Is Leica Overrated?

My honest appraisal:

Podcast

Is Leica Overrated?

What I wish I knew

My unrealistic expectation:

If I bought a Leica M rangefinder camera, it will make me a ‘better’ photographer (less fear, less hesitation) and more motivation and inspiration to shoot street photography.

But this is not the case. Leica M rangefinder camera as a more design object, a design fetish object.

Owning a Leica M Rangefinder camera is like owning a Rolex Watch

Why buy a Rolex if you can buy a Casio G Shock watch that does the same exact thing (tell time)? For the aesthetic.

Why own a Leica M rangefinder camera (the only camera I consider a ‘real’ Leica)? For the aesthetic. It is like having a really luxurious necklace, but it happens to shoot photos.

Will it make me more inspired?

No. Same as buying a new Lamborghini will not make you more inspired or happy. The Lamborghini, the Yeezy Sneakers, the fancy watches, etc — all as a design fetish thing. And even if you got the perfect design (iPhone Pro 11), you will not be ‘happy’. We quickly bore of aesthetics. No matter how beautiful your partner, no matter how beautiful your home, your clothes, things, tools, etc… you will sooner or later ‘hedonic adaptation’ to it.

What do you really want from photography?

I think what we *really* want out of photography is creative and artistic flourishing. RICOH GR III is currently the best camera for that.

What is currently the best inter-changeable mirrorless camera for photography/street photography?

Probably the Fujifilm X-Pro 3. I also prefer it over the X100-camera (the X100 tries too hard to be a Leica M rangefinder clone), but the XPRO3 with the no LCD screen (visible) is much more ambitious and interesting.

Just experiment for yourself

I think most people who desire a Leica M camera actually wants to just become Henri Cartier-Bresson. But truth be told, if Henri were alive today, he probably would just shoot with a RICOH GR III (the smallest, most low-key, most unobtrusive camera).

Takeaway point:

  1. Buy Leica M rangefinder camera as a design object (the most beautiful camera ever made, especially the Leica MP film camera).
  2. If you want the best camera for street photography, get RICOH GR III x ERIC KIM WRIST STRAP or ERIC KIM NECK STRAP.
  3. If you want the best inter-changeable lens camera, get Fujifilm X-Pro 3 and Fujifilm 23 f2 lens.

EQUIPMENT by KIM

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 >

HENRI NECK STRAP MARK III
HENRI NECK STRAP MARK III

Digital Medium Format Photography

Smartphone Photography >

Film Photography 101 >


My favorite camera: RICOH GR III

Currently my favorite camera is the RICOH GR III:


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):


Film cameras

If you’re new to shooting film, pick up a copy of FILM NOTES.

eric kim melbourne benjamin thompson
Portrait by Benjamin Thompson // Leica MP + Henri Neck Strap + SF 24D flash + Leica 35mm f/2 Summicron ASPH lens

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

Contax T3

Best medium-format film camera

Hasselblad 500-series

Best black and white film

Kodak Tri-X 400 (pushed to 1600): $5

Best color film

Kodak Portra 400: $8.50

Best film scanner

For medium-format/35mm: Epson v800: $800

For 35mm: Plustek OpticFilm 8100: $270


Camera accessories

eric kim street photography gfx fujifilm medium format digital-7340

Best camera shoulder bag

SAIGON SATCHEL

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

MagnumPhotos.com

Best photography news blog

PetaPixel.com

Best photography software

Adobe Lightroom

Best video editing software

iMovie (free) or Final Cut Pro X ($300)


Books

See all my free books.

Best educational photography book

Magnum Contact Sheets

Best black-and-white photography art book

“Exiles” by Josef Koudelka

Best color photography art book

“The Suffering of Light” by Alex Webb

Best photography handbook

Street Notes

Best philosophy book

On the Shortness of Life – Seneca ($8) // 10 Lessons Seneca Has Taught Me.


Best digital tools

Best laptop

Maxed-out 13” MacBook Pro (Refurbished)

Best phone

The smallest iPhone available (currently iPhone Mini)


Best Mac Apps

Best writing app

IA Writer (for writing)

Best screen recorder

Camtasia

Best image resizer

JPEGmini Pro


Audio

eric kim hanoi street photography-0012663

Best earbuds

In-ear monitors


Apparel

Cindy Project Monochrome-3

Best underwear

ExOfficio Men Boxer Brief (black): $26

Best T-shirt

Outlier NYC Merino Wool T-Shirt

Best socks

Outlier NYC Black Merino Wool Socks

Best pants

Merino Wool Leggings (black)

Best glasses

LINDBERG – Titanium


Finance

eric kim street photography x100f fujifilm-7232

Best bank

Chase


Best entrepreneurial tools

Best blogging platform

WordPress.org + Genesis theme


Best paid online services

eric kim street photography gfx fujifilm medium format digital-7360

Best cloud storage

Dropbox (Pro)


Diet & Nutrition

Food

Intermittent fasting — with one big meal a day (only dinner)

Workout

Deadlifts (one rep max) + squats + dumbbell press + chin-ups + pushups


Conclusion

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.

Always,
Eric