Cuba with my M9 and 50 Lux by Phillip Pegden


Cuba with my M9 and 50 Lux by Phillip Pegden

Dear Steve,

I’ve been an avid reader of your site for quite some time now – I love the mix of gear and general photography articles, and now check in each day. It’s like tuning in to the morning radio show.

I got sucked into the world of Leica over a decade ago. At that time I had a Canon EOS1 body plus the classic trinity of f2.8 zoom lens. I’m not sure how I stumbled into Leica, but I do clearly remember the day I was standing in a photography shop fondling an M6 and second hand 35mm Cron. Sometime later all the Canon kit had been listed on eBay – I found the rangefinder shooting style suited me better and I felt my photography had improved. Fewer options focused me on my subjects and composition. And from there I never looked back, swapping the M6 for an M8, then last year finding a nice second-hand grey M9 to upgrade the M8.

By that time I had a brace of lenses – the original 35mm Cron, plus a 50mm Summilux, an 18mm Elmar and a 75mm Cron. But I was beginning to feel that I was swapping lens too often – had my focus drifted too much from my subjects again? Thus on a holiday to Cuba with my wife I decided to experiment: safe in the knowledge that I had all my glass with me I opted just to only use the 50mm. Sometime later the 18mm and 75mm had been listed on eBay – I just couldn’t part with my original 35mm Cron though! So now I mainly shoot only with the 50mm – I love the simplicity never feeling I miss any shots, rather I find others. I would really encourage others to try a single focal length over an extended time.

Well that’s quite enough talking from me – I leave you with some of those images from Cuba. Keep up the good work.











  1. I am troubled, as I’d mentioned in the nearby thread on Cuba also showcasing wonderful shots, that Cuba has become this gratuitously easy object of study. As a collapsed and decrepit place, its preserved remnants of a bygone past gloss over lost lives and an imprisoned place. I work at a university and often hear the self proclaimed ‘Progressives’ laud the great strides of Cuban Socialism. This cruel canard is perpetuated by these gratuitous studies of ‘tough locals’ surviving the ‘cruel American embargo’.

    They are enduring the personal rule of tyrants and this place ought not be celebrated.

    • I believe it is a tribute to this site that such images, that I missed 4 years ago, endure and are just as captivating as the day they were posted. (They compel me to give my tithe for the year.) I do not understand how these images could said to be “gratuitous” or celebrations of Cuba’s poverty (which is evident throughout). And just because Cuba is run by a military dictatorship does not in any way let America off the hook for a senseless embargo that has only contributed to the misery. All portraits could be said to be “gratuitous” since the subjects are “giving” themselves (literally and figuratively) to the photography and the public. This is simply wonderful photography, and if a celebration of anything is the love of photography and the Leica.

  2. Phil — beautiful photography. While I truly love the rearview mirror, there is something about the blind(?) man sitting there that draws me in.

  3. I find the X100S with 35 mm really is a great camera to take everywhere. Recently I was given a M3 and I am using a 50 elmar and a 90 f4 with my XE1 Fuji. I also have the 35 mm so too many choices. I like the pictures and the feel of Cuba .

  4. Thanks Phil, stunning good photographs. I too am on a single lens at the moment for my M9P, a 35mm and whole heatedly agree that it’s a good discipline to work this way and take more time on the composition. Thanks for sharing…….

  5. Great work. I’m leaving for a west coast trip tomorrow with my M240 and 50 Lux. I decided to also bring my RX1 and 28 Elmarit… bad at making decisions but I plan on shooting with the 240 and Lux most of the time.

  6. Phil,

    Not only are these photos stunning, the way you compose each frame is Top-Notch… A superb use and understanding of the design language within each shot is simply amazing… Very well done!

  7. Holly smokes Phil!! Those are FANTASTIC!!! Now that’s what its all for with the M9. I still think the M9 captures a certain intimacy and beauty that is unmatched by anything I have seen from any camera.

  8. Very impressive what you did with a 50mm lens! Lovely pics. I am basically a ’28mm man’, but your photos make me think that I could try something new.

  9. Wow….Amazing Street Shots! well compose!love the third Photo from the top! Object and prop (Photo frame) seem to connect each other!

  10. These are some of the best photos I’ve seen on this website =)

    Very cognizant ordering of the photos as well….really nice seeing a Leica photographer who uses the camera to it’s potential =)

    • Hi Thomas,

      I just use Aperture – exposure, curves (mainly) and a few other adjustments. There’s no real recipe really – just hours of use of Aperture and some inspiration from my old darkroom days!


  11. Great work and I agree I choose one lens to use each time I take my gear out and concentrate on the material rather than the gear.

    Have always wanted to go to Cuba .

  12. Images that have a very palpable austerity, both intriguing and calming. I find, of all single focal lengths, the 50 the most frustrating one. Too long, too short, too dull…

    You don’t seem to be bothered by quibbles like that. Great stuff! I’d haven the 35 though, for a single lens. 😉

  13. Phil,
    Like you I’m a Leica fan. Like many photographers, I’m tired of carrying around a massive conoamera that says “Look at me! I’m a proper photographer (or not) with my massive lens and noisy camera.” I began shooting with a light camera an OM, just one lens. A 50mm f1.4, then I began on my gear hunt, the next lens and so forth, until I realised that I had legs to use as my zoom! After all that I returned to shooting mono with ‘Henri’, it goes everywhere. People don’t really find these camera so threatening, maybe your face isn’t so obscured. With a Rangefinder you get to see beyond the frame that the SLR obscures, so you can see how the picture develops. Great work!

  14. Very nice photos. As to the choice of lenses, decisions always involve compromises. With a 50mm we give up the drama that comes from a 21mm, and if we choose a 35mm we may be giving up the unique isolation that the 75mm Cron provides. I guess it all boils down to what every individual is comfortable or pleased with. My theory: that photography is much more than a single focal length. So I guess I’m keeping the few lenses I’ve got.

    • True, but if if we constantly change lessons we give shots up period. Sometimes one camera, one lens is a powerful tool. 🙂

  15. Superb!

    The question will now forever be, whether it is you or the matched camera and lens that makes these photos so wonderful?

  16. Phil- all the images are well done! The rear view mirror shot specially works for my eye and style. I also strongly believe in shooting with fewer cameras and lens- I use Fuji x100 (thus a 35mm) and a M6 35 Cron ASPH (all bought used) and loving the experience. I too, have been greatly influenced by Steve’s insight and enjoy his sight….Daniel.

  17. Stunning pictures. I visited Cuba last year for a month and these pictures are beautifully captured and are a true representation of what Cuba looks like. Made me slightly nostalgic. Thank you for sharing.

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