Leica M9 Superseded
That time has come again as it does every few years when your latest digital camera is no longer the best available and you want the latest and greatest.
Nikon D800 – May 2012
I pre-ordered my Nikon D800 as soon as it was announced through Jessops. For wedding photography back then I used my existing Nikon D700 and the new 36mp Nikon D800. I always wanted to use the Nikon D800 for the money shots / majority of the images as I demeeded the D700 inferior. The D700 became the backup camera.
Leica M9 – August 2013
I got my Leica M9 last summer and suddenly the Nikon D800 wasn’t good enough even though the D800 was actually a newer camera and with twice as many megapixels. I soon started to use the Leica M9 for all of my photography and used just the single Leica M9 camera body for weddings rather than give clients subpar DSLR images (per my taste*). The Nikon D800 started to collect dust and was only used for non-creative images such as an occasional family shoot in the studio or any other white background work which I am not a fan of.
Leica M240 – July 2014
I paid out for the then flagship digital Leica M type 240 body but the eBay auction didn’t exist so I lost my money/ savings to a fraudster.
1954 Leica M3 & FILM – September 2014
Missing out on the Leica M Typ 240 helped me re-focus and I started to use the film cameras I already owned. Before the Leica M9 I started getting into film and used cameras such as a Contax 645 and Mamiya RZ 67. The results from the medium format film cameras was amazing but the cameras themselves were big and not walkabout cameras. I didn’t like the Contax 645 to operate as it was too much like a DSLR but the resulting portraits were possibly as good as it gets. The Contax 645 was sold but I still use the Mamiya RZ 67. When the Leica M9 arrived my film photography all but stopped as the M9 Kodak CCD sensor gives a nice filmic look to photos.
I bought a Leica M2 earlier this year and have enjoyed the minimal feel to the camera. I then decided on holiday recently it would be nice to have a second analogue Leica M body so I could have one loaded with colour film and one with black and white film. The Leica M3 double stroke arrived and suddenly the Leica M9 is not good enough. As I wrote in a recent post the Leica M3 viewfinder is to die for and in a factual sense makes focusing easier and more accurate with a 50mm (or longer lens). The M2 / M3 bodies are only slightly slimmer than the M9 but somehow they feel much smaller and uncluttered.
The ease of use of the analogue Leica M cameras makes me want to shoot more film photography. This is turn prompts me starts to honing my film developing skills and looking more carefully at what film type I use, what developer, developing method, scanning technique, use of coloured filters on the lenses, what lenses are better suited to film, film type and lens combinations and suddenly it all starts to get quite exciting!
I am now finding that I want to shoot film for my wedding photography, or at least some film photography as I believe film still produces the best images. I am also finding that if I want to do a photo walk to capture some creative street photography images I want to shoot film or nothing as I don’t value the digital images in the same way. Everyone can take a photo of a man walking down a street on their iPhone. A similar photo with my digital Leica M9 might not be hugely different so I would generally not take the time to share it or even take the photo. When shooting film it feels somehow different. The same photo captured on film feels like art just becuase of the film medium it was taken with.
Film photography supercedes the Leica M9
It is therefore the film photography as a whole that has superceded my digital Leica M9. Yes of course I will continue to use the M9 as my main workshorse camera as it is not practical to shoot 100% film all the time. That said, my heart is now in film photography and I will shoot as much film as I can when I think it will produce a nicer image. I enjoy using the big and slow Mamiya RZ67 and the more portable and less slow Fuji GF670 medium format film cameras (to name just a few) but my favourite film camera and now favourite any camera is the Leica M3. The M3 is quick and easy to use, very portable and lets you focus on getting the image.
Yes film costs money to shoot per click but the outlay is probably on a par to the depreciation on your latest DSLR camera. You will probably want to replace your current digital camera in the next few years whereas the Leica M3 will still be going strong as it has done for the last 60 years.