I've written several blog posts already about me using this camera when I head out on my photo walks, so I wanted to share some photos of the camera itself. I picked this up a little over a year ago. I had tried the Leica IIC and IIIF, which are earlier models and less costly. I wanted to try out looking through a viewfinder and how Rangefinders were in practice. I found several on KEH.com and had a couple at one point. I was fascinated by looking at the world via a small viewfinder set to the side, and not in the middle like on most cameras. Given that these are very old cameras I was also noticing the good build quality and everything was just so simple. After a few months using those I started to feel very comfortable with them. I also found that the 50mm perspective seemed so comfortable to me.
I read a lot of blogs and watched a lot of Youtube videos as well at this time. Of course the photography world tells you that Leica is awesome and that for everyday photos it really is top notch. Having used KEH in the past I decided to hunt down a M3. The M2, M4 and M6 are also really popular, but the M3 has a larger viewfinder and is meant to be used with a 50mm lens. The price was the biggest hang up. Also, without an adapter I wouldn't be able to use the lenses I had gotten for the Leica II as they weren't compatible. Another big part of the allure is the range of awesome lenses available for the more modern Leica cameras. That's a separate topic, but I opted for the Voigtlander Nokton 50mm 1.5. The reviews were glowing and it was almost the third of what a Leica lens would cost.
I do need to mention that I have a couple Nikon SLRs and a Pentax K1000. All these I used in the beginning to get a good feel for shooting on film. Once I felt really comfortable with these I ventured into Rangefinders. Also, I wanted to make sure that I'd stick to it.
I also found a lab in the Springfield area that still developed film within an hour. Yes, it was a long trip from Worcester, but I felt it was worth it for the reasonable price and the quick turnaround. Many of my early rolls were just terrible as I didn't quite understand how film reacted in different lighting conditions. But, what it did do was get me out shooting and excited to then see the final photos later. That is something that I'd begun to get bored with digital. If I got some bad photos it would sometimes kill the mood and I'd head back early or delay my next outing. With film I had no clue if they were bad until I got them back from the lab so I kept up my curiosity in the scenes unfolding in front of me.
Yes this camera is expensive and the lens is modern so you won't get that great vintage look, but I've been super pleased with the combination. Part of me thinks eventually I might pick up a nice Leica 50mm lens, but I'm definitely not in a rush.
I've compared my photos with my Nikon vs my Leica and I prefer the Leica every time. I think its the modern rendering of the lens, but I also noticed that I much preferred looking through the Leica and fiddling with it. My Leica has no light meter. This was another area where I was worried about the money spent, but it has really shifted my brain. I actually enjoy not having the distraction or having to respond to the meter, but myself dictating what I'm going to do. I never see dust through the viewfinder or other spots as its independent of the lens. The simplicity is just so awesome. Its like removing layers of complexity and letting you focus only on the scene in front of you. It very quickly became a question of which camera I preferred to use. And every time it was the Leica.
Forget the name for a second. You pick it up and look through the finder and its just so clean. You see the frame lines which guide you and the focusing patch and thats it. Its like looking through a window into the world. No settings, or menus, or buttons, or info about the scene, just look and really 'see'. Then you click the shutter which is quiet, but satisfying and then you advance the film. Super smooth action and then you're on to the next.
ALMOST MADE A MISTAKE
Not sure if you noticed from the photo above, but that is an Ebay listing gallery. I've listed it at least three times, at a high price, and it hasn't sold. This has to do with the practicality of having an expensive camera and lens and having to feed it with expensive film in a digital age. I would tell myself that I could sell it and buy another Fuji camera and maybe a lens. I thought about how it has no meter, how my Nikon feels like 80% of the same camera, and how the camera doesn't matter as much as the lens. In those moments of doubt I convince myself to sell it. Everyone says the M6 is the bees knees, maybe I should buy that one and it has a light meter. I could sell this and help fund that. But, the viewfinder would be smaller at my preferred 50mm FOV and would it really be an improvement?
In the end I have to stop myself from doing something so crazy. Although this is the first M camera ever made, is very old, it is near perfect. So many others have come after it, but it stands unique in many ways and is clearly built to last.
My goal is to maybe convert to film for all of my photography, but I'm still afraid to let go of the convenience of digital for many reasons and what would my clients say?
This year has also had me thinking about personal projects and this is my camera choice. I have many ideas and plans for 2023 and I'm excited to put more rolls of film in this camera. I'll make sure to post soon on some of these projects, but I'm keeping this camera for sure.
I'm really glad I didn't make this mistake.