How am I suddenly part of the 1%?

Let me start this by telling the truth, I own a Leica M2. I do not own a Leica M6. Even if I had the cash, I probably would not own a Leica M6, either an original or one of the new re-issues. I like fully manual mechanical cameras. If I had cash burning a hole in my pocket, I’d probably get another M2. Or maybe an M4. If I had stupid money literally coming out of my ears I’d spring for an MP. Not that I need any of those.

The day the M6 reissue was released, my Twitter feed was full of rage. How dare Leica! They don’t support the film community! Where is our inexpensive film camera we somehow believed was being announced? Don’t they care about the future of film? Leica is only for the 1%!

A new production affordable film camera would be a good thing. Would I spring for a brand new manual SLR in the $200 to $600 price range with no meter? In a heartbeat. Am I ever going to see one of those? Doubt it.

I could blame any number of things. Competition from older cameras still available. Skinny jeans. Whether demand would be sufficient for economies of scale to be effective. Decaf coffee. The list goes on.

I think the real problem here is shutters. Remember that kickstarter SLR, the Reflex? It never got in to production because they could not find a source of shutters. Cosina was probably the last producer of mechanical shutters at scale. The mechanical shutters Leica uses in its film cameras are low production devices.

Thinking Leica will put out an inexpensive film camera using a bespoke mechanical shutter is insane.

The film community can be very toxic. After 4 days of watching nothing but foaming hatred over the new M6 release by a very vocal number of people I started blocking. I have a Leica, but I am not a Leica fanboy. Leica did not promise anyone an inexpensive film camera. Leica does not exist to grow the film community. Leica did what corporations do, they made a choice to make money. That’s capitalism. Problems with capitalism are legion and beyond the scope of this rant.

People somehow felt entitled to something that does not exist, then got very angry when they did not get the thing that does not exist that they were not promised. We need to do better, or manufacturers will stop supporting us. It’s a hard sell to get someone to take a financial chance on a group that will treat you like crap for what you did.

Now if you will excuse me, this member of the 1% will drive over to the shop in his 20 year old truck and figure out how many rolls of film he can afford this month.

4 Comments

  1. Earl Dunbar
    October 30, 2022
    Reply

    I’m pretty much with you, except that I don’t mind a built-in meter and even auto-exposure. The meter in m CL is dead, so I use a handheld meter or Sunny 16. On my X-Pro1, however (2nd go-round) I mount the M-Rokkor 28/2.8 and shoot auto. No AF, of course, but I either use focus peaking (not optimal) or scale focusing using the optical viewfinder. That’s also not optimal, but I’m getting the hang of it.

    Technically I could afford the new M6 but I don’t really need another camera. If someone told me “You MUST buy another Leica” (in the past I had an M3 with 3 lenses) I would probably get an M4 or M4-P and have it completely serviced.

  2. October 30, 2022
    Reply

    It seems like a lot of the anger is around how Leica teased at a “cheaper” camera. I get it, Leica is a business concerned more about bottom line than “growing the film community.” And you are right, they don’t owe us anything. But I get the rage, to some degree. The last few years have been hard, and it’s easier to rail against Leica “denying” us a more affordable camera (a camera that would be still multiple thousands of dollars, a hard pill to swallow if your camera budget hovers at $100 or less) than the war in Ukraine. It feels like we could do “something” about Leica prices, even though that’s of course false.

    I’ve thankfully avoided most of the film community toxicity, but not completely. There’s an anonymous (of course) commenter who frequents a few of the blogs I follow. Any time the current price of film and/or developing comes up, this person goes on long-winded diatribes about how it’s all ruining film photography and pushing “authentic” users (like him, of course) out and leaving only hipsters and the rich. And if you disagree you must be a running-dog for the capitalist masters. In an exchange about lab pricing, he jabbed at me: “Well, except maybe you and the handful of people who own three or four Leicas and think that’s normal.” Ouch. I guess I’m in the 1% club with you as well, Andrew!

    I’m currently coalescing my thoughts into a blog post about this whole M6 brouhaha. I’m not currently in the market for a Leica, new or used, as I’m pretty happy with the cameras I have and I’m also pretty broke. Maybe there will be a time when I want and can afford one. We’ll see. I’m only less than three years into my film photography journey, so time will tell.

    • Earl Dunbar
      October 30, 2022
      Reply

      Yes, I get it – I get the anger. I just choose to ignore all the opinions because, you know everyone has one, just like …

      And I choose not to live my life in rage – mostly. Doing so keeps me from making decent photographs, among other things.

      • October 30, 2022
        Reply

        Oh, I try not to live my life in rage, either. There are things that make me angry, but the price of a new Leica isn’t it. And it’s not fun being on the receiving end, like I was.

        In the end, for most people film photography is a hobby. While there may be some professionals who incorporate film into their workflow, it’s no longer necessary. So if one considers their hobby to be too expensive, they need to figure out a new hobby.

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