Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by Bodhi395, Sep 14, 2010.

  1. Bodhi395 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    Now that I'm getting into photography I've heard alot of people talking about Nikon and Canon, but then there's always Leica sitting out there on the periphery.

    I look at Leica cameras and they look beautifully simple, but they're not SLR's and seem to lack many features. What sets them apart and makes them worth many thousands of dollars? Is it their lens? Do they take significantly better photos than SLRs?
  2. Doylem macrumors 68040


    Dec 30, 2006
    Wherever I hang my hat...
    Yes, Leicas take better photographs. They encourage young women to take off their tops. Nikon and Canon users may try to convince you otherwise, but Leica is the marque that will allow you to be the creative person you've always wanted to be. Pentax? Pah! Leica... Mmmmmmm...

    Oh, God, my brain's burst...
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    They are different, not better. No days with digital the lines all blurr but if you look at film cameras,..... SLRs must all have a mirror box and have a certain minimum size. The make noise when their shutters release. A Leica M series range finder camera can be carried and used without attracting so much attention. candid shots are easier.

    The other part is that lenses and build quality can only be as good as the budget allows. Nikons and canon SLR are built to a price point. Leica simply had a higher price point. Also it is easier to build ahigh quality wide angle lens if the rear element does not have to be a mirror box distance away from the film plane. Rang finder camera are mostly used with wider lenses.

    Now days digital sensors allow many more options

    If you read Ansel Adam's "The Camera" he sais in there that for best image quality always use the largest camera that can get the shot. He is known for using Large format view cameras but in his book he gives an example of a photo he saaids he could have only taken withhis Lieca M camera. Many people agree with him then sometimes a pocket camer is the biggest camera you can use.
  4. greenfootballs macrumors newbie

    Aug 23, 2010

    I think Ken Rockwell has a good opinion on Leicas. Anymore, choosing a camera brand to stick with in general just come down to personal preference. However, there is something to be said about Leica's supperior build quality. (which you will pay for. That, and the little red dot ;) )I have a d-lux 4, and while most will argue that it isn't a true Leica, the build quality is just out of this world.

    Here are some points of interest from his review.

    In the end, it seems to come down to the fact that a Leica (the M series) is all about simplicity. It doesn't get in the way of itself. No complex menus, settings, or dongles. It just works. You set it, and go. And a full frame 35mm sensor in such a tiny package is pretty awesome.
  5. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Leica became synonymous with quality name because of their long-lasting cameras and exceptional lenses. now they market themselves to "purists", more or less, since they only make no-frills cameras, and only to niche markets (medium format and rangefinders).

    Leica is also the only company that is still making digital rangefinders, so they're the only option if you're in the market for one.
  6. Reddmanz macrumors regular

    Jul 23, 2010
    I've always kinda thought of them as the Mac of the photography world almost. Although I'm yet to own one myself (and I will one day! When my pay can handle it) the times I've had the chance to play with one I've been just blown away.
  7. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    The vast majority of the cost is in the branding and the lenses. There is little doubt that the Leica lenses are among the finest you can buy in terms of performance, but you definitely pay for the privilege.

    Their cameras are not DSLRs but they are rangefinders. They do not have autofocusing whatsoever, rather they use rangefinder focusing. They also lack a mirror box, allowing for a more compact package. People like this because it makes the camera compact, unobtrusive, and lightweight.

    The M9 has a FF sensor which is 18MP, although the image quality from this camera is lacking compared to the latest crop of high end DSLRs. None of the Leica digital rangefinders have featured an antialiasing filter in front of their sensors, which has the potential to give them an incredible resolving power, at the expense of possible moire issues in certain scenes. The sensor also suffers from noise at the higher end and can't come close to what the recent bodies from C or N can do with high ISO.

    The build quality and design are great for sure, but you definitely pay for it, and I don't think there is a real difference between the build quality on the Leica vs. a top quality C or N DSLR. The only distinguishing feature I can tell is the option to upgrade your monitor LCD glass to sapphire crystal (a $750 euro option).

    Really in the end it's a bit of a unique product as it has some technical advantages (FF sensor in a very compact package, basically the micro 4/3s philosophy taken to the limit) however their cost puts them out of reach for everyone but the most privileged. You can literally kit yourself out with a top-of-the-line FF DSLR and a slew of professional lenses for the price of the M9 plus just one lens.

    They are a botique product, and a collector's item. It's almost sad to say but the reality is that there are probably many more Leicas sitting in collector's boxes on shelves inside mansions and palaces than there are Leicas being used in the field- a shame since the Leica brand and reputation arose from making some of the very best cameras and lenses.
  8. ManhattanPrjct macrumors 6502

    Oct 6, 2008
    Who needs a high ISO when you can just open up your lens to f0.95 with a $10,000 lens?:D
  9. CrackedButter macrumors 68040


    Jan 15, 2003
    51st State of America
    I wouldn't say they're the only company 'still' making digital rangefinders. So far only Epson attempted to make them, no other company has yet tried.

    However, most compact cameras are based on the rangefinder design, only now are they taking on SLR features; Olympus EP range or Sony NEX for example.
  10. carlgo macrumors 68000

    Dec 29, 2006
    Monterey CA
    The rangefinder design allows for smaller and better lenses to go along with the smaller body. Something about setting them further back and not having to clear the swinging mirror.

    Small, light, quiet, unobtrusive, even with the bigger FX sensor. And NO MENUS!!!!!! Some people use them for scenics as you don't need through the lens views, zooms and the like for that kind of work.

    Rockwell makes the point that if you can afford the entry price, Leicas don't lose value and are therefore the most affordable camera.

    Leica, though, has indeed become a boutique company and many of them simply sit on shelves.

    I wouldn't compare Leica to Apple, Job's comparing the iPhone 4 design to an old Leica aside. Not unless it cost $8000 for a MBP and you had to buy a $4000 monitor. And it all came in a presentation wood box lines with endangered species leather and was signed by Jobs. Of course you would be afraid to use it, so it would sit on display or be hidden away to be fondled now and then.

    I am very interested in the upcoming Nikon EVIL design which is a rangefinder design, but with an electronic viewfinder so there is a through-the-lens view and you can easily use wide, long and zoom lenses. I hope they do this right, or that Olympus or some other smaller company picks up on this. I think it has all sorts of advantages.
  11. DylanLikesPorn macrumors 6502


    May 20, 2010
    leica is overpriced antique junk. ugly and appeals to snobs with no lives outside of stroking their egos. get a canon 1dmk4
  12. HBOC macrumors 68020

    Oct 14, 2008
    Here are a few links with folks using Leica on a Canon/Nikon or with a Leica camera.. Link 1

    Leica bodies

    And I love the irony of the guy with signature that says "Please Educate Yourself", yet makes a mature statement that basically says Leica is for morons with no life and have too much money. People could say that about anything.

    Back to the topic, I would love to have Leica glass and bodies. Just way too expensive!
  13. Edge100 macrumors 68000

    May 14, 2002
    Where am I???

    Shame about the typos on that page, though. "Imagining software"?
  14. robbieduncan Moderator emeritus


    Jul 24, 2002
    This damn thread has re-awakened a curiosity about Leica Rangefinders. I am now watching a couple of M8 bodies on eBay. Damn you all :mad::p
  15. gnd macrumors 6502a


    Jun 2, 2008
    At my cat's house
    Or you could get a Pentax 645D with the same sensor as Leica S2 for less than half the price ...
  16. Bodhi395 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    Very interesting answers.

    I've been looking at them more and it seems they have an impeccable history of making quality cameras. On ebay, even some 50 year old Leicas are going for thousands of dollars.

    I'm wondering though, now that Leica is making digital cameras, is it still worth the incredibly high prices? I could see spending 5 or 6 grand on a film Leica 30 years ago and knowing you could still use it 30 years later and it would retain its value and still be operational. However, digital moves so fast, I don't see how anyone could really justify paying $6000 for a digital Leica, knowing the tech will probably be outdated in 5 years.
  17. gkarris macrumors 604


    Dec 31, 2004
    "No escape from Reality..."
    A lot is the optics. You can just adapt them to Canon and Olympus bodies, or you can get a micro-4/3 system and use Panasonic lenses...
  18. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    since everything is electronic, you can argue that they won't last as long as the film Leicas...but they're still stripped down to only essential features (still no AF), so there's less to go wrong either way.

    uh...they aren't rangefinders, nor do they have "SLR features," since an SLR is an SLR because of the mirror (and viewfinder hump). or you can argue they're rangefinders in that they don't have a mirror, I guess. they offer the compact size and the silence of an RF, which is a big part, but they don't offer the seamless, non-TTL viewing.
  19. thomahawk macrumors 6502a


    Sep 3, 2008
    Osaka, Japan
    Think of Leicas as like the Ferrari or Michelangelo of digital cameras.

    Canon and Nikon are great cameras. They are the current craze. But if you want a classic feel and sharp as tack glass. If you got the money and is really serious about photography by all means get it.

    But I suggest you just getting a DSLR for now. If you really want to immerse yourself into the world of photography. I'm sure you'll find the crave to try on a Leica. :)
  20. AlaskaMoose macrumors 65816

    Apr 26, 2008
    They also make binoculars, some of which include a rangefinder, and also stand-alone range finders (I have a LRF 1200 Scan). I purchased a 10 x 25 BCA pocket binocular around 25 years ago. Back then I paid $450.00 for it at B&H, and have used it ever since while hunting in Alaska. It's still as sharp and clear as ever. The rangefinder (7x monocular) is just as sharp and clear, and incredibly fast and accurate.
  21. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    I would argue that someone who is truly "serious" about photography (in terms of image quality) would be better served by a Canon or Nikon vs. a Leica. Their sensor technology is simply superior, and although Leica lenses share an excellent reputation, the latest modern offerings from C or N are equal if not superior to many of their Leica counterparts.

    Leica is like Ferrari in that it may not always be the best or most practical choice, but there is no substitute for driving a Ferrari and it is the same with using a Leica.
  22. toxic macrumors 68000

    Nov 9, 2008
    Canon/Nikon sensors are definitely superior, since Leica (and all MF manufacturers) is stuck with Kodak...but the lenses are not that close. look at all those vaunted, ultra-fast L primes below 200mm – CA and PF everywhere. even the slower ones can show lots of CA. Canon doesn't have the reputation to charge for truly apochromatic lenses and such.

    and don't forget the wide-angle sharpness advantage, either because of no retrofocus elements, or because Leica has the cachet to use retrofocus elements, correct for the compromises, and charge for it (which Canon/Nikon can't).
  23. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

    Jun 9, 2009
    You have a point with some of their APO designs, but Leica lenses have their flaws just like any other. Have you seen pics from the 50mm f0.95 wide open? Purple fringing and field curvature everywhere, and pretty severe at that. I am not super familiar with Canon's lenses as I shoot Nikon, but I think the 24mm f1.4 stacks up pretty impressively in this regard.

    Also, WRT the rangefinder design and digital sensors, I know that the digital Leicas have trouble with the ray angle of the light hitting the corners of the sensors since the rear elements are so close to the sensor. Back in the film days it did not matter from what angle the light was hitting the film, but in digital sensors it plays a role. IIRC the M9 has specific corrections built into it for each Leica lens in order to compensate. Angle of incidence even affects some DSLRs although I think they have the advantage w.r.t. this aspect because the mirror dictates that the rear element is situated further away from the sensor.


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