Which camera?

Photography always interested me – I still remember my first job as a kid whose proceeds went into the purchase of a Miranda Autosensorex EE 35mm reflex camera which I still have and which was to be followed by numerous others with more glamorous badges. All these years of practice however, clearly showed I am not particularly gifted in the field unlike my daughter whom inherited the full batch of my photographic equipment before commencing the accumulation of her own (I merely saved her the painful and expensive trial & error process and told her she could have any brand provided it was a Nikon and any lens provided it was a prime).

After having squandered my fair share of money on expensive cameras, I have given up pretending and use my cellphone. I must say the results haven’t suffered much: they’re still the same average as they were before, proving once more that spending money on equipment hardly does anything to make a photo better. In fact, the few interesting image I got were more the result of “being there and then” and quick action, rather than carefully composed scenes.

In other words, for me photography is not about a great image catching an average instant but about an average image catching a great instant – serendipity, which involves absolute portability, always-on, speed; the role models for this type of photography are obviously war photographers and when you read the biographies of  world-famous war photographers like Robert Capa or Henri Cartier-Bresson you see they did not lug around anything but a lightweight Leica rangefinder with a 50mm lens, yet they took incredible pictures (although I have read quite a bit of discussion whether RC’s “Falling soldier” was staged).

So my question becomes – what is the best camera for this kind of use?

Always informative DPReview has a similar article here which offers a list of potential candidates: if brands mean anything the choice should be none other than the Leica X1, which also resembles its ancient brethren with a retro-look which inspired many a competitor.

leica x1

This is a very small camera that will fit in your pocket provided you do not wear skintight jeans – a very luminous f/2.8 24mm (equivalent of a 50mm on a film camera) lens and the huge 4/3 sensor are the aces of this little jewel; pricewise it’s not the cheapest camera (still a Leica, for God’s sake!) but when you think that the Leicas we mentioned above were sold for $5-6,000 in today’s money, the X1’s sub-1,000 euro price tag seems decidedly affordable; all you need to add to this is a monopod, and you’re good to go.


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