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Bill Pierce - Leica M photog and author

 

“Our autobiography is written in our contact sheets,  and our opinion of the world in our selects”  

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Bill Pierce is one of the most successful Leica photographers and authors ever. I initially "met" Bill in the wonderful 1973 15th edition Leica Manual (the one with the M5 on the cover). I kept reading and re-reading his four chapters, continually amazed at his knoweldge and ability, thinking "if I only knew a small part of what this guy knows... wow."  I looked foward to his monthly columns in Camera 35 and devoured them like a starving man.  Bill has worked as a photojournalist  for 25 years, keyword: WORK.  Many photogs dream of the professional photographer's  life that Bill has earned and enjoyed.  Probably Bill's most famous pic is Nixon departing the White House for the last time, victory signs still waving. 

 

Bill  has been published in many major magazines, including  Time, Life, Newsweek, U.S. News, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, New York Magazine, Stern, L'Express and Paris Match.  :His published books include  The Leica Manual,  War Torn, Survivors and Victims in the Late 20th Century, Homeless in America,  Human Rights in China,  Children of War.  Add to that numerous exhibitions at major galleries and museums.  Magazine contributions include  Popular Photography,  Camera 35, Leica Manual,  Photo District News, the Encyclopedia of Brittanica, the Digital Journalist, and now RFF.  Major awards include Leica Medal of Excellence, Overseas Press Club's Oliver Rebbot Award for Best Photojournalism from Abroad,  and the World Press Photo's Budapest Award. Perhaps an ever bigger award is Tom Abrahamsson's comment: "If you want to know Rodinal, ask Bill."

 

I met Bill in person through our mutual friend Tom Abrahamsson.  In person his insight and comments are every bit as interesting and engaging as his writing.  He is a great guy who really KNOWS photography.  I am happy to say he has generously agreed to host this forum at RFF  From time to time Bill will bring up topics, but you are also invited to ask questions.  Sit down and enjoy the ride!

 


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An expensive decision
Old 05-21-2018   #1
Bill Pierce
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An expensive decision

Erwin Puts has an interesting piece on his blog. In a world flooded with digital snapshots he asks why do we photograph and (to his readers) why do we take pictures with a Leica. It’s an interesting question. We already know that a lot of us here on the rangefinder forum are using other cameras than rangefinders. When it was first introduced, the Leica changed photography. When Canon, Nikon, Zeiss and Leica were all making rangefinders, there are strong arguments that the best built and engineered was the Leica. But today, especially for digital users rather than film, we have to ask not only does an extremely expensive rangefinder camera make sense, but does a rangefinder makes sense. There’s no clear cut answer. But Puts is presenting what is the beginning of an interesting thought process. I know it’s stupid, but somedays I want a new Leica M10 and other days I don’t. I would love for you to read the Puts article and give me your thoughts. I’m vacillating on what at least can be called an expensive decision. Here’s the link.

https://photo.imx.nl/blog/files/2f4b...f38b32-99.html
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Old 05-21-2018   #2
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The Leica M makes more sense to me than ever.
Well perhaps the newer cameras makes less sense than ever.
I only ever fiddle with the shutter speed when the light changes and the aperture when it's getting dark.

I'd be a happy camper using a Leika made in China built to the same standards for half the price.

The M9 has never been so relevant to me before.
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Old 05-21-2018   #3
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I often think of owning a Leica M10. 'Course I also sometimes dream of owning a Rolleiflex TLR or a Hasselblad. Owning pieces of the photographic legacy is attractive. Then I come back to the reality that my eyes are now 70 years old and focusing a manual lens is more guesswork than precision work.

I agree with Puts that computers and electronics have leveled the field. Today I see photography as being less dependent on the camera than ever before. We enjoy debating the merits of one camera over another and the finer points of different brands of lenses. But great photography is being done with everything. That's reality too.
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Old 05-21-2018   #4
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Asking questions like this is like asking why people are driving Jags and Landies.
Sure they are not for uber drivers and pizza delivery.

I can't speak for others, just for myself. I'm not moneymaker on photos, I learned how to take pictures with FED-2 and film M is the same but just every way better, except service. My pictures just comes naturally. Nothing is in the way. No extra (useless) dials, no crapload of menus.

And then nobody like Leica could handle lens made in fifties or even thirties on digital M. And digital M is nothing different from film M.
Do tell me which manufacturer has film and digital camera exactly the same and old lenses supported? Nikon, I guess, but I can't handle SLRs and have it simply as pleasure.
Yes, old Nikon is like classic Toyota. It is old LandCruiser vs new Range Rover. One is driven by militants and by those who could die if it brakes in the middle on nowhere, others are Starbucks dwelvers and snobs cousine crawlers. And I think life of those who has to drive LandCruisers sucks. I'd rather run on bicycle (FED-2).

Yet, "Expensive" is wrong code to apply. M8 is not expensive now and it will works perfectly with 7 (seven) dollars 28 2.8 Industar-69 lens. M9(M-E) and even M240 are not terribly expensive and works perfectly with 9 (nine) dollars Industar-61 lens and well under 100 dollars Jupiter-12 and not very expensive Orion-15 (28mm).

Many claims how Sony is great for old lenses, but every time I check old RF lenses on Sony, I'm far from to be impressed. In fact, then I look how lens performs on digital body I exclude Sony from search. And FujiNoFilm is 1.5 cropper... Personally, I'm not impressed by their cameras then I see them. I'd rather repaint my M-E buttons letters .

Aslo, personally, it is very hard to find alternative to film and digital M once you get used to them...
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Old 05-21-2018   #5
PaulCooper
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It's all in the lenses. To me it doesn't make sense to put a mediocre lens on Leica body. However, the Leica body leaves a lot to be desired in terms of performance...
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Old 05-21-2018   #6
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I think Leica M's strengths (simplicity, pleasure in use, excellent lenses) when weighed against its weaknesses (narrow range of uses, high cost of ownership) are less compelling than they used to be. I would have to accept the limitations of working within a narrow range of focal lengths and, at the same time, reconcile the high entry and service costs of digital M cameras. I can't do it, for what and how I shoot.

I haven't had an M body for over two years. I'm trying out a digital CL with a few M lenses I haven't let go. I've been enjoying and producing good work from a Q. But if I am realistic and push nostalgia aside, my Fuji gear can be far more flexible in use and is comparable in IQ, or at least close enough, at probably 1/4 to 1/3 the cost to own. Why Leica? I don't know. for what I do.

On the other hand, dedicating a lens like the Lux 50 or 35 or APO 50 to an M body, learning to use the combo to its strengths and within its limits, can produce great work and generate a lot of shooting pleasure. That may be the timeless element of M photography, undoubtedly attractive and peerlessly cool.
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Old 05-21-2018   #7
Ronald M
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The M10 is really like a film M. Handles the same or close. Leica lenses are better than my Nikon primes. Both have improved since Nikon F days. The gap is still there but perhaps smaller. Nikon reds are still orange, Leicas are not.

Now consider how the machine is used. In studio or family shoot in the woods or on the beach, the big Nikon 850 is no problem. Standard zoom of 24/70 is decent, but bigger than a soup can. Again no problem if all photogenic subject are within 500 feet of your transport. I can fix the reds, but not size and weight. You might have noticed Nikon pro digital will not fit in a standard Lowe Pro shoulder bag. That is a whole other issue.

On the plus side, Nikon lenses render skin better ( less accurate ) than Leica. Nice if you do weddings or school photography. I use my 24/120 and do little correction.
Auto focus is a game changer for some applications.

Leica M are are smallish with superb lenses sized to fit camera. Wonderful for travel.
The wonder king will be mirrorless, Leica SL. I get dizzy looking through one more than 10 seconds. $5000 soup can lenses, you must be kidding. But that is what you pay for auto focus and near perfect lenses.

I removed from storage my 90 Summicron pre ASPH and 135 tele Elmar. If you focus properly, the digital images are superb. New APO versions probably better.

We no longer have the mechanical perfection for old. But consider I have been collecting some Nikon F2`s cameras & FE2, FT, FTN. I think they are made to operate dry or with grease that does not harden as they are all smooth as silk. Last FT N cost me $34 last month.

I no longer do wet darkroom color, So my M6 serves me as will the film Nikons.

My advice is unless you have lots of spare coin, Leica does not offer much. Like costume vs real jewels.

Want a small travel camera, Nikon D750 or D500. 750 if you use wide to normal.
The 85, 105, 135 AIS are as good all the new zooms for practical purposes and with better micro contrast. Add the 24/70 for portraits in studio.

If you have a caddy, bigger Nikon DSLR are nice.

If you have old M lens collection, a lightly used M240 will be fine. Buy and sell for little loss if you are not happy.

For one who has both, I believe if you have to think about money, stay wilh Nikon or other popular brands.

If you are traveling and come across a beautiful landscape, use photo merge. My son did a 6 or 8 frame pano from a M8 and standard lens. It made a wonderful 20x36 print that hangs in an office.

Theft is always a consideration which is why I keep some older stuff around.
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Old 05-21-2018   #8
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My views on Leica cameras have evolved over the years, but I think the beauty of the M-system is that it imposes a certain discipline upon the user:

System limitations: The 0.72x finder is really most comfortable with 35 and 50mm lenses IMO. Others, less so. And it doesn't accommodate zoom lenses at all. So the range of distractions is pretty limited unless one is seeking another 35 or 50mm lens.


Cost: I don't know about others, but the cost of the lenses and bodies meant that I built up my system slowly and carefully and tended to know each bit of equipment well.


Attitude: Feeling incredibly fortunate just to have a Leica M outfit is everything! Less likely to blame shortcomings on the hardware and more likely to look at improving one's craft.


But having said that, I got to wondering whether the same thoughtful, pared-back approach might not work just as well with other makes of equipment. And so far, the results have been
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Old 05-21-2018   #9
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After buying a new M9 it cured me of ever wanting to buy a new Leica product again especially a digital product. Nearly half of the time I owned it lenses and or body we're in for repairs of which none were for a corroded sensor.

I don't know what system you used in film and digital but I started using Leica and Nikon from the beginning of my career fifty years ago. Nikon especially has excellent pro service with NPS and even consumer service as does Canon with CPS. Leica was good because they depended on the pro market to keep them alive. I'm afraid I've become accustomed to a professionally run repair service and unfortunately Leica doesn't have that unless you're a dentist.

The short story is that I had so many problems with my equipment and getting it serviced by Leica I had to threaten a lawsuit before they would replace a defective 90 apo lens. You might feel different but I'm not going to pay that kind of money and take that kind of abuse again. I've got to say that one of the best feelings in my life was getting rid of that equipment.
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Old 05-21-2018   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PaulCooper View Post
It's all in the lenses. To me it doesn't make sense to put a mediocre lens on Leica body. However, the Leica body leaves a lot to be desired in terms of performance...
It depends what you mean by a mediocre lens. Different lenses give different looks. A 'perfect' clinical lens may not be what a certain project (or image) needs to get the result the photographer wants.
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Old 05-21-2018   #11
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Interesting article Bill, thanks for the link.

Best of luck with your Leica M10 decision. Luckily I can't afford one, so no decision necessary. Although I know it's fun looking forward to things.

Being of an age where I grew up on LIFE magazine with its photography of the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement, what I look forward to always ends up revolving around shooting film, in particular B&W film. My limited love of color is satisfied by a Leica M9, (simply because I find the sensor renders as close as any to the Ektachrome and Kodachrome I can no longer purchase or shoot). The current line of Leica digital cameras with their CMOS sensors leaves me kind of cold.

This weekend my nephew is getting married. I have a tradition of shooting at my niece's and nephew's weddings. They always have a pro photographer there with big DSLR's and lights, and usually assistants. But I quietly move through the guests with my little Nikon S2 rangefinder, making portraits of parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, bridal parties and the like. It gives me joy to create something for the bride and groom that seems more lasting than the 1's & 0's of a digital file.

I hear what Mr. Puts is saying about the mechanical quality of the little Leica rangefinder film cameras. I guess I'm stuck in the 1960's.

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Old 05-21-2018   #12
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Besides all the arguments already mentioned above, the crucial thing is I like to use my Leica MM.

I don't have to consult a 400p. manual because some computer programmer designed a menu lay out
and the computer he came up with can just by chance take pictures as well.
OK exaggerating a tiny bit here.


A Leica digital M doesn't get in the way of seeing the image first and then capturing the image the way I want to.

It's me and not some auto everything scene mode algorithm that has a 95% chance of a usable shot.
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Old 05-21-2018   #13
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I'm a former Leica M film and digital user. They have been some of the most pleasurable cameras I have ever used. I even enjoyed the M8 and M9 and the M8 went for repair twice. Some of my favorite cameras ever have been Leicas: M6, M9, X1, Minilux, etc. However, I have moved on for a few reasons. (1) I no longer like to use manual focus for the way I photograph. (2) The digital M cameras are just too expensive for me... even if I can afford one, I cannot afford to replace it. I live in Chile and reliance on insurance is not the same as in the US. Cameras are targets here. (3) There are better options in 2018 (for my wants / needs) i.e. Fujifilm... cheaper and with AF and legacy controls.

To me, the Leica M is a true luxury camera now. Not exactly reliable, or the best choice, in all situations, but super fun and pleasurable to use.
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Old 05-21-2018   #14
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I've used all kinds of cameras over the years including every M camera made (except the M5) up to the M9. Some, like SLRs, are good at a lot of things, some only at a few, but like Leica, do those few things very well. Would I use a M system in a studio? Not unless a client asked, which they never did. Documenting an event, absolutely! It all depends what you are artistically trying to accomplish and what tool works best for you.

There's a fun thread running now called "Sharpness is a bourgeois concept." Even in sports or landscapes, technical perfection is not always the best approach (unless you are Tom Mangelsen, for example). IMHO, content almost always trumps technical perfection (think Robert Capa's D-day images). How many millions of technically perfect but boring images are produced every day (I have certainly added my share)?

While the modern M system is surely technically wonderful, it does not create content for me, and certainly not to justify the exorbitant cost. In fact, I still prefer the simplicity and immediacy of my M film cameras and my little elmarit, summaron and summicron lenses. Oh, and my 40-year old OM film system still makes great images too. So can cheap Jupiter lenses. The list can go on...

There is no one right answer, it is what works best for the artist in terms of performance and cost, "performance" being a VERY subjective term that is context and task dependent.
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Old 05-21-2018   #15
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Well, expensive is a relative term, Bill. If you are already vested in the Leica system (which you are), then it's just adding another body. You don't have to get any new lenses for it, unless you tend to fastidiously buy every new version that Leica produces.

To me the problem of expense comes with the realization that the upper end camera systems, no matter the manufacturer, have a lot of proprietary do-dads that you can't get anywhere else, such as hoods, filters, and finders for the special lenses. So while one may find a bargain on a camera body, the cheapest OEM lens one can find could easily push three times the price of the bargain camera.

But if you have resisted the siren song, and have waited for Leica to finally get their digital act together, a new M-10 wouldn't be a bad choice. Though maybe you would be happier with a good used M-D. No rear screen, no menus, no movie mode. Just a nice, plain camera. And you'd save some money too. Maybe. But it's a digital camera, so it has to come down in resale value.

I once knew a guy who would just rave about his Leica, and how he just needed one body, and three lenses. But when he told me about his $200 lens hood, I looked at him and said "So you only need one camera and three lenses because after all that you're totally tapped out, and couldn't afford another one anyway."

At least that would have been my modus operandi if I had sunk all my money on Leicas. I never would have been able to experience other formats from 16mm to 4x5. And after all that, I still wanted a Leica, and it has nothing to do with the mystique of the brand. It's that famous M mount. So I finally found a Leica camera with a couple of lenses at a decent price, and I can say I am not disappointed. Granted, it's a CL with the 40 and 90, but I got some Voigtlander wide-angles to go with it, and am now contemplating a Zeiss Ikon ZM for something a little more to my liking, size wise. Unless I can find a really good deal on an M7.

You see, it's all relative.

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Old 05-22-2018   #16
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Thinking about the poor value you get from those expensive lens hoods & the Chinese ones makes me wonder if the same thoughts should be applied to the bodies and lenses and so on.

Worse still, I can remember when lens hoods were simple devices you just screwed into the filter ring

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Old 05-22-2018   #17
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Originally Posted by Dogman View Post

I agree with Puts that computers and electronics have leveled the field. Today I see photography as being less dependent on the camera than ever before.

This .....
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Old 05-22-2018   #18
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Read the article... and agree that Puts is "presenting what is the beginning of an interesting thought process". I agree to the "beginning of" aspect... I found his ending paragraph a tad bit weak... yes - answers based on an expanded discussion...

In case Puts hasn't noticed it's not only photography, the written word both journalistically and fictionally (somewhat overlapping these days) is likewise digitized... on any given night take a look at the Late Night talk shows... the source of news for many.

A friend of mine teaches a university level course in photography and I had a chance to see one of the projects on self photography... was blown away by the creative results... "thou shalt not revere the old for the old's sake. If it's new and it fits, use it." - source footnotes to the book: "Wabe-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers" by Leonard Koren
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Old 05-22-2018   #19
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After buying a new M9 it cured me of ever wanting to buy a new Leica product again especially a digital product. Nearly half of the time I owned it lenses and or body we're in for repairs of which none were for a corroded sensor ...

I'm afraid I've become accustomed to a professionally run repair service and unfortunately Leica doesn't have that unless you're a dentist.

The short story is that I had so many problems with my equipment and getting it serviced by Leica ... I'm not going to pay that kind of money and take that kind of abuse again.
This.

I owned an M8 and used an M9. A Leica digital camera promises the earth but delivers mediocrity - unreliable, poor performance, outdated and flawed technology, horrible ergonomics, glacial repair time, all for an eye-watering price! Never again! I’ve moved on to cameras that actually work!

I’d be less scathing if it lived up to expectations. Instead, it’s a failure - I see the thread on “sensor corrosion” is still going strong on RFF!

In my case, Leica lied to me, going beyond acceptable marketing speak (“an upgradable camera”), I had sensor and shutter faults, and the camera randomly locked up (just like a crashed computer, the fix was to cut the power by removing and replacing the battery) - Leica took months to repair it, and it still froze solid in multi-shot mode till the day I sold it!

And to this day Leica persists in bizarre choices confirming it’s a camera designed as a toy for rich people and dilettantes, rather than as tool for serious photographers. For example, what’s with stupid bottom cover? It makes it impossible to use on a tripod, as you can’t get to the battery or SD card without moving the camera! And machined brass - what’s that about? Why not use cheaper and stronger die-cast alloy like everyone else? These two design choices made sense back in film days but not today! I could go on ripping the Leica M design apart as not fit for purpose...

Someone likened the digital Leica M to a sports car. Nothing wrong with that, except they chose the wrong make. It’s nothing like a Porsche - which has performance and reliability. It’s more like buying something cooked up in a shed by half a dozen folk with not enough money or experience - think Lotus in the 1970s (terrible cars!).

I can understand people liking simplicity or an optical rangefinder, but Leica did not create the Leica M for photographers wanting the Leica heritage in digital form. Unfortunately, that market isn’t big enough. Instead, Leica created a luxury product that is more fashion statement. And so the camera is compromised when used for what should be it’s raison d’etre: taking pictures.

No other camera I’ve used has been so unreliable or awkward to use. Not even the Epson R-D1 cobbled together from a Cosina Bessa film rangefinder, a Nikon dSLR and Seiko watch dials (I owned this for 2 years, and the only problem I had was the rangefinder needing occasional adjustment). However, Epson produced this camera as a concept project, not to make a profit, so they could design it without compromise. I’d buy an “R-D2” like a shot in the unlikely event it appears! (The only reason I sold the R-D1 was too few MP - I need at least 20 MP.)
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Old 05-22-2018   #20
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Quote:
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...
It's me and not some auto everything scene mode algorithm that has a 95% chance of a usable shot.
Yes.
And it´s not the shape or the brand of the tool that I use what influences my shots.
Leica and rangefinder photography with the M6 (CLs, FSUs) influenced my way of taking photos around 30 years of my life.

Today it would be nice to go with a digital M body and a cron but that would have nothing to do with my photography.
There was a time, long ago, where the rangefinder gave a visual option to me no other system did. I still like it but
could or would I give a miss to an EVF or a tilting display today?
No.

There are many cameras that can do respectable photos with various focal lengths, panoramas, video... which are not the
half in weight and size of an M body actually.

That´s the fact in 2018. Leicas are fine and Jags are fine and a good wine is
anyway. The question to afford one of them or all and more is an individual one. If it comes to the decision to buy
you shouldn´t discuss - just decide.

My 5cent.
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Old 05-22-2018   #21
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After meandering around, Puts asks three questions:

1. Why do we photograph?
2. Why use a Leica camera?
3. What and how do we photograph?

Question 1 is camera independent. Questions 2 and 3 are out of order. Contrary to Puts's assertion, these questions do not require new answers. Question 3 informs Question 2, and Question 2 has been beaten to death. I can recite the answers to Question 2 in my sleep, and so can Bill (and most everyone here). The reasons do not bear repeating. Doing so would not help Bill in his dilemma.

Bill's question is different than Puts's questions. It is: Do I buy an M10? The answer is a two part question: Will an M10 make him a better photographer or make his images better? At this stage of his career and development, it is unlikely an M10 will make Bill a better photographer. He has been shooting Leicas for decades and is already highly skilled. So for Bill, it is the little things. Because its is slightly smaller than its predecessors, its ergonomics are better, and it handles more like a film M. That may be enough. The image quality is only marginally better than a 240 et seq. Without knowing what digital M he is currently shooting, it is hard to gauge how much his images will improve with an M10. Only Bill knows his financial position and can decide whether the improvements are worth the price to him. All the blathering on about why we do or do not use Leicas is of no import.

In the end, the reason Bill is having a hard time making a decision is because reason says no and emotion says yes. His real question is: Do I splurge? I mean by the time he sells his current digital M, we are really only talking about $3000-$4000, and he can write it off. Not chump change but, given his investment in Leica film bodies and Leica lenses, also not a lot of money. Also, unless they put a 42MP sensor in the M11, it is not likely to be much of improvement over the M10. The M10 is just about perfect as is, DxO score notwithstanding.
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Old 05-22-2018   #22
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I think if you enjoy the continuity with the past of rangefinder image-making that Leica offers, then the decision to buy an M10 will be rewarding. I have used a Sony A7S and own some of the Sony/Zeiss lenses for it, and have been disappointed with the lack of longevity in their mechanical design. They are mechanically a consumer electronic product, and even if the Zeiss-designed glass is excellent, will still end up on the rubbish heap far too early for my liking. The Leica lenses I have are made to last longer, as are the Zeiss ZM lenses designed for the Leica M mount.
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Old 05-22-2018   #23
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I have used a Sony A7S and own some of the Sony/Zeiss lenses for it, and have been disappointed with the lack of longevity in their mechanical design.
Other than the lens mount not being metal, have you had mechanical issues with your A7S. I have not heard about any on the forums. Subsequent models may have better handling and features, but I thought those were all on the electronic side.
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Old 05-22-2018   #24
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Puts posits:

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Theorists have given this whole process of technical and cultural change the name of a ‘digital turn’. In addition to this digital turn we can also observe a ‘visual turn’: the fact that our culture has been transformed into a visual environment where the image plays an important part. Most products and events we see are drawn or photographed or computer generated and most knowledge we have is derived from such images. We live in a vision culture and social media are primarily visual media
One thinks of something Laszlo Moholy-Nagy said in 1936:

Quote:
...a knowledge of photography is just as important as that of the alphabet. The illiterate of the future will be ignorant of the use of the camera and pen alike.
Regarding the digital M's, I gave them an honest try. As beautiful as they are as objects, in use they seemed to me like muddled machines trying to be two things at once. The only practical reason I fathom for using a digital M is to be able to use the wide-angle Leica lenses. Of course, many people make beautiful images with their digital M's; but for me the user experience is awkward. Being an amateur, user experience is important to me.

If I want to make digital pictures, I use my phone. My phone is supremely suited for making digital pictures.

If I want to make film pictures, I use my Leica Ms. My Leica Ms are supremely suited for making film pictures.
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Old 05-22-2018   #25
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A relevant anecdote:

A friend who has an M10 showed me some pictures recently which he took with the M10 and the 28mm 2.8 Elmarit ASPH. They looked like iPhone pictures, which is not surprising given the focal length. This should be instructive.
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Old 05-22-2018   #26
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If I want to make digital pictures, I use my phone. My phone is supremely suited for making digital pictures.
Assuming you like the aspect ratio and 28mm focal length, you can hold your phone steady, and you only need small prints. I made a beautiful platinum/palladium print from an image my steady-handed daughter took with an iPhone, but it is only 6"x9". I would not use an iPhone for my regular work, so I think the modifier "supremely" may be a bit overstated.
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Old 05-22-2018   #27
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People gotta spend their $$ on something..why not Leica.....or maybe...another ..Rolex...lol..
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Old 05-22-2018   #28
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I would not use an iPhone for my regular work, so I think the modifier "supremely" may be a bit overstated.
To be sure, for professional or serious portrait photographers or sports photographers or landscape photographers the iPhone isn't going to cut it; but I'm neither serious nor professional. I make casual, observational digital photographs (like most Leica users, I'm guessing). And when it comes to digital, the iPhone is actually quite good and will only get better. I'm not an iPhone apologist or a Leica digital M detractor. I'm just giving my opinion.
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Old 05-22-2018   #29
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Originally Posted by johnwolf View Post
For folks who have a lot of dough or a little dough, the choice is usually pretty easy.

It's the inbetweeners that wrestle with whether or not the stretch is worth it.

John
Completely agree. I totally get the Leica as a status symbol; and for a lot of people, status symbols are important. When you make partner you have to trade in the old Beamer. I get it.
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Old 05-22-2018   #30
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... I totally get the Leica as a status symbol ...
I don´t.

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Originally Posted by LCSmith View Post
... and for a lot of people, status symbols are important ...
I dont´t know such people.
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Old 05-22-2018   #31
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When reading Puts's May blog, also read this March entry: https://photo.imx.nl/blog/files/ee74...60f55a-93.html At least for now, Puts is unable to answer his own questions.

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Old 05-22-2018   #32
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I went for the M10 because for me is the only digital camera I can use in the way I used the M7...after one year I confirm to be fully satisfied
robert
PS: of course I'm not a pro photographer...
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Old 05-22-2018   #33
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Regarding the digital M's, I gave them an honest try. As beautiful as they are as objects, in use they seemed to me like muddled machines trying to be two things at once. The only practical reason I fathom for using a digital M is to be able to use the wide-angle Leica lenses. Of course, many people make beautiful images with their digital M's; but for me the user experience is awkward. Being an amateur, user experience is important to me.
In use I find the M10 an almost exact clone of the M7. The handling and the controls are almost identical, the main exceptions being the ISO selection dial and the louder (but faster) shutter.

Yet I much prefer to use the M7 over the M10. This is because a digital sensor has a hard highlight clipping hazard, and it is too easy for small exposure errors to result in exposure errors that would not be an issue for an analogue camera. Even some of the RAW samples on Leica’s site show this, with colour shifts in the sky due to progressive over exposure.

In part this is also because image quality expectations for a full-frame digital camera are set by the best in class offerings from Sony/Nikon. To meet that a digital M would need not just higher resolution, but also better dynamic range and a better default metering system that makes ETTL exposures much easier (reliable) than at present.

I personally take the point of view that a digital M only makes sense if you are already heavily invested in Leica and want to make use of existing lenses. If you are not already invested, look at something different such as the SL or A7RIII - they have excellent native lenses and can also take an adapted Noctilux if you really want something uniquely Leica.

On the comparison with smaller sensor cameras and phones, if you only shoot in good light and use lenses stopped down there is zero value in any full-frame (or larger) sensor. Smaller sensors usually have newer and more capable technology than Leica’s relatively dated FF offering, so unless shallow DOF is your thing you will not see any significant improvement in image quality. My 20MP u4/3 Olympus easily matches the M10 for image quality even with (the admittedly good) pro zooms - it gets a boost from the image stabilisation and intelligent metering that maximise the results possible from the sensor.
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Old 05-22-2018   #34
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There are only three reasons to buy a digital Leica: 1) you prefer a rangefinder camera and Leica is the only game in town; 2) you have a significant investment in Leica lenses (a subset of 1); or 3) you want to buy a status symbol. The people who comprise 1) and 2) are a small niche of photographers in general. The people who comprise 3) are a large segment of people with more money than sense. Group 3) makes Leica possible for groups 1) and 2). God bless them.
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Old 05-22-2018   #35
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I've posted links to this book elsewhere, but it's still relevant as ever:
https://www.shambhala.com/hooked-745.html


One thing which really has helped to tame some of my new-toy urges is realizing that that no matter what I buy today, sooner or later I'm going to crave something else. It happened when I owned a Leica M8 and 9, so why should the M10 be any different? But as they say, YMMV.
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Old 05-22-2018   #36
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I get it. What can I say, the digital Ms don’t feel at all like film Ms to me. To each her own.
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Old 05-22-2018   #37
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Bill,

I likely would not have gotten into shooting digital if it were not for Leica creating the Monochrom. I was perfectly happy as a B&W film only die-hard, but Leica built the perfect digital camera for me to set the hook. The expense was offset because I already was shooting Leica M's and I already had good glass. I still shoot film BTW.

I had my Monochrom's sensor replaced and in my case I was told 10 weeks and my actual time was 12 weeks. I considered about taking the upgrade route to a M-246, but I loved my MM warts and all because I had grown fond of it. In every way the M-246 is a more advanced camera, faster, better high ISO, better dynamic range, smoother roll off, even more shadow detail...

So why the romance for the basic and primitive MM? Well I like the MM because it is a basic crude camera, and I think the CCD sensor has a unique rendering that has a richer midrange that better allows me to resemble larger format cameras because I print big.

If we count the bits, the MM is 14-bit but only 18 MP; and the M-246 is only 12-bit but a larger 24 MP. As far as files go the 288 MB files from the M-246 is not that much bigger than the MM's 252 MB files.

So I bought a Nikon D3X and tried to like it to shoot color for my gal's fashion blog. I'm an old Nikon SLR guy but I hated the Nikon digital experience. I hated the anti alias filter that blured my inages to prevent moire. I hated that the autofocus rarely really nailed the focus and the camera offered too many features I would never use.

So I looked into the Leica SL. Now we are talking 14-bit and 24 MP. I bought my SL about a year ahead from where the 50 Lux-SL was available, so I shot with manual focus 50's like the 50 Lux-R "E60" and a 58/1.2 Noct-Nikkor. These lenses I already owned were another reason to buy the SL. The 50 Lux-SL initially had poor AF performance, it was accurate and pig slow, but Leica came out with zippy new firmware and that issue went away. Love how weatherproof the SL is as well as the weatherproofing of the 50 Lux-SL.

So I was looking far ahead when I bought the SL and I am mucho happy. I also realized the progression here. From Leica "S" to SL the same processor and much of the design. When I compare my SL to a M10 there is a very strong resemblance in design. 24 MP; 14-bit; Maestro processor borrowed from the Leica "S"

So I don't think I'm too far off saying that I'm shooting a mirrorless M10 that has autofocus abilities and advanced weather sealing. No M10 for me, I made my decision a few years ago. I don't disagree it is not compact or lightweight like a M. The 50 Lux-SL is likely the largest and heaviest small format normal lens ever made and it has its haters, but the rendering and the performance is worth it.

So I made my expensive decision about three years ago.

Most recently I made an "inexpensive" decision. I bought a Leica CL. Another very basic camera that is ASP-C. Buying the CL creates a wonderful 75 Lux out of the 50 Lux-R "E60." The Noct-Nikkor 58/1.2 becomes a crazy 87/1.2 that is insane and so much fun to use. I use my 28 Cron-M and it is a 42mm Cron to be just like an original CL.

Again I recycle the legacy glass that I use on my film cameras.

Cal
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Old 05-22-2018   #38
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Quote:
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There are only three reasons to buy a digital Leica: 1) you prefer a rangefinder camera and Leica is the only game in town; 2) you have a significant investment in Leica lenses (a subset of 1); or 3) you want to buy a status symbol. The people who comprise 1) and 2) are a small niche of photographers in general. The people who comprise 3) are a large segment of people with more money than sense. Group 3) makes Leica possible for groups 1) and 2). God bless them.
My wife asked recently - why you didn't get Canonikon as your BD present?
And my mother who gave money for this camera as BD present asked - is here any not just another Canonikon camera, but something more solid?

I walked with my daughter and this camera on fairground this weekend.
Person in cotton candy booth stopped me and asked if it is M4. I told it is digital and showed Canada made lens on it. He told me to comeback later for free cotton candy.

And then I walked with it aftter getting it back with new sensor in Toronto....
Retired gentlemen who was walking with his wife looked at it and "nice camera".

4) it connects you with people, Canonikon and Fusonic aren't...
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Old 05-22-2018   #39
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My views on Leica cameras have evolved over the years, but I think the beauty of the M-system is that it imposes a certain discipline upon the user:

System limitations: The 0.72x finder is really most comfortable with 35 and 50mm lenses IMO. Others, less so. And it doesn't accommodate zoom lenses at all. So the range of distractions is pretty limited unless one is seeking another 35 or 50mm lens.


Cost: I don't know about others, but the cost of the lenses and bodies meant that I built up my system slowly and carefully and tended to know each bit of equipment well.


Attitude: Feeling incredibly fortunate just to have a Leica M outfit is everything! Less likely to blame shortcomings on the hardware and more likely to look at improving one's craft.


But having said that, I got to wondering whether the same thoughtful, pared-back approach might not work just as well with other makes of equipment. And so far, the results have been
Sorry. I Don't mean to pick on you because others have said it before. But no camera system or parts thereof impose discipline on me. I impose discipline on me or I don't have any.
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Old 05-22-2018   #40
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There are only three reasons to buy a digital Leica: 1) you prefer a rangefinder camera and Leica is the only game in town; 2) you have a significant investment in Leica lenses (a subset of 1); or 3) you want to buy a status symbol. The people who comprise 1) and 2) are a small niche of photographers in general. The people who comprise 3) are a large segment of people with more money than sense. Group 3) makes Leica possible for groups 1) and 2). God bless them.
PTP,

My Monochrom hits all three. I don't need or want an upgrade as far as a digital rangefinder.

I will also say that if you are a Leica owner you get accused of being a rich dentist instead of a photographer by people that have Leica envy. Also don't forget that a Leica owner is always vulnerable to personal attacks and predudice, so I don't think so much of the status symbol. Owning and using Leica is a liability in real life.

I still love my MM and most of the time a 28 Cron is mounted. February last year it had gotten overhauled when it got a new sensor. Should be good for another 5 years without any problems (discounting the free sensor replacement and overhaul).

In my case The SL was the better camera because of non Leica glass. The Noct-Nikkor on the SL using a Noctilux F1.2 profile is a mighty nice manual focus rig. Who else has an legendary 87/1.2.

Buying a 75 Cron for my SL is about $4750.00. Buying a CL was cheaper and I get F1.4.

Cal
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