Why You Need a Leica

AND WHY THAT COULD BE A GOOD THING

Leica cameras are undoubtedly objects of desire.

Sure, you can tell yourself that it is silly to want one, that their technology is outdated and that they are not ‘all that’ or remind yourself that your pockets aren’t deep enough in order to dissuade yourself from that ostentatious whim – after all, a Leica, like any other camera, is nothing more than a black box with a hole to capture images.

It doesn’t really help does it? What is it that makes THIS black box so irresistible?

The other day I was reading an article on why luxury watch brands (Rolex, Omega, Patek Philippe etc.) have little success with female consumers and found the conclusion to be very interesting and at the same time a slightly disturbing in how obvious it was.

It turns out that even though wristwatches were originally considered more of a woman’s item, since men used to wear pocket watches, after the first world war there was a paradigm shift. The military, understanding that in order to coordinate troops and missions using chain watches was impractical, began mounting these bulky things onto leather straps that could be adjusted to the arm. Watchmakers were quick to realise that the solution was subpar and began to design and manufacture what we now know as the wristwatch.

However, it doesn’t end here. Despite the ‘new normal’ of this product, the wristwatch would continue to be a tool for soldiers to measure time or at the other end spectrum, a rather luxurious item only accessible to the few. In fact, some of these luxury Swiss brands, such as Omega, have been making watches for more than 150 years.

I know, I know, what in the world does any of this have to do with women buying less watches or Leica for that matter? If you bear with me for a moment longer, you’ll see!

It turns out that there was another paradigm shift, this time set off by the arrival of a new kid on the block named Hans Wilsdorf. Established brands paid little attention to Hans at first, unknowing that the founder of Rolex would came up with a brilliant idea that would not only change the watch market forever, but the history of modern marketing as well.

Wilsdorf understood that the concept of the watch as a tool could be taken much further and began to promote his watches as something that could be used not only by soldiers, but also by elite engineers, pilots, scientists, sportsmen…The brand ambassador and product placement were also born as a result. Rolex was no longer a simple jewel or a tool, it was an experience, a lifestyle. Sir Edmund Hillary was not wearing a watch when he first climbed Everest, he was wearing a Rolex Explorer. Sean Connery wasn’t wearing a watch in Goldfinger, he was wearing a Rolex Submariner.

Leica

The other brands were quickly eclipsed by Rolex and eventually they followed suit using celebrities and adventurers, all men of course. And here’s the kicker. Because it was a time in which women’s rights and freedoms were highly oppressed and the need to know time was not considered something ‘useful’ for a woman, the concept of the watch as a piece of jewellery remained and for this reason, among other things, women generally buy fewer luxury watches.

At this point you might have noticed that not once have I mentioned the technical details of these watches, in fact the vast majority of luxury watches are mechanical and although it consists of tremendously delicate and precise technology, it is undoubtedly very outdated.

So what about Leica?

Actually this little history of horology is very much tied to why you want a Leica without really knowing why. Have you ever noticed that in the few Leica campaigns technology is hardly mentioned? Megapixels, automatisms and shots per second are widely absent. Evidently the quality of Leica’s cameras and lenses are excellent, but that is not really why you want one.

Surely you have seen some of these videos:

Some (supposedly) were not even made by the brand, but in any case the whole idea or concept of the brand is based on the emotion, historical moments, the intrepid photographer and his camera. Like Rolex in its early days, Leica is all about photography as a way of life. An ideal.

In a sense, this is a good thing because I really think photography is not about bursts or megapixels or alloys. For me photography is about experiences, traveling, asking yourself questions and telling stories and if you are reading this, you might feel the same way.

The good news is that in order to live photography you don’t need a Leica, even if you “need” one.

P.S. Mister Leica, we want more women featured in these adventures. You wouldn’t want what happened with the watches, happen to you.

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2 replies
  1. jay
    jay says:

    Leica is the most trusted name in analog photography.
    I however don’t agree that it’s best to learn with! I use and used Leica M’s for generations.
    A SLR leaves it sanding still. That was already the 60’s.
    It’s always expensive to buy, maintain and lenses maybe better but only marginally.
    Film the worst way! So developing is “easy”. It’s not! Consistent results are difficult. Film costs money, each frame! $20~10 a roll. Chemicals and then developed? Need a scanner or a real darkroom plus a scanner for internet .A 16GB SD bought days ago under $10. Holds 10,000 images. 1600×100 and larger.. Able to explore in “ANY” light! easy to duplicate and correct for dust spots and film problems! I now use pocket cameras adequate for prints, easy share, FUN! Let’s move forward from the 1954 year of M3 introduction. My M3 was new in my hands in 1967! Lovely tool but Not practical..

    Reply
  2. Harry
    Harry says:

    A similar analogy would be the landrover defender. A solid, basic, uncompromising vehicle that does the job exceptionally well. It just gets on with it, will always be at your side and with proper regular maintenance last a very long time. Just like the Leica camera. Made more affordable by panasonic, at least lenses anyway.

    Reply

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