Leica's 100th : Luxury in Photography

I love Leica lenses. Having owned one, you'll find that there is something really exquisite about the imaging quality. The color, contrast, and clarity is superb. So Leica is celebrating 100 years in photography. Wow. That's a long time. Looking back, one can't help but realize how much photography has changed since then. 

Today, the average digital photo is pretty much worthless. To buy one for use on your website, you pay a dollar for royalty free rights. The only people who seem to be making money from it all are the stock photo agencies who charge you that dollar to download an image. 

Leica has moved away from film to digital. Good for you. Look at the spiffy new Leica 100th D-Lux 6 with 5,000 of these will be sold world wide. That said, it will be a collectors item. I don't want to go into the pricing. You can't do that with a Leica. It has a great lens and that should cost you in the ballpark of a full frame DSLR alone. 

To pay that much for a camera speaks volumes of Leica photographers. Rich, affluent and probably a point and shoot enthusiast. You are not going to be the next Alfred Eisenstaedt or Robert Capa. 

Instead, we find Leica indulging their fans with Street Photography and offering courses and exhibitions for would be street photographers. This genre of photography was made famous by HCB, who in his free time spent hours upon hours on the streets of Paris. But Leica, haven't you noticed that the people who buy your cameras do not necessary venture out to the street? 

The typical Leica user would probably avoid spending too many hours on the street as his Leica gear would cost more than his left kidney on the black market. You can go to a cafe and the moment you put down your camera bag or gear, you'd be assured it'll be gone within a few minutes of you taking your eyes off it. A Leica camera is like magnet for thieves and robbers. Unless you venture out with a shotgun in tow, chances are people everywhere will try to rip you off. 

Lastly, why Street Photography? As a career pursuit, it won't be as financially rewarding as Paparazzi Photography. Even wedding photography makes more money on a regular basis than any street photographer. You should be aware that the constabulary of every Western country has an axe to grind with people who point cameras in the street. Post 911 they say. It's a sign of a would e terrorist. 

Then there is the privacy issue. In Hungary, it is illegal to take photos of people on the street without their consent. In the age of the NSA with eyes on your Facebook profile, you'd be happy that your face doesn't appear in a picture on Flickr captured in a embargoed country. 

What's more street photos are often made up of people, with recognisable faces. This means that if you ever tried to sell a street photo as a royalty free stock image, you'd be asked to supply a model release. You can of course take photos when there is no one around. For this, all you have to do is wait till the eerie hours of the night to do so. But I understand that Leica cameras don't handle well in low light, so are you saying that this is a myth?

Regardless, I think you are doing well financially as a camera manufacturer. Those limited edition cameras are genuine rip offs but hey, let's keep that a secret between the both of us. I still think you make fabulous lenses and I am addicted to them. Saves me hours behind the desktop trying to enhance those digital images on Adobe Lightroom. For this, let me wish you a very Happy Birthday, and let the good times roll.