With 1,200 moving parts, the Leica M is a precisely engineered machine that has become among the most sought-after cameras ever. If you’re curious just what the inner-workings of this mechanical masterpiece look like, then you need to see this video of Dan Tamarkin showing us the crucial components of the legendary camera.
Although he doesn’t take apart a working Leica (who in the right mind would do that?), he presents us some of the main elements salvaged from broken cameras (which is just as good). Apart from the chassis and the top and base plates, he shows the shutter mechanism and the rangefinder that includes the armature for focusing. Considering that most of these cameras are more than 50-years-old, it makes you appreciate the work that goes into these devices.
The M stands for Meßsucher, which simply means “rangefinder” in German. The first of the series is the M3 which was introduced in 1954. It was the first Leica to feature a bayonet-style mount for use with interchangeable lenses. To this day, the German company still manufactures M series cameras, although they now focus more on the digital models. The first Leica M digital camera was the M8 which boasted a 10.3 megapixel 1.3 crop sensor in 2006. It wasn’t until 2009 when they introduced the first full-frame digital Leica M-series camera: The 18.5MP M9.
Although the M series has now evolved, the older Leica M film cameras continue to be very popular to this day. And who can blame people for liking them so much? They’re some of the most elegant cameras ever made, and some of the best photographers who ever lived were extremely passionate about them.