Lots to like at Leica store for camera connoisseurs

Image courtesy of Bob Krasner Holding their own: Soho Leica store staff with their favorite cameras, from left: manager Chris Durkin, with the ME; salesman Craig Williams, with the MP (film camera); salesman John Flanigan, with the Monochrom; and owner Elliot Kurland, with the M9-P Hermes Special Edition. The photo was taken with an M9 Titanium ($35,000).

Image courtesy of Bob Krasner
Holding their own: Soho Leica store staff with their favorite cameras, from left: manager Chris Durkin, with the ME; salesman Craig Williams, with the MP (film camera); salesman John Flanigan, with the Monochrom; and owner Elliot Kurland, with the M9-P Hermes Special Edition. The photo was taken with an M9 Titanium ($35,000).

BY BOB KRASNER | Did you hear the one about the $8,000 digital camera that only shoots in black and white? Funny, right? Leica, the revered camera manufacturer, doesn’t think so. Their M Monochrom is one of the more intriguing items in their new Soho location, which is filled with compelling merchandise for both pro and amateur shutterbugs.

The store recently opened at 460 West Broadway, between Houston and Prince Sts. It’s a collaboration between the 150-year-old manufacturer and Elliot Kurland, a Leica enthusiast and former proprietor of Kurland Photo. While the brand name instantly conjures up images of film cameras for photographers of a certain age, the company has jumped almost completely into the digital market. Although they still sell two models which use that archaic format, their focus on digital is both a leap into the modern age and a nod to the past, using classic designs to house a contemporary format.

The store’s minimalistic design space is filled not just with cameras, but books, magazines, accessories and a photo gallery. The place’s rear is designed to convert into a classroom as well. Customers are encouraged to test drive the wide variety of models available, and the extremely knowledgeable staff is more than willing to educate the consumer. Even the guy who came in and asked, “How is a Leica different from my iPhone?” got a straight answer.

One possible answer to that query is that Hermes and Paul Smith don’t make limited-edition iPhones, as they do in collaboration with Leica. Of course, you may not be in the market for a $25,000 collector’s item, like the Hermes edition, but it’s still worth checking out the possibilities. One of the more popular items is the V-LUX 4, a midsize, point-and-shoot that has a fixed f/2.8 lens that zooms from 24 mm to 600 mm, with a surprising degree of sharpness at the long end. It sells for a more reasonable price of $800 (which includes Adobe’s Lightroom software).

Smaller models designed for street shooting and medium format for studio work bookend the range of available equipment.

One overwhelmed customer at the shop called his friend to inform him, “This is where I want to come to die.” (The management, for the record, discourages this).

Unfortunately, according to Kurland, the supply does not always meet the demand and there is a waiting list for many of the more popular items. That is sometimes the case with the M Monochrom, that high-end, black-and-white shooting machine. One of its more illustrious proponents is art photographer Ralph Gibson, a longtime favorite of ours who made his reputation creating beautiful, surreal images on black-and-white film. When asked for his opinion about the new camera, Gibson said: “I have been using the Leica rangefinder system exclusively for over 50 years and I can write with fullest confidence about the new Leica M Monochrom. I have travelled extensively with the camera and my only complaint is that the user manual doesn’t explain how to set the camera down sometimes…”

After spending just a half an hour with the Monochrom, we know just what he means. And if anyone is wondering, my birthday is in October.

Spread the word:

6 Responses to Lots to like at Leica store for camera connoisseurs

  1. william j cody

    film is not archaic.
    leave the editorialsing out of future articles, please.

  2. You may want to note that there are two other Leica stores, with the same fabulous cameras, outside of New York City.
    One is in Washington, D.C. The other, which just opened the store in Coral Gables (Miami) Florida is an amazing multi-media Leica educational center as well as a Leica branded store. The ownership is the newest venture of Dale Photo & Digital, who has been one of America's leading Leica dealers for years.
    So, Leica lovers can visit either of the three centers to have a hands-on, expert demonstration of these great cameras.

  3. Pleasing to find sooemne who can think like that

  4. This place rocks! Great location. Super helpful staff. I discovered it the other day when I needed help figuring out how to fire my SF-58 flash remotely off my M9, using a Pocket Wizard. It turned out that I needed to buy an adapter for my flash, which they didn’t carry, but Carl and Craig still spent an hour with me trying to work with the equipment I already had. That’s more than customer service. That’s love. Leica love. These guys are fantastic!

  5. I discovered it the other day when I needed help figuring out how to fire my SF-58 flash remotely off my M9, using a Pocket Wizard. It turned out that I needed to buy an adapter for my flash, which they didn't carry, but Carl and Craig still spent an hour with me trying to work with the equipment I already had. Cheers for the info. It was a good read.

  6. Commercial Photography
    I'm very impressed by the detail of your blog posts. This is going to be very helpful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


× 1 = four

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>