Photojournalism Column 
Jim Colburn - Don't Ask...
Let's Kill All the Leica Collectors
        To paraphrase Shakespeare, "First thing we do, let's kill all the Leica collectors..." You know the people I'm talking about. They come in many flavors but they should all be lined up and shot.

        There's the Ubergeek walking around the camera show with the over-padded camera bag strap across his chest that spends hours arguing with some dealer about the serial numbers on a dual-stroke M3.

        There's the heart surgeon from Orange, New Jersey that doesn't like the way his 42 piece Hassleblad outfit looks and now wants to trade it in for everything in the current Leica catalog and doesn't give a damn about the trade-in value of his 'Blad.

        There's the high-tech nouveau-riche entrepreneur that has decided that he just has to have one of everything (that includes both a NOOKY and a NOOKY-HESSUM, both in perfect condition in unopened boxes...)

        What do they have in common? They make Leica's too damn expensive. A good, second-hand M2 or M3 with a 50mm lens should cost around $300 but because of "collectors" either of these will set you back $1000.

        Leica encourage these freaks because it means that they can charge more for their new cameras and lenses and justify this by saying "Their second-hand value stays high." The company also takes advantage by issuing "collectors editions" with some dumb do-dad, insignia or color scheme. Seriously, do we really NEED Leicas that commemorate the 130th Anniversary of Nihon Siber Hegner K.K.? The Leica listing on the stock exchange? The golden jubilee of the reign of His Majesty King Bhumiphol Adulyadej of Thailand? This is no joke. Point your web browser to and be prepared to gag. The King's probably a nice guy but he's going to be the only person that can afford one of these things.

        If we got rid of everyone that collects Leica instead of using them to, oh, maybe TAKE PICTURES, the price on a good M4 just might begin to approach something that a normal person could afford to pay without thinking about a second mortgage. Wouldn't that be nice?

        If you're reading this and you're a collector of Leicas, do the right thing. Take that mint condition, 50th anniversary M5 with matching Summilux out of its case and USE IT. Beat the crap out of it. Scratch the edges so that some brass shows through. Sling it over your shoulder and go out and actually run some film through it.

        It's the only way you might be saved when the revolution comes.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed are barely my own much less my
employer's so don't blame Time Magazine, Time Inc. or Time-Warner for
anything written here. If you have to blame somebody you might start
looking for the idiot that invented HDTV because he KNEW that I'd want one
and wouldn't be able to afford it...

Jim Colburn


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