Leica… Welcome To The Master Race?


by Gavin Seim: I’ve given thought what I would say about Leica. I was even told I should not write about this. In the end decided that I would give my honest thoughts on this brand.

Let me first say that I’ve never owned a Leica personally. I’m fairly confident they make a good camera and I confess I have felt the draw of owning a Leica. Their fairly small, high end and retro. I’ve felt that voice that says “If you own me, you’ll be way cooler than you are now”. So while at PMA 09 I decided to stop by and give Leica the chance to convince me why I should pay more for one of their cameras.

I was escorted to the Leica PR guy who was more than a little defensive about the my question, which was essentially this. Why Leica? Why should we photographers spend 6k on a rangefinder body and 4k for a 50mm lens? Understand I don’t mind saving and paying thru the nose for gear that’s worth it. I wanted Leica to show me why theirs was.

Leica gave me shallow answers. Responses ranged from things like, our firmware is different (not kidding), to it’s a whole different experience, to how good their low light focusing is. I was told however that this $6000 body can only shoot to about ISO 1250. That’s a far cry from the latest pro offerings of the big boys. Now I’m getting skeptical.

Eventually I pointed to the little red logo and stated. “Sounds like mainly people are paying for this” This was met with uncomfortable denial. “Look at our pictures I was told as they pointed to some great shots on the wall. Yep they looked good, but did Leica notice they were at PMA. Their was very large images everywhere the were BREATHTAKING. Theirs did not seem to stand above the rest.

What they really seemed to say was that we should buy them just because they are Leica.  About the only factual advantage they showed was their 3yr warranty vs others 1yr. Good? Yes. Worth all that extra money? No.

Before long the reasons started sounding more like lines from Spongebob Squarepants, rather than real reasons to get a Leica. The rep told me that by comparison, images from other cameras “Look Plasticy”  Naturally I asked if they could direct me to a side by side evidence of this. I was skeptical but eager to be shown.

“We’re a German company” he replied with an air of derision. Stating that in Germany they don’t do such comparisons. Moments later he turned without so much as a good bye and walked away.

The Straight Dope. Never have I interacted with a company so arrogant and self-worshiping. Even before I questioned their perfection the Leica team seemed to eye me with an air of disdain. Perhaps they sensed I use Canon.

I have spoke with few reps who were worse at convincing me their product was worthy of my dollar. Leica raved to me about their service, but even their own pre-sales people were jerks. Not a good sign. Leica feels they don’t have to offer consumers an explanation. I believe they think their better than the rest simply because their Leica.

I welcome comments from Leica lovers or haters who have thoughts,  but based on what I’ve seen, I think I’ll walk away. This German company seems rooted in they’re nationality and acts as if their the master race of the photo world. I came in with polite questions and an open mind to see if Leica is truly better. In the end Leica’s lips moved, but they said very very little.