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. He 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.
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 it 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. 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.