A visit to the new Melbourne Leica Store.

saladin

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Right. Let’s open with a confession.


You'll be welcomed to the store by a Red Dot and black livery..jpg
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Above: Black with a Red Dot. Apt.




The worlds most prestigious camera brand was opening a dedicated store in Melbourne, my home city, and I was totally unaware of it. Well, not totally unaware of it. I’d seen a post on Leicarumours.com earlier this year that mentioned an upcoming store. I then promptly forgot about it. Until Mike from Macfilos.com in London sent me an email a couple of weeks ago suggesting that I may like to go and have a look……

PB280162 R.jpg
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Above: Not a bad rogues gallery......


In my defence, I’m not a Leica shooter. But, yes, I’d genuinely like to be! And I do own a few Leica branded micro-four-third lenses. So really, I should have been all over this! Be that as it may, I missed the grand opening a week or two back, which, from my perspective, is a great shame. Mea Culpa.


Mike’s suggestion was still rattling around in the further recesses of my brain when I finished a job in the City and decided to go on an impromptu photo walk. I had the Oly PenF and a couple of small primes in my pocket. I found myself wandering around Collins Street and figured that this was as good an opportunity as any to go in search of the famous Red dot.

Do they grow coffee beans in Wetzlar R.jpg
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Above: I inspected closely but could see no signs of any Red dots on the coffee beans. Wonder if they are grown in Wetzlar?


Collins St is regarded as the “big end of town” in Melbourne, particularly the top end towards the eastern side of the CBD. It is a not-inappropriate locale for a company of Leica’s standing, and as it turned out the store is located on the 1st floor of a modern and trendy shopping arcade known as St Collins Lane.


My first impression of the retail store actually began before I saw it and -as it turned out -was somehow fitting. The ground floor signage was understated, without fanfare, and indeed I wasn’t certain at first that I was in the correct location. This understatement was born out by the first sighting of the store itself as I was swept upwards by the travelator. Two illuminated signs of the famous logo, but precious little else, adorned a black wall and glass frontage.


New Leica D-Lux r - Copy.jpg
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Above: Whether you think its just an overpriced Panny or not, the new D-Lux looks even better in real life than it does in the photo's. I'd be so tempted to fork out the extra dollars, regardless.




And then you step inside, to be greeted by an interior that somehow seems to be an embodiment of how I picture the almost mythological character of Leica itself. The lines are clean, uncluttered. Simple. Almost ascetically austere, a shade of white, maybe even clinical, but with a hint of red luxury and contrasty history behind it. Glass display cases are free standing like islands in a sea of clean minimalism, with more adorning the periphery, along with bookshelves and a pristine coffee machine.

There's some money in them thar glass R.jpg
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Above: I couldnt tell you the value within this cabinet. Well, I could. LOTS!



Josh and Cornelius were on duty, welcomed me warmly and I was invited to sample any of the stock and roam around at my leisure. Which I gratefully did. Not before installing the Panasonic-Leica 15mm Summilux on my camera, mind you. It seemed the least I could do in such surroundings….

Straps, Bags, SL lenses and a leather couch on which to peruse some books. R - Copy.jpg
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Above: The store mixes upmarket comforts with minimalist lines.



One end of the store is given over to a display Gallery, apparently the first dedicated Leica Gallery in Australia. The inaugural display – the intention is to have a new exhibition every 3 months – is by the famous Magnum photographer, Bruce Gilden.


This is a very topical showing, since it’s the first time this collection – titled, somewhat ironically, “Untitled” – has ever been shown anywhere in the world. The subject is an, err, ‘colourful’ local Melbourne businessman called Mick Gatto. He and his associates bear the nickname “The Carlton Crew”. Let’s just say that Mick straddles the construction industry, the debt collection industry, allegedly a few others, beat a murder charge on the grounds of self defence and leave it at that.


Personally, i'm not rushing out to hang Underworld identities on my wall..jpg
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Above: Another Rogues gallery.......

Bruce flew out specifically to document Mick and friends in 2011. Presumably, he used a Leica - it'd make little sense otherwise - and like most of his work it is characterised by off-camera flash in a candid style. Incidentally, all of the display prints are for sale, if that suits your taste. The black and white prints certainly fit well with the general surroundings.


But the gallery is not only a gallery. Oh no. Apparently, it can be easily and quickly converted to a studio, and the intention is to run Akademie workshops, training and displays in-store for Leica aficionados. I suspect places will be strongly sought-after.


Of course, the real points of interest here are, naturally, the Leica products held within. And you won’t be disappointed. At least, I wasn’t. The M10 is in residence. So is the M10-P. And even the M10-D. The Q, the SL, the CL, the TL, the C-Lux. Yep, all here. The X series is more or less moribund, but apparently Josh can still source the somewhat weird X-U if you insist. Is it unreasonable to ask for one of each? I'm not greedy.

Right. I've narrowed down my choice..jpg
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Above: I've narrowed down my choice to a Q, a D-LUX, an M10-P and a CL. Sorry TL, you just dont float my boat. I'm in strife if Leica releases an M10 Monochrom though. I'll run out of body organs to sell off.


And there’s even a special arrival with relevance to the MFT world! You see, Dr Kaufman himself flew out to Australia to attend the launch. And he bought with him, nestled no doubt safely in his pocket, the brand new Leica D-Lux as an opening gift. Yep, that’s right. The Melbourne Leica store currently holds the only D-Lux in the country. And it looks FINE! Resplendent and oh-so-classic in its silver livery. And no, it’s not for sale. Yet. But it IS freely available for handling and inspection. And when it IS on sale, it will cost you around Au$1800, just by the by. Cornelius will happily put you on the waiting list for one…….


The only D-Lux in the country.  The CL, TL2 and Q off in the distance R.jpg
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There is also an extensive range of Leica binoculars, Leica spotting scopes, classy looking Billingham camera bags, a selection of photography books and a lens range that will make your mouth drool and your wallet combust.

bargain basement M10.jpg
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Above: Of course, if the M10-P and M10-D are beyond your means, you can always grab the El Cheapo M10 base model and a cheap prime.............




Oh, and coffee. Which I was very generously allowed to sample during my visit. The boys are doubling as barristas in their idle moments.

Tea, coffee and some light reading material. R - Copy.jpg
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Above: Tea, coffee and some reading material whilst they try to put out the fire on your credit card.

There are also a few displays of older Leica gear and photos. If you are into your Leica history, these will be probably be of interest and at the very least introduce a little Leica heritage to the surroundings.

Oscar Barnack collectors cards. R.jpg
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Above: Wonder if Oscar envisaged just how premium and prestigious his camera's were to become? Even stranger, that he'd have his own set of collectors cards!?



Did Leica pioneer contact with extraterestrials. R - Copy.jpg
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Above: I can neither confirm nor deny that Leica camera's could communicate with the Moon Lander during Apollo 11. I'd say they could.



Whilst I was there, Ian wandered in. Alas, he’d unfortunately dropped his Leica Q, which forthwith had stopped functioning. Paperwork was filled out, the camera bundled up and prepared to be shipped off to Leica Hospital, wherever that may be. Fingers were crossed from all of us that the repair wouldn’t be too difficult, or too expensive!

R-series Leica Flex display. R - Copy.jpg
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Above: Rumour has it that Leica built some SLR's. Surely not?



Naturally, photography conversation ensued over a coffee and by the time I’d left I’d handled the CL, the Q, the new D-Lux and a pair of M10-P’s. I must say, the EVF’s on the CL and the Q are absolutely lovely. Once I’d worked out to take the Q out of Macro setting, that is. Until then, I thought the EVF was faulty! Once sorted, beautiful clarity. Better than my Panasonic G9? I’m not sure. Certainly, better than my Pen-F, which is no slouch. And the M10-P shutter is astonishing. Whisper quiet and amazingly stable. The M8 ‘symphony’ - seriously, that camera should have shipped with earmuffs - seems many centuries and at least a few worlds away.


The M10-D and 50 Summilux safely behind glass R - Copy.jpg
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Above: Leica M10-D locked behind glass. Not a bad combo, this one.


One interesting point emerged. One of the P’s was equipped with the optional handgrip, the other was not. Both Ian and I much preferred the gripless M10, to Cornelius’ apparent astonishment.

Cornelius looks baffled that anyone could possibly prefer an ungripped M10-P R.jpg
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Above: Cornelius in disbelief that anyone would choose NOT to have the grip on the M10.


If ever I own one (sigh), I may add the hotshoe thumb grip but that would be all. There’s no right or wrong here, but the optional grip felt uncomfortable for my (smallish) hands and too angular to give me a decent purchase. I couldn’t imagine ever using a lens big enough to require the extra grip anyway. I’ll just take the 35mm Summilux and be happy, thank you Sir.

Would Sir like his M10-P served in black or silver.  How about a side of optional grip R.jpg
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Above: Would Sir like his M10-P served in black or silver?


In the short term, according to Josh, the Store is in the process of applying for a 2nd Hand dealers license. So, you can expect sometime in the new year that Leica Melbourne will be able to help out with more financially friendly trade-ins and on-selling for those of us not overly flush with funds. It was this info that had me vocally musing that I’ll probably be back.


Josh and Cornelius both smiled knowingly. “Oh, we know you will”.



Many thanks, lads.



*All photo’s shot with the Olympus PenF and Panasonic Leica 15mm Summilux. Sincere thanks to both Josh and Cornelius for their hospitality and coffee! And good luck to Ian. May your Q be back in your hands asap.
 
Last edited:
Joined
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Very nice write up. I used to have the X2. It was a joy to use. But like most retracting lens cameras, also a dust magnet. And the Leica X series has one glaring weakness...easily breakable battery lock slide.
 

retiredfromlife

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StephenB

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Great write up. Understated beauty and oozing class in the looks department. I will have to have a Google to see some revues and comparisons if there's any about.
 

agentlossing

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Great tour! Makes me want to visit the one in Bellevue when I'm in the Seattle area... though I am afeared to face the pretentiousness of the top-crust Seattle area crowd. On the other hand, maybe I'll bump into Bill Gates and he'll be so impressed he'll buy me an M10...

I don't have an ounce of disdain for Leica, with all their absurd pricing and presentation. There isn't another way to experience that simplicity of the rangefinder experience with the modern amenities. I wish there were, even if the materials and craftsmanship were a little more down to earth. I'd love focusing with a real rangefinder patch and a window that stays open to view the subject between clicks, the smooth focus dials with those focus tabs that make it easy to move with a single finger, those lenses...

But such is above my means, for now. Oh well.
 

saladin

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I don't have an ounce of disdain for Leica, with all their absurd pricing and presentation.


Likewise. No one is under any obligation to buy a Leica , so as much as I'd like one and as remote as it is that I'll ever be able to afford/justify one, I wish them well with their business model.

I'm actually thinking a film M makes more sense on many levels for me. The digital ones risk being expensive paperweights down the track, the film ones will likely always be repairable.

That said, every time I come across an M8 for around the same price as a new Xpro2, I get itchy credit card fingers, lol.
 

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