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Leica starter system MP or M7



I'm looking to buy into the Leica system and can afford around £3-3500 ($4500-5000) and can't decide what to go for.

My heart wants the MP (understated, purely mechanical, stunning) but my mind tells me I'd get more use out of the M7 (AE, etc). This is my first venture into rangefinder world and I am just so undecided. I don't want to buy one and then wish I'd bought the other.

Once I decide which body to go for I have another problem ...

I can probably only afford 1 lens;
50/1.4 Summilux
50/2.0 Summicron
50/2.8 Elmar M
35/2.0 Summicron
28-35-50 Tri-Elmar (although I'd like a faster lens than f4)

I'd love to hear people's thoughts on the MP and what they believe would be the best single starter lens ...

... My thought is to go for the MP/M7 with a 50/1.4 Summilux. What do you think?


Well-Known Member
It's probably and excommunicable offence to say so on a Leica Forum but had you thought about a Contax G2. I am a great Leica fan and have and use a number of classic Leicas. In the end the fact that I could have a G2 plus the three prime lenses of 90, 45 and 28 all of which on Photodo's web site equalled or exceeded the MTF's of their Leica equivalent and then have enough money over to go on a good photo holiday decided me. The viewfinder is not quite as good as the latest condenser M7/MP but it's not bad. You have up to 1/6000 shutter speed and the option of manual or autofocus. You have the option of a very good but rather slow 35-70 zoom lens, to which the viewfinder motors itself as you zoom. It's not quite as well finished as the Leica but being all made from titanium, probably just as robust. I think it's certainly worth a look. I now await the explosion from M owners! Wilson


Well-Known Member
I would go for the MP and the 35 summicron - any time - why ? I like 35 with 24x36 and and I managed for 3 years before I got my second M lens (a 90 mm.) Besides it is easier to get a 50 later and cheaper! but again a 1.4 for low light portraits might be the thing for you. The M7 - dont like it - like the M6 TTL its slightly bigger then the M6 and MP and feels wrong - you might feel the other way around so try them out berfore you make up your mind


You really want the opinion of someone who has used both... All I can do is play "what if I could spend $5000 in Leica M products", and tell you my thoughts (my Leica Ms are two M3, 1957 and 1961 vintage): to take pictures, I would go for the M7. I like the idea of the MP (that is one of the reasons why I bought the M3s last year), but the truth is that AE is much more convenient.
Not owning any of the newer lenses, all I can say is that I would always prefer the faster lens, so I would either wait for the new 50mm 1.4 Summilux asph or get the 35mm 1.4 Summilux asph.
Best regards,



And check this pdf document about Leica M lenses. I think it is very informative, even if Mr. Puts is probably not an unbiased reviewer:
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<font face="arial,helvetica">Welcome David. Perhaps this information will help:

Leica Bulletin 58 2/2004:

"To make it easier for people to enter the special world of Leica 'M' and 'R' Entry Sets have been introduced. Each set includes a camera body and lens to enable you to start producing Leica images straight away, as well as offering a saving on prices of the separate items.
The 'R' set includes a LEICA R9 body and LEICA VARIO-ELMAR-R 35-70mm f/4 zoom lens, both in black finish for £2398.00. The 'M' set, priced at £2548.00, contains a Leica M7 and a Summicron-M 50mm f/2 lens, in black."

So, M7, 50mm Summicron for £2548... and I am sure you can better that if you bargain hard. Spend the rest of your budget on a secondhand 35mm Summicron, and save up for a 90mm f2.8. You are then, as they say, sorted.

Now, that should settle once and for all, all the recurring arguments here and elsewhere about what should be a beginner's first lens... Leica has spoken!




Your pounds-sterling budget suggests you might be in Britain and possibly near London. So I suggest you look up the web site of Christies, the auction house there, and see what Leica stuff they have -- and it's a lot of stuff -- and what they sell it for at auction.
I also believe that because you say this would be your first venture into range finders, I suggest you move in much more slowly, buying a much less expensive Leica outfit-- to see if you like it.
If you do, you can always venture further. If you don't, you may find that it will take a while to sell or to get near what you spent.
You also mentioned that you might be able to afford "only" one lens, so I believe even more so that you move in slowly. The MP is top-of-the line and, therefore, pricey. You don't need to spend so heavily the first time around. -- bob cole


Well-Known Member
>Hi David: Be prepared for the proverbial infinite number of replies. Apparently you have a reasonable amount of money to spend, and the question can be reformulated so as to ask where you might receive the best "bang for the pound". I would consider a used M6 TTL ( the meter is really very easy to use and although the automatic exposure of the M7 is nice, you can do quite well "on your own" as it were ). The MP is a wonderful machine, and feels fabulous in one's hands. However, the M6TTL will do quite nicely for a first M camera; indeed, leave off the TTL feature and you can purchase an older M6 at a really good price. One lens...hmmmm...I like my TriElmar very much, and have it more or less permanently mounted on an M6 body. Great for travel, and I have not found the f4 limiting when one considers the fast films now available. On another M body, for travel when I might need the extra speed, I keep the new 35/1.4; however, if funds are an issue, the older 35/2.0 is a tiny master-piece that is really fine for all of your uses. Might be able to find a good used one at a nice price. It was my first lens, and I would never sell it. Another "sleeper" would be the collapsible 50/2.8 which never really gets the credit it deserves. Mated to the M6 the outift is so light and small that you can almost fit the entire package in your pocket ( as you can with the older 35/2.0 )! By the way, with the M6TTL, the SF 20 flash is light, convenient, and does the job for a very reasonable price. Can give you some extra " exposure security" with the TriElmar...As you see, so many choices, so little time.

By the way David, there are many reliable places to find used gear. If you have any trouble, I am sure that many here can provide realiable sellers.

All the best,

Elliot([Delete this line and type your message here]



Differences between the M7 and MP also include weight and size. The differences between the cameras are comparatively small but they can be significant in practice. If you have large hands then the M7 may be the way to go. The extra weight of the M7 will also help you handhold at slower shutter speeds. Some people prefer smaller lighter cameras.

Unless you need the extra stop for, theatre work, or DoF compression for ex&le, then a 50 summicron would be perfect. Don’t discount the 35 summicron, either. You can do a lot with either of these lenses. Keeping things simple often has its advantages. There are plenty of photographers that limit themselves to either one of these FLs and repeatedly churn out stunning work.

The VF magnification for the camera you purchase will really depend on which way you may wish to build on the system in the future. ei. Whether you intend to go in for longer lenses or concentrate on wider angle work.



I believe it all depends what kind of photos you like to shoot and under what type of lighting circumstance. I started off with a used classic M6 + 50mm f2 this year. At that time, I didn't even know anything about Leica's M range and it was a very cautious approach into this system for me. I have never looked back since embarking on the Leica rangefinder system. Photos are mostly street shots and portraits.

Recently, I purchased a used M7 + Summilux 35/1.4. It was a different camera from the M6 but shooting is a lot faster in the aperture priority mode. I find this lens & camera combination great for me. The exposure meter is really good, though it helps if you have experience what to do in high contrasty situations.

If you shoot like me in the streets, I would go for the M7 + the fastest lens you can afford. Just pre-focus and shoot! Choice of lens focal length would depend on what you like. If you are not a hurried shooter and have more time photographing your subjects, the M6/M6TTL [I do not have any experience with the MP] would be as good and at a lower price.

Then there would be the debate on the M7 being battery reliant etc but this should not bother you as the batteries are eaily available. I believe you should buy what you like in your heart but do put more thoughts on the type of lens you want.

Hope this helps.

Rgds - Daniel


I own an M7 and am looking to get a second body.

I own a 0.72 M7 and am considering a 0.58 MP that would allow me to use some of the wider angle lenses notably a 28mm as with the 0.72, the 28 bright lines are really a bit "tight" for my taste.

The MP is very tempting but my concern is the difference in metering (not having TTL on MP)

How different is the metering?



PS - I don't intend to use flash with the MP but what I meant is if the metering were any different compared with the Leica M7.



I just did some research and realised that the MP is TTL but just not for flash!

Sorry for the bother!




Well-Known Member

If you're still set on a Leica, look at Ebay Item number: 3825114897. If you buy it, have it sent by Fedex as the duty to the UK via them always seems to be about half what other carriers get charged plus they don't charge collection and processing fee. Just to confuse the issue, have you looked at a Hasselblad XPAN II. That will be my next rangefinder. Wilson


Active Member
David, for me it boils down to two things: Do you really need the AE of the M7 and what lens fits your vision better.

I'm long in the teeth regarding photography and learned early on that built-in meters more frequently lead you to mistakes than plain good sense and sunny 16. Light situations are not that fleeting. Usually you can estimate the exposure to 1/3 of a stop. That said, I've had nothing but grief out of trusting any AE system blindly, even the most sophisticated. They seem to be OK for common situations but then for those I don't need a meter, I know the exposure by heart.

On the lens, I shoot 90% percent of the time with a "normal", be it a 50 in 35mm, 80 in 6x6 MF and 150 in 5x7 LF. Thus, I'd recommend a 50. However, there are people for whom their normal is the moderate wide angle, in this case the 35. In any case, I would recommend the Summicrons as a much better alternative over the Summiluxes, unless you're ready for the new Summilux-ASPH 50. I have a Summicron 50 and it's to this day the best 35mm lens in the world.

If you need the extra stop, get a Nokton. I have one also and it's practically on par with the Summicron, Superior to the Summilux and the price can't be beat. It's a very well made lens too; enameled or chromed brass. Leica charges extra for that finish.


Well-Known Member
...well, I have both the M7 and the MP.

Over the years I have used manual, and finally sold my last one, the FM2n most recently.

David is looking at M7 & MP, with a slight bias to the fully manual MP.

I love both cameras, but even so, I miss the AE whenever I am out and about with my MP.

The M7's AE definitely speeds up your shot for spontaneous moments.

You can always switch in "manual" if you need to, and thus have both.

But if the "inner-brain" needs manual, then the MP.

As for the lens, you should go for f1.4 (if you have the money).

And as to 35/50, only you can decide (I seem to use the 35 most often).


Thanks so far for the discussion ... Whilst I do want the MP, I may just have to be sensible and edge for the M7 with a 50mm/f1.4 Summilux.

Has anyone got any experence of just using the 50mm/f1 Noctilux as their 'standard' 50mm lens? I ruled it out earlier after a few adverse comments but find myself strangely drawn back to the f1.0 lens ...

And again, what are people's thoughts on the 999 M6TTL models available with 'limited edition' 50mm/f2 Summicrons - I can still source new M6TTLs and lenses and think maybe this would also be a reasonable way to start with Leica.

Thanks - keep the answers coming!


I'm a happy user of a M6ttl. I had a Konica for a short time and I appreciated the auto exposure facility. Thus I would go for the M7 and I might buy this body in due course. I'm also interested in the proposed digital M body.
As far as one lens is concerned, I advocate the Tri-Elmar. The three focal lengths available are a boon. The f4 maximum aperture is not such a big issue for general photography in view of the availability of excellent 200 and 400 films.
A further advantage of the M7 would be in conjunction with a Visoflex where there would be more chance of accurate exposure, particularly with long focus lenses and also micro-photography.
Incidently, I've aquired the new close-focus 90mm Elmar and now am the proud owner of a compact, light and versatile outfit.
My Summicron set, previously permanently in my gadget bag, now always seem to be left behind at home.
In the 60s, I had an outfit based on an M2. A marvelous camera. Always regreted selling it, but was seduced by a Hasselblad outfit.
My pennyworth.
Michael Greenhill


Active Member
Hi Mark,all-

Mark, two important things you left out is the type of photography you do as well as the lens you currently have for your M7. If you are talking about getting your second body in .58 to utilize a 28mm lens, I'd assume you are using a standard 50mm on your present M7?

IMHO, you would benefit greatly by having your second body be as similar to your first. I think there is much greater mental efficiency when you are using both bodies at once.

Of course the thing with the AE is that you don't have to use it, right? How much do you use it already?

My response to David is similar- what type of photography are you doing? What type do you want to do? How much do you rely on AE with your present camera?

I do documentary/reportage/personal work. I use an m6, I had a 50mm Summicron for the longest time. f2 is completely adequate, had an slr with 1.4 previous and didn't miss it. fully able to take night shots too. A few months ago I was finally able to get a 35mm summicron and the 50mm collects dust... (though I don't have a mind to sell it!).

I also have a 90mm lens which I carry to get longer shots, ie,, speakers, crowd shots, portraits. I would not go longer than that with range finder- too hard on moving stuff. I think an slr with 135mm is great for that end of things.

My next lens is to get a 24mm, for when I'm so within a scene, it's most useful.

My ideal setup is:
MP .58 with 35mm Summicron (main camera)
MP .72 with 24mm (switchable with the 90mm when needed)
and SF20 flash when needed as well.

I think it's a simple and elegant enough combination to do a LOT of work.

That's my humble opinion, good luck!


Well-Known Member
If I could source out a new M6ttl .72mag. in silver chrome, I'd buy it at the drop of a hat!
Don't understand the comment regarding Visoflex use,long lenses and closeup and M7 accuracy.
I use an M6 with Visoflex on occasion and have never had exposure problems. How can an M7 be more accurate? Total AE without "thinking" is never accurate unless one is photographing a grey card.
David, A Noctilux is a very special lens. I don't think you will like the results other than at f1. If you are going to shoot constantly wide open with limited depth of field, it maybe the ONLY way to go. If however you are going to do general photography, it is an expensive,large,heavy, non-starter. Rather like driving a Ferrari in London's rush hour. Nice car, but isn't happy doing that sort of thing.