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Wednesday, 26 November 2014


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You should do a list of the top "no-bashing" exceptions - Christmas lights; hats; yippy little toy sized dogs...?

Anne Geddes found – invented – a recognisable style that was entirely her own. She worked hard to turn that style into a brand, and successfully marketed it to a world audience, building a multi-million-dollar business on the back of it. Her work is consistently of the highest technical quality, harms or mocks nobody, and gives pleasure to extremely large numbers of people.

Apart from the one-camera-one-lens thing. She has taken the advice so regularly given here and elsewhere in the enthusiast photographer world and run several back-to-back marathons with it.

You should interview her. As a photographer, not a phenomenon.

Street Photographers on the other hand ...

An old Northern Ireland joke.
" There are two things I cant stand. Bigots and Catholics "

So, was Dante Stella's comment about 'Leica and metaphysical doubts' that you quoted so many years ago Leicabashing or just an uncomfortable observation on their marketing methods?

Huh. My dentist must not be rich enough, since he's a Nikon guy.

You're so right, Mike. I hereby take back every pejorative thing I've said about Ted Cruz!

Bonus points for mentioning Thorstein Veblen. I don't often get to use my degree in economics as I am a full time photographer, but it's nice to see someone out there knows this sort of thing.

Also note that your, er, favorite song was written by Dolly Parton, who is an excellent songwriter and businesswoman who kept ownership of her copyrights even in the face of significant financial offers to sell them. (As I understand it, Elvis Presley wanted to record that song, but he required the publishing rights for anything he recorded and she declined.) So this is sort of related to the photography business.

Are you suggesting I shouldn't bash the series of Hasselblad baubles - er, modifications of Sony products? Well, I actually pity the buyers. Is that O.K.? ;)

I use a Leica M, which delivers much better video than the Leicabashers will admit. Stills are nice, too.
My wife uses a Nikon V3, which produces very good slomo video, as well is excellent 1080 and stills. Way better than is admitted by those who complain Nikon has missed the boat on non-mirror cameras.
We both use the Nikon AW1, which is far better than the Nikonos that I used for many years.
Two manufacturers, Leica and Nikon, who deliver excellent products, but receive wretched and ignorant comments on the web.

I like Joel's song "Vienna". Sorry. But I'm with you on Whitney though.

Looks like we're going to have another winter.

Well put. I agree with everything you say against bashing. ...except for the part about lawyers.

You live in Wisconsin. Aren't you legally required to allow, and participate in Chicago Bears bashing?

[No way! Michael McCaskey is a TOP reader and friend.

Of course, it's not easy being football-agnostic either.

Who do people root for in Vegas? --Mike]

The funny thing about Leicabashing is that all the bashers could simply try out a Leica for themselves for practically zero out of pocket, and make an informed decision.

Grab a used film body, a used 35 or 50mm and a bunch of HP5 and use it for six months. If you hate it, sell it for a very small loss, if any. I could sell my M6 for more than I bought it for two years ago. (Not that I'm interested in selling it.) All this will cost you less than what it'd cost to RENT a digital M for the weekend.

I'm pretty sure of one thing: While you may discover a rangefinder isn't the tool for you, I doubt you'll come away from the experience with any question that there is a legitimate place for Leica in the world of photography.

Hear hear... but while we're on the subject of making exceptions, can you pretty please make an exception for Hasselblad's Sony camera makeovers?? I don't think one could bash those enough.

Case in point:

The old "Leica's/dentists/doctors" trope is BS. There are plenty of working and serious amateur photographers who buy and use new Leica cameras and lenses.

I'm not one of them but thanks to one website developer and one doctor I do own an M6 TTL and M7. Both were virtually new and un-used in the box.

Total price paid for both of them: $3900.00

I'll never be able to afford a new Leica camera but thanks to well off people who buy them and in my case, the spouses who say "use the damn thing or sell it", I can always afford a nice Leica camera.

So God Bless those dentists!

Everyone's a little bit racist on some things indeed.


When someone uses a Leica camera or listens to a Whitney Houston song and doesn't like it, there's nothing wrong with saying so, particularly if that person can advance a reasonably cogent argument as to why.

Bashing is mostly an internet phenomenon, practiced by those whose opinions come not from experience, but from the internet.

My dentist is a beautiful young woman, and she loves photography (she has lots of big prints and books which are always a pleasure to see). Don't know if she has a Leica - never asked her. But since she's into photography as much as I am, she probably does it herself.

I have never figured out whether Ken Rockwell's "Leicaman" is bashing or an homage.

Like BH, I think that Leicas are surprisingly affordable in the long run.

Dear V. Roma, we (me and you) better keep quiet about the Hasselblad's design disaster. Turns out that the design center was in Italy (and it was closed recently, not to anyone surprise I suppose). I really felt ashamed when I read it, was also very close to where I live.

All well and good... And then you have fanboy stuff from BH: leica and hp5, really? Haven't we flogged this horse enough.

Racism and prejudice are proven methods for protecting oneself and the tribe from attack. Animals have always done this, as has most of the world. It's only been modern elite sophisticates who attempt to counter their experience and instincts, often with disastrous outcomes.

Funny how most successful photographers practice enlightened closed-mindedness when it comes to equipment.

[So then, um, you're bashing people who have enlightened civilized values, for not being sufficiently tribal? :-) --Mike]

I've delt with this for years over on photo.net. My only response now-a-days is, "Just because I use a Leica doesn't mean that all my pictures are bad."

Academic conferences are the leisure of the theory class.

You shouldn't be able to Leica bash unless you own and use one. :)

So I can't bash Alicia Keys' 'Girl on Fire.' I'm so outta here.

I didn't know Leica made an intraoral camera. Rangefinder focusing must be a b**ch! http://instantrimshot.com/index.php?sound=rimshot&play=true

Leicabashing has very little to do with Leica. There is no doubt they make quality photographic equipment. As the cameras and lenses are not sentient beings, the Leica bashers are clearly not directly targeting the equipment itself.

Leicabashing is a reaction to Leica snobbery. The Leica bashers and the Leica snobs are forever locked in battle trying to convince the other that their decisions alone are gospel. The rest of us are just dragged into the vortex.

The only thing worth bashing is people who are still using dSLRs. I mean, what is this, 2012? Get with the program, people!

The elephant in the room of Leicabashing is Leica's pricing policy. I have owned M3, M4, and still own (and love!) my M6. In fact, the reason I recently bought a Sony A7 as my first digital camera was so that I could continue to use my Leica lenses. But in the days of the film Leicas, they were expensive, but still competitive with other professional cameras. Today Leicas (and Hasselblads) sell for multiples of what any other professional camera costs. So while I cannot fault any person who enjoys working with a newer Leica, I can fault Leitz for adopting a marketing/pricing strategy that invites ridicule.

I DO bash bloggers trying to sell me.. things! I love ToP because it's not really trying to sell me things. But ToP never hustles me.

You never do "here's a teaser, buy my DVD for the rest" pieces. You never make buying stuff a condition of anything. You just offer wonderful things for sale at a fair price, and what's there to complain about there?

best ever dentist/photographer ?

I'll start with Ralph Eugene Meatyard

no idea what camera he used

Sigh. I should have never sold my film Leicas, despite the very real need at the times. Frankly I'll never be able to afford a digital Leica and and other Summitar to use with it and that depresses me more than it should.

At least I still have my Canon 7 for a real rangefinder, even if all I have is an Industar lens for it.

@Peter Lewin: Here in Denmark, I see the following prices:

Leica M - 49.000
Canon EOS 1Dx - 47.500
Nikon D4s - 47.000
Leica M-E - 38.000

While I do find this prices way too expensive - and I paid 2.000 for my 1955 M3 - it doesn't seem too far off for a professional camera body.

Mike, I so enjoyed the Leica bashing post and the comments too! And funny, falling off my chair funny at times, though I may be easily amused!
Something to think about; ('cause you've written a lot of really interesting stuff over the years) compile some of these posts and comments into a book.

Even Leica sites do some Leica bashing now and then. The takedown of the stereotypical Leica Man on Leicaphilia is pretty hilarious:


I'd like very much to have a bash at using one these. If I could afford it.

Summiluxes galore!


No!....No Mike, you've got it all wrong. Rich doctors and lawyers have Leica's too. Even some rich rock musicians have them.

There are even a couple of Photo Bloggers who actually love Leica's. They have many of them.

Though, I can't think of a jazz musician that has one.

Dear Mike,

Uhh, Billy Joel fan, here. How can you NOT like "Allentown"?!?!

In the early days of DARKROOM magazine, we had a demographic category of reader we called "retireddoctorswhomovedtoMiamiandcollectLeicas."

This was not a pejorative. Those readers made our advertisers very, VERY happy.


Dear Ed,

Miss Manners has a cogent and practical argument against expressing prejudice in public. You never know who is listening and will take offense.

For example, my sister is a retired attorney (family law) and my other-significant-other is a patent attorney. So, if you were to bash lawyers in my presence we would, as they say, "have words."

pax / Ctein

I owned a M7 once, but sold it because I am not much of a rangefinder shooter, but it had an excellent feel to it. One of my favorite tools is my Alpa Max with Schneider lenses and I have had to read through some Alpa bashing in forum threads regarding medium format (MF) cameras. I use an Alpa because I need a MF box for my lenses and I prefer Alpa's engineering and feel, but I do hate the price tag!

I have a few close female friends that are divorced like myself, but when they start in with the man/husband bashing stuff, I usually change the subject and talk about my son. I ask myself if they ever really hear what they are saying.

My mother became an instant single mom with four daughters to raise when I was eight years-old. My maternal uncle stepped in and was the man in my life while I was growing up, and if I did not have him, I would have missed out on so much good stuff. When I was eighteen years-old, he told me he was gay. I was shocked because I never knew. It did not change the way I felt about him, if anything, I became a bit more compassionate towards him because he had an additional struggle with society to deal with. When my uncle passed away, he left me everything which made me cry because I think I was the only one of his nieces that loved and respected him unconditionally.

Bashing is bad, whether it is directed at cameras/photographers, people, or life situations. Thank you Mike for having the courage to call it out.

I don't see this as Leica-bashing; it is really the Leica eco-system food chain.

The familiar food chain is a triangle with the bottom feeders at the base of the triangle and the top feeders at the tip of the triangle.

In the Leica case, the triangle is inverted, the top feeders (ie: wealthy Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, etc), buy the Leica at full price, play with it and sell it discounted to the next tier down.

I bought my M4 that way, it was owned by a medical Doctor, who used it for a year and then traded it in. When I bought it the slow-speeds would stall and I was told that all it needed was more exercise and that was right; they worked fine after about 100 exposures.

I have been exercising my M4 since 1976 and it is still in good shape.

Exercise is important.

After spending time in a workshop with William Albert Allard (just call me Bill) and watching a master shoot with a Leica there's no way I could ever bash the camera. Bill so nonchalantly pulled the camera out of his vest, manually focused, almost instantly, then shot and returned the camera to his pocket, I can see why pros still use Leicas. His images speak for themselves.

The first I knew of Ann Geddes was seeing her selling work on the footpath in Auckland CBD maybe 20 years ago. Her business acumen is praiseworthy, but I wish she'd stayed there.

I think Ralph Eugene Meatyard used a Rollie.
My favorite Dentist photographer is Toby Old
And he used a Hasselblad SWC most of the time.
I met him once in a disco, his arms stretched wide with a SWC in one hand and a strobe in the other taking a picture of a couple of naked women on horseback and said to him "you must be Toby Old".

Anyway, don't bash rich dilettante photographers, thats where all the nice used cameras come from.

I picked up a 90mm 2.5 Leica lens for $10 on Sunday, and it's a very nice lens.

Not aware of the Stellar!?! But...but... it's got wood!


The opening paragraph is classic. And mostly true!

I tried using a M2 with a 35mm lens, the one with the build in VF, and a 90mm back in the days of film. Try as I might I just could never get used to the viewfinder and focus method, especially with the 90mm. But I loved the physical look of the camera, still do to this day. I couldn't tell the lens quality apart from my regular Canon lenses at the time so eventually I gave it back to my friend who had lend it to me for a whole 18 months to try it out....the thing I liked best about it though was the seductively sounding, barely audible, shutter. Had a look at an M9 once and I was shocked at how loud and unpleasant sounding the shutter was compared to the M2...Eventually I got an X1 ( for a song) and used it for 2 1/2 years..it was good, but I was somehow a bit disappointed by the poor build quality, the flash broke and the camera leaked dust on the sensor, but there was an option for an audible 'artificial' shutter that sounded just like the M2 I had all those years ago!...somehow the fact that it was an artificial shutter sound never bothered me....At the moment I am very infatuated with the silent shutter setting of my 6D, and that's a 'real' shutter, not a recording! To me a Leica is like a super sports car or a Swiss luxury watch, I read up about them, dream a little bit, but really its just not on the cards for ordinary middle class people like me....and maybe that's how it should be.

Mike, I agree with you on this but there is something that you people in the USA may not realize:
for the rest of the World, "America" is a vast continent spanning from Bering Str. to Patagonia, which comprises many different countries.
Whenever any of you say "America", meaning just the USA, we can't help feeling that you think you are the whole of the continent, and maybe that fuels some bigotry out there. What would you think if the french referred to themselves as "We are Europe, capital city: Paris"?.

[Have to disagree. "America" is an extremely common abbreviation for "the United States of America" and the continents are called "North America" and "South America." No one I know doesn't know that "America" means the USA, and in no other country in N. or S. America would citizens call their country "America" and expect to be understood. And no one I know would use the word "America" to refer to North and South America collectively. It just isn't done.

It's not hubris, it's just common accepted usage. --Mike]

I'm sorry Mike, but I have to agree with Enrique. The view of America is different in the rest of the world and Enrique speaks for a large number of people (not myself I might add). It is perceived that the U.S. thinks it is 'top dog' and the rest of the world doesn't matter when decisions are made. It may not be how Americans view themselves, but many in the rest of the world do. Sorry.

[What you say may be true, but it has nothing to do with citizens of the U.S. referring to the country as "America," which is just a common and well-accepted usage. That was my only point. --Mike]

I'm happy to bash Leica, not because you can't take good pictures with a Leica, or because of the handling or the rangefinder or any of the other parts of the actual machine, or anything to do with the "rich dentists" trope, but because I believe that Leica treats its customers like chumps. I hate being treated like a chump. I'm a former Leica owner, both of film and digital cameras, and seeing ordinary accessories that have nothing to do with glass or range finders, being pumped up in price by 600% because of the brand name, is more than annoying. Especially when they *know* -- because you're buying an accessory -- that it's their own customers that they're ripping off. Don't even get me started on the rebranding of Panasonic cameras as "Leicas." Is there anything that could be more justifyably be labeled a "Veblen Good?"

You know what else annoys me? Somewhere in all these programs I use is an automatic spell-checker that, as far as I know, has never made a correct change -- it changes the most obvious of misspellings to obscure words that will turn a sentence into mush. I just found myself typing "range fingers" and "champs."

Note to Ctein. Allentown? Really? Jeez. I always figured you for more of a Delbert McClinton type.


Dear john,


You realize this comes close to taking us full circle...


pax / Ctein

Former Leica user here who also likes Billy Joel and loves Delbert. But lawyers...not so much.

I came across this and then remembered the posts regarding the disagreement with the USA referred to as: America. If you click on the link you can see maps of the USA completed by the London staff of BuzzFeed. BuzzFeed does this as a Thanksgiving tradition. Mapmaker #7 simply writes America across the country. I found great humor in the maps, (e.g., the American could not complete the map; a dog gets pulled into the mix, and there is some profanity), and the visuals were enjoyable as well.

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