It was a fairly normal day.
I continued to argue* with the
good bad folks who host (sic) the photos on my website, whilst preparing some event coverage quotes for a couple of perspective clients
*apparently that my photos no longer display because they rolled out an improved service is somehow my problem (strongly agree) and not at all their problem to resolve (strongly disagree)
I decided to change the mood from them, them, them to me, me, me by sharing a selection of photos I’d recently taken with my new lens to the DS massive, and Pascal made a very Pascal comment.
Nice photos. Fancy writing a review of that lens for DS?
Hum. Frankly no.
I’d just wanted a little endorphin rush, the type you get by sharing pictures to folk, pictures you’ve taken with a new chunk of glass, you’re looking for a returns such as nice photos and wow, what a good lens for the cost, great catch Adam
What I didn’t want was ‘Adam how’d you like to do some writing on my site?’
But Pascal had a point, it was a long time since I’d written anything here… and besides, DS’s image hosting actually works 🙂
But I didn’t fancy doing a lens review. Nope. Between you, me and the gateposts – I hate doing that…
It’s a thankless task. People dispel your findings. You can’t really do a good job unless you have access to a lab, some rigs, probably some computer software and not to mention of course, your entire review is ultimately meaningless if you don’t happen to have X number of copies of the lens(es) you’re testing to rule out sample variation.
So what you tend to end up with, is some brick wall shots, some rhetoric and a closing off of and here’s some of my favs taken with this optic
My last few articles here have all been about the Leica M9. A camera that needs no introduction, as it’ll be reaching it’s tenth anniversary next year.
Still that said, you can catch up on my previous DS M9 articles here and here
The most recent of these articles The M9 dream four months on spoke about adding some more M glass to my stable and using the antiquated, dense little brass lump as much as possible.
Well it’s now been seven months since I met my hero so I thought it was time to share with you all whether or not the rose tinted spectacles had steamed up, fallen off or stopped working…
To begin with, the M was how you might describe as a sunny Sunday sports car. A tool for simple pleasures. It still is of course! But I have to say I’ve been using it more and more, to continue the car analogy, it now often gets asked to do the school run and the grocery shop
My Mum came to town for some grandchild quality time, normally that would be a modern camera job – the security of AF, Face detect, lots of ISO yada yada.
But this time I wanted a challenge, so I made myself shoot the whole week with the M and all of the three lenses.
Did I miss modern features when I was trying to shoot my five year old bouncing on a trampoline with a 90mm lens and a rangefinder? Hahaha hell yeah, what did you think? 😀
Did I manage to get a shot? Yes. Did I feel a sense of reward because I got that shot using my brain rather than tracking AF mode 7? Hahaha hell yeah, what did you think? 😀
And it was during that week that I really came to realise something about the M.
It’s actually (IMO YMMV) a very humble product, made by probably one of the most pretentious camera brands around. The local Leica store has a sign in the window, something like come in and ask me about bokeh (I’m not making that up) – I’ve no clue what they’ll tell you about bokeh, but I promise you this, buy an M to chase bokeh and you’ll need to figure a few things out for yourself.
And that’s what I’ve been doing with the M these past few months. Chasing pictures, figuring it out for myself and I have to say, rather enjoying the experience.
It a little bit reminds me of being back at college. The camera was all manual. It had a 50mm on it. I took it everywhere, even when I wasn’t at college, and was always eager to get into the darkroom in order to see what I’d been shooting.
I’ve been living with the M very much like this. As Pascal mentioned in a recent post A quality viewfinder, a direct connection to the shutter and a way to capture an image and that folks is all you truly need…..
……of course I highly recommend that you aim higher than this! In much the same way that money can’t buy happiness, but it sure soothes the burn of being poor, having an all singing all dancing camera can’t guaranty all singing all dancing photographs, but it sure can take the burn out of trying to capture them.
But sometimes, I dunno… how to say…. it’s good to keep your hand in with the old ways, it’s good to go out in the field with the basic essentials rather than wrapping oneself in the cotton wool cocoon that modern cameras offer.
Perhaps you’re reading this and thinking uh-oh, he’s drunk the Kool-Aid… he’s about to say that less is more, he’s about to talk about the unparalleled joy of manual focus lenses, ground glass view finders and the phallic heft of a brass camera
Nope. I’m not.
Do you know what the difference is to the viewer between two good (or bad) photographs taken with two completely different camera systems. That would be sweet FA.
Do you know what the difference is to the photographer between a camera system that s/he enjoys shooting and enjoys the images s/he gets from it vs one s/he doesn’t?
It’s a lot.
Good photographs are within the grasp of pretty much any camera (but not necessarily every photographer of course). I think we’ve all known this for a while now. Sure you can make them with varying degrees of ease and computer-camera assistance. But nearly all cameras can do a good job in nearly all scenarios.
So why not shoot with a camera that you enjoy using? Why feel you can’t trust a camera if that camera demands that you trust yourself?
And if you truly feel you need a more automated camera (and no judgement here) then surely you should still trust yourself to be able to make it work?
Am I about to speak about rediscovering the joy of photography? Hum, no. Why? Well using a (largely) manual camera, focus traps, subject anticipation, etc isn’t joyful, it’s hard work. Hard but rewarding work, enjoyable but not joyful, like an exercise regime that has the desired result.
We all know that GAS isn’t photography, we all know that it’s us that makes the photo, so my missive here is simple:
Digital photography carries with it a colossally disproportionate equation between pressing the shutter and having an image that you’re happy with.
Feel free to read that again.
Disproportionate equation between pressing the shutter and having an image that you’re happy with
I got into photography when as a 15 year old, my father sent me on a week long trip to the middle east and gave me three rolls of film.
Three. Rolls. Film. 108 frames. Maximum.
These days we can come home with more shots than that if we take our kids to the local park for half an hour!
So what does that mean? Disproportionate equation between pressing the shutter and having an image that you’re happy with.
It means that whatever digital camera you buy, you’re going to end up with one that delivers frames you consider mediocre waaaaaaaaay more than frames that you don’t.
Or put another way… You’d better buy a camera that you enjoy using, because you’re going to be spending an awful lot of time using it to shoot zilch.
And that’s how I’ve felt with the M9 these past few months. I enjoy the reward of shooting with it. Very much. Like I wrote before, in that very first review:
The Leica is literally a fixed point and I must pivot around it to get to where I need. This couldn’t be my only camera, but for many applications it is indeed a nice way to work
I’m enjoying the dance, I’m enjoying the challenge and when it (far less frequently than I’d like) all comes together, I feel a sense of satisfaction.
So, you’re looking at some of my shots…. are they going to be the best shots that you’ve ever seen? Will you race from your internet enabled device having read this and immediately need serious time in a sensory deprivation tank, so that you can gather your thoughts and re-discover what it means to be human?
Hahaha hell NO, what did you think? 😀
No. There is no relationship between the camera and the viewer’s reaction to an image. That camera-human relationship is a personal thing between you and your gear.
Less is more? No. More is less. We take more pictures because modern digital cameras compel us to do so, but we don’t necessarily get more acceptable photographs. By taking more photos we spend more time shooting, so we ought to try and find cameras that we enjoy spending time with and have less issues, quibbles and foibles with.
The M9P has been my constant companion for the past months, only the most challenging of conditions has dissuaded me from using it.
So let’s be honest, if I’d said these are all taken with my Fujifilm or my Panasonic or my mate’s Sony, would you believe me? Of course! The camera used is not something that’s very relevant to the viewer of the photo (IMO – YMMV)
That I shot these all with a manual focus, antiquated M9 is not important to you. But it’s important to me, and the reason it’s important to me is that I enjoy using it, and when I enjoy using something, I tend to use it a lot, which is good – because digital photography seems to demand that we take a lot of photos to get a few that we like.
And that’s really the point of this article, the continuation of my M9 story isn’t about the camera at all. It’s about shooting pictures, feeling compelled to pick something up and use it, to look to yourself for the solutions to the challenges of the shot.
It’s not about less is more it’s not that all we ever need is a quality viewfinder, a direct connection to the shutter and a way to capture an image. It’s about being happy with a way of working, about pushing yourself for the end result.
Crazy talk? Could be….
…..But I’m enjoying the al fresco adventure that is Leica la la land very much.
All images shot with the Leica M9P using a combination of the 35/2.4 Summarit, the 50 Summicron, the 90/2.5 Summarit and the 7Artisans 50/1.1
#1165. More Leica M11. Why it hits the nail on the head for me, and the head on the nail for others.
#1164. Leica M11: Salvatory catch-up or modernized gestalt brilliance?
#1108. Week Links of Photography : Lost Heroes and Other News
#1026. Canon, Leica, Sony, 3 new un-amigos on the block
#1017. Leica Summicron-R 35/2 on Hasselblad X1D: The last of the vintage glass rolling
#1015. Leica Elmarit-R 90/2.8 on Hasselblad X1D: too gentle for its own good?
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ROTFLMHAO 🙂 Leading with my glass chin, that’s so much fun to read and so sensible and interesting, that I’d like to ask you something – please write MORE articles. 🙂
A friend of mine has an M9 and is quite potty about it. SERIOUSLY potty about it. So I don’t find it at all difficult to follow your line of thought, Adam. In any case, it would be pure hypocrisy for me to suggest otherwise, because I’ve been behaving in much the same way for the past 65 years – even since I shifted up a few levels from my old second hand Kodak box Brownie.
I read somewhere yesterday a suggestion that we should all try to take at least one photo every day. The thought behind the suggestion was vaguely similar to this one. I find that my percentage of “keepers” rises with the number of photos I take – simply because “practice makes perfect”. And I lived through half a century or more with analogue cams, and I do recognise what you are saying about digi cams making us all slack about planning our shots properly before we press the trigger, leading to a lot of duds. It’s just that the “lot of duds” becomes a lot less of them, when you practice (as well as planning).
It was nice to see you’ve joined the Cat Club – Pascal will be jealous, that’s a wonderful shot!!
Beware of trolls, though. When I looked at the final photo, it reminded me of a photo I took in Toulouse a couple of years ago. And when a pro I know looked at it, he turned up his nose in disgust because the people in the scene were all looking at each other. I was ticked off and told I should have asked them all to stare at the camera. Which struck me as being about as ridiculous as any criticism of street photography COULD be. Take care – they’re out there – ready & waiting, to pounce on any unsuspecting soul who drifts past their optics.
Thank you Jean Pierre,
I have a deep seated belief that people have the right to own and use whatever gear pleases them to take any photos that they like.
And camera upgrades are often worthwhile. When your old camera’s ISO gets crappy at 1600 and your new camera can go up to 12800 you’ll notice that and it’s worthwhile
But many camera releases are incremental to their predecessors, offering us slightly improved forms of automation
The Leica gets me off that merri-go-round and makes my technique the upgrade path.
There’s generally a sense of satisfaction in a job you’ve done yourself… even if automation is easier!
There’s always plenty of people that like to offer criticism to photos, very, very, very occasionally it can even be useful
For the rest of the time I find it pays to remember that great quote usually attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt
“no one can make you feel inferior without your consent”
I like it! An article about not wanting to write an article.
Also, once again. Welcome to the M9 Club! I can see my earlier comment is taking hold. The M9 is working its magic on you. Mine is still my preferred camera.
Though, there is one comment I will disagree with. By taking so many photos, we don’t need a camera we enjoy using. We need a computer we enjoy using to view all of them. 😉
Otherwise, we won’t view them. Then we won’t take them, because we don’t remember what we saw the last time that compelled us to use the camera. It is a vicious cycle.
I agree, keep writing.
Ha! Yes spot on, especially with the M9 as there’s not any wi-fi or anything to dump the jpegs (which I don’t even have turned on) onto a phone or tablet and the LCD is pretty much only good enough to confirm a picture has been taken!
I do write around 1000+ words a week on my own website 🙂
Adam, I don’t know what I liked most: what you wrote, how you wrote it, or the pics you included. I am a total fan of all three. And, as you could gather from my wacky ramblings posing as captain Bchab (Pascal correctly figured out that Achab was already taken), many of your own sentiments resonate with my own.
Again, total fan, except that you need to write more. Or rather, I need you to write more. And I am not alone. For sure.
Just one disagreement, as I can’t bring myself to be a real true team player. You said no-one would notice if you posted the same shots and claimed they were shot with other brands of cameras. Well, maybe it is my mind acting up, but, for me, the M9 has unique pixie dust when it comes to colours, and some of your pics are sprinkled with more than a little of it.
Thank you very, very much captain Bchab 🙂
I do have round about 130,000 (not a typo) words on my own website!
I can’t deny that the M9 has a tangible, yet hard to describe in definable ways a certain je ne sais quoi when it comes to its colour palette and tonal response, but I was a bit chicken to open that can of worms with the Leica nay-sayers, and (as you note) the piece was more about being content with a way of working than it was about the camera itself.
Although I do have to confess a big part of the M9 charm is that a decently exposed DNG needs ever so slightly more than bugger all doing to it in post, which helps offset the time you spent out in the field with it, working out where the focus might be and which irrelevant specular highlight the centre weighted light meter might be choosing to meter for at any given moment 🙂
[BTW – “you may call me ‘Pete’ – everyone else does, and I’ve been called worse!”]
Adam if I get your drift correctly, you are saying the M9 does so well (once you finally decide to press the shutter button) that you don’t need to do much in PP. And both Philippe & you are enchanted by the colour gamut of what the M9 produces.
This is all dear to my heart – not suggesting “you’re wrong & I’m right”, as so many people seem to, these days – and as you recognise earlier, it’s all about what the individual likes. From a personal point of view, I detested Kodacolor because I found it was too garish – but billions of people around the world adored it and I am cleary outvoted – and in any case, I knew one guy who took the most amazing photos with it. Sony also has its own “tints” – so too does Fuji – there are clear differences between Can-color & Nik-color – and I have found that my beloved Otus lenses do much the same as you say the M9 does.
I’ve said it before – I’ve been in love with Zeiss glass since I first tried it, in the mid-1950s – and I absolutely adore the two Otus lenses I’ve been able to buy. They do something I really appreciate, in capturing the colours my eyes see – and PP has been changed from a chore to a short hop-step-and-jump onto the printer. I rarely have to “work” the shots coming out of the D810 now, thanks to Carl and his crew. And when I do, it’s usually because the RGB and CMYK colour range used in digital photography don’t carry the information from the real world to the printing paper, and a bit of fiddling with one of the colours is necessary to kick the shot into the net.
Which has been a liberating experience for another reason. I’ve been able to change and – in some senses – simplify my post processing, freeing me up to appraise my own photos better. I know Pascal has often drawn attention to the sinful behaviour of the overwhelming majority out there, snapping away (generally not even using cameras any more – I wish there was some way I could dial their phones just as they were ready to shoot! 🙂 ) and thereafter storing and transferring on a succession of digital media. But that encourages a slack approach. You don’t have to plan – it costs no more to take 20 (or even 100) shots all at once, than only one, and choose the onces to discard later – except a lot of them never do discard them later. Printing all [?? – hang on – that’s not right!] – starting again – printing my photos has helped me become FAR more selective of the shots I want in the first place. It’s a wonderful steroid drug to hit your photography with, and make it grow stronger. Failure to do it leads to a more sloppy approach in the field.
Analogue photography had one prime virtue – – no ‘chimping’ – – you had to finish the roll of film, process it (or get a lab to do it for you), select the shots you wanted to print, and start the printing process, before you really had anything to see, or anything to choose. So ignoring the “happy snaps” brigade, photographers were generally a lot more careful when they took their photos than many photographers are today.
Pros, of course, were different. Actually back then pros probably DID take more shots than amateurs. These days, I think that’s reversed.
The m9 is somewhat limited in native dynamic range… 8-9 stops if I recall. I suspect this, combined with the apparently ‘sharper’ nature of a CCD sensor is the reason that a well exposed m9 dng needs little work… it arrives in LR (whatever) looking pretty good, and if it doesn’t look pretty good, then there’s not that much than can be done. You certainly can’t shoot everything at base ISO, then drag the shadows up 4-5 stops like you can on a modern ISOless camera
The whole “M9 looks like KodaChrome” thing… I’m not so convinced…
KodaChrome was (as you’ll know) available in many flavours over many years, and I think that saying “this camera/preset/etc looks like KC” is very woolly… it’s not like all KC photos look the same
I do think that in general CCD has more of a film vibe to the images than CMOS. But not that CCD images all resemble one singular stock of film
I can’t speak for Philippe… but for me, a photo is not real life.
It’s a 2D representation of a real life scene, and in order to be visually successful, one (of the many) thing(s) it needs is for the viewer to willingly suspend disbelief and enjoy the photo as presented.
This means that different people will find different images (and different colours) pleasing.
As you say, one person’s kodachrome wet dream is another’s garish over saturated nightmare 🙂
I think as well (and it might just be me!) when we have a rig that we like (me and m9 you and zeiss) we’re a lot more content to run with our feelings, like turning the volume up on a song we like and not caring if someone else doesn’t
I think when we like something, we look for ways to like it more (perhaps for example to seek out a scene that contains colours that we love how our gear renders) – this gives us another dimension to the way we shoot and much like how people can tell if you’re smiling or frowning whilst they’re talking to you on the telephone, I think people can tell if you’re smiling when you pressed the shutter. And smiles are infectious 🙂
Specifically RE the M9 it’s a different way of working. It’s slow. You can’t move the focus point around. There’s (well for me anyway) a high degree of needing to anticipate what will happen in the frame (eg in this article the shot of kid jumping into the river, I couldn’t just walk by and notice that, I had to see it was going to happen) and if your frame doesn’t contain anything anticipated, then I find I like to use context. Context is important with a rangefinder, because often the bit you want in focus doesn’t have the decency to be bang centre in the frame where the RF patch is, so I find myself looking for things that are on the same plane I wish to be in focus.
In short (erm long) I find I have to manage the image capture process more and I think this a good thing.
I tend to shoot the fujis in a similar way (eg manual focus) so it wasn’t a big jump to use the Leica, but of course the Fuji (and Sony etc) has many tools to help you… focus peaking is like having DOF/focus-and-recompose painted out for you in the EVF. Magnified VF means critical focus is something that’s readily attainable, and back home on the computer, 12 (whatever) stops of DR and no additional noise penalty for applying ISO after the event is a big safety net.
The M9 has none of this so it pays to try harder with out in the field. (Amusingly the newer Ms do! The M10 has a decentish accessory EVF and you can move the focus point around and also an ISOless sensor)
As you say – the biggest differential between legacy pro and hobby photography was the cost associated with taking and viewing pictures
Thanks for a good read!
And good and interesting photos!
I agree with you (and Pascal),
a viewfinder must be GOOD.
I’ve tried rangefinder, SLR and EVF,
but I found the best connection with the motif in a good rangefinder VF and also easier and quicker manual focusing.
Long ago I had a good look at Leica M (then film) but my interest in close-ups and longer lenses turned me towards SLRs.
This was from using a Zeiss SuperIkonta III (Tessar 75mm/3.5) for many years.
It was quick to use and focus and had speed and aperture settings coupled (set the EV and then choose the speed-aperture combination). The MF film size allowed me to use it also as a 40-90mm-eq. zoom.
( Wanting something more pocketable I found a Vitessa and later a Contax T, but neither grew to be an extension of my hands.
A Leica M probably would have.)
In the SLR VF the focusing helps disturbed my feeling for composition, but I needed them.
The EVF of my Canon M5 is good enough, but doesn’t (yet?) give me the feeling of contact the Superikonta did – although it allows more precise framing – and I think my hands will adapt to the haptics, I use it in manual mode (all metering modes are center weighed so a slight move of the focusing point can radically change exposure).
So – except for the big sensor difference – it _might_ become my new Leica M substitute…
– – –
Do we shoot more zilch with a digital camera?
It is easy to do so, but “thinking’ before pressing the trigger is just as easy as with film (but has not the economic implications..).
Thank you very much
Yes 100% – you look at the spec of the M glass and see the min focus of 0.7/0.8/1m and think “and so?” the amount of times it’s caught me out not being able to focus that close 🙂
I think the main reason I have such an emotive connection to the M9 is that it took about 3 years from seriously deciding that I wanted to have one to actually getting it, in the same period of time quite a few other cameras came into existence, came into my possession and left again.
People can and of course do form bonds that are just as strong with other cameras!
I haven’t shot a film camera in years to be honest!
I’m finding that the more meticulous approach the M9 forces me to take with shooting now filters across to shooting with the Fujis too
I like EVFs for the precision, but I’m no where near ready to own a camera that doesn’t have an OVF as well… EVF just feels a little like watching TV
I think for me (YMMV) the zero cost of making a few shots and the ease at which digital lets us do so can be a hard (and harmless) habit to break… In fact today I took three shoots of something, fairly sure the first was the best realisation of the idea, and found it was the second one.
But it’s all a layer cake… some togs I know come back from a day on the streets with a 1000 shots, for me 200 is very rare! In fact I went out yesterday and today, cleared the SD card only just now and had 87 shots after about 7 total hours of street shooting, so I guess I’m fairly controlled…
Those 87 shots will probably see about 10 on Facebook, maybe 3 on IG, and I think in this case zero on Flickr
“I’m finding that the more meticulous approach the M9 forces me to take with shooting now filters across to shooting with the Fujis too”
Something similar happens for me, too, Adam – with shooting mostly manual focus, instead of the instant gratification of AF – and with printing my shots, instead of relying on digital storage.
Printing makes you much more aware of your deficiencies, and getting snap-happy initially results in [heavy] culling during the printing process, which in turn then leads to being much more selective and careful when taking the shots in the first place (like we all were, back in the days of film).
With the sheer convenience of digital, the level of automation available in most modern cams, and the fact you’re not paying squillions for film & developing/printing all the time, the digital revolution in photography has led to the rise of a snap happy class of photographers who really don’t put the time and effort into planning their shots, or taking them properly.
I can well understand that you come back with 87 instead of 1,000. Other things happen, though – through the other 90%-plus of the day spent by other ‘togs snapping everything in sight, you have taken you eye off the camera and actually taken time out to “see” – to develop “the eye” – and to recognise opportunities for future “photographs” instead of a plethora of “snapshots”. I’d far rather have one good shot than 10 mediocre or bad ones.
That doesn’t mean not taking 3 shots of the same thing, to get “the best” one. That really ends up as one shot, you know that when you’re doing it, and it’s not the same thing. The “thing” is taking different shots, almost all the time – 1,000 shots in a day means one every 30 seconds or thereabouts, during an 8 hour working day – a street photographer doing that would end up photographing complete trivia – interesting to nobody, not even himself.
I tend to outsource my printing to be honest (I do print though) I hope you don’t think less of me….
I tend to shoot people, and people move, sometimes into a better position, often not 🙂 so it can worth trying a few shots
I often see pictures where the people in the foreground are not in focus and it really works, except for me, I can never make that work 🙂 my 3 today was yet another attempt at that…
I’m quite habitual, I go again and again to the same places… I know where the Ribeira kids like to jump into the river, where the ancient steep stone stairs are and what a great backdrop they make, I know what a little bit worked last time I was there and what I can do this time to try and improve
I know where HCB stood to take a shot in Porto (and I know my attempts to homage it are feeble and unseen by all except me), I know that famous “HCB” shot in Mercado Do Bolhao was actually taken by Rui Palha* (and I know he’s sick and tired of people accusing him of stealing HCB’s work!!!)
And this is all why your comment is so spot on Pete.
Photography (especially street, probably all of it) is about being a photographer, even when you’re not holding a camera, it’s about looking around you, and knowing what’s around you – I try and concentrate on this a lot and my simple brain gets busy and I take less pictures.
I’m ok with that 🙂
RE the M9 it’s a bit like the difference between using a kitchen robot (full disclosure, we just got a kitchen robot), which stirs and times things and tells you when the next set of ingredients has to go in, vs doing it all by hand and with an oven timer… (which would be the M)
….the actual meal tastes about the same, but it’s a different way of working
(not my strongest analogy I think)
*note to self, must get Pascal to add Rui’s IG account to the weekly links thingamy… any modern tog who’s work gets mistaken for HCB’s has got to be worth a mention right?
Ah! – you just jagged it, for me! Robotic cooking vs “real” cooking! Yes they might end up similar. But I learned a very long time ago that food reflects the time and care that goes into the selection and preparation and assembly and cooking of the various ingredients that go into it. As for pre-prepared and packaged muck – one look at the ingredients is enough to send the lining of my stomach into convulsions.
Wine, too – my father was a winemaker, so I grew up in this stuff – and wine also reflects the time and care etc.
And so, too, with art. And photography. There’s an apocryphal story that circulates, as to how Michelangelo was chosen to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Other artists submitted samples of their work. According to legend, MB simply rocked up at the selection stage, and in front of the selection panel, took a brush and (with it) drew a perfect circle on the canvas in front of him. He won – because he was better than the others.
I don’t know how many “perfect replicas” of his David I’ve seen. But NONE of them had the effect on me that his David had, when I strolled into l’Accademia in Florence to see “the real thing”. I was completely unprepared for what happened next – it totally overwhelmed me. And in one savage kick in the pants, taught me once and forever that “there is no substitute for quality”. Not even a “perfect imitation” (à la robot). Which may very well be “about the same”, but it’s still different! And it’s that “difference” that I chase after – get it right, and you’ve got a winner.
Those are very wise words Pete, and all I can really think of to add is that, for me at least, getting it right means getting what I want and not pandering to what others suggest in terms of composition etc
David is indeed jaw dropping
“getting it right means getting what I want and not pandering to what others suggest”.
Well said – I couldn’t agree more!
[Note for Pascal – I did post that response to Adam’s last comment yesterday, but I’ve not been able to detect it on DS on any of the three web browsers on this computer, so I just posted it again – above]
“. . . getting what I want and not pandering to what others suggest …” Hear! Hear! Hear! can we organise to carry you around on our shoulders, shouting that message? 🙂 After all – it’s YOU that you’re trying to develop, as a photographer. Not some other person who drips “opinions” all over your doormat!
Well I only weigh about 58kg so sure why not!! 🙂
Oh dear – yesterday’s version popped up on the screen as soon as I did it again!
I did approve and reply!
I enjoyed this very much! Your perspective is insightful and refreshing. I recently got an M9, my first digital rangefinder, and I’m going through this process of accepting/embracing its limitations/magic relative to the full-featured CMOS based alternatives as I pursue whatever it is I’m trying to do with my photography (still trying to figure that out). Bracing!
I look forward to reading more of your words.
Thank you very, very much. I’ve written a few articles on the M9 here for DS, but not really gone into the Leica on my own website (which as you note in your subsequent comment is more photography/Fuji X-Pro focused)
You will carve your path with your photography, and the M will be a good companion as it demands that you do you’re own leg work and doesn’t immerse you in driver aids like so many modern cameras.
I’ve nothing against driver aids, I’m glad of them sometimes. But when they hiccup it can be a challenge to know what you did wrong. With the M when a photo comes out technically badly, it’s usually fairly obvious what mistake was made and what the remedial action is, and that I like
One of the primary drivers in choosing (and paying around double for) a 10-year-old beater M9 over a brand new X-Pro2 was the Leica’s lack of options, buttons, and fussiness. What really drove me over the edge was reading the X-Pro2 owner’s manual… page after page of instructions that I’d never be able to remember… compared to Leica’s which is not much more than, “turn camera on, select aperture, adjust exposure as desired, focus, click.”
I’d be delighted to share a few of my images with you. Take a look-see!
(My fledgling website is still a work in progress.)
Some very, very nice shots there Walter
You don’t have to make use of the additional features of the Fuji, and the score with the Fuji is that it still has analogue controls if that’s the way one prefers to work, the Fuji is a bit less direct in the OVF/manual focusing department, but equally it’s more accurate too.
Not everything is more complicated on the Fuji either… I’m not a huge lover of the X-Pro2 ISO dial, but at least you can see what ISO the camera is on when you pick it up. The M9 (for sake of anyone who hasn’t used one) requires that you take the camera from your eye, press and hold down the ISO whilst navigating to the desired value with the other hand (on the X-Pro1 you can effortlessly set the ISO without removing the camera from your eye)
I see on your website that you’re a fan of the X-Pro2. Funny, that’s the camera I almost got. Went for simplicity and “purity” this time around, but man oh man that camera is a fine piece of kit.
I like both the X-Pro variants very much.
I see them as fusion cameras, they’re a bit jack of all and master of none – for example the EVF isn’t as good as the one in other Fujis and the OVF isn’t as good as the one in the Leica – but the Fujis at least have both solutions in the same camera
To answer your “Air Dash” question, Adam, two main things can go wrong with Leica M focusing – myopia, particularly in the over 50’s, and the ever present and only too often encountered Leica M condition of an out of calibration rangefinder which can seemingly be caused by even the most gentle and innocuous zephyr.
Well so far so good with mine and its not been wrapped in cotton wool
My understanding is that calibrating the RF is not beyond the home tinkerer… time will tell I guess
I think blaming a camera for your eyes getting old is perhaps a little much..
The worst that can happen is that we miss a shot or several shots, until we realise and stop down a bit until the RF is calibrated
No blame attached to either ageing eyes or rangefinder “technology”, Adam. Nothing lasts forever, eye muscles weaken and what was once cutting edge technology decades ago is now not and is, at best, inappropriate for ageing eyes and lenses longer than, say, a focal length of 50mm and using the full panoply of available focal lengths on the M is best left to fighter pilots under the age of 30. I simply don’t see the point in indulging in what might best be described, for me, as “hit and miss” focusing when today’s mirrorless cameras do the job so well with magnified and peaking focusing.
Each to their own, however, and long may your enjoyment of the M continue.
Thank you Bob,
Long may my M (and eyes) continue to work properly 🙂
Ironically I think my 90mm has my highest hit rate, probably because I know 90 can be tricky and I try harder! Plus it’s only f2.5 and f4 is the sweet spot