The New Leica Commercial

I hope by know we’ve all seen the new Leica commercial, The Hunt. What are your feelings? Is it inaccurate becuase Nikon was actually used or is drawing a comparison between Tank Man and photographing the conflicts of man a valid use of the subject?

I don’t want to disparage or make light of what serious photojournalist do and the contributions they make. That said, there’s a whole lot of melodrama in that ad that I’m not buying. I was just watching a blog yesterday talking about the 2019 world press photo competition winners. Only 2.6% of the winners used Leica. To my sensibility, it would have been more genuine if the commercial were more of a tribute to photojournalist rather than Leica inserting themselves into the action. Then again, as the old saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad press. And we’re talking about Leica. So they have that going for them. But it doesn’t make me want to run out and shell out the kind of bucks Leicas go for just to get a camera with a red circle on it.

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How did you feel about the Africa and Middle East scenes? I feel like adding those removed their claim from having shot the Tank Man photo, plus that knowledge has been around forever. I can understand stretching your products abilities but is that now something that’s achievable by Leica’s? From my reading it seems none of the Leica’s at the time could take a shot like that so that’s why Nikon was used, despite one of the photographers being a Leica shooter.

Had I come across it organically I don’t think I’d first see it as a Leica product commercial, more of a commercial like the Gillette one but about photojournalists. Using the event at hand is tantamount to another country making a space program commercial using US footage as a ‘this is what we do/about/are’ type message. (which is why I feel they added the additional scenes as opposed to using just the Tank Man narrative.

I had never seen this video before. Where is is being played as a commercial?

Honestly, I couldn’t make through more than the first half before the subject matter drove me out of it.

Fifteen years at a newspaper with the Associated Press office just down the hall, gave me a perspective on the news and a lot of friends and acquaintances who are still photojournalists. A few I know have headed off to Africa a few times and one covered the first war with Iraq, but nothing like what this video shows.

I’m sure there are photojournalists like the ones portrayed in the video. Most, though, just head out to shoot photos of local politicians, traffic accidents and protests. As a group, in general, they can be a rather arrogant bunch, but that kind of mentality is needed to push oneself to the front of a crowd or run into a situation where they’re not wanted to shoot a photo from just the right angle they want to capture. An ad like this just might play into some of their slightly oversized egos, but I’m pretty sure it won’t make them give up their Canons and Nikons (or even Sonys).

Leica has a huge reputation with photojournalists because the whole profession (if you can call it that) started in Germany in the mid 1920s with cheap, portable Leica 35mm cameras. Whether that nostalgia will be enough to prompt them to pick up Leicas again, um, I sort of doubt it. Camera bodies are cheap compared to the tens of thousands of dollars worth of lenses.

Photojournalists just don’t get paid enough to buy all their own gear (unless they’re freelancers and have to buy it themselves). Most news organizations have camera standards that help ensure all the staff’s gear is interchangeable. I have no idea how a Leica would squeeze itself into the mix, then again, I didn’t watch the second half of the video and I’ve been out of the news business for 15 years now. Maybe it’s all changed in that amount of time — I don’t know.

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