Leica M7 2002-2018: Discontinued, rest in peace
Sad news today. The M7 has been discontinued. Leica Rumors and Reddot Forum report that the Leica M7 has been discontinued. — and there has been no official confirmation from the factory, but then there seldom is in such instances — it will be missed. This will leave just two film camera’s in the Wetzlar line-up, the metered MP and the unmetered M-A.
The M7 represented the pinnacle of Leica’s film camera development — identical in capabilities to the digitals, including the M10 — and offering automatic aperture-priority shooting. Of all the film cameras I own, the M7 is the easiest to use.
For some reason, though, the M7 has never been a big success. It has a reputation (not entirely true, I feel) for eating batteries. But then batteries are small, cheap and easy to carry. The advantage of A-priority for a dedicated user far outweigh any perceived battery-life problems. And, even with flat batteries, the M7 has two mechanical speeds that can be used in an emergency.
I suppose the M7 was not selling in sufficient numbers to justify continued production. One of the problems for manufacturers of new film cameras is that older cameras can do just as good a job. You get a new sensor every time to load a film, so the differences come down to the mechanics and metering. It's easy, and much cheaper, to choose an M4 or an M6 and get the same shooting experience, not to mention the same results.
The good aspect is that the M7 is plentiful on the used market and is something of a bargain at around £1,200. It will be with us for years to come and, perversely, the discontinuation could spark renewed interest in current models.
In the past couple of years, Leica film camera interest has focused on the M6 Classic, which has steadily risen in price and is in demand because of many press and blog articles extolling its virtues as the the most sensible buying choice.
With its manual aperture and speed selection, aided by the light meter, it is seen as simpler and more foolproof than the M7. The MP, which has the same metering system and similar ergonomics to the M6 Classic, is always in demand and generally fetches around £2,000 on the used market. The new M-A, which has no light meter is something of an unknown quantity and it is difficult to put a price on second-hand versions. My personal inclination, if attracted to the M-A, would be to buy a used M4 instead. On the other hand, as a camera to buy and keep for 50 years, The M-A is likely to be a good investment.
If you have a lust for a competent film camera which can act in every respect as a second body to accompany an M240 or M10, then I would still recommend the M7. For starters, it is cheaper than the M6 and MP and gives those extra automatic features that make life a bit easier. Who knows, the M7 could now become another classic.
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