Wetzlar vs Solms M6

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Hi, wondering about the Wetzlar vs Solms issue concerning the (classic)M6.

I've read the Cameraquest comparison so know of the subtle differences in the meter diode sequence and the incompatibility of the Wetzlar M6 with the Summicron DR.

The reason I'm asking is a dealer I know has one of each in their used department at the same price (US$1100). Wondering which would be better?

I have no Leica gear in my possession as yet, but hope to change this soon! I have decided on an M6 as my first Leica, mainly as I believe the older models are way over inflated at the moment. Would anyone like to comment or make another suggestion as to the best starter body?

Cheers. Simon Wong

-- Simon Wong (drsimonwong@hotmail.com), May 27, 2001



I'm about four months ahead of you. I decided to get an M6 classic because I like rangefinders, Leica has the best lenses, and some advice Don Chatterton gave me when I, like you, was agonizing over the same issues.

To paraphrase, he said:

"Since you are new to this get the M6 and the 35mm asph lens. With these you can learn the use of the camera, appreciated the best of the leica lenses, and the combo will be useful for over 80% of the pictures you shall ever take. You can add lenses later as you see fit."

When I whined about the need for TTL flash etc. he said:

"You aren't buying leica for it's flash capabilities. There are many better camera's and camera setups for flash photography."

When I wailed, "What size viewfinder, .58, .72, .85 etc," he responded:

"Unless you need prescription glasses the .72 in the M6 classic will be just fine."

I fussed and sputtered a few seconds longer and the ordered what he told me to. I have been very happy since. He's a good guy and has good merchandise. His advice was, as the brit's say "spot on."

I do hate loading the film in the M6. (There isn't a leica out there any different) Since I have older Konica SLR gear, and the new Hexar RF has numerous features the M6 doesn't, I now have the Hexar RF. Auto load, film recognition, aperture priority, 2.5fps shutter etc. Althogether a wonderful body. I have had no problems with the leica lens and the Hexar body. As a matter of fact I'm struggling with the notion of keeping the M6 body, but the viewfinder is better than the Hexar and I like the craft of manual settings with the M6.

I paid Chatterton $1295 for an essentially new M6. I'll bet I can still get at least $1100 for it. Now compared to the immediate value loss of an autommobile once off the lot, or jewelry once out the door, or the overall price of a mistress, the basic M6 is a great deal. Don't kid yourself, all the previous three and the M6 are highpriced luxury items.

Unless your spouse is particularly picky, you will have less trouble with the latest M6 "classic" than the mistress. Get the M6 and fugetaboudit.

David S Smith

-- David Smith (dssmith3@rmci.net), May 27, 2001.


Did you buy a Wetzlar or Solms M6?


My personal choice would be for a Wetzlar 'classic' if it was in perfect operating condition and not sluggish (in need of a CLA) from lack of use. Being mechanical cameras they must be used to keep them in tip top condition.

-- sam smith (ssmith@hotmail.com), May 27, 2001.

Thanks for the prompt replies guys. Seems us "Wong"s and "Smith"s are coming out of the woodwork...:)

David, my thoughts have been similar. Played with the Hexar and it was great, especially with the lower magnification. I wear glasses and do not have the "prized" space outside the framelines of the 35mm in the .72 version.

However, I have a softspot for all mechanical cameras. I shoot Kowas 6's and Yashicamats too! Plus I know if I find the Leica isn't for me I won't loose on it unlike the Hexar's potentially lower resale value. Besides the dream is Leica...can't say I've ever dreamt Konica..:)

I know I'll be getting a 35mm lens as my primary shooter. I went through all the albums I have in my library and checked out all my favourite photos....I shot most of my photos with a 50...but it was the 35 shots that stood out as "right" for my tastes.

I also know I will need a longer focal length as well. Probably a TE90 or maybe the new Voigtlander 75-looks compact and in keeping with the theme?

Flash is not an issue, I have my leaf shutter cameras for that...:)

Sam, why Wetzlar over Solms? I now know your preference, but would you please elaborate on your reasoning?

Is it for "kinesthetic or tactile" reasons? Build quality/reliability reasons? I've played with M2's and M3's and they definitely feel more "solid" than the Solms M6. (Even though I believe the M6 is a slightly heavier girl).

I haven't had a chance to play with the Wetzlar. It's at an interstate dealer and will have to be sent to me on preview if I buy it. I believe it has a little more wear than the Solms model...but not necessarily a bad thing in a mechanical camera right? (Shooter vs collector etc.).

Cheers. Simon Wong

-- Simon Wong (drsimonwong@hotmail.com), May 27, 2001.

My M6 is the Solms version. I don't have any other version to compare with. It works great with the 35mm ASPH 2.0 and the Konica Hexanon M 50mm 2.0 I currently own--unless you don't wind the film properly--or leave the back flap outside the base!

Both lenses also work perfectly with the Hexar RF body.

Oh yes--I have taken bad pictures with all combinations of the above.

David S Smith

-- David S Smith (dssmith3@rmci.net), May 27, 2001.

One of my most exciting ever shoots was with a brilliant Nikon kit I had many moons ago. I believed I had captured some of the best "moments". Too bad I didn't realise the "little knob" wasn't turning until my 45th shot of the roll.....

Funny looking back at my favourites photos, I seem to see many were taken with the original Olympus Epic. Not really sure why I'm planning to spend 2K plus on another 35mm focal length camera...:)

Simon Wong

-- Simon Wong (drsimonwong@hotmail.com), May 27, 2001.


Don't bother between Wetzlar and Solms. Most of the Hersay is snake oil.

-- Eric Laurence (Edgar1976@hotmail.com), May 27, 2001.


I have a very slight preference for the Wetzlar version because it has a metal rewind knob as opposed to plastic on the Solms version. The frame counter is metal too (which it is also on the Solms models up to about 1996). While I have never heard of anyone breaking a rewind knob on the later M6's, I just prefer metal parts in a camera over plastic. Totally illogical I know.

-- sam smith (ssmith@hotmail.com), May 28, 2001.

Cheers Sam. Straight answer to a straight question. Probably a non issue as mentioned earlier, but when ya gotta know what the fuss is about, ya gotta know.

Nothing logical about Leicas in general I believe...:) That said, I'll probably go for the cleanest of the 2. Of course if a chrome one turns up I'll pay a bit more....cause I want one that's chrome...see the logic? :)

Simon Wong

-- Simon Wong (drsimonwong@hotmail.com), May 28, 2001.

The earliest Wetzlar M6's did not have the strap rub strips nor the rubber eyepiece. The latter is retrofittable but expensive. The biggest advantage to the later M6's is the metering diodes. It is easier to set the exposure for half-stops, and also since the LEDs blink rather than failing to light if you're below the threshold for meter sensitivity you have a good warning if you've left the lenscap on, and also a way to tell if the battery is dead vs insufficient light. In any case, if you ever intend to get a second body, you'd want them to function identically, and there are a lot more later- version M6's around to choose from.


-- Jay (infinitydt@aol.com), May 28, 2001.

Thanks guys, especially you Jay. That's very useful for me to know. I wear glasses and that could make a big difference.

Well I took the plunge,well into the deep end...bought both Wetzlar and Solms to see for myself! No, got a 7 day return from the dealer to compare them and then decide which one to keep. The Wetzlar's US$947 and the Solms US$1087 shipping included and 30 day warranty with a 7 day return. Also a 90F2.8 Tele Elmarit for US$325, same deal.

I might be on a lucky streak here?! I'll keep you posted if anyone's interested.

Simon Wong

-- Simon Wong (drsimonwong@hotmail.com), May 29, 2001.


Please let us know which you eventually get? It appears you will need the wisdom of King Soloman to decide. Those are very good prices. Lot's less expensive than a girlfriend on the side, and much more returnable.

David Smith

-- David S Smith (dssmith3@rmci.net), May 29, 2001.

Hi all. Just opened the boxes this evening. Here's what I found regards Wetzlar vs Solms.

The Wetzlar has a nicer wind-on feel, especially when double stroking. A little smoother, a little more precise feeling. No other differences noted in regards to feel.

The meter light up is a little different, but it's swings and roundabouts here. Much of a muchness. I think you have finer control in halfstops with the Solms. One will adapt to either equally well.

I noticed the lens mounting is a little different and I think you cannot mount 50 summicron DR's on the Wetzlar. The inner mount cutout is different.

Rubber eyepiece rim, for us bespectacled brethren on the Solms model (yeah!).

Nice to have the topplate stampings on the Wetzlar, looks right.

No other real differences really. Eric's right in this regards.

Ok here's the BIG difference in my SPECIFIC Wetzlar camera. I don't know if this is a one off or generalised in the Wetzlars, but the factory finish in the black chrome is terrible. Paint bubbles all over the back door rim (I mean ALL OVER-looks like the backdoor's having chicken pox or something), and a fair bit of bubbling on the topplate. Also the leatherette is misaligned in spots. Almost all the blackpaint has come off the battery cover. Not noticable at arms length , but there none the less.

I'm suprised this got out of the factory, a quality control slipup?

The Solms is what you'd expect for finish. Normal wear and tear for a used camera. Just some paint thining. Incidentally hardly any signs of usage on the Wetzlar camera. Both appear operationally perfect.

Anyway I've got 7 days to play with them and decide which to return or sell on. I understand from a few readers I've got a good deal here? The dealer is in NSW, Australia and they are authorised Leica dealers. The the US$947 for the Wetzlar vs US$1087 for the Solms goes a little way in turning a blind eye to finish here ay?

On an aside, wondering if you all can help on another matter. The 90F2.8 TE they sent is extremely clean cosmetically but the glass looks weird.

The inner element has a thin but distinct hazing/etched rim. Runs all the way around. Is this the dreaded rear element problem Stephen Gandy talks about? Also the inner surface of the front element has a haze/fogged center patch. Quite a large area. Both only noticable when you shine a penlight through the lens.

A keeper as is, neededs/can be cleaned or send it back? Note, only cost US$375 and comes with Leica UVa.

Cheers. Simon Wong Melbourne, Australia

-- Simon Wong (drsimonwong@hotmail.com), May 30, 2001.

Hi everyone,

Decided to return the Wetzlar and the 90 TE. Looks like corrosion and seperation respectively.

Take back what I said about the factory finish!

More on the debate if you're not bored by this. When I fire the cameras the Wetzlar goes "tic" and the Solms goes (slightly louder) "toc". No, they do, I swear...:)

The wind on in the Wetzlar is definitely smoother and much better for double stroking. You wouldn't notice independently but this is the comparison right?

All things being equal I like the wind on in the Wetzlar better, but not the fact I will scratch the hell out of my glasses. If I didn't wear glasses I'd get the Wetzlar....but then I couldn't use a DR 'con....sigh.

The answer? Get the cheaper cleaner version you come across and don't waste your time on this matter....but do bear in mind the issue of metal eyepiece and use with DR'cons....:)

Cheers everyone.

-- Simon Wong (drsimonwong@hotmail.com), May 30, 2001.

I remember Pop took apart a Wetzlar M6 and a Solms M6, there were cut corners in the later, less brass, some screw for adjustment gone etc.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), May 31, 2001.

Simon, I wonder, if there is "Made in Germany" on the Wetzlar.

Of course, the Wetzlar M6 was made by Ernst Leitz Wetzlar, Germany which is entirely different company from Leica-Camera AG.

-- martin tai (martin.tai@capcanada.com), May 31, 2001.

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