Aaah that Leica MP
Finally, roughly 2 years after my first encounter with the Leica M cameras I'm sitting here with a black paint Leica MP in front of me. The route to get here haven't been straight but I've enjoyed every part of it! It started with an Leica M8 that I traded for my Fuji X-PRO1. After a while it was upgraded to the Leica M-P (240), a great camera! And after switching to film I've owned and shot both the Leica M2, and the Leica M6 which have been my main camera for the last 6 months. Although I couldn't really let the idea of an MP go, even though I knew that it wont take better pictures than my current M6 does, and can the difference in price really be motivated? Is getting one or two extra lenses for the M6, or 7 years film usage is a better investment?
The search for my MP started with that I sold some other gear I had and started to follow the different film camera gear and Leica gear Facebook groups. The numbers of MP's popping up there isn't too many, and after a while I started to look at Ebay as well. Although the MP's was very expensive, especially if I wanted to find one in Europe, to get rid of VAT/Customer charges after the purchase so after a few months of searching I had to try some other ways! I went to Bellamys's site (AKA JapanCameraHunter) and he has a service where you can send him an email with the kind of camera you're looking for and what your budget are. Since Bellamy has a huge experience when it comes to camera stores in Japan, he scouts them for the camera you are looking for and after only 2-3 days he managed to found my camera! It looked to be in great condition, it was a Black Paint version and the price was right!
I transferred the money to Bellamy, he bought the camera directly, inspected it, and shipped it further to me since he thought it was as good as the pictures/description. I can highly recommend Bellamy's service if you're searching for a special camera or lens.
Getting an MP comes down to feelings for the camera itself, and the Leica brand. It comes down to a heritage from the early years of the 19th century. It's not really about the pictures that comes out from it, its about the moment when you take those pictures.
So, many of you who will be reading this probably owns a Leica today, maybe an M6 or M7.
I don't think anyone who's never shot a Leica M, suddenly purchase an MP. The big question for you is probably if your're insane thinking about upgrading your M6/M7 to an MP. You're not insane, its a totally normal idea/dream to have if you shoot M6/M7 today.
What's so good with the MP then? I've only shot one roll through it so far, but I think I've already become a very good friend with it. The main differences compared to an M6/M7 is mainly about material, finish and some mechanical differences. The viewfinder is brighter and doesn't flare as easy, but I honestly don't think that was an issue for me with the M6. The MP is made off brass, and in general I experience it as better built, small details looks better, and it also feels a bit more compact than the M6 which could have to do with the extra weight because of the brass. The shutter curtains are new, which results in a more subtile shutter noise. The rewind knob is the old classic M2/M3 one which some thinks are to slow, but I like it better. I managed to buckle the rewind know on my M6, this one is bomb proof, and since I'm not in a hurry when I'm out taking photos, I don't really care that it takes me a few seconds more to rewind the film. Also the frame advance lever is the old style M2/M3 one which is a personal favorite as well.
The MP works (as the M6) without batteries of course. The only thing you loose is the light meter. The light meeter in the MP is great, really great! It's of better quality than the M6, especially in low light. The look in the viewfinder is also a bit different compared to the M6, where you in the MP has a dot that lights up in between the > < symbols when you've nailed the exposure.
Since this is the MP (Mechanical Perfection / M Professional?) you don't see a red dot on the front of the camera either which in some cases helps drawing attraction to you and let you capture your moments alone on the streets, where you'll probably hang out most of the time shooting with this kind of camera.
Another thing stated on different forums and in other reviews is that the shutter is more subtile on the MP compared to the other M cameras. When I dry fired it at home after unpacking it, I wasn't in chock by the low noise, its quiet, that's a fact, but I didn't think the difference compared to the M6 was that big. Although when I headed into the city for some lunch and shooting, suddenly I experienced the MP more subtile than my M6 when it came to shutter sound. Not sure what's causing it, but with the MP Leica looked back at building cameras like in the old days, when they could withstand wars and nuclear testing, its better built and the more heavy brass probably has a damping effect on the shutter sound.
While writing this review I'm scanning yesterdays roll, which I developed this morning.
Tri-X shot at 1600, and I used zone focusing a lot at 1/250 and f/8, just to stop thinking and just shoot. It got me some nice pictures, and it was the first time I've managed to capture a bird flying (YaY). Looking at the picture, I'm very happy with the result, and I feel that it justifies my upgrade to the MP. Not because the pictures are better than what they would have been if I would have used the M6 but the joy I remember that I had while walking around the city after lunch yesterday.
As a conclusion regarding the MP, its really hard to justify the MP for everyone. It's not for everyone, it's for a pretty small niche of photographers out there who value the simpleness and straight forwardness of the MP.
I hope you enjoyed this review! Feel free to ask questions or comment below, or send me an email if you want! Below is some of the shots I took yesterday!