Leica

Started Jul 27, 2012 | Discussions thread
calvinboy24
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Re: Leica - Agree on all points, excellent POV
In reply to David Franklin, Jul 30, 2012

Well said, David. I love my M8 (M9 is on the long-term docket). The benefits of using a Leica rangefinder are in the soft factors, like size and handling, as opposed to hard factors like high-ISO and lack of autofocus. When I first got my M8, I only really used it for street photography, but after carrying 20-30 lbs of SLR equipment and accessories on vacation, i realized it was quite burdensome. I've started to just bring my Leica on trips, most recently to Barcelona, and before that to London, San Francisco, Montreal, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Hong Kong. Of course, it's my go-to camera for every day use. No bulky camera bag needed. Right in a messenger should bag with a couple of lenses and a spare battery and I'm ready to go.

As much as an SLR or advanced P&S can shoot anything a Leica can do with as much quality, the Leica can do vice versa in a different package.

One certainly does pay for quality. Quality of lenses, the tank-like body, and that sapphire scratch resistant glass (on M8.2 and M9). A rangefinder body plus 4 lenses is lighter than a 5D Mk XYZ with 3-4 lenses, but its still pretty hefty.

I'm not a Leica snob and I saved my pennies to purchase one (a floor model demo to save some $$$), and all my lenses are used of varying conditions. if anything, using the rangefinger challenged me to be a better photographer. No autofocus to rely on, single focal length at a time, and basic metering (albeit a really good one) forces me to think about my shots. I understand hyperfocal distances immensely now to facilitate street photography, and I don't have to worry about the AF lag. The camera will take a photo at the press of the shutter, whether anything's in focus or not.

David Franklin wrote:

I am a long-time professional photographer. I have been shooting with Canon "pro" digital gear for most of my work for about the last 8 or 9 years.

I was a happy Leica M4 owner, using my 35mm and 50 mm lenses, back in the 1980's and can attest to the wonderful build quality, the pure tactile pleasure of handling a finely crafted mechanical device, the exquisite sharpness of most Leica lenses, the small size of the typical Leica photographer's kit, and the great shots that the cameras can make if you are a highly practiced rangefinder user, with a little know;ledge of how to pre-focus and use hyperfocal distance values.

As others have already commented, the Leica is a camera for necessarily wealthy hobbyest photographers, collectors and the few professionals - mostly those who used them before, in their film iterations - who just love what Leica brings to the table. The M9, like all other Leica's, is great at "capturing the moment" in people-oriented photo situations, mostly because of 5 things: its small size and quiet operation is inconspicuous; viewfinder never "blacks out," as do DSLR's, lertting you see your subjects without interruption; viewfinder lets you see "what's coming" from just ouitside the image capture area to better guage when and where to trip the shutter; the lenses are at least among the best made for any system and can be used wide-open with confidence, also allowing greater freedom for shutter speed selection; and, especially when used with wide angle lenses, the viewfinder is so clear, bright and uncluttered that it allows the photographer to see his subjects in a way that is not possible on a mpodern DSLR.

All that said, no Leica, M9 or not, is really a match for a modern DSLR system, nor is it meant to be. Aside from those few who love to use them for landscapes, the Leica M is a specialist's camera in today's market. It can't offer the lens selction (especially on the long and telephoto end), viewfinder precision, auto focusing capability, operational options, accessories, resolution range, processing options, speed of operation (fps, autofocusing, image processing, etc.), or the sense of seeing your image more accurately previewed using all but wide angle lenses at medium or small apertures - as the depth-of-field is indicated in the DSLR optical viewfinder. Added to that, these advantages are available in cameras that cost a lot less than the Leica, and are available for various systems at various levels of capability and price.

If you want to shoot with the Leica M9, learn how to use a rangefinder properly (a slowly acquired capability), learn how to pre-focus if you can, buy their expensive and brilliant wide angle lenses and, when you have accepted the built-in limitations that come with it, you will have a wonderful, but very expensive, experience. If you strictly want to make money with your camera system, or you don't have an awful lot of extra cash, you should probably look elsewhere.

Regards,
David
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