Monday, September 3, 2012

Guilty as Charged - Leica M9 Is a Luxury Item

Leica M9
Image Source:
I read a very interesting article on THEME by Ming Thein recently. The thesis of the piece is that expensive cameras have some similarities to luxury watches - and some differences.
(Click Here) to read Ming's story on THEME.
In terms of similarities, Ming makes the point that expensive watches (tens or even hundreds of times more expensive than fully functional modern watches in the lower end) not only lack any technical advantage in terms of accuracy or allowing the user to tell time better, they are worse. A mechanical Rolex is much less accurate than a Casio.
The similarities end when you consider that cameras really are tools for creative work. Ming makes the case that there are a lot of poor pictures made with Leicas and Hasselblads. In fact, he believes that the photographers responsible believe their crappy pictures are good, simply because of the tool they were taken with. I can see his point, but don't fully agree. I think this behavior reflects more about the person than the camera they're using.
I have recently bought a used Leica M9. Yes, it is a luxury. But you know what? I work really hard for my money, and am very happy to be able to enjoy the luxury of using what I consider to be a great tool. My Leica pictures are no better than those taken with a $350 Lumix DMC-G3. But, they are more fun to take!
I also believe that the Leica is capable of producing unique (not better) photographic feel - if I can connect with it better than other cameras. I certainly believe it takes more to make a good picture with the Leica. The same goes for shooting film in my opinion. I am more likely to develop that skill, and move into new creative ground, if I absolutely love the camera I'm using.
When I consider what Ming presents, I tend to think of cars rather than watches. For example, a Chevy Corvette will outperform a Porsche Carrera in almost every measure. I like both cars. However, early on, before I transformed into a family station wagon driver, I had a 1986 Porsche. I actually made the decision between the 1986 Porsche and a 1989 Corvette. The Corvette was awesome - fast, tight, like a jet fighter. The Porsche was something altogether different. I just plain fell in love with it. It also took me a while to learn how to drive the Porsche. But boy, was that a fun experience.
And back to Ming's point, I never felt that driving a Porsche made me a good driver. It did challenge me in different ways. Ways that added to my life, not the quality of my driving.
So, I will be sharing my experiences in using the M9 with you dear readers, as well as my continued use of the excellent products available and coming from Panasonic. Thanks for indulging my need for a little luxury in my favorite hobby.