If Henri Cartier-Bresson started photography today, would he have shot with a digital Leica M10? Or a RICOH GR III?
I think he would have chosen the RICOH. Some thoughts:
What did HCB prefer in his photography?
A camera which was maximally lightweight, unobtrusive, silent, light, and “affordable”.
According to Leica Rumors, in 1986, a Leica M6 body cost $1695. From 1985 to today, the inflation rate is roughly 2.3x. In 2019 dollars, a Leica M6 cost roughly $3,900 USD. Note currently a digital Leica M10 costs around around $6400-7300 USD.
I am not saying digital Leica cameras are ‘overpriced’. In fact, accounting for the digital technology, increasing labor costs, etc — the digital Leica M10 is ‘fairly priced’ in my eyes. But the note is:
For a modern-day worker, the digital Leica M equivalent (of an old-school film Leica) is considerably BEYOND their average wages.
In short, modern Leica M-cameras are less affordable than they were in the past.
What do we buy the camera for?
Certainly we buy a camera to make photos. And we want the best, the ideal, and the optimal camera for us.
Assuming street photography or everyday photography is our passion, we want the lightest, smallest, least cumbersome, and the least expensive camera. Why? Sometimes having a really expensive camera (even if you’re rich) feels like a liability. For example having an iPhone Pro is stressful— because you’re always paranoid about dropping it, or getting it stolen. Having a cheaper phone is advantageous in the sense that you don’t really worry about it, and you can live more fearlessly and boldly.
Thus the same notion probably applies to photography. The cheaper your camera, the more boldly you can shoot!
Josef Koudelka with Fujifilm X100, film SLR, Leica M.
HCB with original Leica III, and also M6, and Leica M5.
Why do we romanticize Leica?
When we want a Leica M camera, essentially we are saying:
I want to become like Henri Cartier-Bresson.
I don’t think when HCB picked up his original Leica III, I don’t think it had a certain mystique to it.
I’ve used a Leica III camera and trust me — the camera is a serious pain in the ass to shoot with. Tiny viewfinder, and the viewfinder mechanism is actually different from the focusing mechanism.
The best camera is an invisible camera.
Nassim Taleb said it best:
Technology is best when it feels invisible.
For example, a condom with less bulk (to feel “invisible”). Or a camera which you can shoot intuitively and instinctively with.
Currently the most “frictionless”cameras include iPhone and RICOH GR III. The Leica M camera is great, when you zone focus it.
Essentially, you’re trying to turn your camera into the ultimate seamless “point and shoot” camera.
Long story short,
RICOH GR III is the answer.
There is no “perfect” camera. Don’t fall into GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome) and falsely believe that buying a new camera will make you a better photographer.
If you’re not feeling inspired in your photography, I recommend you to buy books, not gear. Also check out these 75+ Inspirational Photo Books You Gotta Buy. You can also download my free books.
Equipment Articles >
- In Praise of Banging around Your Camera
- Electric Cameras
- Why the RICOH GR III is Better than the Leica Q2
- Buy a new Ricoh GR III, not a New iPhone
- The Best Headphones are In-Ear Monitors
- Are Point-and-Shoot Cameras the Best Cameras?
- Gear Adaptation Syndrome
- What is the Benefit of “Standalone” Digital Cameras?
- All Cameras are Good Cameras
- Why The Future of Photography is Software
- RICOH MAFIA
- Use and Abuse Your Gear!
- Why RICOH GR II is the Best Street Photography Camera
- The Best Photography/Vlogging Equipment Setup
- My Favorite Travel Street Photography Equipment
- Zen Body-Hand-Mind Connection with the Camera
- Why It Doesn’t Matter What Camera You Shoot With
- What is the Best Camera and Lenses for Street Photography?
- The Best Travel Street Photography Equipment 2018
- 6 Lessons I’ve Learned After Shooting All the Expensive Cameras
- How to Make Good Photos on a Shitty Camera
- Why I Shoot With One Camera and One Lens
- My Travel Equipment, Winter 2017
- What is the Perfect Camera For You?
- What to Consider When Buying a Camera
Digital Medium Format Photography
- Why Digital Medium Format is a Game-Changer for Color Photography
- The Upsides and Downsides of Digital Medium Format Photography
- Fujifilm GFX 50R and 45mm f/2.8 Lens First-Impressions Review
- Review of the Pentax 645Z and Digital Medium Format Photography
- 7 Reasons Why I Love Digital Medium-Format Photography
- My Experience Shooting Digital Medium Format in Street Photography
- My Experience Shooting my Friend’s Wedding on Digital Medium Format
- Why Digital Medium Format is the Future of Photography
- Is Digital Medium Format Worth It?
- 7 Lessons I’ve Learned Shooting Fashion For the First time on Digital Medium Format (PENTAX 645Z)
Smartphone Photography >
- The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Smartphone Photography
- Benefits of Shooting Street Photography With a Smartphone
- In Street Photography, The Smaller the Camera, the Better
Film Photography 101 >
- Film Street Photography Manual
- What I Learned Shooting 100 Rolls of Black and White Film
- What I Learned Processing 164 Rolls of Film
My favorite camera: RICOH GR III
Currently my favorite camera is the RICOH GR III:
- Why the RICOH GR III is the Best Travel Photography Camera
- Why the RICOH GR III is Better than the Leica Q2
- Why the RICOH GR III is the Best Street Photography Camera
- The RICOH GR III (3) is the Best Camera Ever Made.
Best Equipment by ERIC KIM
This is a list of my personal favorite equipment in photography, computers, and life:
Of course, this list probably won’t apply to you — but this is advice I would give myself (if I needed to buy stuff):
If you’re new to shooting film, pick up a copy of FILM NOTES.
Best film rangefinder
Leica MP + Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron Lens
Best affordable film rangefinder
Leica M6 + Voigtlander 35mm f/2.5 Lens
Best compact film camera
Best medium-format film camera
Best black and white film
Kodak Tri-X 400 (pushed to 1600): $5
Best color film
Best film scanner
For medium-format/35mm: Epson v800: $800
For 35mm: Plustek OpticFilm 8100: $270
Best camera shoulder bag
Best camera backpack
Fits 13” Laptop and Camera: Thinktank Perception 15 (black): $120
Best photography neck strap
Best photography wrist strap
Best photography inspiration website
Best photography news blog
Best photography software
Best video editing software
iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro X ($300)
Best educational photography book
Best black-and-white photography art book
Best color photography art book
“The Suffering of Light” by Alex Webb
Best photography handbook
Best philosophy book
On the Shortness of Life – Seneca ($8) // 10 Lessons Seneca Has Taught Me.
Best digital tools
Maxed-out 13” MacBook Pro (Refurbished)
Best Mac Apps
Best writing app
IA Writer (for writing)
Best screen recorder
Best image resizer
ExOfficio Men Boxer Brief (black): $26
Outlier NYC Merino Wool T-Shirt
Outlier NYC Black Merino Wool Socks
Merino Wool Leggings (black)
Best entrepreneurial tools
Best blogging platform
Best paid online services
Best cloud storage
Diet & Nutrition
Intermittent fasting — with one big meal a day (only dinner)
Deadlifts (one rep max) + squats + dumbbell press + chin-ups + pushups
Of course this is just a list of stuff that work for me. It probably won’t work for you.
But I got inspired to make this list– because it took me about 10 years to figure out the best equipment for me. And this works for me, and I hope it can help simplify your purchasing decisions (at least in photography and some other details).
I’ll continue to do articles and videos related to equipment– because I do believe (up to a certain degree) having the ‘right’ equipment in life makes life easier. But the problem is falling victim to GAS (gear acquisition syndrome) where we are buying stuff for the sake of it (has happened to me).
If you already have a bunch of equipment that works for you– stick with it. But if you need some help, I hope this list helped you.