Were do I being.... A Leica is a camera I have lusted after, drooled over and went green with envy every time I saw one. Ever since launching into photography with my first DSLR I was on the Leica website, and dreaming. There have been many twist and turns in my life this year and it just felt like the right time to take the leap, I somehow found the money and managed to justify the expense (buying a Leica is not something you do everyday). I still can not quite believe I joined the Leica M family, and writing this review feels like an out of body experience.
It has been said so many times, and I will say it again, 'it is not the gear, but the artist behind the lens who creates the photograph'. While this is true, there are some cameras which will resonate with you personally and inspire you to go further and dig just a little bit deeper. A Leica does exactly that, and its no frills approach to photography is incredibly refreshing. It does not hide behind gimmicky marketing features which no one actually uses. What you are left with is a rugged, simple, clean and tidy camera system designed to expose the raw controls necessary to capture and express yourself.
I will be honest, after dreaming about a Leica for so many years, I was a little worried that it might not live up to my thoroughly matured expectations. Luckily this was not the case at all and the camera delivered exceeding expectations. Although we are not through the honey moon period yet, it has been a pleasure to use in all its simplicity and felt intuitive.
Leica lenses are highly regarded in the photography community at large, and not until using one do you not really appreciate why that is. It is not only the image quality, but also the way their lenses transform the mundane into something worth admiring. Their lenses have character, stamping their unique signature in every detail. The in focus contrast is outstanding, melting away softly with beautifully controlled smooth bokeh (even in the highlights). Lens properties are particularly difficult to describe in words, which is why we like to include many full screen examples to backup and help reinforce our experiences.
In order to achieve any significant bokeh with a 35mm lens you have to get close, and that was one of the key deciding factors when choosing our first Leica lens (35mm F2 ASPH). We are no strangers to the 35mm focal length after having used it extensively in the Fujifilm X series camera system. Some of our favourite images have been produced with the natural field of view of a 35mm lens, making it the natural choice for a traditional range finder camera.
Those who have been following our work will understand why we need a very versatile camera system unrivaled by Leica's unique approach to photography. Not only do we wander the streets in search of the ever evolving fashion trends and intriguing characters distinguishing themselves from the crowd, but we also enjoy the quiet tranquility of the natural world tucked away from the rat race. And when we are not perusing a personal project, we are either out late at a music gig or at it all day covering a wedding. Because of our photographic en-devours, our kit has been getting smaller and smaller and is now highly focused. We have cut back to the bare essentials, and a Leica is designed with the same philosophy in mind, integrating seamlessly with our unique way of working.
There is really no need to discuss focus speed, ISO performance or any other cleaver tricks this camera may have up its sleeve. Focus is entirely manual, ISO performance is a non issue for all professional cameras and unless you consider AUTO ISO a feature, there is nothing else left to discuss. This is a photographers camera which relies on YOU to take control, its capabilities are only limited by your skill and imagination.
The Leica design philosophy is not for everyone, and not everyone will understand the beauty in its simplicity. Yes they are expensive, but just like for an exotic piece of lingerie, you pay for what has been taken away rather than what is included.
My Leica and I are now attached at the hip. It is always by my side and I feel stick to the stomach when I forget it on the bedside table!