Why shooting Leica is Orgasmic

20130426-L1012797-2Men can say something is ‘orgasmic’ can’t we? If not then disregard the use of that word by me. 😉

Point is, it’s almost like that. What specifically am I talking about? What’s so special about shooting Leica that is different than other cameras or systems? MANY things, but I’m thinking of one in particular.

The other night we jumped up into Beverly Hills for a couple of margaritas at Chipotle on Beverly Drive. I brought the M-E and the 50mm 1.4 Summilux ASPH. Many great opportunities for low light shots along the street up there but, unfortunately, after two or three of those Chipotle margaritas I’m just lucky to be walking upright.

So I’m shooting some store windows etc. and the young lady I’ve spent my life with points to a window and says something effusively positive. But what’s behind the window is unlit and there’s a large store front awning shading the glass itself from any visible ambient light from the surrounding stores or street. So I go into the photographer’s speech about, well, honey, you don’t understand, there’s NO light here. It’s a nice display but your eyes had to practically adjust to even see it.

We photographers look for LIGHT, silly non-photographer. Etc.

Then I thought, well, of course, we can SEE it. So there must be some light illuminating it. So I have my camera on 800 ISO and I don’t even open the 50 ‘Lux all the way. It’s at f2. I stand very still, press the camera against my cheek. Dial the shutter till I get a solid dot. And then I watch something in my image as the shutter is open to make SURE I don’t move. That is the Leica Death Stare. Master it. Lock on an object and YOU WILL KNOW if you’ve moved and have to retake the picture.

Honestly, this has become one of the most fun things I do with my Leica cameras. I LOVE shooting at disgustingly slow shutter speeds. I’m not happy if I’m not doing it. It’s orgasmic.

The old photographic rule of choosing a shutter speed that’s faster than the focal length of your lens in order to eliminate camera shake? If you shoot Leica, you should know that, OF COURSE, this rule does NOT apply to you.

Not to be a jerk, but you SPENT that whatever thousands of dollars you spent to shoot this gear. And you’ve all too often heard people say… What’s the difference? What’s the point? It’s the photographer, not the camera!

Well this is a difference. A huge difference. And one of just many.  I shot Nikon pro gear for most of the last ten years. A heavy D2Hs and D3 and D700. Massive lenses that jut out 6 inches from the body of the camera, and more. I wasn’t comfortable shooting less than 1/250 of the second! You’d BETTER adhere to photographic rules and guidelines like the one stated above. And then, hold your breath!

But with a Leica M-anything? Just never mind all that. It’s not your concern at all. If it is, you’re doing something wrong. The flatness of the M bodies and the slim center of gravity allow you to hold the camera firm against your cheek and there’s NO long heavy lens to teeter the center of gravity and blur your photograph.

And, as a result, you can practically make your own light. Yes, the light is bad. No, I don’t really care. There IS light, that is the only relevant point to a Leica shooter. We just have to operate in a different universe of expectations about how much is there and what we have to do with our camera to capture the light that is there. And these cameras do that like no other cameras on Earth.

The above shot was taken with a 50mm lens in almost no visible light at all. The shutter speed was 1/8th of a second. And I was drunk.

2 comments

  1. Well maybe the kit does matter……what I enjoy is that you take risks with it…..and I dispute the negative view about who’s behind the camera…….you are the one who sees the potential, Don.
    I’ve given up on heavy DSLRs and now use an OM-D…..great little camera…especially at slow shutter speeds.

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