Three weeks in India with the Leica MD 262 + 35mm f2 Summicron
By Russell Shakespear
Thanks for giving me the opportunity to share my photos and story on your site. I am a working photographer based in Queensland, Australia and I specialise in Portraiture and Editorial Magazine work. When I first saw the The Leica M Edition 60 I knew that this was the camera for me (but not at that price) I loved the idea of no digital back and shooting it like you would a film camera.
Photo showing the Leica in it’s gladwrap ziplock bag
I felt sure that one day Leica would bring out a cheaper model, I just had to wait a few years until the M-D 262 became available .
I bought the M-D + 35mm f2 Summicron six months after it was released and absolutely love everything about it . When I am photographing with the M-D, there is no distraction, I can concentrate on the subject in front of me, there is also the excitement of not seeing your images until you have downloaded.
I have recently been in India travelling solely with the MD 262 and 35mm lens. Most of the time was spent in Varanasi ( a city I have been documenting since 1987) and a few days in Delhi and Jaisalmer
My earlier work was all photographed with the Leica M6 + 28mm, this time I went solely digital. I was in Varanasi for the Holi festival, which is very colourful but also very messy, with coloured powder and liquids being thrown around, and at you. Not a great environment for a camera. Originally I had planned to take my old Nikonos water camera for this as it would be very easy to wash off any paint that was thrown at me as I was packing my bag, I made a last-minute decision and said bugger it I am only going to shoot with the Leica and instead packed a few ziplock sandwich bags and gaff tape which I thought could work pretty well and get me through the day.
I have included a photo of the Leica with the sandwich bag covering I tried to reduce the number of openings in the plastic bag and just cut one so that the lens could fit through and gaff taped the plastic bag to the lens hood.
Happy to report that this worked perfectly, I couldn’t look through the viewfinder but just distanced focused with the lens.
I also used the Thumbs Up attachment for the festival and it was fantastic for getting a decent grip, especially with the camera being inside the plastic bag. I don’t tend to use the Thumbs Up at home, but it was perfect for my time in India.
For those interested in Post production (the Leica only produces a DNG file) everything I process through Adobe Bridge and Camera Raw.
I have been shooting B&W film for the first 23years of this project and continue to produce the digital files to greyscale.
I find that it is very easy to be seduced by the colours of India but I still prefer to see the images in B&W. If anyone is interested in seeing more of the India work it is on my website at
www.russellshakespeare.com or my instagram @nopostcards
Thanks again Steve, love your enthusiasm for all things related to photography .
Wow Russ, there are some absolutely incredible images there. Thanks for sharing your amazing talent and passion for India always shines through your work.
Kind Regards Hans
Incredible Rusty, congratulations on a great spread. Technical and emotional perfection.
Thanks so much Suzie for your comments and for checking the work out.
HI Russ, thanks for the heads up on your latest trip, great emotion and joy that is and isn’t India, other timeless shots of everyday Varanasi, I really enjoy your work, had a good look at your website as well, such an array of interesting shots of places events and interesting people good on you mate keep focusing on what matters. Btw the I think minimal thinking is a good move, I still like prime zooms, re not screen on the Leica you use, reminds me of the Nikon FM 2 glory days, you just knew /trusted the shots were in the bag, something I heard the great Andrew Campbell say once, Polaroid is only for art directors, not because the photographer doubts his skill. Your text was clear and very readable as well mate, edwin.
Thanks Edwin for your comments and for checking out the work on my site. I agree with you on keeping things as minimal as we can.
With one camera and lens you really get to know your equipment, the other great thing is not having to carry a camera bag, keeps you light on your feet.
Beautiful images and as someone mentioned, outstanding B & W tonalities. Even Ansel Adams would be envious!
thanks so much Christian….not sure Ansel would have approved of such a small camera..Imagine seeing the Holi festival photographed with a 10×8 camera.
Russell whilst they are excelelnt pictures for me the colour and vibrance of the festival has been lost in B&W. Love your shirt by the way. Richard
thanks for your thoughts Richard,
If you go to my website, https://www.russellshakespeare.com/india/
you will see there is now a colour page..I have put a couple up from the Holi festival.
Wow Russ, there are some absolutely incredible images there. Thanks for sharing your amazing talent and passion for India which always shines through your work.
thanks for your kind words and for taking the time to view the article and pictures.
I have never seen such a lively BW pictures. I don’t usually like BW pictures since Leica produces amazing color pictures. But your pictures really full of color on its own. Thanks for sharing your beautiful work.
thanks for your thoughts and comments and taking time to view the work.
Excellent photographs. I agree India is a very photogenic culture and place. I like your simple Leica setup but have an equipment question . If you were to add one OTHER lens to your travel setup, which lens would you select? One of my travel rules is to keep things simple and avoid constantly changing around several lenses. Using just two lenses is something I can handle while on the road. Your thoughts?
For so many years of my project I was strictly a 28mm person.
When I bought the MD I also bought the 35mm which I love, I didn’t take the 28 because I really wanted to get to know the 35. My feeling now is that I want to get a 50mm, something really honest about it, and I feel like it would teach me to become a better photographer.
A long winded answer, but thanks for asking.
So many, many excellent images on your site! Impressive collection of work.
The theme of one who loves his country, Australia. The images so beautiful, Portraits that capture that “special” moment! All the photographs well worth viewing.
Thanks so much Jason for checking out the other work on my site.
Thanks so much for these wunderful B&W pictures,
Thanks Ma for taking the time to view them
Holi color powder throwing in B/w does`t make much sense. In Greece there`s festival of flour throwing, that`s for B/W. As to zone focusing having camera wrapped up in zip bag ( could be any) I do miss a solution found in Snap Skopar 25/4 with it`s click distance marks. You don’t have to look at lens, just count the clicks ( 3 of them ). Otherwise cool pictures from hot country. Talking about Nikonos cameras ( I have Nikonos/Calypso II) it`s pity Nikon neglected that wonderful idea. Well there`s Leica X-U which should have wider lens for my taste ( at least 28mm )
thanks Stanis for your comments. We all see the world in a different way, and that is a wonderful thing.
I will check out the nikonos/calpso
These are fantastic. Not the typical photos ones see from India, these show a deeper dive into the culture and people. Great work!
Thanks so much for checking it out.
Appreciate your comments
Its real #Varanasi, ….could be head that… Leica MD 262 + 35mm f2 Summicron with Russell Shakespear ever safe & charge in #EdenHalt to make best shot in Varanasi!
Thanks so much Sanjay for your comments
I love staying at Eden Halt when I am in Varanasi
Very nice photos
Thanks so much Danny
Fascinating work, but you clearly favor Monochrom images. Wondering why you didn’t opt for the M246?
I went for the MD because it didn’t have a screen on the back.
If they had made the Mono without a screen then I would have bought that in a flash
Thanks for checking it out
Thanks so much for checking it out.
Great images! I just sold my m240, might get back to Leica one day, but I think it is really really nuts that there is no westher sealing to be trusted.
I am not sure that any weather sealing would survive the Holi Festival…so much fine powders and liquids
I used to take the nikonos camera and nothing could get into that.
Unfortunately the widest they made for land use was LW Nikkor 28/2.8 non submersible.
I just have the 35mm lens for my Nikonos
Really nice. Thanks for sharing!
Thanks so much for viewing the work
Give me a leica MD based off the m10 with a monochrom sensor please Leica?
Or maybe the Monochrom without the digital back
Incredible. Thank you for the insight into this world. Do you by chance have any color samples of your journey? Safe travels always
if you keep your eye on my website(India page) I will be adding a colour section in the next month.
I have added a colour page to the website, will be uploading more over the next few days.
Quite nice. Fascinating, photogenic culture I know little about, and these photos reveal so much!
Broused your portrait portfolio too, and loved them, especially the cowboy hat which shaded out the details down to his nose.
Those Leicas are in good hands.
and thanks for checking out the other work on the site.
These are absolutely extraordinary. Thank you for sharing them with us.
Thanks Mary for taking the time to view them.