Used Leica M Marketplace
The Leica M used market does NOT stay the same. For example, in the early 90's M2's were quite high and M5's cheap. In 2005 M2's and M5's are higher used M6 "Classic" are selling for the lowest prices ever, even though a good argument can be made the Classic is a better choice than the backward dial M6 TTL and earned reputation for short battery life. Used M6 TTL's are also selling far below normal prices, due to many being traded in on M7's and being replaced by the new MP 2003.
The Leica M best users, regardless of price, are the various M6/M7/MP 2003 variations due to their three LED meter readout and readily available meter parts. Another good buy are the M2's and M3's which give a good performance to dollar value. Mint- or better M3's are expensive, but in user condition they can be good buys. The M5 and M4 are a bit pricey in today's market from a user's point of view. In terms of the entry level M market, there are currently only two cameras even competing: the Cosina Voigtlander R2A and R3A. In terms of the most M camera for the money, you will have a difficult time getting more for your money.
Favorites? Different photogs will tell you different things, and of course all the answers are right. From a pure ease of shooting standpoint, I like the .72 M6 "classic" and the Leica MP 2003. I prefer the longer battery life and traditional turning direction of the earlier M6 over the M6 TTL. The M7 with its AE is the fastest shooting M with an excellent LED meter display. Of the earlier M's, I just like the M2 and M4 over the M3, but I like the M3 as well. The simplicity of the M2's finder is a wonderful thing after getting lost in the six framelines of the M6. The M4 of course is much easier and faster to load than the M2. I like the compact CL as the lightest M, but meter parts are close to non-existent. I like the shooting the M5 too. Personally I just never liked the cheapened feel of the M4-2 or M4-P. Until the M7, the M5 was the only Leica M with the shutter speeds visible in the finder, a well as having by far the most convenient M shutter speed dial. I don't have one as a shooter yet, but I really like the .58 finder a lot because of its superior 28 and 35 framelines, and because the 35 frameline has no distracting 135 frameline within it. My personal M's include a Titanium M6, a blue gray M2 with matching Rapidwinder, and the LHSA MP. The M7 will also likely turn into a favorite of mine, though I don't own one yet. Choices, choices, choices. Hmm. Maybe the best solution is to buy all of them. Hmm.
M6 trade ins for MP 2003 and M7 have pushed used M6 (classic or TTL) prices to new lows. In fact, the used M6 prices are the least expensive they have ever been--less than the M4, M5, and only slightly more than a M4-P or M4-2. Buy the M6 while prices are cheap!!! Lower M6 prices also mean lower M user prices. Relative to a used M6, the M4-2 and M4P's are overpriced. With used M prices low, there are a lot of bargains out there for the shooting photographer. The entry level M category was taken over by the Voigtlander Bessa R2 in March 2002, and the AE Voigtlander Bessa R2A and R3A in December 2004. Not to worry, Leica does not care about the entry level market, and many R2 photogs will eventually become Leica M owners. 2003 has seen more influence from Hermes, the largest Leica stockholder with 30% of the stock. Hermes is a French firm widely known for expensive, high margin luxury products. With substantial Leica 2003 price increases and a big push to cut off lower priced grey market Leica sales, the new Leica Hermes sales philosophy is not good news for the Leicanut's bank account.
Black, Chrome, or Titanium M Lenses? Unfortunately, Leica M chrome and titanium lenses are substantially heavier than the black Leica M lenses. Perhaps you like the heaviest camera bag, I like the lightest bag on a day's journey. I prefer the lighter black lenses to save weight, and my back. Some Leica M lenses are made in beautiful, but expensive limited edition black paint versions.
Avoid the Leica special edition M's as shooters, with the exception of the superbly well done LHSA M6TTL and LHSA MP. Shooting a expensive collectible and losing 30% of its value when you get the first scratch simply does not make financial sense to most people.
Rebates and new Leica prices affect the used Leica M market. As this is being written, new Leica prices will take effect in January 2005, coupled with big increases for those who order under the a la carte program. This will not decrease used Leica M values.
Revised: November 18, 2004 . Copyright © 1997-2004 Stephen Gandy. All rights reserved. This means you may NOT copy and re-use the text or the pictures in ANY other internet or printed publication of ANY kind. Information in this document is subject to change without notice. Other products and companies referred to herein are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies or mark holders.