My Leica Starter Kit by Devid Mosca


My Leica Starter Kit by Devid Mosca

Hi Steve,

I know. I’m someone with a strong Gear Acquisition syndrome. I know also that even the best camera wont transform me in a good photographer. I know as well that rationally there is no reason to buy always latest camera model. But “rational” is such a bad word speaking about camera and passion for photography. I have a mixture of positive sensations from taking pictures and the pleasure of using/owning a nice, solid, well-crafted photographic tool. For example I take my old trusty Nikkormat (1st camera) out of the wardrobe sometime, just to feel its solid body and let the shutter “sing” a couple of times. I think that “passion” should resume everything. That’s also the reason why I check twice a day your website, looking for new temptations 🙂 But is also thanks to your suggestions that I’m enjoying my choice of tools so much. Photography for me is my small little world, were I refuge after daily commitments at home, office, traffic ect. to relax and think just to myself and something nice.


I was annoyed taking with me 5-7Kgs of big full-frame DSLR stuff, even if I was so happy with the results. I was infected by your “swallow depth of field” syndrome and after some zooms for travel pictures I bought the wonderful Zeiss ZE 35mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4. I really loved them, but the package was always too big, I have finished to take with me just camera with one lens. I finally sold everything and got Olympus E-M5 with a nice selection of m43 lenses. Wonderful camera in results and build, making for me 90% of the job, but I have always dreamt about a small Full Frame camera, with a couple of fast primes. I’ve tried Sony RX1, a wonderful camera, but I found myself to be too limited by a fixed 35mm. I see more as a 50mm I think, and this allows also to make some more narrow portraits. Taking pictures from more than 20 years, I have always admired Leica system for the pleasure of getting a nice retro handcrafted tool, with solid metal lenses, but I have never had the chance to step in this world or wasn’t mature enough to do it, not sure… Manual focus is not an issue for me, I’ve it also with Zeiss ZE. M9 did not fully convince me, because I was expecting by a full frame better high ISO performance than OM-D, and this was not the case. Finally I have decided to step into Leica world (a good friend, Leica user, has helped a lot…). My doubt was: used M9 + 35mm Cron + 50 Cron or M240 with just one easy lens to start? I finally decided for this second Leica starter kit as you can see in the picture: M Typ 240, VM 35mm f1.2II, VM 50mm f1.5 chrome, ONA Bowery, Angelo Pelle half case. I know myself and after getting a used M9 I was thinking to replace it with an M240. I can say I have finally realized the dream of a whole life.


I’m very happy with the decision I took. For the pleasure of using this fantastic tool, there is no doubt. I will just tell my sensations because your depth user reviews, Steve, covers camera skills much better than I can do… It’s a positive experience the M simplicity that forces me to think more to the picture I’m taking, even if I’ve also used MF with Zeiss and always A setting for exposure. I have never used the 1000 other settings of modern cameras, I set it once I’ve opened the box and then never touch menu anymore. The other positive thing I’ve noted is that people are less scared from M than from other bigger cameras. They are curious about this “old” object , and find you less “dangerous” maybe… i don’t know how to explain.The fantastic Angelo Pelle leather case is helping me a lot with its grip because of my big hands. And tactile sensation of this leather is really gorgeous. I was surprised seeing that I’ve always kept display protection in place, using the camera as a film one, just take picture and don’t look to the preview. I know pros and cons of M light metering pretty well now and recognize the situations where I need to introduce exposure compensation, that is easy with the new thumb dial. The only thing I can say about image quality is that I was wondering about the dynamic range, you can get. In my opinion is much better than OM-D and even better than 5D-mkIII or RX1. Taking picture of dark forests and cloudy sky, I was able to get back details in shadows of the trees and highlights of the clouds, that looked like HDR (even if I’m not a fan of this technic).



I chose Voigtländer lenses, thinking that was an intermediate solution before saving money for Leica ones. BUT… I found the 35mm f1.2II to be much better than expected. I bought it used in perfect conditions 850€! I adore his character and render (I always shoot wide open). Subject isolation is incredible. Nice sharp. Solid build. Perfect focus damping. LEss pink coma than expected from VM. It’s big, but big speaking about M lenses… is just as big as a 18-55 for NEX, or a 50mm for slr… Nothing can be considered big, if you carried 5DmkIII with Zeiss 35mm f1.4 ZE… That is really big and heavy!!! I think it will remain in my bag. Maybe in the future I can get a small 35mm in addition, just to go in the street ect. (see pict VM35*.jpg)

VM50mm f1.5 chrome: ist is a delicious object. Mechanically perfect, and so nice looking. The results are just… OK. Is nice in everything. It just bother me the evident pink come, but can be fixed in PP. At close distance has a nice drawing especially for portrait, and nice personal bokeh. Is sharp wide open, better than all dslr 50mm I know. BUT… i have compared it with the 50 Lux asph. of a friend. To my eyes the difference is more evident than what I have expected looking to your review (sorry Steve :-). Is a mixture of microcontrast and a sudden transition between in-focus and out of focus, that the VM is missing. Moreover, at infinity the lens is loosing his sharpness a bit, wide open and closed as well. Maybe due to the lacking of floating elements, Voigtländer has privileged close distances? Just an assumption. Anyway a really good lens to take wonderful pictures, incredibly nice to see and hold, but I think it will be swapped by the Summilux asph. in the future. I will miss his look, I’m sure.


Latest thing is the ONA bag. I use a Thinktank Retrospective 5 for M43 stuff, but the for M with 1 or 2 lenses, the ONA Bowery fits perfectly. It is really the first bag of a lot I have tried, that doesn’t suck, wearing it or using it during shooting. Incredibly well done, I think matches perfectly the material sensation M cameras can give.

The pictures are nothing special, just to give an idea of the render of the lenses, and I know that there are a lot of talented people can do better with an i-phone, but I hope someone can enjoy the experience and I can find solidarity by someone with same mental illness towards photographic equipment as me :-))

Devid Mosca , Bolzano, (Italy)



Leica M 240

Voigtlander 50 Nokton

Voigtlander 35 1.2 II

ONA Bowery



  1. I really liked the first photo, the one with two horses. Could you please share the first photo in its original size?

  2. Of course it’s a pleasure handling a nicely crafted camera. From my experience, forget thinking it’s a jewel; that’ll make you more healthy minded and you will take it on its own dimension.

  3. Mr. Mosca wrote a very interesting and personal piece about the quest for his ideal camera. Many of us have had similar experiences. Unfortunately, what is today’s “ideal or perfect” photographic tool will be obsolete in a relatively short time because of the incredible advancement in digital technology or because of the impossibility of getting the older camera repaired – lack of parts or too expensive. Erwin Puts wrote an article (THE DARK SIDE OF DIGITAL CAMERAS) about this problem by looking specifically at Leica cameras which are quite expensive as we all know. It reinforced my conviction that a good analog M and a Mamiya 6 will continue to be part of my photographic tool box.

  4. Devid.
    First off nice post. I fully understand the sentiment! All that matters is what you have makes you want to use it.

    MikeD800… bummer, right? I loved my RTS while it lasted. The only cameras that can last forever are the pure mechanical ones. Pentax K1000, various Nikons (Nikkormats, F2, FM etc), Canon F1, Olympus OM 1, some Prakticas, some Leicas (the factory STILL makes parts for the M3!) etc etc

  5. Hi Huss. I have to agree. I had an RTS III and a II block up solid on me. I should have restricted my statement to my Nikons. They just keep going.

  6. Better gear most definitely does not make for better photography. It might make it easier for you to get the image you are after, achieve a certain effect, or allow you to print it larger, but the most important piece of equipment is definitely the fool pushing the button.

    That said, I’ve also been bitten by the Leica bug and currently own and use an M Monochrom and an M8.2 with an assortment of lenses. My modern Leica lenses are the Summarit 35/2.5, 75/2.5 and 90/2.5, the Elmarit 28/2.8 ASPH and an equally modern Zeiss 50/2 Planar ZM.

    Despite the thousands of dollars I invested in modern Leica and Zeiss glass, I enjoy my old and cheap lenses the most. For $300 each I bought a pair of classic 50s, the first a 60-year-old Leica Summitar 50/2 and the second a 50-year-old Russian Jupiter 3. That Jupiter 3 is, despite its shoddy build quality and cheap feel perhaps my favorite lens of all. It has that amazing “Sonar Look” with incredible bokeh, stopped down it is sharp from corner to corner, and somehow images captured with it just have a unique look that I find appealing.

    I’ve long lusted after a 50 Lux ASPH and can afford one, that Jupiter 3 is the reason I haven’t pulled the trigger. My GAS was very active over the last year when I bought all of this stuff, but lately when I go outside, it is just the Monochrom with that Jupiter 3 that leaves with me and I think my photography has gotten all the better for it.

  7. I don’t get it…with the RX1 you found that the fixed 35mm lens was too limiting, but then you go out and buy a fixed 35mm lens for around $1400? Personally, I could use either a 35 or a 50mm lens, but never both. I’m a “one lens, one camera” person.

    • Good for you, but no way if you have two cameras !!


      Using the Lux 35 and 50 on the MM and the M is so much fun !! The RX1 is a great camera, no question, but to use this kind of excellent Leica glass (last version Lux 35 and 50) on different Leica cameras is always another experience …

  8. Ah, Randle, I should have read your comment before posting mine. I feel exactly the same. I succumbed to the lure of the D800 some months ago and sold my D700. Still not completely convinced. Well, the D800 is slightly lighter and a lot better? My photography hasn’t improved. I’ll stick with this camera for at least four years (ha ha). My analogue Nikon and Contax slr’s will last me forever.

    • Your Contax SLR will last forever? My RTS II broke (shutter jammed open) and no one would repair it as they said parts were no longer available as Contax ceased existing years ago.
      A shame.

  9. More money than photography here, as is borne out by the images presented. As long as it makes you feel good I guess. Still, that Nikkormat will function long after your current gear has given up the ghost, and might guide you to better photography. That camera is so basic, nothing better for starters.

  10. Chill… Do you go barking on Ferrari blogs telling them to enjoy the passion of racing hondas?
    If you can afford the product and you enjoy it, then what is the problem?

    I’m fed up with haters quoting fictional movie characters.

    • This is a Comercial Side make you buy things you can not live without – *ironie modus on*.
      Thats why @Randles Comments are deleted by the way.
      He just try to make you think about photography – not about spending money on gear you
      dont need for good pictures.

      If you cant accept that – go on buying thinks and get lucky………

  11. I am with you Devid 😉 suffer from the same syndrome.
    it is all about the joy you feel when you go out there. i believe this alone will
    help to make better images.

  12. THANK’S ALL FOR THE KIND REPLIES AND FEEDBACK. I’m feeling less alone with my madness ;-)))) I like Steve’s community


  13. Hello Steve and Devid,

    Thank you very much for sharing your Leica experience and please allow me to also share with you my Leica experience as I just recently had the chance to become a Leica user by acquire the M Monochrom as well as the M!
    Many wonder why Leica has launched the M Monochrome together with new M 240… I was one of the many wondering about which one to choose from… Why would I buy an M Monochrom and be stuck only with B&W as I could wait a bit longer and buy the M 240 and convert in B&W? As the M was impossible to find a few months back I went for the M Monochrom as I could not wait… I shot a few months with this beast mounted with a LEICA SUMMILUX-M 35 mm f/1.4 ASPH. Shooting exclusively in B&W is a very enriching experience, which has helped me improving my composition skills greatly. Furthermore, I found that the post-work in B&W was creating much more dramatic expressions than color, thanks to the fact that you can work more on the contrasts…
    A few months later I have upgraded my kit with a LEICA SUMMILUX-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. The narrower field is actually a good thing as it reduces slightly what you have in the frame enabling more composition focus… There is sometime too much things in a 35 mm frame!!!
    The more I was shooting B&W the less I was missing colors… I went on shooting freestyle skiing on the glacier of Les 2Alpes in France this summer with a SLR camera and ended converting all my shots in B&W… Actually for a very cool result!
    After having seen some very nice shots from Tibetan monks and amazing low light color shots from Cambodia and Vietnam I woke up! Even though I did not like color that much sometimes it could really rock! Especially if you could shoot color with a B&W mind set…
    Time had come for the M 240 to enter the stage! Impossible to find it was… I called all the Leica stores of Paris and basically I had to wait at least 4 months!!!
    One morning, as I was shopping in a large French department store I walked by the Leica corner and saw in display an M 240 black silver… I was pretty sure it was there just for display but when I asked the sells guy, he told me he had just received 3 pieces and that 1 was up for sale. I bought it… I had a good lunch at a French Brasserie to celebrate that acquisition with my 2 children…
    I tried it right away with the LEICA SUMMILUX-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. Indeed it is a totally different experience than with the M Monochrom… The rendering of the lens is quite different and to my opinion is giving the impression of a slightly shallower depth of field than when mounted on the M Monochrom (The Bokeh looks more creamy). The Bokeh is different and is softer with the M. At home I have made comparative shots of a chestnut tree with the LEICA SUMMILUX-M 50 mm f/1.4 ASPH. The results were clear; the 24 megapixel CMOS sensor in full 35 mm format is no match versus the 18MP Monochrome CCD Sensor in full 35 mm format (Ex-The Bayer color filter). There is much more dynamic range from the Monochrom and much more details especially in the dark areas of the pictures. As for the colors of the M I would say that at first glance they look mellow… M for Mellow… That would suit that cam well! For now I would need to spend some time with the M to see what happens… But as of now, I can say that the M and the M Monochrom are from 2 different worlds… They are complementary. The M won’t do what the M Monochrom does and vice versa. I am very happy that I can afford the luxury of owning both cameras and it is a blessing to use their complementarities when shooting… There is nothing like shooting with a Leica… Run, go get 1!!!


  14. In the words of the great Don Juan de Marco, “What is it this thing that happens with age …” I really enjoy (thanks to Steve) reading these transformative stories and the minimalist choices photographers tend to make as they have “been there, done that.”

  15. Nice review. I did the exact same thing recently and had just your sentiment – do I go for M9 + lenses, or just the M and one lens? In the end I found a great deal on 50 Lux ASPH on eBay, and went with the M, because of the low light performance, which is important for me because I’m shooting my kids indoors a lot.

  16. You are not alone in feeling that way about the equipment. In some ways we are a lot like gun owners, in that we enjoy the look and feel of our toys. The good thing is that there is less risk of us hurting ourselves accidentally when cleaning our toys.
    I also have the Voigtlander 35 1.2ll, and I found it to be such a great lens that little by little I sold old my Leica glass and little by little I have been purchasing Voightlander glass. It is surprisingly good for the money.

  17. This is a very nice write up….and I think echos the sentiments of many of us who lurk on Steve’s website. We like our photography adventures (however limited) and our equipment and just enjoy the look and feel…… a place to take us away from the grind. It’s nice to be able to afford the finest but it’s not an option for most, even as a “starter”. Fortunately, the difference between the finest and not so fine….is narrowing substantially and there are alternatives, like in the past. I have always liked my Minolta CLE…and it pretty much cured me from wanting back my M6 (which I sold). In fact it is better than almost any Leica film camera and can use Leica glass (the older the better). I suspect those of us who love Leica will soon have alternatives to satisfy our lust for extremely high quality digital in the compact form factor.

    • thanx Hap, even if I’ve done this choice I agree with you. There was nothing wrong with the Oly E-M5, also nice build ande nice feeling using it. For sure the M will not make me a better photographer, but makes me happy every time I use it and makes me want to go out and take pics. Someone get this sensations by a new carbonfiber tailormade bike or an oldtimer or a racing car, just to go from home to the bar. For me is the same with camera. Are my toys and makes me happy like a children at Xmas :-))) Have good light, Devid

  18. After years with analog and digital M’s I have found the whole Leica/rangefinder experience comes to life when you carry just one body and lens hanging on your neck.

    Leave the bags, extra lenses, extra batteries and accessories to the SLR crowd (or your home/hotel). Just you and the M. And stop worrying about breaking the camera. Leica’s are built quite robust and the camera becomes very “wearable” when you stop worrying about every little bump.

    Just my 5 cents.

  19. Thats still alot of kit to carry around though, my Leica startup was a M8 and a Rigid cron 50 from 1964 🙂 fantastic for B+W and not to bad for colour either . Its nice to see people enjoying their gear no matter what they are using however

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