Special Leica Edition of Budget Gourmet, Part 3: Think Differently

Have you ever wondered how a camera brand known for its high-end craftsmanship and precision could collaborate with a budget gourmet food line? In our previous blog posts, we explored the unique partnership between Leica, the renowned camera manufacturer, and Budget Gourmet, a brand recognized for its affordable yet delicious meal options. In this third installment of our series, we delve into the unconventional and thought-provoking concept behind the special Leica edition of Budget Gourmet. Prepare to be surprised as we unveil how Leica’s expertise in visual storytelling beautifully intertwines with the concept of making everyday culinary experiences extraordinary. Get ready to think differently about your next meal.

Special Leica Edition of Budget Gourmet, Part 3: Think Differently

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Hey everybody, I’m Hugh Brownstone for Three Blind Men and an Elephant, and today we wrap up our three-part special Leica edition of our budget gourmet series. Now, in part one we discussed how to get into the Leica M system in a relatively budget-friendly way through buying used Leica cameras and lenses. I gave you my recommendations for both. In part two, we explored how to get into the Leica M system in a more budget-friendly way through buying differently. That is, buying M-mount compatible non-Leica gear such as Zeiss, Voigtlander, or TTartisans lenses, along with a quick look at some non-Leica 35-millimeter rangefinder cameras like the Zeiss Icon and the Bessa R3. I gave my recommendations using this approach as well. But today, I’m going to ask you to think differently. That is, explore a path that is potentially and simultaneously the least expensive and most technologically advanced way of getting not into Leica per se, but instead getting into the vibe or joy of the Leica M experience without necessarily buying or using Leica gear at all. That is finding the most economical path for you to achieve your sense of the Leica experience by getting exceptional clarity about precisely what that experience means.

Exploring the Leica Experience

Are you, for example, keying in on the Leica brand per se, rather than the experience of shooting with a true 35-millimeter film rangefinder? If so, what is the Leica brand? Put differently, what are the brand’s attributes? What are the implicit promises the company makes from your perspective when you purchase a Leica camera? It’s not the same for everyone, but those who are fans of the brand would probably agree on some or all of the following as attributes of the brand: mechanical precision, build quality, jewel-like manual focus lenses with real aperture rings, image quality, simplicity, industrial design, compact dimensions, heritage, and, yeah, expense. Many of us may think simply that Leica is synonymous with 35-millimeter film rangefinder street photography, Cartier-Bresson, you get the idea. You may have other attributes or associations you’d like to share in the comments section below, so please do.

The overarching promise of owning a Leica for Leica fans, which for some of us including yours truly typically means only those Leicas designed and manufactured in Germany, is that owning and using a Leica will feel special, that using a Leica will inspire you, that you can travel relatively lightly, shoot unobtrusively, and of course obtain outstanding results. Although let’s all agree that last one is on us as the photographers.

On the other hand, for those of us who aren’t fans of the brand, and that’s fine, there is no thing, no person universally loved, other attributes like overpriced, overhyped, and overrated are more likely to come to the fore. Okay, but like anything, one’s sense of a Leica is a function of the sum total of one’s life’s experiences, and this is where opportunity lies. Because if we can parse and prioritize what Leica means to you, a slew of less expensive or more interesting options open to you.

Alternative Paths to the Leica Experience

Let’s say, for example, that to you, using a Leica begins with 35-millimeter film. You like the look, you like the idea of the randomness of the silver halide grain, you think you’ll like the trade-offs among size, image quality, and convenience a 35-millimeter film camera can offer you. You may embrace the slower pace of shooting, the feel of advancing the film after each shot by using a single, double, or multi-stroke advance lever, the satisfaction that comes from slowly moving the focus ring and watching that small rangefinder patch synchronize, the joy of using the engraved depth of field scale on the lens barrel for zone focusing, and becoming an expert at recognizing what a person 10 feet away from you looks like through the viewfinder when using, say, a 50-millimeter lens.

So maybe, if you don’t already own a Leica, you are thinking, since you’ve begun this hypothetical or not so hypothetical journey in terms of a Leica and M6, until you see the price, around $3,700 these days for one in excellent condition, body only. Another $2 or $3 grand, maybe more, for a used Summicron M28, 35, or 50 f/2 to go with it. Maybe you then start exploring earlier Ms, going all the way back to the original 1954 M3 but then learn it has no light meter nor 28-millimeter frame lines. Maybe you begin thinking of moving past the M6 to the newer, though still no longer made, M7, especially when you learn that unlike current cameras, the M6 has no auto exposure modes at all but the M7 has aperture priority.

But if you can let go of the Leica brand per se, there are a number of fascinating alternatives out there, as I just alluded to, for a lot less, especially if you’re willing to forego a true rangefinder. Let’s just scratch the surface of what’s available to you for a small fraction of the price of used Ms and M glass. Many people start their 35-millimeter film journey, for example, with something like the ’80s-era Canon AE-1 Program. It’s a very competent consumer-grade 35-millimeter film SLR, generally available used for around $300. It’s a small, light, easy loading, easy shooting, auto-exposure control camera with a huge lens catalog of Canon’s manual focus FD lenses, ranging in focal length from 7.5 millimeters to 800 millimeters. I bought one new back in the day, and the auto exposure was wow.

But if you relax your requirement for the camera being small, you could also buy a freaking 1990s-era pinnacle Nikon, the F5, for just $500, body only. It also has a huge lens catalog, but now that you’ve got a pro-grade, weather-sealed body with you, with eight frames per second burst rate and autofocus, yahoo!

Then again, both of these camera systems are far afield from the feel and simplicity of Leica M, I readily admit, which is why I can recommend you take a very close look instead at one of what I think is the greatest vintage 35-millimeter camera bargains out there today: Canon’s 1972 F-1, which I also bought new back in the day. Like this guy, superb feeling, precision, a breakthrough camera with interchangeable finders, and Canon’s evolution to eventual market leader. It was Canon’s answer to another legendary 35-millimeter film camera, the 1960 Nikon F, louder shutter sound in either case than an M because, like all SLRs, they use mirrors.

Then again, yeah, what about a 1960 Nikon FTn? It could be an answer for you. Or an F2 and F3. You get the point. Maybe the smaller, less expensive, non-interchangeable prism Nikkormat. Maybe Canon’s competitor to the Nikkormat, the FTQL. Like this, I just did that with an R5, by the way. These cameras have the same mechanical heft as a Leica M. The FTQL even has the same kind of bottom release as the M series, right there, only now it pops open the back instead of the bottom, making it much easier to load. In fact, QL stands for Quick Load. Or what…

Special Leica Edition of Budget Gourmet, Part 3: Think Differently – FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions – Special Leica Edition of Budget Gourmet, Part 3: Think Differently

1. What is the Special Leica Edition of Budget Gourmet?

The Special Leica Edition of Budget Gourmet refers to a limited edition series of articles within the Budget Gourmet blog that focuses on exploring the intersection of food and photography. It showcases creative culinary endeavors using Leica cameras, highlighting the unique perspective and visual storytelling through food.

2. How is the Think Differently series different from previous parts?

Think Differently is a specific sub-series within the Special Leica Edition of Budget Gourmet. It encourages readers to approach food photography in innovative and unconventional ways. Unlike the previous parts, Think Differently pushes boundaries, experiment with techniques, and encourages readers to challenge traditional norms and think outside the box.

3. Will there be any photography tips for beginners?

Absolutely! While the Think Differently series explores unconventional techniques, it also caters to photographers of all levels. Beginners can expect helpful tips, tricks, and step-by-step guides to improve their food photography skills using Leica cameras. The articles aim to strike the perfect balance between creativity and accessibility.

4. Are there any featured collaborations or guest photographers?

Yes! The Think Differently series proudly features collaborations with renowned food photographers and Leica enthusiasts. Guest photographers will share their unique approaches, experiences, and insights into food photography with Leica cameras. It offers readers a diverse range of perspectives and styles to gather inspiration from.

5. How often will new articles be published in this series?

New articles within the Think Differently series will be published on a bi-weekly basis. This ensures that readers have ample time to absorb and experiment with the content while looking forward to exciting new techniques or perspectives in the following weeks.

6. Is the Special Leica Edition available for purchase?

No, the Special Leica Edition of Budget Gourmet is not available for purchase. It is a free online series within the Budget Gourmet blog, aiming to inspire and educate readers on creative food photography with Leica cameras.

7. Can I submit my own work for potential feature in this series?

Definitely! The Think Differently series encourages reader participation. If you have unique food photography taken with Leica cameras that align with the unconventional and creative spirit of the series, you can submit your work for consideration. Details on the submission process and guidelines can be found within the blog.

8. Will there be any giveaways or promotions related to this series?

Yes, Budget Gourmet will occasionally host giveaways or promotions related to the Special Leica Edition. It provides opportunities for readers to win exclusive Leica merchandise, photography gear, or even a chance to collaborate with the Budget Gourmet team on a future project. Stay tuned to the blog and social media channels for updates on any ongoing promotions.

9. How long will the Special Leica Edition run?

The duration of the Special Leica Edition is not specified. However, Budget Gourmet plans to release several parts under this edition, including the Think Differently series. As long as there is reader enthusiasm and engagement, the Special Leica Edition will continue to provide captivating content that celebrates the art of food and photography.

10. Can I contact Budget Gourmet for further inquiries or collaborations?

Absolutely! Budget Gourmet welcomes inquiries and collaborations. You can reach out to us via the contact page on our website. Whether you have questions, ideas, or potential partnerships in mind, we are excited to hear from you and explore opportunities together!

I hope you find useful my article Special Leica Edition of Budget Gourmet, Part 3: Think Differently, 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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