I decided to go cold turkey with digital and shoot nothing but film for the next year. You can shoot film with any old camera you might find in a thrift shop. But I’ve wanted a Leica MP for years so I decided to splurge a little bit. Hit the jump for my unboxing and first impressions video!
Leica MP Unboxing And Fist Impressions Video
The Leica MP comes in Leica’s flower petal box that opens with with a delightful flourish. On top of the usual manuals and warranty cards you get a nice leather strap, a battery and an extra (slotted) battery cover. And of course, the camera itself. And it’s a beauty!
But you don’t need a Leica to shoot film. In the end it’s just a tool and there are a hundred other tools that will do the same thing in about the same way.
For a lot less money!
Why Did I Pick The Leica MP?
So why did I pick the Leica MP? Well… just look at this thing. I mean, just LOOK AT IT!!
I got the black paint version and the high gloss finish looks amazing out of the box. But the brass top and bottom plates will start to peak through over time.
This “brassing” is unique to the way each person handles their camera and it’s the reason most film photographers choose the black paint finish in the first place. It’s the kind of thing where the more you use it the better it looks!
So that’s something… But at the end of the day the Leica MP does the same thing as a 25 year old M6.
So why not just get an M6?
Why Not Just Get An M6?
The reality is that I just wanted a new camera.
I know you’ll save a ton of money buying used and Leicas have a reputation for lasting a long time. But M6 prices have gone through the roof lately! A good one with minimal signs of wear can cost upwards of 5000 Canadian. Suddenly the price difference between that and a brand new Leica isn’t that much.
And ya, you can get an M4 or an M4P for even less than an M6 but that’s not what I wanted.
I wanted an MP. In black paint finish. So that’s what I got. Get off my case already!
First Impressions Of The Leica MP
Right off the bat, let’s talk about build quality.
The Leica MP is compact and utilitarian but somehow feels elegant and refined at the same time. It’s got some weight to it but not in a bad way. It just feels solid and tight.
Fit and finish is superb (as it should be). Paint is flawless. Leatherette is flawless. Everything is flawless.
This camera gives the impression that it’s STILL going to be around in 100 years. Which is more than you can say about me!
One Piece Film Advance Lever
The Leica MP uses the old style one piece film advance lever like the M3.
And the film advance mechanism is smooth as butter. It’s the kind of thing that just begs you to fiddle with it. I could literally sit here all afternoon just cocking and firing this thing. And we haven’t even gotten to taking pictures yet!
Super Stealthy Shutter
And have you heard the shutter sound on a film Leica?
The Leica MP uses the old school Leica M cloth shutter and it’s one of the sexiest camera sounds on the planet.
It’s super stealthy – I actually think advancing the film makes more noise than the shutter itself. but both are super quiet.
That Black Paint Finish
We’ve already talked about the black paint finish. But it’s worth looking at it one more time.
I mean, just look at it!
Brilliant Optical Viewfinder
The optical viewfinder on this thing is amazing.
It has higher magnification than the X100V or XPro3 which seem puny by comparison. And the crystal clear optics and lack of distortion add up to create a top of the line experience.
If you’ve ever looked through a Leica viewfinder then you know what I mean!
But this is also a true rangefinder camera. So in addition to seeing your subject the Leica MP lets you quickly and accurately manual focus on the fly.
Can’t wait to put this viewfinder to good use on the street!
A Svelt Little Camera
Finally can we talk about the size of this thing?!
I think we’ve become a little numb to camera size with digital cameras. Even the M10 and M11 look all out chunky next to this slim little fella.
But apart from the physical dimensions, the Leica Mp just feels just right when you hold it in your hand. And I can’t wait to put my first 100 rolls of film through it!
Why Start Shooting Film Now?
So the MP is great and all… But why start shooting film NOW?
To be fair, I’m not exactly starting with film photography. I got my degree in photography from Ryerson in Toronto way back in 1990 when film was the only way to make photos. So I’m no stranger to shooting and developing film.
In fact, I kinda like it!
And there’s nothing wrong with digital photography. But the very fact that pixels are free encouraged me to shoot first and ask questions later. I wasn’t making photographs so much as I was exposing frames.
I want to get back to what it means to author a photograph in very personal terms. Where the process of creating images is deliberate and purposeful. Film photography slows things down just a little and lets me take a breath and think about every shot.
Plus film just looks amazing.
So I’m diving in head first! The plan is to use this one camera with one lens and one film type for one year and see what happens.
Will I find the photographic truth I’m looking for? Or did I just spend a ton of money for nothing? Well, we’re gonna have to wait and see, aren’t we?
The Leica MP is available from your favorite online retailer:
Leica MP (Black Paint) at B&H.
But they seem to be backordered everywhere. Best bet might be to keep checking different Leica Stores as they seem to get stock more regularly. I got mine from the Leica Store Amsterdam and they were amazing!
What’s your take on my decision to shoot film for the next year. Something you’d like to try yourself or are you perfectly happy shooting digital? Post your ideas in the comments below and keep the conversation going!