Ross Evertson, Leica M6 Rangefinder – Item Number One
Item Number One profiles people by the thing they have owned the longest. If you were to put everything you own and use in the order you acquired it, what's Item Number One? We ask the same eight questions to every subject.
Name, Age, and Occupation?
Ross Evertson, 36, Artist & Freelance Creative Director.
What is the thing you have owned the longest?
A Leica M6 Classic.
How long have you had it?
Since 2002. Although there was a low moment when I traded her away. She flew back home after a year, though.
How did you come to possess it?
I found her, gently used, on the Leica/etc. message board Range Finder Forum. It was my first year in college, and I wanted to upgrade from whatever plastic fantastic prosumer Nikon I had back then. I remember catching a lot of flak from my fellow students about spending “so much money” on a 35mm (maybe 1100 bucks?) and now we all buy 3k+ digital bodies every couple years.
Have you made any customizations, modifications, or repairs?
She’s been warmed over a few times, but hasn’t needed any serious work. I’ve used a range of lenses with it over the years, from a 28mm Summicron Asph to a Minolta 90, but I currently have the V4 35mm Summicron and a current 50mm cron. As long as those keep working I probably won’t ever get another lens, these two are the right two.
When was the last time you used it?
This morning. The dog was being cute enough that I wanted to spend money documenting it.
Why have you kept it so long?
The form and function of an M6 (or rangefinders in general) has a very specific appeal and purpose. If you get it and/or it suits your needs, there is nothing else. I started making photographs when film was the only option, and when that’s the case you spend a lot of time getting to understand and trust your equipment. Eventually it adopts a kind of aura, when you instinctively understand what lens and film combination is going to give you what result.
For better or worse, Leica rangefinders are legendary. There is a loaded history and fetishization of these cameras, for good reason…reportage/journalism/documentary work. They’ve always been coveted for the way they feel and function. While I appreciate that aspect of its nature, over the years it’s become the most reliable, comforting image making tool I own. No matter what else is in the camera bag, there is always room for the M6 and couple lenses.
If you were offered a brand new version in exchange for your item, would you take it?
If only because I understand that these things don’t live forever, and at some point it might be hard to keep a (as of now) 30 year old body alive.