I know what you’re thinking. You’ve come across this article hoping it will confirm your suspicions, that “yes, yes I need a Leica!”.
Well I’m going to quickly list why you really don’t need a Leica to be a great street photographer.
We look up to our inspirations, and want to replicate what they do. And, well most of the well known street photographers shoot with a Leica. It’s hard to deny that we are pretty much destined to desire a Leica at some point in our photographic journey.
Well I think this comes down to a matter of performance and usage. Famous street photographers shoot a lot. Garry Winogrand shot well over 10,000 rolls of film through his Leica M4. As you can see in the picture below, the film sprocket holes have been etched into the film plate from such extensive use.
(Image Sourced from Camera Quest)
Leica’s are sturdy strong cameras that, with a little maintenance every couple of years, can keep going and going. Most digital cameras become redundant after 8 years. Sensors gather dust or shutters break. Modern equipment is made to break.
How often do you shoot? Do you need a super sturdy camera that will keep going forever? or are you working on a short term project or only shoot as a hobby?
It makes sense to invest in a good camera that does the job and invest any other funds into education. Taking photography courses or travelling.
Okay we can’t ignore that Leica lenses are amazing, they do produce images that stand out from what other lenses can offer. However where are you sharing your images? Are you working towards printing your own book or do you share images online? Is the desire of owning and using a Leica holding you back from actually starting a project?
Truthfully most people that view your work do not care what camera it was shot with. Most people will be drawn to the story being told in your images.
Do you have a great idea for photo essay or project but are feeling held back because you don’t own your dream equipment and therefore it’s not worth starting?
You should just get a camera that does a great job and start your project.
Don’t hold back because of something so simple.
Time to admit something… I owned a Leica for a few years. Yes it was amazing…but I never brought it out with me. I was terrified of losing it, or breaking it, or someone stealing it. It was completely wasted on me.
I regret selling my Leica, but it taught me a valuable lesson. That I should spend more time shooting with a camera I am comfortable bringing with me everywhere and using rather than having a pretty camera sitting at home.
If you have saved up and you really really really want a Leica. You should just go for it. Get out there and shoot with it and start making images. If you are trying to pick a camera for street photography you should start with a camera you can easily pocket or bring with you everywhere.
1.Ricoh GR Digital I owed a Ricoh GR after my affair with a leica. I much preferred the ability to carry this camera in a coat pocket. I never worried about it being stolen because it was fairly inconspicuous (no red dot)
2.Fujifilm X100F Slightly bulkier but very easy to bring with you in a camera bag or over your shoulder. The image quality is astounding and the rangefinder style viewfinder will give you that Leica feeling.
3.Panasonic GX85 I have been using a GX85 for the past year and have really loved the smaller form factor and the smaller micro four thirds sensor size. It fits in with my desire to get more of the frame in focus. I would say this is great starter camera for everything including street photography.