What makes a Leica camera so special?

Discussion in 'Adapted Lenses' started by DiaZN, May 30, 2014.

  1. DiaZN

    DiaZN Banned

    2
    May 30, 2014
    I have heard a lot recently about how "excited" people are over their Leica cameras. I've looked for some info about them, and found nothing special, other than the fact that they are insanely expensive. So, what makes it any better than a Nikon or Canon?
     
  2. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    The glass. Build quality and feel are also very important, but (at least for me) it's mostly about the glass.
     
  3. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    737
    May 1, 2013
    For me it's the focus on build, the experience for the shooter, and the way it somewhat guides me into a mindset of getting the pictures I'm looking for. Not a lot of automation, but really well thought out controls to help me easily balance the shot to get what I want.

    Some of the glass is truly remarkable too, as Andrew says. Not necessarily for their specs (although those are great), but more again in how they help balance the elements that go into making a neat looking picture.

    Subjective? Some of it is. But add it up, and for me at least, it's a great instrument to go get pictures with.
     
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  4. AlbertTRAL

    AlbertTRAL Leica Place Regular

    Being objective, for me is really the M lenses "despite" the M cameras... It is just physics or more accurately, optomechanics. If we follow history, the best lenses with less distortions and aberrations are the ones based on the symmetrical or pseudosymmetrical concept. These optical developments have a "slight" inconvenience and is the fact that the distance from the optical center to the image plane is approximately the same as the focal length of the lens.

    Back in 1950, Pierre Angenieux and Harry Zoellner at Carl Zeiss Jena applied at the same time for their "Retrofocus" and "Flektogon" design. It is a inverted telelens that permits you to move the lens last element away from the focal or image plane. This will leave space for the mirror in the reflex camera and for the turrets in the cinema ones.

    But increasing this "backfocus" distance (distance of the last element to the image plane) does not come "free of charge", we pay taxes in the form of increased distortions and aberrations that will never be reduced as in the symmetrical designs, or if these are reduce close to symmetrical values, the lens will grow phenomenally in size and weight (Otus?).

    All this is valid basically for standard lens and down, I mean focal length <50mm... this is the main reason why there is no Biogon for reflex and basically we only find Distagons, derived from “distance” and the Greek word "gonia" for “angle”. Thus a Distagon is a wide-angle lens with a large distance to the image, and this is not the only "large" characteristic, because we all have clear that in size and weight these are light years away from the Biogons (ZM).

    Even more, due to digital sensors characteristics (but this is another story) and exposure meetering, Zeiss increased in 3 mm the backfocus distance of the ZM family versus the G family (for the Contax G) and we all saw how the ZMs grew in weight and size away from the fabulous Gs...and also their distortions. If we check the back focal length of the Biogon 4.5/21, this was only 9 mm, in the Biogon 21 G, it increased to 12 mm. and in all ZM series lenses, the shortest back focal length is 15 mm.

    Well, again, I think that this is already too much writing, sorry... hope this have been helpful and shows why I am in the M domain... ;-) :) ...and shows probably the brightest star in the Leica M constellation...
     
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  5. Lightmancer

    Lightmancer Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    61
    Mar 30, 2013
    M is for "Messucher" ("rangefinder" ) and it is this that makes the Leica special. I have used LTM, M, R, Digilux and D-Lux cameras and lenses for nearly 25 years alongside many others, of all shapes and sizes, and I am here to tell you that there is absolutely nothing so fine as viewing your subject through the pellucidly clear viewfinder of an M-series Leica. The positivity of the rangefinder method of focussing coupled with the ability to see outside the frame, plus sure-footed handling and a superlative build quality is all part of the magic.

    That said, I have not warmed to the current digital bodies; they are too bulky, too tempramental and getting too complex. The M9 was nearly there but the Typ.240 introduced additional functionality, complexity and "bloatware" that for me at least has taken it away from the Leica philosophy. It remains to be seen what the future brings but for me at least my digital "Leicas" are today made by Fuji... For pure photographic pleasure I still use film in a Leica M2 and a II.

    And here's a thought - the first digital Leicas were made in collaboration with Fuji, long before the tie-up with Panasonic. In an alternate universe...

    Sent from another Galaxy
     
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  6. Amin

    Amin Administrator

    399
    Mar 28, 2013
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  7. carlb

    carlb Leica Place Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    737
    May 1, 2013
    Great blog/posting at that site, Amin. Thanks for sharing that. When I grew up with a Yashica-Mat 124, I learned quickly to work the aperture and shutter speed versus what the light meter told me.

    What I like about the M is how directly it allows me to balance those elements: Shutter up top (ignore "automatic"), aperture on the lens, ISO set for conditions, and push the shutter button half-down to see what the exposure will be. It lets me decide how I want to balance those, with just the right set of of controls and not a bunch of fancy automation.

    Manual focus (easy) or zone-focus (easier).

    It's a great camera to walk with.
     
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  8. raid

    raid Leica Place All-Pro

    Apr 12, 2013
    USA
    Raid
    The cameras and the lenses are excellent, but there is much more to a Leica. I compare using a Leica to driving an exotic German roadster. There are other cars out there, and it inludes maybe better cars, but no "car" drives like a Leica, in my opinion.

    Raid
     
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  9. xdayv

    xdayv Leica Place Veteran

    404
    Mar 31, 2013
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Dave
    It's the best camera experience I have to date, and it still is... that's coming from shooting the DSLR for many years.
     
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  10. rflove

    rflove Leica Place Regular Subscribing Member

    193
    Jul 13, 2014
    I've shot film SLRs and TLRs and Polaroids. Then moved to digital and have shot P&S, DSLRs and micro four thirds mirrorless cameras. I really wasn't going to get a Leica. You know, they are so damned expensive, and on top of that they are really unforgiving cameras. Anyway, I finally got the virus, bought a used M240 and "drank the kool-aid". The truth is that I really like owning and shooting with the Leica and I love the Leica lenses as well. Sure, the camera is limiting in some ways and practically there is no way I can afford all the lenses that would like to have for it. For that I keep other fine but less pricey cameras with the long lenses. However, I find myself using those less and less.... I am thinking of selling them all and putting down extra cash so I can get "one more" Leica lens :)
     
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  11. QBI

    QBI Leica Place Regular

    44
    Mar 5, 2015
    No idea but me too (thinking of selling my other stuff to buy more Leica). Since I got my first Leica last Easter I've hardly touched my M4/3 kit. The Leica is just an absolute pleasure to own/ handle/ work with/ learn about.

    Possibly I'll buy another brand's P&S in the future but I can't see me forking out for anything but Leica ever again when I'm ready to update or add to my proper kit.
     
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  12. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    Leica's P&S cameras (the real German ones) are fantastic. X Vario, X (typ 113) and X-E (X2) are fantastic, and in the X-E case small enough for a pocket. While I am extremely passionate about my M gear and the images it creates, I use my X Vario and X far more often.
     
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  13. airfrogusmc

    airfrogusmc Leica Place Veteran

    339
    Apr 1, 2013
    First for me it's the rangefinder shooting experience. Leica M digital is such a different camera from anything else out there. I shoot with a Leica M Monochrom and there is not a better digital B&W street camera made. Working with a rangefinder on the street is one word PERFECT. Small and indiscrete.
     
  14. airfrogusmc

    airfrogusmc Leica Place Veteran

    339
    Apr 1, 2013
    Here's a shot of the MM with a Zeiss 35mm Biogon next to a Canon 35L
    IMG_4321_zpsz6rkssfj.

    two lenses the 35 Biogon and the 35L
    IMG_4323_zpsd4kit6rc.

    and the 35 summilux FLE with hood and the 35L
    IMG_2320.

    I get so much less attention when working on the street with my MM as compared to a big DSLR.

    And check out those beautiful DoF scales on those manual focus lenses.
     
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  15. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    Yup, less is more.
     
  16. rflove

    rflove Leica Place Regular Subscribing Member

    193
    Jul 13, 2014
    Also, there are very few things out there as cool and functional as a Leica ;)

    DP2M0748-Edit copy copy.
     
  17. xdayv

    xdayv Leica Place Veteran

    404
    Mar 31, 2013
    Tacloban City, Philippines
    Dave
    is that a toy at the right? hahaha.
     
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  18. raid

    raid Leica Place All-Pro

    Apr 12, 2013
    USA
    Raid
    Sometimes, the SLR lenses win.
     
  19. asiafish

    asiafish Leica Place All-Pro

    Aug 9, 2013
    Bakersfield, CA
    Andrew
    Yup. I REALLY loved the AF-S Nikkor 58mm f/1.4G, but I just didn't want to carry even a smaller DSLR anymore.