My wife and I went for a stroll along the promenade today. It was a lovely crisp autumn afternoon. The fishermen were out by the rivers edge. The sun was just coming through the clouds to make some lovely soft pastel colours in the sky and there was no wind at all. It was wonderfully peaceful.
I carried 2 cameras with me. Both digital but they have quite different philosophies on how you work. Partly due to technical limitations of the times. So I had a Leica Q and a Leica M240. The Q is a fixed lens, fully automatic if you want it to be, point and shoot camera. It has an EVF (Electronic View Finder) so what you see is what you get. On the other hand the M240 uses an interchangeable lens system and is fully manual. You have to do everything yourself. Set the aperture. Set the focus. Set the shutter. Everything. It does not have an EVF. It has a traditional viewfinder that sits just to the top left of the lens. So what you see isn’t at all what you get. What you see is the world around you and some little guidelines telling you roughly what the lens is seeing.
Jumping between the cameras is interesting and possibly a bad way to work. They’re two different ideologies. One very anologue and the other very digital. I bought the M240 to enjoy slower days away from digital screens. The camera does indeed have a screen on it but if you want to ignore it you can. It works more like a film camera in that respect. The Q allows you to see how the settings you’ve dialed in will affect the end photo. You can even see the black and white setting in action via the EVF. It’s very cool and really handy to be able to see your settings in action. It saves a lot of time as you don’t have to take sample shots to check things look ok. You can see it right there.
As we walked along I started to think about this way of working and it felt like with the Q I was seeing a photo I wanted and pressing “save” where as with the M240 I was making a photograph and seeing how it came out. Now I know its neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things. Just go out and m/take photographs however you want. But there was a thought in the back of my mind that maybe with the Q all I’m doing is seeing someone elses photograph in the viewfinder and then saving a copy for myself. By that I mean I’m seeing something I’ve seen somewhere else, stylistically speaking. My mind knows it’s a good photograph so when I see shades of it in mine on the screen I press the shutter button. The save button. Where as on the M240 I’m seeing the real world and all I’ve got is a dot and 2 arrows telling me whether the image is going to be over or under exposed. I have to imagine how the photo will look and work to find something interesting using only what I can see. I press the shutter button and I can either move onto the next idea or freak out and check whether it worked on the display.
There is an idea in photography of taking vs making a photo. I can’t say which is right or which I prefer. But it really gets you thinking when you’re carrying round two very different cameras. I guess whichever way of working gets you the good photograph is the best way to work. What I’ve found over the 2 years I’ve had both cameras is that I get better photos with the Q than the M240. I just haven’t found the confidence to work without that digital net. I’m too used to working with a screen now.
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”Ansel Adams