For dead serious rangefinder photography
I don’t have the most rational reason in the world to shoot Leica, but I get that question every now and then and heck… sometimes I even ask that question myself. It’s time to shed some light.
When I returned to film photography in 2016, I had only experience with the typical SLR cameras. Rangefinders were still a new thing for me. I don’t claim to be a Leica expert who’s been shooting one since the dawn of time, but I’ve always found them to be compelling. The initial idea of Leica became after first trying few different Canonet, Yashica and Minolta rangefinders. They were all lovely cameras but constantly failing and just not up for serious shooting. Or at least that’s how it felt. I felt that they were more for casual fun and games. During those days, I was looking for job and photography was one way for me to deal a great crisis in my life. Maybe Leica was an overkill, but I needed a real workhorse. I was shooting a lot and didn’t want to play around with Canon AE-1’s or Yashica Electros anymore. I’d still argue that if someone is interested in dead serious photography on a rangefinder camera, Leicas are one of the few viable options. I’ve mentioned before that I did have my eye on the Voigtländer Bessa R series as well, but they are actually much rarer cameras. Leicas on the other hand are relatively easy to access and much better built and designed.
Is it worth the money then? I’ve now settled to Leica M6, which seems to be getting more expensive every day, but good cameras are always pricy. I have much respect for the brand and their products. It’s still cheaper than buying a new Sony mirrorless camera, which actually isn’t even an unfair comparison. If someone would give me now 2000€ to spend on any camera, I’d invest that on a good film camera any day.
Styling, history and tradition
I am a graphic designer by trade and mid-1900’s industrial german design has always inspired me. Leica’s form language is absolutely beautiful. I could just look at my M6 all day and marvel it’s shape and design. That isn’t a prime reason perhaps to buy anything, but it certainly has always been a factor. There simply are no other cameras like it.
Leica’s significance in the history of photography is noteworthy to say the least. Photography’s significance in the history of our world is also noteworthy to say the least. To me Leica is the quintessential photographer’s instrument and among many other photographers, owning a Leica makes me feel like being a part of that story. Shooting a Leica has a lot to do with tradition, heritage and all that nostalgic stuff you’re probably already sick of hearing about.
Before I even knew what street photography was, that essentially was my vision of photography in it’s pure form. I’m certainly not trying to invent anything new. I love the idea of going out there and fantasising about being a street photographer in the 1950’s. For me it’s almost like a role playing game or an attempt to re-live history. I’m happy to dwell on the past and do my best to shoot street photography the old way. I’ve never felt the need to push the boundaries of street photography or help it to evolve. It has already reached it’s perfection back in the day, and I don’t see it needing to get any better — it just needs to be kept done. Other photographers are welcome to break new ground. Matching equipment is of course part the methodology. There are rules to every game.
To give you an idea what my attempt really is, I think these video montages illustrate it quite well. I’ve uploaded few different slide shows to YouTube that contains a lot of my street photography work. There are portraits and other stuff in the mix as well, but they all basically follow the same ideology. Most of these are shot with a Leica.