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03-03-2014, 06:03 PM   #16
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You can pick up Leica M2/3/4 for around $500-600. Not that much more expensive than LX. You can get Leica lens if you shop around for $1000 or even less. Pricewise, it's around the same as pentax limited lenses.
As long as you stick with film, Leicas are cheap.

Four years ago in Tokyo I picked up mint condition Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux, I think it was from mid 60s. I paid $1000 for it. I used it on my m4/3 system and it performed great, one of the best lenses I've owned. After selling my m4/3 system, I sold it for around $2500 on ebay. Now I regret selling it, since I have been shooting lots of film for the past year and I'm considering getting an older Leica to accompany my Pentax MX and Hasselblad.

03-03-2014, 06:13 PM   #17
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QuoteOriginally posted by maxxxx Quote
I think it's like having a Rolex or another expensive watch. By most objective standards they are not that much better to justify the price. They just "feel" great and the buyers appreciate the workmanship. At least that's how I feel about my Rolex.
This may be the best answer thus far. Rolex does the same thing a Casio does. GM makes the same truck Chevy does. Ok, actually I'd buy the Chevy if I had to. Hyundai makes the same car Kia does. For that matter, Yugo makes a vehicle with a motor and tires the same as BMW does.

Or maybe they're not the same. There's something to be said for refinement.

Now, would I spend my $8,000 on a Leica? Heck no! But I could easily spend $8,000 on a full frame Canon and some super, super nice glass. And you know what? My pics would prolly still look like snap shots. Or maybe they wouldn't!

After reading your responses to your original post, it seems like you're being anti-elitist, or hipster-snobbish. In other words, I'm not sure I understand the point of your OP and your subsequent responses to, what seem to me, legitimate responses. If you complain about not giving answers to your questions, it seems like your only response to disliking/hating the Leica is that you don't understand the need to spend $8,000 on a camera. To which I say, until you've shot one, it's difficult to encapsulate the experience. And yes, digirev seemed torn, but he also seemed super concerned about the price tag too.
03-03-2014, 06:27 PM   #18
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First off, thank you all for the insight. This is the conversation I was expecting from PentaxForums.


QuoteOriginally posted by Byrd-2020 Quote
I think most (though certainly not all) of the folks who purchase Leica digital cameras do so because they are already invested in Leica glass. And I suspect that most (though not all) still shoot some film. An M9 or M240 is for them he most logical way to utilize their (superb) lenses.

Leica shooters tend to be (though many are not) passionate about photography and committed to the "rangefinder experience". The outlay on photo gear seems to them not that extreme at all.

If you think this kind expenditure is irrational (at least for those of ordinary means) you might want to talk to the wife of a bass fisherman.

I hadn't looked at that approach. It's similar to my own experience of sticking with Pentax when entering the realm of the DSLR, even though most of my film glass at the time was crap. That has since changed.

QuoteOriginally posted by maxxxx Quote
I think it's like having a Rolex or another expensive watch. By most objective standards they are not that much better to justify the price. They just "feel" great and the buyers appreciate the workmanship. At least that's how I feel about my Rolex.

Loads of lovely watches out there I'd love to have, but it's low on my list with other priorities.

QuoteOriginally posted by RobA_Oz Quote
The main thing with Leicas, it seems to me, is the quality of their lenses. You can talk all you like about the craftsmanship that goes into assembling, inspecting and testing each body by hand, but for a photographer, it's the image that counts, and most died-in-the-wool brand fanatics of less-expensive DSLRs will acknowledge the superb image-making potential of Leica lenses. People on comparatively humble incomes used to save for years to afford a film Leica, years ago, for just that reason. They still feel good in the hand, and to operate, and of course so do many other camera bodies, but the lenses are hard to beat. If you can afford a Leica, and want to produce the best images available in the 35FF format, why wouldn't you?

Are the Leica lenses that far above and beyond the rest of the photography world to command such prices or is the production significantly more limited than other brands? Or both? At what point does it reach that "splitting hairs" and "point of limited return."


I'm assuming these lenses and their abilities are like that of some sort of highly engineered car for the track...only the best in the world are truly going to reap the rewards?


In the film world, specifically the manual cameras with manual focus, the metering system and lenses are the two key parts of the equipment puzzle, along with the film, that determine image quality. Are the Leica lenses, or entire system, that much better that the average person will be able to pick the Leica image from the best of what the other brands have to offer?

QuoteOriginally posted by Nuff Quote
You can pick up Leica M2/3/4 for around $500-600. Not that much more expensive than LX. You can get Leica lens if you shop around for $1000 or even less. Pricewise, it's around the same as pentax limited lenses.
As long as you stick with film, Leicas are cheap.

Four years ago in Tokyo I picked up mint condition Leica 50mm f1.4 Summilux, I think it was from mid 60s. I paid $1000 for it. I used it on my m4/3 system and it performed great, one of the best lenses I've owned. After selling my m4/3 system, I sold it for around $2500 on ebay. Now I regret selling it, since I have been shooting lots of film for the past year and I'm considering getting an older Leica to accompany my Pentax MX and Hasselblad.

I'm aware of the reputation of the lenses and this thread is pointed more at their digital models.


I haven't shot with a range finder other than my parents' Canon QL17. I'm interested in giving that another whirl.
03-03-2014, 06:27 PM   #19
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Leica has always made quality products and it's lenses are excellent. The big question is whether they really are worth the price premium. As always, are those "best images" the result of the camera or the photographer? The closest I will come to a Leica is the Panasonic LF 1 I own with a Leica branded lens. It's half the price of the same camera with a Leica brand which raises serious questions about the price premium.

I suppose you can apply the argument to any premium brand. Why ride a Harley? Or Ducati? Drive a Mercedes? A John Deere lawnmower? If you can afford it, why not?

03-03-2014, 06:55 PM   #20
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QuoteOriginally posted by tele_pathic Quote
After reading your responses to your original post, it seems like you're being anti-elitist, or hipster-snobbish. In other words, I'm not sure I understand the point of your OP and your subsequent responses to, what seem to me, legitimate responses. If you complain about not giving answers to your questions, it seems like your only response to disliking/hating the Leica is that you don't understand the need to spend $8,000 on a camera. To which I say, until you've shot one, it's difficult to encapsulate the experience. And yes, digirev seemed torn, but he also seemed super concerned about the price tag too.

I'd say I'm anti-esotericism. When someone inquires how long I've been into photography because I asked how a camera that isn't the top of the line in hardly any, if any, specifications or any other comparable metrics commands an $8,000 price tag, that screams of esoteric arrogance.


I genuinely was interested in the film Leica models and was reading about them and some history. The prices of the older models, even the III's are fairly high, likely due to their collectability, and when I used the Google function to look up the Leica MP, I had no idea what their model system numbering was like, I was surprised to see a used body at $4,500 - $5,000. So, my inquiring mind wants to know what is it about these bodies that draws these prices. The reputation and responses here have focused on the lenses.


My earlier responses were to someone who acted as if I'm not qualified or entitled to ask questions about these cameras because he perceived me as a newb. I get the concept of precision and refinement, I was curious as to what is that special something that makes people pay these prices? You have to sell a lot of photographs or jobs to make up the difference between the top of the line gear from other brands of the film days.


I think the same concept applies with today's digital cameras - are Canon's L-series lenses really worth their price tag? Probably only if you're doing something that requires their capabilities. Ed at PhotoUniverse discusses that when talking about shooting sports. He has a video comparing the prices of the Pentax system with DA/FA Limiteds compared to the Leica system. Came out to under $4,000 or less for Pentax and nearly $20,000 for the Leica system and he goes back and forth with whether or not you could see a difference in image quality.


That's the point of my question - are Leica's products good enough to warrant that kind of difference in price? Is the rangefinder experience worth that premium? Or are we talking about the last ten thousandth of an inch on the scale of best possible image quality? From 35mm no less...


Maybe I need to answer this for myself some day and grab an old film Leica and run a few rolls through it. Nothing posted here has even began to budge the scales about their digital cameras. It's very likely it's a different conversation if I made a living with photography, but when I see what people can produce with non-$8,000 camera bodies, it's hard to even consider it, even in the fantasy world of I'm a pro photographer. I'd almost certainly want to go the medium format route with that kind of money.

---------- Post added 03-03-14 at 09:22 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by reeftool Quote
Leica has always made quality products and it's lenses are excellent. The big question is whether they really are worth the price premium. As always, are those "best images" the result of the camera or the photographer? The closest I will come to a Leica is the Panasonic LF 1 I own with a Leica branded lens. It's half the price of the same camera with a Leica brand which raises serious questions about the price premium.

This is what I'm getting at. Is it the name that adds on significant price?

QuoteQuote:
I suppose you can apply the argument to any premium brand. Why ride a Harley? Or Ducati? Drive a Mercedes? A John Deere lawnmower? If you can afford it, why not?

I wouldn't call a Harley a premium brand. It's popular and has some history, but there are other American bike brands that may exceed Harley in quality. Harley has brand recognition and charges premium prices for anything with their brand on it. Harley went from a biker's bike to something entirely different. See the movie Wild Hogs. When Harley guys mock other bikes just because it's not a Harley, that's the kind of brand thing I'm talking about.


I'm looking at it from the other way around, as should anyone who wants to make money - at least that's been my experience being self-employed - if a tool can get the job done equally, or indistinguishably close enough, why pay two - three times as much because of the brand name?


To a degree, you get what you pay for applies, but that's typically when comparing the bottom of the barrel option; it may not apply when comparing the more than capable product to the most expensive product. Notice I didn't say most capable or best as I don't agree that most expensive = best.
03-03-2014, 08:47 PM   #21
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I think you are asking all the wrong questions.

First of all what is photography? It is to capture an image that an artist or in this case photographer envisioned. A camera is all but a tool. Nothing more. Specs don't matter. I was all after specs and sharpness and my photos were shit, after $1000s spent. Sharpness and DR don't make good photos. Most likely the bad photos look even worse. I can show you some low res blurry photos which are way better than anything produced by modern cameras.

Now, if an artists judges that one tool is better at capturing his vision and even if it's more expensive, than that's the right tool for them. Even if according to some marketing guy at Nikon or Canon that camera has inferior specs. People were making amazing photos in 50s and 60s. And it was always about the photographer. This still holds true today.

I for one would like a Leica, simply because the user experience is different. With my ancient hasselblad which doesn't even take batteries, I capture images better than I did before with my technological marvel of camera. Why? Because now I know what photo I want to make... not just walk around and pointlessly snap away hoping to get lucky.

My point is, don't get hung up about inferior specs of leicas. I bet most people who use them take better photos than most people on this board and don't care about the opinions of others. I use tools I like. Does it matter to me if your opinion is one way or another? Not really, I bet it's the same for other leica owners.
03-03-2014, 09:02 PM   #22
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The camera world is just as snobbish as the motorcycle world when it comes to brand recognition which is why I used the analogy. A little bit with cars too with some people. There is the Harley crowd, the BMW crowd, the Gold Wing crowd, etc and they all think everybody should be riding what they ride. We certainly see that in the camera world too. Some "bikers" talk more than they ride. Some photographers talk more than the shoot too. At the end of the day, everybody's bike got them there and back if he/she had the skill to ride it. The same is true in photography because a good photographer will get good photos from a Holga.

A Leica is a great camera but way out of my price range. Even if I did empty my savings and go buy one, it wouldn't make me a better photographer. Actually, my shots would probably look worse because I really wouldn't know how to use it. It takes practice and skill to use one which is another issue altogether. A professional tool requires professional skills or the patience to learn or the Leica won't be any better than a Holga.

03-03-2014, 09:26 PM   #23
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QuoteOriginally posted by jtkratzer Quote
Why the price tag?
Mystique.
03-04-2014, 04:51 AM   #24
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It's the Glass?

I've heard they make pretty good lenses. Maybe that's why?
A real puzzler here.
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03-04-2014, 05:42 AM   #25
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QuoteOriginally posted by jtkratzer Quote
This is what I'm getting at. Is it the name that adds on significant price?
Of course it's the name that adds the significant price... But they surely didn't build up such a brand name by building bad products.

On the other hand, the Leica S2 is THE coolest looking camera ever. I bet it performs extremely good, but if I didn't have to worry about money at all, I would buy it regardless of its performance.
03-04-2014, 06:02 AM   #26
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It's like the difference between German and Japanese made optics, like my top of the line Pentax ED binoculars and Zeiss FL binoculars were the German made one cost much more.

Last edited by jogiba; 03-04-2014 at 07:21 AM.
03-04-2014, 07:18 AM   #27
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One thing is obvious so far as price is concerned:

Assuming you are going to make an identical screw, camera body or lens to equal quality one made in Germany and one made in Asia they will have to reflect the stunning difference in production costs between the first and third world - economically it's inescapable. But, of course, there is always the mystique factor of having a camera made by little elves in the Black Forest compared to one made in an Asian sweat shop.

In other words an identical Asia made "Leica" should, I don't know if it would, cost substantially less than a German made Leica all else being equal.

Last edited by wildman; 03-04-2014 at 07:27 AM.
03-04-2014, 07:51 AM   #28
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Its like the watch business where the Japs came in with their 'low end' Seikos and Casios which the Europeans scoffed at in the beginning and got their butts kicked.
Those who were left knew that it would be hard to fight the low cost battle and wisely moved up the game as luxury timepieces.
Leica is smart to have left the yearly product (death) cycle which keeps R&D costs spiralling when true innovation/improvements often come at a slower pace, all this while keeping prices at a premium.


As with watches, an electronic Casio tells the time and does quite a bit of whiz-bang at a lower price.
Production line assembled with QC largely placed at the end of the assembly line.
The swiss watch looks classy, usually limited in quantity, hand assembled (fix a piece, have tea, have lunch, have tea again..etc)
Pride in work and QC really starts right from the work of the master craftsman,
Totally different market, philosophy
Exactly the same situation between Leica and the other camera makers.

I'd certainly think the Leica is better in some points.
But is it 5-7x the price better for my wallet (probably not).
If I was making 10K/hr, then my value proposition changes of course
03-04-2014, 08:01 AM   #29
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I bought my first Leica (the then-new M4) in 1968, while I worked at a Leica dealer in college and got a small discount. I used Pentax before that. By then Leica was the only good rangefinder camera on the market, and after using a borrowed one for available-light reportage photography I found I could nail focus in all lighting situations faster and more exactly than with any SLR (Pentax, Nikon F, Canon FT, etc) that I had tried. I kept an SLR for long lenses (135 & 200), and used Leica for 35-90mm.
When I got out of college I got Leica 35 f2, 50 f2, and 90 f2.8 lenses and used them alone on my Leica bodies (added an M6 in the 1980s for its light meter) through 2008.
Over the years I used Pentax (MX, LX), Canon (F-1), and Nikon (various) for SLRs, and would often shoot with whichever SLR and my Leica on the same job. Whenever I sorted through the slides or contact sheets to find the "keepers" 80% would have been shot with Leica - still using those 1968-69 lenses.
It's not that the lenses were so much better, but the whole process of shooting just felt better with the rangefinder Leica, I was more comfortable with it, and so got better results.
I never liked autofocus, and all the digital cameras I tried left me cold. When I retired in 2009 I found that Leica had the M9 digital that would work exactly like my old film Leicas, take all my old lenses, but with 24x36 digital output. Even though my income was dropping to pension level, I blew my retirement bonus on the M9. I've never regretted it, and those 1969 lenses are stunning on the M9.
Since then I bought a new film camera: a Zeiss Ikon ZM. Actually made by Cosina, it is an M-mount body that takes all my old Leica lenses, has a better viewfinder than Leica, and has aperture-preferred auto-exposure (like the current Leica M7 at 3 times the price). When I shoot film now I usually choose it.
03-04-2014, 11:28 AM   #30
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Similar questions were asked a few years back when Fuji came out with the X100. People screamed $1200 for that?!!! I could buy an entry level dslr for $400 and a lens for $400 that would do what the Fuji will. Then they were asked to look closer by those who understood the value of the Fuji. Though shown, few saw. Many don't understand the difference between price and value.

It was small, had a high quality semi fast lens on it that was made for the sensor. You can't get a cheap 23mm lens for your crop body that is as fast or provides the IQ of the Fuji lens. Today in the same forums that scoffed at the Fuji X100 we see people who use that camera and love it.

Leica is very similar, but because the price is even higher, few have the opportunity to try it and see the difference and then of course there is some jealousy or plain ignorance for some that drive derogatory comments

I would much rather own a Leica and one lens than a D4s and the best Nikon zooms. My photos would be better, not because of the gear though, rather one works the way I do and one paralyzes me with options and weight and a usage ethos that doesn't fit with how I shoot.

The best way to answer your question is to rent a Leica and lens combo and see what the fuss is about. Either you'll hate it or decide you need one.

Last edited by RyanW; 03-04-2014 at 11:40 AM.
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