Old School Leica:

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There is just something soothing about holding a piece of camera equipment that is as finely crafted as a Swiss watch but solid enough to pound a nail through an oak plank.

I have spent the last twenty-two years developing programs and purchasing digital camera equipment at four newspapers and feel I have an insider’s appreciation for both the quality and economic value of today’s digital visual products…but.

…There is nothing like an “Old School Leica” film camera to give you an appreciation for high-end optics and the refinement of an M-3 body with Leitz Summicron 50mm/f2 lens. The pair was manufactured a year after I was born in 1956 and with a minor dent and some scratches; it’s a working machine much like the owner.

No winder; no auto-focus; no light meter; and a rewind knob that you actually have to turn; just add black and white film.

The Camera: A Tool for Truth?

1954 Pulitzer Prize photograph by Virginia Schau photographed with a Kodak "Brownie" box camera.

One of my favorite stories is that of Virginia Schau who was the first woman to win the Pulitzer. In 1954 Ms. Schau took a news photograph of a semi-truck dangling over the Pit River Bridge as passing motorist tossed a rope down to rescue the driver. The image was taken with a Kodak “Brownie” box camera, the iPhone of its time. 

Given the recent controversy in both the use of the iPhone by New York Times Photographer Damon Winters and the “hipstamatic” app in his coverage of US troops in Afghanistan I can only guess what the thoughts were by the 4×5 speed graphic using journalist of the day and the fad of color just on the horizon.

Is it about the tools used or the integrity of the journalist to use the correct tools without changing the storytelling content?

If you have the time and opportunity read there is a wonderful paper by Jim Hubbard.

Everyone Is A Photographer

By Jim Hubbard, MA, MDiv, Adjunct Professor Annenberg School for Communication

and Journalism

PDF FILE