5 frames with...

5 Frames with a 90mm Summarit on a Leica Mono – By David Evans

This post was inspired by Aukje’s post about her experience with the 90mm Elmarit.

It’s 10 years since I bought my first Leica – the M8. As anyone who knows this camera will testify, it’s a strange beast, albeit one which still manages to deliver excellent results if used correctly. It was certainly a steep learning curve after coming to Leica from a Nikon.

I came to photography quite late in life – although I’d dabbled over the years I didn’t start any serious photography until I was 35. In a way I felt that this helped as I wasn’t comparing a digital experience to something I’d had before. I’d always been fascinated by the form and look of a Leica, so when it was released I bought the M8, together with the only lens I could afford at the time – a Summarit 50mm, which I still have to this day and which is an underrated performer, but we’ll save that for another day.

I managed to pick up a few more lenses at auctions and sales over the next couple of years and briefly owned the 90mm Elmarit Aukje spoke about, but I didn’t really love it, for reasons I’m unsure about as I write this. I do remember the strange rubber hood for it – something I never really liked. In the end I bought a Summarit 90mm, which has proved to be a great purchase.

Having sold the M8 for the M9 and then selling that for the first Leica Mono, which I continue to shoot with today, I neglected the 90mm lens in favour of perhaps more traditional focal lengths of 35mm and 50mm.

Most of my photography is taken when away from home and at some point in the last few years I consciously started to try and take pictures that I had not taken before, rather than coming back from trips with versions of the same photographs shot in different places. That is where the 90mm came into its own. Instead of capturing a whole scene I was immediately drawn to the detail, or to making light a key element of the photo. As a result, I took less photos of things and more photos about things, something which I continue to practice and work on.

The first Mono is a thing of beauty. With the CCD sensor it produces a beautiful tonal range which is different to any other digital camera out there. A 90mm lens on the Mono gives me a sense of being able to intrude whilst not letting others really know what I’m up to. As a result, the photos I now take are often candid, stolen moments or observational scenes, which suits me right now. As with all photographers, I’m just searching for inspiration and light and what suits today may not suit tomorrow. Whatever happens, I will make sure I hang on to my Mono and my 90mm lens.

Shanghai Billboard

Temple Worshipper, Beijing

Illuminated Advertising, Shanghai

Church and Birds, Rome

The Forum and Visitors, Rome

More images can be found on my web site – thank you for reading and to Hamish for publishing.

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7 Comments

  • Reply
    Philip Lewis Lambert
    December 30, 2018 at 9:28 am

    Really interesting.
    90mm is about as long as I would use (I have a 1970s 90mm Elmar C f4) and my 135mm is almost mint as a result!
    Are Monochrome images different to those on a full-colour Leica converted to monochrome?

    • Reply
      David Evans
      December 30, 2018 at 11:38 am

      Hi Philip. Yes, certainly the first generation mono put out files which differed from the converted files from the then equivalent M9. I have never owned the 246 version of the mono but I am guessing this would also be the case.

  • Reply
    eric
    December 30, 2018 at 10:47 am

    More I see digital captures more I love films. My Sony and Leica bodies stay more and more home.

  • Reply
    StephenJ
    December 30, 2018 at 4:22 pm

    I really like those pictures David, an interesting way to use a camera.

    I know exactly, where that last one was taken, almost to the spot where you stood. My version is nothing like as interesting.

    Do you prefer the mono over film?

    • Reply
      David Evans
      December 30, 2018 at 5:24 pm

      Thanks for the comments Stephen. I don’t prefer one medium over the other – most of the time it’s just depends which camera I pick up in the morning! I do know that from a laziness point of view that digital wins, provided you can organise your workflow so that you don’t spend too much time editing.

  • Reply
    Mike Hinkleman
    December 30, 2018 at 6:03 pm

    Nice shots on your referenced site under America. Particularly the desert scene looking up hill. Very much like my home in Southern Utah. Were these also with the 90 on the M9M ?

    I also have the M9M, recently acquired but have not used too much. One thing that is bothersome is the time it takes to write. My only other digital being a Fuji XT10, the time waiting to write seems infinite. Have to be patient, i guess M9 is the same.

    Last, you’re using Silver Efex Pro 2?

    Thx Mike

    • Reply
      David Evans
      December 31, 2018 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Mike and thanks for the comments. The desert shot is indeed Utah! From memory this was with a TL2 with a 50mm lens, which equates to 75mm. My M9M was having the sensor replaced so I thought I’d try out the TL2 and the Q. Since getting my M9M back, both of these have been sold.

      The write times are slow but I think that the red flashing light does not necessarily indicate the inability to take another shot. I am rarely in a situation which requires multiple quick shots, so this has never bothered me. I have recently bought the M10P which does make the write times on the M9 and its variants seem very slow. Also, the electronic viewfinder is a revelation!

      Yes – use Silver Efex Pro2, even for the M9M.

      Thanks David

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