Let’s admit it–if you are a street photographer and not driving a BMW or Mercedes-Benz, you probably want the Leica M9. Trust me, I want it really badly too–it has been on my mind for quite a while. But honestly, can we justify purchasing a $6,900 camera just because the camera we have doesn’t pay an homage to Henri Cartier-Bresson and all of the other street photography masters? Mind that this is not taking into account the extra $2000 or so you need to purchase Leica lenses as well. So before you plunge yourself $6,900 deeper into debt, perhaps you should read this:
With $6,900 you can do the following:
- Travel around Europe for 60 days (Assuming you can get by on about $3500 a month)
- Backpack through Southeast Asia for 345 days (assuming it is $20 dollars a day)
- Purchase a Leica M6 and purchase/process 570 rolls of film (assuming the Leica M6 is $1200 and the cost to purchase/develop a roll of film is $10)
There is a ton of things you can do for $6,900 out there, so don’t let the Leica M9 fool you into thinking that getting one will make you happier/a better street photographer. Street photography is not about having all of the expensive toys, but it is about having the experience and joy of shooting in the streets. The reason why you have a camera is to encapsulate and commemorate those experiences you have on the street.
However, if using a rangefinder intrigues you, definitely try getting an old film rangefinder first. Want to stick to digital? Try out the much more “affordable” Leica M8, which is only about $2500 now. Sure it is not full-frame and doesn’t have all the new bells and whistles, but it will definitely help you get the rangefinder experience that everybody talks about.
Now as I am writing this I have to admit that I still have Leica M9 envy. However I have options. I have an old Contax IIIa, which is a World War 2-era film rangefinder which was left to me by my late grandfather which I have barely shot with. Now it is accompanying me by my messenger bag, and I have already shot several rolls which I need to get out to sent. Does using film interest you as well but you don’t want to use a rangefinder? Pick up any old film camera out there, and start experimenting.
Want a quick laugh about the world’s craziness over Leica’s? Watch these videos.
So the ultimate question is do you really need the Leica M9, or do you just want one? Or are you fortunate enough to have saved up for it and made the plunge? Share your experiences below!