Why Buy a Leica?

Discussion in 'Rangefinder Forum' started by temujin, Sep 14, 2007.

  1. temujin

    temujin Member

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    hi all, after shooting with slr's for a while, i became commited to rangefinder cameras- first in medium format, and now in 35mm. my main camera now is a voigtlander R3A. i have been very satisfied with this camera and the CV lenses. for many years, i have wanted to own a leica camera, but i have began to wonder recently- why? yes, some of my favorite photographers shoot with leicas, but is the great expense of these cameras worth it?

    i understand the reason for buying the leica lenses, they are top notch optics from all accounts. if i could afford them, i would maybe buy them, but the CV lenses get the job done for me. as a working class person who does fine art photography in his spare time, paying over $3000 for a wide-angle lens is out of the question for me. but i understand the superiority of leica optics.

    however, i would have difficulty in justifying buying a leica body, even if i had the money. after all, a camera body is merely a light-tight box. yes, a leica body is more well built than a voigtlander and will easily outlive it. but for the price of a M7 body, i can buy 6 CV R3A bodies! if my R3A craps out, it can be cheaply replaced.

    i am certainly not saying that leicas are not great cameras, i am just questioning why one should pay such exorbitant prices for a leica body when cheaper camera models will do the same job. and the leica folks think that just by placing the little "leica" logo on an item, they have justification to ridiculously overprice those items. you can get a leica camera case, a leica strap, and innumerable other little items at twice or three times the cost of similar items without the leica name. and some of leica's digital cameras are merely rebadged panasonics with a big price markup. it seems to me that, in many cases, a leica is merely a status symbol. yes, a good camera, but a status symbol nonetheless.
     
  2. eddym

    eddym Member

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    How much longer do you plan to live?
    I bought my 1957 M3 for $200 in 1989. So far it has cost me $11 a year to own it. I'm 56 now; given the median life expectancy of the US, I have another 21 years or so. I expect the M3 to be part of my estate... and still working.
    I have no difficulty justifying that investment.
    It certainly makes my investment in a Nikon D200 look profligate! :smile:
     
  3. 25asa

    25asa Member

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    You buy the Leica because you like it.
    Forget the fact that it is a weeny 35mm camera.
    Throw reason out the window.
    This is a Leica!
    Do you need it? No!
    Quit rationalizing it.
    You like it.
    You want it.
    Buy it!

    Ownership is the reward!
     
  4. temujin

    temujin Member

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    well, i wish i had the kind of money to live by that philosophy!
     
  5. Craig

    Craig Subscriber

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    I've shot with both Leica and Bessa, and I prefered the viewfinder of the Bessa. I thought it was brighter and easier to focus with. No question the fit and finish of the Leica is of higher quality, but I don't think that its as many times better as the price differential would indicate.

    If you have an appreciation for fine machinery and can afford it, buy the Leica. If you just want to take pictures, buy the Bessa. It's kind of like buying a Jaguar over a Chevy. Both will take you to the grocery store, but the Jaguar is a much nicer car to drive.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2007
  6. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    I love my G2, but i'm beginning to see that there will be serviceablility issues with it in the not-so-distant future. I don't know much about Leica RF's, but I would guess that repair and replacement of parts will not be an issue for some time to come. That is why those cameras appeal to me.
     
  7. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    The Leica rangefinder is the extremely rare confluence of the mechanical, optical, ergonometric and aesthetic. The Leica rangefinder is the only camera with a soul. If you don't understand that, then don't buy one.

    Take care,
    Tom

    P.S. Unlike the Bessa, they are also made by little elves in the Black Forest.
     
  8. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Ergonomics mostly. The shape of the camera has a natural grip fit that suites many photographers. Getting use to rangefinder focus is a different matter. If you are a long time SLR user, it can take a bit getting use to rangefinders. I would suggest buying a cheap (low cost) fixed lens rangefinder camera first, just to try it out. Then if you do okay with a cheap rangefinder, you are likely to be amazed at the jump in functionality and focusing going to a Leica M camera.

    One advantage is continuous viewing of your subject while depressing the shutter release. Another is that with many of the lenses, you get a field of view wider than the lens captures, meaning you can see objects at the frame edges, and compose with those in mind.

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
    A G Studio
     
  9. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Of course it's heresy, but I'll be willing to bet... you couldn't tell the difference between an image made with a CV lens and a Leica lens. 99.3% of all photographers can't shoot anywhere near the capabilities of their lens. But, blindfold you and you could tell the difference between a R3A and a M7. One will fit you like a glove, even if you've never handled one, the other is a camera.

    Which scenario is going to have a positive influence on your photography? A long time ago, I went from a Minolta X-crappo to a FM2. Unreal the difference in my photography. I did it because the Rokkor lens were not up to snuff, but the main difference was how much more natural a Nikon camera felt in my hands, and I was shooting 20 to 30 rolls a week.

    Save up, sell the Voightlander, get yerself that M7 you have been dreaming of.

    tim in san jose
     
  10. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Buy used.

    You don't need an M7. Put your money in lenses.

    My 2 M6 ttl bodies work just fine.
     
  11. dslater

    dslater Member

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    One good reason to buy a Leica is that Leica rangefinders have a longer baseline than your Bessa. This allows you to accurately focus longer/faster lenses.
     
  12. fotch

    fotch Member

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  13. dslater

    dslater Member

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    Oh please... - Do you really think Leica's are the only reliable cameras made?
     
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  15. jbj

    jbj Member

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    The lenses. Especially the Noctilux f1.0 and a few of the others look really nice...if only I had 4K - 10K in pocket change and enough for a Bessa body to use it with....
     
  16. Rolleiflexible

    Rolleiflexible Member

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    I am sure you misspoke. You
    really meant to say that a
    Rolleiflex is the only camera
    with a soul. Didn't you?
     
  17. Marc Akemann

    Marc Akemann Subscriber

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    Tom, I liked your reply best, particularly the "P.S." part. :smile:

    temujin, perhaps consider simply purchasing an M-something with a lens or two and if you like the experience keep it and be one with it. If you don't like it or think Leica is not worth it, you can always sell and get your money back.

    Marc

    P.S. If you buy & then sell a Leica, do expect a visit from one of those aforementioned elves.
     
  18. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Did you read question, asked about Lecia. :tongue:
     
  19. Videbaek

    Videbaek Member

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    The Leica is a camera that grows on you, gains ever greater sentimental value. I haven't inherited it yet, because my father hasn't given it to me, but I have a Leica M3 that my dad bought new in Copenhagen in 1956. It's travelled with him thereafter, wherever he went. About 5 years ago, his eyesight started failing badly. He is not a self-pitying person, but one day he took his Leica out and said sadly "I can't use it anymore, I can't see enough". I had never been interested in photography up to that point, but somehow on a whim I asked him whether I could borrow it, try it out, put it to some use. He agreed, a little reluctantly. I've had it ever since (it's not mine though!) and it's opened the door into my visual imagination. I'm very grateful to the camera, and to my dad. I treasure that camera, and shall look after it with tender loving care so that I can give it to my own son or daughter when the time comes. I hope film is still made then. If not, they'll have to make their own. So you see, I love my dad's old Leica -- of course, if it had been a Nikon or a Canon or a Bessa, I would have loved that. As if, when it came to buying a camera, my dad would have bought anything other than a Leica!
     
  20. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    It's a bit like religion. If you have to ask, you won't understand.

    Nor are the accessories especially expensive. I use Artisan and Artist straps on my Leicas, because I prefer them to Leica's straps. They are, I believe, even more expensive. That's what it costs to buy the best. And if you think Leicas are expensive, check out Alpa's prices: www.alpa.ch.

    Can you see a difference between Leica and Voigtländer lenses? As someone else said, very rarely, though some lenses do seem to deliver 'magic' pictures more than others, the 75/2 Summicron among them.

    I'll second the point about the camera being more than a light-tight box, though: it has to be a light-tight box that you enjoy using. I use Leica, Voigtländer and Zeiss lenses on mine. My favourite lines are 35/1.4 Summilux (pre-aspheric -- the 35/1.7 Voigtländer delivers better results, but isn't as sweet to use), 50/1.5 Sonnar (the current one, objectively far inferior to a Summicron but I prefer the look it gives) and 75/2 Summicron aspheric, which is just pure magic. If I could afford one, I'd buy the new 16-18-21 Tri-Elmar too, not so much for myself but for my wife who fell in love with it.

    I started using screw Leicas in about 1969-70; I still have the first I bought, a 1936 IIIa that cost me thirty quid, but it's pretty much worn out. I started using Ms in about 1974. I've had two new ones in that time (M4-P and MP) and I also have two old ones, both M2. Amortised across the last third of a century, with maybe another 20 years to go (who knows?) I reckon I've had more value for money out of Leicas than out of most things I've ever bought.
     
  21. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    See!

    That's the difference. My Old Man bought an Argus C-4.

    Genes.

    tim in san jose (proud owner of an Argus C-4.)
     
  22. walter23

    walter23 Member

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    Leica is better because the diaphragm is close to the front of the lens. What the hell is with that anyway?

    My dad's got a couple of 50's-era M-series Leicas. They are solid and heavy and work really well. But they're just 35mm cameras. You'd have to look pretty hard to see the difference between output from a Leica and any other camera with a well made modern lens. If optics is your primary concern, get a medium format rangefinder and the format difference alone will already kick Leica's sorry butt (except maybe if you're shooting some coveted rare stock of leftover techpan or something really fine grain, in which case the Leica might come close).

    For half the price of a Leica you can have top notch Canon L glass and a used 35mm SLR body to go with it. Or any of a number of great medium format cameras. I think even the excellent Mamiya 6 & 7 rangefinders are cheaper than Leica schlag.

    Historically they were excellent cameras. Now it's a sentimentalism & branding thing; like collecting old jaguars or something, but not quite as expensive. And they don't need continual repair like classic cars.

    I sure do love that metal and leather smell when dad pulls out his old Leicas though.
     
  23. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Um... They still are. You are quite right that if you don't mind big, heavy cameras that have to be reloaded every 8 to 15 frames, and where f/2.8 is a fast lens, you'll get better quality from rollfilm. But if you want small, fast-handling cameras with a good range of fast lenses, to borrow your own imagery, Leicas will kick any MF camera's sorry butt.

    Most people who use RF cameras (regardless of brand) also find that they can hand-hold them for one shutter speed longer than reflexes, quite apart from the fact that reflex camera bodies are bigger than RFs and most reflex lenses are huge next to most RF lenses.

    You prefer MF cameras and reflexes. That's fine. I also have MF cameras and reflexes. But I just prefer using Leicas, which is why I get most of my good pictures with Leicas. If I preferred using (say) 5x7 I'd get most of my good pics with a 5x7 camera. The OP was clearly already hooked on RF, and was asking about Leicas, not MF cameras or SLRs.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2007
  24. Philippe-Georges

    Philippe-Georges Member

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    "...A rose is a rose is a rose..."

    Dixit Gertude Stein

    P.S. "... A Leica is .......
     
  25. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    This explains why I feel compelled to buy a new Leica, whenever I sold off the old stuff, usually to finance the purchase of something else. I get a visit from two elves, Vinny and Lefty last time, who tell me I better do the right thing and buy a new Leica, otherwise my car might explode next time I start it.

    P.P.S. The black paint Leicas work best.
     
  26. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    What's a Rollei? :smile: