Leica has introduced the new SL camera, and the Internet is ablaze, or abuzz, or something. Everyone is reviewing this thing. I guess I better step up.
With this camera, Leica is attempting to merge two separate lines of artistic inquiry, the experiment with gigantism in the Leica S is merged with the boxy planarity of the original M models. To these basic elements, we add a strong dose of Bauhaus modernism blended with something like Soviet Brutalism, creating an architecture that is somehow simultaneously sleek and blunt, slender and massive.
The almost total lack of surface texture and the hard angles (the design has nary a single radius, it appears to be constructed entirely out of featureless black planes intersecting in mathematically sharp lines, it frankly makes me want to pick up some sort of large bone and brain a friend) seem a nod to 1970s hifi design, perhaps a hearkening back what is now the distant past, that ambiguous era of heavy distortion and bad shoes, somewhere between the bright color of the 1960s and the cheerfully false plastic of the 1980s.
Or are we seeing something different, something a touch more sinister? In the view of this author that 1970s hifi look could as easily be a nod to H&K's design language. Combined with the obvious Soviet design influences, one cannot help but feel something a little military, a little nasty, in here. Is this thing a metaphor for a tank, or for rock&roll? Or is it playing with some unmentionable dialectic between the two, somehow?
One thing is certain, the SL is a gigantic, and I mean that literally, "Fuck You" to Jony Ive.