The first time I saw the Leica M-D 262, I almost instinctively knew that I’d got to have it. I love the way it looks. Stylish and minimalist for a digital camera. I couldn’t afford it brand new so I waited to snag a used one at a reasonable price. Sure it shares the same body and sensor as the Leica M240 but it doesn’t quite feel the same holding it in the hand. Furthermore, it comes with a quieter shutter sound. I’d read about how, because of the lack of LCD screen, when you hold an M-D 262, it feels slimmer (not that it actually is slimmer); it’s all true, that was how I felt the first time I touched it.
My Photography History
I enjoy taking moments of how people interact with one another or sometimes with me, the photographer. I picked up photography after a vacation to Cambodia. Some friends suggested we do a photography trip and I bought my first digital DSLR only two days before the flight. A Nikon D90 together with its kit lens 18-55mm lens. That was November 2009. It was in Cambodia where I fell in love with photography. The sunset, the people and Angkor Wat.
I once told friends that when you know what you can do with a DSLR, you are never going back to taking photos with a point & shoot digital camera. Now I tell others, once you tried a rangefinder, you are never going back to DSLR.
I have since tried different cameras, mostly digitals, some film cameras; the rangefinder is what truly captured my heart. I have used many rangefinders, a Leica M8, M9 (and it’s variants M-E/M9P/MM), M262, M240P and of course most recently the M-D 262. Of all the mentioned digital rangefinders, I enjoyed the M-D the most, with perhaps the MM coming a close second.
Love using the 35mm and 50mm lens for street. Pairing the Leica 35mm Summarit or Summicron with the M-D 262 feels like a dream for any street shooter. I even went as far as trying out 28mm (Zeiss 28mm F/2 Biogon) with it, and I don’t usually shoot with 28mm.
Some of my favorite photos were taken with the M-D 262.
The Intangibles of M-D 262
Every time I saw a moment, I have to garner up some courage to take the photo of the person(s). Too many times I lament the fact that I allow moments to pass by because I was not daring enough to put a camera in front of them.
Yet for some unexplained reasons, I felt emboldened walking on the street with the M-D. I wanted to have a conversation with the people I took the photos of, to tell them how this camera that looks like a film camera is actually digital. I wanted people to see how beautiful this camera is.
I felt like no one should object to having their photos being taken by the M-D.
Love the anticipation of wanting to see those moments you have taken with the M-D. I cheated a little sometimes, transferring the DNG files from my memory card into my phone so I could peek the photos, to see the composition, etc. Despite this option, by and large, M-D does gives you a feeling that you are shooting with a film camera, except you can afford to be a little more trigger happy; ever so slightly.
Bones to Pick?
So what do I not like about the M-D 262? Can I share what I don’t like about the M10-D first? No, I have never used an M10-D. But really, I am one of those people who complains about the fake lever. It is such a brilliant idea for Leica to come out with the M-D 262 but the fake film advance lever on M10-D just kills it for me.
I want everything about my camera to be genuinely purposeful. I was really disappointed when I found out that the lever has no other functions but for a better grip.
Back to the M-D 262. I love everything about it except that the images it produces are digital. All my photos are post-processed with Lightroom to make digital photos look a little more film-like. But digital grain doesn’t look as good as film grain, digital colors can never emulate film colors – not yet at least, not in my opinion!
Maybe I shouldn’t have but I eventually sold it because I wanted to go back to film. I wanted to use a roll of Kodak Ektachrome E100 and more of Kodak Portra 400.
I will, however, remember my time with the M-D 262 fondly.
Perhaps one day, I will go back to the M-D 262…
You can read Hamish’s review of the M60 here – a post where he goes into more detail about the feeling of shooting a digital camera without a screen