I quit the cool Leica club

Last month, I sold my Leica M9 and now, I’m no longer hip or a part of the cool Leica club. Now, I’m just someone who enjoys making photographs; looking for what interest me in the world, capturing it and, occasionally, printing the resulting images. Oh, I also make a little money with my photography, be it for the government in my day job or shooting freelance gigs. Yet, now, I won’t be doing any of that with a Leica camera. How did this happen, you ask…

Bessa film RF: tourist taking photo, Victoria

In March, I started to shoot with a Fujifilm X-Pro1. In practise, this was to be my second camera, used for work with a longer lens to augment the M9 and 35mm combo. That’s how it started out and I did shoot a few jobs with both cameras. For my personal, walk-around-town shooting, I started to pick up the XP1 to become familiar with it’s characteristics. This continued until I realized one day that I was picking it up because I preferred shooting with the XP1 over the M9. I preferred it for the combination of amazing image quality, high ISO performance, hybrid viewfinder and overall versatility.

Epson R-D1: Vancouver cruise ship terminal

Most people will agree that the M9 produces excellent images, particularly if you use quality Leitz/Leica glass. I also love manually focusing with a RF most of the time. However, the high ISO performance on the M9 is marginal at best and the viewfinder has a number of limitations inherent in RF cameras. Aside from these performance and handling issues, I also found that I wasn’t using the M9 because of how much it costs. I didn’t take it with me on a recent work trip to Asia because I couldn’t afford to replace it if something happened to it.

Fujifilm X100: on the street, Victoria

That’s when I realized that I would rather have a little more money in the bank instead of being part of the coolest camera club in the world. I suppose that I should stop reading the Leica blog and who knows if my cool photography friends, you know, the ones who shoot with a Leica, will still talk to me. I hope so, because I believe we make photos for the same reasons and how we make them should matter less than why we do. God, I hope I was nice to non-Leica shooters in the past. If not, this could come back to bite me!

On the street: M9 / 50mm Summilux

So, while I try to adjust to life After Leica, I will continue to pick up the XP1 or X100 and head out to look for interesting moments during the performances on our streets as part of the tourist season.

Fujifilm XP1, 60mm, f/2.8, ISO 200: Carry-on luggage, Victoria

It has been an interesting journey that isn’t over yet. I started this blog when I first picked up a rangefinder camera. From the moment that I shot my first frame with the Bessa RF, the urge to have a Leica in my hands grew and grew. Now that I have owned an M9, shot with it and decided that I could do with out it, I don’t feel that I am giving up on rangefinder style photography. I continue to use what I have learned by shooting with various rangefinders in my photography, which I am currently creating using my Fuji X cameras. At least, for now.

20 Comments

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  1. John and Gunston, I have been making numerous natural light portraits with the X-P1 and the 35mm and 60mm XF lenses and an old 50mm Summilux. Some of the results are here https://doncraigphoto.wordpress.com/2012/07/30/natural-light-portraits/ and a few more are here http://doncraigdesign.com/workportraits/

    I have also used the X-P1 with off-camera lights with similar results. It would be nice to have a faster sync speed, or even unlimited sync speed like the X100, for shooting outside portraits where I need to balance ambient light and the fill.

  2. hey hey i am in with X100, soon to be X-Pro1

  3. I promised to keep you posted and here is the fashion show from Saturday http://johnsmith-johnsimages.blogspot.ca/

  4. I use the X-Pro1 and love it as much as my M3…EXCEPT…for the focusing. You want the shot fast, the Leica will beat the X-Pro1 anytime. The Fuji will be as fast as the NEX-7 soon when the updates come about, but as a street shooter it is way behind the M cameras. What it CAN do on the street is still a miracle… http://johnsmith-johnsimages.blogspot.ca/2012/06/random-shots-from-time-when-i-was-in.html

    • John, I’d have to say that focusing on the street, if in fact you are focusing, is pretty close between a RF and the XP1. At least for me. I prefer the manual focusing of a RF, but find the XP1 quite good too. With both types of camera, I still resort to zone focusing for many situations. In that case, the one drawback of the XP1 is that I have to look into the viewfinder to see the scale, rather than being able to move the focus ring on the lens like I do with M-mount lenses.

      So, I have to take issue with the idea that XP1 is “way behind” an M camera. Might be wishful thinking on my part since the departure of the M9, but I’m quite happy to shoot on the street with either the XP1 or X100.

      Don

      • Thank you so much for the reply.

        The AF is still pretty sticky and where the RF snaps into focus, the XP1 hunts and misses some shots. However, I have Fuji’s word that the correction in the AF is on its way. BTW, I have never used an M9, but the XP1 is still light years ahead of any digital camera that I have used so far. You left the Leica Club. Me, I left D-SLRs behind. Tomorrow I will shoot a fashion show with the XP1. No flash. High ISO. And it will work. I’ll keep you posted.

      • John, I look forward to seeing the results of your shoot. No doubt it will work. I have used the XP1 for shooting various events as well as a portrait session. Great results.

        I traded in DSLRs for RFs for my personal work, but still use a Nikon D700 with fast glass for my work photography, sometimes. Because of that I have been able to compare files from the D700, M9 and XP1. The images that the Fuji produces are stellar and on par or better than the other two cameras. I can shoot it like a RF but it has the flexibility to use it like a DSLR, if needed. Given the size of the camera, quality of the lenses and the images that it produces, it was a pretty easy decision to sell the M9.

        Don

      • The XP1’s files are astonishing, and I am glad that I bought this camera for that feature alone. I’ll probably post the fashion pics on my blog on Sunday. I will keep you posted. Also, this is the “funnest” camera that I have ever used! (Pardon the word funnest!) It is really a exciting camera. Probably the first digital camera with soul.

  5. I would have liked to keep my 50mm Summicron, but that was a big part of keeping the resale value up.
    Rats!

  6. Happened to me too. It started with the X100 and progressed to the X-Pro1.
    Timing is also everything. Not being a lottery winner I was too extended with the investment in the M9. I was also worried that the “M10” would significantly drop the value of the M9.
    Hopefully my Leica buddies won’t shun me either…

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