“Perfect understatement,” “perfectly understated” — do these marketing terms ring a bell? Leica M, right. The German boutique camera maker just announced the Leica M-A, a purely mechanical camera reduced to the essentials of photography with no monitor, no exposure meter, no battery. Alright, we have to bear with marketing phrases such as “the Leica red dot has been deliberately omitted to emphasise the classic restraint of its design as an ultimate expression of understatement.” Truth is, you get a noticeably slimmer camera than the M-A’s digital counterparts — and on top of it you get a Kodak Tri-X 400 film roll. Leica calls this black-and-white film a firm favorite and a classic for art and reportage photography. It’s all about the essentials and basics. Who needs a display? That brings us to the truly ingenious Leica M Edition 60:
Say what you want, but this camera’s “reductionism” as a celebration is just brilliant. The mark the 60th anniversary of the Leica M, the Germans introduce the limited special edition set that includes not just a Leica M-P (Typ 240) with a Leica Summilux-M 35mm F1.4 ASPH, both special versions created by Audi Design. No, though the camera has the inner workings of the Leica M-P, the handling was changed radically:
The 60 years jubilee edition has no display. The photographer can change only the bare functions required for digital photography: shutter speed, aperture, focusing and ISO sensitivity.
Lovin’ in. No monitor. For, well, €15,000. But this camera is not about the price. This camera is about the boldness to force the photographer to focus again and not waste any time monitoring the monitor.
This camera reflects radical concentration on the basic essentials required for photography. In the place of a monitor screen, you find only an ISO setting dial. All exposures are saved exclusively as RAW data in DNG format.
Working with this camera demands the same care and attention as when working with analog models, allowing the photographer to indulge in complete concentration on the subject/object or scene — and savour the instant of capturing a special moment. Without the distraction of superfluous technical features.
Reductionism as a celebration of photographic art. A moment, captured by photography’s four essential functions: shutter speed, aperture, focusing and ISO sensitivity.
Sadly though, hardly any of the 600 units produced will ever be used. These special edition Leicas are something for collectors and fanatics who take pride in owning old and new, expensive cameras with not a single shutter actuation and not the slightest wear and tear. These special edition cameras are not meant to be used.
But just imagine what a pleasure it would be to actually use such a digital camera stripped down to its essentials with no display and gimmicks. Untouched by the march of the digital era. Concentration on the essentials — which in a way is how I’m using my cameras. Hardly ever touch the menu. Hardly ever alter a setting. It’s all about time and light and sensitivity.
Maybe this special edition will later be offered as a regular camera. My wish? A camera maker with prices for most mere mortals taking heed of this “concept” of an anti-digital digital camera.
Care to enjoy some Edition 60 unboxing? That’s right, and now I am sarcastic, always wear gloves when handling the camera…: