So I went to Los Angeles. Most people think I’m in Los Angeles all the time, but that is far from the truth. I avoid LA as much as humanly possible. I can’t handle the traffic, congestion, residue of Hollywood and the throngs of…well…how do I put this politely….the wannabe celebrity masses who act like celebrities but without any of the talent or actual work. And there are hundreds of thousands of these folks. But when your better half has an image in an exhibition at Leica Gallery you put on your work pants, aim the trusty ten-year-old Prius north and you dive into the steaming cauldron.
As many of you know, I’ve used Leica cameras for a long, long time. Twenty seven-years to be precise, but I’ve had a falling out of sorts as the company has moved into the realm of the social media star, the celebrity and the finite few who can actually afford their equipment. I simply can’t believe how expensive the gear has become. A part of me says “Yep, this is just business,” but the other part of me wonders if there are any working photographers who can actually afford the equipment. Or even a strap for that matter.
Leica has a beautiful space in Los Angeles. Or Beverly Hills. Or Brentwood adjacent in real-estate terms.(This is an LA joke.) The upstairs gallery is big and bright, spacious and has an outdoor patio that could probably seat at least fifty people. The downstairs is loaded with the jewelry, books, artifacts, clothing, bags, etc. I’ve included a few images of these artifacts. A first edition “Decisive Moment,” and a $23,000 box set digital, titanium something. They also had these rope looking straps, which I could really use, but didn’t bother to ask about price as I figured it would be cheaper to fly to Ecuador, hike into the mountains, buy land, wait for the fiber to grow, cut the fiber, hire a team of weavers and commission my own. Then fly back. Until then I’ll be using my cheap strap.
The exhibition was a combo event. I don’t have the time to go into all the details but it was about Fresh Focus benefit auction which was for City Hearts Official A non-profit which has provided arts education to inner city kids in Southern California for over 30 years. Happy kids getting their work seen, and happy adults getting their work seen, bid on and eventually purchased.
My snide comments about Leica aside, the gallery and store are, at their core, about photography. If you are in Los Angeles, I’m sorry, but make the most of it and get over to the gallery. They have a great book selection, and that alone should be enough to get you to darken the door.
I see you are sporting your new Xt2.
I live in San Francisco, where we have another Leica Store, and i visit it on a fairly regular basis; not to buy anything but to see the photography expositions they have. I imagine like all the Leica Stores, they are all about photography once you pass the eye-candy section, and it is definitely worth to visit and see first hand prints from HCB, Gibson, De Paola, etc. Anything you wanna buy in a Leica Store is tremendously overpriced, not only gear, but books and even a roll of TriX. I have to agree with you on that one.
Oh! before I forget, if you wanna buy one of those rope looking straps, just get one on B&H or get a facsimile from ebay for way less.
Recently I was visiting a friend at LA, sorry Long Beach (to me is all the same, all connected and horrible traffic), as first stop of a “photo road-trip” to Joshua Tree and Salton Sea areas, I thought on my way down to maybe stop by the Leica store one day but as soon as I hit LA traffic I decided to drive the least possible till I left the city towards the dessert …
You were on what we call the “Hipster Trail, ” or the “Instagram Trail,” which is typically Silverlake to Palm Springs to Salton Sea to Salvation Mountain to Slab City to Joshua Tree and back to Silverlake. And depending on the time the traffic can suck the entire way. Just one of the many perks of living in SoCal. The store is pretty high when it comes to price, but people where buying stuff, and I’m sure the B. Hills rent isn’t cheap.
[… You were on what we call the “Hipster Trail, ” or the “Instagram Trail,” …] It makes a lot of sense that is called like that, LMAO. You can just google any of the places you mentioned and the amount of photos with bearded guys in skinny jeans in the middle of the dessert is quite impressive, LOL.
Yeah, here in SF I only saw one guy buying once, he was getting a neoprene case for his Leica. Don’t even know how that looks like, all I heard is that was two hundred and something dollars for the display, and to me still sounding like a total superficial and absurd thing to buy.
Who can afford a Leica M-10? Well most professionals can’t BUT I have seen a few high end fashion guys (mostly in Europe) seem to like them. There’s one guy I’ve seen in Miami who seems to have a pile of the new stuff. Since I’m not under deadline pressure I tend to shoot film and therefore use my OLD Leica’s. Just to put it in perspective a new Canon EOS 5 mark IV is about 3500 to $4000 for a body. The bodies aren’t as bad as the lenses btw. Yeh I use Fuji’s too 😉
Most of the high end folks I know rent their gear now. With constant upgrades it just makes sense depending on what you are doing. I don’t know anyone doing reportage, what the camera was meant for, who could afford it. But clearly people are buying them! A good thing. I have my Leicas for film. Love them.
Daniel, the affordable nautical sailing rope camera straps can be had from sailor strap.
Thanks for that. Will check them out!
I may be crazy but…
I think you can write off cost of cameras on 18 month term. Correct? So if a Leica lasts twice as long as another camera and you keep say a high end Nikon for 4 years you should keep the Leica 8 years. Well the M9 was released 21 June 2011. I may be wrong but I believe there are a good number of photographers still using them and get another 2 years of use from them. Given there are 45 year old Leicas still being used that isn’t unreasonable. Does this all sound reasonable or have I just drunk the koolaid?
My two main film cameras are 48 years old. Not combined. They are both that old, and work great. I don’t know why anyone would use an 8-year-old digital anything unless you had no other choice. I used an M9 for a while and thought it was junk compared to what else was out there. These digital cameras were never intended for long-term use. They were just designed to serve an 18-month lifespan. If someone is a hobbyist, doesn’t matter, can use just about anything. The original Canon 5D is probably all I would ever need.
I have an M10 and I’m not a dentist, or a movie star (although I do look like one (Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man). I have one lens, and may add another but that is all I will need. When I think of all the cameras and lenses I have bought in the past…..
After a few years in the doldrums,Leica M9s are now very sought after, due to the CCD sensor. I had an M9 and was very happy with the results, but not with the shutter sound and feel. The M10 is what I wanted from an M8. I can’t see me needing more.
Leicas are expensive, but worth it in my opinion. An M10 Monochrome would be something (Daniel?). Sell all the Canon stuff?
I bought a Fuji XT2 and three lenses and spent half of what I would have paid for a used M240. And I got what I think is a much smaller, lighter, quicker and more capable camera. I still have and love my film Leicas, but didn’t want to spend that much for digital. I’m not a power user anyway, but so far I love the Fuji. I’ve been carrying it and using it, so I guess that’s the only thing that matters.
Daniel, I’ve been moaning about the bloated size of digital Leicas for so long that I felt duty-bound to buy an M10 when it was announced. It’s the same size as the film Ms and I love it: but if it had been another fat Leica, I’d have bought a Fuji. The b&w jpegs from the Fuji are very special.
That M10 is gonna be great for you. I’m a RAW guy. Just RAW. Then I do the work in post. But I’m going to test having the second file as b&w jpg. Just for fun.
As I get older I am finally learning patience, and in gear that translates to waiting for the new release and then buying a barely-used old one when the rich and famous need a new shiny toy. I use 2 M9’s (one new in 2011) and pre-owned Leica glass as my tools for almost 100% of personal work and about 50% of work work. I shoot manually-focusable subjects at film ISOs and make 40×60″ prints. The shutter is quieter than my 500 C/M was (although not the copal shutters on my 4×5, for sure). It sounds like a camera to me.
Leicas, since my M3, make me want to photograph. Every day, in my hands, at my eye, I am inspired by some totally illogical woo-woo connection to the Masters I respect, and reminded to make art, not snap pictures. My needs and its capabilities are compatible, so these ‘vintage’ digital cameras work just fine for me.
Every photographer should be inspired and enabled by the gear they choose to fulfill their vision, to serve their addiction and scratch their itch. I’m lucky. I found mine 30 years ago – and I’ve managed to pick through the fanboy trashbin to sustain it.
First off….”hi!” Second, you hit on something that’s important. It’s not about gear but it is about gear. And the one thing that probably matters more than anything is find something that actually makes you want to shoot. And something small enough to carry everyday.
In its technique as in its use, (I speak of course for the film cameras).
To take a Leica is to wait for the event to happen, this one can be the light, and not go get it. For me the essential is modesty and restraint, this harmonic of the look with the subject. The Leica, a sweet love in the palm of your hand.
Have to agree. I love my film Leicas. Fav cam of all time.