Having just watched a scathing video by The Angry Photographer on You Tube, it got me to thinking why I shoot a Leica M digital camera. He would say I am a snob, an elitist, etc.
To the point of being a snob, well, I’m not. I’m a regular guy who loves to experiment and experience. After trying a host of other systems, the Leica M240 hits the mark for 90% my photography. Simply put, the M240 gives me satisfaction as a tool of artistic expression.
To his point that the Leica digital body is inferior. I agree, with qualification. It is a full frame sensor that renders wonderful, natural colors. It is built as well or better than any of the many other digital camera I have used. Where the Leica wins for me is from its simplicity. The menus are few and sparse. There are not lots of dials and buttons and such on the exterior. The M240 gives me what I need and nothing more. On the other hand, if one wants software customization and uber-fast frame rates and good video and other such conveniences, a Leica is not for you. I don’t need those things for my style of shooting.
Focusing manually with a rangefinder patch, rather than through the lens is inconsequential. I am adept at either method. Using telephoto lenses greater than 90mm is not practical on a Leica M camera, but I don’t use telephoto lenses more than once or twice a year.
Is a Leica the camera to use for wildlife or stock car races? No. For that, a Fuji or Nikon or Canon or the like is the tool. Is a Leica M digital camera good for landscape and reportage and street and portraiture? Yes, with reservation for landscapes discussed in the next paragraph.
The M240 lacks the versatility of other cameras for landscapes and long exposure photography. Use of grad nd and polarizing filters is not practical, dropping it a notch on the landscape side. But honestly, I hate carrying filters and filter mounts and all that stuff. I would rather work with the light I have and the lens I have. And using a Leica M for long exposure photography is not even close to the capacity of other modern cameras. Max exposure in Timed Exposure on the M is 8 seconds. On a Fuji XT2 it is 30 minutes!
And then there are the lenses. This is the reason above all I love Leica in both film and digital format. They are not designed to be ultra-sharp. They are designed to capture things the way the eye sees them. And they are small and light and extremely well built. My three lenses all take the same 39mm screw on filters, not that I use them frequently. My entire 3 lens kit (28, 35, 50) with M body will fit into a very small camera bag.
Lastly, I love the history of Leica, Nikon, Hasselblad, Canon and all of the other great manufacturers. Holding and using a Leica is a special experience for me partly from its prominent role in photography’s history.
I close with an image, straight out of my Leica M240. Is it tack sharp? No. Does it have great contrast? Yes. Does it have a look I enjoy? Yes, and that is what is important to me.
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