You don’t have to look far to realise that cameras come in all shapes and sizes, to all manner of price points, and to different styles to match different image capturing techniques, with models ranging from the simple point and shoot, the more advanced models, the interchangeable lens cameras, and even cameras which are a little bit more special and do unusual things.
But every camera can be used for something unusual, because our style is often what makes it that.
One hundred year old Leica understands this better than most other camera makers. The brand is one of the oldest still existing camera brands out there, responsible for high-grade optics not just in the photographic community, but also in the science world, with high quality glass making the difference in the line of work of various professionals who have to look down the line of one of the company’s many types of optical gadgets.
Those one hundred years have seen a lot of cameras and a lot of photographers, and the list includes some pretty spectacular greats, including the likes of Alexander Rodchenko, Elliot Erwitt, Robert Capa, and Henri-Cartier Bresson to name but a few, all of these creating images synonymous with the style that these small Leica cameras have been known for, much of it impromptu with no setup, resulting in life being captured from the viewfinder.
Street photography is generally the style a Leica is known for, or at least a Leica rangefinder, and these cameras generally focus on fixed lens lengths for capturing the day-to-day, which is a classic style of shooting and a little restrained in comparison to the modern way of looking through a camera and being able to zoom in if you’re not happy where you are.
This older style has been used in Leica’s rangefinders over the years, even as Leica jumped from film to digital, which the company now sees itself squarely in, complete with options for people who like to work in colour and even in black and white only.
But affordability has never been something Leica has really worried about. It was almost as if the company knew you were buying the best, and so as to not compromise, never really dropped prices. Camera bodies tend not to come with lenses, and therefore fetch a minimum price of around $8000, and the lenses start at half this and go up.
This year, however, we might be seeing Leica find a compromise, a middle ground, if you will, that will let someone who doesn’t have that spare cash happily spend it on something high quality with the Leica style and design, with the Leica heritage of high quality lenses and attention to detail.
This is the Leica Q, a take on Leica’s rangefinder with a fixed lens that you cannot remove and a full-frame 35mm sensor, providing what feels like a cross between an advanced compact and a interchangeable lens camera, even if you can’t actually take that lens off.
At $5990, it’s still going to sit in that category of “not cheap”, but in comparison to most Leica models — in comparison to any other digital Leica rangefinder — it’s a bargain, and that’s before you actually get to using the camera.
Pick it up and you’ll feel a solid aluminium body the likes of which is a little unusual in the world of digital cameras.
You’ll see aluminium and magnesium from time to time, but a solid block is a little different, and it’s a whole heap better than the block Leica used in its Typ T, which we saw last year.