Okay, so here’s the thing… In the past I created photographs for a living.. it’s my job, and I love it! But the last thing I wanted to do was pick up a camera while I was NOT working. Be it vacations, family functions, or anything for that matter. I just did not want to haul around a camera. And these days with the EOS 1Ds Mk II, with a 35mm-350mm lens attached, that is exactly what one is doing… hauling.
So about 9 months ago I bought a slim little digital point-and-shoot (a Samsung NV3). I thought, “okay, something so small that I can fit it in my pocket and go” True! And even though it has a generous 7.2 megapixel sensor, it is after all, a point-and-shoot. It did fine on a couple of vacations and actually had me taking photos where I probably would not have otherwise… but they were vacation snaps.. nothing more. It’s not like I was making art with it! And I certainly was not going to be putting any of those images in a portfolio!
Then a few weeks ago I went to see Annie Leibovitz speak. And as I was looking at some of her images I was reminded why I started to take photographs in the first place. And to be honest it was not about making images for a portfolio (I often get caught up in the erroneous mindset that every image must be a portfolio worthy creation).
After walking out of her presentation, the research started. I wanted to find a camera that would bring me back to the basics. I wanted something that was small enough that I would actually pick it up and take it with me. It needed to be digital. It needed to be a camera with which I could “make pictures” (as my favorite instructor always called the process). So, to me that meant going back to a manual style of camera. One where I would have to actually think about what I was doing rather than just push a button. But at the same time it had to be of high enough quality that should I get something worthwhile, I could still put it in a portfolio or in a book.
I think I found what I was looking for. But of course.. it wasn’t cheap! (You know it never is!) So, last week I bought a Leica M8. I have never owned a Leica before and actually never owned a rangefinder camera before. I do think this is about as basic as one can get with a digital camera.
- Manual Focus
- Manual Exposure (it does have aperture priority)
- Fixed Focal Length Lens (no zoom)
It’s a 10.3 megapixel camera in a photojournalistic package. It’s discrete, quiet, and relative to SLR’s wonderfully light and small. Oh.. did I mention it is NOT CHEAP! I do believe it will solve the issue of me taking it with me! My 1Ds Mk II with it’s lens, and battery and charger and case could be amazingly bulky and very heavy. The M8 on the other hand with EVERYTHING (chargers, filters, tripod, batteries, cards, readers, case – everything!) weighs less than just the 1Ds camera and ALL of the M8 equipment is about the same bulk as just the 1Ds camera! I can carry just the camera with me and put an extra card and battery in my pocket and barely realize that I am even carrying it!
And on the topic of being discrete… the telltale factor was my dogs. Usually the sight of a camera makes them run for cover. But with the M8, one frowned, and the other could care less!
I’ll tell you about the kit I put together tomorrow but for now I’ll end with another sample.