So...why is a Leica so $$$$$$ Expensive?

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,806
62
Ok, I've never really looked into them much, but just was browsing around to see what Leica cameras cost and their lenses.....and WOW, pricey indeed.

I've got quite a collection of Canon L lenses....to go with my 5D3, that I bought about 4+months after it came out. It was my first DSLR and I've really gotten into it not only for video (my original primary reason for getting the 5D3), but for stills.

So, what does Leica give you, that a Canon 5 or even the 1D lines of cameras do not give you?

Why do they cost so much? Is it just brand name, or do they offer you something higher quality in some aspect of image making?

I can kind of understand why a medium format camera system costs more, but Leica's generally aren't medium format from what I can tell, they take pretty much the same sensor size as your more common DSLR, right?

Anyway, just was curious what makes them worth so much money...and who needs or buys them predominately?

Thank you in advance,

cayenne
 
Aug 23, 2013
2,291
16
Bahia Brazil
Everything that is rare is expensive.
That simple.

A century ago, Leica pioneered high-quality portable cameras.
After the Second World War, Japanese manufacturers made competitive cameras and won the majority of the market.
Today Leica offers nothing better than Leica Monochrom.
There will always be a small number of people swearing that monochrome photo from RGB sensor is not so good...
Saying that manual focus is "pure photography".
People like Eric Clapton.
183548
 
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Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
314
266
I have been using Leica cameras since the early seventies, M2, M3, M5, M6, M6TTL, M 240, SL, SL 2, R4 S2, R 5, R6, R 6TTL, R 7 and CL, III A, III G...
While R Leicas (based on Minoltas) have never been convincing, the M cameras and lenses were!
M wide angle lenses were simply better than what Nikon, Pentax and Canon had to offer, valid also for many tele lenses and zooms.
The Apo :love: lenses were (are!) REAL apochromatic lenses.
But the newer Canon lenses often are equal in quality, but not in size! It's an almost "sensual" experience to use a Leica M 10 fitted with it's tiny 35mm F2,
and look at what the Apo Summicron 50mm :love:can deliver, just fabulous.
To be honest: Leicas are becoming more and more often collector's items, due to their prohibitive pricing. If I hadn't entered the M system long time ago, I would be less tempted today. But I certainly would miss my M Leicas bitterly! It's less a matter of "rational thinking" but more about holding and using a beautiful and discreet instrument.
Are they worth the money? Probably not.
On the other hand, a cheap quartz watch is more precise than a Patek Philippe or Rolex, but who cares?
 

Pookie

Don't forget to gargle private...
Nov 29, 2014
960
143
Santa Cruz, California
www.flickr.com
Owning about the same as Del Paso... M2, M3, four M4's, 2 M6's, M9, 240, and an M10 with enough lenses to cover them all I'd say it comes down to size and quality. I actually prefer film for Leica and M4's are my fave. It's construction is above all others. My 69' M4 black paint is absolute perfection and I would sell all others before that one... it's all brassy and solid. To this day it still takes fantastic pictures. The other thing about film Leica's... practically bulletproof, I can carry it anywhere. Even though I prefer film for Leica, the new Q2 looks to be a real contender to the M10 and I may sell the M10 to switch over.

My 69' untouched, only CLA'd about every 5-6 years since owning. It's never let me down in 20 years and surprisingly still (way) more $$$ than a 5D4...probably because in 1969 there were only a total of 2700 ever made. So this is an all original 1/ 2700 from 50 years ago !!!

 
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Aug 23, 2013
2,291
16
Bahia Brazil
... this sounds like someone who has never shot Leica...
You're right.
The thing I used for several months, more like Leica was Olympus OM1 + Lens Zuiko 50mm F1.4.
I do not miss manual focus, when I "almost" hit 90% of the time, miss 9%, and really really hit 1%.
 
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Pookie

Don't forget to gargle private...
Nov 29, 2014
960
143
Santa Cruz, California
www.flickr.com
I have been using Leica cameras since the early seventies, M2, M3, M5, M6, M6TTL, M 240, SL, SL 2, R4 S2, R 5, R6, R 6TTL, R 7 and CL, III A, III G...
While R Leicas (based on Minoltas) have never been convincing, the M cameras and lenses were!
M wide angle lenses were simply better than what Nikon, Pentax and Canon had to offer, valid also for many tele lenses and zooms.
The Apo :love: lenses were (are!) REAL apochromatic lenses.
But the newer Canon lenses often are equal in quality, but not in size! It's an almost "sensual" experience to use a Leica M 10 fitted with it's tiny 35mm F2,
and look at what the Apo Summicron 50mm :love:can deliver, just fabulous.
To be honest: Leicas are becoming more and more often collector's items, due to their prohibitive pricing. If I hadn't entered the M system long time ago, I would be less tempted today. But I certainly would miss my M Leicas bitterly! It's less a matter of "rational thinking" but more about holding and using a beautiful and discreet instrument.
Are they worth the money? Probably not.
On the other hand, a cheap quartz watch is more precise than a Patek Philippe or Rolex, but who cares?
I definitely think there is a decent percentage of Leica owners that collect for show... the "shelf-queen" crowd or those that care more about being seen shooting a "LEICA". But, more often what I run across are people that have shot Leicas for a long time and prefer them over more "modern" rigs because they know they can depend on them. I'm not a collector, all of mine are users... some real nice users but the definitely are users. The reason I carry them are exactly for what you mention... small, compact, highly effective cameras... I own quite a few Canon's for work but when I head out the door it's usually a M4 or M6 tucked into a pocket (and sometimes both).

To answer the original question. Leicas are like any other things out there... a Toyota will get you from a to b just fine and a Timex will tell perfect time but hand crafted, mechanical perfection is a whole nother beast. Why can you buy a Leica from 55 that still works perfectly? Could you do that with a 5D3 or 5D4 in 65 years? You can't even do that with many film cameras of the same age. And this is why Leicas are pricey, this is why Rolex's are pricey and well then you have Ferrari... quality is timeless.
 

Pookie

Don't forget to gargle private...
Nov 29, 2014
960
143
Santa Cruz, California
www.flickr.com
Its the same reason that Rolex Watches cost so much, high quality and a status symbol.
It's funny you say this as most I know that shoot Leica want their Leicas blacked out. No red dots or badging of any type so that their cameras blend into nothing. They use them in the street and the last thing they want is for anyone to notice (for the sake of stealthy pictures and the safety of not being robbed). My M10 is the P model... it had all badging removed. People now days don't even know what a Leica is so you have to try real hard to get noticed if that is your thing.

The status symbol is definitely a part of the crowd for some... those that have a 300-400 camera strap, an elegant handcrafted leather case and a Billingham bag. Those are not the people that are really using Leicas as a camera but more for jewelry. There is a saying in the Leica community... Silver is for show, black is for dough (camera bodies) and this speaks volumes with the sales of Leica. Check how many silver are sold compared to all blacked out bodies.

And here is my black ops M6 devoid of any Leica badging... BTW that's a Voigtlander 21mm color-skopar also self blacked out (only 375$) and definitely not a status symbol. One hell of a lens though.
 
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Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
314
266
Anyway , to understand the Leica M, you've got to use one over a longer period of time.
After that, either you hate it (improbable), or buy it, or despair you can't afford it.;)
BUT !!!! the best Leica M ever made is the M 3 singlestroke, it's "inside" quality has never been matched!
PS: hiding the red logo is , for some, just another way to show off...
PPS: a Leica with a Voigtlaender lens is like a Ferrari with chinese tyres :sick:, ever tried the 21mm Asph ?:love:
 

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
314
266
Owning about the same as Del Paso... M2, M3, four M4's, 2 M6's, M9, 240, and an M10 with enough lenses to cover them all I'd say it comes down to size and quality. I actually prefer film for Leica and M4's are my fave. It's construction is above all others. My 69' M4 black paint is absolute perfection and I would sell all others before that one... it's all brassy and solid. To this day it still takes fantastic pictures. The other thing about film Leica's... practically bulletproof, I can carry it anywhere. Even though I prefer film for Leica, the new Q2 looks to be a real contender to the M10 and I may sell the M10 to switch over.

My 69' untouched, only CLA'd about every 5-6 years since owning. It's never let me down in 20 years and surprisingly still (way) more $$$ than a 5D4...probably because in 1969 there were only a total of 2700 ever made. So this is an all original 1/ 2700 from 50 years ago !!!

Looks like a well used M 4 :)
 

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,806
62
Very interesting....I'm going to have to explore what Leica is all about more.

Are all Leicas manual focus?

TIA,

cayenne
 

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
314
266
Very interesting....I'm going to have to explore what Leica is all about more.

Are all Leicas manual focus?


TIA,

cayenne
Nope!
Both the Leica SL (mirrorless) and the S series are autofocus types, the cute Leica Q2 as well.
Yet, all the digital "M" leicas (M8-9-240 and 10) are manual focusing, which is easy with moderate focal length!
 

cayenne

EOR R
Mar 28, 2012
1,806
62
Nope!
Both the Leica SL (mirrorless) and the S series are autofocus types, the cute Leica Q2 as well.
Yet, all the digital "M" leicas (M8-9-240 and 10) are manual focusing, which is easy with moderate focal length!

Ok, thanks for the reply!!

Well, with my vision getting worse with age...I can't hardly manual focus at all, unless I'm on a tripod shooting a VERY still subject.....
:(

But on the positive side, I still can see enough and enjoy, but for anything moving, or somewhat fluid in potential movement or changing conditions, I really do depend on auto focus to get a high keeper rate.

C
 

Pookie

Don't forget to gargle private...
Nov 29, 2014
960
143
Santa Cruz, California
www.flickr.com
Anyway , to understand the Leica M, you've got to use one over a longer period of time.
After that, either you hate it (improbable), or buy it, or despair you can't afford it.;)
BUT !!!! the best Leica M ever made is the M 3 singlestroke, it's "inside" quality has never been matched!
PS: hiding the red logo is , for some, just another way to show off...
PPS: a Leica with a Voigtlaender lens is like a Ferrari with chinese tyres :sick:, ever tried the 21mm Asph ?:love:
I actually have the 21 in ASPH but I'll take the Color-Skopar any day of the week and twice on Sunday....

I'm not a lens snob when it comes to great lenses....

The M3 would be the best if it had 35 lines.... and a better rewind.

Showing off by covering the red dot.... that's funny. Maybe back in the 80's, it's 2019 though. The thing about Leica's now days, the only people who actually know what it is are those that are probably on this site (and then only a tiny portion of those even really know).
 
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Pookie

Don't forget to gargle private...
Nov 29, 2014
960
143
Santa Cruz, California
www.flickr.com
Ok, thanks for the reply!!

Well, with my vision getting worse with age...I can't hardly manual focus at all, unless I'm on a tripod shooting a VERY still subject.....
:(

But on the positive side, I still can see enough and enjoy, but for anything moving, or somewhat fluid in potential movement or changing conditions, I really do depend on auto focus to get a high keeper rate.

C
There was a member here on this site that once said he couldn't handle shooting Leicas anymore because he missed to many shots of his children. It reveals a lot about this shooter because as a rangefinder person... if you know how to use that type of lens and camera system you would actually miss very little. With a great 35 or lower FL you'd be zone focusing 90% of the time. That 21mm or 28mm will allow you to never use the view finder if you choose to. Zone focusing and Sunny 16 will free you for sure. This is probably the biggest reason why I use a M body for personal use all the time.
 

Del Paso

M3 Singlestroke
Aug 9, 2018
314
266
I actually have the 21 in ASPH but I'll take the Color-Skopar any day of the week and twice on Sunday....

I'm not a lens snob when it comes to great lenses....

The M3 would be the best if it had 35 lines.... and a better rewind.

Showing off by covering the red dot.... that's funny. Maybe back in the 80's, it's 2019 though. The thing about Leica's now days, the only people who actually know what it is are those that are probably on this site (and then only a tiny portion of those even really know).
Hi Pookie!
What do you mean by 35 lines, just get yourself a Summicron "mit Brille":). But you're right, I was speaking of the unmatched mechanical quality, brass gears inside, honed surfaces for the moving parts, etc..., not of using it.
And, by the way, there was a quick rewind accessory for the M3, you can certainly find it in antique camera stores. Let me add that for photography, for actual use, I prefer holding the often hated M5, YES!!!!!!! , I INSIST !!!!!!!
By covering the red dot, I meant that some people I know try to mimick the professional photographers, and demonstrate how "little" they care about the brand...
 

Pookie

Don't forget to gargle private...
Nov 29, 2014
960
143
Santa Cruz, California
www.flickr.com
Yea, I have that little brass deal for my M3's... don't like it or googles. I had an M5 but since Sherry K. isn't really working any longer I decided to sell it last year while still in proper order. M4's are my absolute faves these days or M6. Don't like digital Leicas though and my M10 is gathering dust.

With all this talk of Leicas as status symbols or jewelry I find it soooo not reality though. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY recognizes a Leica for what they are these days...except for serious camera people. Now, for a real attention grabber try shooting a Rollei, even people who could care less about photography are drawn to this beast. It is the absolute worst thing to try to hide with, I use mine for street portraits because people gravitate to it EVERY TIME !!!! Nope, no amount of tape will ever hide what it is....

 
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