Having a hard time understanding the Leica Mystique - aka Astronomical Prices

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by lilmsmaggie, Dec 27, 2010.

  1. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    I recently came across a M4-P 70th Anniversary 1913-1918, body only. No box, no instruction manual. I have to admit, a very nice camera. But the price!! :eek: Clearly, the price tag had collectors in mind. The same week, I came across an eBay listing for a plain-jane M4. Nice camera, except the leather on the back near the film indicator had worn through. Price: $1800 for a 40-year old camera!


    IMHO, collectors are making a mess of the used camera market. Especially when it comes to Leica's. I guess I just don't understand. Wouldn't a Zeiss Ikon ZI fit the bill just as much as a M3 or M4? Does it have to be a Leica, and do you have to give up an arm and a leg, mortgage the farm and relinquish your 1st born to pay for it?
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    When you've used one you'll understand why :D

    The Ikon will wear out it's only a Cosina after all, the Leica won't :smile:

    Ian
     
  3. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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  4. Chazzy

    Chazzy Member

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    I don't understand it either. After all, it's only miniature format. :smile:
     
  5. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    I fall into the category 'If you has to ask, you ain't never gonna understand'. And at those prices, I ain't never gonna understand.

    Oh, Satchmo quote for those interested.
     
  6. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

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    The mystique can be seductive and I'd urge anyone to try before they buy. I bought on the basis of the mystique ('everyone speaks so highly of these cameras') and sold it back on within a year. Didn't do anything for me.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I bought before I tried and haven't regretted it, although I shoot hardly any 35mm these days but I've had a lot of use out of my M3. I paid reasonable prices for body, lens, meter etc. Official Leica dealers are often better than private sales especially if you want a user not a collectors camera. :D

    Best to read Roger Hicks & his wife on Leica's.

    Ian
     
  8. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Member

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    Those prices have nothing to do with the Leica mystique or whatever. They're rare items sought by collectors, not users. An M4-P in Ex+ condition typically goes for $800-$900 for the regular non-anniversary version. The original MP is very rare and is purely a collectible. To me as a user, the best used Leica to get is an M6 (regular non-collectible special-edition version), which is about $1200 for one in near-new condition. I have two of them. They're new enough not to be wore out and have built in meters, but they're not the current MP, which is almost $5000 new and $2500+ used.
     
  9. apconan

    apconan Member

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    No actually, it is very easy to understand. Here is a 3-step guide that for everyone!

    1. People accumulate money. Often this excess of money comes in retirement.
    2. They buy the most (recognizably) expensive camera they can. Leica.
    3. Now they justify the 200%+ premium over other camera brands by posting endlessly about the 'mystique' and how awesome Leicas are. Meanwhile, their photos are still sub-par. The more they spent on the camera, the more time they spend online talking about their cameras, and the less time they spend shooting or in the darkroom.
     
  10. Brian Legge

    Brian Legge Member

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    I've been pretty happy with a IIIc and FSU glass. Cost about $250 in total once other bits were sold off. These cameras make nice users. Smaller, quieter and cheaper than an R3A. That is a sweet camera too though.
     
  11. domaz

    domaz Member

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    If you want to see something interesting go to KEH and use there quote machine to "sell" Leica cameras to them. The price->condition curve is like no other camera out there. A bargain grade Lecia is almost worthless while a Ex+ one is through the roof.
     
  12. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I came across a pristine original black paint M3 with black Summilux 50/1.4 (and cap) and box. Clearly meant for the collector, it was priced at a nice $42,000 :pouty:

    I found that looking long and hard enough, there are affordable Leicas out there. I compromise on condition, and therefore am able to get some pretty good deals. There's also screwmount, which can be pretty cheap and is very, very much usable (in fact I like screwmount better than M :wink: )
     
  13. eddym

    eddym Member

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    It depends on whether one is a collector or a user; and Leicas are bought by both. I fall into the latter category. My M4-2 and M3 were not particularly expensive, as I bought them used at a good price. I bought the M6 new, and yes, it was a bit of a splurge, but no more than a comparable Nikon or Canon pro level camera would have been.
    I did not buy Leicas for the "mystique" of the brand; I bought it because it was the ideal tool for the work I do, which is dance and theater photography. It it silent and unobtrusive, and lasts forever. I consider them excellent investments. I can't afford, nor am I interested in owning, "mystique."
     
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  15. lilmsmaggie

    lilmsmaggie Member

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    Maybe I should have used "reverence" instead of mystique. But it could be construed to be one in the same depending on how much price tag shock & awe one can tolerate versus "its the tool to do the job I need it to do and the price is right."

    I suppose it comes down to: Do you NEED a Timex, or a Rolex.

    The Timex will do the job but not like that Rolex. :laugh:

    I can still see those John Cameron Swayze tv commecials now: "It takes a licking and keeps on ticking"
     
  16. elekm

    elekm Member

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    Photography is composed of a number of niche markets: digital, SLR, Holga, large format, medium format, rangefinder, Japanese cameras, German cameras, junky cameras, expensive cameras.

    I think that Leica occupies that niche that attracts different people for different reasons. Some feel that Leica continues to hew to a very traditional approach to photography while offering the best quality that money can buy when it comes to bodies and lenses.

    Others buy Leica purely as collectibles with no intent to ever use them.

    Some buy because they're curious about the brand and have the money to do it. Some buy because it's cool or it will make them look hip or serious.

    Some buy Leica as status symbols for the same reason that some people buy full-frame SLRs.

    Some buy because of the brand's durability and perhaps because their parent, relative or best friend owned and used one. Some use a Leica because they believe it's better made than something coming off of a mass-production line in China.

    And some or many buy a Leica in the belief that they will become a better photographer.

    I don't think it's possible to put all Leica users in the same bucket.

    And Leica knows this as well, because in addition to the standard model, they've also produced a number of limited-edition collector's models.

    And even though I no longer own a Leica M, a Leica can be a one-time purchase and will last a lifetime -- several lifetimes.
     
  17. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    especially in that display cabinet :laugh:

    i admit, my M does slip into my pocket occasionaly--when i need a disposable box that won't betray me as a serious photog, when i can well live without that "shot of a lifetime", when i may end up shooting (e. leitz forbid) into the sun... have i managed to nail down all three--silly looks, poor reliability, flimsy architecture?

    :cool:

    garçon, une autre bouteille!
     
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  18. phaedrus

    phaedrus Member

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    Like Chris Crawford and Eddy McDonald said: Do you want a Leica to use or to collect? In the second case, you'd appreciate these astronomical prices as they show a market holding and increasing in valuation.
    In the first case, get a M6, M7, (new) MP or even a Voigtländer or Zeiss Ikon (they're fine, initially, perhaps won't last as long) and spend that kind of money on Leica lenses. That is where the quality really is and that is Leica's justification for any kind of mystique.
    Mind you, Leica knows it is producing lenses on a level above everyone else (with the exeption of Zeiss Cine lenses, perhaps) and these days asks astronomical prices for them, too. But there are the Summarits and the used market.
     
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  19. elekm

    elekm Member

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    The Zeiss Ikon has now been on the market since 2005, and its track record is good in terms of mechanical reliability and durability, although five years certainly doesn't compare with decades for the Leica.

    However, I don't think that you can say that it's more or less reliable or durable than a Leica at this time until we hit the 10-year mark and see how many of them are still in service and whether we begin to see widespread problems with the shutter, the rangefinder system or the electronics.
     
  20. Vilk

    Vilk Member

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    which reminds me--hasn't cosina's whole business idea consist of peddling the same old copal click-clack for decades? i googled it briefly, but didn't find anything conclusive. if so, we'd have way more than 5 years of track record by now
     
  21. CGW

    CGW Member

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  22. thedancefloor

    thedancefloor Member

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    I picked up a near mint M6 non ttl in Feb 2008 for $1100 US from a Leica dealer. I love the thing. I think it's worth it. It's incredibly easy to use. And the lenses make photos that look magical. No joke.

    Maybe it's because the Leica was only company that cared to engineer a great rangefinder (and RF is the proper 35mm camera design IMHO). I like that the m6 is fully mechanical.
     
  23. jacarape

    jacarape Member

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    Some of the best lenses ever made, a camera that you can have Leica make to your specs, a history that reaches to the beginning of 35mm film, what is had to understand?
     
  24. Zathras

    Zathras Subscriber

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    That sounds like the average gasbag dweeb on RFF to me!!! I have an old Leica IIIf and a couple of lenses, nice gear, but I prefer to use my Minoltas most of the time as they they're a better fit for the way I work.
     
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  25. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    It is pretty simple. A Leica is (still) well made, simple to use, reliable and a design icon. As noted above, leaving aside collectors' items, an M6 body in terrific condition can be had for around $1000. Millions of people blow many times that amount every year on any number of transient pleasures - cigarettes, booze, cable TV, holidays, fuel for their overpowered and oversized cars, truckloads of plastic crap from Walmart, etc, etc. In that context, a Leica is not really unaffordable. It is just more expensive than many other cameras. If you view cameras as simple commodities, like tins of beans, or as no more than tools, like hammers, then you may not want to spend the cash. However, if you get some additional pleasure out of using a very nice piece of machinery, then you might decide that it is money well spent.

    Ian
     
  26. thedancefloor

    thedancefloor Member

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