The premature death of Leica

Article Dedication

In honor of

Oskar Barnack


This guy thinks the Sony a7R II will kill the Leica M.

Well, he does make some good points in his report, but the bottom line is…the Sony is no Leica. Same thing was said about the Fuji-X a few years ago…a Leica killer. The Fuji ended up not being a Leica killer either.

Any of the modern day auto focus cams will beat a rangefinder for speed of focus. But, few of the modern day cams will beat a Leica for on the fly, instantaneously, with no shutter lag shooting in bad light.

You can always tell who are the Leica snobs on the forums. The one’s that don’t know their ass from the proverbial donut hole…or is it their ass from the proverbial hole in the ground? Anyway, there was a camera fondler on the forums that wanted Leica to dump their perfected manual lens and rangefinder design and make the lenses auto focus and replace the rangefinder with a EVF. GD…the 2 things that make the Leica stand above all others are what he wants to dump. I just don’t get it?

It is not that I am stuck on manual focus lenses and rangefinder designs for snob appeal, but these 2 components are what is required to ‘get the shot’ in certain situations. Couple this with a compact footprint…and you have a Leica! The sensors Leica use are not worth the money. So something else has to make up for the vastly overpriced cost of a Leica if we only look at the IQ of the finished photo.


The Leica excels at low-light, manual focus and / or zone focus work. The other benefit of the Leica is straightforward manual controls like shutter speeds and aperture. You can adjust the controls without even looking at the camera, you can just count the clicks. You can also zone focus a Leica by not looking at it. You feel the protrusion on the lens and adjust it to a predetermined spot correlating to the focus scale.

The Fuji-X does offers some of the same benefits as the Leica with limited manual controls. That was a big help when I shot this project.

If your not doing any of that type of work, you don’t need simplified manual  controls or are a camera fondler – then I’d tell you to buy something other than a Leica. There are much better deals out there that a Leica.

(If you doubt what I say about shooting ‘on the fly, instantaneously, with no shutter lag’ with Leica?  Swing your cam around wildly, in a dark room and see how long it takes to shoot in AF mode while you press the button while swinging it. See how off the mark the shutter is released from the time you pressed the button. )

Diglloyd does nice work, but he looks like he is a tripod photog for the most part. In his review he approaches the subject as a landscaper and not as a doc photog. So of course he thinks Leica is not that great of a choice. He is right, there are much better cams that will give him far more bang for his buck than a Leica with what he shoots. The Leica is a reporters cam, it is not a great landscaper’s cam.

Look at Diglloyds pix at his site, then look at mine.

You decide who knows more about street and documentary shooting. My review of the Leica is as a street / doc photog and not as a landscaper.

I’ve been a street / doc photog for 48 years. My photographs are in 124 museums and curated collections around the world.

I’ve got nothing to sell you, no agenda to push, so I am not going to feed you a lot of bullshit. I’m not trying to get you to buy my book or come to my seminar. I’m not pretending to be a ‘rumor mill’ that is secretly funded by the camera companies. You don’t have to PayPal me $5 to support my family.

I don’t approach any of my reviews as a fanboy or camera fondler. Cameras are just tools I use to get the photo…that is it. My goal is just to give you the balanced truth, as best I can discern it to be. My hope I that it will educate the young, up and coming photogs, as well as the camera fondling engineers that make all these problem ridden, crappy designed cams.

If Sony made a knockoff digital rangefinder of the Leica for $2500 with a 42 MP FF sensor, then Leica might be worried. But there is no manual digital rangefinder substitute out there, so there is no real competition for a Leica. The Fuji-X is somewhat Leica-like, but it has many shortcomings compared to a Leica.

Since Diglloyd is not a street / doc photog, he is in no position to review it as a tool for that use. He does not understand the benefits of a manual rangefinder. He may say he knows the benefit of the Leica for doc use, but his review and portfolio betrays his words.

Leica IS the epitome of perfection of simplicity when it comes to manual controls.

Back in the day, the photogs for Life Magazine would routinely maintain a large number of Leica, Nikon or Canon rangefinders in their stable. They would carry 3 on their person, keep 3 at the hotel for back-ups and have 3 back home getting CLA’d.  Who can afford to do that nowadays with Leica?

OK, with zoom lenses we can get by with less cameras. But you still need a handful of cameras if your a pro. You can’t risk traveling on assignment with one cam. The problem with Leica nowadays is it is too expensive to be a reporters camera any longer, it is made mainly for camera fondlers.

The Leica is a very overpriced cam if you value it by what it produces. You would figure with all the $$ Leica charges they would use top end sensors. Sadly, Leica uses second rate sensors in their cams. (At least the color cams. The MM has a very sharp sensor, although it tends to burn out the highlights.)

With all the money they charge, Leica’s sensors should be the standard of the industry that the other camera producers are always trying to catch up to. Instead, Leica sensors are always a generation or two behind the other guys. My cheap $400 Fuji X will outshoot my $7000 Leica M240, especially in low light conditions.

Why do I shoot the $7000 Leica if my $400 Fuji produces more or less as good as my Leica?


Memphis, TN  Leica MM

I like the Leica controls, I like the rangefinder. I don’t like the controls on the Fuji. (I hate the Sony controls even more.) It is just sad that one has to pay such a premium for Leica’s manual simplicity, but that is how it is in the camera world. The camera fondling engineers have ruined the controls on the rest of the cams.

Now, if your into fondling your camera and like superb fit and finish, no one does it better than Leica or the old film Hasselblad’s.  Leica is the Rolex of cameras. But, not being a camera fondler myself, fit and finish is on the back burner for me. I am after the photograph and not the fondling.

What needs to be done in photo land is for the Japanese to make an affordable Leica knockoff rangefinder. There are many times I can’t risk using the Leica and have to settle for the Fuji. With certain projects I know reasonably well my camera will get destroyed and can’t afford losing one or two $7000 cams.

If Leica needs to be put to sleep, it should be done with a real Leica knockoff in the Japanese tradition. Not some phony wannabe with a program dial and loads of buttons, a touch screen and a zillion program menus to scroll through like a Sony or Olympus.

Bottom line…Will Leica survive or die?

I don’t pretend to know. I do know Leica is in a class by itself. Even if it has a sensor that is not top notch and is over-priced, there is nothing in the camera world that is like shooting a Leica.


Staten Island Ferry NYC  Leica MM

Leica has perfected what is needed in a documentary camera eons ago. Impeccable manual controls and simplicity are what does it for me.  For others that have the $ and like fine things, nothing matches the fit and finish of a Leica.

Here are some recent shots with the Leica M240…(everything is handheld.)

De Wallen Artists' Book no. 15 Copyright Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mrmr L1002102-V28 7.6 x 7.6 mr+ higher res Freemont Street No. 2 copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. Washington Momument copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr St. Martin 11 copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr Reinbeau copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr L1004397-V4 lr L1004327_V7 lr L1003231_-V15 7.5 x 7.5 L1003119 V19 mr 7 Dam Square no. 2 Copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr
Freemont Street 1 copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr
W L1000340 v9 MR
13Whoop-Whoop 73 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr 11Whoop-Whoop 33 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr
St. Martin 76 copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr
LAS copyright Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr
St. Martin 56 copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr
LAS Busker Daniel D. teoli Jr. thin border mr
48 L1002100 V12 8.1 x 8.1 ckd mr
Plane Worshipers copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr.
33 De Wallen Artists' Book Copyright Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr.

Selection from 'Bikers' Mardi Gras' artists' book by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

** Just for comparison…the photo below of the girl and guy was shot with the $400 Fuji X-E1**

Jugglos Project Copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr
** Just for comparison…the photo below of ‘Pinky’ was shot with a Nikon D610. **
The Americans 60 years after Frank 2015 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr
Hen Party Amsterdam Copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

Selection from 'Bikers' Mardi Gras' artists' book by Daniel D. Teoli Jr.

De Wallen copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr (2) mr De Wallen copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr (1) mr

Bikers Mardi Gras no.55 copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr

Crypt St. Michan's copyright 2015 Daniel D. Teoli Jr. mr

Above is a sample of ISO 3200 with the M240

Further reading:

De Wallen Graffiti copyright 2014 Daniel D. Teoli Jr.