Monday, February 17, 2014

Some Leica M6 and LHSA Love

A few days ago, I admitted (to myself and the world) that at some level, I've become a camera collector. I only have a few cameras that I choose not to use, because any damage to them would be catastrophic to their value. In each of those cases (until now), I've purchased the camera with the intent of using it, and changed my mind once it got to me. Now, I've officially purchased a camera that I do not plan to use, one that is truly a rare collector's item.
Here it is (photo courtesy of David at Camera West):
LHSA 20th Anniversary Leica M6
First, how rare is this? Well, it's really a stock Leica M6 Classic from 1988. What makes it special is the LHSA 20th Anniversary engraving, which was offered to LHSA (International Leica Society) members at the time. A total of 43 cameras seem to have been produced with this engraving, number 20-01 to 20-43. Mine is number 20-38. I had read that all of them were silver, which makes a black one even more attractive. In my opinion, a nearly thirty year old camera that's one of a total of 43 (who knows how many black ones, but far less?) can be considered rare.
(Click Here) to check out and join the LHSA. This is the organization for Leica fans. Offering a great quarterly magazine ("Viewfinder"), a lively Google+ online community, specific discounts with some photographic-related vendors, and national meetings, LHSA's membership includes many of the world's experts on Leica cameras, both historical and current.
Interestingly, this camera was not all that expensive, even in mint condition. Less than the year 2000 black paint LHSA M6, for example, which was produced in the hundreds of units. But, the 20th Anniversary doesn't have that lovely black paint. I've never seen one, and have only ever seen one for sale, a silver one, at much higher price.
Now, I do like to use the M6 camera. I have another, less valuable, M6 that I use a lot. I can't say it's my favorite Leica (that's a spot not really held by a single camera, anyway), but it's a convenient one. The built-in meter is really helpful. That said, the M6 finder has some problems for me, not infreqently going "white out" on me, which makes focusing impossible. I understand that changing the location and alignment of the camera to my eye fixes it, but it's still a bit of a pain. That said, the M6 is a great companion to the digital M9.
A local photographic authority, Frank Van Riper, wrote a nice piece for the Washington Post about the M6.
(Click Here) to read Mr. Van Riper's story on Leica and the M6.
My new 20th Anniversary M6 should arrive today or tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to seeing it. But, I remain largely focused on cameras that I can and will use.