Why Photographers Love Leica

Leica has consistently maintained a reputation as the world’s best lensmaker, while its M series cameras have reached a status that can only be compared to Rolls Royce or Rolex.

And even though Leica has struggled to match other camera brands for their digital technology, every photographer still proclaims Leica to be the golden egg of camera brands.

So what is it that makes Leica so good? And considering the price tag that comes with owning such lavish camera equipment, is Leica actually worth it? Let’s take a look at the story behind the brand and why Leica has built the reputation it has.

leica m camera

Behind the Brand

In 1914, Oskar Barnack decided to build a fast, lightweight, portable camera to compete with the heavy camera equipment typical of the day.

Working in Wetzlar, Germany, he designed a rollfilmkamera and called it Ur-Leica. This camera went on to become an icon of early photography and a favourite of famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.

But it’s Leica’s M series, produced in the 1950s, that helped consolidate the legendary status of the camera brand. The 35mm camera rangefinder body remains mostly unchanged today, right down to its manual-only focus.

What Makes Leica Cameras So Special?

Even today, photographers swear that the beloved Leica rangefinder transforms their photography experience.

The camera is simple not only in design but in functionality. Without any of the bells and whistles common to high-end cameras today, the rangefinder forces you to absorb a scene fully and to anticipate the subject’s next actions so you can adjust the controls manually before taking a shot.

But there are two areas in particular where Leica reigns supreme: in its attention to detail during manufacturing, and in its superior lenses.

Attention to Detail in Every Leica Camera

leica m series camera

Leica takes its manufacturing process seriously. The Leica M series is made up of over 1,000 individual parts, pieced together with the utmost precision by highly trained technicians. Much of the assembly is done by hand.

The Leica Lens Has No Equal

Many photographers swear by the Leica lens, claiming that its superior build and the incredible quality of its glass makes it the best in the industry.

Leica’s lens glass is ground and polished to create an aspherical lens, comprising a complex shape and surface ideal for optics. It’s so sharp on its own that there’s little need for post-production sharpening.

Such glass is so sensitive, it can be damaged by exposure to air or any contact; it must even be shipped in special soft paper.

The lenses are manufactured in a sterile environment free of any potential contaminants. They undergo an ultrasonic bath to remove any debris and are closely inspected for dust and any other cosmetic issues.

Specialists blacken and lacquer the outer cylinders by hand, with the lacquer helping to absorb stray light.

And since the glass in the lens is mounted almost entirely using screws and barely any glue, they’re renowned for their durability.

Naturally, these lenses create unique photographs characterised by their bokeh. Leica is famous for the beautiful texture of the unfocused regions in their pictures.

The lenses also admit light with hardly any spillage, producing quality high-contrast shots even if there were strong shadows and highlights in the scene.

Is Leica Worth It?

black and white photograph taken with leica camera

Now here’s the crux of the issue around Leica. Leica cameras can put a hefty dent in your bank account, yet they often do not offer nearly as many features as substantially cheaper makes.

Leica has taken years to successfully unite quality digital technology with its rangefinder models. Even now, the M series doesn’t use any advanced automatic modes.

Considering these facts, Leica cameras are only worth it for a certain calibre of photographer.

The Leica M works best for highly skilled photographers looking for total control over their exposure and focus settings.

The M series suits fine art photography which demands technical superiority. The almost silent shutter and discrete look has also made the rangefinder renowned for street photography.

Not to mention Leica lenses and film cameras are famous for their longevity – they retain their value incredibly well.  

Despite all this, Leica’s cameras may not be worth it for beginner photographers without the technical skill. Nor may they be the best options for wildlife and action photographers who rely on fast focusing and huge zooms.

It’s important to consider your needs before investing in a Leica. However, if you’re looking for a good medium, Panasonic has teamed up with Leica to pair Leica lenses with Panasonic digital cameras.

panasonic camera with leica lens

Browse our range of Panasonic Leica lenses online at Camera House to enjoy some of Leica’s superior build at affordable prices!

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