Discussion in 'The Watering Hole' started by Lightmancer, Sep 22, 2014.

  1. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    It's been a very long time since last I seriously blogged, but I am currently laid up after an op on my shoulder, so I put finger to keyboard and penned an update:

    Rangefound - The day Leica left me

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  2. Amin Sabet

    Amin Sabet Administrator

    Jul 3, 2010
    A great read, Bill. For me the M240 is a mixture of great, good, bad, and terrible.

    Great: Viewfinder, focusing system, lens performance, lens size, build quality, sensor performance at low ISO

    Good: Controls, shutter sound, small size relative to other digital full frame

    Bad: Bloated body compared to film Ms, poor access to battery & memory card slot, substandard high ISO performance for a full frame camera

    Terrible: Locks up sometimes and loses the images completely

    I am sometimes tempted to sell it all and go Nikon DSLR...
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  3. Iansky

    Iansky All-Pro

    Dec 8, 2011
    Cotswolds, UK
    Great Blog Bill,

    I completely agree with and endorse everything you say about Leica, after years using M4/M4-2/M4-P/M6/M6TTL when working as a PJ and then trading in my last remaining M series for an M8.2 shortly after it's release, I can only recount my dismay as anything above 4ooISO was grainy, software was glitchy and in my case I had to send it back to Leica twice for "Coffee stain syndrome" on the LCD - all in all a bitter dissapointment that ended my relationship with anything Leica digital.

    Like you, I made my way to Fuji firstly with the original X100 and now with the X100s that is everything the Leica M digital's should be but are not.

    Unfortunatly and as you rightly pointed out, Leica now relies on the well healed who want to own a camera brand with heritage that in former times have captured some of the most noteworthy images and were used by millions of working pros - the fact that a good percentage of current owners do so as a badge of wealth rather than a tool to use does dissapoint but I guess that as long as Leica has this client base, they will continue to replicate existing models in different clothing, hike up the price and sell to the uninitiated!

    I also have a GR as my daily carry camera and a really nice Leica 111f with delayed action timer + 50mm collapsible Summicron that came as a kit in the original box (with serial numbers on it, instruction manual and ER case),

    I have recently had the 111f & lens CLA'd and have film ready to put through the meantime I still take it out of the cabinet, fondle it and activate the shutter just to remind me of what Leica heritage is all about, what it was and hopefully what one day it may become again.
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  4. grillec

    grillec Veteran

    Jan 16, 2014
    I feel the disappointment by reading your blog. Alas this is a thing not linked to a special producer or community. Leica could be switched with Nikon or other company.
    And when the direction of the producer seems not to be the right one a change could be necessary.
    Fuji had a good support until now, but in another forum a few people seeing the gathering of dark clouds over Fuji, because the next firmware is released not fast enough.
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  5. drd1135

    drd1135 Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Jul 13, 2011
    Lexington, Virginia
    You write well. I never tried Leica, but sometimes what makes a brand special just doesn't translate well into a different technology.
  6. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

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  7. donlaw

    donlaw All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Sep 14, 2012
    Thanks for the great read. I was a Leica M user back in the film days. Still have a M5 stored away but sadly no lenses left. Been meaning to sell it but somehow never get around to it.
    Also have been on the LUG for years. Still get the digest version but rarely pay attention to it anymore. I still contribute and purchase their annual yearbook because there are some great photographers lurking around that contribute.
    I have never tried a Leica digital product. Reason being that the 'name' just cost too much. I did buy the panasonic equivalent of the DLux cameras, the LX1, 3, etc. And that is what lead me here. Nice to read your Leica testimonial, and I am glad to have met you here in the Photographer's Lounge.
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  8. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    If you ever do get interested in a 'made by Leica' digital camera, the X Vario is a beauty, and some of the recent prices are amazingly low.
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  9. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 13, 2011
    Sunny Frimley
    Bill Palmer
    Thanks for the great feedback all. Let me just pick up on some specific points, if I may.

    @Amin - Your "great" and "good" for your M240 are pretty well all the things I love about my film Ms. Interestingly, your "bad" and "terrible" are, to me at least, endemic to the digital Ms... I too went Nikon DSLR (D700) before I went to Fuji - I had my remaining R lenses Leitaxed, and they performed extremely well with the FF sensor. But it isn't a rangefinder...

    @Iansky - it sounds like you and I are on very similar trajectories, for very similar reasons, even down to the GR and the Barnack. I think it is an appreciation of quality - both build- and output- in a small package. The Barnacks are jewel-like, and even if my M2 goes in time, I can see myself hanging on to my IID for many years to come. You don't own the battery-independent, film Leicas, you curate them for a while, exercise them and give them purpose, before passing them on.

    @Grillec - I respectfully disagree; this IS a Leica thing. Only Leica has the heritage, the past history of innovation, the personalities, the twists and turns in their story, the uncompromising approach to quality, the ethos... need I go on? I have lived and breathed Leica for more than two decades. In that same time I have owned cameras and lenses from Nikon, Pentax, Contax, Rollei, Olympus, Panasonic, Ricoh, Fuji, Minox - none have the same emotional impact as a Barnack or a film M. The company - not the brand - delights with one hand and frustrates on the other, like an inappropriate love affair.

    @Dalethorn - Ref. the X-Vario. No. Just It is a kludge that is likely to have one of the shortest-lived production runs of any Leica of modern times. The current prices are low for a reason. It is a shadow, a shade, a pastiche, a caricature of what a Leica should be - a mediocre lens in an M-lite body, with buggy firmware and a clip-on EVF... let me say that again - a clip-on EVF... If I was given one as a present I would give it away - honestly. It represents in concept and execution all that is wrong with the current Leica lineup - even more than the T, which at least tries to strike out in a new direction.
  10. grillec

    grillec Veteran

    Jan 16, 2014
    Do I smell a scent of snobbishness? :) Just kidding

    But when I read comments of some D4s owner on a Nikon forum who defend their camera as the best of the world or Hasselblad owners who break in tears by the discovery of the Lunar, I think it is not only a single "appleffect" (exaggerations).

    I'm glad there exist brands who own a deeper meaning for their customers and Leica is one of the old ones (I think Porsche could be a similiar example here). But the glorifications often lies in the history only. Now there are others who took the helm.
    Wetzlar is about 150km from here but until now it doesn't interest me to visit the location (the short distance just had surprised me). Perhaps to make photos. I own a few R lenses, but they are for use only. Just the same as my Fuji equipment, too.
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  11. dalethorn

    dalethorn Guest

    At the time the XV was introduced, the only other choice in a Made-by-Leica with zoom lens was ________ ummm, there was no other choice. You could replicate the basics of the XV by buying an M with two lenses for 4!! times the price, then you'd be carrying three times the weight and fumbling with lenses, etc. etc. I found the XV very easy to sell, since my contacts weren't carrying all of the old-time baggage - they just wanted a made-by-Leica they could afford. The EVF was also an easy no-sell, since people who were raised on digital who wanted a real Leica didn't usually expect an EVF on a smaller non-DSLR camera.

    A lot of old-time Leica users just said no, because they had (or have) the $11000 for the M and lenses. But there are quite a few people in the world who don't have $11000 to spend, who see the XV as a way in that they can afford. It's even better if you're nearsighted like me and all of my family members - the LCD is much easier to deal with and you get a more compact camera without sticking on an EVF.

    I pre-ordered the new Pana-Leica DLux, which has a really good built-in EVF, but I'm not sure yet if I'll use it. If it's not too much trouble (I wear glasses) I might use the EVF, but it's comforting to me that I don't have to depend on it.

    The Leica T on the other hand is a very strange beast. In reality, it's just another design to get used to, like an M or an XV, but it might concern some of those old-time users who worry that Leica is growing things too rapidly and will eventually lose their way. I sold HP products in the late 70's to mid-80's, and there was a great company who prior to 1985 were considered to make the Rolls Royce of computers, but they lost their way big-time. Fortunately for them, the people who remember how great they once were are rapidly thinning out. It's a lesson Leica should take a long look at, for the day when their own version of Steve Jobs (or Dave Packard/Bill Hewlett) is gone and innovation has to be purchased from outside.
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  12. (some) old Leicas (almost) never die

    Great post, Bill.

    Amusing, clever, sly, and really really well-written.

    My Leica experiences are limited to my father's ancient (1936) model III (the original a) which decades ago he was generous enough to allow me to use (and occasionally abuse) as my first camera ever. It still puts many other cameras to shame - and it never runs out of batteries or auto-this, and you have to focus it the ancient manual/rangefinder way.

    Here, for your amusement and pleasure, is a picture of it -

    My father's Leica
    by La Chachalaca FotografĂ­a, on Flickr

    And thanks for a wonderful post which generated a few grins and brought back quite a few memories.

    • Like Like x 1
  13. Luke

    Luke Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Nov 11, 2011
    Milwaukee, WI USA
    ya know, if they could make a brand new digital Leica that looked old and worn like that IIIa above, they could sell a BOATLOAD of them.