Leica Special Edition Budget Gourmet, Part 2: Buy “Different”

Are you passionate about photography and love to experiment with unique camera equipment? If so, we have great news for you! Welcome to Part 2 of our blog series on the Leica Special Edition Budget Gourmet. In this installment, we will explore the option of buying a “different” Leica camera, which combines an affordable price with outstanding quality and aesthetics. Leica, renowned for its craftsmanship and attention to detail, has created a range of special edition cameras that cater to all budgets and tastes. So, whether you’re a seasoned professional or an enthusiast looking to capture life’s special moments, this blog will guide you through the exciting world of Leica’s budget gourmet offerings.

Leica Special Edition Budget Gourmet, Part 2: Buy “Different”

Leica Special Edition Budget Gourmet, Part 2: Buy “Different”


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Hey everybody, I’m Hugh Brownstone for Three Blind Men and an Elephant, and today I want to welcome you to part two of our three-part special Leica edition of Budget Gourmet. Now in part one, we explored buying used, that is buying only Leica gear, nothing off-brand, but buying right used, in some instances buying gear more than half a century old. Here in part two, we’re going to explore the buy different path to a budget Leica M experience. Now when I say buy different, I’m keeping it simple. I mean saving money through the purchase of different brands, that is cameras and lenses from companies other than Leica but which are Leica M compatible without adapters. We will get to that in another video. The key to this approach, as with all three approaches, is what the Leica M experience is to you. We’ll have one more episode after this in which we think differently.


It’s important for you that I lay out my biases because my sense of a Leica M experience may not be yours, and sharing those biases with you up front should help you calibrate the utility of this episode for you. So first, I am biased toward Leica rather than Leica-compatible. This is because I have personal history with Leica, in particular, going back to my early childhood. Those of you who know me suddenly know this, but this fascination with Leica has been further solidified as an adult through my study of the company itself, the legendary photographers who used Leicas, the iconic photographs they took with Leicas, a deeper dive into the larger context of humanity and history in which those images were taken and that company managed, and my time over the last few years, in particular, shooting with a lot of Leica M’s and M glass. For me, there is simply no other camera and lens company on the planet whose history and impact compare to Leicas.

If you aren’t, for example, familiar with the story of the Leica Train, I suggest you acquaint yourself with it. If you’ve never shot with the tiny jewel-like fourth or fifth-generation Summicron M50 at say f 5.6, you should. Second, I am biased toward, perhaps I should say more interested in, Leica camera bodies than I am in Leica lenses. A function most likely of my first childhood fascination with the mechanics and industrial design of my mother’s 3a. The collapsible five-centimeter Sumar attached to it was infinitely less interesting to me then. But things do change, and my preference for Leica-only bodies is about more than my personal history. It is also the case that in the earliest days today of 2022, the actual differences in optical performance between the merely very good and the very, very best lenses, I am not talking about lens character but instead resolving power, edge-to-edge sharpness, chromatic aberration, flare, ghosting, and focus breathing suppression, have diminished to the point of irrelevance for many of us due to the diffusion of computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing, and skilled labor pools across the globe. You do not have to pay boku bucks for boku performance, well at least as far as 99% of us are concerned 99% of the time. Which is not to say that, in point of fact, long after I sold my own M8, I now find myself in the position of owning two Leica M lenses without a Leica M body to go with them, in large measure because used Leica Mlns prices have been going up for years, as have classic Leica M film bodies if not digital bodies. All of which is to say, to cut to the chase, that if we’re talking about buying other brands while still having a Leica M experience, I think there is more to talk about lenses, so let’s start there.


Although there are many choices, there are more than half a dozen third-party companies currently selling mount lenses. I’m going to concentrate on just a few of them. In fact, I’m going to recommend just a handful of them from only two companies, Voigtlander and TT Artisan. Although I do suggest that you take a close look at Zeiss ZM lenses across the board, with the sole caveat that I have never personally shot with any Zeiss ZM lens. I know, my bad. Why these three? Why not Seven Artisan or Kippon? Meyer Optic Gorlitz? Mitakon? Yongnuo? Or Venus Optics? And what about Minolta Rokkor-S? And why am I giving Zeiss a pass? What is the basis? What are the parameters for my recommendations to you? Glad you asked.

A. Familiarity: First, except for Zeiss as I just said, I’m only including mount lenses I’ve had in hand and used. But I have used, tested, and owned a number of Zeiss auto-focusing lenses, two out of the three I owned I hold in very high regard. Zeiss has been around certainly long enough, the prices of their ZM lenses new compared to Leica M lenses new or used are significantly lower enough, and there is a sufficiently robust body of reviews, I recommend especially those by Sean Reed of Reed Reviews, and my bud Ken Rockwell, both of whom have done detailed comparisons of the Zeiss lenses to their Leica counterparts, that it is easy enough for me to suggest you may well find a cost-effective Zeiss alternative to almost any Leica M lens if the trade-offs work for you. Of course, it is also the case that for years Zeiss ZM lenses were the first port of call for people looking for Leica performance from non-Leica glass. We will come back to this.

B. Relevance: Second, I haven’t had any lenses from any of those other much newer manufacturers in hand, save for the 9mm f 5.6 Dreamer from Venus Optics, which, straight up, I thought was well built, is well built, and capable of beautiful color with a relatively unique rectilinear field of view if not being the sharpest tool in the shed. But I have owned Voigtlander’s Ultron 28 f2. I ended up selling it because I wasn’t happy with its optical performance. I’ve shot with and enjoyed Voigtlander’s 40mm f1.2. Oddly enough, I have Voigtlander’s 35mm and 50mm Apo-Lanthars in-house at the moment for evaluation, and I am impressed. I’ve tested TT Artisan’s 51.4 and found it to be surprisingly well built and optically performant for peanuts, relatively speaking. And now I have their 28mm f5.6 in-house as well, although I do not like it as much.


In conclusion, these relatively new companies offer something different, most often speed, sometimes macro capabilities, sometimes ultra-wide angles, at incredibly low prices, much lower than Zeiss ZM lenses, as in as low as one-quarter the price of a ZM lens, less than one-tenth the price of a new Leica lens, sometimes yeah, a lot less than that. But if one is looking to find budget alternatives to classic Leica glass, well, Leica has no lens like…

Frequently Asked Questions about Leica Special Edition Budget Gourmet – Part 2: Buy “Different”

Q: What is Leica Special Edition Budget Gourmet – Part 2: Buy “Different”?

A: Leica Special Edition Budget Gourmet – Part 2: Buy “Different” is a unique limited-edition camera series released by Leica designed specifically for photography enthusiasts who appreciate fine cuisine.

Q: What makes the Special Edition Budget Gourmet cameras special?

A: These cameras are exclusively designed with special features catering to food photography. They come with enhanced lenses, filters, and dedicated settings to capture food in all its delicious glory.

Q: How is Part 2 different from Part 1 of the Leica Special Edition Budget Gourmet series?

A: Part 2 introduces new camera designs inspired by different culinary themes. It offers fresh, vibrant colors and unique patterns that set it apart from the first installment.

Q: Are the cameras in this series affordable?

A: Yes, the Special Edition Budget Gourmet cameras are designed to be relatively affordable compared to Leica’s regular offerings, making them accessible to a wider audience of photography and food enthusiasts.

Q: Can I use these cameras for general photography purposes?

A: Absolutely! While these cameras have specialized features for food photography, they are still excellent instruments for general photography. You can capture stunning images of landscapes, objects, people, and more.

Q: Where can I buy the Special Edition Budget Gourmet cameras?

A: You can purchase these cameras through Leica’s official website, authorized dealers, and select photography stores. Availability may vary, so it is recommended to check with local retailers or Leica’s website for the most accurate information.

Q: Are there any additional accessories included with the cameras?

A: Yes, each Special Edition Budget Gourmet camera comes with a custom-made camera strap, a stylish camera case designed to match the camera’s theme, and a practical lens cleaning kit.

Q: How long will the Special Edition Budget Gourmet cameras be available?

A: As these cameras are part of a limited edition series, their availability may be time-limited. It is suggested to check Leica’s official website or contact authorized dealers for the latest information on availability.

I hope you find useful my article Leica Special Edition Budget Gourmet, Part 2: Buy “Different”, I also recommend you to read my other posts in my blog at this link.

If you need help with anything join the community or do not hesitate to contact me.

Best of luck! and follow your passion.

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