Basic Information on Leica M6G Special Edition for FOTO Ganz, Zurich - MIR Image Library

 



INTRODUCTION Honestly, I had little information on this Special Edition LEICA M6 model. The only information I can acquire previously was via a brief mention in an old reference book of mine, Leica Collectors Guide by Mr. Dennis Laney and couldn't visualize how the mentioned Leica M6G GOLD roundel looks like as well as in his lines that stated Serial Number engraved at the mid section of the film loading chart. I guess if we take it positively, one good thing about web medium is in its ability to provide supplementary information to such excellent reading references. I did managed to find some visual references on this least known early M6G edition and probably will serve its purpose here for creating this visual reference page here. But I have to alert surfers content in this section has quite a number of assumption made and they should NOT be used as ultimate reference in accuracy of content posted herein. Whatever it is, I guess we can make assumption - as long as it has the basis to support them. Further, as long as there are wild guess, eventually there will be answers by concerned parties and I will update and rectify them accordingly, rather than letting the web medium having an empty slot unfilled for years.

I used to have a misconception with the model designation of "G" in the LEICA M6G edition where originally I thought it was referred to FOTO
GANZ, Zurich, the Leica sole distributor in Switzerland who had initiated this series of special configured LEICA M6 for their private distribution network. Not quite. Although the camera has no external visual reference in quoting it as a M6G but it has encoding imprinted inside the camera body that can be rightfully and officially referred as a "M6G". The Leica M6G has three known models in the series which comprised of a chrome, black and Titanium finish model. In relation to total quantity issued for this special edition series, many references quoted as 100 units*.

* I have presented my own opinion with this figure at the end of this page).

Leica M6G, Foto Ganz spec Leica M6 rangefinder camera body
This coincides exactly with Dennis's original description in his book that relates. To take a look how it is like, after removing the base plate and inverse the camera body, we will usually find a typical white graphical illustration guide for inserting film roll in a any M6 body. However, you will find the usual schematic illustration in the Leica M6G has additional encoded data imprinted at the center of the graphic illustration. The model name, M6G was printed along with a very unique serial number system at this location. It appears in all the three known variants in the LEICA M6G series.

PLEASE NOTE: The model maintains the usual LEICA production S/N engraved at the accessory shoe section. For specific issued model number for any of the 3 M6G variations in chrome, black and Titan, you have to remove the base plate and seek from this location.
Close-up view of Leica M6G features, optical illustration engraved and brassy gold Leica roundel / logo
If you have been following development course of Leica M6 since 1984, you may find the there are a few very original attempt (or "First" for a LEICA M6 in this Swiss-spec Leica edition. Firstly, I guess it is quite safe to quote the M6G was the first in the M6-series that had started a popular trend with localized form request for a special edition series with a M6. Secondly (correct me if I am wrong here), M6G was probably the first LEICA M6 that had the official blessing from Leica AG to permit use an alternate color to the famous red roundel Leica logo on Leica-M series body. Thirdly, M6G has an unconventional location of its engraved serial number inside the body rather than at the usual position next to standard Leica production tracking S/N at the accessory shoe. Lastly, it was the first Leica M6 that has a cross section optical diaphragm illustration engraved on the body chassis where similar spec was only being replicated almost a decade later with the Leica M6 Platinum 150 Years Wetzlar Optisches Institute "Optik" Commemorative Edition model in 1999.

<<<--- LEICA M6G chrome with unusual color for the Leica roundel/logo with an additional engraving of a cross section diaphragm on the 4 elements 50m ELMAR, it is engraved at the top plate in simple black outlines.
The chrome and black body LEICA M6G has typical features in a basic M6 classic body chassis with a brassy gold colored Leica roundel/logo at the front, as well as a cross section optical design outlines engraved at the center location of the camera's top plate. The M6G Titan model uses Leica M6/T body chassis in a different ostrich skinned leatherette, replaced the red Leica logo with M6G roundel design and has an engraving of a different optical illustration at the top plate. The serial numbering for three M6G models has shown with further differences in their respective coding system used inside the camera body.See below for three illustrations:

The hidden Serial number with M6G encoding in Leica M6G chrome rangefinder camera The hidden Serial number with M6G encoding in Leica M6G black rangefinder camera
The hidden Serial number with M6G encoding in Leica M6G Titan rangefinder camera
Encoded Serial Numbers in three different presentation in the LEICA M6 Chrome, Black and Titan versions:-

For earliest
* LEICA M6G models which has chrome finishing, the S/N starts with M6G xxx-xxx (top left photo). Followed up models with black finishing has M6G placed after the 6 digits serial numbers i.e. xxx-xxx M6G (top photo); in relation to the LEICA M6G Titanium Finishing introduced in 1992, the encoding has changed to a different arrangement as xxx-xxx M6 G TITAN and added with another 4-digits code xx/xx just below the TITAN. More of less, you probably can use these as a form of basic guide to determine among the few variations in the M6G series.

* NOTE: I am not entirely sure if the chrome & black LEICA M6G were introduced at the same time OR introduced a year later in 1991 (for the black finishing M6G) - which made the differences in the placement of M6G/S/N and font size in the photos as shown above but S/N has provided a clue to these.

As I said earlier, I wasn't too sure if the chrome and black LEICA M6G were simultaneously released at the same time but according to auction literature, they were being quoted as 1990 (chrome) and 1991 (black) and thus I am using these as a rough guide. All the three variations of chrome, black and Titan body here were not shown with a lens attached and no way I can be certain if the M6G was or has been supplied with a matching lens of the illustrated ELMAR lens.

Leica M6G black rangefinder camera front view and appearance Sectional view of top plate with unique M6G features in Leica M6G black rangefinder camera front view and appearance
Probably a more accurate rendering of the color of the roundel - it looks brassy isn't it ? The engraved optical diaphragm is grayish white on black body for this M6G.

To be honest, there are a couple of questions that I have to rely on some of the Leica Guru out there to furnish these info:

Optical design cross section diaphragm of typical LEICA Elmar 50mm lens

Link to LEICA M6 Platinum Optik sectionFeatured in Leica M6 Platinum 150 Years Wetzlar Optisches Institute "Optik" Commemorative Edition model in 1999

Some reading references had quoted the cross section optical design engraved on the M6G was referred as an ELMAR 1:2.8/50mm but when you look closely to the space in between it looks to me it is leaning more to the old classic ELMAR 1:3.5/50mm lens. I do know both were having almost identical optical construction (triplet formation, 4 elements with the rear two cementing). The air space for the 1:3.5 is more closely resembles the diaphragm 1:2.8 Elmar which has a tighter air space at the last three optical elements. The M6 Platinum 150 jahre Wetzlar Optisches Institute "Optik" Commemorative Edition in honoring few of the greatest Leitz optic includes an ELMAR 50/2.8 as shown.
 
Leitz ELMAX 1:3.5/50mm A nickel version of ELMAR 1:3.5/50mm lens Leica ELMAR 50mm f/3.5 screw mount red scales model Luftwaffen-Eigentum Leitz ELMAR 5cm f/3.5 model Elmar LSM/LTM 1:2.8/50mm lens model
<<<--- Various Leitz/Leica 50mm f/3.5 ELMAR lenses from early Leitz ELMAX, Nickel, Red scales, Luftwaffen-Eigentum Leitz ELMAR 5cm f/3.5 model as well as two collapsible 1:2.8/50mm ELMAR in LSM and a M-bayonet 6-bit version.

LEICA ELMAR-M 50mm /2.8 6 bit model in black
WHY an Elmar optical diaphragm being engraved on the M6G ? Basically, you have to go and refer back to 1924's Leitz Elmax 1:3.5 f=50mm (can be considered as an improved version from the original Leitz which forms the basis of the later Elmar optical design. The LSM version of the ELMAR lens was sold from 1924~1959 and the ELMAR-M was marketed for the M-bayonet Leica from 1654~1961. Dennis Laney's Leica Collector Guide quoted these " Leica lens of all time by far with the highest production figures totaling 365,852 units.... The Elmar 1:2.8/50mm has had been re-computed and incorporating new Lanthanum glass to enable faster lens speed of 1:2.8 in almost similar 4 elements classic Elmar design.. total production approx. 38757 units (M-mount) and approx. 27357 units in screw mount ....". In terms of sales figures, the slower speed 1:3.5 Elmar out performs the 1:2.8 version but due to use of rare earth glass, the 50/2.8 has better review than the predecessor it replaces. Overall, acknowledgeable both are categorized under the same lens breed and conclusively, both are ELMAR 50mm.

"
.. Elmar 4 elem. design, it has to be considered that it was born as a variant of the original Leitz Anastigmat (the first lens mounted on the Leica 1... dream of collectors), then renamed Elmax : this was an original Leitz design (Max Berek) with FIVE elements, the last being a triplet; then, the last group was redesigned, stretched to two elements, and entered THE ELMAR ... the final 4 elements design (1926), albeit conceived as a variant of the original five-elem. resulted anyway very similar to the well known Zeiss Tessar (which was, by its part, used in other gear made at Leitz factory at that times) and Leitz waited for 1927 (expiry of the Tessar design patent) to apply a patent for the Elmar...". Luigi B. <http://www.l-camera-forum.com>
 
LEICA M6G Titan In 1992, Leica AG has unveiled a regular production LEICA M6 with a very distinctive Titanium body finishing. Some references had quoted M6G Titan was introduced in 1991. I would not agree with this remark simply based on the fact LEICA M6G Titan shares identical features and uses the body chassis / finishing of LEICA M6/T. It couldn't be released prior to official debut of M6/T. Anyway, this is not an important issue as it only relates to different opinion in the release date(s). BUT I do have a big headache here and wondering anyone can help to resolve this:-

Unverified and mysterious optical design illustration of a Leica lens on LEICA M6G
The LEICA M6G TITAN was the last model in the M6G series. It shares many basic features of regular chrome/black M6G models EXCEPT for a) a Titanium plated body finishing; b) The leather work on the M6G Titan also shares customary Ostrich/EMU leatherette as used on the M6/T. c) The engraving at the top plate in usual cross section of optical design has shown a 3-elements diaphragm which I can't provide an answer what lens it was referring (see illustration at the left).
   
The usual engraving on the chrome and black M6G is a 1:1:2 4-elements ELMAR. The illustration on the M6G TITAN also looked like an ELMAR but the rear two optical element cemented together as one which makes it showing a 1:1:1. formation. 3-elements ELMAR ? It couldn't be an ELMAR 1:4/90mm which has 3-elements design as the front element of the 90/4 is a big spherical optical piece while the rear element should be in convex-shape. Dennis Laney's Leica Collectors Guide page 158, he has briefly mentioned "..the rigid companion (ELMAR 90mm f/4.0) of the Collapsible ELMAR-M had been replaced by the 3 elements design.." but the optical illustration printed along in the book has no whatever similarity with the diaphragm as engraved on the M6G TITAN. So, can anyone help to provide a clarification here ? The two photos of the LEICA M6G TITAN below provides a closer view of the mysterious optical design of the unquoted optic. I guess any of the LEICA M6G Titan documentation would provide a firm answer to this, if you have one of the M6G Titan, can you check and inform me the detail and I will update the info accordingly.

Leica M6G Titan rangefinder camera front view and appearance Leica M6G Titanium Finish rangefinder camera with typical camera features and illustrations
The Leica roundel has this .. hard to identify metal color nature. It definitely doesn't looks Gold plated to me. The cross section optical diaphragm engraved has shown an unidentified 3 elements lens breed.

Another issue that relates to this early Swiss distributor configured LEICA M6G variant that also needs further clarification is:-

I read references which quotes "..only a total of 100 cameras were produced in black, chrome, titanium...". On the other hand, sequential year of release for the three M6G models was quoted as being released in 1990 (chrome), 1991 (Black) and 1992 (Titan). I would believe chrome and black M6G were either released simultaneously or one-after-another in 1990 (or may be extended to early 1991). My basis of this assumption was firstly, based on economical of scales in making such a request for a special edition. If the combined quantity among the 3-variants was only exacting number of 100 units; which means to say each variation would be spliced in theoretical 33 units in equal proportion but we all know that is not the usual case in real life scenario. It could be in 40:40:20 or 35:35:30 etc. That was if assuming the M6G/T was introduced at the same time as well as sharing the same features with the M6G chrome/black, then - such possibility may exist. But this was not the case with the M6G/T which bears a different illustration engraved on the top plate and this may require to be produced in separate batch in production and/or assembling. Come to think of it, I wouldn't know how much would it cost to produce a shipment of 20-30 units in a special request of a M6G/T variation model but definitely it is not very economical to call for another batch of production where the quantity of oder may rise in order to offset initial setup cost.

Actually, if you are observant enough to read the various serial codes marked on the LEICA M6/T above, it has S/N 191140x which is quite a distance away from Leica production S/Ns as compare to the Chrome/Black Leica M6G whcih bear S/N 1780xxx & 1794xxx respectively. So, REGARDLESS what was the total quantity being produced, both couldn't be produced at the same production batch or even during the same period of time. In fact, earlier I have mentioned chrome and black M6G could had been produced one series and followed by another, the S/N for the chrome/black M6G partly reflects my claim as well. So - a more logical conclusion could be: if assuming 100 units is correct, it should be split between the chrome & black i.e. 50 units each. It could also be 100 units each for chrome and black version. While the LEICA M6G/T has an undefined quantity (I hope the last xx/20 was not referring to actual quantity of 20 units.. dead). Actually, it sounds very stupid to make assumption and wild guess in a page because
all these unanswered issues can simply be handle by a seasoned LEICA collector, LEICA AG and/or FOTO GANZ officials within a minute. The only problem is, so far there is no one bother to provide an acceptable answer(s) to my request for assistance. Until then, this site can only put up these series of questions awaiting for some conclusive answer(s) to update the content in this section.

Anyway, for those who may be curious to find out HOW MUCH does any of these LEICA M6G may cost today; here are a few references to that questions where I extracted from series of online auctions:

Leica M6G Black, 1990 Codes: 034-02x M6G w/S/N 179448x; Start Price:- ¤ 1,600; Hammer Price:- ¤ 2,000-00 (Units in EURO)
Leica M6G Chrome, 1991 Codes: M6 G 032-02x w/S/N 178077x; ; Start Price:- ¤ 1,600; Hammer Price:- ¤ 2,250-00
Leica M6G TITAN, 1992 Codes: 040-028 M6 G TITAN 20/20 w/S/N 1911405x; ; Start Price:- ¤ 1,900; Hammer Price:- ¤ 2,375-00


* NOTE;- Indicative price(s) herein is/are based original prices published on previous auction literature/references. Prices may vary according to varible factors such as conditions, gradual yearly premium, supply/demand equations, and/or other renewed valuation methods.

Main Index Page - Leica M6-series models / Main Index Page - Leica-M Rangefinder camera Models

Nomenclature / Main Reference Map for Leica M6 Standard Model(s) applicable to this M6G Edition | Others:- Leica M6 TTL Model(s)
Instruction Manuals:-
Leica M6 Classic in PDF (3.8mb) applicable to this M6G by Niels H. S. Nielsen; Others:- Leica M6 TTL 3.6 Mb PDF) by Joe Chan

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Credit: Images of LEICA M6G courtesy of Mr. Peter Coeln from LEICA Shop®, Austria who also operates a popular Westlicht Auction House. Image Copyright © 2008. All rights reserved. Please respect the visual property of the contributing photographer.