Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2000/05/16

[Author Prev] [Author Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Author Index] [Topic Index] [Home] [Search]

Subject: [Leica] Alfredo's Cameras
From: "Leonard K. Nicholson" <>
Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 09:51:12 -0500

Dear Mr. Roberts:

I read with great interest your posting to the LUG

> Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 10:21:59 -0400
> From: "Craig Roberts"
> Subject: Re: [Leica] Remembering Alfredo's Cameras
> Message-ID: <001601bfbe78$fe336fc0$>
> References: <>
> Good morning,
> I'm an old Leicaphile (with an M3 and IIIf...both used regularly), but new
> to the list.  Since a couple of threads have been devoted to dealers lately,
> I wonder if anyone remembers Alfredo Olivera (Alfredo's Cameras) of New
> Orleans.
> This short, stocky and LOUD alleged former Argentine championship boxer and
> minor diplomat was one of the more colorful characters I've ever met in any
> business.  He sold me my first Leica in the early 1970's (a used M4) which
> he restored to "better than original" condition by black anodizing the top
> and bottom covers (settle down, was absolutely beautiful).  He
> was fierce defender of Leica's place in the photographic universe,
> pronouncing upstart Oriental camera manufacturers as makers of "Japanese
> junk" (you'd have to hear his rich accent to appreciate how this sounded)
> and Leica the only 35mm camera worthy of exposing emulsion to light.
> A favorite trick of his was to ask to borrow a Nikon or Canon from an
> unsuspecting walk-in customer, especially if the customer seemed a little
> "uppity".  Alfredo would then hold a Leicaflex  SL (brand new then) in one
> hand and the customer's camera in the other, both by their backs.  He'd then
> unlatch the SL's back and and fling the camera open with its body and lens
> flying forward - rebounding against the back hinge - then flip it closed.
> There was no apparent damage, of course.  He would then offer to perform the
> same stunt with the customer's camera.  Invariably, the customer would grab
> his big Nikon or Canon "F" and flee the store with Alfredo yelling behind
> them: "...and don't come back in here with your Japanese junk!".
> Alfredo had a devoted...if somewhat fearful...following.
> Does anyone else have any Alfredo stories?
> Craig Roberts
> Boston
and can tell you that I have the fondest memories and highest respect
for Mr. Alfredo.  It was Mr. Alfredo who got me started in Leica
photography when I was a kid back in the late 60's and early 70's.
While my father had a Leica-M4 system and a Leicaflex system -- Mr.
Alfredo set me up with a Pentax Spotmatic outfit and reminded me that my
father could not use BOTH Leicas at the same time, and thus, I was able
to use a Leica M4 most of the time.  How ingenious!  My favorite
combination was the M4 with the Summilux F1.4.  Mr. Alfredo also spent
countless hours training me with the M4 and in how to process B&W.  To
this day, I still use Panatomic-X,  Plus-X, and Tri-X developed in
Acufine. In fact, I still have and use most all the equipment he sold me
back in the late 60's.  The porcelain developing trays are still going
strong!, as is the print dryer, enlarger, and safelight.

There were quite a few of us that Mr. Alfredo helped out, and to this
day, I think there are many of us who owe him a debt of gratitude for
the time he spent with us and  all the things that he has shared with

Over the years, and especially after he sold the store on Gravier
street, I lost contact with Mr. Alfredo; however, I frequently think
about him and when one talks Leica in New Orleans, inevitably the
conversation is drawn towards talking about Mr. Alfredo.  One of my
favorite stories actually occurred when I was a very young man using my
father's M4 and having it with me at the time, I ask him how the focal
plane shutter could have a shutter speed of  1/1000 sec when it only
traveled the length of the frame in 1/50th sec.  After doodling a number
of sketches showing the variations in the width of shutter curtain to
simulate a faster effective shutter speed, Mr. Alfredo grabbed my
father's M4 which was on the counter and said, "look, let me show you"
and he proceeded to take the camera completely apart, and showed me the
inner workings of the M4 and its shutter.  After he fully explained how
it worked and to my compete amazement, he said, "Ok. now put it back
together."  I freaked!  Of course I couldn't.  But I enjoyed watching
him do it.  While he put it all back together, he fastidiously cleaned
each and every part

I hope Mr. Alfredo is doing well.

Sincerely yours,

Leonard Nicholson

Replies: Reply from "Craig Roberts" <> ([Leica] Re: Alfredo's Cameras)