The Cost of Leica

One of the new members on the Leica forum ( I occasionally frequent posed the excellent question of how – given the high cost of Leica cameras and lenses – anyone other than professionals can justify their cost.  He received a number of thoughtful replies.  Here was mine.

It’s a slippery slope. After years of enjoying an SLR/DSLR, you look at all those timeless, iconic images taken with Leica rangefinders and all the great photographers who used them and you begin to wonder what all the fuss is about. So you decide to give it a little go. Just one Leica M body and a single lens. You probably buy them used.

After a few days, you suddenly realize that this strange rangefinder thing is kind of cool. It’s a heck of a lot easier carrying around your new Leica than that big, clunky SLR. And that one Leica lens you’ve got sure does render some really nice images. They have a crispness and a definition and a look that’s, well… just hard to describe.

Mostly, though, you find that using that M camera is just different. You start to see the world through a window, instead of through a tunnel. And that soon starts to be reflected in your images themselves. They are somehow subtly different from how they were before.

You’re quite pleased by all this. But there’s something that still nags at you, there in the back of your mind. That single prime that you’ve been using brings a freedom, sure. You love the simplicity it brings. It’s a revelation after all those years of using a zoom on your SLR. But, still, there are times you wish you had a different focal length. And so after awhile you start idly looking around. You visit Ebay and Craigslist and the Leica internet stores. You wander down to your local camera shop and look at that silver Lux behind the glass in their display case. You shake your head at all this. It’s way too expensive. And, heck, you’re just an amateur, a simple guy who does this for fun.

But you keep thinking about those images. The one’s you’ve gotten since you got into this rangefinder thing. You can’t get them out of your mind. And you can’t ignore the belief that you’ve become a better photographer for it.

And so you spring for that second lens.

And there it starts. You’re down the hill and gone.

Leicas are expensive cameras. Always have been. Always will be. They call to only a few. But if you’re among those few, you’ll find a way.

Leica M6

Leica M6


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