I’ve been a fan of Leica, since I was a photography student. Some of the great heroes of photography used Leica – guys like Henri Cartier-Bresson, the Godfather of photojournalism and founder Magnum, typically shot using Leica. Whilst not everyone may have heard of Leica, it’s likely that they’ll have seen photographs shot on a Leica. Indelibly etched photos like
Steve McCurrys “Afgan Girl” [see comments], or the death of Ghandi for instance. The horrific and world changing “Napalm Girl” and the portrait of Che Guevara, that adorns millions or tshirts and student bedroom walls the world over.
And what is it about Leica that makes it so good? From the company’s perspective, I guess they’ve had a lot of good breaks. They innovated and filled a vacuum with something that the world needed. A top quality, reliable compact camera that combined precision engineering and incredible optics – built to withstand the rigors of war zones, crisis points, a world in turmoil. It’s been said of a Leica that “you can bang nails in with them” and “you can use them as a hockey puck”.
The model I’ve got – The Leica AF-C1 isn’t one of the higher end professional units – who’s price tag is often in the four figure neighborhood – mine is (or was – discontinued in the late 80s) a consumer ‘auto focus point and shoot compact’ dual lens. There’s a 40mm 2.8 and an 80mm lense to switch between. It’s been referred to as ‘the ultimate street shooter’ camera – a characteristic I’m hoping to exploit. The quality of the image it creates is really quite stunning – as Cindy Loughridge demos to great effect here.
So I spotted it – with two hours left to go, then intensively researched it – and really liked what I was looking at. There’s a unit made by Minolta called the Freedom Tele Super which is almost identical apart from (according to Andy Grundberg of the New York Times) the casing and the lens – which I could have picked up for a fraction of the cost instead, but the Leica won. I can’t wait to get it. Stay tooned for first results!