photography and photographs understood

Espresso and Leica Stores Don't Mix

writer: russell j.t. dyer; posted: Mar 2010; revised: Mar 2018; readers past month: 659
Canon P Camera with Leica Elmar 9cm f/4 LTM Lens
Canon P Camera with Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 Lens

I went to an excellent camera store in Milan (where I live) today, Foto Ottica Cavour. The store is very cool. It has an amazing selection of Leica cameras and lenses, as well as many other rangefinder cameras. It was nice to see cameras that I’ve only seen in books and on the internet. I wish I had had lots of money with me.

On that note, I brought a friend with me to help stop me from spending any money. She was not helpful in this way at all. However, I can’t blame her. Where I went wrong was by arriving during the store’s lunch break: we went to a coffee shop down the street to wait for them to reopen. Drinking an espresso gives me such a jolt that I tend to lose my sense of judgement for about an hour afterwards. Not a good mind frame to be in when visiting Foto Ottica Cavour.

So without much thought, I bought an old Leica Elmar 9cm f/4 ltm lens. In my defense, it was only 150 euros ($200); one of the most inexpensive things I could have bought in the store. Further in my defense, I had been looking for a 90mm leica-thread-mount lens for my Canon P. However, after I got home a few hours later and attached it to my Canon P, I felt like it was a mistake buying it. It does not look like it belongs on a Canon P. It fits on the camera just fine, but it looks like an old brass drawer handle with black paint rubbing off. The Canon P is so nice looking and that old lens looks silly on it—especially compared to how nice it looks with the Voigtlander 50mm f/1.5 I already own (see photos below).

Style concerns aside, I’m also questioning how good of a lens it can be compared to a new Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 Lanthar. This Leica looks like it has two lenses at the end of a tube and the Voigtlander has a bunch designed to deal with all kinds of lighting problems. I realize that I don’t know what I’m talking about, but I suspect that a new Voigtlander is better made than this Leitz lens—Voigtlander has the advantage of a few more decades of lens engineering.

So, I’m wondering if I should have spent an extra 100 euros and ordered a new Voigtlander—if I should I now sell the Leitz lens on e-bay to recover some of my money and buy that Voigtlander. Maybe I should have another espresso and hopefully forget about it by the time I come out of the caffeine high.