The Leica Appeal

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” No batteries, no circuitry or electrical elements, no motor – just impeccably tuned mechanical parts, working harmoniously to produce a controlled result. This description could fit a number of objects: bicycles, musical instruments and traditional watches spring to mind. Cameras, however, do not.

Since the 1980s, the consumer photography industry has been obsessed with electronic features. Digital cameras, obviously electrical, dominate the market today, but even in the latter days of film, motor winders, autofocus, electronic zooms and automatic exposure were aggressively marketed as tools to make photography ‘easier’. This obscured the fact that, at its heart, photography is a mechanical process. All that is required to take a picture is a light-sensitive material (either film or a digital sensor) and a shutter to allow light to hit that material

…..So what is the modern appeal of Leica cameras? In this world of plastic digital models, reliant on technology that becomes outdated every few years, Leicas offer something different: an antidote to gear-focused consumerism that distracts from the artistic process. The Leica M3, which many still regard as the pinnacle of the company’s efforts, features just two controllable elements: the aperture of the lens (i.e. how much light it lets in) and the shutter speed (i.e. how long it allows light in). This means there’s nothing in the way of the photographer and their creative vision – nothing to go wrong, once experience takes human error out of the equation….”

-Temoor Iqbal, writing in European CEO Magazine

3 thoughts on “The Leica Appeal

  1. Andrew

    They (Leica) kind of cheated in the ad copy. “Paralax-corrected bright line framing with 35, 50, 90 and 135mm lenses” required using goggled lenses as that M3 had no 35mm frame line.

  2. Leon

    I use my Leica M-A and my Focomat 1C.

    It’s all I’ll ever need and I can’t think of anything better.

    No digital for me.

  3. Rob Campbell

    I suppose it’s an example of accentuating a positive whilst ignoring the negative within a sytem.

    There was nothing wrong with motor drives or winders; I had them both for my Nikons, and they were invaluable for model work on film. Until my eyesight went AWOL I was a staunch manual focus person too; now, without af I’d have had to pack it all in or create a new romantic genre of unsharp…

    FWIW, were Leica to introduce af into the M series, it might just be the best thing they ever did.

    Ironically, I accepted an af 2.8/180 Nikkor in place of a 2.8/24-70 zoom Nikkor which was terrible. (I never bought another zoom.) The dealer wouldn’t give money back, and in fact, here in Spain the af 180 was more expensive so I had to pay more, and the manual version of the 180 that I’d really wanted wasn’t available. Once bought, I hardly used it. Recently, years later, with af and shooting wide open, I have discovered a delightful way of doing, hand-held, the pictures I currently enjoy. It’s so easy to close the mind…


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