My initial experience with a Leica came from my father, an architect. As a child I saw he always had only Leica. When it was time for my first trip to Mexico, at age 16, I was provided a Leica III G or F.

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Over four decades personal experience with Leica cameras

When I went to college, E. Philip Levine's camera store was on Harvard Square. Phil made cameras available at "buy now, pay whenever you can" terms, so I moved up to an M1, then M2 and eventually to an M5.

I skipped the ill-fated and long-delayed Leicaflex series and went to Hasselblad instead for reflex viewing. For the old M-series range-finder Leicas I had a venerable Visoflex. When, at age 20, I discovered the treasure of the Tomb of the Jade Jaguar under a 9th century Maya pyramid at Tikal, I got this Visoflex and a close-up lens to go with it.

A few months ago I had an opportunity to return to Tikal and rephotograph the same treasure I turned in to the Guatemalan government over 30 years ago. The local Guatemalan worker, who was about 17 years old when he was working for me on the then University of Pennsylvania expedition, is now the Director of the museum where all this treasure is displayed. Under Guatemalan law all archaeological artifacts belong to the national patrimony and must stay in Guatemala except when loaned for exhibits around the world, in which case export permits are granted for a few months. It is nice to see that the treasure is still in Guatemala after all these years.

Once the R-series came out, I bought, sequentially, an R3 and R4. When I needed a 35mm camera to handle my ever growing batch of Metz flash heads, I moved up to the R5. I still have all three Leica cameras. On an expedition to a foreign location it is essential to have backups available in case the main camera goes on the fritz.

I am content with these R-models and thus have not paid much attention to the R6, R7, or R8, since in the meantime I got a Nikon F3 to handle ultra-wide angle needs. For day to day shooting of Maya artifacts in the museums of Guatemala, however, I use the Leicas with two macro lenses.

On the basis of over 30 years experience using Leica equipment, first as a student, then as a semiprofessional, and for many years as a professional photographer has encouraged me to give lessons in Leica photography. We hope to announce some future tours shortly.

Medium Format
Leica (35mm)


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