Praise to the Leica M. The most refreshing digital camera made today.

Praise to the Leica M. The most refreshing digital camera made today.

By Steve Huff

NOTE: All images here are from over the years and all using a Leica M of some kind. Click the images for a better look at them. 

I will start this post by saying I do not own a Leica M these days, but not because I think it is not worthy of purchase and use. These days I do not own a Leica M for a couple of reasons specific to me. Today my aging eyes make it harder for me to focus a rangefinder and I am also not a fan when the rangefinder in an M goes out of alignment. This means sending it in and waiting weeks, maybe months for repair and adjust. I have had many a RF go out on me over the years and when that happens I curse the M and at the same time, I still adore it, love it and feel it is the most refreshing digital camera made today. If Leica had an express RF alignment service I would still own an M10 for the many positives that truly outweighs that one main negative for me. With this said, you may be lucky and own an M that never went out of alignment. Some only go out after many years of service, and when they do it may be so list you may not notice it. But I do, especially with lenses like a Noctilux which is a. breeze to focus on a 100% calibrated M camera yet when it is even off a hair that Noctilux will never perform like it should. In the past throughout the years I have had some tell me their Noctilux was so hard to focus and they could never get their images as sharp as mine with the same lens. When I checked their camera, it was the RF that was off which made the lens not focus or perform as it should. This is one of the old school things that come with a Leica and while we all love the rangefinder most live with the limitations it can bring. The experience of using a rangefinder is still today like no other, and always will be.

First set all from the original Leica M9 Monochrom. 

But an M does not have IBIS, EYE AF, AF, TRACKING AF or ANY AF. It does not have a slew of automated features as it was made and is made to be a pure raw photographic tool, and THIS, especially today in 2020 is so refreshing as it can show you just how good you are as a photographer, and also where you may need some improvement. An M is a teaching tool in some ways as well. Shoot with only an M and one lens for a year and by the end of that year you WILL BE BETTER at what you do, at taking photos. An M is all I used for many many years and it taught me so much about the art and craft of photography. It also taught me what was important to me with photography. It is also why all of these new automated features in new cameras do not excite me. As I have said many times here, I want to do the work when it comes to creating an image. I do not want the camera to do it all for me, as mostly all do today.

BACK IN 2006/2007 with my new M8!

I AM a Leica Guy through and through. 

Over the years I have owned the M6, MP, M7, M8, M9, M9P, M240, MP240 and M10. I loved them all, shot them all, and even worked with my M9 professionally for a short while, was paid for my work using it and landed some amazing shots using just the M9. My interest in Leica started long ago, when I was young. Back in the day I used to love looking over the images of live music photographer Jim Marshall. To me, he always provided the most raw engaging images of musical artists that I knew of and even today he is the best there was in this genre if you ask me. His images were raw, real, energetic, and portrayed what it was like on the road with some of the most amazing artists of the time. When I was a teenager I used to see his images and I remember saying with conviction in my living room one day as a kid, “THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO”. Jim Marshall shot with a Leica and Tri-X film. He did not have auto focus, he did not use auto metering, he did not need any kind of white balance as he shot black and white film, raw. He had no need or want for eye AF, IBIS, high res shot, or any of these things that manufacturers put in cameras today. Back then it took skill to create the imagery he created. The art he created. He had to be on his toes, keep his eye out for the shot, manually focus and expose and fire away. When Leica released the Jim Marshall Monochrome set I wanted one so bad. It was strictly limited edition, and way out of my price budget at the time coming in at $13,000. Even so, I tried for a year to find a way to purchase that camera. Never was able to but that is how much I respect and enjoyed Jim Marshall’s work and skill. I was set to spend big cash on a camera that inside was just a modern day Leica Monochrom. I wanted it because Jim Marshall was the guy I LOOKED up to back in the day as a photographer. It was not the famous street shooters who shot Leica, but a guy who shot music, people and their surroundings with it that motivated me and turned me on to the Leica M.

Here I am over the years…first image with an M8, the M240, and then the Monochrom. I have one of these for every M I have ever owned, but they are on multiple hard drives that I have in my closet. Here are few I have available. 

Back in 2009, 2010 and 2011 I shot an M9 exclusively. It was my main and really only camera that I used on any kind of regular basis. It went with me everywhere. To the grocery store, to the mall, to the car wash, to restaurants, to bars, to clubs, on trips and travel… It was my constant companion. I shot two tours with Seal using an M9, landed an album cover (a lifetime goal) and never once did it fail me, that M9. Never once did I want for better IQ and never once did I wish I had an automatic style camera or DSLR with me as I shot each night from the front lines. I even shot one show with a Canon 1d series at the time and hated it. It was too AUTOMATIC, too FAST, too EASY and the results, while very nice did not have the soul of the Leica M images. When the press came in to shoot next to me for the first few songs, none used Leica and almost all had a Canon or Nikon. They would look at me like I was a nut for shooting an all manual camera for a show like this. But I craved that experience each and every night as again, it meant I WAS doing the work to make an image. The camera was only there to capture the light.

All of these are from the M9…

These days I must be getting old, and while I am only 50, I feel different than I used to. Different than I did even 5 years ago. I feel older, wiser, calmer, more relaxed and confident in all aspects of life. I do not care one but about what others think or me or what I do and I live life to enjoy it as much as I can, as positively as I can. I do things in life differently than I used to. It is my job here, and has been for twelve years, to write about and review cameras. Yep, I have been reviewing cameras for twelve years (since the Leica M8) and while the excitement of new cameras has slowed down within me, I still enjoy when something is released that is game changing or truly spectacular (as rare as that is today). I feel that the cameras released 3-4 years ago are just as good as cameras today when it comes to image quality. It appears we reached an IQ limit and today camera companies are instead looking for things to add to cameras to automate them, and make them as appealing to as many as possible. This means adding things to make them easy to shoot and capture gorgeous images without fail. This is good and bad IMO. It’s good because anyone can be a photographer today as evidenced by the countless number of those online, instagram, youtube, social media, etc showing their photos off every second of every day. I mean, photography is more saturated today than it ever has been in history because of the availability of amazing photo capture tools, even the smart phone which is what drives most of it today. Today all one needs is a modern day camera, a fast prime lens and they are all set to create art. There are even thousands of camera reviewers on youtube these days who also consider themselves camera experts and photographers. It’s everywhere today and one can get overloaded with news, reviews, photos and details about every camera made today. Information is everywhere and that’s a good thing as it gives us, the consumer more to think about before a purchase.

This set all with the Leica M10

The photographer explosion today is 100% led by the smartphone, and then real physical cameras. Some get tired of the phone or want something more professional and look to upgrade and most are buying full frame mirrorless today outside of the smart phone world. Something like a Sony A7III (which is a phenomenal camera for anyone wanting full frame mirrorless) and a lens and their photo game goes up a notch if they are willing to shoot RAW and dig into the files, and most learn and do just that. But with each new camera that is announced or released these days it seems there are new features and gimmicks inside to help automate the process, and take away the work you have to do to get an image. For some of you this is WANTED and for some others NOT WANTED. This is partly why Leica exists I feel as they offer a camera that is unlike others with a simple body, menu and controls. But with Sony, Olympus, Nikon, Canon and others these bodies are LOADED with so many features it also loads up the menus and bloats the camera. Makes me remember the 90’s when PC’s were getting big and every time I bought a Packard Bell windows PC it would be loaded with fluff I didn’t want.

A recent video I made about the Leica M-E (M240)

Eye AF, Animal EYE AF, IBIS, High Res shot, HDR, DR enhance, face detect, and the list goes on. You mean I can handhold a shot for 5 seconds? Yes indeed. One can do this with the wonderful new Olympus EM5 MKIII. These things make it super easy for anyone to shoot like a pro and this may be something some will not like me saying but shooting something so full of auto features also ensures that the younger generation grows up with less skill than the previous. Not skill to take a beautiful photo, as that is easy today with any new modern cameras. Anyone can take a great image today with a super camera but even so, I feel all photographer should spend time with a Leica M, or even an old rangefinder film camera that can be had much cheaper than a digital version. Even the old Epson RD1 which I adored at the time as it was the very 1st digital Rangefinder camera. 

Camera companies today want us to think we NEED these features to take beautiful images. We do not as evidenced by the work that has come before any of this technology. By those who mastered the art of photography. By those who spent the time learning about exposure, light, aperture, film types, and used cameras with the most basic of features. By those who use Leica M cameras every day and create beautiful imagery without IBIS, Without AF and without the need for ANYTHING other than your eye.

I will be honest, my excitement for most cameras today is much lower than it used to be when digital was still improving and with each new camera came amazing upgrades. Today each new camera has the same IQ (face it, MOST who buy even full frame mirrorless use them only for facebook, instagram and online sharing yet some still buy a 60MP camera for these things when even a 6MP would do just as nicely) yet loads up on the new features (the super tricks that do the job for you).

First image from the M9, then M240, M240, M9 and film on the MP

I look at a camera today like the Sony A7RIV. I used it, tested it and thought it was remarkable for anyone who needed 61 MP. It has it all. Speed, Eye AF, Animal EYE AF, Video EYE Af, more resolution anyone would ever need no matter the print size and well, an amazing EVF, IBIS and great battery life. The IQ just about met the Hasselblad X1DII. It sounds like the perfect camera. It can track your subject like a pro, never lose sight of the eyes which means your subject is always in focus and all you have to be concerned with is framing and pressing a button. It’s where mostly all cameras are headed, even Leica’s own SL2. So what is wrong with this? NOTHING! This is a camera by Sony that is probably their best overall ever. It’s fast, it’s small, it’s powerful and has every automated feature one would want. The resolution is world class for its size. If you want a camera that has it all, then look no further than the A7RIV.

But if you want a camera that makes you do the work and one that will reward you when you nail an image and crush your soul when you miss it (but learn from that mistake) then there is only one that is made today and is digital. It is the Leica M (any variety). There is none like it, and no, a Fuji X Pro 1, 2 or 3 are nothing at all like shooting a Leica. Those do not use a real RF, are not in any way manual like a Leica M and they feel hollow and light compared to the solid feel of a Leica M. The Fuji’s are great, beautiful and nice but what I am saying here is they are not even 10% of a Leica when it comes to how it feels, works, shoots, the experience, or even the output which is much different between the two cameras. I am not bashing Fuji, but I see so many say the X-pro is like a Leica M, when it is not even close or even similar. The Leica M has always been the camera that was unlike any other, and that remains true today. The X-Pro series is great today, and IQ is gorgeous from the Fuji line but no, it will not give you the experience of a Leica in any way.

First image M240, then M8, M8, M-D, M8, M240, M240 and M 240. 

With a Leica M you will only have the sensor, the body and the lens. You will have to frame within the rangefinder frame lines, you will have to focus by aligning the RF patch in the optical VF. YOU will have to expose properly (though you can use the meter in the M as well) and you will have to shoot RAW to get the most from the files, just like when we used to shoot film and do the work in the darkroom. When using an M, you feel as if you are doing the work and the camera is just the tool to help you create what your mind envisions. When using an M with say a 35mm or 50mm or 90mm lens, you start to see the image before you take it. You learn how to see your framing, how to see what the image will look like after you snap the shutter, and you also start to see more around you that fits into your frame lines. When I shot an M with a 50mm for years, I started to see in 50mm. I would look around, and see shots everywhere as in I could see exactly how it would look, bokeh and all, before I took it. Made using the M intuitive, easy and like it was an extension of my eyes and mind.

My “Tribute to the Leica M” video

As I look back at old images I have shot with an M it makes me a wee bit emotional as I see my life flash before me. My son as a young boy, then young man and then adult. My old neighborhood, the time I surprised my son with a re-issue Shcwinn Stingray bicycle or when my Mom came to visit me in a new house back in 2000 and then she stayed for a while. So many images I shot with the M and as the years went on, and when I started using other cameras I started to see a decline in the number of images I shot. With the Leica M my images were life itself and I have TENS of thousands of images shot with M cameras. With other cameras they seemed to be just normal photographs. I think this is because when you use an M camera, you have to always be thinking, you have to always be looking for that shot. You are in a different state of mind when using an M and at least for me, I captured images that meant something to ME as I took the process more seriously and had more passion for photos when using an M.

First M8, then M240, M240, M-D, M-D, M9, M240, Monochrom 246 and M240

I stopped shooting the M not that long ago after I received an M10 that had a rangefinder that was off out of the box and I felt it was unacceptable for the cost of the camera. Of course the dealer took it back at the time but it bugged me. When the RF is off this means you can forget about attaining critical sharp focus unless you use live view (which eliminates the whole M experience). With repair times at Leica taking weeks, if not months (some of you have emailed me recently about this) I decided then to stick with the SL, and use that as my M camera. I loved the SL as much as the M and while it had an EVF, it was the best EVF in any camera at that time, it made using M lenses easy and also fun and with manual focus and aperture still on tap, made the experience almost just as fun as the M for me. But I can not say that the SL felt as nice in the hand, because it didn’t. The M feels sleek, sexy, slim, small. The SL is large and chunky. So for me, the M is just something that emotionally connects us to the photo taking experience. I do not own one today, but I also take less photos today than I did ten years ago. As I sit here I wonder if that is because I no longer shoot with an M? Hmmm.

In any case, there is nothing like a Leica M camera and even though I do not own one today, I have been considering the Leica M-E. The new one. It’s based on what really has been my fave digital M ever, and that is the M240 (my huge review, which you can also see as an M-E review as it’s the same camera) . Many disliked the 240 yet I loved it. I felt the color, the signature, the body and the performance was a huge step up from the M9. Even today is is fantastic tough weak in low light. I wouldn’t go over ISO 6400 on the M-E. But today’s M-E is $3999, which is really a deal in the world of a new Leica M digital camera and gets you a new M 240 in a new color. I do not feel the M10 is worth double, and the ME may be my ticket back to M land. Even if I do not use it a ton, it would be nice to have on my shelf as a reminder of the times when I had the M9 and M240 and used the hell out of them. It will remind me of the time I worked with an M professionally for paid work and will remind me of a time when cameras were not made to do the work for me. A time when I had to do the work, and also the time when I felt the satisfaction each time I nailed the shot. I do not get that from todays modern cameras. Rather its just POINT & SHOOT and bam, there’s the image.

M9, M240, M9, M8, M240, M240

If you are someone who wants the challenge of a manual camera, who wants something small, basic and simple yet gives us that Leica signature without spending $7-8k on an M10 or M10P…I would check out the new ME at $3999. It will offer you the full M experience with having to spend double and yes it is quite capable. Some of my all time favorite images were shot with the M240 and they look just as good today as they did back then when I shot them and the new M-E is an M240. In fact, I preferred the way the M240 rendered with the 50 APO over the new M10. Very medium format like in colors and presentation. I remember that experience of the 50 APO and M 240 very well.

In any case, I just wanted to sit down this morning as I drink my coffee and reminisce and little bit about the Leica M and what it brought to my life. I must be missing it even though it’s been a while since I shot with one. Wether it was with an M6 and film or an M9 and digital there simply is a feeling a Leica M brings, and it’s a good one. It may be limited to some, expensive to some and pointless to some but to those who have shot with an M and enjoyed it, you know exactly what I am speaking about here. I have tens of thousands of images shot with an M, and the ones here are just pure random that I had on a hard drive that I had access too. I did not pick them for their details, sharpness or lighting. I simply randomly threw some up as all are special memories to ME. For that I do not need perfection, I just need life, soul and a camera that I can connect to that delivers just that from within me and in the images it puts out.

Leica M9

Enjoy your week, and the upcoming holidays. As for the Leica SL2 review, Leica never sent me one as they said they would so I may have to rent one to review it, which I will do soon. I may also get a Fuji X-Pro 3 in to check out soon as well, so stay tuned!

Steve

58 Comments

  1. I’m 56 and my eyesight is very bad. I’ve been very nearsighted since I was a child. When I turned 40 my eyes really took a dive and I needed progressive lenses. I’m a professional photographer and rely heavily on my M10’s for daily work and I’ve been using Leica M cameras since the 80’s. Using diopters on the cameras are the only way I can focus. However, with the diopter lens everything is good and the Leicas are still a joy to use and I have no problems focusing. You should try it.

    Regarding rangefinder alignment, the few times they have gone out I’ve been adjusting them myself. The vertical alignments went out a lot with my M2 and M4 back in the film days and I learned it was an easy fix. With the digital M’s I’ve had the adjust the vertical alignment once on an M10 and the infinity on an M240. These are not difficult things to do and are typical tasks for old “analog” technology. If you can change a tire on your car, you can adjust your rangefinder (don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t go beyond that to major surgery on any camera).

    I enjoyed your piece. I hope you can find your way back to comfortable shooting with the Leica.

  2. Hi everyone,
    Thank you Steve for sharing your thoughts and all your knowledge about the photography world and technology.
    I owned a Leica M240 for several years and reading your reviews certainly triggered this purchase. I enjoyed the shooting very much. I grew up shooting manual lenses so focussing wasn’t an issue. And I must say I loved my combo 240 + 35mm Summilux.
    I had a major problem with the processing of the reds which my 240 never managed properly. They were completely burned and I could not retrieve any detail, even in the shade. Obviously ruining all images containing red. My Leica dealer agreed there must have been a problem and sent it to the factory. It came back with a note that everything was fine with the camera and the reds are particularly difficult to process. End of the story.
    I sold the 240 right away and will never buy a Leica camera again. Very disappointing.
    Kept the lenses though which I’m using on Sony A7R.
    Anyone has encountered the same problem?

  3. I fell in love with the M9 when I held one for the first time in 2010. It felt so natural in the hand and simple to use and the image was stunning. Finally saved up enough pennies to pick one up in 2011 and never looked back. I remember a friend (Nikon wedding shooter at the time) asking what I did to make the images so “sharp.” I eventually had to own up that I had picked up a M9 because it may have been the only camera at the time without an AA filter.

    I acquired the M in early 2018 and sold the M9 to a friend. We’re now both enjoying the images from these cameras.

  4. Steve- have you tried using Leica diopters? I have problems with vision and wear glasses, but the diopters allow me to focus my M cameras clearly. I also use the 1.4 X magnifier and that helps as well.

  5. Hi Steve,

    I’ve been reading your articles since inception but have never had a reason to really comment, until now. I am through and through a Leica photographer – although I have used and use many other systems, including currently owning the Lumix S1 and also share with you the love of the quirky little Sigma FP. I also share your enthusiasm for the original SL over the SL2! I think for a lot of photographers the SL2 will be a fantastic camera, but I have medium format options and have very little need for the SL2 (or Q2) in regards to high resolution full frame sensors that look better (IMHO) downresed to 24MP anyway… but anyway, on to the M in all of it’s digital variants, of which I have used and STILL USE them all to this day.

    Besides the M10, M240, M246, original MMONO and M8, I have an M1, uncoupled rangefinder film camera, in fact – as well as an M2, M4-2, M7 film bodies as well. Let me get back to the M1 for a second, it was my revelation…

    My eyes are going wacky too, I just turned 50 and can tell the difference. I also have experienced rangefinder drift, and boy that was annoying… How have I resolved this? Well over the years I have stopped caring about doing much more than framing and have a dedicated “zone focusing” technique when using my M bodies. Sometimes I even, *gasp*, use FLASH or STROBES to get what I need! Does that mean my rangefinder is unused? No, but I don’t have to DEPEND on it to focus. I also don’t have to depend on fast glass. The 28 Summaron starting at F5.6 is fine, as is the old Summaron 35. Even the 50 APO has a very solid focus wide open if you know your distances well, and anything higher – the ME 240 or M10 is a GREAT option as has been said here, with focus peaking.

    In other words, man, you can make it work.

    Last thing I will leave with you. I did and article for a magazine where we visited William Eggelston in Memphis a couple of years ago. He got to play with my M10, evidently the first digital Leica he ever held. Did he look through the rangefinder? No. He played with the 35 Summicron I had on it, said, “this is the same lens I used in the 70s.” shifted in his chair and shot three shots with it at F2. Perfectly focused shots. He was done. Later, he shot me with his own M4-P and the Canon Dream lens at 0.95..wide open. He never looked through the rangefinder.

    Do you think he got the shot?

  6. Those Seal images are beautiful! Wonderful job. True, no other camera inspires to do pictures as the m, I completely agree with that. It’s been also my case, I used other cameras with super autofocus, speed, etc.. and my best images have come from the slow m 🙂

  7. Steve

    When you get the new M-E also get a pair of single vision or flattop bi-vocal glasses.

    Progressive lenses add a layer of variability that makes rangefinder focusing more problematic for me. It can be done, but it takes more time and effort to do.

    PaulB

  8. This is what I expected from you Steve. Thank You. Like many others, it was you that got me into Leica in the first place. I’ve had the M8, M9, M240, and as of 2017 (still) I have the M10 all because of your passion for the brand. Ive done most of my traveling with the 240 and those are my best pictures. So I agree with it being my favorite. I was drawn to the thinner ‘like a real M’ body but haven t been shooting much since I got the M10. That’s mostly because of the lack of motivation. Anyway, thanks for the memories and a boost injection of inspiration.

  9. Hi Steve! I agree with what you say. Just out of concern, what’s bad with your eyes? I’m about your same age, my eyes are turning worse, but I still shoot with my m3 pretty successfully (in my own terms). Can’t you correct it with glasses? Cheers, thanks as always, and merry Christmas!

  10. Steve, a used M10 is about $5k whilst the ME is $4k. I’d rather the newer, svelter M. It is a leap ahead of the 240. In fact, I do believe that the M10 is th first fully realized M digital. The M8, 9 were ß-models for all intents and purposes. The 240 is fat and ungainly. And who the hell needs video in an M?

    • I would never personally buy a used M myself, and I have extensive experience with both and while I would recommend the 10 to most, I actually enjoyed my M240 more than the 10 after it was all said and done. The M240 has the same sensor as the SL, and the same color and feel, which I prefer to the cooler tones of the 10. I also prefer the body being a tad fatter like the ME/240 is. But at the end of the day I would never buy a used M as I have seen too many nightmares from it and Leica will not give any warranty to the used buyer. If the RF goes out on a used M, be prepared to pay for the alignment, and it’s not going to be cheap. One can get a new M10 for $5800 with extras, Id go that route if buying new. Thank you Ed! https://amzn.to/2EgWSKH

  11. Steve, I always thought your best pics were those you made using Leica Ms. I’m sure it’s because they force you to be more careful and considered in your captures, as there is far more effort required. This in turn gave you better results.
    And taking this back further, your film M pics were the best. Not only because of the effort required, but also because of the understanding of the cost involved with each shot.
    Don’t wait to get a $4000 M-E. Buy an M2/M3/M4-2 for under $1000 now, use your digicam to scan the negs (super easy to do – big thread on rangefinderforum.com), process using negativelabpro.com. And worse case scenario, you can sell that film M for the same if not more $$ than you bought it. Try doing that with a digi M!

  12. Great article. I shot with a wide range of Leica film cameras from a IIIf to and M6, but could not get myself to spring for a digital version. Finally this year I sold everything but my grandchildren and got a used M240 and 50mm Summicron from the NYC Leica store. For the first time years, I feel that I am back home photographically. I don’t miss all of the bells and whistles and can focus on the shot. By the way, I am 80 and wear glasses. I find that if I don’t try to shoot wide open, I am fine. So far….

  13. Steve…sorry to read you can’t make the conincident rangefinder work with your eyes. Unfortunately I could not do it when I was in my 20’s on a Leica or Linhof Technika! Give me a nice split image or good microprism. These days I am very happy with contemporary autofocus systems that solve the issue as long as you tell it what to do!

  14. Steve- enjoyed reading your article today. I currently have a M10 and M3 and love them both equally. For those people that feel Leica’s are too expensive… buy an old film M, pick up any summicron and shoot. If you don’t enjoy the experience, you can always just sell them back at no loss.

  15. Hello Steve. Thank you for this article. Words of wisdom here.
    I totally second that.
    As I use to say: Leica is a brand I hate to love or love to hate.
    I’ve owned many M bodies (M9, M9-P, M5, M6, M7, MM1 and MM2) over the last 10 yers.
    I bought my first M9 thanks to you. Your website was (is) an incredible source of valuable and honest information and reviews.

    Today, all my Leica gear has been sold (still keeping the M5 and the M6) because of poor reliability (Q and MM2 are have been 100% reliable though) and TERRIBLE support from Leica.

    Selling a faulty M (2 sensors cracked), a corroded sensor (S2) or a corrupted video board (S007) is NOT acceptable at this price point, no matter how good is the story telling or the marketing.
    Most of the cameras available today (within the range) will give you similar results.
    Does a Leica camera take better photos than a Canon or a Panasonic? Big and bold NO! But the Leica user experience is still unique. A M will inspire you much more than a state-of-the-art-Japanese camera.
    I remember taking my Ms out of their pouches just to hold them and feel that hefty weight in my hands.
    Am I done with Leica Ms??? Yes!!!!

    … well, until the next one!

  16. I was smiling reading this Steve. Hits home. I’ve been shooting with (2) M240s exclusively for almost a year and it’s been the best ride. I’m close to you in age and hopeful my eyes hold (as well as my rangefinder). There’s nothing like the experience — the interaction…the purposeful intention. The misses (which I have to admit sometimes yield some amazing frames as well). The work. I’m stronger photographically and emotionally as a result…and I can’t think of a better tool to have alongside at this stage in my life. Happy Holidays…and have fun when that M-E makes it way into your world (which I have no doubt it will) 🙂 Keep Shining.

  17. Still shooting (and paying the bills) with an old Canon 6D. And no, I won’t check out the new ME at $3999. Maybe a Fujifilm X-H1 with a battery grip for $999…

  18. Hi Steve, I like your thought’s on your journey with Leica the memories you have are worth the ride.I l ike your photo of your son and his new bike . The color just pop with depth and color. Is the Seal album cover from your 2nd photo of Seal? I dipped my toe into Leica this year end you had a part in that . The D-Lux 107. Wonder if Leica has yet to send you a Leica as I went to the Leica store in Bellevue in late November for the unveiling of the SL2 and they had 20 camera’s and len’s to try out for an few hour’s and now they are being shipped to all the Leica stores in America I was able to shoot with the SL-35mm app which I thought would be too heavy but it wasn’t an issue that I thought it would be I liked file great color. If you get a hold of the SL2 I hope you can try out to 35mm SL. I think Like you I would buy the SL over the SL2 but I still wonder what your take is with both camera’s none the less…

  19. Hi Steve, thank you for sharing your thought, passion and so nice pictures with us since years. I am following you so long.

    I like this article – the Leica M is at the end the camera of the heart, there is no comparison.

    Btw – I love the pictures with Seal, would there be any possibility in the future to go with him on tour?

    Cheers from Switzerland, Marco

    • Thank you Marco. I have so many Seal images from 2010-2011, and I just spoke with him a couple of weeks ago. We still keep in touch when we can. Thanks for reading and looking!

  20. Steve, as a former owner of am M240 and M10, I would agree that nothing beats a Leica when you really capture the shot. Having said that, with a similar eyesight challenge as you, my hit rate was getting frustratingly low. I now love my Q2! I am also a big Sony user. Frankly, when I know I have to get the shot, I use Sony. I can focus on the composition, not the frustrating focus.

    Perhaps some day we will see a Q with a super fast 50mm! What a dream that would be!

  21. Hey Steve! Amazing images… just beautiful work.
    You mention the Leica servicing and the potential weeks or months. The great news is Leica USA service center has had a total overall this year. I have had my M and a number of lenses serviced this year, and the experience is SO much better.

    Constant email updates on your gear and how its progressing, an online tracking system to see the progress. And turn around times that are often less than a week. I had two lenses serviced in three days in November. Returned within a week. 😀

    Really happy they listened to the concerns of this service and addressed it.

    • Good to hear about the customer service at Leica improving this year. I did hear some tales of super slow (months in a couple of cases) turnaround for repair. So if they sped it up, that is great to hear.

    • Lucky you! It took 6 months to Wetzlar to fix my ex S007! Absolutely unacceptable!! They never sent me a loaner. Just received the same useless apology letter they send every time.
      When trust is broken, it’s for good.

      • Was that this year? I had my share of problems (nothing like yours though) before, but in the last 6-8 months, my understanding is the US service center has had a full overall.

  22. One of your best posts, Steve, great words of wisdom and great images as well.
    I am lucky in owning both a M3 and an old Leica iii so which one will I load that next roll of TX, decisions decisions. While I am nearing 70 happy years my old eyes can still manage to focus albeit with spectacles. Happy Christmas to you and yours.

  23. I could not agree more with what you’ve written here.
    And, you’ve backed it up with some superb photos.
    A suggestion, keep your back up drives outside your house somewhere, at a family member or friend’s place. Heaven forbid, you have a fire, you’ll lose all the copies.
    Thanks for a great article.

  24. So Steve, if you had to do it all again and pick only one M camera that you most enjoyed using, which one would it be? M9? 240? 10? Monochrom? Film leica? by the way for me, Leica m-a is my favorite film body, and m9m my favorite digital one.

    • Hey Daniel, hard to say. I loved the M 240 and I know some did not as it had a different look to the images than the M9 did. Even so I appreciated the extended dynamic range, ISO performance and I liked the thicker body. When I go back and think about it, I really enjoyed the Monochrom, the M240, M9 and M10D the most. But the new M-E is really an M240 and for under $4k new. I’d prob buy that today, but if I could swing it, the M10D or M10P. If I won the lottery, maybe the M10P and Monochrom.

  25. Thanks Steve! I bought an M9 six years ago because of you and I´ll always be thankful. I believe nothing that I’ve purchased in my whole life has brought me so much joy and inspired me so much. In fact the M has taught me to truly see with and without a camera. What else could I expect from photography? I will keep my M9 forever because it developed some corrosion and no ones gonna want it anyway but guess what, It does not matter at all.Very heartfelt writing, thanks again.

  26. Thanks Steve

    I am 69 and have an ME 240 which I love. I bought the electronic viewfinder and the black and white images this camera produces are world class and cannot match the with any other camera I used. You can by a usedM240 or an Me 240 put on an electric viewfinder get phenomenal shots with red focusing peaking and putting the rangefinder images together would no longer be an issue- just a thought

    • You are correct and I agree. I remember doing a side by side with the 240 and Monochrom (original) and no one could tell the difference when I put up a poll. The B&W from the 240 is wonderful. I used to use the EVF with the 240. It’s a tad slow with it, but an option indeed. Thank you.

  27. Hi Steve
    Wow, what can I say? I thought you lost the last for Leica
    I I identify with every word you wrote and feel the same,
    I even sold my M10 as you well know and own the M9P and the M9M
    Lovely article
    P.S I am 72 years young, so what is it you said about your old eyes?

    • My eyes have gotten so much worse just in 2019 alone. At this rate I will be blind by the time I hit 60 it seems. In any case, I never lost my love for Leica. It’s just that I enjoyed the SL more over the last few years with M mount lenses due to the EVF which made it so much easier. Also, never have to worry about the RF drift. I can’t say I feel the same about the SL2 as the sensor, for me, is not as good as the old one for the look I like. As I reviewed some of my M images I felt nostalgia, and happiness so may end up with a M-E seeing that it’s an M240 (that I always loved) and under $4k brand new. We shall see! Thanks Danny!

  28. I’m 71. A young 71, but nevertheless, still 71. So, I no longer have my film Leica or my M-E or 240. All because of my eyes. But, I love my Q and this year bit the bullet bought a CL. Couldn’t be happier, though I agree with all the love you threw at the Ms in this article Steve. Couldn’t agree more. Thanks.

  29. Steve, this is a beautiful, heartfelt tribute to the M and to your love of photography. You inspired and helped me choose the M over an SL earlier this year. There truly is nothing on the planet quite like it. True, it’s a difficult camera to shoot in fast moving situations, but so what? The keepers make it all worthwhile.

  30. Makes me want to pick up my M8 again. Thanks for a great article.
    For many of the same reasons that you like Leica M, I like the Sigma fp – and I know you do too!

  31. This article is worth it for the portfolio of images alone. In particular I enjoyed what you were doing with monochrome. Thank you, Steve. You also get the “mystique” of the M into words that really make sense to me and tempt me. But I am left worrying about the RF alignment issue………..

  32. Steve- I just bought a M10-P so if you want my M240, I’ll give you a good deal! It was my first Leica I every bought so I treated it like a baby.

  33. Dear Steve, thank you for this heartfelt article. I have been frequenting your site since almost 10 years and I have to say while I enjoyed all your articles this is by far my favorite. Your throwback at days where you bonded with your camera, at days where you had to work for your pictures and at how the Leica M accompanied you throughout the years, as a silent companion, documenting moments of your life (professionally and privately), this gave me goosebumps and reminded me why I still love and appreciate photography so much. In fact, a month ago I sold my Nikon Z6 and Fuji Xpro2 and lenses and bought a Leica M10 with two lenses 35mm and 50mm. I have never enjoyed using a camera this much. Lately I have been overwhelmed with all the buttons and options on my cameras that I don’t even use and the M10 brought back the joy in photography to me. I some times sit down and just hold the camera to feel it in my hands. It is truly a tool that you can bond with, and even fall in love with. I truly hope that you manage to buy another M for life is short and it seems like it gave you a lot of joy, not to mention the magical moments you were able to capture with them.

  34. I never used an M being left eyed, they just did not work well for me. However my grandfather taught me photography on large format. My first camera was a 4X5 field camera with a 6″ lens (no idea what that is in mm or fov). I remember building a 4X5 camera with walnut my grandfather cut down. There was a connection there similar to your M musings. It brought back lots of memories. And the few prints I have left 55 years later are still special. I can look at them and go back and feel the place as I set in front of my tripod waiting for the light and sky to get right for the 1 photo I would. I never found that feeling in any of my digital photos. I have memories as I look at them, but I cannot go back and relive the day so completely. Perhaps the less involved we are in taking the photo, the less of us is in the photo to savor in the future.

  35. Steve, great article! As I read through what you had to say I found myself agreeing with most of what you wrote. Coincidentally at 47 I’m also fairly close to you in age, and share your sentiment for how quickly the last 10-15 yrs has gone by and also the huge catalog of images I have documenting my every day and family life with a Leica.

    I’ve been shooting an SL for a about 2.5 years now and realize I probably would be frustrated to go back to a rangefinder…though I miss one every day. The innacuracy of the framelines and rangefinders going out of alignment are a dealbreaker for me after experiencing the fantastic SL EVF. That said, I miss the rangefinder body design which leads me to this…I want Leica to build an M body with EVF. I’ve been pushing this for 3 years now and often am met with vitriol online by those who are diehard rangefinder addicts.

    I truly think that a company like Leica who was bold enough to create a niche market item like the M-D should be able to produce an M style body with EVF. I actually think such a camera would be their biggest seller, and the rangefinder would become their niche product….which may just be the reason they haven’t done it. It feels like Leica is trying to protect the M from the march of impending technology. To me it seems like such a no-brainer…some of us just want to shoot M glass on a M style body with EVF instead of lugging around an SL/SLii. Come on Leica, make it happen!

    • Thank you Clint, and while I would have disagreed with you 7 years ago, today I agree with you. An M with a high res really nice EVF would be amazing and there would be no RF issues, ever. Even if they made it in addition to the RF version so there would be a choice. If they did it, it would be huge for them I think.

      • Olympus, Fuji and Panasonic all have rangefinder style bodies with EVFs but no company has a full frame option with interchangeable lenses.

        I think a full frame rangefinder style camera would find an audience. If Leica don’t do it then maybe Panasonic could. Personally I don’t like the “hump” on SLR style cameras as it breaks up the line of the top plate. It’s almost menacing, like a predator crouching in the grass with only it’s head showing above it.

        As for the EVF experience, when I’m using my E-M5 I switch off all the info in the EVF and all the gadgetry disappears into the background unless you press a button.

  36. What a great journey you’ve allowed us to share with you. Can’t agree more about the “tools” of our trade/art being transitory in our appreciation of them.
    Art being subjective and camera tech being science is always a conflict.
    Again thanks for sharing your evolution with us.
    And may you have many more too share!

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