First look @leica

So having just had my pension drop into the bank account after finishing my 22-years with the military and then, just as quickly, watching most of it leave said account to pay off a few things here and there I made the ridiculous and totally inappropriate financial decision to drop a few more pennies on a Leica M9 and a 35mm f2 Summicron lens.

Having recently left full time employment, started my own business and generally living from photo-job to photo-job without the previous financial security of before this was, of course, totally the right thing to do! But sod it. Can’t take it with you!

So after waiting for my memory cards to finally be delivered after the camera sat idly on my desk for two days I took it for a little spin earlier to try and get a feel for what is a very different way of shooting. I always shoot manual for 95% of my work anyway – manual focus, manual exposure etc. I also shoot the majority of my work on prime lenses as it suits my style of shooting so that part of the process wasn’t a problem.

But, just as with a new car, it takes a little time to get familiar with the feel of it. So I found myself wandering around town earlier feeling a little strange at the lack of D3s hanging over my shoulder and was a little ‘fingers and thumbs’ as I tried to get shots that otherwise come naturally and quickly. But it’s a learning curve that I’m looking forward to and a simpler style of shooting that I think, I hope, will suit the way I do business.

As for image quality, file size, pro’s and con’s of a Leica versus a Nikon or whatever and all the other techy stuff well all that bores me to tears to be honest and there are plenty of reviews, forums and blogs out there that are dedicated to the more technical aspects written by far more Leica knowledgeable folk than I so bring up Google and go crazy. Although I have to say the files did ‘pop’ nicely when I took them into the edit!

All I know is, from my first foray into the world of rangefinder shooting, is that I look forward to become faster and slicker with how I operate with it and to fully incorporating it into my workflow and, dare I say it, I really enjoyed shooting pictures with it and at the end of the day, that’s what photography is all about.

So take a look at a few of my dodgy first attempts below as I work out how to buy food this month!



Published by ian forsyth photography

Press and Documentary photographer covering the North of England. Stringer & contributor for Getty Images News. Prints are available to buy on my website.

10 thoughts on “First look @leica

  1. Well done you and welcome to the obsession of a lifetime, but beware she that is “L” is a scary mistress but yields amazing creativity in the ones that are obsessed with her. Love Betty Boo but prefer her in colour…


    1. Thanks mate.
      If scary = expensive then I’m bloody terrified! I’m lovin’ it already though. Even though there are alternatives (X100, Xpro1 et al) sometimes you just have to go for it and bugger the cost!
      As an aside I’ve emailed you a link to a photobook I’ve recently done for you to take a look at…welcome your thoughts.
      I got a copy printed and it looks really nice. Just have to look at commercial potential now for this and a couple of others I have planned.


    1. Fully agree Ali. It is but another tool, albeit different and expensive!! But, as photographers, we have to push ourselves I think. Further pictures coming soon from a project I’ve just completed.


  2. So all of playing with mine (!) paid off, as Giles says welcome! You will enjoy I promise. Bet you’re glad you can’t afford a 1.4 with all the hard work of focusing.. Good to see that you’ve put your pictures up makes me ashamed of keeping mine to myself.
    Betty boo for me too, in colour as well.


    1. Cheers Graham, and thanks for the ‘hands-on’ practice with your M9. I couldn’t wait for a year for the 1.4 and besides it is expensive, even by Leica standards, and I have to eat! More pictures on the way from a recent shoot so welcome your thoughts.
      Get your pictures posted!


  3. A brave, card melting, leap into Leica ownership! Fine early pics though, with particularly pleasing mono tones.

    I have an old (cheap!) M4-2, and it’s fun to use after a hulking Nikon D3, but I find I don’t have a ‘rangefinder eye’, being so used to using an SLR . Maybe more practice is required…? At least, like you, I enjoy using manual Nikkor lenses, so focussing is not an issue, though I do like the speed and ease of auto-focus.
    So I might have been more tempted to an X-Pro1 if I were spending big money on an RF type camera…

    Enjoy your M9 though. I am a tad jealous!


    1. Cheers Andrew,
      It does take some getting used to, something I’m still coming to terms with but for the reasons you mention it is a very enjoyable way of shooting. I’ve had it out today on the final stages of a project I’ve being working on for a couple of months so looking forward to seeing what I got from that—will they be sharp!!??

      Keep pulling the M4-2 out mate, I know from your work you have the ‘eye’ so the ‘Rangefinder eye’ will also be there…
      Happy shooting,


  4. Congratulations and welcome to the darkside mate….glad you have made the transition, I have always thought your images had a Leica’esque style to them, based on the way you shoot etc, so I think this will quickly become your best friend…..When your out looking for new lenses or anything give me a shout mate, as we have a vast amount of Leica gear here and sometimes bargains can be had….I have a guy making me an ostrich skin case at the mo, heres the link to his site, you can see they are pretty damn cool… the camera that extra personalised look and protects it of course.


    1. Cheers Gaz.
      It’s early days but really enjoying it. Once my bank account stops crying and I need another lens I’ll give you a shout mate cheers.
      Hope all is well out there?


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