My goodbye to Nikon and Hello to Leica by Peter Tomlinson

My goodbye to Nikon and Hello to Leica by Peter Tomlinson

Dear Steve,

Having found your site about 6 months ago I’ve become convinced, with a passion that grew from your own passion, that I need to say goodbye to my Nikon DSLR gear (D700 and D300 with f2.8 lenses of 20mm, 24-70 and 70-200) and say hello to Leica. After your helpful input and a search around various shops I’ve chosen an M9-P, still under warranty, and at a very good price. I collect it on January 7th.

Therefore, as a farewell to Nikon I wanted to offer a few pictures which, for me, capture my photographic journey since I took up photography in 2005. The catalyst was a holiday to Kenya, so before departure off I went and bought a Nikon D70 with two kit lenses. This photograph reminds me so strongly of Africa.

Steve Huff 1

From 2005 to 2009 I wandered in the photographic wilderness, then I went on a workshop with and my eyes were opened. Having started to think about photography I went on a short break to Paris, with just a point and shoot to think about composition.Steve Huff 2

In 2010 we had a family holiday to California, so not much time to pause and compose, but I did manage to think more about what I wanted.

Steve Huff 3

In 2011 I was lucky enough to visit Hong Kong, and although I came back with many lovely photos of temples and swirling incense, they’ve been done so much, and this one captures my awakening to the power of selecting the right aperture.Steve Huff 4

In summer 2011 we had a family holiday to France, and again I was grabbing odd moments between family time.

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India was next in 2012, and I am now really am struggling to pick one picture amongst the scenes of places and people, so please excuse a couple, as I also started to become more interested in ‘street photography’:

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Finally, last month I was in the English Lake District and think this one captures the feelings of being there the most.

Steve Huff 14

Oh yes, and having seen your lovely dog featuring on some of the videos, here’s Isla for you…….

Steve Huff 15

Maybe in a year or two I’ll feel confident enough with my new Leica to post a photograph, but until then I have some work to do in getting to grips with a new way of creating photographs, hopefully with continued inspiration and guidance from your website.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, Peter



  1. Great pictures – I did the same as you but three years ago. I sold my 5D & 5D Mkll to go Leica M9 (& later M9-P) and it was a great experience – I could never imagine not having my Leica because it gave me some wonderful images. But I have just gone back to DSLRs (Nikon D800E & D600) & sold all my Leica gear and I am enjoying this experience just as much. What about the quality of the images? Some better with the Nikon some maybe not as good but the vast majority are indistinguishable. But for me the flexibility is key – I can get pictures with the Nikons that were pretty much impossible with the Leica.

    Enjoy your M9-P – it is a great camera – but you may come back to DSLRs later.

  2. Its funny how one can give up a system to shoot the same pics with another system. a camera does what another camera does, which is take pic.

  3. The Nikon shots are good, so the photographer clearly already has some ability. It doesn’t seem that he’s falling for the “I will get a Leica and magically become a better photographer” line. I predict that with his Leica he will experience more satisfaction than with the Nikon, but also (quite a lot) more frustration. It was certainly the case for me when I started using my M8.

    These days, I love my D3S and 70-200, and it can do practically anything (and I have the Digilux 2 when I need wide angle or a casual shot…but I don’t like the idea of the “casual shot”. It sounds like you’re being sloppy). I intend for every shot I take to have some meaning or reason behind it, and one thing with the D3S is that you have such huge battery life that it’s all too easy to shoot for no reason. If the M8 taught me one thing, it was choosing your shots well (because after a couple of hundred your battery would be out!)

    I did like using the M8, and I’d love to use an M9 with one of those legendary lenses, but can’t justify the price for what you get. A camera which does a limited number of things very well is a good thing, but my D3S can match or beat it in almost every category you can think of. The D3S is scarily close to being “Jack of all trades and master of quite a lot of them”. The M9 is, I imagine, more like “Jack of a few trades and master of all”.

    Still, hope the original poster enjoys his Leica!

  4. Funny – I did the complete reverse! Sold an entire M system including Noctilux and 6 other lenses to move to Nikon because the M simply could not deliver what I needed from a camera – speed and AF.

  5. Awe Man… I traded a 14-24, 24-70, and 70-200 and A Nikon D700 for my Leica M9 set up and lenses… I live in Europe and I walk the streets doing street photography weekly and the expereince is lovely. Leica Glass is truely the best in the world. Just be advised that this is a LEISURE camera not a work horse like a D700 or D4, D800 whatever. I still own a D800 and 50mm 1.4 and probably will invest in a 85mm 1.8G at some point but that I use for a little extra income but the Leica is truely something special giving me crisp details at half the size and making me a more approachable photographer says a lot! Good choice. You will probably purchase a DSLR in the future again but I’m certain you will keep that M9!

  6. Love the shot of the Healey! I must also say that after 35 years of carrying SLR/DSLR and I am also considering leaving them behind for something else. I love what I can get with my Nikons but the weight is starting to get to me. I am also no longer employed in the newspaper industry and, at 65 years of age, don’t expect to see anybody beating a path to my door.

    BUT, with the Leica bodies out of my range, I am looking at the Fuji X System line of cameras and lenses. Maybe also with the M-mount adapter for some Leica/Zeiss/Voitglander glass to play with…..

  7. Nice pics!!! Like them all but #3 and 2nd to last are my favorites. Maybe because they seem so serene.

    I am doing a Sony to Nikon switch now. Not for IQ improvement, but just to mix it up and keep it fun.

  8. Good story, interesting images, and interesting to see how your approach to photography evolved in time.

    After a period of less interest in photography I picked up digital photography some 4,5 years ago with a Nikon D200 and a zoom (forgot what it was). 3 years ago the D700 with the 24-70 followed. The zoom left after a month, to be exchanged for Zeiss and Nikkor primes, ranging from 24 to 85. Now I’ve started to use my old Ai and Ai-S glass on the D700 (the 1.2/50 is on it now); makes a change from using the slr’s.

    But that’s all geartalk; the really interesting thing is can I do with one lens, and what would it be? 50? 35? Or two; 28 + 50? Or three: 24, 50, 85?

    I rotate them. One roll, or one day per lens.

  9. Wow…love the little Indian kid…such pain to see the innocent living off the streets.

    The picture of sampans by the lake is fantastic too…nice work and thanks for sharing.

  10. I just did the opposite. I gave up Leica and rejoined Nikon manual focus lenses from the F to F2 period. While I love Leica lens quality I do not like the rangefinder. I have made many good photos with Leica and even some in my photography business, but I rely on Nikon too much to ignore its quality. And the photo is the final judge. They are indistinguishable from Nikon after a while. Certain lenses such as Noctilux and Hector retain a “look” but so does Nikon Noct and PC lenses. Also the film bodies of the F period are tanks. I did retain a M7 and summicron 50, elmarit 28 (v.IV), and just purchased a tele-elmarit 90 (fat) quite beat up. I like the used quality of beat up lenses. They work just as well. In my photo work however I rely on D3, D3s and D700 and am soon to purchase D800. None come close to the F. Similarly I have had M2, M3, M4-2, M4-P, M5, M7, M8, and M9. I will have another digital Leica just not now. I am enjoying the MF Nikkor lenses on my D700 and shooting an occasional roll of film. I have been at the art of photography since 1975, not counting my days as a child with a Kodak Brownie. Photography is about capturing images. The tools are irrelevant and ones personal voice. Tools change as we age. Look at Ansel Adams tool evolvement. Like the photos.

    • Very, very well said. IMO, Nikon’s pro bodies – combined with the best of their pro glass – is capable of images every bit as good quality as the best images Leica can produce. No one will ever convince me otherwise. The whole “Leica look” thing is largely subjective, IMO.

      The difference between Leica and NIkon primarily stems from the fact that every lens in the Leica lineup is absolutely first-rate, whereas Nikon produces a lot of consumer glass that is acceptable, but not necessarily pushing what’s possible in the lens-making art.

      On the other hand, if you put the very best Nikon glass up against anything from Leica, the differences are objectively indistinguishable.

    • Amen to this post. Nikon is wonderful. I also picked up an old Nikon FM2 camera. I still have the D-SLR, and love what i can produce from this gear.

  11. Wonderful images ! I especially love the image of the car in the narrow winding lane. Best Wishes, Henry

  12. I am in the process of doing the same. Went from Canon to Nikon, and making the switch to Leica. The images just have a different look to them and since most of my work is doing portraits, I can forgo the weight and FPS of the Nikon stuff. Also the images out of the Leica are just, awesome.

  13. Great photographs Peter. It always makes me smile when people say goodbye to one system only to begin a new journey with another. As a nikon and Leica shooter myself, just recognize that each system is really a different animal from the other. Each has its strengths and weaknesses. You will find that the Leica will produce fantastic images, but please dont think it can do the variety of things your D700 can do as well, eg high ISO, fast shutter speed, HDR, etc.
    Good luck!

  14. Fantastic post and some fantastic images right there. Seems to me that it wouldn’t matter what gear you used, and that you could produce great images with any camera. Thanks for sharing.

    • I disagree, and propose he post again in 12 months time with the results from his M9P. It will be an interesting experiment. 8 years of DSLR vs 1 year of RF. I’m quite certain the RF will change the way he takes pictures, for the better…?

  15. I’ve just made the switch from Nikon to mirrorless (Fuji) myself.
    It’s a great relief to not have to carry such heavy gear around when travelling.
    I’ve learned that while travelling, to be able to always have the camera with you and quickly take a shot is more important than to have the best lens.

  16. Great shots, Peter.

    I have used Leica for some time now and alongside Nikon dSLR. I don’t see the need or the wisdom in giving up one system for the other. Nikon still rules when I’m sailing or doing winter coastal shots as well as faster moving subjects. The Nex-7 is the most recent addition; what a camera! And Voigtlander (6×6) gets the occasional look in, too.

    • I agree with James. Giving up a Nikon DSLR for a Leica M is like giving up a hammer for a screwdriver.

      If you ever go back to Africa to shoot wildlife, you won’t be doing it with a Leica M9-P.

      All that said, love the photo of the old British roadster parked in the lane. Great composition with leading lines and strong use of both triangular elements and terrific tones. Nicely done!

      • I own both a Nikon D800 and a Leica M9 and frankly, I have a hard time deciding between them . But the dilemma has nothing to do with the cameras themselves. Rather it has everything to do with the kind of photographer I want to be. Each of these cameras leads to a different photographic experience, so answering that most fundamental question of “what kind of photographer are you,” may be the first step towards solving the gear dilemma. Unfortunately, indecision when it comes to this simple question is what keeps too many of us wandering in the photographic wonderland. Believe me, I know this from experience.

        • Well, many photographers don’t necessarily want to be “one” kind of photographer. Some of us are committed generalists, and to that end, it’s horses for courses. Using a D800 for stealthy street work is a little like using a sledgehammer to swat a fly, for example.

      • I do agree that each system has it’s own advantages and strengths. Having just shot wildlife a few weeks ago with my Nikon D800E and a 140-400 equivalent lens that cannot be done with a Leica M9 nor the upcoming M, simply impossible.

        Having said that for many other areas except wildlife the M is a great tool and has ever been, simply because it teaches you composition as no other camera (system) available. And also the lenses are second to none.

        I will definitely keep both systems. Might consider to switch once the Nikon kit for m43 as soon as better AF-C capable cameras and faster long lenses become available, we are close but still need some more years to get there IMHO.

  17. What a real nicely presented post.

    The colours of the English Lakes is awesome, definitely my favourite as well as the car.

    All the best with venturing into the new world of Leica. I wish I could take nice photos like all of you, Peter especially but I enjoy coming to Steve’s website and looking at his compositions and everyone elses.

  18. Great post – look forward to hearing how you find the transition.

    (thanks so much for sharing the work of others like this Steve, it’s fantastic).

  19. Very nice work and it looks like you are really going to enjoy the change.
    I did a similar thing from Canon to Leica three years ago and it invigorated my photographic passion.
    I have just been looking back through older work and I am amazed to see the difference.
    Good luck and enjoy.

      • Right, and that’s why I questioned giving them up. His photos with DSLRs are incredible. Isn’t it about the results after all is said and done? I keep my Canon 5D MkII because it is an incredible camera that does things the Leica cannot.

  20. Great pictures, Peter. Thanks for sharing. Particularly liked the picture taken in the Lake District.


  21. Good post Peter,
    I did a similar journey changing this year from a Nikon kit to Leica. It was a bit scary at first leaving home with only a 50mm lens but confidence builds up quickly when you see the result.

    I think you will enjoy your new camera.


  22. Really a funny coincidence, and interesting read. I did exactly the same early January. Sold my old equipment – Nikon D700 plus Fuji X100 and bought a used M8 in mint condition nearly not used (not 9 but 8 🙂 Great photos btw.
    Morten Albek

  23. Rangefinder photography also has its tradeoffs – close focus pictures like the one of the dog on the carpet might not be possible to shoot with a Leica M9-P. I personally wouldn’t have sold the Nikon but kept both systems.

  24. Your work is so good with the Nikon and Nikon lenses, that you will of course do well with your new Leica. Good luck.

  25. Very nice photos Peter. In really like the car driving up the lane on your visit to country side France.

    Great to see you trying news things and good luck with the move to range finder shooting.

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