Auf Wiedersehen, Leica

Honestly, I had never imagined that this day will come, and yet it came to me all of a sudden. The day when I decided to pack it back into its box and say “Auf Wiedersehen” (or goodbye) to it… the day my Leica M-P Typ 240 leaves me and move on to its new owner.

This is the camera that was most hated by the Leica fans. Bulky, heavy, it shoot video, it uses EVF… everything that’s “not Leica” present here, in the iconic body of a Leica M rangefinder. Despite that, I believe this camera is a very important milestone in Leica M history. It marked the transition of a tradition rangefinder camera to a modern one, it served Leica well as a platform to test out a few ideas (like the cost down version of Typ 262, the screen-less M-D and so on) and not to mentioned all the cash cow limited edition Leica managed to release along the years. Without all these, I would argue that the M10 will not be as great of a camera as it is today.

funny bunny photography

“But why?” That’s the question I got from everyone. Nothing major, really. It’s just that I’m currently undergoing some self reflection phase (which I often do once in a while) and decided to make some tweaks and changes to things in my life. Just like with my film photography, I was thinking about having a short break from the M-P as well, at least for now. I had shot some pictures with this camera that I really loved, and despite all the complaints I have on the M-P and Leica Singapore’s customer service, I still enjoyed every moments and frustrations I endured with it. It’s something that I’ll cherish as a part of my journey in photography for the days to come.

So after selling my M-P off, what’s next? M-10P? Well, I don’t know. At least for the short term, it’s unlikely. I still enjoy shooting with rangefinder camera, that’s for sure. Will I ever get back to owning a Leica M? Probably, but no one knows what the future lies. So we’ll just have to wait and see. But for now, I’m only left with a Fujifilm X100F camera with the two conversion lenses. Maybe this will be my pure setup for next year? Or maybe I will buy something else since the market is so on fire with full frame mirrorless camera nowadays? Well, we’ll just have to wait and see. Till then.

It’s been a year…

Yup. It’s been a year since the last time I actually touch my Leica M camera. Did I lost my love to it? Well, not really. I bet I will still enjoy using one when I pick it up. Life has been busy and fast paced that I don’t really have time to “slow down” myself. I had been using mainly my Fujifilm X100F for the past one year. Is it a better camera? Well, certainly not. There are so many shortfalls on this camera that drove me nuts at times, but then again, as you worked around its limitations, you will still be able to live with it. Each camera has their pros and cons to begin with.

So why am I not using it more often? For the things I shot for the past one year, they are mainly activities and events surrounding my study, which either was fast paced or require the use of flash. Can a Leica M shoot fast pace subject? Of course it can. Can a Leica M shoot with flash? Of course it can. On the first point, I would probably put the blame on myself for not being able to use the camera fluently. On the second point, I’m still new to using flash, and I don’t think I can juggle between focusing, composing and setting up flash at the same time.

There are limitations on me, and certainly there are limitations as well on the camera. But when it comes to making a decision on which camera to use, I had decided to walk the easier path: go with automation. For my personal stuff I can afford to make mistakes and not getting the shot, but for things that I need to deliver, I will have to use something that I’m more comfortable with in delivering the required result, and in this case, I have chosen to use my X100F over my M.

And then I started to ponder again whether I should still keep my Leica M. For me, what I enjoyed the most is the experience of shooting with a rangefinder, not a Leica. Perhaps I should just use my Zeiss Ikon when I wanted to fiddle with rangefinder camera. But that brings up another question to ponder… should I still continue to shoot film? I sold off my Fujifilm GW690III Medium Format Film camera recently, I had enough fun with medium format, and the problem dealing with medium format film was a pain that overweights the joy of using one. I’ll talk about this more in a separate post.

I still has an affection to analogue photography. I’ll continue to shoot film for the time being, but as my favourite films are being axed from the production one after another, I may stop shooting film eventually. As for my Leica M? I’ll probably need to pick it up for a spin again someday and asked myself what to do next. Till then.

The story behind the picture: Tokyo Tower

During my trip to Tokyo in March 2016, I wanted to capture the Tokyo skyline under sunset. I planned for a few possible spots, and I decided to try out shooting from Tokyo City View at Roppongi Hills. I dropped by the viewing deck early as I wasn’t familiar with the area and would like to do some scouting before deciding where to shoot.

After looking around, I decided on my composition and planted my tripod and camera, getting everything ready and setup for the shot. For this shot I’m mounting my Leica M-P Typ 240 with Leica Super-Elmar-M 21mm f/3.4 ASPH. No filter was used as I will be pressing the lens as close to the window as possible in order to reduce the reflection and glare. Additional dark cloth was used to cover the lens to ensure all lights were cut out from reflecting on the window.

The sky wasn’t promising being cloudy and overcast, but I’ll just wait and hope for the best. While waiting for sun to set, another young man came and sat beside me with his camera and tripod as well. I gave him a smile and leave up some space for him. After being quiet for awhile, the young man said to me: “This is probably the first time I saw a Leica mounted on a tripod.”

We laughed about it badly. Thereafter, we started chatting while waiting for the sun to set. He came from Thailand and he mentioned that he was surprised that a lot of Thais travel to Japan. We talked about photography as well, and after awhile, another guy stopped by with his camera and tripod and seated right beside us. He’s Japanese, and he asked us in Japanese: “Are you guys coming for the diamond light up of Tokyo Tower as well?”

The Thai was puzzled as he couldn’t understand Japanese. I do understand what he said, but was trying hard to figure out what is “diamond light up”. The Japanese man then show us the Tokyo Tower website on his phone, with details on the light up for tonight and when the lights will come up and so on. Apparently, that day was 14 of March, which was “White Day” or “White Valentines Day”. It’s widely celebrated in Japan, but not in my home country. And on that day, there will be a special “diamond light up” on Tokyo Tower instead of the usual one.

The three of us started chatting while waiting. The Japanese said that he came specifically for the special light up, and we talked a bit about where to shoot, what to eat as well. I’m acting as a translator in between, it was really fun chatting with someone unknown while traveling aboard. You get to see their views, and we get to share our interest in photography together. When the sun set and lights up, everyone got busy and started shooting.

It’s very interesting to talk to people from different nationalities, face to face about photography, about traveling. Although we do not know each other, but the common interest between us has managed to connect us together at that point of time. Lovely indeed, and when I think back on that moment, I still feel a bit of warmth in my heart. It’s a memory that I will cherish for years to come.

Two Years Shooting With Rangefinder Camera

Untitled (37)-37It’s been two years since I made a switch from my Fujifilm X-series mirrorless to Leica M rangefinder camera. Within the short two years of time, I started off by trying out on the Leica M9-P and subsequently decided to go for the Leica M-P Typ 240 as my main camera system. This is followed by the addition of Zeiss Ikon, Hasselblad Xpan and Fujifilm GW690III, where all of them are rangefinder cameras.

Any regrets? Well, there were of course moments of rant, but all in all I’m fairly happy with what I can achieve with these cameras and the shooting experience they provide. Using a rangefinder and manual focusing is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, just like not everyone can appreciate driving a vintage or manual car. Yes I do missed out some moments, I do screwed things up occasionally and ruin my shots, but that just proven to myself that my skills are still lacking and needs to be improved further. I have nothing but myself to blame if I get things wrong.

Throughout the two years, I really learned a lot, and I do saw the rooms for further improvement, though my growth process is somewhat slow. Well, it’s okay, I shouldn’t stress myself up, end of the day it’s my hobby and it should be enjoyable rather than stressful. I’ll try my best to stay focus and stick to what I have now. I want to spend more time improving my skills before I make the next change. What will my next change be? When will it happen? I wonder. For now, I’ll just indulge myself in using my rangefinder camera to shoot and create more pictures that I’ll be proud of. Till then.

Leica M goes on holiday

The title is a little misleading, but you will get what I mean as you read on. I’m back from my holiday in Japan for around 10 days, travelling through a few locations, utilizing the JR Pass. I spent a few days in Tokyo before flying off from Haneda Airport, and I dropped by at Leica Ginza Salon to send in my friend’s Leica M for rangefinder calibration. The calibration took about 1-2 hours to complete, and it only cost 3,240 yen (tax included), which in my opinion is a very reasonable price (in fact it’s cheap by Leica’s standard).

I also dropped my M for general cleaning and checking of rangefinder at the same time, if there’s any problem I’ll get them fixed as well. So after dropping both cameras at the store, I went off searching for lunch and shopped around that area. It’s Ginza, you get all sorts of funky trendy shops and not to mention some famous camera shops around the corner. Later on, I just pop back to the store, flipped through some photography books and both cameras were serviced. It only took them 3 hours in total for both cameras.

Based on my understanding, general checking and cleaning of sensor usually took about 1 hour, while rangefinder calibration may goes up to 2 hours. Either way, it’s considered a very quick turnaround time for me and I’m very pleased with their services.

So here’s the thing: in Singapore, any rangefinder calibration of Leica M camera can only be done by sending your camera back to Germany. Apparently they can’t do it locally because the lack of tools. At least that’s what I was being told. I’m not sure how much it will cost to send in the camera for rangefinder calibration, but I would assume it will not be as cheap as 3,240 yen. Furthermore, it will take you months (usually 3 months based on average feedback) for your camera to travel for holiday in Germany while you are still stuck at home. Sensor cleaning turnaround times will depends, fastest I have experienced so far is 2 days, but I do heard before some cases of minor cleaning can be done on the spot.

So, that brings us to my point. Instead of letting my M goes on holiday for 3 months, why not I go on holiday myself to Japan instead? At anytime I would rather go to Japan, send in my camera and get it serviced, and then I can start using it on the spot in Japan. At the very least I get to enjoy with my camera, but not leaving it to be attended by some unknown person who just anyhow pack it and deliver it back to Germany.

I wonder when will Leica Singapore be improving on their service level. Anyway, not putting much hope on them either. I’m more than willing to spend my time and money in Leica Japan instead. For those of you who are facing similar problem, do consider to check out their services in Leica Ginza Salon. Till then.