Originally Posted by noimmunity
In certain situations, I've noticed that people prefer to let themselves be "exposed" (i.e., photographed) by someone who exudes the respectful aura of knowing what they're doing. The name "Leica" provides a putative indicator of this respectful aura that is easily accessible for the uninitiated.
As I started getting into rangefinders, I noticed, in east Asian cities, that the name "Leica" makes a general impression. In quite a few instances, people would be much more willing to let themselves be photographed in candid situations when they were aware that the lens or the body was a "Leica". People with public images, such as performers and politicians, could be especially sensitive to brand-name recognition.
However, it would be puerile to imagine that esoteric brand recognition is the only way to achieve this effect. As I made slight progress in my photographic skills (which remain rewardingly amateurish), I discovered that there are other ways to achieve a similar end result. People will notice right away what kind of rapport the photographer has with her equipment (not to mention the subject), and this can be as equally or more convincing than brand.
Intriguing: thanks. But here are two thoughts prompted by your observations:
To those NOT familiar with Leicas, maybe they look more like point-and-shoots. i.e. less threatening than massive DSLRs
Those who shoot with Leicas may be more familiar with their cameras, because they have chosen an out-of-the-ordinary camera, i.e., they have already thought quite hard about which camera to use, and how.
This is not to disagree with your points for a moment, but rather (I hope), to add a little to them.