Should I Sell My Leica? An Argument With Myself

Should I Sell My Leica? An Argument With Myself

2000 1128 Josh Solomon

I’m going to sell my Leica. I’m going to do it.

And how many times have we said that?

Enough times that I probably should.

Right. List it then.

Go ahead. Do it.

I knew it.

What do you mean you knew it? I was really just about to.

Come on man, we go through this every few months and it’s the same damn thing. It’s been three years since you wrote That Article and here you are, still wringing your hands over your M2. Just make a decision already. Either you’re letting go or you’re holding on.

Okay, fine. We’re figuring this out today then.

And if you don’t?

Then I ship it over to James regardless and have him get rid of it.

That doesn’t sound exciting.

Then I’ll buy us some In-N-Out afterwards.

Now we’re talking. Let’s figure it out then. I know you’re a nerd – you write for a camera website. History might have something to do with it.

Ehhh, maybe? The Leica M2 is definitely one of the big ones. It isn’t the most storied (the Leica II and M3 take those spots), but it’s still an “important” camera. I’ll take James’s point-of-view that the M2 is more important to subsequent M-cameras than even the M3. Whereas the M3 established the basic design, the M2 perfected it. It’s what every subsequent M (save for the M5) has been styled after, and the only one made entirely of metal. Photographically speaking, the M2 has also served countless shooters well, and has earned its keep in the photographic canon. Along with the M3, it set the standard for the 35mm rangefinder, and the standard for 35mm photography at the time. Hell, it even served as the inspiration for my current favorite camera of all time. It’s one of the few cameras that is without question legendary, and more or less deserves its historical status.

Sounds like you like it.

Not exactly. On historical merit alone, it absolutely deserves a place in any camera collection. But then again, I’m not much of a camera collector. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that whenever I shoot it, I’m holding a piece of history and taking part in it, but it doesn’t really get me going. If anything, it scares me away from taking it outside and using it, and it actually scares others who know what it is. Sometimes historical pieces are better left on the shelf, but the thought of leaving a camera on the shelf for the rest of its life doesn’t appeal to me in the slightest. So no, it’s not the history that I’m clinging to.

Alright, what about build quality, the cRiSp DeTeNtS and such? You’re a sucker for those kinds of things.

Could be. Many look to the Leica M-series as the benchmark of quality, feel and mechanical precision, and I have to agree with them. Even though my example is a little beat up, the quality shines through. I wouldn’t describe the M2 as a camera with which to be foolhardy, on the order of a Nikon F or F2 which can take the abuse, but it’s still an incredibly precise, beautifully built instrument. It’s a metal camera ready for anything, yet offers a silky smooth feel few cameras possess. One can’t help but appreciate that; I certainly do.

I also don’t currently own a camera that’s built quite like the M2. I love my Olympus Pen FT to death, but I do miss the silky smooth ratchet of my M2’s advance lever. My Nikon FM is a far more practical instrument, but it lacks the refinement of the M2. My Nikon F3 as well as my Rolleiflex 2.8D are the real contenders, but again, neither of those cameras are quite as concise and elegant as the M2. The only camera I’ve ever tried that approaches this quality is the Topcon RE Super and the Leica IIIc, and I’d rather shoot the M2 over those two.

Well that seals it, just keep it. I’m gonna go an-

Wait hold on a second, I wasn’t fini-

For real? Come on dude…

I know I’m being nitpicky, but this is important. I like how smooth and well-built it is, but that’s not why I like taking pictures. If I liked something just based on the way that it felt, then I’d be playing with a toy more than I’d be taking pictures. I love the way the M2 feels, but making good images matters more to me.

So what about that image-making process? If you want to keep it around, you’re going to have to like that part of it.

I gave the M2 a ton of grief on this front in my first article, but I’ve actually come around to it in recent years. I still don’t like how limited the lens selection is, the separation of viewfinder and lens, and the loading system, but I’ve learned to live with them. It’s a smooth, simple camera that makes the photographic process enjoyable if you’re willing to shift your shooting style to fit.

I’m still an SLR guy, but I’ve come to appreciate rangefinders more through this camera, even though I still find them a little strange. And even though I’ve blasphemed by choosing a Nikkor as my M2’s primary lens, I can understand the appeal of the Leica M system after shooting the Summicron V3, even though I still find that system entirely too expensive. They’re truly top of the line lenses, and I don’t begrudge anybody for shooting this system exclusively.

…but?

But, that’s where it all ends for me. I’ve taken quite a few memorable photos with my M2 and enjoy it while I take it out, but the needle hasn’t quite moved far enough. It remains an occasional shoot for me simply because the rangefinder way of shooting doesn’t come naturally to me, not to mention most of my cameras outclass it spec-wise and are quicker on the draw. I love the thing, but I just don’t think I’m built for it.

Well then, let’s go the other way. What do you hate about it?

You know, I really don’t hate the camera in camera terms. I like it. It’s fun to take out on occasion, and when I do I usually enjoy it. Leicas aren’t the most whimsical gadgets out there, but they’re luxurious and certainly capable of the spectacular.

If there’s anything I have an issue with, it’s everything surrounding the camera and the brand. Whether we like it or not, shooting and owning a Leica means something. The script logo and red dot have long been associated with the photographic elite; it implies a higher class, status, even taste when it comes to photography and its processes. Leica has insisted (sometimes to a fault) that their specific, rangefinder oriented way is best, and have preached this over the past century with their nose held firmly in the air. Remember that ad which said automation was for people who don’t know how to focus? And light meters were for those who don’t know how to eyeball it? In recent years they’ve leaned even more heavily into the luxury-oriented, exclusivity-brand part of its identity; one could be forgiven if they thought Leica was more a brand of luxury than a brand of photographic performance, though the performance of these cameras and lenses is admittedly top-notch.

The Leica brand of luxury, opulence, and conspicuousness does come with some strange consequences out in the field. I’ve brought the M2 to social events and it immediately becomes a talking point, both by those who know what it is and those who don’t. But then they tend to want to figure out why I own such a camera, and even assume that I must be at least “good at” or “serious” about photography if I own such a thing. Leicas also tend to raise questions about social status; Leica M’s are naturally flashy cameras, and they make statements about your financial situation the same way wearing expensive designer clothes do, or driving an expensive car. It’s a flex, as the kids say.

But honestly, flexing like that doesn’t appeal to me. Luxury and exclusivity just isn’t my thing. Make me choose between eating sushi at Nobu in Malibu and eating some dollar tacos out of the trunk of my car in a parking lot and I’ll take the tacos every time. Make me choose between some thousand dollar Jordans and some plain white Stan Smiths and I’ll rock the Stans. Make me choose between the Leica and my Nikon FM, and I’ll take the FM because it’s easier for me to shoot, and I won’t be absolutely crushed if it gets stolen. I’ve just never been inclined toward luxury, I guess, or even being public. I tend to keep to myself, and the things I truly enjoy tend to be commonplace. So I guess at heart, Leicas just aren’t me.

Okay, that makes sense. But why did you get the camera in the first place if it’s not in your wheelhouse anyway?

That’s a good question. To review it for the site, probably? I felt like I had to know what the benchmark was in order to get a better perspective on the camera world in general. The M is what everything gets compared to, so I had to get one in order to do my job better.

That seems plausible, but it also sounds like a cop-out, if I’m honest. I know you – there’s gotta be another reason.

Well… I suppose owning one was a bit of a personal goal.

Just a bit of a goal? I remember you used to dream about owning one.

Okay fine, you’re right. I did dream about owning one someday. I remember reading about HCB when I was younger and wanting to imitate his style in part by owning an M-camera. And maybe when I was younger the Leica did represent something to aspire to, something that represented that I was “serious” about photography. I thought that maybe if I finally owned one, I’d finally belong to “the club” or that it would help take my photography to the next level.

So then why are you criticizing that idea at all? You yourself thought and felt all of those things you seem to dislike.

That’s true. I admit, I did get caught up in the mythos of it all. But when I fulfilled that goal, I didn’t notice much change. Even worse, I felt like I wasn’t myself when I finally shot one. It was disappointing, and I don’t think I was prepared for that at all, nor did anybody prepare me for it.

But even though I did buy into the myth, I still think there’s aspects of that myth, and of Leica culture in general, that deserve criticism. Leica has always had a strange way of interpreting the idea that gear makes you shoot differently. The idea is fundamentally true, but I’ve noticed that Leica and their fanbase take that idea to its extreme more often than not.

Leica posture themselves as the Greatest of All Time, the only tool for the real photographer, the only choice for those who just have that “DNA” in them, or whatever, and it just rubs me the wrong way. This kind of branding is beneficial for Leica and their acolytes as it generates desirability through exclusivity, justifies their undeniably high prices realtive to capability, and makes the owners feel all fuzzy. Unfortunately, this also puts aspiring photographers into a very tough situation.

Leicas are just too expensive and too specialized for the majority of those shooters. And yet when we look at the majority of film photography based-media on YouTube and in the blogosphere, Leicas are omnipresent, and painted as an ideal to aspire to. This over-saturation can make some feel as if they’re missing out on the pure photographic experience, and that their photography just won’t have that magic without a Leica, even if they may not consciously think so.

Regardless of whatever marketing brainworms and endless internet prostelytization might suggest, the fact remains that most shooters don’t need Leicas. Pick up a Minolta SRT, a Nikon FM, hell, a Pentax K1000, and you’ll get the same spec as a classic M2/3/4, plus a light meter. If you want a rangefinder which lets you see the entire field of view in focus, go get an Olympus 35 SP or a Canonet QL17. If you want interchangeable lenses, go get a Voigtlander Bessa R or wait around for a fairly priced Minolta CLE. I personally don’t think the quality disparity isn’t big enough to be considered essential, and the extra money saved means more film and development, which means more images. I promise you won’t be missing out on much if your main concern is making images.

This isn’t to say that Leica and their fanbase are the devil incarnate (although the occasionally hyper-aggressive comment sections and emails telling us to kill ourselves over anti-Leica sentiment tempt me to say so). Leicas are totally suitable for a lot of people. Collectors love them because they never lose value (often rising in value over time, in fact), have an illustrious history, and come with a nearly endless list of collectible accessories. Hobbyists and those who tend to admire cameras as objects d’art also tend to love Leicas because of their elegant design, high-quality build, and slick operation. Rightly so! And I won’t begrudge shooters whose styles fit the specific layout of Leica cameras perfectly – that can certainly be the case for some. All these people are right. I just think the popular perception of the Leica M as an end-all be-all perfect product isn’t realistic, nor helpful to the average shooter.

As for me, the Leica M2 didn’t help me shoot anything new, nor did it fit me better than other cameras in my arsenal. The values it appeals to as a camera and as an object just aren’t things I value. I got it because I dreamed of it, but the dream didn’t pan out, and I have to be okay with that.

Nice sermon there, champ. I’m sure the choir will appreciate it – others not so much. You still didn’t explain why you still have it. Judging by your words here you should’ve sold it a long time ago.

That’s what’s so confusing about this. Even though it’s absolutely not my kind of camera, I know deep down that I can’t let it go. At this point, I think it’s personal.

Finally, we’re getting somewhere. Call me crazy, but I think this also has something to do with you dreaming of owning one.

I think you’re right. However I feel about the Leica M2 in the context of camera culture, it nevertheless represents for me a personal milestone as a photographer and writer for this website. I started this journey with quite literally nothing; nobody passed down a camera to me, nobody took photography seriously in the family, and growing up I didn’t know anybody that shared the same deep interest in the art form. I just decided one day to get a Costco pack of Superia and a Nikon FG off eBay, and followed that path all the way to my dream camera – this Leica M2.

I realize this still frames Leicas as aspirational cameras, but I think there’s a difference between aspiring towards Leica as a pass to photographic legitimacy and aspiring towards them to commemorate the journey you’ve taken with photography. I don’t view the M2 as my pass into the Serious Photographer Club, but I do view it as a representation of the years of work I’ve put into being a photographer and a writer for the site. To me it’s more like a trophy, but one that I can use every once in a while. I just wish I could find it in me to use it more often.

But you still use it, right?

Yeah, I do. And I can see myself using the Leica in some capacity for the rest of my life, partly because I know it can outlast me.

So can most of your cameras.

That’s true. But there’s an interesting side-effect of Leica’s obsessive, borderline religious fanbase – there’s always somebody Leica-obsessed enough to know how to fix one. Leica has an unusually strong repair culture, which features repair people whom the Leica faithful actually know by name. These folks know the cameras inside and out, can keep track of the myriad absurdities of the brand, and keep these cameras running in tip-top condition, ensuring their survival for generations to come, perhaps even longer than most camera brands.

I mention this because there’s a part of me that would like to give my future children (or at least young relatives) something I never got growing up – a nice tool to learn photography on, and an environment to practice in. The Leica probably stands the best chance at survival for future generations – much as I love my F3, its flexible circuit board might die someday suddenly, and there aren’t many obsessive Pen FT specialists around. Sure, most repair people can repair my Nikon FM, but there’s something about passing down a Leica specifically that makes me feel just a little bit more fuzzy inside.

For them, the Leica M2 could mean something different. It could become a family heirloom and help start a brand new legacy of photographers in my family. It would mean the world to me to pass this passion on for generations through a legendary camera like this. And who knows, maybe they’ll learn to love this camera and make it theirs in a way that I couldn’t. It’d be nice to see that happen, someday.

Well then. I think you’ve got your answer right there.

I think so too. Even though I can’t abide by the culture and image that surrounds it, I think I’ve come to my own reasons for keeping the Leica. And I think anybody that looks into getting a Leica, or any hyped up camera, should make sure that they’re taking that leap for their own reasons, and not for some transient notions of what these things are supposed to be.

That took way longer than I expected, but I’m glad we did this.

We? Try “I”. You’ve been arguing with yourself the whole time, you weirdo.

Right. Quarantine’s a hell of a drug.

Tell me about it. I should also remind you that we made a deal. Double-double animal style extra toast, fries well-done, root beer?

You know it.

We bringing the Leica?

Nah. Don’t wanna spill sauce on it. Take the Nikon.


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Josh Solomon

Josh Solomon

Josh Solomon is a freelance writer and touring bassist living in Los Angeles. He has an affinity for all things analog. When not onstage, you can find him roaming around Southern California shooting film and humming a tune.

All stories by:Josh Solomon
57 comments
  • Keep it as an investment, it’ll never go down in price

  • I have sold my M3 and my M2 two years ago. Wonderful cameras but pretty useless today (for me). The shots on film can not deliver enough resolution for bigger prints than 24×36 cm and you have the delay in development the film. You have to reload every 5 minutes and the loading is pretty quirky. So in a rush you have to have two or three of them around your neck. I´m a really fan of film photography but I use larger formats, for every day work a digital camera is the best solution.

  • I went through a similar thought process recently with both my M2 and M6. As much as I love their mechanical near-perfection (nothing’s perfect, nor should be: “Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That’s how the light gets in” – Leonard Cohen), I’ve increasingly become conscious of two things: the entire M system is overpriced, particularly new lenses whether Leica, Zeiss or Voigtlander M mounts, and the limitations of rangefinders no longer suit me, especially the MFD of 0.7m (or 0.9m for classic lenses). I, too, convinced myself that after so many years I could and would never cut my Ms loose, and that my Ms would be lifetime cameras passed down to my 7 year old son. Pretty much the reasoning Josh articulated here. And, yes, I only shoot film, have done so on a daily basis for 20 years and don’t even own a digital camera excluding my iPhone.

    Then three weeks back two things happened. First, I picked up my old Canon AE-1 for the first time in ages, a camera I inherited from my father and very special to me for the reason that all our family photos were shot on it as I was growing up. And guess what? All that muscle memory came back instantly, having shot literally 500+ rolls on it in my 20s when it was the only camera I owned and used at art school and beyond. The pictures looked gorgeous as always on FD glass, particularly the 50mm f/1.4 S.S.C. Second, I borrowed a friend’s Mamiya RZ67 and … BANG. It’s not what you might be thinking; I’ve owned medium format before (Mamiya C330f for 15 years, Pentax 67 for 3 years), so it’s not the first flush of a medium format crush. But two things clicked for me: my style of making pictures no longer suits rangefinders (I don’t shoot street, I don’t shoot ‘fly on the wall’, I don’t shoot wide and zone focus, I don’t shoot fast), and that 35mm is 35mm is 35mm (after all, “sharpness is a bourgeois concept” according to HCB, Leica’s original gangster).

    So, after years of Josh’s thought process swirling around in my head, I thought, damn, just list it all for sale and leave the decision making up to the universe. As if to underscore the Leica craze out there, within half an hour I had multiple enquiries from local prospective buyers, notably all young and (presumably) inexperienced, in life and in photography. By the end of the day I had sold my entire M kit for an unforeseen amount of hard currency. The speed of sale and near absence of haggling certainly signals that there are plenty of people desiring the M out there. It’s probably more difficult to shift drugs in my hood than shift an M.

    And now? My new purchase of a Mamiya RB67 plus two lens kit arrived yesterday (thank you, Japan) at the cost of one-fifth of the profit I made on the Ms. The rest, put away for savings, especially for travelling with my son, the real memory makers. Leica’s don’t change – that’s their beauty. But we do – that’s ours.

    • The M system is overpriced so instead you bought an RB67? The RBs and RZs are sitting on massive social media hyped price bubbles. Everyone regrets selling their Ms eventually. And everyone who isn’t a studio portrait photographer in the 1980s and 1990s tries to sell their RB after 6 months of ownership. It’s how it’s always been.

    • Wow, thank you for such a thoughtful comment and story! I won’t rule anything out – as you say, Leica’s don’t change; we do. Thank you for reading, and enjoy your RB67!

    • Came here for the blog, and while Josh wrote a great piece, got chills reading “Leica’s don’t change – that’s their beauty. But we do – that’s ours.” I didn’t realize I needed to read that. Perhaps I won’t buy that M after all.

  • You’re not a true believer. You don’t deserve it. Sell it to me.

  • I have debated selling my Leica M6 classic, opting for a cheaper RF camera with M mount instead since i don’t shoot film often enough to justify holding onto it. However, I know that I will regret selling it, and buying it again would require me to cough up more money than I paid for mine. For all the talk about Leica legacy and elitism associated with owning a Leica, I totally get your point about it being one of the most repairable, dependable film cameras out there. Also love the fact that they retain their value and appreciate over time. Living in the age of planned obsolescence, it is nice to hold onto to something constant (Till they keep producing film i.e.)

    • It is a bit of a dilemma! It is nice to hold onto something in the age of planned obsolescence – it’s just all the other extraneous stuff that we have weigh out for ourselves. Hopefully the elitism and brand perception issues melt away with time as well!

  • Hiii Great.
    Dan has already made an option 😉 … so too late for me, I am a M3.
    I am totally agree about all the arguments : yes, any cameras can do the same, sometimes better.
    But, I keep my Leica’s ! Why ? Yess a Nikon FM3a is great, a Contax S2b is great, a Leica R6.2 is great, a Minolta Srt303 is great, so many are great, a CL is great, a Minolta Hi-Matic 7Sii is great, but … when you take it in your hands : this is a masterpiece. And the value. And the steps of many great one’s like HCB, despite my images are low, very low compare to them, … just, just, I like to have it because it is so beautiful.
    Keep it, or sell to someone who likes : Dan for example he is a very good man.

  • Much as I enjoy your articles, Josh, I do feel that perhaps you’re over-thinking it. If you like shooting with a relatively small camera and one lens, then a Leica’s a good choice. If you don’t, it isn’t. And I can’t help but feel that these sort of “luxury brand” articles just perpetuate an unwelcome image of lovely cameras that are crying out to be used. Of course, Leicas are fairly expensive, but if you’re only interested in the old film bodies, they’re nothing relative to what people would spend on a car, and probably no more than a high end phone. There are plenty of good LTM lenses that are cheap and can be fitted with an adapter, else the Voigtlander lenses are great and certainly less than most Canon L lenses. My advice would be to just use it when you want to travel light, don’t give a toss about what anyone else thinks, and don’t worry about spilling sauce on it. They’re robust, there are plenty of them about, and, as you say, there are plenty of people that can repair them. Most importantly, whatever you end up using, please make sure you show us your pictures!

    • Thanks for the comment Pete! I can see how this can look like an overthinking exercise, but I do think it’s a subject worth closer examination considering how many shooters i’ve known who struggle with the brand’s luxury image and prevalence in film photography media. For the record I shoot the Leica as cheaply as I can, with an adapted LTM Nikkor (as you mention), and i’ve also spilled my fair share of salsa on it! I’m just a little more careful with it these days.

      • Good point. To overcome the struggle with the brand’s luxury image, just think as you were a super rich. You will see Leica as a cheap dirt that your status is established well beyond this little box, which you can buy it many times. You will pass this dilemma.

        Just my 2 cents. 🙂

  • Entertain the idea of giving it away rather than selling it as help for someone less fortunate. This will free you and place your dilemma in its true place and perspective.

    • I’ve considered it! If I ever cross paths with somebody I know who will truly love and cherish it, my plans might just change.

  • I’m mostly a Nikon SLR and DSLR guy but I bought a 1964 Leica M3 in excellent condition and I love it. Built like a tank, handles like a dream and big bright viewfinder. A joy to operate. Bought some really old lenses for it too so I could have a (relatively) affordable system: 50mm f/2 Summicron DR, 90mm f/2.8 Tele-Elmarit and 135mm f/4 Tele-Elmar. The images these lenses produce are gorgeous.

    So I’ll never sell the M3. It’s just a joy to use, at least for me anyway. Except for loading the film. That’s a freakin pain. 🙂

  • Dear Josh, technical question – if you are an SLR person, why do you prefer shooting M2 over RE Super?

    • Bulk, mostly. The RE Super is an incredibly nice camera, but it’s huge and is far from discreet. But who knows, maybe i’ll come back around to it!

  • My M2 is the one camera I have always regretted selling.

  • Ok – what is your decision. I have an M-240 but, as an owner of just about every Nikon I miss the film camera. I do not care about auto focus. Now that you’ve decided to sell (?) what are you thinking about asking?

  • Josh, I think these are the best photos you have posted on this site to date.
    What camera did you use?

  • thank god I live in Mississippi where after pulling out the Leica and taking a shot, I’ll have a conversation with some well-meaning person “Oh! so you’re into photography?” “Yeah, I mess around with it a bit” “That’s great….When are you gonna get a real camera?”

  • Hallo.Great camera, great image.

  • Avatar
    Frederik van Lambalgen December 13, 2020 at 6:54 am

    LS,
    To start with, indeed the created atmosphere around Leica is . . . My first Leica experience was that some asked me to take some pictures with his camera as a kid, it was a M Leica. I use Nikon SLR since my high school days, started with the FM but changed it for a F2, that I am still using. Using a range finder is a different way of working. Beginning with a Kiev 4, later a Zorki with a 1945 Elmar 50/3.5. It helped me to develop my photography. The rendering and the atmosphere in the pictures is different. 15+ years ago I was able to buy M Leica with the last version of the Elmar 50/2.8, it’s been with me since then. For my work I travel a lot, so 80% of the pictures are made with this camera. For travel and documentary photography a rangefinder is easier, when you want tight compositions exactly seeing the perspective a SLR is the way to go. The beauty of the M is the downward compatibility, I am using a great variety of affordable third party screw mount lenses for creating a certain mood in my pictures. I have met several serious photographers who regretted selling a camera with character form the M, Canon F1, Nikon F2 etc. My advise keep and enjoy it.

    Kind regards Frederik

    • Working with rangefinders is indeed different! I’m glad your M has served you well. I will enjoy this one as long as I can, thank you Frederik!

  • You should do the Marie Kondo thing. It it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. I’m thinking about doing this myself as I have a lot of gear. Stuff like really nice Zorki 4s, Fed 3s, Kievs, Nikon SLRs and S2, Pentaxes, Minoltas, Bessa L, even a few Leicas (R models, MdA, 1f) and a whole bunch of P&S cameras. They are all ‘nice’ but pretty much are not my go-tos when I go out and take pics.
    The crazy thing is my Nikon F6 is also in this category. It’s a great camera, but just doesn’t stir anything inside me. While the F4 does. But I have held onto it because it works with my Sigma Art lenses.

    • I was considering throwing in a “sparks joy” line in this article somewhere! It’s different for everybody. I tend to sell whatever I don’t use or can’t justify, but I will admit that I miss my Nikon S2 every day – that’s one I wish I had back. I can see going through a dilemma with the F6. It is nice to have it as an option for the modern lenses but it’s definitely got less character than the earlier Nikon F-series cameras.

      • You miss your S2? I have a perfect S2 w/ clear finder and super bright RF patch with 50 1.4 Nikkor S and Voigtlander 50 3.5 (perhaps the sharpest lens ever made for Nikon RFs) that I never use… (cuz yeah, I prefer Leica…)
        😉

  • I rarely leave comments, but you took 15 mins of my life! Awful writing style, no point made here.

    No camera makes you better photographer is established for every reasonable human being, why restate that numerous times?

    Seriously, why people who don’t have nothing to say still have the urge to write?

    • I think the idea bears repeating because sometimes the most reasonable among us need reminders. Apparently you didn’t, but thank you anyway for being so generous with your time! Really appreciate it 🙂

    • “Seriously, why people who don’t have nothing to say still have the urge to write?”

      Bro, lol. Take your own advice. Stop reading. Move on. Leave the site. You’ve got lots of options that save you time and don’t reveal your rudeness. Take one.

  • It’s been fun reading these comments.
    Now, I’m really going to go out on a limb and simply state that most people don’t understand how to use a Leica (or any viewfinder/rangefinder camera; digital or analog.)
    All the ad nauseum comments about about lens quality, shutter noise, classic styling and reliability is simply a smoke screen to mask why the Leica (again, any viewfinder/rangefinder) is superior for a particular type of photography.
    First, a question. What kind of person are you? Are you a pie person or a cake person? Do you like cats or dogs? Rolling Stones or Beatles? Me? Pie, dogs and the Stones.
    Because the thrust of the article was about a specific camera brand (Leica) I’ll just reference Leica (film) and Nikon (film/SLR.)
    If you’re the kind of person that can see the elements of a scene coming together as you walk about, then you’re probably going to have more success with a RF Leica than a Nikon SLR. The Leica presents a image in the viewfinder that closely matches what your eye sees. Any viewfinder/rangefinder will give the user the same result. With a SLR, you tend to make the picture with the camera up to your eye. A viewfinder system shows you not only what you may see, but what’s outside of the framelines; and SLR gives you a black surround with the subject in the center. You only see your subject.
    That’s the reason why photos made with a Leica seem to put you into the middle of the scene; you physically need to be up close. Leica’s are bad for photographing black bear cubs in the wild. You would be eaten by a very upset mother bear, and the she may chip a tooth on your M3. A Nikon with a 600mm lens is much safer, and the bear won’t have a dental problem.
    So, what kind of person are you? One who sees a potential photo unfolding in front of you? A Leica or any viewfinder camera is going to feel natural for you. However, if you like to do nature, close-up or sports photography, or you want to visually reach out and record pinpoint details from a distance, then the SLR viewing system will fit your needs.
    Of course, there are variations and exceptions to this. But, if this seems to resonate with you, it might not be the specific brand of camera that you’re dissatisfied with, but the mismatch between your eye and the cameras viewing system.
    Sell the Leica or keep the Leica? If the SLR just feels ‘right’ and the Leica is uncomfortable to use, then you have your answer. But, if you’re working with an SLR, and your work just doesn’t seem right, then try working with a viewfinder/rangefinder camera.

    • I am an economics teacher and someone who enjoys taking photographs, although I do not do so to earn a living. In economics we have a concept known as opportunity cost. The opportunity cost of something is what must be given up to obtain it. The problem for me with Leica equipment is that the high prices mean that the opportunity cost of it is very great. To buy a Leica camera and, say, three prime lenses would mean giving up some lovely Olympus gear and a great holiday or two to a fascinating place I have never been, for example, Japan. I don’t begrudge anyone a Leica and if the opportunity cost is not too high for you then please go ahead. For me, however, I would always be thinking of what I had given up….

      • “For me, however, I would always be thinking of what I had given up….”

        For me, it would be thinking of what I have gained! A freakin Leica!
        😉

        Glass half full and all that jazz.

  • I wouldn’t lose any sleep over this, Josh. I have bought and sold 5 M4’s. Currently without one, but eyeing a mint one-owner blackpaint:)

  • Josh,

    Let me preface my statement first with, I am a leica fanboy, but also a Nikon fanboy, A hasselblad fanboy and a canon fanboy. but since this article was about leica let me talk leica. I love shooting film and always have! I started out with my first leica in 2014. I had been lusting after one since I was in middle school in early 2000. When I bought my first leica, a m4-2 in 2014 it had me hooked (although this was objectively the worst experience with a camera I have ever had). I had to have this camera repaired several times. While it was being repaired I purchased a M3 and an M4 for a good deal. As of writing this comment, they are the only cameras I will never sell.

    Fast forward to this summer, after selling my m4-2 I purchased a leica M6ttl .85 and a leicavit m for my 30th birthday. I am struggling with liking this camera. I thought the meter would be something I liked but its not. I think I like the old leicameter I have better. I thought maybe the meter would be like the Fm2 that I have used forever. I also Keep leaving the camera meter on when putting it in my camera bag killing the battery for my meter. Honestly I don’t know why the leica m4 does not get more hype. Youtube and instagram love the m6. Unfortunately this has brought the m6 prices up to astronomical prices. so much so that If I sell it I don’t know if I could ever afford another. I have been thinking hard about selling my m6ttl and buying a nice chrome 35mm summicron. or an older summilux. If you have ever held a chrome modern leica lens you will know why I want one. They feel very well made. Speaking of well made, YES the leica M6 is made to last. But I feel it is nowhere near the quality of finish that my m4 and m3 have. Some how it just feels less when held side by side to me. on top of all this I have been enjoying the autofocus on my canon eos 1 lately. haha should write an article on this. I could wright soo much more on the topic.

    Anyways I loved the article and I am happy that I am not the only one that struggles with this!

    Thanks
    Robert C

  • I’m going through a similar thought process with my M6. I’ve been shooting Leica cameras since 1973, starting with an M3 followed by an M4 and now my M6. But I’ve come to the conclusion that I much prefer my Nikon F100 and F6 for auto focus and automated features, as well as the ease of using longer lenses than the rather dull 35mm F2 on my M6. What’s more, I also shoot Hasselblad, which has become my main camera. Yes, the M6 is a masterpiece. But I just don’t love it anymore and prices are sky high. I could use the money.

  • Although I’ve been shooting M’s for around 30 years now-with an M4 as my daily driver-they are no longer exactly ‘discreet’. For quite a long time most were not in the slightest bit interested in M’s when I was out and about. Trouble is,with Leica’s marketing strategy nowadays far too many are all too aware of what one is. Rangefinders have always been my preferred platform but every time I take one out I’m always approached by others wanting to ask about it. Ok,so it’s nice to be complimented now and again but it can get a little tiresome when I just want to crack on with the job. Of a far greater concern though is that I live and work in a city that doesn’t exactly have the best reputation when it comes to crime so,if I’m shooting M then I do need to have greater awareness of whats going on and having to second guess any eventuality. Because of this I now find myself using a Nikon FE more often than not as it’s less of a target and if I was relieved of it by some felon or another it wouldn’t be any great loss,unlike if I was divested of my very early 1967 M4 with nice glass, I will never sell it (or any other of my Leicas for that matter) but its unfortunate in that I no longer feel as I can use it in the very situations for where it was intended to be used.

  • I bought an M2 six years ago. Took it to NYC and Chicago. Stupidly sold it two years ago. Now they are more than double what I sold it for and I want it back. Don’t sell. Correction, sell your M2 to me 😉

  • Well now, this topic is a can of worms for sure.
    Many photographers dream of owning the legendary Leica and why not? Leica history is truly legendary. The photographers who used Leicas are indisputably legends. Leicas are attractive in the same way as that classic cars or vintage instruments are attractive. And that’s fine… within reason.
    Leica obviously capitalizes on this in their advertising and why shouldn’t they? Just like Levi’s jeans does. Just like Ford does with its trucks. Of course, owning a Leica doesn’t turn you into Cartier-Bresson and owning a vintage pick-up doesn’t turn you into a cowboy.
    Unfortunately, many photographers get sucked into the Leica realm of dreams rather than reality and they get an older model with no light meter and end up not having a great experience because they have never shot a fully manual camera before!
    Make sure you like manual cameras before buying a Leica and make sure you can drive a stick-shift before getting a classic vehicle!

  • The choice should based upon your way of seeing and reacting to your world. Buying a Leica for an expensive necklace to be seen in is good for the seller of a Leica to a poser. It’s work using a non-metering, slow as a turtle reloading M1, 2, & 3.
    You need to get close to your subject. You need good people skills to avoid getting your head bopped. At the minimum, you need a fundamental understanding of optics as they relate to depth-of-field, you need to know your personal threshold for the slowest shutter speed you can hold w/out unintentional blur. You need to accept the fact that the (Leica) lenses are not sprinkled with pixie dust, and some are crap. But, if you like to slip in unnoticed in a crowd to snap a slice of life, or shoot in the a pic without drawing attention to yourself, then maybe the Leica will open up a new world for you.

  • Every once in a while I consider selling my M4 and M10 and the four lenses and just buying an X100v plus the 28 and 35 adapters. I’m sure I could get by happily with that (and having a bunch of cash left over). But then I pick up one of the Ms… and, well, maybe I won’t sell just yet…

  • Any leica lens and video camera I’ve ever sold I regretted

  • THIS is the biggest load of crap I’ve ever read!! You have a superb Leica camera, a variant of the M3. Have you any idea at all just how many people dream of owning and using an M3/2? I had to wait until a legacy in 2007 to be able to buy my dream photojournalist outfit: a pair of M3 bodies and 35/50/90/135mm lenses. I’d previously used Nikon F bodies and pre-AI lenses. Meters didn’t work so I’ve always used handheld. First Westons, then Gossen Lunalite needle-less LED readout. Far more rugged. The M3 outfit was similar weight but more compact. Handier for overseas travel. Still using it. No repairs or service at all. One body, double stroke 1955 is shabby but functional, other, single stroke 1960 is quite smart. These days I don’t go abroad so tend to use the single stroke. I stopped using the 135mm years ago as it was slow (4.5), my others are 2.8.
    An M series Leica, even an M2 is something to leave to the grandkids. My grandson is waiting for me to kick the bucket so he can get his hands on my Leicas, Omega Speedmaster (my favourite) Rolex Submariner date, Belstaff leather jackets and the model railway in the old attic bedroom of my cottage.

    Keep your M2. Use the damn thing. That’s what it was built for. Deutschland Uber Alles.

  • As a dealer, I’ve bought and sold a fair number of Leicas including two gorgeous M3 double strokes, lenses and such. Yes, wish I’d have kept one of the M3s just to have it but psying bills came first.

  • When I was growing up in the 50s, I would look at old National Geographic magazine. One advertisement caught my eye. It was for the Exakta which the ad said was for “Explorers” because it could do anything. Heck they even had the Spinx in the ad. Totally cool. That’s the camera I wanted. When I was 16, my parents went to Czechoslovakia to visit my grandmother but my brother and I couldn’t go due to the cost. I asked my mother to bring me back a camera. My parents brought me back an Exakta. Boy, was I excited. Great camera with a great Zeiss Jena lens. You indeed could do anything with it. A classmate and I won a fairly important science award because of photos I could take using the Exakta long speeds with a I use to make my own satirical film strips to entertain the school. A real hoot. Of course won some photo contests and even got invited on outings to document them. At the same time, a school mate got gifted a Leica IIIc from his uncle. He also got an Exa, which is really a baby Exakta. We heard how the Leica was the best camera in the world, best lens in the world, most rugged and perfectly engineered camera in world. etc, etc, etc. One time I asked to look through it. What the hay. It was so squinty compared to the bright 100% viewfinder on an Exakta. I would also wonder why it took so long to load the darn thing. One thing I did notice though was that he seemed to use the Exa more often in spite of it having only five shutter speeds. In other words, I learned very early in my life that 90% of the Leica mystique was hype!

  • Oh man…
    Glad to find that I’m not alone with this.

    My fixation with Leica began the afternoon I purchased my first camera. I was standing in the iconic Central Camera store in downtown Chicago. An older gentleman by the name of Gus (pretty sure that was his name) who was both a bit scary and inviting, asked me what I was looking for. I told him I wasn’t sure. He then grabbed four cameras and set them on the counter.

    Yashica, Canon, Pentax and a Leica which he sets apart from the others.

    He says “Unless you can afford a Leica, and most people can’t, these other cameras all do the same thing. Put your money in the lens.”

    For the next hour he talked to me about lenses in general, and Leica very specifically. SLR shooting vs Rangefinder and the impeccable construction of Leicas.

    I finally walked out of there with a Yashica FX103 Program and a Zeiss Contax 50mm f/1.7 lens… which was twice the price of the camera!

    But like some type of Inception, the Leica seed had been planted. It grew and grew and years later I had an M9 and a Zeiss Distagon 1.4 in my evil hands. I chose the Distagon because I’d come to love the rendering of Zeiss lenses. And I loved every little thing about the camera, even the quirks.

    And of course, over the years and just like Josh, the conversations with myself became louder and louder. “This thing is outdated. You have other cameras that do the job just fine. This M is a prima donna. Upgrading is ridiculously expensive! Just sell it already…”

    June 2020, I was gonna sell my M9 along with two wonderful Zeiss ZM lenses and a lovely Canon LTM. Gonna use that loot to upgrade my other kit and buy a new laptop. Yep…

    What happened?

    I replaced the sensor in the M9 and added a Zeiss Sonnar f/1.5 to the bag.

    I need help.

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Josh Solomon

Josh Solomon

Josh Solomon is a freelance writer and touring bassist living in Los Angeles. He has an affinity for all things analog. When not onstage, you can find him roaming around Southern California shooting film and humming a tune.

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