Are you looking for the cheapest Leica M film cameras? While the M6 fetches a high price, here’s 5 cameras that can be had for a better bargain.

Hi my name is Sven the Leicaphile and this is the 5 cheapest Leica M film cameras you can get. The M line is quite sought after so we must keep your expectations in check. Most of these cameras hover above 1k, Leica cameras are not for the faint of the pocket even the film ones. I have added an extra choice for your consideration below that is not 100% an M camera but is way lighter on the pocket.

5 cheapest Leica M film cameras

NameMeterGet it here:
1. Leica M2NO Check Price
2. Leica M3NO Check Price
3. Leica M5YES Check Price
4. Leica M4PNO Check Price
5. Leica CLNO Check Price

What’s so great about the Leica M system is that ever since the first one, the Leica M3, all of the support the same lenses so all of them are compatible with all the lenses that came after. One of the most important things to consider however is the framelines, and we will pay special attention to that.

1. Leica M2

The cheapest Leica M film camera you can get

Leica M2 Camera
Reasons to buyCons
+ Streamlined design
+ 35mm framelines
– No 28mm framelines
– Remove spool
– No lightmeter

To kick off our list of the cheapest Leica M film cameras, one of the first ones, the Leica M2. Released after the Leica M3, it is similar to it’s older brother as a silver slab but with one important aspect: It has 35mm framelines.

It also has a more streamlined body and no built-in light meter like the M3. Because it is one of the older Leicas it doesn’t have a quick loading spool, you’ll have to remove the spool and twist in the film and then put back in the body.

Fun fact, THAT famous picture of Che Guevarra was shot on an M2. Sample images:

leica m2 sample image 1
[1]
leica m2 sample image 2
[2]

leica m2 sample image 4
[4]

2. Leica M3

The one that started it all

Leica M3 Camera
Reasons to buyCons
+ Highest magnification
+ Piece of history
– No 28mm framelines
– No 35mm framelines
– Remove spool
– No lightmeter
– Older rangefinder design

Next up the cheapest Leica M film cameras is the original granddaddy of them all, the Leica M3 (yes it came before the M2 and M1). This camera is second on this list for a few reasons, the design is on the classic side while the M2 is more streamlined, and just like the M2 there is no light meter nor quick loading spool.

It lacks the 35mm framelines, but if you shoot focal a lengths like the 50mm you are in for a treat. This has one of the most powerful magnifications on any M camera at 0.91x. Fun fact, this is the camera Henri Cartier Bresson used most of his life. Sample images:

Leica m3 sample image 3
[3]
Leica m3 sample image 4
[4]
Leica m3 sample image 5
[5]
Leica m3 sample image 6
[6]
Leica m3 sample image 7
[7]
Leica m3 sample image 8
[8]

3. Leica M5

For stunning black and white portraits

leica m5 camera
Reasons to buyCons
+ Full frame
+ Amazing Sensor
+ Portable
+ Great dials for control
– Is only Black and White

Because the M5 is less sought after then the M4, this makes it one of the cheapest Leica M film cameras you can buy. First things first, this is bigger then the other Leicas because this is one of the first Leica with TTL metering. While that might be old hat when it comes to digital photography, in order to put metering in there the Leica engineers had to find a way to put in an “arm” that meters the image that hits the lens and make it get out of the way when you shoot, hence the bulkier aspect.

But that’s not all, one of the changes Leica did was with the shutter speed dial that was integrated with the shutter release, making this one of the most different Leica M film cameras you can get.

leica m5 sample image 1
[1]
leica m5 sample image 2
[2]
leica m5 sample image 3
[3]
leica m5 sample image 4
[4]
leica m5 sample image 5
[5]
leica m5 sample image 6
[6]

4. Leica M4-P

The modern film shooter

Leica m4 p camera
Reasons to buyCons
+ Full frame
+ Amazing Sensor
+ Portable
+ Great dials for control
– Is only Black and White

Spoiler alert, the most desirable film Leica M camera is the M6. But the cheapest one that is as close as the M6 without the price tag is the M4. The variant M4-P is recommended here although it was made in Canada and not Germany (except the latest ones).

The biggest argument against this camera is the cuttered viewfinder but on the flip side it is one of the only ones on this list that offers 28mm framelines. Design wise, this is the overall camera design that Leica will use for the M6 and pretty much all other M cameras that will follow.

Unlike the larger M5 it doesn’t have a lightmeter built-in. Image sample:

leica m4 sample image 1
[1]
leica m4 sample image 2
[2]
leica m4 sample image 3
[3]
leica m4 sample image 4
[4]
leica m4 sample image 5
[5]
leica m4 sample image 6
[6]

5. Leica CL

The cheapest Leica M film camera that’s not an M

Leica CL camera
Reasons to buyCons
+ Full 35mm rangefinder
+ Smallest & lightest
+ Cheapest one
– Minolta made
– Not as sturdy

It is seriously infuriating when companies override their own names. There’s two Leica MPs for example, a recent one and one from the 50s. Same here for the Leica CL, there’s a new digital version that is APSC sensor and there is a film one that we are going to talk about here.

If you are looking for the cheapest Leica M film camera, this really is it, it just isn’t part of the M line, but you will find none cheaper. It’s a fraction of any film M at about $500. There’s lots to love there as this is the smallest and lightest M mount rangefinder you can get.

It has some odd frameline choices (40mm, 50mm or 90mm) and was made in Osaka, Japan and not Germany. Unlike the Ms this is not as durable nor is the rangefinder as precise as an M. But overall the Leica CL is a bargain if you just want to shoot film M lenses.

leica cl film sample image 1
[1]
leica cl film sample image 2
[2]
leica cl film sample image 3
[3]
leica cl film sample image 4
[4]
leica cl film sample image 5
[5]
leica cl film sample image 6
[6]

Conclusion

I hope you have enjoyed this article about the cheapest Leica M film cameras. This speaks volumes about Leica’s staying power that even it’s oldest M still fetches a relatively high price. If you are looking for a real bargain, the Leica CL is the way to go, but if you want the actual M line, the cheapest are the M2, M3 & M4P.

M2

Leica M2 – front” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by Lea-Kim

[1]
Old-0133.jpg(CC BY 2.0)The Sasson

[2]
Asia Afrika, Bandung(CC BY 2.0)barendiafan

[4]
Puhua Si, Nujiang(CC BY-SA 2.0)jiulong

[5]
666(CC BY-SA 2.0)zr12345670

[6]
Duvorna vid Notre-dame(CC BY 2.0)sonicinfusion

M3

Leica M3 & Elmar 50mm f/2.8” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by andrewbasterfield

[3]
(CC BY-ND 2.0)karson_ho

[4]
Man sleeping in the streets . las Vegas(CC BY-ND 2.0)Juan Bello Photo

[5]
Asakusa,Tokyo(CC BY-ND 2.0)t-miki

[6]
untitled(CC BY-ND 2.0)t-miki

[7]
Lily of the Incas(CC BY-ND 2.0)t-miki

[8]
Tokyo tower(CC BY-ND 2.0)t-miki

M5

Leica M5” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by *Photography by Mike*

[1]
In NYC, you find a nice corner and have your cig.(CC BY-ND 2.0)cristianleonardo

[2]
Zone focus walk by.(CC BY-ND 2.0)cristianleonardo

[3]
Classic New York scene.(CC BY-ND 2.0)cristianleonardo

[4]
A waste of water, but a cool scene.(CC BY-ND 2.0)cristianleonardo

[5]
Beautiful colors everywhere.(CC BY-ND 2.0)cristianleonardo

[6]
Yellow jacket stunner.(CC BY-ND 2.0)cristianleonardo

M4

_9081752 – Version 2” (CC BY 2.0) by pearcie.uk

[1]
田端周辺(CC BY 2.0)sabamiso

[2]
函館朝市の路地(CC BY 2.0)sabamiso

[3]
コーラ看板(CC BY 2.0)sabamiso

[4]
亀有(CC BY 2.0)sabamiso

[5]
亀有(CC BY 2.0)sabamiso

[6]
浅草(CC BY 2.0)sabamiso

CL

The CL Returns, #2” (CC BY 2.0) by ⓁⒶⓂⓁⓊⓍ

[1]
2014, August: Munich, in Color(CC BY 2.0)aalfath

[2]
utrechters_45(CC BY-ND 2.0)Santiago Beguería

[3]
(CC BY 2.0)Kleinbildkamera

[4]
2014, August: Munich, in Color(CC BY 2.0)aalfath

[5]
2014, August: Munich, in Color(CC BY 2.0)aalfath

[6]
utrechters_16(CC BY-ND 2.0)Santiago Beguería

Scroll to Top