One hundred years ago, Oskar Barnak, an employee of the Leitz-Werke Wetzlar, constructed the first still picture camera for the 35mm film format.
The objective was to create a light, compact camera that could take film horizontally as opposed to the traditional vertical position commonly used in cinema cameras of the time. While the official release to the public would not happen until 1925, it was clear that the format would greatly change the way people take pictures.
Today, Leica represents the cream of the crop of camera brands. As one friend put it, “It is the Rolls-Royce of cameras.”
It has been used and continues to be used by photographers looking for precision and accuracy in their images. Legendary photographers Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson have produced some of the most iconic images of the last century using a Leica.
Meanwhile, avid photographers like film director Stanley Kubrik, actors Brad Pitt and Aaron Eckhart, musician Seal and even Queen Elizabeth II use it as well.
Imagine the excitement among the photography community when Leica celebrated its 100th anniversary on Nov. 5. The day was also when the camera brand opened its first store in Makati.
Celebrations started with the ribbon-cutting, after which a crowd stormed in to get its first glimpse of the product line.
Welcoming guests at the event were Leica CEO Alfred Schopf and managing director of Leica Camera Asia Pacific Sunil Kaul. Sales manager of Leica Camera Asia Pacific and chief officer for marketing, sales and retail Oliver Kaltner also attended the event.
Leica Camera Asia Pacific has appointed the Lucerne Group as its partner in the Philippines.
The Leica Store is located on the lower basement of Greenbelt 5, just as you get off the escalator coming from the underground parking. You can’t miss it as Leica’s unmistakable “Red Dot” logo hangs above the entrance.
The store is minimalist in design with glass counters and glass cabinets covering the front of the store while a small sitting area is situated at the back.
On display were several of the brand’s favorite models including Leica’s signature M series, a full frame digital rangefinder, in its several forms including the latest Leica M-E and the favorite monochrome version. Several compact cameras were also laid out, as well as Leica’s medium format S system.
“We are excited to be in the Philippines and pleased to see so many Leica users already. We feel that our arrival is good for the industry,” said Kaltner.
Kaltner promises that Filipino consumers will have access to Leica’s full line of products and accessories including its world-renowned high-quality lenses such as the Summilux and Summicron.
The party eventually moved to Greenbelt 5’s gallery area on the second floor where a short program was held with models showcasing the new cameras while guests were treated to cocktails and finger foods catered by the German Club.
The Leica difference
For the rest of the evening, the talk was about photography. Whether they were already owners or aspiring to own one, all were in agreement that the legendary brand represents a different level of photography.
Some talked about the image quality produced by Leica while others discussed the way the brand has positively changed the way they take photographs.
“The character signature of a Leica photograph is so significant, one does not have to be an expert to recognize it. From film to digital, it continues to preserve its image legacy,” said Derick Gamboa, a longtime Leica user.
Bernie Paras Gan added: “The Leica rangefinder brought back the joy and romance of taking photographs. Much like writing with a fountain pen, it’s not just the outcome but the actual use that brings so much pleasure.”
But that difference also comes with a hefty price tag. Leica’s medium format camera, the Leica S body, will sell for around P1.2 million, while its popular M9 rangefinder is priced somewhere in the neighborhood of P350,000-P380,000.
“We like to think that our products cater to a specific segment of the market that the other brands don’t really play in. Lucerne will help us in defining that market better. We feel that our presence helps the industry in general,” said Kaltner.
According to Kaul, finding the right partner in the Philippines was important. Leica was happy to appoint the Lucerne Group as its local partner in the Philippines.
“I view the Philippines as an important emerging market. It has a lot of potential. We need a partner who knows what our market is all about. Lucerne will be instrumental in building closer relationships with our Filipino customers,” said Kaul.
The Lucerne Group is the country’s leading retailer of luxury watches with brands like IWC, Baume et Mercier and Breitling.
“I am very pleased and excited to represent Leica in the Philippines. It is the best in the luxury technical camera and optics segment. It is our desire to further strengthen the brand and write the next chapter for Leica in Manila,” said Ivan Yao, Lucerne Group managing director.
Yao said his group will support the brand with continuous marketing activities involving and engaging customers, such as workshops, talks and other activities that will expose both current and future customers to a better understanding of the product.
Visit the Leica Store at the Lower Ground Floor of Greenbelt 5, Makati.