Long ago I swore never to buy a Leica. When I buy a camera I want it to have some unique features. The first analogue camera I bought was a Hasselblad, the second a Holga and then Horizon 202 and a Nikon F4, later on pinholes and multilensers etc. I didn’t see a Leica fit in because I already had perfectly working analogue bodies. But reading al those super enthousiastic contributions by Leica users on different fora made me curious. But there was one problem, I once swore never to buy a Leica. When my dauhter was born some six months ago, I found the perfect solution, I bought HER a Leica and I asked her if she agreed that I took care of it until she was sixteen. She had to agree by crying, it took her a while but finally she agreed :)
A Leica is indeed a fantastic camera, but was it really worth the 900 euros I paid for it (including a f/2.8 50mm lens)? So I went looking for dissident voices critizing Leica. I did not find any Leica user who could say one bad word about it. Until I stumbled on the Zorki users. They said a Zorki is as good as a Leica and that the 50mm f/2 Jupiter lens is even better. The problem with the Zorki users was: they never used a Leica. So I decided to buy a Zorki 4. I paid 35 euros, including the Jupiter-8 lens. That’s like 25 times less what I paid for the Leica. So I tried to compare them.
Leica users call the Zorki ‘a light weighted piece of crap’. Well for starters that’s not true. The Zorki is well built and weighs only 70 grams less than a Leica M4. The viewfinder is not that bright, the focussing area is a bit dim, but it works perfectly and the focussing ring of the Jupiter ain’t that smooth. My Leica lenses focus smoother after 60 years than some new lenses. My first conclusion is that Zorki’s where built to last at least 50 years and Leica’s to last a hundred.
I shot a roll with both, always the same subject and the same settings. Shutter speeds on both camera’s are correct. The Leica lens is a bit sharper especially wide open, but you only see that when you pixelpeep. I don’t think you can see the difference on a small print. My Zorki’s second shuttercurtain sometimes comes a bit slower on low speed shots and even on high speed shots giving this result.
So my advice: buy two Zorki’s for 70 euros and one will probably work perfectly. Leica is indeed better but the prices are completely overrated. 300 euros should be a fair price for a Leica not 900.
written by gauthierdumonde on 2012-04-17