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What Have I Done? Joining The Cult of Leica - Deeper Dive


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If you are here you are probably wondering “what is this guy up to now!”

 

No surprises that along with photographing a wide array of subjects, I also like to dabble in a wide variety of gear as well. Today, I’m going to try and walk through the path and reasoning of how I got here.

 

In The Beginning

Going back to the very, very beginning we have to start back at the formative years. Growing up in small town Pennsylvania in the 1970’s and 1980’s, having very little money, we were fortunate enough to have access to a Polaroid OneStep 600. You learn real quick not to blow through too much film too quickly as you never know when you’ll be getting your next pack.

 

Had a few other used film cameras through out that time as well. My father worked for an auctioneer at times and you get lucky with a “box lot” of miscellaneous items and often there would be cameras in there.

 

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It all came back to that one issue thought – film. Love film…but the buying, the developing, scanning negatives…..it just didn’t allow me the growth I wanted quickly enough. I sideline any major aspirations until I’m older and out on my own.

 

Moving away from home, dabble a little into digital early on with a Sony DSC-P51 point and shoot. This is where I get a lot of growth in my photography. I get the instant feedback of what is working and what is not without the expense of paying for mistakes in real dollars. Joining a local camera club helps too. This is where I run into a guest speaker and she is upgrading her kit and selling her old film gear.

 

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From her, I get a well used, but perfectly functioning Nikon N90s, 35-70mm lens and SB-22 flash unit. I use this to start my professional photography career and my “landscape/fin art” journey. I do some portraits and a few weddings.

 

I remember those pre DSLR days. The sound of the shutter and the advancing of the film stock. The pure experience of having to trust your experience on the exposure. You were young, innocent and just completely in love with the process.

 

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Going Professional
Even before I had aspirations of becoming a professional photographer, I knew that I still had a lot to learn and that the N90s, as fine a camera as it was – was still holding me back from that accelerated learning I was craving. 2005 rolls around and I decide that I am going to save up and get one of them new fangled digital SLR!

 

I did a ton of research…a ton…I mean for months…toiled over reviews, spec sheets. I already had Nikon in the blood and it might have made sense to stick with Nikon…but I saw this Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D and it had EVERYTHING….external buttons, great legacy and new glass and an unheard of feature called Anti-Shake that would make any lens you attached to the body stabilized!

 

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I have all the money saved up and I’m making plans to go and see the camera at the local camera store…and if it feels good in my hand…I’m plunking down that cash.

 

Literally 2 days before I plan on going in…the announcement breaks….Sony is buying the Konica Minolta DSLR branch of the company.

 

My heart sank. While I respect Sony and their electronics prowess…my fear is that they will not support the system long term or worse yet, buy it for the tech and then kill off the Konica Minolta cameras all together.

 

My pivot is back to Nikon, and I settle on the Nikon D50 as my first DSLR camera.

 

I work the hell out of that camera and I explode in experience and my skills and quality of image output grow almost exponentially! The D50 has no video, and is geared toward still only…I’m not that far off of the N90s….all the pluses of the N90s with the benefits of digital.

 

I’m still a happy boy. I use this camera for about a year…doing pro bono work or trade work.

 

One day, I’m at my IT job and a friend tells me that he is very frustrated with the cost of portraits that he needs to get for his senior kids. I believe that I have a niche I can fill, by providing quality portrait, event and sports photography for those that generally cannot afford it.

 

The Nikon D50 and I, along with the support of my family begin the journey of my first LLC – Best Light Photographic. That business would run from 2007 through 2021, when the COVID-19 Pandemic would put a nail in that coffin…but we’ll get more into that later!

 

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Evolution
As it is said, the only constant in life is change, and that is very true. My business would change through out the years. I would offer different styles of photography over different periods…trying to stay current with the trends. Same with gear, as the tide shifts from stills or video to a hybrid model of customers wanting both and if they can get that from the same company – all the better.

 

Honestly, I never really gelled with video shooting…my heart from the start was with the capture of the one decisive moment. That locked off, frozen moment in time. I never fully jumped into video, although I have done some. Surely, if I applied myself I could get as good with video…but the intensity of resources and gear increases and it’s just not where the heart wants to go.

 

With the evolution of gear, comes a distancing from the connection between me and the gear. It used to be that there was a visceral reaction when I picked up a camera….a bonding and desire to pick up the camera and go shoot…and it could be anything…make something out of nothing….there is very little that is more satisfying for me photographically.

 

I’ve had many cameras through out my business career…but they all were tools. They were good, expensive tools…but the connection went missing. That is good sometimes, when you are out shooting a job and you need something to just “get the job done”. However, it is easy for me to not have the same soul/passion/connection with the “tool”, versus a camera that “gets you and you get it”.

 

Getting Back To Being Connected Again

The “retro aesthetic” in the modern camera world has always attracted me. I think it comes from my brief years of dipping my toe back into the film arena for a while. Specifically, delving into medium format TLR (Mamiya C33 Pro) and a couple of rangefinders, the Kodak Signet 35 and a Yashica Lynx 5000E. I really loved using those cameras. The purity of putting in a roll of film and locking in that ISO, then adjusting the shutter speed and aperture as needed.

 

What kept me from sticking with them long term? Film cost, developing of the film and dealing with all of that.

 

Then – Fuji came into play with the X100 as well as the X-Pro series. Man, it had just about everything that you’d want to get as close to a film-like pure photography experience in a digital package. Those cameras were not perfect but I had my day in the sun with the Fuji X100, X100T and eventually an X100V (which, in my humble opinion is the best iteration of the X100 series to date) as well as an X-Pro2.

 

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The X100 series was a little limiting for me as I didn’t want to be stuck with a fixed lens system. The X-Pro2 scratched the itch for a digital range finder styled camera, but styling does not a rangefinder make! As good as the X-Pro2 is and the Fuji f/2 primes are they are stuffed with extraneous features that I honestly never use.

 

A few months ago, after experimenting with a Fuji S2 Pro DSLR, I walked into a local camera store and what do I see? A used, but in great shape Konica Minolta Maxxum 7D and a whole selection of lenses.

 

The price is right for experimentation, so I great the body, 30mm, 50mm primes and the 70-210/4 lens.

 

The pure photography shooting experienced abs the wonderful character of the lenses and the CCD sensor keep me happily shooting this cavers for weeks Ava adding additional lenses like the Minolta 28-135/4 zoom and the telephoto 500mm f/8 AF Reflex lens. I’M LOVING IT!

 

Now I’m looking for more of this experience.

 

I just decided to head out to see what the online used retailers had and see what they have it there in vintage digital and nothing strikes my fancy.

 

On a whim, I decided to check out the Leica rangefinders and I see they have the M Typ 240 and 262 for a reasonable for Leica price.

 

I do my research and talk with some friends and start determining my potential kit.

 

How Leica Fits Into All This
I know long ramble…but now we are joining the Cult of Leica.

 

You really can’t get much more stripped down rip the basics than the Leica rangefinders.

All the basics are there and not a whole lot more. Yes the M 240 has live view but just about everything else that is needed is an analog dial.

 

I’ve waited a long time to maybe one day be able to afford a Leica proper rangefinder. And here it is. Was thinking of saving some money and going with an M8, but decided against it and go toward something just a little more new.

 

Everything just aligned in a way that makes sense for this purchase of this camera at this time.

 

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Conclusion
So we have the M Typ 240, the Zeiss Planar 50mm f/2, Zeiss 35mm f/2.8 Biogon-C, and the Leica 90mm f/4 Wetzler Elmar to start off our journey.

 

Only time will tell if this Leica makes sense and I get along with it. Something tells me that it will.

 

A series of reviews will come out, first with our impression of the camera and then the lenses to follow shortly there after. My hope is that as I spend more and more time with it, I’ll understand the idiosyncrasies and be able to express my thoughts about the system.

See my content here:

http://www.visualohio.com | BESTLIGHTPHOTO BLOG | 500px Profile & Pics

 

I shoot Nikon, Olympus, Minolta, Pentax and Leica.  Probably not enough!  LOL

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