The Cult Of Leica M


I have been shooting with Leica M recently. I am still trying my best to learn to utilize this camera fully. The more I shoot with the camera, the more I’ve been thinking about what’s so attractive about it that keeps me shooting, and keeping many other Leica user shooting with such a camera in the year of 2015.

I think part of the reason is because this camera is simply a pure photography tool, nothing more and nothing less. You get to control the three key elements to exposure, and you focus your lens manually. If the photo turns out bad, it’s all your fault but not the camera’s. You are in full control to create the picture you want. This may not be something that everyone used to, and that’s part of the reason why some people dismissed a Leica rangefinder. They prefer to have automation in assisting their photography.

I don’t think there’s a debate in either manual focus or auto focus is better. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. The end of the day, it boils down to which method you prefer to shoot with, how much control you want to be in, how much you are willing to rely on the automation system. Same goes to the metering and exposure. However, with the release of Leica M Type 240, Leica has brought in more technologies to improve the user experience, one great advantage will the the availability of live view and the ability to use optional EVF instead.

There are people who comment that Leica camera is very discreet, people don’t notice you, you are more connected to the subject and etc. Sad to say I don’t feel any of those at the moment. Maybe they are over exaggerating, or maybe I just yet to experience it myself. Rather, I find myself focus more in creating the image itself, something I have shared before this. It slows you down and allow you to think through before hitting the shutter. In fact I find myself shooting lesser, not in terms of frequency, but in terms of output quantity. This is a good thing, where I am forced to improve in terms of quality, and my workflow has become much shorten and simpler.

Of course the experience of using a rangefinder is very much different compared to using other camera system. And this is a love it or hate it kind of relation. Rangefinder’s focusing with parallax error is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea. You don really get the “what you see is what you get” kind of feeling as there’s only frame line approximation. Aside from that, I’m very much inclined towards rangefinder’s body and design versus SLR. I feel more comfortable with them. That’s why I ended up getting the Fujifilm X-E2, and subsequently the X-Pro1 and then the Leica M series.

To sum it all up, I agree that there are many limitations imposed by a Leica M rangefinder. However, these limitations are the very reason why I like this camera. At times, people need to get out of their comfort zone, get cornered to the edge of the cliff in order to have a breakthrough. We shall see what will happen in years to come, for now I’m happy shooting with my Leica M rangefinder. Till then, happy shooting 🙂

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