Thursday, October 7, 2010

Lecia M9: Rich Bastard Edition

As if more evidence was needed to prove that Leica exists to let rich people feel self important, they have, in conjunction with the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog, announced the Neiman Marcus edition M9. This beauty can be yours for the low, low price of $17,500. You get a free lesson from some Leica expert (because, being rich, you don't actually know how to do anything).

I've never been a fan of Leica. And as their prices have gone from high to stratospheric in the last ten years, I don't even hear Leica fanboys defending the company as much as they used to. In the late 90's, Leica's most expensive lenses, like the Noctilux, were either on par, or only slightly more expensive than the best lenses from Zeiss, Canon, Nikon, and other optics companies. Now, their top-end Summilux lenses are clearing the $5,000 barrier, with the Noctilux coming in at an eye-watering $10,000. You could buy a Canon 5D MkII and two or three lenses for the same price. Utterly absurd. There is no way that price can be defended...

Unless you treat the Leica as a luxury item. You don't buy this if you care about photography, you buy it if you care about the camera. Because people don't buy luxury clothing because they care about keeping warm, they care about the style and the brand. That's a totally legitimate reason to purchase something! Still, I'm going to make fun of it. In the same way I make fun of men driving Ferraris and Aston Martins through rush hour... while, honestly, at the same time wanting one. I care about the photography and the final product. I've created some of my most beloved photos with plastic lenses, and rarely reach the limits of my six year old Canon EOS 20D.

If I was a top-pro photog, and resolution was really critical, I'd spend my money on medium format. If I was a journalist, I could never stomach the compromises of prime, viewfinder lenses. If I was an amateur, how the hell could I rationalize a camera that costs more than some cars? The only market left for Leica at these prices are rich people who care about the camera at least as much as the photo.

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