I am honored to be a guest blogger on 35mmc – a blog/webpage that I have been reading for quite some time. When I got the question if I could make a post, I thought of what I should write about. 5 pictures is the theme – but what five pictures? Then it struck me, I have had five Leicas. What about if I post one picture of each camera, and write something about what a Leica camera means to me.
At the end of the post I will tell which picture is from which camera. See if you can tell…
I have been an amateur photographer all my life – starting in the early 1980s when I got my first camera. I shot mostly black and white film, and I did all the developing my self in my fathers dark room. Time went by and in 2003 I bought my first digital SLR – the Finepix S2 Pro, based on a Nikon body. I went on to Nikon cameras – the D200 and then the D300s and so on. As the cameras got better and better I found my self loosing my joy to shoot more and more. It was too easy – just point and shoot. The camera did everything for me – and the result was great (well, at least the camera did it’s part).
But even though the result was great, my interest in picking up the camera faded more and more. And then in 2011 something happened. I found the Fujifilm X100. That little camera made my day. Suddenly I couldn’t wait to pick up the camera and go out and shoot. Now, in hindsight, I think a part of the joy was because I had a dream that I someday would own a Leica – the camera of cameras. Many people considered the X100 to be ”the poor mans Leica” – and so did I. Today I have understood the differences between a Leica and the X100, but I still enjoy using my old X100. The great thing is that I enjoy the Leicas even more.
I bought my first Leica back in 2016. I actually remember that I decided to buy a Leica while watching a game of handball in the Olympics on tv. I knew nothing about Leicas, and I realized that I had a lot to learn. After watching everything I could find about Leicas on Youtube, and checking out prices on ebay, I decided to go with a film Leica. Back to basics! It all came down to the M6TTL, and a 40mm Voigtländer. Why 40mm – well, I had this idea that if I went with a 40mm lens, I only had to have one lens. Instead of one 35mm and one 50mm lens.
Yeah…that went well…of course, the Leica M6TTL has no frame lines for a 40mm lens. That was something I didn’t find on Youtube – or at least didn’t understand. I like to have control as I shoot – and with the wrong frame lines I felt I didn’t. I sold it and instead bought a Zeiss Planar 50/2 and a Biogon 35/2,8 – the two lenses I still use as of today. I have tried a couple of others, but I always got back to these two great lenses.
It didn’t take long to understand that shooting with a Leica was my kind of melody. After 15 rolls of film I started to think about what it would be like to shoot with a digital Leica. Again I started scouting the internet – could I afford one? The solution was to sell a bunch of old Nikon gear – and my beautiful M6. I ended up buying a just as beautiful silver M8 a couple of weeks later. I loved that M8 – and I still have a warm place in my heart for it. It had it’s flaws – no IR-filter, a cropped sensor and a useless LCD screen – but wow, I loved it.
I loved it so much that I sold it – to buy an M9. I thought – If the M8 was good, the M9 must be even better. It was – but the M9 never found its way in to my heart, the way the M8 did. Hard to say why – but it could have been that I never liked the Gun-metal paint on the M9. A stupid thing, I know, but that is the truth. For me – the look of the camera matters. I must feel attracted to it for it to inspire me.
In the middle of 2017 I found out that Leica was going to stop the program where corroded M9 sensors were replaced for free. I had found some spots on the sensor, but I didn’t feel like being without my Leica for months. Now I had to do it – otherwise it could cost me a great deal of money to replace it later on. The camera went to Wetzlar in Germany and suddenly I was without a Leica. But just for a few months…perhaps three…or six…oh my god. I had to do something!!
A Leica emergency arose and a plan formed in my head. If I ever should sell my M9, it would never be a better time – an M9 with a brand new sensor direct from Leica in Germany. And in the mean time – if I could find the money – I could find me an M240. The M9 would give me back 2/3 of the price of the M240, as it came back. Well somehow I got the money – by selling of some more stuff and using some savings. I found me a black M240 and bought it. This is the camera I still have today – and I love it.
Finally the M9 came back – and I sold it for the same price as I bought it for. Nice. Now this could be the end of my Leica story so far – but there has been one more. The Q. I had this feeling that the Leica Q would be at perfect everyday camera. I always have a camera with me – and the Q seemed to be a perfect. A camera with all modern features and still with that great Leica feel. After some more saving I found me a Q. Another incredible camera, but it never really found my heart as the M-cameras did.
I can see some reasons for this; I think 28mm is too wide, the pictures were too perfect (!) and the camera did all the work for me. This may sound crazy, but; I like the 35mm focal length – that’s the way I want it to be. I could crop it in the camera, but its still a 28mm lens. I think the pictures from the M has more soul – the pictures from the Q are great, but without that special feeling I find in the M-pics. I love to focus with the rangefinder. I love to be challenged by the lighting as I look through the finder in an M. I love that I have to think about how I want the depth of field in the picture. The Q did all those things for me. Needless to say – the Q had to find another home. Now I have my beloved M240 as my everyday camera – and, for me, it’s perfect.
Have you figured out which picture is from which camera? The correct answers are:
- Leica M240
- Leica M8
- Leica Q
- Leica M6
- Leica M9
I think all these cameras produces great pictures. The M240 may be better than the M8 from a technical point of view, but what about the M6? Is a digital camera better than its analogue cousin? For me it all comes down to the experience of shooting. I’m having a great time shooting with my Leica M. If you haven’t tried one already, I can definitely recommend it!!