The MP sure looks like a mid '50s Leica, but inside you'll find amazing
improvements that may make it the best M-series Leica ever
WHAT'S HOT AND WHAT'S NOT?
• Upgraded range/viewfinder has brighter, clearer framelines and focusing image
• Superb ergonomics, construction, and finish
• Ultrasmooth focusing, winding, and shutter release; very quiet operation
• Shutter speeds operate without battery power
• Finder frameline system lets you preview effects of different focal lengths
• Compact body accepts extensive line of very-high-quality lenses
• No autoflash sensor in body
• Finder-image magnification lower than most pro-level SLRs
• Lenses do not focus as close as those for SLRs; no zoom lenses available
• Bottom-loading system less convenient than hinged back
• Lenses wider than 28mm or longer than 135mm require special viewfinders or a reflex housing
How does the Leica MP stack up against competitors?
Konica Hexar RF
(Street price: under $2,000 for kit with 50mm f/1.8 Hexanon lens, HX-18W dedicated flash, neckstrap, presentation case) Roughly the same size and weight as the Leica MP with Leicavit winder, the Hexar RF has such modern conveniences as built-in 2.5 fps motor drive, autoloading, DX, autorewind, aperture-priority autoexposure, an electronically controlled vertical focal-plane shutter, and dedicated (non-TTL) flash. A fine, competent, contemporary take on the classic interchangeable-lens rangefinder 35 with multiframe finder, it lacks the Leica's style and feel. Its range/viewfinder is quite good, but not in the same class as the MP's. You can mount M-series Leica lenses on the RF but they will not couple precisely to the rangefinder.
Voigtlander Bessa R2
(Street price: $650, body only; accepts Voigtländer lenses from 12- to 90mm, in 39mm screw-thread with M-adapter ring, or M-series Leica lenses that couple to optical range/viewfinder) Somewhat more compact and considerably lighter in weight than the Leica MP, the Bessa R2 is based on a modified Cosina SLR chassis and has a mechanical, vertical-travel, focalplane shutter, manually selectable finder framelines for 35-, 50-, 75-, and 90mm lenses, nonratcheted wind lever (a trigger winder is also available), and TTL metering with diode readouts, similar to the MP. The R2's range/viewfinder is quite good, but not in the MP's class. Competent, reliable, and modestly priced, it lacks the Leica MP's refinement and style, but its Japanese-made lenses are outstanding.