Leica R7
The Leica R7 (All pics: Diana Almeida)

By Diana Almeida

It’s time to visit our second city in the ‘Around The World In 80 Cameras’ series. We’re staying in Holland, and visiting one of Europe’s most popular destinations – Amsterdam – with a classic SLR from the Leica stable.

The Leica R7 was my first Leica camera. This is a particularly interesting camera as it was made as a demo unit for Polyphoto, the Italian importer of Leica in 1995. Yes, a Leica SLR!

I took my Leica R7 for a photo walk in Amsterdam. Amsterdam is not exactly known for its amazing weather.  Of course, temperatures were close to 0C. Thankfully it was a beautiful sunny day, an exception in Amsterdam’s winter.

The canals

Did you know that Amsterdam has hundreds of canals? In 2010 the 17th Century canal ring area (including Prinsengracht, Keizersgracht, Herengracht and Jordaan) was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

If you can only do one thing in Amsterdam I advise you to walk in the canals area and photograph as much as you can. It’s a beautiful place! Yes, even if it’s freezing!

Talking about beautiful, have you seen the just how good this camera looks? It’s amazing!

It’s more heavy than I would like but we can’t have it all. I think it’s still a joy to use and I love how bright the viewfinder is. I wear glasses and this viewfinder allows me to see all the settings and adjust with the lightmeter readings without having to look outside. I really like this.

As for the lightmeter, it’s very rare that a shot will come out badly exposed. You can trust it to measure light properly and you just need to focus on what you want to capture. It also has small increments for more accuracy and different meter modes depending on how you want to meter.

The Pijp

I always enjoy walking around in these streets full of little cafes, restaurants, trendy stores and beautiful houses. If you are into street art, you can also see really nice artworks here.

The open air markets

There are a lot of markets in Amsterdam. I really like Albert Cuypmarkt because it’s in the Pijp and you can also try one of the best traditional Dutch stroopwafels (caramel wafers) in town. You’ll find them in a stand called “Original Stroopwafel”.

Market in Amsterdam

When walking around I could use the aperture priority, shutter priority or program modes if I didn’t  want to worry about manual settings. Of course, there is no autofocus, but I guess we all know this is the Leica way.

NDSM and the street art

Just a quick and free ferry away from Amsterdam Centraal you’ll find a former industrial shipyard, NDSM, which I think it’s one of the coolest places in Amsterdam. The old trams, a hotel in a crane, trendy bars and a lot of street art. Here you’ll find a beautiful Anne Frank mural by Eduardo Kobra. Being a creative hub, you’ll find a lot of other street art and art installations. Make sure to stop for a drink at Pllek too, especially if it’s sunny.

Unfortunately, by now my camera was not working properly, I guess it doesn’t enjoy the winter either!

The bikes and the parks, specially Vondelpark and Westerpark

Amsterdam is not only a city of canals. It’s also a city of bikes! It helps that the city is mostly flat. Today there are 400km (250 miles) of bike paths in the city and around 881,000 bikes owned by Amsterdammers.

 

Rent a bike and explore the beautiful city parks. My favourites are Vondelpark and Westerpark. Loved both by Amsterdammers and tourists you’ll find a lot of people, even on cold days. And if you see someone playing the guitar, carrying a tree or a suitcase while riding their bikes, well, just know that it’s completely normal – you’re in Amsterdam.

How easy is it to find film in Amsterdam?

Super easy! There are plenty of places where you can buy film or even send it for development, scan and print. You can even do it at Hema, a big retail chain. For something close to the centre you can also go to Kamera Express. If you are looking to buy vintage cameras, there are a lot of stores that sell them like Foto Fransen or Foto Nivo. There is also a Leica store in Amsterdam and they also sell vintage Leica gear.

If you are looking to buy books about photography, make sure to head out to PhotoQ Bookshop, a bookshop specialised in photography books.

Coming back to the R7, I couldn’t end this post without showing how good it looks one more time!

See you in Amsterdam!

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