Hey You – Time to get off your high horse – The Excellence Challenged and the temple has crumpled

Sort of a rant.  Okay then A RANT

I know that this article will bring not only the Leica gods on me but every Leica and wanna be Leica person on the face of the earth.  Well not really.  I doubt they read any of my stuff.

I have been around a long time.  Maybe too long when it comes to knowing a lot of history about the photography industry.  I grew up helping my dad in his very large darkroom and shooting what there was back then, film.

I loved processing images, looking at the negatives after the fact, making the contact sheets and studying them and then selecting the images I wanted to print.  The smell of the chemicals are still locked in my memory and anything that even comes close to the aroma starts my head spinning with all kinds of retro thoughts.

My dad used Speed Graphic Cameras and Bush Pressman Cameras.  images-3He had roll film and sheet film and used them quickly and with precision, and in my mind never missed a shot he planned on taking.  My cameras starting out were simple 620 film types but later on I did graduate to 35mm cameras.

In my heart I always wanted a Leica camera.  After all this was the small camera that any professional or serious hobbyist was using.  Even into my later years while film was still king I wanted a Leica but unfortunately the pricing for this German gem was way to prohibitive for my wallet and the lenses Leica made were even worse than prohibitive, so I always wound up using products from Japan and in the 1960’s Nikon was the name to aspire to, and I did.  By 1968 I was working for Nikon and that made life just so very sweet.

And here I am today.  I shoot Fuji X cameras and lenses and I am wonderfully over joyed no matter what Fuji gear I choose to go out with for the day.  Outstanding images are produced through the sensors and lenses all part of one of the finest picture making systems I have ever used.  I am no longer envious of those who use Leica and they should be envious of me.

Is Leica incredibly built?  Yes.  Does Leica have incredible glass?  Yes.  Does it have the best sensors in the world?  Perhaps not.  Is Leica worth thousands of dollars more for bodies and lenses than other cameras?  Only you can be the judge as to how much status you think you must have and how much expendable income or credit you have.  But if you begin, it does not end.  You have to have the most expensive straps, bags, and accessories money can buy just to maintain the image.  Not the photographic image but your personal image.

Do I still respect the things that Leica represents?  You bet I do.  Do I think they are the best camera system in their format in the world.  I sure as hell do not.

Leica bodies are around 6500.00 us dollars.images-2  Why?  Leica lenses are anywhere from around 2000.00 us dollars to over 10,000 us dollars and these are just good old prime lenses.  Why?

I do not know a lot of people who can justify that kind of budget for camera gear on any given day.  I do know a few and they own a great body (Digital) and a lens.  One lens.  They are currently in the same stage of life I am which is retired, fixed income and in reality they can no longer afford or justify thousands of dollars for a lens.

But since the inception of Leica a great many things have changed.  Lenses from many manufacturers have come to equal or surpass Leica optical quality and technology in camera bodies that are very well made have surpassed Leica’s current state of the art.  And guess what.  You can more than likely afford the Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Fuji, Sony, Sigma Art Lenses, etc. gear without breaking the bank.

I am currently using the Fuji X Pro 2.  This is a camera that Fuji wants every person aspiring to a Leica to look at and purchase.  Why?  Because iimgres-1t is built to incredible standards, has a state of the art imager, truly outstanding optical glass, fast frame rate, fast autofocus, great color accuracy, and I can go on for pages but I won’t.  The body is not over 6000.00 smackers and their lenses do not cost the same as a small car.

If you feel that you need the status of the Leica brand then go for it and more power to you.  But if outstanding performance and image quality is what you are after at a fair price then look at Fuji.  If the Fuji is not your style then there are tons of other cameras out there today and guess what?  They are all very good. There truly is not a bad camera today.  I am not sure there ever was.

In the end game I guess what really gets me ticked off is the fact that there are other blogs which review a lot of products, but these writers who are very knowledgeable and well-meaning do not know how to let go.  They review a camera or a lens or a system and inevitably have to tell you that while they like this product they are reviewing, “it’s just not my Leica” statement always surfaces.  They are true fan boys and live for the status of having a Leica system in their hands.  If you are reviewing a product then review that product.  images Take your  arrogant, shutter release finger, Hufkim attitude out of your butt and forget the snob appeal and review that product honestly which means tell the truth.  Just because you own a Leica does not mean you have to justify the fact that you own a Leica.  After all is it about photography or your status symbol.  Be willing to admit that Leica is no longer necessarily “the best.”

And I should mention, that when I worked for Nikon I could well afford a Leica system, but who needed it at that stage.  I had Nikon cameras and lenses.  They were great then and they are great now, even if I do not shoot them any longer.

Shoot with what you feel the most comfortable with and not makes a statement of who you are.  Let your personal photography speak for itself, not your gear.images-4

9 thoughts on “Hey You – Time to get off your high horse – The Excellence Challenged and the temple has crumpled

  1. Well I love my Fuji’s and I love my Nikon’s and have never had or aspired to own a Leica. The only red dots I aspire to have are on the wall; on the odd occasions I exhibit. A red dot means sold, and that’s always good!

  2. I have the X-Pro2 and the Leica Q. I know the XF16/1.4 is not an exact comparison, being a wider FOV than the Q, but I didn’t let that stop me from comparing them.

    What sticks out to me is that the Q lens is better (e.g. close-focus flare & bokeh) and it has image stabilization when needed, but the Fuji has weather sealing and an infinitely better JPG engine and the option to re-process JPG in camera.

    It is the last point, the JPG engine, that causes me to reach for the Fuji often enough that the Q might be sold. And I’m very glad to have weather sealing on the Fuji. I miss the IS on the Q, and I also find the aperture ring on the Fuji to be easier to knock accidentally.

    Some might need a leaf shutter in which case it is too bad that Fuji doesn’t give us X100-line cameras with F1.4 lenses. The shutter on the X-Pro2 sounds amazing though!

    I think Leica needs to follow up with a 50mm Q and make both versions in a weather-sealed version. But… the JPGs. Fuji really has a killer feature there! Who wants to spend so much time editing on a computer!? Not me!

  3. I think in the end it boils down to image quality and that certain something that for decades German Lenses had and others could not reach, excepting Sweden. That pop that we used to see in the darkroom in the fixer tray that was unmistakable contrasty and the dynamic range almost overrode the zone system that we used to pretend to have a handle on. Yes, most companies have come much closer but comparing digital imagining to photography is tricky. I got tired of lugging a DSLR Nikon around and thought, I have enough money to sink about 5-6G into Leica, I’m just going to do it, I was trained in old school photography so a 28 or 35mm should suffice. Then after several months of research I found the Fuji system and bought an X Pro 2. and the glass is outstanding. I toyed with many others but Fuji is, for the time being, the poor man’s Leica. I’d put the 16mm 1.4 up against most of their glass although that one for 10,000 is the richest (in more ways than one) lens I’ve seen this side of Rodenstock. You could give me a free Canon at this point, the colors just are not up to snuff but then the world isn’t as bright and shiny as the new cameras suggest either. I love my Zeiss Glass collection and back in the 60’s-70’s Leica kicked ass on most other 35 but I thank the Photo Gods for guiding the hands and minds of the Fuji people because even at 65 I feel like I did photographing in my 20’s with my Rollieflex 3.5. There’s still something warm and magic about Medium Format and a German lens. Cheers Folks, happy shooting.

    1. Whether or not I could afford a Leica in my mid years was never a question, but I worked for Nikon at that time and loyalty and the wanting to keep my job said don’t do it. So I did not. I love all camera gear and thankfully today most cameras and lenses are terrific. I landed on Fuji because of the image quality. The aesthetics were secondary but they sure made an appealing looking and feeling camera. I have owned quite a few of their bodies and bought and sold different lenses made by Fuji as my needs changed. I even tried the Zeiss lenses and they were really good, but not as good or fast as the Fuji lenses.

      My original mirrorless was Olympus and I was not unhappy with the exception of their menus which I rarely ever looked at, but the buttons and dials were too small for my fingers. Fuji came along and that was it. Quality both optically and mechanically as well as structurally. The weight was perfect as were the controls. I still have the XT1 and it is superb and now I have added the the Xpro2 and I am just overjoyed with everything about it. I would have liked a tilting screen but there is no perfect anything anywhere anyway.

      Believe me I have more issues deciding on the near perfect camera bag than I do when it comes to anything Fuji. Leica is Leica. Their glass has always been the glass to emulate if at all possible. I am not sure it is. But the Fuji glass sure can give it a run for the money in my book.

      Today I had a call from a friend of mine who is about 80 years old. He has been a pro all his life and he just got the Nikon D5 and moved up from a Nikon D3. Skipped the D4. He was having difficulty understanding this cameras incredible focusing capability but I know I can figure it out and help him. It is way beyond anything in the market place and highly complex in its settings. He shoots sports and in reality it is the perfect camera if only for that reason. So the tools are the tools and if one can justify the expense then go for it.

      But if I could justify the expense I would still want Fuji because of what it is and how it works.

  4. I don’t disagree per se…

    But I do hope that you’ve only captured a small percentage of the Leica user base…

    All cameras have their foibles, (Fuji are no exception),

    For me, the problem with Leica (and probably Rolex and Ferrari & even Coca Cola etc) is that their brand strength has transcended it’s genre.

    Leica isn’t the best most expensive camera – it’s just the most famous, same is true for Ferrari sports cars, Rolex watches and Coca Cola (I’m a sprite man myself or beer or wine or fruit juice, er I digress)

    So when we see a Rolex wearing, Ferrari driving, Leica shooting chap (or chapess) it’s easy to think fashion victim and wealth statement.

    But that’s ultimately a prejudice we’ve formed internally due to the strength and over promotion of those brands…

    Take yourself as an example…

    Suppose that your Leica lust had never abated… suppose you got to a time in your life, where you said to yourself; “you know what, the mortgage is paid, the dependents have left home and are doing great, I’ve more money than I need, I’ve worked hard all my life, I’ve donated to charities, I’ve helped and mentored other people and I’ve always wanted to own one of these”

    Why shouldn’t you have it? You want it, you deserve it and you can afford it.

    I think the problem comes when people buy these products BECAUSE they want to buy into the lifestyle association that comes with them…

    And when it becomes painfully obvious that most people don’t notice what camera you have (or indeed what watch you wear, and a Ferrari in anything but red is harder to spot than you might think)….

    ….then those that brought their Leica for the wrong reasons start piping up about how great their camera is…

    …which annoys a few, and draws a few more into the brand’s web and the cycle starts all over again…

    At the end of the day… pretty much every car can travel at the maximum permitted velocity in your country, the time is what it is, and a great photograph is in eye and mind of the photographer.

    To think that spending a lot of money on a fairly standard product gives you anything more than personal pleasure is crazy.

    But there are people out there who understand that, and still buy what makes them happy, and I think they deserve that pleasure.

    And (as I think you know Elliot?!!) no, I don’t have a Leica 🙂

    1. Very well said as always 🙂

      I think I’ll put a notice on my blog to protect my well being and mental state. It will say….beware statements from all Leica users and do not respond in defense of your opinion. 🙂

      I lost the desire so very long ago for a Leica. I guess working for Nikon at a very early age set my path and I really did love my Nikon gear and would have loved it even if I was not working for them, because it worked for me.

      Now I still get twangs about wanting to work again, at least once in a real old fashioned darkroom, but I get over it as fast as the twang appears

      I would never try to make less of a product because everything out there in this business is really quite good and I happen to love it all for different reasons. I actually forgot to mention Pentax which was one of my forever favorite cameras and lenses. As a matter of fact I have no doubt that had they marketed their products the right way they would have been at the top of the camera industry. After I retired for Nikon I shot Pentax for about a year and a half and loved it, but then started to get sucked into the mirrorless age. And here I am.

      1. Thanks very much!

        My other half had a very long a fruitful Pentax love affair before being sucked into mirrorless!

        I couldn’t trouble you to fix my typo please? The one (the one I’ve noticed anyway) where I’ve written ‘mind or’ instead of ‘mind OF the photographer’ near the end?

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