When considering which Leica M series film camera is better as a first option, the Leica M3 and M6 are two options that come to mind. Both are exceptional cameras, and the choice between the two ultimately comes down to personal preference and intended use.
The Leica M3 was introduced in 1954 and is considered a classic camera. It has a solid build, a bright viewfinder, and a quiet shutter. Its design emphasizes simplicity and mechanical reliability, with a fully mechanical shutter that allows it to function even without a battery. The M3 has a fixed 0.91 magnification viewfinder, which some users find limiting, but it does have an optional 1.4x viewfinder that can be added. The M3 also has a wider shutter speed range than the M6, from 1 second to 1/1000th of a second.
The Leica M6, introduced in 1984, is a more modern camera that has electronic components. It has a light meter that reads through the lens and can be turned off to save battery life. The M6 has a 0.72 magnification viewfinder, which is larger than the M3’s but can make it more difficult to see the entire frame while wearing glasses. The M6 has a narrower shutter speed range than the M3, from 1 second to 1/1000th of a second, and also includes a bulb mode and a mechanical 1/50th of a second option.
Both cameras have a similar design and are compatible with the same Leica M-mount lenses. They are also both relatively compact and portable, making them great for street and travel photography. In terms of price, the M3 is generally less expensive than the M6, although this can vary based on condition and rarity.
Ultimately, the choice between the Leica M3 and M6 comes down to personal preference and intended use. Those who prioritize mechanical reliability and simplicity may prefer the M3, while those who value light metering and a larger viewfinder may prefer the M6. Regardless of the choice, both cameras are exceptional options for anyone looking to shoot with a Leica M series film camera.