People still recognize Leicas

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by david_stanton|1, Aug 4, 2009.

  1. I just returned from two weeks at Lake Tahoe. I took a Leica IIIC. I was amazed at how many people recognized the camera -- stopped me in the street, stopped me in a store, stopped on a trail, all saying something like "Is that an old Leica?" I am 67 and most of these people were far younger. Only one was a "camera" person, and that was the owner of a camera shop in Tahoe City. It fascinated me.
    Dave
     
  2. It is interesting. Of all the cameras I shoot with, the Leica is the one people look at and ask me about the most. I'd rather they didn't recognize it most of the time.
     
  3. and who said the Leica is the unobtrusive camera? lol
    while I'm in HK, I think most people here are accustomed to DSLR, when you use something not made by Nikon or Canon, peoples on the streets would give you a strange look ~ what peice of crap you are using? ~ well that actually help me shoot easier on the street since the only SLR system I use is Pentax.
    I have a Black M4-2, which is even less noticeable, I found most of the people don't really care when I raise my camera, but I still run into some that would just flee when I try to shoot.
    The few funniest experience when my cameras got notice was
    a 12 years old kids with his mom gazing and drooling at my Rolleiflex in a Park,
    and once I was stopped by 2 ladies in a mall and said - with a camera like this you must be a good photographer, could you please help take a picture for me and my friend? that was my Rolleiflex again
    and everytime when I have my Polaroid SX70 or Automatic 330 with me, everybody else on the street just can't stop looking at me lol
     
  4. I met a nice couple while doing personal business last Saturday - see Sunday's pic-of-the-week thread. I had my M4 and they said "that looks like a Leica". And a small grocery proprietor in Buenos Aires ignored me until he saw my M6, then explained he had an M3. You can meet interesting folks with your Leica.
     
  5. I sold my twin-lens Rollei several years ago. But it was a real attention getter; people assumed I was a professional photographer.
     
  6. That's funny. I've only had one person in the last 4 years stop and comment about my Leica. I must smell or something.
     
  7. haha: the funniest thing that's happened to me, lately, is this: a chap in a pub thought my olympus trip 35 was an old leica : B
     
  8. Funniest I've heard or experienced: Asking if a IIIa was digital. Or at the airport asking to "switch" on an M4.
     
  9. Funniest I've heard or experienced: Asking if a IIIa was digital. Or at the airport asking to "switch" on an M4.
     
  10. Yes, I also notice that.
    Once shooting on the street, Leica is no longer that little uncuspicious camera... people know leica, and stare.
    That's not good :\
    Rui
     
  11. My chrome m4 is almost exclusively recognized as Zenit:) And it's supposed to be a compliment...
     
  12. Having used two Leicas since 1990 (M6 and an M8) I have had one person recognize I was using a Leica. In that case, I had stopped to change lenses using a low wall as a work surface for my camera case. I was next to a person sitting on the wall who noticed me changing the lens and asked what kind of camera I was using; and then noticed the Leica logo on the camera...in 19 years...that's it.
     
  13. I have had maybe 10 people in 25 years of Leica comment on it - about the same as I have had with Canon stuff.
     
  14. I was on vacation in Japan last year and an older gentleman came up to me and said, ahhhhh, Leica!
    And when I was shooting in Tokyo 11 years ago with my Hasselblad a man said, ahhhhh, nice camera!
    But this only seems to happen to me in Japan. The Nihonjin do love their cameras.
     
  15. I've had people recognize my old Leicas in India, Kenya, and Mexico. In Mexico city one old street photographer said "Allemaner". I replied "German" before I remembered that Alleman was their word for German.
     
  16. I travel a fair bit, and people ask me about my Leicas quite frequently. Interestingly, I've been asked about the RD-1s a lot ... usually remarking on its retro look, but also expressing surprise that it is digital. Also, I have had people mistake my Bessas for Leicas.
     
  17. I was in Vienna shooting with an M2 one day, just in front of the Hoffberg. A gentleman came up to me and started up a conversation. Turned out he was a Leica engineer on vacation.
     
  18. I am happy for Lieca enthusiats as they derive joy from their cameras. It is a curious phenomenon these kind of threads expose however. You see, no one comments on my cameras. They do comment on my photos. But then, I don't shoot Liecas, I shoot photos. For me the camera brand is the incidental part, not what the camera brand makes.
     
  19. John H, I never shot a camera, and I don't remember shooting a photo, but I have shot plenty of pheasants (and once Tweety Bird). Nobody ever commented on my pheasants, but then I always ate them and never showed them.
    I hope your as confused on this post as I am as the point you didn't make on yours. But whatever, I'm not spelling anal, but you could have seen from the red line in your post, or from the forum title, you could have spelled the brand name correctly. It means nothing, unless details matter in time, programming, math and a plethora of real world skills, almost like communications, but hell, what do I know?
    So my dear John, we are enthusiasts. We like Leica. We like it when another Leica enthusiast says cool camera, or I have an M3 or M(x). We take the cameras that we do and travel where we go.
    Back on topic. I was carrying my MP when I was working as a flag man on an asphalt crew. A guy asked me if that was an old Leica. Nah I replied it was probably made in 04. Another guy (Chinese?) asked me if I took his photo to report his travels outside of permitted area. That was pretty weird, I just said no but I did take a photo of a flower growing out of a rock. This was in Los Alamos, a most strange place.
     
  20. I wish I had a dollar for everytime someone took the time to state "the camera doesn't matter", or "the camera is only a tool", or some other slightly smirkish, silly comment like that.
     
  21. I've just sold my Leica R system after 25 years use. I always valued the anonymity that the name provided, as most people had no idea what it was - the kudos lay with Nikons and Canons. However, occasionally someone would say something like 'Nice Camera', and I was happy with that. One guy said to his girlfriend 'That's camera I want to have'. Some people expressed surprise that Leica was still making cameras.
    I've just bought a Canon 5DII with 24-105 lens and it has attracted more attention in the few months I've had it that the Leica would attract in 5 years! I'm going to get another camera strap that doesn't broadcast its identity, and try keep the camera 'hidden' when I'm carrying it.
    Although I don't regret selling the Leica system, its IQ still exceeds that of the 5DII - even shooting RAW. However, taking good photos is now much easier with the 5DII, especially if the subject is moving! Overall, I think I'm in front.
    Ian
     
  22. I've been to every continent save Antarctica, and on virtually every trip, people recognise my Leicas and come up to comment. In Singapore, a fellow spotted my M6 and started talking to me in German. Turns out he was a design engineer from Solms and had some very uncomplimentary things to say about the R line. I was once at a wedding in the UK and an elderly lady with an M3 came over to chat when she my M5. People seem to notice the Leica more now than thy did a few decades ago.
     
  23. Similar story, but with the roles reversed somewhat. I was recently doing a bit of street photography with my Mamiya C220 and a guy with a Leica M6 stopped to comment on my choice of gear. Heck, I was just out fooling around with the thing
     
  24. I wish I had a dollar for everytime someone took the time to state "the camera doesn't matter", or "the camera is only a tool", or some other slightly smirkish, silly comment like that.
    The great unwashed may drive a Toyota instead of a Ferrari, but it gets them there nevertheless. Putting down others for telling people that a more frugal purchase will meet their needs, projects a perception of snobbery. An unfair perception of most 'Lie-ca' owners. A fair one, perhaps, for others.
     
  25. John, this is a camera forum. It's not improper to discuss cameras here. There is plenty of places on internet for us to talk about photographs, too.
     
  26. I have made friends for life,with my Leica M3! Of course, "they" were and still are, also Leicamaniacs! Got to use a friends M8! I was worried about him using my M3, very worn and much used! I also tried out modern lenses. The 35mm summiluxf1.4; 90mmSummicron; 50mm Summilux ASPH f1.4. They were nicer than my old ones.. but not really all that different. I HATE when people keep eyeing your newer Leicas. Good idea to mask the red dot!
     
  27. Sometimes the camera really does matter.
    Time and again, people have approached me, in the street and in restaurants, to ask me about my "old" camera. Some of these people recognized it as a Leica, while others simply admired the retro look of a silver chrome camera in a brown leather halfcase.
    All of them were surprised to learn that my MP is only 5 years old...or that my M8 is digital.
    I know that some people use a Leica for surreptitious photography, but it can also be the icebreaker that leads to a candid portrait session.
     
  28. Hi, My first time on this site. I am still using the LeicaIIIA which I inherited from my Father in 1970 and which he had been using continuously since he bought it new in 1938. Last year I forked out for a clean and overhaul/lubricate by a Leica trained engineer - only the second time it has been checked over in 68 years: and when I collected it the engineer said he was embarassed to take my money as it required so little corrective adjustment. It goes everywhere with me although I have just upgraded my Nikon D70 to a D90 - people only notice the NIKON hung around my neck and usually miss whats going on with my right hand at pocket level. I get a lot of unposed 'casual' or 'surprise' shots like that. I could never bear to part with it so, as my son has no interest in photography I guess it will have to be buried with me - but NOT YET! John Christian
     
  29. It's not improper to discuss cameras here.
    I didn't say that. Its not that much of a discussion about cameras anyway. Its more about being SEEN with a particular camera. Indeed, Jonathon just told us the camera matters because of people's reaction to seeing him with one. Imagine an auto or auto racing type site and there is a forum about Ferraris. One would expect that owners would have a lot to talk about but if there were threads, where owners of such vehicles, enthusiastically described the comments they get about their cars, we might think their priorities are more about status than the usual reasons people like cars.
    I don't think anyone came here to be a braggart. Nevertheless, the perception that Leica owners have a heightened sense of status (while photography itself is a secondary priority) can be perpetuated by these type of discussions. It invites critical commentary as a result. If something brings joy to one's life and it isn't hurting anyone, then ignore the critics. You can discuss people's reactions to your branded cameras Ferraris or whatever as much as you please.
     
  30. It's not improper to discuss cameras here.
    I didn't say that. Its less a discussion about cameras than being SEEN with a particular brand of camera. Indeed, Jonathon just told us the camera matters because of people's reaction to seeing one. Imagine an auto or auto racing type site and there is a forum about Ferraris. One would expect that owners would have a lot to talk about but if there were threads, where owners of such vehicles, enthusiastically described the comments they get about their cars, we might think their priorities are more about status than the usual reasons people like cars and the things they do.
    I don't think anyone came here to be a braggart. Nevertheless, the perception that Leica owners have a heightened sense of status (while photography itself is a secondary priority) can be perpetuated by these type of discussions. I remember a thread where someone was discussing how they were walking around wearing a Lieca around their neck in a camera store and that the people there DIDN'T notice his camera, probably didn't know what it was and how ignorant they were as they bandied about looking at newfangled digital products. That's beyond the tone here but the whole being recognized thing does come up. It invites critical commentary. But hey, if something brings joy to one's life and it isn't really hurting anyone, then ignore the critics and discuss whatever you like.
     
  31. rj

    rj

    John, you are the one who is putting others down, really. You took a tone of superiority when you criticized the whole basis for the thread and proclaimed how you shoot photos, like others here don't just because they want to discuss the leica brand image. You aren't a better photographer because you don't care what camera you shoot with, and a person who likes and shoots and wants to discuss leicas isn't any worse of a photographer because they like the brand.
    When I was shooting Leicas, I often had people come up to me and comment on the camera. Happened a lot with the M3 for some reason, maybe because it looks older than the M6 I had. I tell you though, if you want to get people to comment on your camera, go out and shoot with a speed graphic. They won't leave you alone.
     
  32. I suspect that Speed Graphic owners prefer to avoid such attention to better concentrate on creating photos. Thank you for your thoughts but I didn't claim to a better photographer, or criticize anyone for merely "liking" or "discussing" a brand. There are some good rebuttals to things I actually did say. You are right about the initial cynicism though and am sorry for that.
     
  33. John H.
    Yup, there are great camera brands besides Leica, I own some and they can indeed produce excellent images. But I also own an M-6 and get far more comments and questions about it than any of the others, from fellow amateur photographers. There is an undeniable interest in them, by some people that recognize them as a Leica. On the other hand, a very few that have noticed and commented were not complimentary of the brand. "Did you buy it to get attention?" "Do you actually believe it's worth the money?" "I bought one, didn't like it, sold it and bought a _ _ _ _ _, images were much better". Well, alrighty then.
    I don't own a Rolex, but notice them when I see someone wearing one. Don't have a Rolls Royce, but recognize one as a bit unique and special. Leica? Sort of special, those of that own one are quite fond of it, and some folks that do notice one might comment or ask about it. It happens with mine more than my other brand cameras.
    Best regards
    Patrick
     
  34. Roger, you say "when I was shooting Leicas". No longer? What happened?
     
  35. John, I would hate to see my post, above, misinterpreted. I specifically said that the Leica could be an icebreaker, not that I see it as a status symbol. And it breaks the ice because it looks old, not because it looks expensive. In fact, people who think it looks old might assume that I can't afford to replace it with a newer camera!
    Of course, sometimes the camera matters for a different set of reasons entirely. Leica makes the best lenses that you can put in front of a rangefinder body and the best bodies that you can put behind its lenses. In those cases where a rangefinder camera is the best tool, why not use the best rangefinder? It's a matter of photography, not status.
     
  36. A M8 shooting friend said that for some, their gear is indeed a coping mechanism. But that does not make it so for everyone who owns Brand X.
    The peculiar aspect is the sub-specie who puts so much energy in running down Brand X. Be it Ed Hardy, Prada or Leica.
     
  37. OOOh, I so love these conversations. While we're at it, can we also discuss how many angels dance on the head of a pin?
    On the original topic, I've only had two people notice my Leicas in use and both were Leica users, themselves. Still, they were nice chaps to talk with and that's what really matters.
    00U9Qd-162545684.jpg
     
  38. Over time, I've found that a Leica is the best match for my personal approach to photography, a comfortable tool that makes it easy to take good pictures despite its limitations in certain regards. I got my old M2 as a working tool, not as a status symbol. Most people don't notice it at all. The majority of those who do seem to consider it an odd-looking, obsolete piece of equipment. Occasionally, someone asks why I don't have a compact digital camera or a DSLR -- you know, a real camera. Every so often, a photographer will say "Still shooting film, are you?" Nobody ever appears to be under any misimpression that I am a photojournalist or professional photographer (which is just as well, because I'm not).
    Once, though, I turned around to find an exceptionally attractive, stylishly dressed woman looking in my direction, and then realized that she was looking at the camera and not at me. She immediately turned away, seemingly embarrassed to be caught looking, and did not say anything, so I have no clue what she thought about it. It was a bit deflating to reflect that the camera was of greater interest than I was, even though I was (and am) married and not looking to meet anyone. Upstaged by an M2... oh,well.
     
  39. Peter Shawn: "Once, though, I turned around to find an exceptionally attractive, stylishly dressed woman looking in my direction, and then realized that she was looking at the camera and not at me. She immediately turned away, seemingly embarrassed to be caught looking, and did not say anything, so I have no clue what she thought about it."
    Women usually say this about men, who by <cough> instinct look at their breasts rather than make eye contact. I wonder why.
     
  40. Weird coincidence time: I posted the above this morning and within 2 hours, someone noticed my camera and started a conversation about it. On the other hand, the camera the chap noticed was my Rolleiflex, so the Leicas are a bit put out...
    00U9bF-162683684.jpg
     
  41. There is a donut shop close to my house here in Los Angeles where at all hours elderly males love to sit, sip coffee and eat donuts, and talk, talk, talk. I've been planning to walk in there with my M3 or M6 TTL with my 35mm ASPH Summicron attached, in my hand at my side, and walk by them as I approach the counter, and determine if any of them see it and immediately state something such as "Hey, is that a Leica?". If they do, I'll grab an image of them with Fuji Acros 100 loaded, then make prints in my darkroom and hand them to them as a surprise. That way, if they used to use Leicas decades ago, they will be able to see what gorgeous quality Leica's 35mm ASPH captures on today's black and white film.
     
  42. I've been planning to walk in there with my M3 or M6 TTL with my 35mm ASPH Summicron attached, in my hand at my side, and walk by them if any of them see it and immediately state something such as "Hey, is that a Leica?"... ... If they do, I'll grab an image of them with Fuji Acros 100 loaded, then make prints in my darkroom and hand them to them as a surprise.
    So... If they give Terry his desired attention after making a show out of the fact that he has a certain brand of camera, they will be rewarded for their fawning. If they are unimpressed by the brand label flashing, they are unworthy and get nothing.
    Lets insert another branded product here: An owner of a Rolex watch purposefully extends his arm for a chatty elderly crowd to see. If the coffee & doughnut patrons give the owner his sought after recognition for brandishing such a fine watch, the owner let them know what time it is to show how accurate the watch is or give them some other nice "surprise". If not, the owner will pretend to ignore them and just walk by as they will be deemed as undeserving of such gestures.
    Gee, I wonder where that absurd reputation about some Leica owners seeing their brand as a status symbol or attention getter with photography as an incidental runner up came from?
     
  43. Other than those people "into" photography, I don't think the average laymen sees Leica as a status symbol the way he would a Rolex watch or a Rolls Royce sedan. Non-photographers simply don't know much about Leica, other than the chrome models are "retro cool," as one heavily tattooed and pierced young lady told me on the street in Greenwich Village quite a number of years back. She was actually very fascinating to speak with and I don't think she would have aproached me but for the Leica. I doubt a Rolex on my wrist would have elicited the same fascination and interest.
     
  44. You are right Jeffrey that the audience recognizing Leicas is smaller. Nevertheless, its big enough to motivate someone to flash the brand at morning diners for the purpose of eliciting comments and hopefully further brand promotion or to wear one around one's neck at a camera store to be seen by others leading to scorn of those that did not provide the desired attention and so on. Then there are those who scoff at the non-conforming audience made up of other photographers who have the gall to claim that the photographer is the key to making good photos instead of the brand of camera.
    I'm all for discussing of interesting comments that people happen to make about certain cameras or sharing enthusiam as you and most others are doing. I am not criticising that in anyway. Instead, its the 'look at me' or 'my camera is better than your camera' attitude that some have.
     
  45. A friend saw my Digilux 2 but didn't see the name or logo, and said it looked like a 30-year old Russian camera. I said thanks.
     
  46. John H.,
    I agree with you. Some guys "flash" their Leicas to impress and maybe made their first purchase of the brand to have a status symbol. I started taking pictures with an M3 kit (35/50/90 'crons) I inherited from my grandfather back in the 70s when in college. Quite honestly, I never thought about these cameras being status symbols, I just enjoy using them. In fact, I often carry my M of the day in the old beat-up brown ERC (at least the bottom half) that came with my grandfather's M3. I have covered up the logo or red dot with one of my daughter's Dora the Explorer stickers. Only the most knowledgeable will recognise a Leica under those circumstances!
     
  47. Only one time I suddenly heard someone screaming " Leica " when I was walking on a street with one. It was a woman calling her little dog back. I restrained from going up to that woman and flashing my Leica in her face because she wasn't exactly the type that intentionally would have named her dog after an obscure camerabrand, but more probably after " Laika ", the Russian spacedog. Damn it, if that woman only had been an elderly wise man...the stories about qualitycontrol we could have shared...
     
  48. Yes, Laika the Soviet space dog. Most people don't realise Laika died after only a few hours in space, but it was all kept hush hush until just a few years ago.
    I never went out of my way to disguise my cameras, just used common sense and being aware of my surroundings depending on the local environment. I would never, however, carry any kind of bag with the Leica logo or red dot on it. It screams "steal me" to knowledgeable thieves.
     
  49. Here in Japan a lot of people recognize Leica. I was talking with a friend in McDonald's a few months ago and an older gentleman at the next table said "Oh! Leica!". The same happened about two weeks ago at a wine bar. Sometimes I hear people talking behind me: "That's a nice camera", etc.
    Either they see the "Leica" inscription or they recognize the form (I use old screw-mount ones, not Ms.)
    On a funny side-note, a few days ago a man was admiring my Rolleiflex. He said "Ah, classic camera. A Rolex!!"
     
  50. If you want attention a large format camera beats a Leica III in my experience. As soon as you put the camera on the tripod a small crowd gathers and watches or comes up to tell you when they last used a camera like this 30 years ago in art college / how you need a better tripod / how it must be so much better than digital etc. Many will whip out their P&S and snap the scene I am taking presumably on the grgunds that it will be a really professional shot.
     
  51. Here's a link to a tokyo site. The photographer photographs interesting film cameras he sees on the street. Lot's of Leicas-but other interesting stuff too.
    http://tokyocamerastyle.com/page/1
     
  52. It's happened to me too. I've had a couple people approach me while shooting with an M3 to ask me about it. But the camera that gets the most comments is by far the Hasselblad 500c/m. What can you say, there's a mutual respect amongst people for quality :)
     

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