Leica donates camera to survivor of Fukushima disaster, controversy raised over price and press conference

by Liam McCabe

posted Wednesday, March 19, 2014 at 12:43 PM EDT


No good deed goes unpunished, or at least un-complained about on the internet.

Last week, Leica gave away one of their M Monochrom digital cameras to a Japanese teenager whose family was displaced after the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown at Fukushima in 2011. The 18-year-old woman recently graduated from high school, where she was a member of the photography club. “Family matters” have prevented her from attending a local university, according to a report at JapanToday, but she planned to put aside money from her new manufacturing job so that she could buy a camera and continue with her passion. Leica chairman Andreas Kaufmann heard her story and her wish to continue with photography, and arranged to give her a camera. It's a nice story.

The only thing subtle about Leica, though, is the signature camera design. So they made a bit of a to-do and held a press conference to give away the camera. Internet commenters cried foul, according to the JapanToday report, noting that the Monochrom is very expensive—$7,950 without a lens in the US, and it only shoots in black-and-white—and that perhaps Leica would better serve the community by donating an equivalent sum directly to charity. Maybe they could’ve quietly donated the camera, rather than attracting attention toward their philanthropic efforts.

What do you think? Was Leica’s gift crass or caring?

(Via JapanToday, Yomiuri Online)