A bit of introduction on the brand that made the camera on this post. Leica is a camera brand that has redefine photography since the early 20th century and their camera has been a staple among renown photojournalist worldwide. It’s association with the creation of many iconic photographs throughout the history has led their camera to earn a legendary status and has huge followers (fanatics?) all over the world until now. As a brand, in the early year of the shift in technology from film analog to digital sensor. Leica has struggle to catch up with the rest of it’s competitor. Their slow adaptation to this change towards digital saw them being left forgotten for more than a decade before being bought over by a billionaire that saves the company from bankruptcy. This day, the camera has became more of a fashion symbol for the rich where the price tag of a single M-mount camera is equivalent to a year worth of salary.
So what does this has to do with this article?. Everything.
Most of my favorite photographer use a Leica M camera at certain point of their career, many even stand by it until today. Therefore, obviously there was a time where I wish to own a Leica just for the sake of it. But god work in a mysterious way and on August 2017, my prayer (I didn’t pray) was answered. Someone actually gave me a Leica IIF along with Leica Elmar 5cm f/2.8, for free.
I am a regular reader of Japancamerahunter.com and their recent post during that time was on why the 35mm film is in high demand. From this, the comment section turn into a forum as they were arguing whether the film camera industry itself is in jeopardy as the market consist of a cameras that has age more than a few decades, with many has past half century mark. The question of parts availability and the declining number of capable repairman was part of the argument. Within the comments I slid a short question asking about “What camera brand that still service their film camera?” and left it there for a few day before returning to read anyone reply. Of course, many gave their response (Leica is probably the only one) and one of them happen to be the one responsible for giving me his camera.
I received an email on the following day stating that he was interested in giving out his camera for free and to send it directly from Japan. At this point, I was very skeptic. The argument was that there is nothing for me to lose and following their discussion before on Japancamerahunter, he believes that a mechanical camera such as the IIF would outlive it’s owner and there is nothing to worry about as parts is not as scarce as it seems. Film photography is here to stay and mechanical parts is always easier to replace than electronic. Hearing his reasoning, I don’t think it’s polite to decline his wishes especially as there is nothing for me to be worried about. I gladly accept and waited for the package.
Few weeks later, I received an EMS package from Japan along with a name and a note wishing me to enjoy the camera. To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much to . Maybe a bunch of worn out camera with a decent Russian made lens. But upon opening the package, I notice a glimpse of the camera shade and further unpacking reveal a Leica IIF with a collapsible Leica lens that I don’t know off.
I contact the sender afterward to inform him that the package has safely arrived and to confirm his motive in sending me the camera. It was unimaginable for me as the camera could fetch a high price on the market today. His reasoning was pretty simple, the camera is not really appreciated by the collectors in Japan given its condition (it’s pretty clean for me) and he bought it as a part for his beloved Leica IIIG. For him, he felt like a waste seeing a capable camera being wasted inside a drybox so instead he decided to give it away (Fuck capitalism he said) to someone who will actually use it. Seeing their discussion from the post in Japancamerahunter, he believes that mechanical camera will last much longer than it’s owner given that it is being used regularly and serviced when needed. A reminder for myself as the camera was actually made in 1952 based on it’s serial number.
I am not a Leica geek but having the Leica has led me to study a lot about Leica not only as a camera manufacture but it’s impact as a brand to the development of photography itself. At this point, i kept on reminding myself that this isn’t any post on the history of Leica design but you can’t kept it out from the writing seeing how big the brand is itself.
For this, I would like to state my gratitude to Mr.Damien for his generosity to a poor Architecture student from Malaysia as myself. The camera itself might someday be given away to a certain someone but until then, this is mine to use.
I will be update on my first few months experience on the next post.