16 August 2013

Leica...You Want what You Want



"Shooting with a LEICA is like a long tender kiss, like firing an automatic pistol, like an hour on the analyst's couch."  
~ Henri Cartier-Bresson

Okay...

I know I just did a blog post lauding the Sony systems. I dare say, in all likelihood, the Sony Rx-1r and the NEX-6 will be near future purchases for me. They feel right for me and are very close to the requirements I think I need for my work. They fit well with my future endeavors and can probably handle my needs adequately enough...actually, more than adequately in fact. With a few exceptions, they would be the perfect compliment to my current photographic tools I employ right now.

BUT...

Not long after I did that last post, I had to come to a realization that irks me ever so slightly. You see, I've tried to make it a personal policy, especially where it comes to photography, to not compromise quality and what I want, for the sake of money. If the gear or tool that I really feel will best do the job costs more money, then so what? Make that money back in profitable gigs and earnings. And in no case do you ever settle on the cheaper or economical substitute to that quality. And to be honest, the aforementioned Sony complimentary platforms are just that...a more economical substitute in lieu of what I really want. And what I really want... is the LEICA rangefinder system.

Let me tell you why.

I mentioned in a previous blog posting that everyone needs to, at some point in their lives, fly first class, drive a luxury car on a road trip, and own a Leica. Life is too short not to experience these things at some point. Leica actually makes it difficult to be a Leica owner. There cameras are Hand-Crafted! So it takes longer to fulfill orders. Right now, most all of their digital systems are on back-order! You can't find any of their cameras anywhere right now! (With the exception of the Leica M Monochrome, currently In-Stock at B&C Camera!) But nonetheless, I got's to git it! And I understand, I could be totally wrong in this. There could be a chance that after I am a Leica owner (someday) that I won't be as impressed or might feel differently after a year's results in my work, but I don't think that is going to happen and I'm willing to take that risk. I'm still nostalgic over film, but the images I see made with the Leica have that unique aesthetic artistic appeal closer to how I felt when I used film. This needs to happen. And I blame travel for my obsession.

I didn't feel so inclined to be a Leica owner before I started serious travel considerations, which began last year while I was laid up for 4 months on crutches after my knee surgery. I had time to think about several things and dream about a even few more. Sailing was paramount. I need to get on the open seas and circumnavigate. Doing so with a Leica became the next priority, which has now worked its way up to the more immediate goal, especially after Central America last year. My focus became to return to Central America with Leica systems like the days of old when a photojournalist or explorer might have on his person a single Leica camera, a 35mm lens, and a bunch of pro-grade black and white film. They rocked with this single prime lens and returned with some of the most spectacular images you could imagine.



Today, Leica has two systems that have my perfect attention. Yes, I said two. Not just one, but two!! The Leica M Monochrome which, obviously enough, only shoots Black and White is one of my choices. I do wish it was 24mp with a CMOS sensor instead of a 18mp CCD. But where it comes up short, I'm willing to look the other way...something that's hard to say about any other camera. I didn't switch from film to digital until my standards were met. I switched from Canon to Nikon when Nikon better suited my needs. My point being, I was patient to wait for the right camera and did not jump into anything simply didn't feel right.

The other system from Leica that I am a tad bit more desperate for is the new flagship, Leica M Typ 240 and its what really brought my attention to the Leica brand. Before this, I couldn't really conceive of paying $7,000 for a camera body that wasn't even a DSLR body. But this Leica M had me at hello. It IS 24MP and is the first of the Leica brand to use CMOS sensors. Its also the first model to incorporate 1080p video, but that would not be my priority. This would be the Leica I would start with. I can always convert images to Black and White as I do now. Before the M Monochrome, I would never allow myself to shoot B&W straight out of camera. I don't want the camera making tonality decisions for me. This Leica, however, I would let order food for me in a restaurant.

Lenses are also pretty steep for Leica, but here is where I don't mind making a compromise. Zeiss makes excellent glass for the Leica rangefinder systems and many are half what the Leica dedicated lenses run. A Zeiss 35mm f/2 would run me $1100 as opposed to a Leica 35mm f/2 for $3200. I think I'd prefer one Leica lens and that's the 50mm f/1.4 Summilux for $4000. I can throw it up for grabs on a good wide-angle prime and a good telephoto prime as to what lens I would top off my lens quiver with.



So in other words, I would be out around $20 Grand to get both these cameras and lenses. Is that worth it when I could get into a comparable Sony system under $6K? Will my images be $14 thousand dollars better with the Leica cameras than Sony? Wouldn't it be just as easy to just buy another DSLR that complements the one I already have? You know what? I'm not trying to answer those questions. I only know what the hell I want and the only question that leaves me with is "How do I get my Leicas?"

*****
This is the former flagship model, the Leica M9-P. Check out this video on how its made. I wish they did a promotion piece like this for what I really want... the NEW flagship model Leica M Typ 240.

The Making of the Leica M9-P »Edition Hermès« – Série Limitée Jean-Louis Dumas from Leica Camera on Vimeo.

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