What’s the Deal with Leica Cameras?

Zeh Daruwalla

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If you go on Youtube, or follow any professional 35mm photographers on social media, chances are that you’ll see them using a Leica camera. Since I started shooting 35mm film, Leica cameras have always been ingrained in my mind as the holy grail of film cameras. The golden standard of everything a 35mm camera should be. Yet, that’s not completely true. My objective isn’t to argue that Leica cameras are no good, heck I made the switch to Leica 6 months ago and I love my camera, but how can we justify the price point?

Do we talk about image quality and all the fantastic, yet insanely expensive lenses available? Or do we talk about nice the solid metal build quality of the camera bodies feel in our hands. All of those things, to me are minor benefits. I started shooting on a Canon FD system SLR, a system known to be more affordable. Yet, none of the gripes I had with the camera had anything to do with the lens sharpness or the quality of the camera body itself. In fact, I still have that camera, and have zero gripes with it at all. So why did I switch?

The right camera for any photographer needn’t be the most expensive, or even the best performing camera. The old saying goes “the best camera is the one you have on you”. Thats true, but I would reword it slightly. I’d say that the best camera you can get is the camera that gets you out the door. It all boils down to inspiration. Having the tools that inspire you to create art is a beautiful thing. If it so happens that those tools also happen to perform great, and carry a prestigious heritage, thats great too. However, it shouldn’t be the sole factor. In fact, it doesn’t really need to be a factor at all. My point is this, don’t get caught in an influence trap. Don’t get a camera because of how it looks in another’s hands. Get it because of how it feels when it is in yours.

To all the beginner film nuts, and experienced ones alike, we all need a bit of reminding sometimes, myself included. Art is not made by a paint brush, but the hand that wields it.

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