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Brian Brake: Lens on the world


    Experience the life's work of New Zealand's internationally renowned photographer


Leica M3 camera, with 50mm lens, owned by Brian Brake
Leica M3 camera, with 50mm lens, owned by Brian Brake 1954, E. Leitz & Co. Wetzlar. Gift of Wai-man Lau, 2011
Collection of Wai-man Lau. Te Papa

Brake mostly used Leica rangefinder cameras. They were the camera of choice for photojournalists in the 1940s and 50s – small, very rugged, precision-made, and built for quick shooting.

The Leica M3 is regarded as a classic. Brake bought his direct from the German factory in the same year it was first manufactured. It became his favourite camera for many years.

The M2 was a simplified version of the M3 and, despite its model number, was released four years after the M3. Brake bought a black version, but much of the paint rubbed off through his hard use, leaving the brass of the body exposed. As neither model had built-in light meters, photographers had to either guess exposure or use a separate meter.

With rangefinder cameras, the user looks through a window on the top of the camera. Many photojournalists considered this offered faster handling than the through-the-lens focusing of single lens reflex (SLR) cameras. However, the SLR offers more convenient use of telephoto and wide angle lenses. Brake bought such a camera in the form of a Leicaflex SL2 in 1974 for just this reason.

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.