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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

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Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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A lot of $$$
Old 06-10-2015   #1
Bill Pierce
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A lot of $$$

Does it make sense to spend a lot of money on a digital camera? Weíre still early in the development of these cameras, and, unlike film cameras, the passage of just a few years can bring major advances to the field that provide good reasons to buy new cameras and replace the old ones. A friend who owns a camera store that works with a lot of the countryís top photographers says this is exactly what is happening. In some ways he says he is in the camera swapping business.

Look at the improvement in the Leica digitals from the Digilux, M8/9 days. It would be foolish to denigrate the quality of the newer Leicas including the just released Q. Yet, among my friends, many of whom owned multiple Leica film bodies, no one currently uses digital Leicas. Admittedly, that is a rather extreme example, but many, including those few who never used a rangefinder, have switched from brands they spent decades with since moving to digital, an evolving, changing field. Does it make sense to spend a lot of money on a digital camera if it is not the lifetime investment that many film cameras were?

Can you spend a lot of money on a short term investment if you are a young person just starting out or are a person responsible for a family? Actually, this concerns me a lot more than what I choose to do. And there is another thing that concerns me. I donít like the camera brand I grew up with, Leica, becoming a conspicuous consumption item worn like jewelry instead of a camera just because itís expensive.

Your thoughts??
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Old 06-10-2015   #2
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Neither does fancy old gear.
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Old 06-10-2015   #3
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Actually I don't think we're that early in the development of digital cameras. We're starting to see image quality start to plateau more and there's a much slower turnover of sensors. Even cameras from a few years ago are often still very good for most applications. There's better AF, stabilisation, handling, etc., new novelty features - useful things often, but nothing that makes older cameras obsolete for the vast majority of camera buyers no doubt.
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Old 06-10-2015   #4
uhoh7
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Time or money, take your pick. When you factor in all the fiddling to develop and scan from film, you might have been earning some money for a digital M.

Also in real dollars, are today's Leicas more expensive than say, a Contax in 1955?

Today a used M9 is still worth over 3k, the highest resale of any FF camera. And it is capable of incredible quality images. The M8 can be found as low as 1200, and makes gorgeous images.

In terms of "sense" of course the digital Leicas make it. Other factors at play, not least the film cult and digital curmudgeoness LOL

i.e. if you hate digital, then no it does not make sense
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Old 06-10-2015   #5
Godfrey
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Pierce View Post
Does it make sense to spend a lot of money on a digital camera? We’re still early in the development of these cameras, and, unlike film cameras, the passage of just a few years can bring major advances to the field that provide good reasons to buy new cameras and replace the old ones.
...
Your thoughts??
I feel that was true in the period from 2001 to 2010. But development had reached a good plateau through most brands by 2007 already, and certainly by 2012 most makes had produced cameras that are sufficient for a ten year use life, despite that newer models have superceded them. Most of what I see in subsequent models has been more convenience features, more (unnecessary) pixel resolution, and minor improvements in responsiveness. I still sometimes use a superb 2003 Olympus E-1 that I purchased in 2008—despite being long outmoded by newer, zipper models, it still produces superb photos that fit many needs.

The Leica M lens family has been a more difficult proposition for a digital body due to the lens mount register and the diversity of design in RF lenses, so it's taken Leica a couple more years to complete the development to an acceptable level; Leica works on development slowly, incrementally, most of the time anyway. I feel they have gotten it right with the typ 240 (including 246) model where the M8 and M9 models were development steps along the way.

With the M-P typ 240 and M Monchrom typ 246 (now on order), Leica has hit the stride they were at with the MP film camera. I feel quite comfortable that I'll have a good decade's worth of use out of these before I feel I need to update to a newer M body, which is about what I felt with my prior M film cameras and Nikon SLRs.

(Of course, I got twenty years out of my Nikon FM/FE2 bodies, and still use a 1960 F, and I still use my CL and M4-2 bodies as well. They're all outmoded but still good enough to produce the goods. So I suspect the M-P/MM246 will likely last longer than just a decade if I can keep from wanting more stuff.... :-)

G
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Old 06-10-2015   #6
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I think digital is now at a level and has been for the last five-ish years maybe that any camera from any of the major manufacturers is good enough for 99% of photographers. I don't think film cameras have ever been a good investment maybe some rare leica or nikon. But when you work back the cost of film cameras to todays digital models they are about the same price. In the mid 80s in the UK a Nikon F4 cost £1800 that was a lot of money know you are lucky to get £100 for one.
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Old 06-10-2015   #7
KM-25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by uhoh7 View Post
Today a used M9 is still worth over 3k, the highest resale of any FF camera.
I have been looking at M9's lately because it is easy to find one is great shape for less than 3K. But I don't agree with the highest retail thing given it was 7K when it first came out and often sees far less action / frame counts than say, a Nikon D800.

In every single case of when I upgraded cameras, my Nikon bodies had anywhere from 70-120K frames on them and sold for around 60% of what I bought them for new which was usually the highest price since I get them when they first come out.

I'd say Leica digital bodies lose value just like any other camera.

On another note, the mint late serial M6TTL ( Avatar ) I just got for $1,200 was $1,350 when new.
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Old 06-10-2015   #8
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Well, I just bought a used Leica M240. Cost a pretty penny. To help finance it I sold my Fuji X-T1 with kit lens, 55-200 zoom and 35mm zoom. Also my Bessa R4A. Still have my M4 with a nice assortment of M lenses (Zeiss and Voigtlander). I still get a thrill shooting a new camera. Worst case is I sell the M240 for not too much less than I paid for it.

Only time and practice can make me a better photog, but the gear can keep me interested. If I hadn't accumulated some decent gear over time, I would not have been able to pull the trigger on an M240 purchase though.
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Old 06-10-2015   #9
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Lots of young ones buying exotic two real, no rear seats cars, $15K bikes, $30K bass boats and else for $$$. All aren't suitable for families, nor are "investments".
With expensive Leica they at least are able to take family pictures. Which is valuable asset.
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Old 06-10-2015   #10
mlu19
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From google search: Leica M4 new at retail price was ~$305 which is the equivalent of $2,017 after inflation today. That's certainly a lot of $$$ back in the day.
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Old 06-10-2015   #11
jsrockit
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You can upgrade your digital camera like you do a computer... every 4-6 years...at this point.
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Old 06-10-2015   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KM-25 View Post
I'd say Leica digital bodies lose value just like any other camera.
Kind of, sort of... but the M9 is 6 years old. The D700 was $3000 originally. Now, $600-800. Close to what you say. Many others don't do as well... especially mirrorless.
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Old 06-10-2015   #13
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Higher-end digital cameras are often bought for use in paid work.

The product I deliver with my D800 is demonstrably and objectively better than the same images taken with a D3000. Of course we can argue semantics here about "it's not the gear it's the photographer" but I'm talking about me, or any photographer, using one or the other camera. The better camera will create better technical results.

Whether or not Joe Plumber, weekend photo hobbyist who shoots flowers in his garden, needs a Leica M240 is a different story. Whether he wants it, vs. needing it, is also a very different thing.

When I was 24 I bought my first FF digital camera, a D700. Still use it a lot. I paid almost $2,000 for it, but I made that money back + a lot more in paid work. As it should be. If I were 100% hobbyist I would only shoot film. But even plenty of exotic or cult items are very expensive.
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Old 06-10-2015   #14
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Let's see, I am an amateur, I shot about 200 rolls last year, that's 1.000 EUR, plus about 100 EUR for chemicals, negative sheets, etc. I usually spend 2-3 hours scanning a film, so that makes about 500 hours of work, and down here the minimum hourly wage equivalent is around 12 EUR, which would make it about 6.000 EUR, which I luckily save because I scan while doing other work ( I have skipped the cost of buying a decent scanner and it's depreciation). So how does it add up? 7.100 EUR in a year - well, the old Leica Monochrom ( I only shoot B&W) cost 6.550 new with a couple of years of warranty, so if I bought one every second year, I would be practically halving my photographic costs.
I think the comparison would be even worse for someone shooting colour, so here is the hidden answer to your question.
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Old 06-10-2015   #15
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Before buying an M240, I sat down and really crunched the numbers-- not accounting for time, there would be more expense over a three year period involved in buying and processing film, than depreciation on the M body, at least for my rate and style of shooting.

When you factor in time scanning, and time processing, the balance for me tips heavily toward digital, despite the upfront expense.
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Old 06-10-2015   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
Let's see, I am an amateur, I shot about 200 rolls last year, that's 1.000 EUR, plus about 100 EUR for chemicals, negative sheets, etc. I usually spend 2-3 hours scanning a film, so that makes about 500 hours of work, and down here the minimum hourly wage equivalent is around 12 EUR, which would make it about 6.000 EUR, which I luckily save because I scan while doing other work ( I have skipped the cost of buying a decent scanner and it's depreciation). So how does it add up? 7.100 EUR in a year - well, the old Leica Monochrom ( I only shoot B&W) cost 6.550 new with a couple of years of warranty, so if I bought one every second year, I would be practically halving my photographic costs.
I think the comparison would be even worse for someone shooting colour, so here is the hidden answer to your question.
Quote:
Originally Posted by mdg137 View Post
Before buying an M240, I sat down and really crunched the numbers-- not accounting for time, there would be more expense over a three year period involved in buying and processing film, than depreciation on the M body, at least for my rate and style of shooting.

When you factor in time scanning, and time processing, the balance for me tips heavily toward digital, despite the upfront expense.
Exactly right by my reckoning, excluding aesthetic values, of course. Digital depreciation corresponds to film-related expenses.

But there is another point to emphasize, which uhoh mentions. One need not buy new. Digital gear has advanced so far in the last few years that one can buy a fairly well depreciated but very capable digital body at a more manageable price and produce excellent work.
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Old 06-10-2015   #17
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Leicas were always used as jewelry by the super-rich and the super-rich wannabes. The difference now is the larger media visibility of celebrity(plutography), and that Leica has a a modern[sleazy]marketing department now.
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Old 06-10-2015   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mdg137 View Post
Before buying an M240, I sat down and really crunched the numbers-- not accounting for time, there would be more expense over a three year period involved in buying and processing film, than depreciation on the M body, at least for my rate and style of shooting.

When you factor in time scanning, and time processing, the balance for me tips heavily toward digital, despite the upfront expense.
I bought two $5000 Nikon D3 bodies in 2008; If every frame I shot with the D3's was done and paid for using transparency film and processing(no prints), both cameras paid for themselves in a year and a half.
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Old 06-10-2015   #19
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I expect I'll be using my M240 in 10 years time. The Canon 5D (original) is coming up to 10 years old, and I still use mine (I've had it for about 6-7 years; bought 2nd-hand from someone upgrading to the then-new 5DmkII). It's still a good camera, though I now use it somewhat less than I used to, simply because the M240 is better at a lot of the tasks I used the 5D for. (But for some things the 5D is still a better choice.) I was fortunate to find myself, quite unpredictably, in a position to buy the Leica, otherwise I'd still be using my 5D for those tasks. (Well, perhaps I might have bought something else, but I well might not: I can't really know for sure.) I used my Canon 50D (bought new, when it first came out) for almost as long as my 5D, for sports and wildlife type shots, and only recently upgraded from that (with a very specific objective in mind, otherwise I'd probably still be happily using it).

So, no, I don't think digital cameras are necessarily things that are disposed of when the 'next big thing' comes along. Though I guess they can be if you want to treat them that way. I don't.

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Old 06-10-2015   #20
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"I expect I'll be using my M240 in 10 years time."
Personally, I think that digital cameras are expected to last as long as the warranty. My only serious digital camera died "in sleep" when it was 5 years old, and it was almost unused.
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Old 06-10-2015   #21
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Remember when we waited eagerly for the newest Mac or PC to be announced. 2 years was the max for owning any PC. Now we hardly notice a new announcement. We are not quite there yet with Digital Cameras, but it's gotta happen where it levels off soon, right?
I was at a wedding this week and the amount of camera technology there was staggering. Three or four guys 24 years old, were working the floor with kits made of the latest stuff. Where did they get that kind of money so early in life. I did weddings with a Nikon F and a 28/3.5 and an 85/2, period. All bought used for under $500. Back then we waited for a review by Herbert Keppler to help us make our next purchase. Then off to Shutterbug to see the prices, both new and used. It's all good.
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Old 06-10-2015   #22
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On the flip side, I did a bit of freelance work recently with one of the largest graduation photography businesses in the USA and they used nothing but Nikon D3000's and the kit lens, with flash.
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Old 06-10-2015   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfogiel View Post
My only serious digital camera died "in sleep" when it was 5 years old, and it was almost unused.
And I just grabbed my poor old Canon 300D (aka original Digital Rebel), stepped out on my balcony and took a quick shot to demonstrate it still works (I've owned it for more than 10 years; it got about 18,000 shots on the clock before being 'replaced' with a 30D).


[click through or download to view the EXIF if you like]

I'm not sure what either anecdote proves.

...Mike
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Old 06-10-2015   #24
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Depends on the person, for some, it'll end up being a stress-producing drain on finances, for others it'll be worth every penny.

Digital camera are not a lifetime investment, but of course, nor do they have ongoing costs in the way film does. It's like a computer, I know my computer is plummeting in value the moment I buy it, but it'll serve me every single day for the cost of the electricity it uses. My computer isn't an investment, but nor is a great bottle of whisky, but certainly worth the money.
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Old 06-10-2015   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mfunnell View Post
And I just grabbed my poor old Canon 300D (aka original Digital Rebel), stepped out on my balcony and took a quick shot to demonstrate it still works (I've owned it for more than 10 years; it got about 18,000 shots on the clock before being 'replaced' with a 30D).
Yikes, technology sure has come a long way.
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Old 06-11-2015   #26
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One can make numbers dance!
Film costs each shot.
True.
Digital is not free.
No Siree!.
Computers are replaced regularly.
Need extra drives in case a "no read files" disaster..
Digital high end cameras seem to need more adjustments than my old film ones..
Canon, Nikon and Pentax all owned by friends "many" times off to guarantee servicing.
Leica not only one with less than perfect record.
I use point and shoot cameras for digital.
Last Canon that died after one of it's many falls, had exposed over 70,000 images!
Film i shoot carefully.
My numbers nowhere near my digital..
So at present shooting, incl. darkroom, storage sheets, total costs per month, would need about 2~3 years to equal even a basic DSLR.
Film will also allow me to do wet darkroom, for a few special B/W.
A fellow i met attended a Magnum workshop with his Leica 240 and Asph lens.
The Magnum member commented that he could "not be a professional to afford that camera"..
Few pros can balance the costs of Leica lenses and constant new bodies.
I learn't that way back in 70's when 2 of my Leica lenses went away in an attack on my car.
I could not, nor would afford that cost of replacement.
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Old 06-11-2015   #27
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Quote:
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Yikes, technology sure has come a long way.
I agree - and yet, in a different sense, I've recently been admiring the technological leap between open-aperture metering and earlier stopped-down metering SLRs, and the different ways the various manufacturers did that. Comparing the original Spotmatic with the Spotmatic F (the day the universality of the M42 mount died), the Nikon, Canon, Miranda (yes, Miranda!) and other solutions and non-solutions - while realising these are still (still!) often excellent cameras with excellent lenses, some of which need not hang their heads in company of well-regarded modern lenses.

I've also been noting that cameras, in those days mattered less than they do now. For many subjects it's almost impossible to tell whether a frame was taken with an 'amateur' AE-1 or a 'professional' EOS-1v using their respective 50mm/f1.4 lenses and 'whatever' film choice (in my case, Tri-X in HC110, but it works just as well with Provia in E6). You can tell the difference with digital kit. My personal take is that digital won't really be mature until you can't. (Within the same or similar formats.)

...Mike
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Old 06-11-2015   #28
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Having read through all the replies so far, I get the sense that I'm the only one who agrees with the OP, even though I don't disagree with the observations of any of the other commenters. I'm just not sure anyone else is exactly addressing the point Mr. Pierce was making. The camera manufacturers seem to implicitly agree with him; hold a D800 in one hand and an F6 in the other, hold an M9 in one hand and a Nikon S2 in the other. On the one hand you've got items built to last, and on the other items built with the understanding that there is no point in taking that much care in manufacturing because nobody will be using them long enough for that to matter.
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Old 06-11-2015   #29
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I rarely think of buying cameras in terms of holding value. To me the value is in actually using them. I'm lucky in the fact they are all paid for through the work I do. Right now I have over 100K on both my Canons. ANd well over 100K on the ones before I bought these. I have over 30K on my Leica MM. Those are all photographs I wouldn't have taken if I didn't have the equipment. The plan is to switch completely over to Leica M in the next couple of years instead of replacing the Canons with Canons.
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Old 06-11-2015   #30
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Quote:
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I donít like the camera brand I grew up with, Leica, becoming a conspicuous consumption item worn like jewelry instead of a camera just because itís expensive.
It always has been. Of course there were serious photographers back then who used Leicas, but there were also doods like my Dad and Uncles who bought Leicas because they were the fanciest cameras. And funnily enough I don't remember them taking photos.
Kinda like now.

What I have noticed is that now there are far more people who have old Leicas as an item of jewelry rather than digital ones. Because they are cool, and frankly, a lot prettier. They have that steam punk chic that is missing in modern cameras, and it helps that they can take a decent snap too if need be..
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Old 06-11-2015   #31
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This may be a parallel observation, you guys decide: I've been thinking a lot lately about $$$ and Leica, but not for a digital Leica: I am looking into getting an M-A and the black chrome 50mm Summilux lens. Now when I heard about it, I thought the M-A was no more than an expensive M2. Some time in the last few weeks I've changed my tune, and am now in the process of reducing "my inventory" of cameras to help fund this purchase. I am not thinking about resale but am thinking about what the expense will give me (and not necessarily you}: a modern made new film camera in the style of the classic Leica cameras that I now own, use, enjoy. I have a chrome 0.72 MP that gives me the same aesthetic: modern made but classic design; the M-A takes that further. Spending $8k on a monochrome makes no sense to me and makes sense to apparently many. $4k for an M-A makes sense to me but I suspect few others. C'est la vie.
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Old 06-11-2015   #32
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When I was a kid, my dad used to develop film in our kitchen. It was magic - the red light, the trays where an image began to appear. He had a Leica, it was a beater, he got plenty of use out of it. I'm with the OP on this one, there's so much conspicuous consumption today, which 'brand' defines who you are? Leica digital cameras are really expensive now - the new Q is over $4K, and it looks to be a wonderful camera, but for me, that is crazy expensive - particularly because what I really love doing is going out amongst people who are going through really hellish circumstances, and documenting their lives.

Although I haven's used film in a while, for me, it is a beautiful medium. Some of the work on this forum, film and digital is really inspiring. That creativity can't be defined by a brand.
A lot us, myself included, are amazed at what some of the new cameras can do. I love the Monochrome - but for me, it just isn't a realistic option.
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For A Thousand Bucks....or you could buy an FE
Old 06-11-2015   #33
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For A Thousand Bucks....or you could buy an FE

Some guy on the interweb posited that the best camera ever was an M3 with a 50 2.0 and that you could do it for a grand.

Great. Super. Do it. But a grand is a grand and a lot o' dosh.

A lotta folks would be very, VERY, happy with an Nikon FE and a Series E 50 1.8.... I mean really. Got the dough? Great. Buy the M3 (or M2 or M6 TTL...) But if you only have a few hundred bucks and NOT a grand, cheee..... You'll not notice the difference in the images, you really won't.... Promise.

Pinky swear.

Pinky swear forever on your mama's best church hat.

Unless you shoot pictures of brick walls or Lensalign targets or something sociopathic like that.....


Or.....

You could buy any of the two-year-old iterations of digital loveliness for about the same dough (an X100 $500; a D700 w/ 50mm is less than a grand..... etc, etc, etc,...) and THE CAMERA/LENS WILL NOT HOLD YOU BACK.

H3ll, shot carefully, at its base ISO, a "responsible for a family" person can shoot an S95 for less than $150 all decade long and never be disappointed in the camera or the "technical quality" of the images.

The content, however.... That'd be another story, bru.......
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Old 06-12-2015   #34
giellaleafapmu
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It's like with any gear, a camera has its life cycle, during which should produces money, if you compute properly how much you are making with each product choice and how much does it cost to buy and resale against how much does it cost to rent you should easily compute whether you are spending too much on gear or not. If you use a camera for your enjoyment then all this does not apply and you should only ask how much you want to spend on your joy. Just talking of the new Leica Q (which is more expensive than most cameras), if you consider that a tailor suit and shoes can get more expensive than that and that with the price of the Leica Q you don't even get close to the cheapest Rolex or Audemars Piguet watch I think that after all cameras are not so terrible at this level. Now if you fancy a PhaseOne or certain light sets things get different, but few do outside professional work.

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Old 06-13-2015   #35
quadtones
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As it happens, the advent of the latest two or three Leica models has me struggling with whether to divest myself of the Leica gear I do use. In all, I can barely tell the [meaningful] difference between the photos [at print size] shot in 1984 with my first M6 [which I still own and use] and my M9, which is now in its sixth year [not to mention the prints from my 50mm Summicron and the M2 I picked up used sometime in the late 60s]. First, that's because my youngest lens is a 35mm Summicron that I picked up in 1984 [used at the time], and my other lenses, six in all, have been purchased used and accumulated over quite some time. I finally added a Monochrom, purchased used, a couple of years ago, financed by selling off some other gear.

I don't have to earn a living with this stuff. I do exhibit, sell some prints, etc., but am fortunate to be able to be my own patron. Even so, looking at the new gear, I simply cannot justify the expense of "upgrade." The only reason I have even thought about upgrading it is the ownership of a number of lenses I could never afford to replace with their contemporary counterparts.

I agree with Bill's original observation, and feel that these cameras have somehow become "objects," rather than "tools." I would prefer to continue to think of myself as a photographer rather than simply a consumer of "Veblein goods." Still, it's hard at this time to consider a completely new tool set, especially when the lenses designed by Mandler still work for me after more than 30 years.
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Last edited by quadtones : 06-13-2015 at 07:05. Reason: Typos
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Old 06-13-2015   #36
Oscuro
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Look, Bill's right.
The thing is, there currently exists sufficient tools to produce printed or projected images of stupendous quality. Camera builders know this.

The marketing departments know this and the ownership knows this. And hey, innovation is good.

All too often, however, the force that drives people to reconsider their arsenal, particularly in digital imaging, has nothing to do with the quality of the imagery. It has everything to do with exploiting a lingering sense of insufficiency or inadequacy (read Maslow for a more in-depth analysis) and the creation of need where none previously existed.

Cameras, film and digital, have long since become objects in the sense that Bill is using. The irony is that at the same time that this objectification caused the development of a huge market segment (as desired by marketing) and reduced the prices of cameras that are "outdated" and thus easier for a working stiff or a hobbyist to afford, it has also exploited and rubbed raw the "need" to have the latest.

It's done very deliberately.

All the working pros that I cross paths with are curious about new developments. I'll say it again, all the working pros. Some are more gear-centric than others - I'll use Kirk Tuck as an example of a cat who changes kit as frequently as a banana republic changes governments. There's nothing wrong with that. But there are certainly a lot of guys and gals for whom the camera has sort of disappeared and are quite happy using "outdated" gear and the imagery certainly isn't suffering as a result.

We can always rationalize the upgrade using the quantum improvement in equipment that we've convinced ourselves that will make our jobs (or our hobby) easier. But it is usually just that, a rationalization.

A friend of mine who is an air force pilot makes the joke "never fly the A-model of anything." Of course, he doesn't get the choice which is partly what makes it funny. The photographer might consider not shooting the next three models of anything. That usually the choice is inherent makes it even funnier.
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Old 06-13-2015   #37
leicapixie
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Earlier i wrote about part of my experiences, as to costs.
The reality all my pro jobs these years are headed to the internet.

Small images, seldom printed..
I have not been allowed on these pro jobs to use film, where tonality and dynamic range, would have bettered digital.
Digital scores with almost no light for exposure.

I don't have fancy Digital cameras but P/S digital..
So there is good and bad.
The good for me, that should I destroy or damage a camera, like kinda out $100 or less.
One Nikon P/S digital was $5, Minolta Dimage free(stunning B/W).
Working this way, there are no 30x40" prints..
There never were, even in my film only days..
The results are what counts.
Clients happy, I am happy.
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Old 06-13-2015   #38
Huss
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Quote:
Originally Posted by quadtones View Post
In all, I can barely tell the [meaningful] difference between the photos [at print size] shot in 1984 with my first M6 [which I still own and use] and my M9, which is now in its sixth year [not to mention the prints from my 50mm Summicron and the M2 I picked up used sometime in the late 60s]. First, that's because my youngest lens is a 35mm Summicron that I picked up in 1984 [used at the time], and my other lenses, six in all, have been purchased used and accumulated over quite some time.

What size is your print size? I use all sorts of film Leicas with lenses ranging from 1950s summicrons to current asph luxes and the difference is extremely noticeable between the film Leicas and digital (M9 or M240) using the same lenses.
At 4 by 6, hard to tell. By 8 by 12 it is obvious w/ regards to sharpness, clarity, 'grain'.
I'm not saying one is 'better' than the other (which is why I use both), just saying that there is a dramatic difference in the way the images look once printed at 8 by 12 or beyond.
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Old 06-13-2015   #39
Ronald M
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We have gone far enough for it to be practical. Film is a niche market already.

A new machine can be purchased when the old wears out or becomes unrepairable so unless there is some killer feature you must have, just take a pass.
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Old 06-13-2015   #40
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It probably does not make sense to keep spending given the rate of obsolescence in the field. The way I approach it is to seldom buy the "latest and greatest" gear. The truth is for most practical purposes, gear that is one or two generations removed from the latest is perfectly adequate. Sometimes even better (ironically the M8 Leica seems a case in point given the technology problems later versions have experienced). So I have kept my M8 and still use it.

For this reason I did not even get a digital camera until about 2002 but stuck with film. Until the Nikon D70S came out (I stuck with Nikon as I already had Nikon lenses) my view was that digital cameras simply were not value for money. Today a couple of upgrades later, having purchased a second hand D200 to upgrade from the D70s, I still use a D700 which is still quite adequate for my needs (although for landscape work I may eventually get a D800 or some such because of the great increase in sensor resolution. Many others I know whould have gone D70s/D80/D200/D300/D700/D800/D810 etc by now.

But I have made mistakes too. Some years ago I lusted after a Panasonic L1 (which Leica was also rebadging as one of theirs) as it was the closest thing to a digital Leica then within my grasp. I did not foresee that the four thirds technology would be taken over by micro four thirds making this a dead end.

My advice to someone starting out would be as follows. (1) Buy a good camera that is one or two generations behind current models. Don't worry about that so long as it does what you ask of it. (2) Hang onto it for as long as you can and do not upgrade on a whim. Only do so when you have a real reason. (3) Put your money into the best lenses not the best and most current bodies which date much faster than lenses. (4) Invest in a mature system which is not going to suddenly start selling cameras that are not backward compatible and will require a whole system of lenses and accessories if you change. (5) Use your cameras as much as you can as they will not hold their value anyway.

A final thought. Although the speed of change has increased greatly what we are seeing is not new. Camera equipment makers have always had the problem of having to induce us to regularly buy new equipment so they can stay in business. Even when the change makes no sense. One of may favorite stories is this.

Back in the early days of SLR film cameras Pentax made a range of SLRs that they sold before the Spotmatic. One of these models was sold with a top shutter speed of 1000ths of a second and was marketed accordingly as a top end camera as that was unusual in the market then. When that market segment was full and sales declined they then marketed the identical camera (with a new top plate) as a slightly cheaper model with only 500th of a second top speed. But nothing had changed internally and if you knew the trick you could still shoot at 1000ths by turning the shutter speed dial one (unmarked) stop beyond the 500ths mark. It kind of shows how desperate makers are to sell, sell, sell.
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