Daily Inspiration #260 by Clint Dunn

Hey Steve,

Just wanted to say that you were single handedly responsible for me catching the Leica bug. After the birth of my daughter, I found myself looking for a compact, high quality camera to take along with me and my new family. My old 1Ds2 and even my 7D were both so big and cumbersome that I found myself rarely taking them with me unless I was on a planned photoshoot. Compacts like the G10 and S90 I tried were good, but lacked the shallow DOF I missed from larger sensor cameras. Anyway, I stumbled across your site and then spent hours pouring over your various reviews and some of your great photography.

After much debate I took the leap and sold my 1Ds2 for a pristine M8. I picked up the utterly awesome Zeiss 25mm and a used, but mint Zeiss 50mm Sonnar. Both lenses were great, but I found the focus shift with the Sonnar just too much to deal with. Well, actually that is only partially true…I COULD have lived with the focus shift, but it gave me the perfect excuse to buy a genuine Leica lens if I sold the Zeiss:) Fortunately for me, I discovered a perfect condition 50mm V4 Summicron for a relative steal, and the Sonnar was gone.

I am amazed at the quality of the files I get from the M8 at lower ISO’s, and the quality of these rangefinder lenses is just utterly incredible. I never understood the hype around Leica and rangefinders in general, but the lenses are just unbelievable. I have used numerous Canon L series lenses, but none of them have the incredible wide-open sharpness that my Zeiss 25mm and 50mm Summicron have….I truly see the light (no pun intended)!

The whole Leica rangefinder experience has been a great way for me to see things differently. I thought that manual focus would be a challenge, but truth be told I got far more OOF shots shooting wide open with my DSLR’s then I ever do with my Leica. With that said, I find a lot of the cliches about Leica are exactly that…cliches. This whole ‘definitive moment’ thing I find quite comical. As great as the Leica camera and lenses are, lack of AF, no easy access to exposure compensation, and mostly innacurate framelines do little to speed up the photographic process…at least for me. I even find the supposed discreetness of the Leica M8 to be a bit of a fallacy….truth be told I have just as many people eyeing up my M8 as I do my 7D. “is that an antique”, or “are you shooting film”.

Regardless, it is immaterial as I love the M system and I am now a die hard Leica fan. Thanks again for running your site and helping to bring new fans like me to the Leica fold.

Best Regards,

Clint Dunn



By the way, here are some shots, all shot with the M8. The pic of the boy and the fisherman are both with the Zeiss 25mm, and the grass shot was with the Sonnar.



  1. I wasn’t criticising, more curious, like I said the pics are great as is your photo stream. Shooting wide Open with a large sensor and fast aperture appears to produce noticeable light fall off (even with 1.3 crop) which draws the attention to the centre of the frame and gives so much of that atmospheric Leica look you’ve captured.

    I’d prefer the third shot to be at the (great) subjects eye level with the placement off centre so he’s looking into the space. but I really like the line from the pavement diagonally across the frame through that goes through the focal point.

    Encouraged that you’re getting such great shots on the M8 as I’m very tempted to transition to the M series but can’t justify the M9 🙁

    I really can’t justify the M8 either but this website is making my wallet look very worried.

  2. Hey everybody, thanks for all the great comments. For those of you who pointed out that all three shots had the subject centered in the frame…good call. Funny thing is, I didn’t notice that when I selected these three.

    I pride myself in my compositions, and if you check my flickr stream you’ll see that I normally don’t center the subject…but in some cases it works to break the conventional rules!

    I’m super happy with the M8 despite some of it’s shortcomings, and at some point in my future I know I’ll own an M9.

    Thanks to all who took the time to comment, this is a great site!


    • as a PNW native, i really like the shot with the seagull at cannon beach on your flickr stream.

      looks like you have used the contax g system… what were your impressions with that?

      • The G system was good in a lot of ways, not so much in others. I found the AF to be slow and inacurate, and the manual focus was almost useless. It’s too bad because it’s a beautiful camera and the Zeiss G lenses are brilliant.

        I’m happy you liked my Cannon Beach ‘Gull’ shot. Actually I just got a 20×30″ print done on aluminum through Image Wizards. I was curious to see how the 7D file would hold up at that size…and i have to say the print looks awesome up on my wall. Printing on aluminum is just an incredible medium to work with.

  3. Clint, actually I salute your input regarding the rangefinder experience (your M8), there is a hype about the Leica that is just pushed a bit too far. I shot with the M9 for a week and it was a nice experience but I agree with you 100% on this:
    “As great as the Leica camera and lenses are, lack of AF, no easy access to exposure compensation, and mostly innacurate framelines do little to speed up the photographic process…”
    I’d add the crappy performance at high ISO and the cheap OVF (worse than the old M3’s) those are OK but not when you pay $6-7 K for a camera. I’ve been reading posts here for the past few months and most of I find are boys with toys rather then people discussing photography techniques…etc so I’m glad to find a different tune here. I also agree with you on Leica’s lenses, they are superb (period).
    I carry an X100 because I can’t carry my heavy SLR anymore, but it is not unnoticed, especially in NYC and i was asked about it many times, and I was asked about and was given “the look” when I carried around the M9 with 50 SL. So I’m with you on that too, for me it was weight and size more than anyhting.
    As far as the comment regarding your subjects being centered, I don’t have any doubt about your composition skills at all since -unlike most- I bothered to browse most of your flickr stream and especially your landscape work. The first photo you posted here (fisherman) couldn’t work the same with an off-center subject, it’s an excellent composition with just enough foreground. The sky is amazing and your treatment added more drama, the vignetting is great too. images two and three are snapshots in comparison to #1 (image two is unbalanced because of the dark shadows top left and your highlights top right, and image #3 is nothing beyond the usual family portraits stuff).
    Thanks Steve, and thanks Clint, I’ll be checking your work on Flickr.

    • There may be some element of “boys with toys” but I think a lot of it is just people excited to have a different type of experience with photography than what (for many not everyone of course) amounts to a big point and shoot with a DSLR.

      • Mark, you are correct you can assign exposure compensation to the rear wheel on the M9…which is one of the reasons I want it. Unfortunately this option is not available with the M8..

  4. Excellent, atmospheric pictures. Fletch, I suspect the choice to have the subject in the middle of the frame is an artistic one. If anything, focusing and recomposing is easier on a rangefinder than just about anything else. The focusing patch on both the M8 and M9 is large and very bright.

  5. Damn these beautiful Leica postings… Mr Huff has a lot to answer for… Really pleased with a55 and x100 but still lusting after Leica. Are you happy with the M8 Clint? I’m very tempted but it would mean selling all my current stuff before it’s in reach and then I suspect I’ll be itching toward an M9.

    Not a criticism because these pics are great but is the central placing of the subject in all 3 frames due to the focusing system on rangefinders? With such shallow depth of field I’d imagine it’s tricky to focus and recompose.

    • I agree with Fletch re central placement of subjects but hey those are great shots. I focus and re-compose a little to avoid shifting focus if I’m shooting wide open. I just crop it if I want to move the subject a little more.

  6. Hi Clint, great post, and I can’t agree with you more, had very similar experience, and also had a post here on Steves site a few weeks ago with some of my shots from here in Hong Kong.

    It also started a debate when i said that my Leica lenses outperformed the Canon L’s, i was almost detracting from the point i was making, i wasn’t saying Canon was bad, but was simply nothing like the Leica glass….I use both systems professionally, and have used DSLRs pro for many years with no qualms. Im quite sure most of the people having a ‘dig’ had not used both….anyway, i totally get what you’ve said, and I’m glad somebody else feels the same way, look forward to seeing more of your work, lovely images here, cheers! Gary (www.f8photography.com.hk)

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