Strangely enough, I'm not that interested in photography. I like taking pictures neat and fast without fiddling too much with dials, meters and all the little bits you need to think of when taking a decent picture; which is everything that my point and shoot does and really well, too. A couple of months ago, my best friend, who's a photography enthusiast, posted a video clip of Wim Wenders extolling the virtues of a Leica camera. I admire Wim Wenders' visual style and seeing him use an extremely retro-looking digital camera sufficiently piqued my curiosity. That and I was really getting sick of all the ubiquitous high-tech big-ass cameras.
I read through plenty of reviews about Leica and discovered that there is a sizable cult following for the teeny camera with the red dot. Professional photographers are always awed by the Leica and would almost genuflect at its presencse and gaze reverently whenever they see it. Japanese fans would rather poke their eyes out with a fork than take their prized vintage Leica out of its shrink-wrap plastic casing (I exaggerate, but you get the picture - pun intended).
With all this hype, how could I resist digging deeper into the Leica culture? I delved deeper into this and was astounded when I learned that a Leica is almost fully handmade and yet, it's not one of those unwieldy patch-up jobs. It is a true work of mechanical art that surpasses aesthetics; it ventures down into the hard-wearing and durability zones dominated by machine made products. Surprisingly, Leica is legendary for its durability and reliability, qualities that other cameras can only wish to have. And again, the Leica is almost entirely handmade. No wonder it has that enigmatic charm and enormous mystique (as well as a hefty price tag) associated with it.
This discovery stopped me from wondering why people are so obsessive over the Leica -- it's because it's hardwired in our senses to be drawn to something that was made by hand.