Last year I tried writing about that intangible sense of warm satisfaction that comes from using a mechanical camera. I didn’t think I was too successful in expressing myself even at the time, but I figured that was mainly because those types of sensual experiences are very much a visceral thing, and can’t be adequately expressed through writing.
How wrong was I? Dig this:
The Leica is lumpless, with a flat top built from a single piece of brass. It has no prism, because it focusses with a range finderâ€”situated above the lens. And it has no mirror inside, and therefore no clunk as the mirror swings. When you take a picture with an S.L.R., there is a distinctive sound, somewhere between a clatter and a thump; I worship my beat-up Nikon FE, but there is no denying that every snap reminds me of a cow kicking over a milk pail. With a Leica, all you hear is the shutter, which is the quietest on the market. The resultâ€”and this may be the most seductive reason for the Leica cultâ€”is that a photograph sounds like a kiss.