The Leicaphilia Guide to Leica-Related Websites

My thoroughly idiosyncratic, subjective opinion of various Leica-related websites, in no particular order. Take it for what it is…and sorry for offending anyone.

Hardcore film users. Emphasis on “hard core.” Need to know developing times for some weird Hungarian film pushed to 6400 ISO and developed in Diafine? Someone here is bound to know. Bury your head in its archives for an extended period and you’ll learn everything you need to know about film photography.

Japan Camera Hunter: B+
Camera porn.

Erwin Puts: B
The perfect site for Leica techno geeks. Putts is obviously a bright, knowledgeable man who loves his Leicas and knows a ton about them. Reading the site, however, is about as interesting as reading the manual that comes along with your Canon Rebel.

Leicaphilia. C+
A weird melange of Leica history, facts, social criticism, self-righteous luddite indignation and ostentatious philosophical meandering. The functional equivalent of a reasonably intelligent college student blog, by turns entertaining and thoughtful, often paranoid, repetitive and stupid. Still can’t figure out who runs it, however. A-
The French Leica forum. I love the French and highly recommend the laconic and often world weary skepticism of almost everything here. Got to be able to read French though, which disqualifies 99.9% of American readership.

Ahh, Rangefinder Forum. Unabashedly dedicated to over-the-top gear fetishism (“what three Leica bodies and six lenses should I take on my bus tour of Khazakstan?”; or “I’m wondering what gives better bokeh for pictures of my cat? The Elmarit 2.5 ASPH or the third version Cron?”). To be fair, It does have some decent people and technical info to offer, (Bill Pierce and Tom Abrahamssen are treasures, as is Sonnar guru Brian Sweeney, who seems to know everything ) but it too often devolves into the virtual equivalent of old guys meeting at McDonalds to discuss their grandkids. If you must go there, tread lightly, don’t suggest anything remotely thought-provoking or counter “common sense” (this place just oozes bourgeois insecurity) and, whatever you do, don’t challenge the self-appointed forum guru, an easily identified forum “mentor” whose idea of “mentoring” is to compulsively hector, in his most pretentious Queen’s English, anyone with the nerve to express an original opinion not first thoroughly vetted by him.

RFF without the annoying and often sadly ridiculous RFF Moderators, and thus significantly lighter on the herd mentality and conformist passive-aggression toward independent thinking.

Steve Huff: C-
Likes to take pictures of his wife.
He is what he is. I admire his enthusiasm, and you gotta give him credit for finding and exploiting his niche, which he has done in an impressive manner, although his critical faculties leave something to be desired. Typical new gear review: “its the best camera ever! I’ve fallen in love with photography all over again! ….”. Rinse and repeat.

Ken Rockwell: D+
See Steve Huff. Rise and repeat except delete the wife photos and add some really cliched cheesy photography I’d be embarrassed to turn into an “Intro to Photography” course given at the local community college.

Thorsten Overgaard: C
Scientology meets Leica mania, or the Leica world’s particular version of “alternative facts.” There’s something weirdly fascinating about the site, as if it were an infomercial written by a Leica engineered Bot. I always feel slightly dirty after going there, like I need a shower.

Dante Stella B+
Mr. Stella is obviously a bright, well-informed man, and he’s an excellent writer. There’s a lot of good film era information here. Unfortunately, the website is hopelessly outdated.

Cameraquest: B+
Would get an A for all the useful info, except the website design itself has all the sexiness of the AOL era. My bet is he’s still using dial-up. The proprietor apparently is a licensed dealer of Voigtlander products (good on him), although from looking at his website, you’d assume he’s probably selling them out of the trunk of his Ford Taurus.

La Vida Leica: D-
Unofficial propaganda arm of Leica Inc., sort of the Fox News of Leica Nation. Leica “News and Rumors” for those who’ve drunk the Leica digital Kool Aid. Think “Shutterbug” magazine with nothing but Leica 24/7.

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18 thoughts on “The Leicaphilia Guide to Leica-Related Websites

  1. Andras

    Leicaphilia is most definitely at least A+. It’s Lunar New Year, perfect time to say a warm “Thank you!” for sharing your thoughts. These posts fill me with familiar satisfaction and give strength to ignore the noise and care for what’s personally important in photography.

  2. Stephen

    I rather like Macfilos which you don’t list…

    Lot of gear talk but also some good photography content, and a good few guest writers to add to the mix…

    In essence, a wonderful melange.

  3. Aaron

    They’d let someone uncouth enough to not speak french, actually buy a Leica?!
    What have we come to?

  4. Kodachromeguy

    Whew, I’m glad you did not bother with Dpreview, with its pixel-obsessed denizens masturbating over the latest auto-focus lens and 10^6 megapixels of their new super xyz brand camera, which, as everyone knows, is clearly superior to the obsolete products that Leica markets to rich doctors and dentists.

  5. apparently

    BTW: The other output that I look forward to in my Feedly is leicaphilia… Much better than your self effacing C+!

    I sort of took it as read and forgot to mention it earlier, sorrry. Easily creeping up into A territory.

  6. insolublepancake

    Excellent. Let me contribute one: Then there is that other site which features countless very high resolution photographs of tower blocks in Asia taken from the street level looking up using (the best of course) 28mm lenses together with ponderous ‘photoessays’ featuring even higher resolution pictures of doors and walls all smothered in reams of turgid prose. Strangely, nobody seems alive in any of the pictures. The author seems to suffer an existential crisis if the number of megapixels in his camera is less than some large irrelevant number. Is *this* what all those megapixels are for? Now I feel much better! I am going back to look at my contact prints and out-of-focus photographs because, hey, it doesn’t matter. Happy new year Leicaphilians!

  7. David H

    @insolublepancake: Well, where else could we learn about the “proto-wimmelbild interpretation of recursion in composition?”

    Except for an occasional visit to Erin Putts and regular visits to that oddball Leicaphilia place, I rarely visit the others. Have found a few interesting on that list though.

    (Sometimes a bit of luddite indignation is good for a person. Otherwise the lines of people waiting in front of the Apple store for the newest version of iPhone would be even longer.)

  8. Max

    Pretty much right. Summilux is perhaps the best Leica site, info and forum, Erwin has completely floated away into his own universe, cameraquest – well, Steve Gandy hasn’t generated anything new in years, as far as I can tell. That Leicaphilia guy has interesting stuff, though, and some neat camera porn.

  9. insolublepancake

    @David H. You’re right…. @Andrew: Yes he *does* know his stuff, that is the problem. At a recent show here in a display case I chanced across a newspaper article from none other than Cartier-Bresson, where they actually got him to write about photography. He didn’t go into the technical details, citing Steichen who said that no-one had exhausted the possibilities of a camera. You seen, even in 1955 then people wanted to know what Cartier-Bresson used to take his photographs :-).

  10. stephen jahrling

    RFF. I thought it was a friendly place until I had the temerity to suggest a camera seller in Pakistan that I had good success with. I was ripped asunder by several posters, until an Australian guy named for a small Tasmanian pest waded in and told me I was “too bloody thin-skinned” and a “BS artist” to boot. He was disappointed when he did not chase me off the site. Another time the aforementioned “Mentor” informed me that the word “tutee” did not exist, and that I was a writing teacher, not a tutor. After ritually disemboweling me, the Mentor signed “cheers”, as he always does. Apparently the Mentor is an expert on food, travel, toys, motorcycles and so forth, and anyone disagreeing with him receives a tart reply from his home in the south of France. It’s so much fun watching old men lash out at a changing world.

    1. Leicaphila Post author

      Ah yes, the aformentioned “mentor” is certainly sui generis, living as he does in “Aquitane” and rocking a monocle while deigning to dispense his accumulated wisdom to the hoi polloi.

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