Leica Compact Film Camera Buying Guide

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Leica Compact Film Camera Buying Guide

Leica is a German manufacturer of optical equipment, with specific expertise in developing cameras and lenses. Their first cameras were made in 1913, and since that time, they have been extremely innovative in the industry. This, combined with the high build quality of their cameras, has resulted in Leica becoming an extremely well respected brand name with professional photographers as well as camera owners in general. The company has produced an extensive range of film and digital cameras over the years, meaning that there is a large selection for buyers to choose from. Leica compact film cameras, in particular, have always been very popular, and there are several key factors to be aware of when buying one.

Leica Compact Film Cameras are Designed to Be Easy to Use

Compact cameras are also sometimes referred to as point and shoot cameras, meaning that they are designed to be incredibly easy to operate. Leica compact film cameras are no exception and incorporate many features to ensure that the process of taking high quality photographs is as simple as possible. As a result, these cameras are an excellent choice for beginners to photography or for people who enjoy photography as a hobby rather than a profession.

Leica Compact Film Camera Models

Although Leica has produced many compact film cameras over the years, they have largely been superseded by modern digital technology. There are two analogue models in particular that are still in production, and it is important for any potential buyer to be aware of their qualities. Firstly, there is the 35mm Leica M7, which combines classic film camera design with modern advanced features. For example, owners can make use of through-the-lens flash exposure as well as extremely accurate flash synchronisation. Furthermore, in addition to manual and automatic film speed settings and the traditional manual exposure adjustment, the Leica M7 has a continuously variable aperture priority mode. This means that the associated exposure lock works in conjunction with the shutter release to allow fast and precise photography. Finally, one of the main selling points of the Leica M7 is its user-friendly design. The power button and shutter release button are conveniently placed next to each other, and the viewfinder offers a clear and crisp display.
The second of Leica's most popular compact film cameras is the MP. It is designed to be stripped down and basic in terms of features, but nevertheless, its engineering ensures that it can be used to take high quality images that are full of character. As such, the MP is an excellent choice for photography amateurs. It uses 35mm film and has an electronic shutter and an aperture priority metering mechanism to ensure that photographs turn out exactly as intended. The mechanical nature of the Leica MP, along with its impressive build quality and metal controls, ensures that it is built to last. This, combined with the fact that it is quick and easy to use, means that for many people the Leica MP will be the only camera that they own.

Buying Second-Hand Leica Compact Film Cameras

Even though the M7 and the MP are the only Leica compact film cameras still in production, many more of their analogue cameras can be bought second-hand. They are, in fact, highly sought after due to their quality. The Leica M series of rangefinder cameras, which includes the M7 and MP, dates back to the 1950s. It should be noted that only the M1, M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M7, and MP models are analogue, and that M8 and M9 cameras are digital. Also, the Leica CL is a 35mm film camera that is included in this range due to it sharing many of the characteristics of M series cameras.
The Leica R range of compact film cameras provides alternative buying options. These are single lens reflex (SLR) cameras and therefore offer a different style of photography to the rangefinder M series. Leicaflex cameras are the oldest examples in the range, followed by R3, R4, R5, R6, and R7. Once again, it is important to note that R8 and R9 cameras in this range offer digital rather than film photography.
Regardless of the model of second-hand Leica compact film camera being purchased, it is important to check that every aspect of the device works correctly. Later cameras, in particular, combined mechanical functionality with electronic components, meaning that there are several areas to check for imperfections. The shutter, viewfinder, film loading compartment, and film advance spool must all be in good working order. It is also necessary to check that all buttons work as they should, and that there is no damage to the bodywork of the camera or the lens. As previously stated, Leica cameras are known for having an extremely high build quality, and they are generally very robust. However, they do require regular maintenance, such as cleaning, lubrication of internal components, and recalibration of mechanisms. If a Leica camera has been well maintained, then it can make an excellent and affordable second-hand purchase.

The Appearance of Leica Compact Film Cameras

The variety of different designs of Leica compact film cameras over the years has provided buyers with a great deal of choice. Many camera owners want their equipment to look good and perform well, and the Leica range certainly caters for this. Compact film cameras are available in a variety of different finishes, including silver chrome, black chrome, black enamel, and grey hammertone. There are even special editions with finishes such as gold effect. Leica compact film cameras look very different to modern digital cameras, but for many buyers, this simply adds to their charm and attraction.

Accessories for Leica Compact Film Cameras

Leica produce a huge range of accessories for their compact film cameras, including grips, bags and cases, tripods, flashes, and filters. However, most Leica camera owners will be chiefly interested in the variety of lenses on offer. Most models can be fitted with interchangeable lenses, with every camera in the M series using the same Leica M bayonet lens mount. This convenient system means that lenses are interchangeable between devices.
There are Leica lenses available to meet every photographer's needs. There are five different standard lenses to choose from, each with a focal length of 50mm and offering a range of different maximum apertures. There are also five different telephoto lenses, with focal lengths ranging from 75mm to 135mm. Alternatively, for people who enjoy close-up photography, there is a special 90mm macro lens. Finally, there is a selection of eleven wide-angle lenses, with focal lengths of between 16mm and 35mm and a variety of maximum apertures.

Features Found in Leica Compact Film Cameras

Throughout the history of the company, Leica have been known for their innovations. This means that there are a range of features to be found on Leica compact film cameras although the precise nature of what is available will vary between models. Before buying a Leica camera, therefore, it is important to examine what it can offer.
Many Leica compact film cameras have a self-timer function, allowing users to delay the taking of a photograph until they are in the shot. In terms of combating various lighting conditions, another common feature of Leica cameras is a fully automated synchronised flash. Some models also have parallax correcting frames to combat the differences between viewfinder images and final photographs, as found in many rangefinder cameras. One final consideration when buying a Leica compact film camera is the fact that most models are designed to make the loading and using of film as easy as possible. The features that facilitate this include ergonomic film wind levers and rewind knobs and hinged covers of film loading compartments.

Buying a Leica Compact Film Camera on eBay

There are typically hundreds of Leica cameras listed for sale on eBay, meaning that various models are available at very reasonable prices. In order to navigate to only the Leica compact film cameras from the homepage, first click on All Categories, and then Cameras & Photography. Within this sub-menu, clicking on All Categories again will bring up further options, with the one to be selected called Film Cameras. This will display film cameras of various makes and models, but to focus the search, the category labelled Compact should be selected from the Type menu to the left of the page. Finally, selecting Leica from the Brand menu will display all of the Leica compact film cameras that are currently for sale.


Leica is a highly respected name in the field of camera production, and they have a long history of manufacturing high quality photography equipment. Leica compact film cameras are small, easy to use, and innovative, but their most important quality is that they produce excellent photographs. As a result, they make a good choice for any photography enthusiast, with eBay providing an opportunity to purchase a variety of Leica cameras at very affordable prices.

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