My Leica M6

Gear 24 Dec 10

I finally got around to buying, well more like affording a Leica. I went for the M6 as its got all the features I need and  I love the design.Its in stunning condition. Hardly used. There is almost no chance that I’d find one in this condition ever again so I snapped it up.

I’m not short on film cameras. I have a Lomo, Polaroid, Olympus Trip, Topcon SLR and a couple of AE-1’s. Not to mention a few medium format bodies lying around. Without a doubt the Leica has taught me more, or perhaps shown me what film is really capable more so than any other film body. I get shots back and think “Thats it. Doesn’t need more.” Its changed the way I shoot digitally now. I prefer a less over processed look than what I used to do. I’m a little bit less of a perfectionist and thats a good thing. Perfection is impossible so its good to let go and accept what I’ve got.

So I’ve been using it since the end of August off and on. Film isn’t cheap so I’ll often leave it at home as I know I’ll get the shot with digital. At the end of the day I am a professional and there are times, even off duty times when I want to be able to get the shot. Every time I get a roll back I’m stunned, well if you ignore the first colour roll I did. That wasn’t brilliant but that was because I was silly and pushed myself to shoot in bad light. I’ve had only 1 shot that was too under-exposed to be of any use. I think I’ve shot 6 rolls so far, so for a fully manual camera with no LCD to check things on I think thats pretty good.

I’ve been shooting my friends in the pub, mainly as a tester, using XP2 and some colour 400/800 film. Amazing stuff and I love XP2. In the pub I’d normally be shooting at ISO1600 at f/1.8 but here I’m shooting f/1.4 and 400 fine. The colour film, when pushed, comes out lovely and cross processed like.

So for stuff in the pub its great. Loving the low light shots. I’ve also used it on the street with not too bad success. I’m trying the whole f/8 and be there thing but its tricky. Street photography isn’t easy.

I had more success with a quick shot in Manchester the other week. A shot I really really love. Its hard to nail the focus at f/1.4 in manual so when I do I’m very happy.

Its been great for random shots too. I’m finding the exposures come out perfectly, more or less. Sometimes I’d prefer that they were a little under-exposed but they’re fine. Probably just Boots way of developing things.

I posted some sunrise shots on Vanilla Days the other day. This is how the Leica saw it.

Maybe a touch over-exposed but I’m picky. It can also do a nice portrait when asked.

I really am loving the look, the feel of the these shots. If they were RAW files I’d be processing them immediately. Its silly but straight from camera on digital isn’t finished whereas these are.

Most of all though, I’m impressed by the shots from last week when it snowed. I went out to meet some friends for a drink and only took the Leica. It snowed heavily. I knew there was a chance of snow but I didn’t think it would be as photogenic as it was. Thing is that the Leica isn’t a bad camera. I’m just not good with it yet. So I reminded myself of all the people who’ve used one and took pictures. f/1.4, 1/50 and ISO400 film in the cam. It worked so well.

By the time we arrived home the roads were covered in snow and I was out of XP2. I switched to some Fuji colour 400 and carried on snapping along the way.

I’m finding the focusing a little tough, especially at f/1.4. Its hard to get things pin sharp when you’re doing it manually. There’s no one single button to do it all for you. You have to take your time and adjust things to get a good shot. I thought I would have more of an issue with film speed. I thought that I’d miss being able to shoot at ISO6400 but I’m not. Give me the M6 and a bag of XP2 and I’m set. As long as I get the light where it needs to be I’ll be fine.

The only one thing I can’t work out is the little circle with a line through by the film winder. No idea what thats for.

Its probably stupidly silly to be impressed by these photos. I’m sure I could get similar from my D700 with the 50mm. But I love the Leica camera and the way of shooting is different to my digital gear. Its slower and I’m hoping it slows me down for the better. After just 3 and a bit months I’ve already been changed by it. I can’t wait for after 5 years, 10 years etc. I bought the Leica knowing it would be a camera that stays with me till I’m old. Its a journey not a race to the finish.

Big thanks to Matt Wardle for selling it me :)

by

Photographer and part time Spider-man.

Comments 8

    • anthony_casey says on 24 Dec 10

      @petemc *Sigh* That is all to say really. Very lovely.

  1. Wilson says on 24 Dec 10

    Lovely stuff, went through the same things you mentioned when shooting film. The circle with a line through it is sound likes the focal plane indicator, i.e. where the film lays flat.

  2. Andy OH says on 24 Dec 10

    yep, circle with a line through shows where the film plane is within the camera, in case you need to measure the distance from subject to film – only relevant for macro stuff, and I can’t really imagine doing macro with a rangefinder…
    Nice to see you’re making the Leica work for you.

  3. photine says on 27 Dec 10

    2010 is the first year I really worked with a film camera and I’m really enjoying it. I have an instant feel for which camera I should take to events and the film really does slow me down. I hope to do much more work with it. Looking forward to seeing more of your work with the Leica.

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