In 2002 Leica introduced the M7 and either took a small step into the modern age or lost the faith and profaned all that was sacred about the M-mount camera.
If you are like me and not a fully indoctrinated Leica expert, the debate about the M7 may seem like a lots of emotion over not much deviation from the standard. But the M7 seems to spark the kind of debate normally reserved for the M5 that dared change the size and shape of the M. The M7 remains with the form of the M6 but takes the M6TTL to the next step and adds an Auto shutter option. This lets you shot in aperture priority but also means that the shutter is now electronic and thus battery dependent. Technically the shutter remains mechanical but the control is electronic. The upside is more precise control of the speed. The down side is battery dependence. Without a battery the shutter will still work at both 1/60th and 1/25th but that is not the kind of control you buy a Leica to have. Auto lets you worry about focus and aperture (depth of field and all that) and let the camera figure out the speed. Another upside is that the shutter dial now turns with out stop, assume that is due to the electronic vs mechanical control. And for what ever reason the speeds are arranged in reverse order to all previous Ms (except M6TTL).
There are downsides. A dead battery means no Auto and limited speed control. Not completely dead like most modern cameras but also not the function you may want. There is also the argument that electronics are not as durable as mechanical. There are an impressive number of M3 cameras from the 1950s and 1960s still in use and still reparable. Adding electronics only makes that harder. The Leica CL is a small M-mount that are great if they work but almost impossible to find a repair shop that has the electronic parts for replacement. Also a reported issues that the DX reader (another step into modernization) seemed to fail and need to be fixed or just set manual the way Leica purists wanted to do it in the first place. And if being battery dependent was not enough, there are reports of the battery door/cap popping off. Talk about adding insult to injury.
I liked having the Auto shutter speed. I used this more for general use but would like to shoot it and really play with the aperture priority. Do I have to have it? No, but it was nice. Did I worry about the battery? No, but I would not take it into the backwoods without a spare. I love having a meter in the M, but I could get that with a M5, M6 or the new MP. Would I recommend the M7? If you need/want the Auto speed, then yes. If you don't care about the Auto option but want a meter, get an M6 or M5 (but lets not start that debate here) or if you married well an MP. If you want rock solid mechanical durability get an M3, M2 or M4. Do I want to shoot the M7 again, you bet I do.
This M7 with the Leica logo on top place would indicate that this was originally sold in Japan. It also has a black Leica dot vs red a custom or after market option. I like the black dot just a bit more understated. Of course, would be more subtle with out top plate logo and M7 engraved on the front.
Lens: Leica Summicron-M f2 50mm
Film: Ilford HP5 400