Leica M9 Wedding Photography

Leica M9 Wedding Photographer – My First Leica Wedding!
Jane, a fellow photographer friend ask me to be a second shooter today for her wedding clients Josie and Craig. As this took the pressure off me I thought today is the day to start my new style of wedding photography. I bought a Leica M9 body which arrived a few days ago and I wanted to push myself to be more of a documentary style photographer that is in the thick of the action to get those intimate shots. In the past I have used my Nikon D800 and often a Nikkor 200mm f2 AI-s zoom lens to pick people off at a distance for candid shots. As nice as the lens is it is big and not very discrete. I liked the idea of the small form of the Leica where I can blend in to look like one of the wedding guests. I normally also use a lot of strobe light (mostly off camera) in my D800 wedding photography.

So, the Leica Challenge I set myself for today’s church wedding was:
1)Use the Leica as much as possible for practise and examples for my wedding portfolio.
2)Use as few lenses as possible.
3)Don’t use flash. Ambient light only.
4)Get in close to the action.

My gear:
In addition to buying a Leica M9 body I also wanted some more Leica M mount lenses ready for my Leica M9 wedding debut! After lots of research I bought myself a Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2 and a Zeiss ZM T Planar 50mm f2. I already own a Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 and Voigtlander 21mm f4. I woke this morning to a heavy rain and dark skies so my first thoughts were to leave the VC 21/4 at home. That was my biggest regret of the day and I will take for all future shoots especially when so tiny.

Approximate lens usage today it was:
Nikon D800 & Samyang 14mm f2.8 – 5% (for a few wide shots)
Nikon D800 & Rollei Planar 50mm f1.8 on macro extension tube – 5% (for macros)
Leica M9 & Voigtlander Ultron 28mm f2 – 70% (fantastic lens even wide open)(my new fav!)
Leica M9 & Zeiss ZM T Planar 50mm f2 – 15% (contrasty & nice for tighter shots)
Leica M9 & Voigtlander Nokton 40mm f1.4 – 5% (I was rushing and took it out my bag by mistake!)

My First Leica Wedding – Feedback:
So, how did I get on with my challenge? As you can see from the lenses/ cameras used I used the Leica M9 for probably well over 90% of the images taken and only 2 lenses for most of the day. I had the VC 28mm lens on the camera most so I had to be in close to my subjects to fill my viewfinder. I was lucky as the sun came out later so I didn’t use strobes once all day. Even in the church I was able to shoot at f2, 1/30 and ISO 640.

That Leica M9 Look:
I started out my wedding photography a few years ago shooting colour photos as most people do. For 2013 the majority of my work in now black and white so I managed to persuade a couple to buy a black and white wedding photography package from me. I shot B&W JPEGs on the D800 and 35mm B&W Kodak T-Max 100 film. I like the look of the B&W JPEGs from the D800 but they lack the emotion and life you can capture shooting film. I like the film look and do a lot of film photography with my models. For fashion photography style shoots I often use medium format film cameras such as Mamiya RZ67 and Contax 645. But, despite loving the film look I have decided it is not practical and economical to shoot masses of film for a wedding. It just takes me too long to hand develop the film, scan and edit to prepare for clients when on mass. It is great for selective model shots. So, where is this leading you may wonder. Well.. I found that ‘look’ I craved from film yet in a convenient digital format. The 18MP Kodak CCD full frame sensor coupled with my nice Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses render the Leica M9 black and white JPEGs in such a way that it looks like film. I was blow away with the results straight out the camera. Over the moon in fact! So much so that I wont even upload the Leica DNG files (also taken today)(DNG+JPEG fine). I might crop a few images but other than that the client can have the selected images as they are. Zero batch editing required. This is how I like to work!

(For model photography the Nikon D800 is still the winner as I found on my last Leica Model Shoot. (I cannot work near enough with the Leica M mount lenses). For my average model photography shoot I may take 200-300 images. I shoot B&W JPEGs, upload to LR3, resize, sharpen, tag, export. Job done. If I can now do weddings in the same manner i’m eternally happy! I like to edit individual film photography model shots but I really dread the thought of editing 1000 wedding images. It just becomes a burden on my shoulders until completed).

“You Can’t Do A Wedding With a Leica M9”!?
Erm.. I think I proved today with my first rangefinder camera wedding experience that you most certainly CAN use a Leica M9 for wedding photography! It doesn’t just try to fill the shoes of the Nikon D800 but instead sets a new standard that is not even attainable by Nikon (D800 or D4) due to the unique rendering from the Leica M9 sensor and Leica M lenses.

What Next?
I need to read up on any macro option for the Leica. If I can cover this aspect of wedding photography for detail shots such as the rings then the Nikon D800 will become a backup camera if I have a problem with the Leica. The D800 still has a place as it does excel for model photography and fashion shoots due to the crisp 36MP images and high dynamic range.

Leica Wedding Photography Album (Gallery):
> B&W Images: https://matthewosbornephotography.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/leica-m9-black-white-wedding-photography-album-photos/
> Colour Images: https://matthewosbornephotography.wordpress.com/2013/08/18/leica-m9-colour-wedding-photography/

Bookings
To book a wedding with me you can find more details on my website – http://www.matthewosbornephotography.co.uk/Wedding-Photographer.html

MatthewOsbornePhotography.co.uk – Leica Wedding Photographer, UK

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Author: matthewosbornephotography

Coventry, UK studio based Model and Wedding Photographer offering both Medium Format Film and Digital Images. 1-2-1 Photography and Lighting Tuition also available.

10 thoughts on “Leica M9 Wedding Photography”

  1. Great to hear that you are able to use M9 for wedding photos.
    What about your M8?
    Yeah, I am looking forward to acquire CV 28mm f2 as well.

    1. Hi Gunston, thanks. The Leica M9 is my first Leica. I have come from a Nikon D800 (DSLRs) roots plus shoot medium format film. I also have a Voigtlander Bessa R3A which is similar to the M9 in terms of same lenses, shape etc. I was reading up on the CV 28/2 vs. the Zeiss ZM 28mm f2.8. I went with the VC as f2 and extra light is always welcome! 🙂 ..the Zeiss photos I have seen online are very good though.
      Cheers Matt.
      P.S. I’m just sorting through yesterday’s shots in LR now so i’ll get more Leica Wedding Photography examples up soon.

  2. You mention that “The 18MP Kodak CCD full frame sensor coupled with my nice Voigtlander and Zeiss lenses render the Leica M9 black and white JPEGs in such a way that it looks like film.” I don’t understand what you mean? What do you mean Kodak CCD rendering the images? Would you clarify? Thanks.

    1. Hi Natalie,

      Firstly my apologies for not getting back to you sooner. The area I talk about is very subjective as not everyone agrees. The majority of Leica M9 users however agree that the photos from that camera (and the Leica M8 camera, also with a CCD sensor) have a look that is between film photography and digital photography. It is appreciated more so in black and white tones. The images are more grainy (less smooth) and certain lenses amplify this effect. If you want real examples to see if you can see a difference then view my latest 2 blog posts. Same subjects but 1 post using a Nikon and one post using a Leica. See if you can tell the difference and observe the ‘rendering’, the finish of the images.. how the pixels connect with each other. If you then view one of my film camera blog posts you can do a 3 way comparison and decide for yourself if you can see a difference.

      I hope that helps
      Matt

  3. Hi Matt, I was also blown away by the quality of the M9 JEPEG B&W , so much like the film,
    and I like the VINTAGE addition which gives a sepia look.
    I will be going this way for my B&W photos at my next wedding shoot in June.
    And also switch to colour on the M9 here and there.
    The rest of the work I will use the D4 and D800, and I am not yet sure if I should go for JEPEG and RAW or RAW only?Any suggestion?
    Cheers,
    Alain.

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