I do think that is the exception, because I have not heard of many problems with these cameras.

One of the reasons I got into M photography was the mechanical nature of the cameras. I've had a few bad experiences of electronics failing w/o a backup at the wrong time. Of course, the camera is just a box, and what really counts is Leica optics.

But this camera, like the M6, has what I call the "fun factor." Its just fun to use. I always look at photography in two ways: The taking of the picture and the final product. Now, great pics can be taken with any camera, but, for me, the joy and adventure of taking those pics is enhanced with this type of camera.

john perkins , January 10, 2006; 07:07 P.M.

Beware the MP. I've had mine repaired more times than I would like, and now after 2 years and a bit, it's being repaired again - this time not under warranty. The warranty is nice, especially if you shoot a lot around salt water, deserts, fighting, or bars. Leica don't quibble, and do an express repair service for professionals, and will ship worldwide. Some camera problems: top plate comes loose, dust got in the eyepiece, shutter jammed, ASA dial jammed, broken frame counter, wind-on lever bent, sticking shutter speed dial, loose shutter speed dial. Some of these problems are pretty minor and don't stop you shooting (and I never carry a backup body), but compared to my old M6, the MP is not in the same league durability wise. Though I've also done horrible things to the M6, especially the rewind lever. Maybe it's because the MP is an early production model, before they sealed the viewfinder properly etc. Still, if it weren't for the repair policy I would have ditched this camera long ago. It's a great camera - when it works.

Tony Rowlett , January 10, 2006; 05:09 P.M.

I never thought that turning the shutter speed dial to the left for a slower shutter speed, or vice versa, was the wrong way. I think of it as opening a jar for both the shutter dial and the f/stop ring. In this way they operate the same: turn them both in the "open" direction it to let more light in, and vice versa.

Tom Westbrook , January 10, 2006; 04:18 P.M.

I'm also a pretty recent Leica user (got a used M6 classic about a year ago) and agree with a lot of the things that Howard said. I always warn friends that just picking up the Leica can lead to instant infatuation. It is a marvelous thing to hold and take pictures with. Still, I keep finding that my Mamiya 7ii to be more my style and the final images give me more room to maneuver print-size-wise.

Thanks for the interesting review.

P.S. I did comparison of the M6 and vs. a 8MP Panasonic DMC-LX1 (aka Leica D-Lux 2) here. Similarly unscientific, but interesting.

Joao Costa , January 10, 2006; 03:52 P.M.

Leica today reminds me of Porsche in the late 80s: great brand equity, a company history closely associated with some of the most important technological developments in its industry, a fanatical follower base and a quirky, partly outdated product.

Porsche has been able to survive (and prosper) because they are able to convince enough people to buy their very expensive automobiles so that they can fund their research & development. Does it matter that their products are way overpriced in comparison with less stellar auto marques? Not too much. Maybe there's a lesson for Leica there?

On a purely objective basis, I would much rather buy a Bessa...

Mark Naessens , January 10, 2006; 02:15 P.M.

Thanks for taking your time to write this. A fresh and interesting review from someone outside the Leica 'in-crowd' (and by that, I mean no offense towards Leica users -- it's just that this is perhaps a bit more interesting to read as an 'outsider'). I myself am considering buying a Leica, and while an MP is a long long way out of my budget range, your review brings up some interesting points that I believe are applicable to any recent Leica rangefinder.

A very interesting read. Thanks.