Any time you mention Leica the Leica haters show up to let everyone know how terrible these cameras are and why nobody in their right mind should ever buy one! Who are these people and why do they hate Leica so much? Hit the jump for all the answers!
Leica Haters Are Weird Video
Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ve probably heard about the new Leica M6. It’s a modern version of one of the most iconic film cameras of all time and there’s already a 2 year waiting list to get one. So people are definitely into it.
But that only fuels the fire of the Leica haters who show up and flame the comments with post after post about how Leica cameras are just overpriced pieces of junk that no real photographer would ever consider using. What’s their problem anyway?
Let’s talk about who these Leica haters are, why they hate Leica so much. And most importantly… Are they right?
Let’s get into it.
There Are Two Kinds Of Leica Haters
I think there are 2 kinds of Leica haters.
The first group have never owned a Leica and neither should you! Whenever they see a Leica video on YouTube they jump in the comments to let everyone know the truth about Leica cameras.
You’ll hear them say the same thing over and over:
Leica is just an overpriced luxury brand. Any other camera could achieve similar or better results for a fraction of the cost.
The red dot is just a status symbol. And people only buy Leicas to show the world they can afford them.
Only rich Dentists use Leicas. Or doctors. People who would rather have a showy bauble instead of a real camera.
Or my personal favorite – The straw man argument that claims people buy Leica cameras because they think it will make them a better photographer.
Nobody I’ve ever met thinks this about any camera. Nobody. It’s just made up nonsense designed to paint every Leica owner as irrational. As if the only reason they bought a Leica was because they couldn’t think straight.
The list could go on. But they’re all saying the same thing.
You’re paying a huge premium for the Leica name and you’re just wasting your money because it does the same thing as any other camera. You’d have to be out of your mind to buy this overpriced and substandard piece of garbage.
And that’s just one group of Leica haters.
The Second Kind Of Leica Hater
The other group is even more delightful. They’re the double agents. The people who claim to already own a Leica – usually some legacy model that hasn’t been made for over 50 years.
It’s almost always an M3 or sometimes an M4. They usually bought it for a couple hundred dollars including the lens. And this precious antique is the pinnacle of design and performance so they’d never waste their money buying a new Leica.
It’s a slightly different argument from the first group but the tactic is the same.
Both groups of Leica haters adopt a negative attitude toward the brand and provide anecdotal evidence as to why they would never spend money on a new Leica camera. And anyone who does is too stupid to see the truth.
Where does this hate come from?
WHERE DOES THIS HATE COME FROM?
Leica isn’t entirely guiltless in the perception that they’re a luxury brand selling expensive baubles. Who can forget the 45 minute long video of a technician polishing the aluminum on a T body.
They actually promoted the fact that they spent a huge amount of time making sure this camera was perfectly smooth. As if that somehow justifies the price.
Then you have the D-Lux 7 point & shoot which sells for 1395 USD. And it’s just a repackaged Panasonic LX100 ii which currently sells for 800 bucks. The ONLY difference is the outer shell that has been restyled with the iconic red dot in place.
And let’s not forget Leica’s crazy special limited edition cameras. These are just tarted up versions of their regular cameras that sell for 4-5 times the price! And they typically sell out instantly so clearly there’s a demand but it doesn’t help dispel the myth that Leica cameras are just showy baubles.
IS LEICA GEAR OVERPRICED?
One of the most common complaints about Leica gear is that it’s overpriced. But I’d argue that it’s expensive. Not overpriced. Calling it overpriced is just an attempt to discredit the brand by saying the price is greater than its value.
But based on what?
Warren Buffett famously said Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.
Value is found in the individual relationship each person has with the product they’re buying. Often defined by “how” the product performs its basic function.
Let me give you an example… Expensive cars.
LET’S TALK ABOUT CARS, BABY.
There are Porsches and Lambos and Rolls Royces (oh my!) and they all get you from point A to point B. And if moving between point A and B is the ONLY reason you would buy a car then a Hyundai is just as good for a fraction of the cost.
But the value of a high end cars isn’t determined by its basic function. It’s “how” they get you from point A to point B that matters. Whether you’re looking for speed, luxury or even fancy style… Each of these cars brings something different to the table. And scratches a different itch beyond the basic utility of the thing itself.
And I think you have to view Leica with the same lens.
Yes, it’s a high end product with a price tag to match. But in the case of the Leica M rangefinder – the WAY the camera allows you to shoot is different than any modern mirrorless system.
Shooting With A Leica Rangefinder
Shooting with a rangefinder affects the way you see the world with your camera. And it’s something that works really well for street photography.
We’ve all heard the idea that rangefinder cameras show you what’s happening outside the frame so you can see potential subjects before they enter the shot. And that’s definitely a thing.
But for me it’s also about being able to look through the camera at your subject instead of looking in your camera at a tiny TV.
It changes your perspective and makes you feel more in touch with the thing you’re shooting.
You might not value this style of shooting but It’s definitely one of the things that makes Leica cameras stand out.
Oh, that and they have freaking amazing glass. But that’s a whole other can of worms.
WHY ALL THE HATE?
None of this explains why Leica haters are so mad about every Leica camera. I mean, who really cares what camera someone else buys?
Here’s what I think…
Leica creates high end products and markets them to a specific group of people. They don’t apologize for making high end products and they don’t really make anything that’s less expensive. It’s almost as if the Leica haters are offended that they’re NOT part of Leica’s demographic. And their reaction is to bad mouth the club that they can’t get in.
It feels like you’re standing at the front of the line at a nightclub and the bouncer lets the cute girls in before you.
You can’t pick a fight with the bouncer cuz he’s bigger than you and you have pipe cleaner arms. But you’re going to tell all your friends about this injustice so everyone will stop going to that club and the club will eventually close and that bouncer will be out of a job and that will show him for not letting you in when you were clearly the next person in line!!!
Of course this is all just conjecture. But it could explain why so many Leica haters have the same bee in their bonnets.
Forget about the foibles and missteps for a moment. Forget about the rebranded P&S cameras or the polished blocks of aluminum. And think about the M series of rangefinder cameras that really define Leica as a brand.
These cameras are workhorses with incredible build quality that’s pretty much unmatched in the industry. Anyone who’s ever held a Leica in their hands (ME!) knows this is a tangible thing. These are really well made instruments that are built to last a long time.
But even the most expensive camera still needs a good photographer to create compelling images. And most of the time I fail miserably at that task. I’m living proof that shooting with a Leica doesn’t make you a better photographer! It doesn’t make you a worse photographer either. But here’s the thing.
Going back to cars for a second. Buying an expensive car doesn’t make you a better driver. But it makes driving better.
The way I feel about my Leica MP makes the experience of shooting film more enjoyable. And I literally look forward to every chance that I get to shoot with this camera.
And that alone is worth the price of admission.
Flame on Leica haters!
What’s your take on all of this? Are you a Leica hater or a Leica liker? Or are you that rare breed of photographer that actually DOESN’T CARE what kind of camera someone else uses? Post your ideas in the comments down below and keep that conversation going.