Whats so special about a leica For slrs, the light path goes through the lens, bounces off a mirror, and into the optical viewfinder.When you click the shutter release, the mirror flips up, the shutter opens to expose the recording medium, and the light goes straight through the lens onto it. For rangefinders, the light path goes through the lens onto the shutter.When you click the shutter release, the shutter opens exposing the recording medium.The optical viewfinder in a rangefinder has a separate light path, so you don't only see what the lens sees, you typically see more.There are frame lines in the viewfinder to tell you approximately how much of your field of view the lens can capture.Thus, people using rangefinders have the luxury of composing their shot while maintaining a view of the entire scene beyond what the lens can see.Since there is no mirror, the shutter release produces very little noise and vibration. I don't really get it either.But i'd say it's mostly for rich collectors or the fashion conscious.Status symbol.No one would pay that much because they"Need"Its features for their basic day to day sustenance.Purely a luxury item. Now, the lenses can be a different story.I've seen some pics taken by leica lenses before, and some are stunning compared to top of the line canon/nikon lenses.But i still don't think their price justifies their performance.For the photographer with lots of expendable income. I love the industrial design, myself. At least up until the digital model the build quality, fit, and finish was unparalleled.The lens quality was second to none(Still is).Problem is, the m3 was basically the perfect rangefinder, and other than metering having been tortuously added(And no where near as accurate as a modern electronic slr), the changes to the M line through the years have been very very minor. And yes, the special editions lately(Safari edition, the hermes edition when leica was owned by louis vuitton, and now this white one stealing a louis vuitton uk online shop page from pentax)Have further reinforced the"Dentist's toy"Reputation. Edit:This is to be released in japan, that explains all Its the awesomeness of the camera, and of the lens, the build quality is second to none, and if utilized by a photographer, the pictures are incredible!If used by me just so so.If you don't get it, you probably weren't meant to.Not being elitist or anything, but this is a pretty tight niche.I'm trying to like rangefinders too i have a minolta hi matic 7s and i can't really take good pictures as i struggle with focus and the parallax.Still trying to learn. Its sort of a audiophile/videophile thing.It's what louis vuitton bags uk online makes people spend thousands on a vacuum tube amp, or 8x what a consumer version costs because it has that"Miller diode"Or some such. People get the same way over hasselblad too.Mcintosh for the audio world(Well less now than years ago), etc.If you don't get it, you probably weren't meant to.Not being elitist or anything, but this is a pretty tight niche.I'm trying to like rangefinders too i have a minolta hi matic 7s and i can't really take good pictures as i struggle with focus and the parallax.Still trying to learn. Its sort of a audiophile/videophile thing.It's what makes people spend thousands on a vacuum tube amp, or 8x what a consumer version costs because it has that"Miller diode"Or some such. People get the same way over hasselblad too.Mcintosh for the audio world(Well less now than years ago), etc. Using a rangefinder may be more transparent than the technical proficiency of an slr.And the large rangefinder window may actually help with composition between 35 and 105 mm, despite the slight perspective difference.Certainly the fact that leicas are manual focus forces you to slow down.Another factor is that leica tends to optimize its lenses for contrast more than sheer sharpness(Which canon adopted), while zeiss contax tend to optimize for sharpness(Which nikon adopted). As for sell very well, i'm not so certain about that.Without the panasonic licensing deal leica may have been louis vuitton handbags cheap uk dead by now. The only thing really unique about leica digital is they lack an aa filter, which combined with their above average optics does deliver aethestically sharper images without using as much usm.I wish canon and nikon would do the same and offer aa / anti moire' correction as an option post capture. Is it worth the price?Nope.A sigma sd 14 is a helluva lot cheaper. Otherwise, leica = mostly snob appeal.Classic film rangefinders have a particular niche' that makes them very usefull for low impact street shooting because of their quiet handling, minimalist controls, and almost non existant shutter shake.In that respect, i give older film leicas a thumbs up even though the cost was too high. I worked for two metro newspapers in the eary 90's when i was in college.None of the staff used leica's, and their b canon/nikon work was superior to any leica portfolio i've ever seen.While the classic rangefinder is usefull for snaps, it's simply not good as a full time workhorse tool. Nothing there better than a rebel 300 either. Biggest way to get a classic film leica bigot to shut up and go away mumbling is the same arguement i've been using for years.Both fuji and mamiya made very popular 6x7 rangefinders which utterly destroy the best leica film images by virtue of the superiority of medium format over 35mm.I don't care what type of german lens you use on 35mm 6x7 format will spank it badly.Before i went digital i was exclusively 6x7 and always had a laugh at the attitudes of leica shooters.