Founded more than one hundred years ago, Leica has become one of the most recognizable and significant brands in all of photography. Much of this recognition is because of the M series of rangefinder cameras and their proliferation among well-known photographers as one of the most effective tools for capturing intimate scenes, due to their compact size and high quality. Cartier-Bresson, Eisenstaedt, and countless other shooters created some of the most iconic images of the past century with Leica cameras, and even Steve Jobs referenced “a beautiful old Leica camera” when revealing the iPhone 4. Beyond this legacy, and the fact that the company creates stellar photographic tools, Leica as a whole made it into my list of things I love simply due to the fact that it continues to release cameras and lenses that feel good in the hand and simply work the way you would expect them to, without needing to fiddle with various settings.
I’ve been fortunate to try a variety of Leica’s releases over the past few years, including the M Monochrom (Typ 246) rangefinder and SL (Typ 601) mirrorless, both among the most unique and capable Leica offerings recently, and both impressed, though they each had their own quirks and a high cost that prevented me from adding them to my bag. However, every single time Leica releases something new, I pull out a calculator to see if I can make it happen. This is the reason I love the brand; the products are so precisely made and optimized that they are almost unbeatable. If you want to see what I mean, let’s look at the recently released M10 and Noctilux-M 75mm f/1.25 ASPH. Look at the side view of the lens mounted on the camera body and see how they both align perfectly level—no awkward tilting up or down, just a perfect fit.
It is this attention to detail that makes Leica cameras and lenses so attractive and desirable. And you can add in the fact that Leica has been more than willing to expand its portfolio in recent years to go beyond “pure” photography. This includes high-quality 10-bit DCI 4K video recording on the SL and ultra-fast shooting speeds with the compact TL2, putting their feature sets right up there with the rest of the industry, though in a nicer-looking body. Also, we can’t forget about the company’s instant camera expedition with the Sofort or the no-compromise compact that is the full-frame Q (Typ 116).
For now, I’ll just have to dream about the day I can finally own a modern Leica, but I still have a classic Leica CL 35mm film camera at home to use when I want to enjoy the rangefinder experience. Maybe someday soon I’ll get my hands on its digital iteration and join the contemporary Leica family.
Is there a Leica camera on your wish list? Let us know which one you want in the Comments section, below.
The “Things We Love” series articles are written by B&H Photo Video Pro Audio staff to talk about products and items that we love. Opinions expressed in the articles are those of the writers and do not represent product endorsements from B&H Photo Video Pro Audio.