analogue regression

In the 1990s Continental Tyres used to run an ad campaign that pointed to the benefits of having German engineering […]

In the 1990s Continental Tyres used to run an ad campaign that pointed to the benefits of having German engineering where ‘you need it most on a car’. And who’s to argue with a set of grippy tyres. But why, where Leica once broke ground by making photography portable; pioneering one of the first useful compact cameras back when a fast exposure was measured in minutes, has it turned out the Ford Model-T ever since. On the face of it, Leica shouldn’t have much going for it and until its recent upturn it didn’t. It rushed the unfinished M8 to market and charged a king’s ransom only to hold it functionally hostage while compulsory IR filters were built and shiiped. Google Leica and the prices, not the pictures will drop your jaw. The comfortable tactility of the M9 remains as it ever was but where D/SLRs have undergone and exponential evolution under Nikon and Canon, Leica has offered consumers a limited focusing system and well, that’s all. And maybe that’s the thing.

The M9 is a quantum leap at least for Leica and it is winning plaudits for its results, but it remains unashamedly aimed at cashed-up brand worshippers. Last year for about USD300 I evaded the Leica legacy (heavily bearded, and rapidwinder-wielding) crowd  on eBay to the pictured 1946 iiic and Summitar. I clocked the 1/200 shutter speed at about 2s, the aperture ring was stuck at f/4 and the focusing ring had seized. Six weeks of attention at Hong Kong’s Panda Camera Repair and for a decidedly un-Leica-like HKD1,000 bill I have a very nice camera. For a look at some first results go here.

 

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