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Picture perfect Leicas an inspiration

[ 2010-12-02 14:40]     字号 [] [] []  
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Gregory Peck slung a Leica camera around his neck in the 1953 movie Roman Holiday, highlighting their iconic status. Fast-forward to today, and the cameras are a focus of attention among collectors in China.

To emphasize this fact was an exhibition a few months ago called Leica Insight at the Beijing World Art Museum, which organizers claimed was the first in the world to offer a comprehensive account of Leica's history.

On display were about 20 photographs and over 300 Leica cameras, lenses and accessories.

A large number of the items belonged to Youxin Ye, 53, who was also a consultant for the exhibition.

Ye started collecting Leica cameras in the late 1990s in the United States and became the first and only Chinese CLA (Clean, Lubricate and Adjust) expert.

His love for the Leica dates back to his childhood. "I collect Leica cameras partly because my father used to have a Leica for work, and when I think of my father, this is one of my brightest memories," Ye says.

His father, Jiang Daquan, was an accomplished geologist, and one of former premier Zhou Enlai's consultants for the Three Gorges Dam hydro-electric project.

Though Ye was fascinated by the Leica camera, he never actually saw his father's, as he voluntarily turned it in to the authorities during the "cultural revolution" (1966-1976). In those days, even a made-in-China camera was considered a luxury, while a foreign brand camera was even worse.

Ye emigrated to the United States in 1990 and was astonished by how far China lagged behind the West in terms of living standards.

To complement the Leica Insight exhibit, Ye wrote Leica Insight, portraying the history of commercial Leica cameras, with previously unpublished photos from Leica.

"Leica is more than a camera brand. It is a paragon of German engineering prowess, and of Western civilization," Ye says. "China can learn from this."


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Picture perfect Leicas an inspiration

About the broadcaster:

Picture perfect Leicas an inspiration

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is also fluent in Korean.