Leica vs Olympus
Perhaps it is not surprising that the list has chosen Leica for
comparison since Maitani was a Leica collector and user and undoubtably
was greatly influenced by Leica. The Modern Photography reviews of the
OM-1 compared it to Leica calling it (approximate quote) "virtually as
small, quiet, and refined as a Leica".
Prehaps the Leica lenses are a bit better but, considering the Olympus
lenses had to be made to a lower price point, they are surprisingly
close. Olympus lenses were truly excellent designs for their time and
many if not most are still first rank and some give nothing away, even
Leica and Olympus both have had a lot of influence on photography with
Leica setting the no compromise standard for quality and Olympus
bringing the end of the boat anchor SLR (at least for a while).
Both the M series Leicas and the OMs are masterpieces of design and
engineering and are just a bit (a lot?) idiosyncratic (kind of like the
Olympus List members), reflecting the ideas, inspirations, preferences,
and sweat of one or a few designers and not committees or focus groups.
As a result they both have character, style, and a certain charm and
grace that I think is lacking in most other marques.
I am afraid I do not like this world of committee and focus group
designed all electronic everything that changes every month for no
particular reason. The very fact that Leica and Olympus followed their
own drummers is almost enough for me. The fact that both are truly
excellent cameras makes the choice easy, get both. Unfortunately I
can't afford Leica (even though I'm a Doctor Doris), but, even if I
could, I'd still keep my Olympus, they are both jewels, and they
compliment each other!
Long live Maitani, may his spirit infect us all.
W. J. Liles
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