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Saturday, 29 August 2009


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Funny, that the Leica R8 was singled out as "ugly." I used to think so, too. Not, like, "top of the list 'ugly," but just funny-looking.

Until i reluctantly picked one up. I think i bought one about a week later. And, i've found it to be quite beautiful ever since.

It's really not ugly in any sense. There's nothing garish or tacky about it. It just doesn't seem to make a lot of design sense, when you visually compare it to other cameras. But, ergonomically, it's very nice, and the design sense eventually comes through. It's the definition of an 'acquired taste.'

The unfortunate thing about it, though, is that with its size and bulk and form factor, there's no integrated motor advance or AF. It LOOKS like it should have both. And, ultimately, the camera's only failing is that it's too big for what you get.

And I just sold my Koni Omega...

If I had known you would be pushing the price of those old Konis up by blogging about them!!!

Ah well, so long ugliness

I think the Minolta 7000 and the Sony A850 have similar esthetics, for better or worse.

I'll take a Leica M anyday. And, while I'm not a brand fanatic (having owned everything from 8x10 to small sensor digitals), I think the Leica R8/9 has held up well over the years.

Just like with new cars (Audis come to mind...big grill?), sometimes it takes a while for the beauty (or ugliness) to emerge.

Ok, how about a most beautiful camera. I nominate the Nikon F2, black body, prism finder. Or any tailboard camera built by Scovill in the late 1800s.

I'm always surprised to find Leica R8/9 mentioned as ugly cameras, since I believe they're amongst the most beautiful SLRs ever made.


Yeah, but at least they can make beautiful photographs. Not like Time's "50 Worst Cars," that weren't even good at transportation.

BTW, I think the R8 looks just fine. A friend has a R6. My wife was holding it, with a Leica telephoto attached. I said to her "that's about 6 grand in your hands." Her jaw dropped.

Film Leicas are major status symbols in China and Japan. When that Leica owner saw my film camera collection, he remarked people in China would go nuts for them.

I remember when we were in my wife's hometown, I was using my Yashica TLR. A Chinese fellow who spoke English, walked up to me and said, "You have good taste."

I like the looks of the R8. It is not as elegant as the R6.2 but there is something of an egyptian vibe to it, for lack of a better explanation. Ir's like how certain movies have an aesthetic of sets and costumes that overshadows the movie itself, e.g. Stargate, Lynch's "Dune", Loncraine's "Richard III".

Here's a little discussion to brighten up your day:

That certainly is an amazing thread.


Thanks for the link, Mike,

As it turned being ugly runs in their blood for Minolta being the alpha's great-great-great-grandpa.

What I posted before:


Fugly is in the eye of the beholder.

If it does the job intended, it is beautiful.

Butt ass ugly: Leica R8/R9, Alpa SLRs, Petri clunkers, all DSLR's

Cool ass beautiful: Leica M6 black, Bessa R4m, Nikon F black "Apollo," Minox sub miniature, Hasselblad SWC

Just plain Cool: SX-70, Widelux F8, Mamiya 6, Plaubel Makina 67W, Nikon F100, Hasselblad X Pan, most large format, most pinholes

Ugly is ugly, some of us choose to do the job beautifully in style.

In a spirit of transatlantic harmony, may I recommend two dogs, one from each side of the pond? You traitorous colonials, I'm sure, are still apologizing for the Argus C3 (perhaps you have an archival mugshot, Mike?), while we faithful subjects of good King George III are somewhat red-faced regarding the Corfield 66 - a cautionary tale in itself of why this green and pleasant land no longer has a domestic camera industry

I say, the last one is a truly scary camera. The longer I am looking at it, the more I am sure it's leering / winking back at me. A venerable monster ready to haunt my photographic nightmares!

Gosh, I forgot, what about the Canon EOS 600/RT range? Pre-melted plastic for the discerning blind market. How can something manage to be shapeless AND boxy?

I had the pellicular RT briefly, and took it to Greece on holiday (1991). No shutter vibration, but the brightest day was reduced to dusk through the viewfinder. Its plug-ugliness was just a bonus.

If you work hard to make it as ugly as possible, it will be beautiful--


What can I say - based on the cameras I've used the R8/R9 is not so much ugly, but a ergonomic nightmare....

Norita 66 with the TTL prism - they took a nice camera and stuck a box on top of it as a afterthought..and when you held it it always wanted to fall forwards due to all the glass on in the prims...

F3AF Nikon - another camera with a prism as a after thought...also in this basket goes the Minolta XM/XK, another camera with the big box on top (AE prism)

Nikon F/F2 with TTL prisms - with the standard non-TTL prism these are one of the nicest cameras ever, but put a TTL prism on them and they turn into a ugly camera (and not the greatest user either if you forget to "key" the lens into the meter correctly)

Nikon F4 - big, ugly and out of balance...

Mamiya Press - especially the original green ones - talk about clunky with bits everywhere...

But my number one choice - the Marshall Press - take a rollfilm back, stick a box onto it for a body, then some bellows to focus the lens...what can I say - they were a great camera to USE - thumb wheel focus, big viewfinder with paralax correction, great lens, and great position of shutter release, and from memory a 6X8 format.

Too bad it was so big, bulky and ugly......

Most superzooms are pretty ugly.
Here are a couple of recent standouts:

Samsung WB5000

Kodak Z980

(Come to think of it, most cameras Kodak have made in recent years have not been paragons of photographic pulchritude.)

A buddy of mine uses a modified Argus C2 which I have dubbed The Denim Death. It is kind of an enigma though as it is both totally ugly, and kick-ass at the same time.

I liked the Canon EOS 600 range...to each his own.

I love the Mamiya 6 and 7. The Contax G2 is beautiful.

I'm glad I missed the 80's having gone from Canon AE-1 to 5D--though I appreciate that some would consider the 5D and 1Ds3 ugly, I think they avoid that by just being functional. RFs are lovely - Zeiss Ikon and Voigt R4M are up there with the M6 in my book.

That Minolta--Yikes.


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