Slight Change of Course

Leica M262 image

I haven’t written anything lately and that’s reflected in my photography. I think it has a lot to do with coming off my project 365. Doing a year long project took a lot out of me in a creative sense and it also squashed my motivation to take photographs.

Taking a photo a day isn’t a big deal in itself. Heck, almost anyone can do it if they’re willing to devote the time and effort. But for anyone that sets a high bar for themselves, a meaningful and worthwhile photograph every day is stressful and difficult. I am pretty happy if I get one or two favorite images from a 36 exposure roll of film and I usually never shot a full roll in one day.

Coming off the 365 and taking some time off created space to reevaluate the direction in my photography both creatively and with the tools I use. I know, it always seems to work back to the gear. Trust me, gear is the last thing I want to be focused on. But, to a degree, gear does drive what I shoot so I need to make sure the tools support the direction I want to take.

My primary focus will continue to be on film. I love shooting film even if it is more work and requires a lot more patience and dare I say it, requires more skill to get the results I want. But I also occasionally shoot with a digital camera. Since mid 2016, I’ve had a micro four thirds camera. I never intended to go that route but suffice it to say, I was offered a deal I couldn’t say no to. From the purchase of the body I got sucked into a proverbial black hole and thought I needed to get more lenses to go with it. I put way more time and resources into digital than I should have to the extent it became completely distracting to my love of film. I need to simplify in order to focus.

So, last week I sold all of my micro four thirds gear including the lenses. I also found that having too much film gear was confusing as well so I sold my Leica M2, a great camera but I have a 35mm film camera that I love to use, is more than adequate and reliable. I purchased the M2 thinking I needed to have an extra body to shoot color when my other camera was loaded with black and white. Honestly, that was never an issue for me, I typically only carry one camera at a time and I lean towards black and white. I also sold the Olympus XA. It’a a great little carry around camera but it wasn’t for me.

So now I have one 35mm camera…simpler!

Problem solved…well not quite. I still need (want) a digital camera for some situations. I could easily get sucked back into the quandry I had with micro four thirds and buy into any another interchangeable lens system. I know if I buy into another system that offers a ton of lens choices I’m going to go back to “needing” a collection of lenses to see me through every photographic situation I could ever imagine. I would need everything from a wide angle to a telephoto picking my pocket for hundreds and perhaps thousands of dollars to cover a full set of possibilities. One thing I’ve learned in film photography is that I can work within limitations. In fact, by being constrained I believe as photographers we naturally become more creative.

Those who know me and have followed me know how much I loved my Fuji X100 and later on my X100s. These little cameras are 35mm equivalents that deliver amazing results. I created some of my favorite images on those cameras. But I sold both them both. I thought hard about getting the new Fujifilm X100F and also was really tempted by the Leica Q. Both are awesome cameras albeit at opposite ends of affordability. Both cameras come with fixed focal length lenses. The Fuji has a 35mm equivalent focal length and the Leica Q is an even wider full frame option at 28mm.

Being a Leica film shooter, I finally decided on an M262. The Leica M10 looks like an amazing camera but it’s over two grand more than what I can get a new M262 for. So I decided to go all in with Leica and bought a new 262. I have two 50mm lens for my Leica, a Summicron and a Zeiss f/1.5. These are my go to lenses. I also just bought a 35mm Summarit f/2.4. So, basically I am all in with Leica for film and digital. I like the idea of the consistency of a rangefinder for both film and digital. They both operate the same way making it much easier going from film to digital. The 262 is a stripped down 240, no video, no live view and no option for an electronic view finder. The menus are super simple, only one page for setting and two pages for shooting options. The live view button has been replaced by a white balance button which I loved to use on my M9-P before I sold it. I always carry a white balance card with me. It’s been almost four years since I sold the M9 with many moments of regret. It’s going to be fun to have an option to shoot film or digital with a Leica rangefinder.

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