Betting long on film with a new Leica MP

I enjoy both film and digital photography, but the pendulum has been swinging toward film recently, and I’ve been having a ball.

I’ve finally dialed in a film processing, scanning, and editing workflow that works and that I don’t hate. What’s more, I’ve been studying my recent film photos and I really like them. I like that they’re not so perfect that zooming in to 100% is useful. I like the defects and unpredictability. I like the process. But most of all, I like the cameras. Specifically, I like Leica rangefinders.

I bought my first Leica M, an M6 TTL back in 2004. From there I’ve had an M3, M4, M6, M7, M8, and M10-P. Eventually, I ended up with a comfortable kit with an M3, M4, and M6 Classic. The M3 is great because it’s the first M, and the .92x finder magnification is perfect for 50mm lenses and makes shooting 90mm lenses feasible. The M4 is a more modern, but still entirely mechanical, non-metered body. And the M6 Classic is newer (still 20+ years old) and is metered.

Each of the M cameras was purchased used (of course). Their resale value has gone through the roof over the past few years. Clean M6 bodies go for twice what I paid for mine. Leica film cameras may not qualify as “investments” but they certainly don’t depreciate. At least they haven’t since I’ve owned them.

What I’ve never done is buy a brand new Leica M film camera, because that would be crazy. Why buy new when I can get something for a third of the price that works great and does basically the same thing? And unlike used bodies, new cameras do depreciate. At least for a minute.

But I must admit to always dreaming of a brand new Leica M film camera. Leica only makes two: The non-metered M-A and the metered MP.

Leica recently announced a special black-paint version of the digital M10-R and I thought it looked beautiful. It got me thinking about other black paint Leica bodies and how much I love that finish. Several of the older models were available with the gorgeous black paint finish, but they fetch even higher prices than the regular chrome and black chrome models.

I couldn’t stop thinking about it and started poking around and learned that the MP happens to be available in black paint. Whaddaya know? Of course they’re always backordered everywhere and I was told the wait time was in months. So much for an impulse purchase. Whew!

So for a few days I put a few rolls through the M3 and M6 and was reminded how much fun it could be. But wouldn’t it be cool to be the original owner of a new Leica M? I’ve been told by people who know me and have been around me that I should “Never sell a Leica!”. What better way to make sure that happens than to have a new one I can call my own forever?

And the rationalizations continued for a week or so while I absorbed every review, forum post, and YouTube video I could find that contained even a whiff of information about the MP.

I love film. I want to always shoot film. So I called Leica Store Miami and put myself on the waiting list for a black paint MP. I was told they only receive new ones every couple of months, and the waiting list is pretty long, so I should settle in for a long wait. And who knows, maybe I’d lose interest in the meantime. It happens. Of course B&H, Leica, and the other usual outlets were backordered as well.

Then, on a whim, I looked for one at Camera West. I’ve purchased from them before and had good luck. You know what happens next, right? They had 2 new black paint MPs in stock. I bought one immediately.

So that happened.

The camera arrived today and I’ve never seen anything so beautiful. It’s perfect. It’s new, warrantied, flawless, and mine. My long bet on film begins today.

Leica MP with Summilux-M 50mm ASPH