One year with a Leica M: would I make this choice again?
We all know, photographers are never happy and there is no perfect camera out there, because, especially when talking about professional photography, each application requires a different type of camera setup. That’s why it has led me to make a series of reflections that you will read below about the goodness of the choice made exactly a year ago when, due to a strong lack of “Full Frame”, I decided to sell everything about my Fuji kit to make the big and challenging step to the Leica M expensive world.
Why I decided to move to Leica M
It was not a simple choice because I used the Fuji X system for four years and I was completely satisfied. I still think it is one of the best on the market. But there was something missing for me, the full sensor, or full frame. Not only because of the deeper depth and richness of the details, but also because the reduced sensor, APS-C, did not allow me to fully use the vintage lenses that have been adapted, dimming them into their original focal length. So without taking it for long, I bought a Leica M, typ 262, the model without live view and video.
After exactly one year of intense use, would I make this choice again?
If I had to base my judgment on the first three months, I would doubtless say NO!
I think that for anyone, got used to fully automatic reflex systems, switch to a rangefinder system, it’s almost a self-punishment. In the first months of use I came to hate it, everything seemed unnecessarily difficult and tedious, and the out of focus shots were wasted.
But once fully learnt, when the mutation occurs, first of all, mental than physical, in conceiving differently the way photography is done, well, I started toreally love my Leica M. That’s how I felt more and more comfortable and comfortable and the best results were also achieved. I really enjoyed the discretion and quality of both the body and the final photo, and also the excellent battery life. Moreover, its extraordinary ability to operate in full manual with the zone focus technique. A Copernican revolution for me, which led me to look back and understand what really photography is, its essence, basically built by three simple parameters, aperture, speed and iso, with the final picture built in mind.
But I was still missing something…
After the period I was totally in love with my camera, in the next six months, I began to feel something was missing… First of all, I did not have the opportunity to adapt the third-party or vintage lenses because of the absence of the live view. Furthermore, I did not have the wi-fi, allowing me to immediately transfer photos to my mobile and then upload them to my social channels or blog. And last, I missed the opportunity to make proper macro-photography, also due to the for the absence of the live view. Cuold I live without those thing? Mmmm… maybe not…
In short, I missed a certain level of versatility, from my camera
I tried using Leica M for commercial jobs such as still life and food as well as landscapes, but the result was not satisfactory because It was not so simple and easy. On the other hand, I got amazing results when I pair the Leica M with the Summicron Asph 28mm f2,, to tell a story or to capture a time of life on the roa, or for pure street reportages,.
After a year of use, I realised that the Leica M is the perfect system for street photography. Simply the TOP! It is in this field that Leica M reveals itself as impeccable and fun to use and I really love that.. To date, if I have to go out on the street to capture local life, an event or a street market, I have no doubt, I bring with me the Leica M with the Summicron Asph 28mm f2 or. in case, I alternate with the also great Summicron 50mm f2 to make some candid portraits.
Ma per tutto il resto, credo che sia meglio un sistema più completo, moderno,versatile e automatizzato.
My conclusion is that YES, I would buy again the Leica M,
BUT, pairing it with another pro camera for anything other than street.
So I decided that my perfect combination would be Leica M (maybe the M10) for everything that’s street, event, market, while for all commercial and / or studio shooting, still life products, I have to pair with another camera. For this reason, is already about a month, I’m considering all the possibilities, digging into Leica, Sony Alpha and Canon. Yes, the new Sony Alpha 9 is a possibility, but I feel it more like a trending camera/brand that everyone wants to have because it is cool ….
Leica M typ 262 – Why yes
- Dimensions and discretion, perfect for street and travel photography
- High quality of Leica M lenses
- La bellezza dei piani fuori fuoco Leica. Non so spiegalro, ma la resa è molto piacevole e realistica.
- The simplicity and usability of the M system
- Very good battery life (around 600 shots)
- The richness of the DNG files, easy to manage in Lightroom and rich in information especially in the shadows.
- In general, the non-devaluation of Leica material. The tranquillity of an investment that can be recovered even after years.
Leica M typ 262 – Why not
- No Live View
- No Wi-Fi
- No video (not a minus for me, though)
- Can not adapt third-party lenses
- Not possible to do Macro
- In general, The high cost of the Leica world, any modification or change, that is a lens or a small accessory, costs so much.
That said, here’s how I’ll change my equipment
All these thoughts have brought me to a decision:
I must have two professional cameras dedicated to the two specific areas of photography I work in.
- Travel e Street Photography: Leica M 262 / upgrade to Leica M10
- Commercial and Still life (Food): TBD (Sony Alpha/Canon/Leica?)
Surely there will be news short, but in the waiting, I would like to read some of your advice or experiences
A presto, grazie
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As a user of the M240 I totally relate and agree with your comments Sabine. The combination of body and lens weight is pretty tiring. I’m hoping future iterations of the M11 will be lighter, ie magnesium alloy or even carbon fibre top and bottom plates. The form factor and features of the new Leica CL APSC might be a clue.
It could also be the natural partner with the M262.
Dear Nigel, thanks for your opinion. Today, with even more experience I confirm all what I said and, indeed, I now use the great LeicaSL (paired with a Nikon PC-E 85mm tilt&shift)for still life and food and I will replace the M262 with the M10, for travel and street. I find this to be the perfect combo for my photography.
I have just dipped my toe into the Leica world with an M9 and 35mm Summicron. It is good to read your experiences. I think if I were to have only the Leica system I would need to have one that has live view (M10) so that I could use filters properly in landscaping and have accurate framing for those shots where it is critical but as for everything else I am happy with my choice and it has replaced my X-Pro1s. I have kept an XT2 and my GFX for those situations that need the more precise functionality but in the future an M10 might replace the XT2.
Dear Paul, thanks for your comment!
I also came from Fuji, and I had the same need as you, concerning the live view. Indeed,I bought the Leica SL (fantastic camera) and I’m planning aswell to sell my Leica M262 and get the M10.