Leica cameras are known for their quality and precision, making them a highly sought-after brand. One of the factors that contributes to the high cost of Leica cameras is the quality of materials used in production.Another factor is that Leica cameras are assembled with precision and care in Germany and Switzerland – two countries known for their high labor costs. Why is leica so expensive camera we will consider in our article.
Why Are Film Cameras So Expensive?
It’s important to know a bit about film cameras to understand why the Leica brand costs more than the rest.
Some features that lend to the high cost of film cameras are:
- Excellent construction
- Attention to detail
- High-quality imagery
There are also hidden costs of film photography, such as:
- Film – People often overlook the cost of film because it is rarely used in modern photography.
- Lenses – When your camera is attached to your phone, no lenses are needed.
- Developing Film – Film must be developed, which is a cost you don’t necessarily have in digital photography.
What Makes Leica Great?
Leica cameras have many features that make them a great choice in the film photography industry.
The important features of a Leica camera include:
- They hold their value over time. – Like high-end watches, Leica cameras don’t depreciate.
- They are handmade in Germany. – The Leica brand offers a strong record of craftsmanship.
- They have a long history. – Most Leica film cameras have been crafted in Germany for over 100 years.
- Leica prides itself on quality control. – Small batches make for very selective quality control measures.
The three types of Leica cameras are:
While Leica only currently lists a handful of film cameras (including an instant film camera) on their website, they have made many film cameras over the past century. Their film cameras can be bought used or refurbished on websites like KEH.comor Ebay.com
What makes a Leica camera so recognizable?:
- The high-quality construction of the body and lensesd
- Leica “look” from their camera and lenses
- Rangefinder camera type
- Old-school style
- Rugged and solid build
Quick History of Leica Cameras
Leica cameras have been around for over 100 years. Below is a quick overview of the histories of their digital and film options.
Here is some of the history of Leica digital cameras:
- First digital Leica camera came to market in 1996
- First hybrid system unveiled in 1996 easily goes from DSLR to film
- 2006 saw the first digital M-camera
Since 2006, they have continued to update, create and expand their camera’s features and the systems they offer photographers.
Here is some of the history of Leica film cameras:
- First film camera was built in 1914
- First 35 mm film camera invented by Oskar Barnack
- 1925 marked production and selling of a fixed lens camera for 55 mm film
- Started with 7 interchangeable lenses
- M-camera model created in 1954
Because of Leica’s steady history of quality camera design, they have become a standout in the photography industry.
Should You Buy a Leica Film Camera?
If you can afford a Leica camera, buy one or try renting one. Camera stores sometimes allow rentals, which is a great way to test all the features and get a feel for the camera.
Leica cameras are world-renowned and have a track record of quality and timely customer service.
Why Leicas are so expensive
Leicas are expensive because of the quality and craftsmanship that goes into their cameras and lenses. The M line of cameras and lenses is particularly expensive due to its features.
1. Leicas are hand crafted
The biggest reason many leica cameras are so expensive is because they are handmade. Every screw and motherboard has to be assembled by hand, by a human. This in itself is time consuming and requires skill. Each lens and camera is also checked individually before leaving the factory.
2. Only in one place in the world
Leica cameras are mostly made in Germany, with some production recently moved to Portugal.
People feel strongly about the German quality of Leica cameras, and retailers will tell you if a lens was made in Portugal.
3. It is not mass produced
Supply & demand is one of the reasons why Leicas are so expensive
Henri Ford changed the world by mass producing items, however, Leica has resisted this for over a century. Everything is hand-made, so craftsmanship is a priority for the company.
Because they are not mass produced like other brands, there are only a handful of Leicas available per day.
4. Camera Longevity
Camera brands longevity is one of the reasons why Leicas are so expensive
Leica cameras are expensive because they have a long shelf life. Fewer models are produced, as the high price allows for the best technology and craftsmanship.The Leica M9 had a full frame sensor 4 years before the Sony A7 pointed it’s head.
People still shoot Leica film cameras, even though they have been replaced by newer models.
5. Lifetime lenses
Leica lenses are sharp, small, and durable with no electrical components. Many photographers keep the same Leica lens for decades.The shelf life of modern lenses is shorter in comparison to Leica lenses. When considering the cost of a product, one must take into account how long it will last.
Durability is one of the reasons why Leicas are so expensive
Both the Leica lenses and cameras are built like tanks. That is why many Leicas have been used by war photographers! Since the M lenses are all manual, no electronic or motor components are included they are purely mechanical items that are made with durable metal. I even have a friend who has Leica lenses he wants to pass on to his children!
While the modern Leica cameras do have electronic components, the all metal body structure protects the insides of the camera. Many modern cameras like the Olympus PEN F are made to look like metal but they are in truth built with a plastic-type material under that metal coat of paint. There is a reason why worker boots are made with metal to protect the toes!
7. Leica glow
Now we are entering subjective two VERY subjective arguments. The first is that Leica lenses and cameras are SO sharp they have a certain je-ne-sais-quoi to them. This has been dubbed the Leica glow.
Unique rendering is one of the reasons why Leicas are so expensive 
While it is certainly NOT true that every single shot has this, for sure I’ve seen some photographs that has the fingerprint of a Leica body and lenses. The image just pops and it is hard to describe. Some people credit this to the fact that the lenses are so sharp, others credit it to the Bokeh (out of focus area) quality.
8. The last rangefinders
This is the last and final point for why Leicas are so expensive. Rangefinder focusing has been long abandoned by every single camera manufacturer for decades, except for Leica.
While there are digital rangefinders, if you want a comparable feeling you have to go in the film era with the Bessa cameras. The closest you can have to a Leica feel digital is the aged Epson RD1 that is not recommended because it is not being services anymore. And guess what these cameras take as lenses? You guessed it, M mount lenses.
Plus there SOMETHING about Leica cameras. They look and feel different in the hands. It might be the fact that these are made with metal and they feel substantial to hold, when you hold a Leica it makes you feel a certain way.
Why Leicas are so expensive? They are the last rangefinder makers
By now, you should have a good idea of why Leicas are so expensive. But this has to do with primarily M cameras, what about the others? Let’s look at them.
What about Partnership cameras?
The Leica D-Lux 7 is a mass produced camera in partnership with Panasonic that does not have the longevity of other Leicas because it is mostly electronics. Even though it is a mass produced camera, the Leica D-Lux 7 holds its value much better than other cameras. The price difference between the Leica D-lux 7 and the LX100 II is not as high as people think, and if Leica wasn’t involved in its production, the LX100 would not exist.
The Leica X series are some of the first homebrew Leica digital cameras
Many Leicas aren’t actually THAT expensive
So far in this article about why Leicas are so expensive we’ve looked at the M cameras, the partnership cameras and now let’s look at the Leica compacts.
Starting with the X1, these are homebrewed Leica cameras made in Germany. So they are completely Leica cameras. Let’s look at the Leica CL and TL2.
Both are about $3000 and $2000 respectively. The closest thing you can get would be the Fuji Xpro 3 at about $2000…but that is NOT counting the Lens it comes with as both the CL & TL come with a 28mm lens.
If you wanted a Fuji version of this then that would bring it up to the Xpro + 18mm lens- $2400. I ends up more expensive then the Leica TL2 and as for the Leica CL, it is not THAT much more expensive.
Are Leicas worth it?
These 8 reasons answer the question why Leica cameras so expensive. Both Leica’s mirrorless compacts and partnership cameras aren’t that pricey. The real question is, are Leica cameras worth it? To each his or her own but one or the other reasons behind the price is enough to answer that question.
Getting your Leica
If you like what Leica is doing as a brand, you will want to check out our articles here:
- Guide to Leica cameras
- Cant afford a Leica? 5 ways you can
- Best Leica cameras for beginners
- Best Leica cameras for under $2000
I hope you enjoyed this article with the reasons why Leicas are so expensive. Consider that these cameras and hand made with the highest possible quality and that they have a really long shelf life, Leicas end up being more than worth it as no other cameras can compare to one.