I once bought a Leica O camera. It was at a time when they were being made as reproductions for some anniversary – the early 2000’s – and I had plenty of money to waste. The idea of using a camera that was straight out of the early 20th century to actually take pictures was intoxicating, and I got drunk looking at it in the window of the shop.
It was finished very nicely on the outside in keeping with it’s history, and had all the quirks of the original. I thrive on quirks, so I played along with it delightedly. I read the instructions, cut the film tongue carefully, loaded my first slow-speed B/W film, and then tried to advance it.
The first film stuck firmly at the first advance, and would neither go forward or back. I returned the camera to the shop, accepted their offer of service at the Sydney service centre, and waited. When the camera came back we carefully cut the film tongue on a new film and inserted it into the Leica in the shop. When it jammed irretrievably on the second advance it was time to think again.
I opted to take the full price I had paid as a down payment on a camera that I knew would work – a Leica M6. It did, and I was perfectly satisfied with that. The occasion of the failures must have worried Leica as I received a visit from the Australian technical representative and he apologised for the difficulties. Most gentlemanly.
I imagine that the camera would be best as a collector’s item, and best forgotten. But the thrill that it created in the window the first day is an indication that there are still thrills to be had with historic reproductions.
Leica, get your act together. Make a digital reproduction of the film-era Leica C with fixed viewfinder. Make it digital, but no need for an LCD screen, colour filters, or colour at all. No need for a meter or white balances or any of the multitude of electronic choices. No need for synch. Just throw a DNG on the SD card and we’ll deal with it from there. 50mm f:3.5 Elmar is fine. We want to wind a shutter with the chrome knob and you can use the film canister space for the battery.
We’ll get the money ready.