The cult of Leica : interesting read for all film users

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I stumbled upon this year old article from the New Yorker and I highly recommend it to all film users.

Have a good read :wink:
 
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P

Pianisimo

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I remember that! That's actually how I discovered Leica, that NYer article.
 
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When they ran that article didn't they have a cartoon on the cover depicting Henri Cartier-Bresson and Ralph Gibson dressed up as Imogen Cunningham and Ansel Adams, doing the fist bump and burning 8x10 negatives in the fireplace?
 
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I refuse to read the New Yorker, I ony read the NYT Review of Books. Why? First off all, look at the paper they use, fine, tight stock that gives whiter whites. And the fonts, crisp clean resolution with good edge detail. The bindery wire is pure aluminum, no cheap bi-metal fillers. Overall, as a magazine the NYRB is larger, and thicker, containing more information. Now don't get me wrong, there are some things the New Yorker has going for it like the slick cover coating, and well, it just feels right when you turn the pages (you just cant beat turning their pages while having a bagel). You've got your New Yorker people and NYTRB people and I think competiton is good, makes for better magazines, and we all win!
 
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My first real exposure to Leica was as a starving student in the early 1960s. My Botany professor had been to Germany and bought a new M3 with a gaggle of lenses. He spent the unbelievable fortune of a few thousand for a wonderful system. When I held that beautiful little camera I thought I was afraid I would drool on it. It was a delight to hold and to shoot. I probably should have bought one, but I didn't, I still regret it, but after 40+ years it is water under the bridge. Thanks for bringing back the memories.

:smile:
 
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Mike when I was stationed in Germany in the late '60's you could buy a new Leica for less than $300 in the Canadian PX! Little did I know at the time!:eek:
 
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Mike when I was stationed in Germany in the late '60's you could buy a new Leica for less than $300 in the Canadian PX! Little did I know at the time!:eek:
This fellow had gone to Germany as a tourist. I still can wish. They were expensive here in the states even then, but no where near as dear in price as today. Sniff!
 
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The name Leica has been synonymous with quality for over a century. At the time there were photographers using Zeiss optics and I am almost sure that Robert Capa used a Contax with Zeiss lenses to shoot scenes of the war and not a Leica as stated in the excellent article by The New Yorker.
I was never happy loading film to a Leica. In the late 50's Nikon introduced excellent rangefinder cameras with optics of also excellent quality. I am not saying Nikkor lenses were better but they were good enough for a young Life photographer by the name of David Douglas Duncan. Eventually, most Life photographers switched to Nikon.
The M series were precision instruments and indeed they were mechanical marvels at the time. They still are. The 50mm Summicron has been probably one of the best normal lenses in the world if not the best. Leica cameras and lenses have been over the years precision and quality at its best.
The company, as the article implies, was at the verge of collapsing. The company during the film era never came up with an AF body and using the camera and lenses was and still is a very expensive proposition. I do not believe many war photographers would be very happy in a war zone carrying thousands of dollars around their necks. The camera, no doubts about it, was made for a selective group of photographers that were able to pay for that quality. I never fit well in that group.
How often do you see a photographer carrying a Leica and lenses? I surely cannot remember the last time I saw one. The new electronic Leicas could be very good, after all those defects are fixed but given a choice I would go with a D3 or even a D700, but that is me.
Zeiss, the only serious competitor to Leica at the time has survived and today is very healthy still manufacturing excellent optics in Germany and Japan. Their Contax died and I have not heard rumors that they will begin manufacturing the camera again. I had one in the early 50's and after loading film I fell in love with it. It was a great camera but not to Leica standards.
What is the future for Leica? I cannot answer that. If their prices could be more realistic maybe then their finances could survive better in the digital era.
It is obvious to me that their cult status will remain though.
Leica has been a great company and I wish they will come back although it is not the same photography any more.
Thank you for sharing such an interesting article.
William Rodriguez
Miami, Florida.
 
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Hey Riversideray,
I was also stationed in Germany in the 1960's while still a member
of Her Majesty's Royal Canadian Air Force. I also drooled over
those Leicas. But a poor flier's pay wouldn't cut it.
Thanks for the memories !
/Clay
 
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  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #14
I'm happy so many of you enjoyed the read. Being a new Leica user myself I can't tell you the feeling I have each time I just take my M6 in my hands, it's really a part of history …
 
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I enjoyed that article immensly,for its style ,and also for its content.Thanks.On entering the digital world of photography -as a beginner may I add- I decided to buy a 'point and shoot' camera as a way of learning the art.The market was/is awash with advertising bumpf,and not beginner friendly.I finaly decided on a Lumix FX50, essentialy because it was a camera that was developed by a marraige between Panasonic and Leica ,a camera name that I was aware of and an icon of quality.I could'nt have made-too my mind- a better choice,three years later I have absolutly no compunction to want any other make.Anything I own has to 'earn its keep' and the Leica contribution to this small gem certainly does that.I bought a Nikon D40X as an entry level to the DSLR world which I find -for the money-more than adequate for this stage of my learning,others will be thought of, I'm sure.As for that small box of tricks with Leica written on it,that stays.

Veloman
 
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Julien, Pianisimo, Chris...
just a question... on the field, is it THAT different the way of composing a picture with a rangefinder vs a SLR? Do you feel you are now able to take shots you couldn't with a SLR (due to the larger view given by the viewfinder)? What's your experience?
 
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I really like having the extra space. In my recent science pictures I have used the framelines to pick and choose the framing. With an SLR I would spend a lot of time going back and forth between different framings, but with an RF viewfinder I just look, and I can see the correct position for a particular composition.

The main advantage of an RF camera is that it is fast. The ability to see around the desired frame of a particular picture speeds composition up a lot!
 
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Hi Veloman: I'd love to read all the stuff you have written. However the lack of spaces after punctuation marks makes that difficult. I think you said that you have a D40x and like it? That camera couldn't be further from a Leica MP in my mind! The essence of a Leica-type camera is ultra-simplicity, and putting every decision in the hands of the photographer.

On the other hand, if Leica is to continue its success into the 21st century, they need to adjust to a new way of doing things. Do the optics of the Lumix's Leica lens stand out from the Nikon images you are now getting with your D40x?

I enjoyed that article immensly,for its style ,and also for its content.Thanks.On entering the digital world of photography -as a beginner may I add- I decided to buy a 'point and shoot' camera as a way of learning the art.The market was/is awash with advertising bumpf,and not beginner friendly.I finaly decided on a Lumix FX50, essentialy because it was a camera that was developed by a marraige between Panasonic and Leica ,a camera name that I was aware of and an icon of quality.I could'nt have made-too my mind- a better choice,three years later I have absolutly no compunction to want any other make.Anything I own has to 'earn its keep' and the Leica contribution to this small gem certainly does that.I bought a Nikon D40X as an entry level to the DSLR world which I find -for the money-more than adequate for this stage of my learning,others will be thought of, I'm sure.As for that small box of tricks with Leica written on it,that stays.

Veloman
 
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This line applies as well to newer technologies

This line applies as well to newer technologies

"What is required is a machine constructed with such skill that it renders every user—from the pro to the banana-fingered fumbler—more skillful as a result. We need it to refine and lubricate, rather than block or coarsen, our means of engagement with the world: we want to look not just at it, however admiringly, but through it. " :wink::biggrin:

And I have to like this writer for this line...

Asked how he thought of the Leica, Cartier-Bresson said that it felt like “a big warm kiss, like a shot from a revolver, and like the psychoanalyst’s couch.” At this point, five thousand dollars begins to look like a bargain. I should know - at one point I went back to University in order to become a Psychiatrist ... and contemplated private practice as a psychoanalyst... **Do we have a smiley face with dollar signs instead of eyes? If so insert here :wink:**

He he he " Couldn’t this be done differently? " necessity the mother of invention...

Me think I need to re-think photography... and the simplicity of the design made the Leica an infinitely more friendly proposition, for the novice, than one of the digital monsters from Nikon and Canon. Those need an instruction manual only slightly smaller than the Old Testament, whereas the Leica II sat in my palms like a puppy, begging to be taken out on the streets. Well maybe not... About re-thinking my photography but so true about the size of the user's manual...
 
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No Chris',I said my D40X was adequate for my stage of learning,I did'nt mention liking it.I dont know if the first two sentences in your reply to me was meant to be humorous,sarcastic or critical ?Education must be a wonderful thing to have.To answere your question, within its limitations the Lumix is equal,if not better than the D40x. I only have kit lenses which may affect my assessment.I also possess manual lenses which requires me to work hard,photographically,for achieving any half decent shots.If my meagre pension allowed,I too would own a Leica.

Veloman

PS, did you manage to complete the reading of this post?:smile:
 
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