As time goes by...


Ein Jahr mit Leica

Letztes Jahr am 17. März wurde meine Leica M9 ausgeliefert. Es kommt mir länger vor. Denn in diesem Jahr habe ich durch die Beschäftigung mit vielen Aspekten der Messsucherfotografie viel dazu gelernt. Dabei muss ich wirklich sagen, dass in dieser Hinsicht das Internet ein Segen ist. Ja natürlich, es gibt auch die „dunkle Seite der Macht“, aber noch nie vorher konnte Wissen so leicht gefunden und weitergegeben werden.

Ich lerne von den Profis und versuche es für mich umzusetzen. Es ist einfach schön, dass sie ihre Erfahrungen so bereitwillig weitergeben.

Etwas zwiespältig ist mein Verhältnis zu Foren. Im Fotobereich aber gibt es auch hier eine enorme Ansammlung von Wissen. Auf (fast) jede Frage findet sich eine Antwort. Man muss aber damit rechnen, dass nicht eindeutige Inhalte oder gar Fragen des Geschmacks bis zur Unkenntlichkeit zerredet werden (Anmerkung: Auch eindeutige Inhalte können bis zur Unkenntlichkeit zerredet werden...)

Klar, dass ich gelegentlich im „Leica-Forum“ gestöbert habe und auch den einen oder anderen Beitrag schrieb. Dabei hielt ich mich allerdings an das englischsprachige (internationale) Forum.

Es ist schön, sich mit Kollegen in Kanada, Südafrika, Australien oder Finnland (Kurz: Der ganzen Welt) auszutauschen und dabei festzustellen, dass man in bestimmten Dingen völlig einer Meinung ist. Soviel zur Völkerverständigung.

Jedenfalls habe ich gerade einen längeren bebilderten Beitrag über „Mein Jahr mit Leica“ geschrieben, der sehr positive Reaktionen aus allen Teilen des Erdballs erzeugte, offenbar, weil sich viele andere in meiner Beschreibung meines Verhältnisses zur Messsucherfotografie wiedererkannten (egal, ob sie in New Jersey oder Johannesburg leben). Bestimmte Dinge verbinden alle, die einmal diese Richtung einschlagen.


Eines meiner ersten Bilder letztes Jahr

Leica M9, 50mm Summicron  bei f/2.0  1/1000sec   ISO 160

Mal sehen, was das nächste Jahr so bringt...

hier ein paar Bilder aus dem letzten Jahr, willkürlich zusammengestellt:

„Über den Wolken“ (Südtirol)

Leica M9, 50mm Summilux asph.  bei f/5.6   1/3000sec   ISO 160

Jedenfalls möchte ich auch hier dieses „Essay“ wiedergeben, denn es ist noch einmal eine Zusammenfassung von  Dingen, die ich an verschiedenen Stellen in diesem Blog geäussert habe.

Es ist in Englisch verfasst, ohne Anspruch auf sprachliche Perfektion, aber ich halte es für akzeptabel.

Wer möchte, kann durch diesen direkten Link den Thread anschauen. Die eingestellten Bilder kann man aber nur sehen, wenn man registrierter Benutzer ist.

My Year with Leica

Let me first give a warning to all those who visit this forum merely to complain about all things Leica...this post will sent you retching, because it’s some kind of love-story. Read on at your own peril!

For the others I would like to share my impressions after my first year with a Leica M9.

More than a year ago I became more and more curious about this camera when it was repeatedly mentioned and appreciated by Photographers on various web-sites whose impartiality  and power of judgement I trusted. I looked quite thoroughly into things concerning rangefinder-photography and decided after a while that it might suit me.

Up till that time I had worked my way up (as an amateur would do) through a number of different cameras (SLR’s) of oriental brands, first analog, then digital. My current weapon of choice then was the Eos 5D II, I hasten to add that I still hold it in the highest esteem.

I placed my order for an M9 in the first days of march a year ago. As concerning lenses, I found a used Summicron 50mm and a Summicron 28mm asph., bought a new 21mm Elmarit and, to get some reach, a 90mm Summarit. Quite an array of lenses for someone without any experience with rangefinders, but I was fairly sure of myself.

On the 17th of march the camera was delivered and unpacking was (as you probably know) a celebration.

Call me a hopeless romantic, but there was some special feeling when I touched it the first time. I am also a dedicated player of the flute (traverso) since many years and I know a thing or two about musical instruments. The camera generated a feeling similar to handling a very well-made musical instrument. At least for me. As regarding the M9 (and even more the M2 I own now for reasons I shall explain later), it still gives me pleasure simply to touch it. But before the critics come out of the woodwork screaming “We knew it! A bunch of showcase-viewers and gravure-hunters all those Leica-Affecionados!” I assure you: The ultimate pleasure is using it!

It was a steep learning-curve but it was also fun. Regarding IQ, I was simply blown away.

I was used to shooting Canon-L-Lenses, those are no comparison. To be fair, there are of course differences depending which L-lens you choose to compare. The quality-range in the L-class-lenses is in a way unacceptable, given the fact that it’s meant to be high-end.

But then...there’s some more to it than just IQ. The rendering, the use of lenses wide open, perhaps (I don’t know) the sensor itself. I heard it often elsewhere, but I think it’s true: Images appear less digital than those of oriental brands.

I committed myself to the “rangefinder-style” of taking pictures and found it rewarding. I sincerely believe that I became a better photographer through that. Please note: I don’t mean this follows automatically with the purchase of a Leica, as some critics might insinuate, thus adding to the cliché of the conceited Leica-owner (indeed, I knew nothing of  the existing resentment regarding Leica since well after I owned myself one when I came perchance upon a website where all sorts of ridiculous lies and prejudices were traded, needless to say I was shocked).

But in the real world I encountered only positive reactions, you all know them: “Oh, is this genuine old? Cute camera!” Most people never take notice at all. And by the way, it’s peculiar: Hardly anyone would grudge me driving a big sports-car, but a camera for a fraction of the price (of such a car) generates hostility in certain people, strange...

On various occasions I met professionals, all knew the camera for what it was and were appreciative of it (I know what you are thinking: “Now isn’t that heart-warming...”, but what I want to express is that any serious photographer, pro or amateur, should of course be tolerant about the specifics of rangefinder-photography, even if he wouldn‘t choose it for himself).

I’m truly thankful to many members of this forum giving valuable advice regarding all aspects of shooting with an M.

So I used the camera and embraced the so called “limitations”. Did I ever miss a zoom? The answer is obvious. Getting used to manual focus? Easy. Sometimes I swore under my breath when I couldn’t focus on a too fast moving object, but did I loose important pictures? Not that I know of. And after a while you’re getting better with such things. One thing I know for sure: With my 5D (and before) I had definitely more images slightly off-focus.

I live in a small town in East-Westfalia and for some time now  I’m well known as amateur-photographer due to the fact that every year I publish a landscape-calendar of our vicinity, each edition with a growing number of copies.The proceeds go to my church-congregation. But there’s much more than landscape: People here  are used to see me with a camera all over the town documenting all sorts of events, fairs, festivities, concerts and so on. I found the M9 an invaluable tool for taking atmospheric pictures, especially in low light  situations (after some months I was proud owner of a 50 and a 35mm Summilux). We have two local newspapers and both used more than once my images for coverage of local events.

Please do not think now that I’m overly conceited about my skills, which I consider moderate. Others, especially in this forum, humbled me solely by displaying their pictures. But perhaps you know the proverb “inter caecos monoculus rex” (among the blind is the one-eyed king) and this applies in a way to me.

I always loved photographing people but the M9 with a wide open lens gives a rendering I simply couldn’t achieve before. I also learned that color is often redundant.

Of course I love to photograph my family, especially our holidays. Sometimes I visit a large city, for example Berlin, and then I relish in street-photography, for this is in my little town impossible (every time I try it I evoke comments like “Hey, taking photos again, doc? Be sure to sent me a copy...).

So I took literally thousands of pictures and the M9 never failed me. That is to say both in achieving my goal taking a picture appropriate to the given situation as in a technical sense, meaning no issues with hard-or software of the camera. The camera had to follow everywhere and I couldn’t spare it some hardships. Despite my “tender feelings” for the device I couldn’t treat it had to come with me in a little canoe through the Gorges de’l Ardèche or dangle from my back climbing a mountain. It got bumped around in the rucksack while riding my racing- or mountain-bike. I took care not to get it outright wet  but it had to endure some moisture. Low and high temperatures caused no issues. Now it begins to show that “brassy” look around the edges.

Once I had an obvious  backfocus-problem with a new 75mm Apo-Summicron, but this was fixed in no time by CS in Solms. A rangefinder is a mechanical device, for heavens sake! It may need adjustment occasionally.

I was at first irritated (and some are more than that) about the amount of dirt gathering on the sensor. It was somehow more than I was used to by my former cameras. But after some short contemplating I decided to clean the sensor myself. Contrary to the opinion of some this is no surgery of the open heart...

So I clean it when necessary with simple tools: Air blower, sensor-clean products do the job perfectly for me. If need be, I do it in five minutes. End of story.

That’s really all I can say about technical problems.

The year went on and I became curious about the history of the M9, for clearly it is a product of some evolution. I soon discovered that analog photography is alive and kickin’, especially with Leica-M’s but, as I learned here as well, with medium-format cameras of certain brands also.

Only a few weeks ago I visited my trusted Leica-Dealer and he had a well-preserved M2 and M3. I couldn’t resist. Took them both...and for good measure a “fitting” Elmar 50mm...

Since then I indulge in the joys (and hardships) of shooting analog in addition to digital. And my oh my, you really get to appreciate the blessings of a pure digital workflow. But anyway, it’s fun to expose and develop a roll of b/w-film occasionally. Recently I took a Kodak Ektachrome and found the color very nice. For landscape I shall experiment with a Fuji Velvia (surprise, surprise). I call the whole affair “the re-invention of slowness”. But on the other hand, tiresome as it is to get your results, every single picture that turns out well is highly estimated.

So, at least for the time being I’m content with the state of affairs. I sold my 5D II after half a year when I realized that I never touched it since the M9 arrived. No hard feelings, a very good camera. As a pro, I would have kept it. I didn’t burn my bridges though, Canon-glass rests in the cupboard. But so far no desire to turn back, I was put to the test when the 5D III appeared. I felt not the slightest urge to own one.

But the coming M10 is quite another story...



Cello-Konzert  (analoges Bild, eingescannt vom Negativ mit Nikon Coolscan V ED)

Leica M2, 50mm Summilux asph.  bei f/1.4   1/60sec   Kodak Tri-X 400

Dieser Film ist ein klassischer, recht grobkörniger Reportagefilm. Aber gerade das Korn verleiht den Bildern ausgesprochen Charakter.

Tatsächlich gab jemand im Forum mal seinem Unverständnis darüber Ausdruck, wie es sein könne, dass Fotografen mit so hochauflösenden Objektiven einen Film wählen, der eben diese Auflösung zunichte macht.

Der hat auf jeden Fall noch nicht verstanden, dass Auflösung und künstlerische Wirkung eines Bildes nichts miteinander zu Tun haben...

Grafitti (analoges Bild, eingescannt vom Negativ mit Nikon Coolscan V ED)

Leica M2, 50mm Elmar bei f/5.6  1/250sec  Ektar 100

Die Farbe des Ektar erinnert mich irgendwie an den Stil der 60er Jahre,

besonders im nächsten Bild.

Kaffeezeit beim Frühlingsmarkt in der Kulturfabrik (analoges Bild, eingescannt vom Negativ mit Nikon Coolscan V ED)

Leica M2, 35mm Summilux bei f/1.4  1/60sec  Ektar 100

Ein sehr ähnliches Bild habe ich schon mal beim Lichtermarkt gemacht. Dieses hier aber lebt durch das Farbspektrum des Filmes.

Montag, 19. März  2012