Toronto. I always wanted a Leica although when I had the chance to buy one in the late 1950s, I chose the more expensive Exakta VXIIa instead. In the summer of 1972, my youngest child was born and a month later I bought a new Leica M4 at Korda’s in Montreal. A year earlier the ill-fated M5 came to market and my particular M4 was one of the few remaining new ones in retail at the time.
A few months after the M5, a Minolta-made compact Leica called the Leica CL went on sale. But a budding photographer could choose instead to buy the much less costly Minolta C. This camera looked the same as a Leica CL. Leitz justified the cost difference by claiming to have a tighter quality control on the cameras and lenses signed as Leica CLs. Nevertheless, the Leica CL shared the same fate as the unwieldy Leica M5. Leitz went back to the basic M4 design with the Leica M4-2 and succeeding newer models.
Yesterday on one of the blogs I read, Daring Fireball, John Gruber quoted Craig Mod and his review of the Leica Q. I read the article and was surprised to learn the Leica Q is a fixed lens, full frame, digital camera equipped with a 28mm Summilux lens.
The review was written after Mod took a six month field trip using the Leica Q. The trip converted the author into a devoted Leica fan some 8,000 shots later. Mod’s review brought back memories of how delighted I was with my M4 and its 5cm Summicron lens so many years ago. The Leica Q, is nearly $6,000 in Toronto so I will stick with my Sony digital camera for now, although my M4 was every bit as expensive in its day.
When I was a kid, the Leica was world famous for its precision construction and image quality. Many famous photographers used a Leica. In 1954, the screw mount Leica of pre war fame was showing its age. Leitz replaced it with the bayonet mount M3 camera, an industry shattering design with accessories galore.
By the early 1990s, however; Leitz and Leica were in turmoil. I did a presentation “40 Years of Leica M” at our December 1994 Toronto meeting. The 20-4 issue of Photographic Canadiana included my article on Leica. I felt sure at the time that Leica would perish. But here we are 21 years later and Leica is still around making very expensive digital cameras while others including Voigtlander and Zeiss mimic the Leica M lens style and bayonet mount.
As a footnote, my first 35mm camera was a little Minolta. Decades later the company faltered and merged with Konica. Later Konica-Minolta too struggled and its camera division was absorbed by Sony who had decided to move into DSLR cameras. In 1972 I used a Leica. Today I use a Sony mirrorless camera capable of using Leica lenses. A small world indeed.