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Leica M (or Q) for Pro and Serious Work


LondonL
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Hi all,

A question about the M10, or any M digital or Q Leica camera really. How many of you are pro photographers (get paid for your images) or do serious photo projects and choose to use an M or Q ahead of any other camera brand? I'm not really interested in the standard travel/family/street images which frankly, any camera can capture well, its more aimed at those of use your work for specific serious work or projects.

Why do you choose the Leica, do you have other gear for more professional shoots? A client never cares about how an image was made, they just want good photography.

Be interested in your comments and personal stories

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1 hour ago, FlashGordonPhotography said:

I have used M's, as well as other systems as a working photographer for many years. Shot hundreds of weddings with a pair of M9's. Commercial work with M-P 240's and M10's as well. Nothing special here. They're cameras. Can be used by working photographers like any other system. The only real barrier is cost of entry. I'm sure someone will eventually waffle on about how the lenses are crafted by angels and hand polished by virgins to achieve micro contrast that is unrivaled. A 4 page discussion on *3D pop* will ensue. The next genius will tell us how if it doesn't have Sony's eye tracking and 200 frames a second silent shooting it's just a piece of shit that only dentists want or use. Some especially bright spark will chime in letting us all know that the sensor is old tech and clients will reject it because it's obviously crap. Somewhere around page 6 it'll morph into a heated debate about depth of field. Meanwhile a few lucky ones will just do another shoot with an M-P and send off the images with an invoice.

Cameras aren't and never will be professional. That's the job of the idiot holding them. And just because a working photographer uses them doesn't make them better or special. Pretty much every model of camera from almost every brand has been used by working photographers and amateurs alike. And most working photographers aren't producing better work than many amateurs or stressing their gear as much. The only thing we generally do is shoot more. You choose a Leica to please yourself, not your clients. At the same time that's a totally valid reason to choose an M to work with. And if you really want to make it work then 95% of the time it will.

I don't get the "more professional shoots" line. They are or aren't. Successful working photographer don't grade their clients. They all get the best we have, of which camera choice is maybe 5%. Nearly EVERYTHING is more important than the camera to most working professionals. Maybe 2% of shoots have specific gear needs to make it work, although 50% of photographers think gear is vital and 90% think an M is limited in what it can do. All wrong. Some people seem obsessed by what they *think* a Leica can't do instead of the many many things they can do. There is absolutely no special reason to choose an M over any other camera to work with. And few reasons not to. You want a cool story but the reality is it's no more special than any other brand. Bummer eh?

I use Leica cameras for my work because they're pretty and I can afford them.

Gordon

Yes, I think most of us on this forum are educated enough to know that any camera can take any 'professional' image and its not about the camera etc etc. 

I was asking more about your own story of what you use and why, in a professional or serious project context, which you kindly answered in part in your first couple of sentences. 

Edited by LondonL
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1 hour ago, FlashGordonPhotography said:

I have used M's, as well as other systems as a working photographer for many years. Shot hundreds of weddings with a pair of M9's. Commercial work with M-P 240's and M10's as well. Nothing special here. They're cameras. Can be used by working photographers like any other system. The only real barrier is cost of entry. I'm sure someone will eventually waffle on about how the lenses are crafted by angels and hand polished by virgins to achieve micro contrast that is unrivaled. A 4 page discussion on *3D pop* will ensue. The next genius will tell us how if it doesn't have Sony's eye tracking and 200 frames a second silent shooting it's just a piece of shit that only dentists want or use. Some especially bright spark will chime in letting us all know that the sensor is old tech and clients will reject it because it's obviously crap. Somewhere around page 6 it'll morph into a heated debate about depth of field. Meanwhile a few lucky ones will just do another shoot with an M-P and send off the images with an invoice.

Cameras aren't and never will be professional. That's the job of the idiot holding them. And just because a working photographer uses them doesn't make them better or special. Pretty much every model of camera from almost every brand has been used by working photographers and amateurs alike. And most working photographers aren't producing better work than many amateurs or stressing their gear as much. The only thing we generally do is shoot more. You choose a Leica to please yourself, not your clients. At the same time that's a totally valid reason to choose an M to work with. And if you really want to make it work then 95% of the time it will.

I don't get the "more professional shoots" line. They are or aren't. Successful working photographer don't grade their clients. They all get the best we have, of which camera choice is maybe 5%. Nearly EVERYTHING is more important than the camera to most working professionals. Maybe 2% of shoots have specific gear needs to make it work, although 50% of photographers think gear is vital and 90% think an M is limited in what it can do. All wrong. Some people seem obsessed by what they *think* a Leica can't do instead of the many many things they can do. There is absolutely no special reason to choose an M over any other camera to work with. And few reasons not to. You want a cool story but the reality is it's no more special than any other brand. Bummer eh?

I use Leica cameras for my work because they're pretty and I can afford them.

Gordon

Well said. But I do have a serious question. I’ve decided to proceed with Leica for my professional career but what camera bag and half case do you recommend? 😂🤠🤦‍♂️

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3 hours ago, FlashGordonPhotography said:

I have used M's, as well as other systems as a working photographer for many years. Shot hundreds of weddings with a pair of M9's. Commercial work with M-P 240's and M10's as well. Nothing special here. They're cameras. Can be used by working photographers like any other system. The only real barrier is cost of entry. I'm sure someone will eventually waffle on about how the lenses are crafted by angels and hand polished by virgins to achieve micro contrast that is unrivaled. A 4 page discussion on *3D pop* will ensue. The next genius will tell us how if it doesn't have Sony's eye tracking and 200 frames a second silent shooting it's just a piece of shit that only dentists want or use. Some especially bright spark will chime in letting us all know that the sensor is old tech and clients will reject it because it's obviously crap. Somewhere around page 6 it'll morph into a heated debate about depth of field. Meanwhile a few lucky ones will just do another shoot with an M-P and send off the images with an invoice.

Cameras aren't and never will be professional. That's the job of the idiot holding them. And just because a working photographer uses them doesn't make them better or special. Pretty much every model of camera from almost every brand has been used by working photographers and amateurs alike. And most working photographers aren't producing better work than many amateurs or stressing their gear as much. The only thing we generally do is shoot more. You choose a Leica to please yourself, not your clients. At the same time that's a totally valid reason to choose an M to work with. And if you really want to make it work then 95% of the time it will.

I don't get the "more professional shoots" line. They are or aren't. Successful working photographer don't grade their clients. They all get the best we have, of which camera choice is maybe 5%. Nearly EVERYTHING is more important than the camera to most working professionals. Maybe 2% of shoots have specific gear needs to make it work, although 50% of photographers think gear is vital and 90% think an M is limited in what it can do. All wrong. Some people seem obsessed by what they *think* a Leica can't do instead of the many many things they can do. There is absolutely no special reason to choose an M over any other camera to work with. And few reasons not to. You want a cool story but the reality is it's no more special than any other brand. Bummer eh?

I use Leica cameras for my work because they're pretty and I can afford them.

Gordon

Best comment ever: "The only real barrier is cost of entry. I'm sure someone will eventually waffle on about how the lenses are crafted by angels and hand polished by virgins to achieve micro contrast that is unrivaled. A 4 page discussion on *3D pop* will ensue" 😁

I'm a total amateur and really don't want to go in proffesional field. I think a hobby should be non-profitable otherwise it looses its sharm and funny side.

Based on usual service times, at least in Europe, I think Leica is not for professional use unless you posess multiple bodies. (JMHO)

 

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9 hours ago, FlashGordonPhotography said:

I have used M's, as well as other systems as a working photographer for many years. Shot hundreds of weddings with a pair of M9's. Commercial work with M-P 240's and M10's as well. Nothing special here. They're cameras. Can be used by working photographers like any other system. The only real barrier is cost of entry. I'm sure someone will eventually waffle on about how the lenses are crafted by angels and hand polished by virgins to achieve micro contrast that is unrivaled. A 4 page discussion on *3D pop* will ensue. The next genius will tell us how if it doesn't have Sony's eye tracking and 200 frames a second silent shooting it's just a piece of shit that only dentists want or use. Some especially bright spark will chime in letting us all know that the sensor is old tech and clients will reject it because it's obviously crap. Somewhere around page 6 it'll morph into a heated debate about depth of field. Meanwhile a few lucky ones will just do another shoot with an M-P and send off the images with an invoice.

Cameras aren't and never will be professional. That's the job of the idiot holding them. And just because a working photographer uses them doesn't make them better or special. Pretty much every model of camera from almost every brand has been used by working photographers and amateurs alike. And most working photographers aren't producing better work than many amateurs or stressing their gear as much. The only thing we generally do is shoot more. You choose a Leica to please yourself, not your clients. At the same time that's a totally valid reason to choose an M to work with. And if you really want to make it work then 95% of the time it will.

I don't get the "more professional shoots" line. They are or aren't. Successful working photographer don't grade their clients. They all get the best we have, of which camera choice is maybe 5%. Nearly EVERYTHING is more important than the camera to most working professionals. Maybe 2% of shoots have specific gear needs to make it work, although 50% of photographers think gear is vital and 90% think an M is limited in what it can do. All wrong. Some people seem obsessed by what they *think* a Leica can't do instead of the many many things they can do. There is absolutely no special reason to choose an M over any other camera to work with. And few reasons not to. You want a cool story but the reality is it's no more special than any other brand. Bummer eh?

I use Leica cameras for my work because they're pretty and I can afford them.

Gordon

Lot of “tough love” and real truths here. I can’t add much more but only tell you that I transitioned last year fully into a Leica gear set after some time combining Fuji + Leica. Now I’m fully equipped with my M10 Monochrom + Q. I’ve used M10 also before and I’ve done paid work with these great tools. You can see examples in my web or I can share additional if you’d like to see... I know a lot of much better, more recognized photographers and successful photojournalist who rely on Leica gear for “serious” work. Check out the great NYT staff photographer Ryan Christopher Jones for example: http://www.ryanchristopherjones.com/brooklyn-bridge-snowstorm/

Bottom line is that I use it because I love it, because I feel connected to these tools, because they fit my style, approach... and they can deliver beautifully if used accordingly. That simple. Are these tools often more challenging to use than other brands? In certain aspects I’d say yes, but they also simplify your life a lot if you value that...

Your customers as it was said don’t usually give a damn about the gear, and that’s good, they shouldn’t probably... My clients were very happy when I used Nikon, Fuji and now Leica... Now, do you feel that the outcome you deliver might be somehow influenced by how you feel more or less in sync with the tools you use? I feel so, those are the “intangibles”, and it all adds up to final result for sure... 

I worked hard and made sacrifices to afford these tools which love using them and I’ll continue mastering for years to come hopefully... 

Just do what you love with all you have and produce work, that’s what matters 😉

Regards from Spain 

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I'm a working photographer and for most of my career as a photojournalist I used Leica M cameras in addition to Nikon SLRs. When we went digital the Leica was just not ready. It was also too expensive and not quite ready for prime time when the M8 came out. After more than 30 years in the business working at a very large newspaper which gave me an E ticket to the world, I was laid off as the news business spiraled downward. I landed on my feet okay with a low pressure magazine position at a small college. It was a culture shock though, after spending so many years on the road and moving at a very fast pace. I was bored. Bored out of my mind. So I returned to the Leica M and it was the best thing I could have done. It brought me back to my roots. I call them my mid-life crisis cameras. It's not for everyone, but it sure beats looking like a fool in a ridiculous red sports car chasing women who are way too young for me.

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9 hours ago, 84bravo said:

I'm a working photographer and for most of my career as a photojournalist I used Leica M cameras in addition to Nikon SLRs. When we went digital the Leica was just not ready. It was also too expensive and not quite ready for prime time when the M8 came out. After more than 30 years in the business working at a very large newspaper which gave me an E ticket to the world, I was laid off as the news business spiraled downward. I landed on my feet okay with a low pressure magazine position at a small college. It was a culture shock though, after spending so many years on the road and moving at a very fast pace. I was bored. Bored out of my mind. So I returned to the Leica M and it was the best thing I could have done. It brought me back to my roots. I call them my mid-life crisis cameras. It's not for everyone, but it sure beats looking like a fool in a ridiculous red sports car chasing women who are way too young for me.

So you chose to take photos of women too young for you? 😁😋

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I'm retired now but was a working professional for nearly 40 years. I shot Leica M for about 30 of those years, but never exclusively. Out of necessity I had to maintain other systems--at first Nikon, then Canon. Since I did freelance editorial work there was a lot of variety in the type of assignments. For environmental portraits for example, Leica was perfect. I also shot a few books and several calendars almost exclusively using M cameras. But for any kind of sports events needing fast autofocus and long lenses, my other systems were necessary. I always wanted to reach for my Leica as my first choice when shooting an assignment, but for some types of assignments the M just wouldn't cut it. Bottom line, it just depends entirely on the type of work you're doing.

Edited by fotografr
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On 2/3/2021 at 10:02 AM, LondonL said:

How many of you are pro photographers (get paid for your images) or do serious photo projects and choose to use an M

I am.
I sold all my Canon and Sony gear bar some rare manual focus lenses converted to EF mount and now use Leica M and Fujifilm GFX for daily professional work.
You do raise a valid question - the M only suits a handful of pro photographers... it is neither super reliable, nor super robust regarding the elements (Canon 1Dx Mk III ruggedness comes to mind), but it definitely is a statement and a lifestyle - not having anything to do with snobbery, prestige or status here on my part, only with a personal equipment and workflow choice. You use Leica M for professional work not because you need to, but because you want to.

Edited by Al Brown
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On 2/9/2021 at 8:31 AM, Al Brown said:

... it is neither super reliable, nor super robust regarding the elements (Canon 1Dx Mk III ruggedness comes to mind), 

You say that but in 35 years as a working photographer, the only body I've had fail during a shoot was a Canon 1V. Completely disabled by a single grain of sand that jammed one of the push buttons on the top plate and rendered the whole camera inoperable. Even compressed air wouldn't dislodge it. I've used M's in the rain and in 45 degrees Celsius and never had a problem. Although I've dropped a few and has a couple of corroded sensors to deal with.

The difference is that even living on an island, at the time, the repair time for the Canon, including shipping, was a week. Leica will never get close to that. Months is average from my experience.

Gordon

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36 minutes ago, FlashGordonPhotography said:

You say that but in 35 years as a working photographer, the only body I've had fail during a shoot was a Canon 1V. Completely disabled by a single grain of sand that jammed one of the push buttons on the top plate and rendered the whole camera inoperable. Even compressed air wouldn't dislodge it. I've used M's in the rain and in 45 degrees Celsius and never had a problem. Although I've dropped a few and has a couple of corroded sensors to deal with.

The difference is that even living on an island, at the time, the repair time for the Canon, including shipping, was a week. Leica will never get close to that. Months is average from my experience.

Gordon

Everyone's experience can be different, I don't think that there are any absolute rules, so much can depend on how the equipment is used, who's using it and under what conditions. I've used Leica M's since the late sixties, professionally, Nikons too. The Nikons were utterly reliable, never let me down on jobs throughout the world with nothing more than the very occasional CLA, the film Leica M's too needed occasional mechanical servicing keep going but the Nikons just a cleaning every couple of years or so was all that was required. I have two Nikon Ftn's that were my workhorses from that era and they still function perfectly, well except for the Ftn's exposure meter but that was never to be relied on from new anyway. Back to the Leica's. The film Leica M' s that I owned and used were reliable enough to work as second cameras to the Nikons on jobs / assignments and they were M2's, M3's, M4's, M6's, M7's and MP's......but when the M's started to become digital that's when the reliability took a hit in my experience. I've had most of the digital M's from the M8 to the present M10-M and only one of them has never been back to Wetzlar for attention, some more than a few times, so there is that.........How long it will take for the digital M to be as reliable as it's film predecessor for "pro" usage I don't know, but in my own experience it's not there yet and I'd never go on a job with them as my only choice of equipment, ( though my Q V1 has proved to be very reliable ). They are truly beautiful cameras to use and I'd rather not ever be without an M, but like the early Jaguars it's better to own two of them if you want to be sure that one will work when you need it. 

 

Edited by petermullett
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17 minutes ago, petermullett said:

Everyone's experience can be different, I don't think that there are any absolute rules, so much can depend on how the equipment is used, who's using it and under what conditions. I've used Leica M's since the late sixties, professionally, Nikons too. The Nikons were utterly reliable, never let me down on jobs throughout the world with nothing more than the very occasional CLA, the film Leica M's too needed occasional mechanical servicing keep going but the Nikons just a cleaning every couple of years or so was all that was required. I have two Nikon Ftn's that were my workhorses from that era and they still function perfectly, well except for the Ftn's exposure meter but that was never to be relied on from new anyway. Back to the Leica's. The film Leica M' s that I owned and used were reliable enough to work as second cameras to the Nikons on jobs / assignments and they were M2's, M3's, M4's, M6's, M7's and MP's......but when the M's started to become digital that's when the reliability took a hit in my experience. I've had most of the digital M's from the M8 to the present M10-M and only one of them has never been back to Wetzlar for attention, some more than a few times, so there is that.........How long it will take for the digital M to be as reliable as it's film predecessor for "pro" usage I don't know, but in my own experience it's not there yet and I'd never go on a job with them as my only choice of equipment, ( though my Q V1 has proved to be very reliable ). They are truly beautiful cameras to use and I'd rather not ever be without an M, but like the early Jaguars it's better to own two of them if you want to be sure that one will work when you need it. 

 

Sad but true.

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26 minutes ago, petermullett said:

Everyone's experience can be different, I don't think that there are any absolute rules, so much can depend on how the equipment is used, who's using it and under what conditions. I've used Leica M's since the late sixties, professionally, Nikons too. The Nikons were utterly reliable, never let me down on jobs throughout the world with nothing more than the very occasional CLA, the film Leica M's too needed occasional mechanical servicing keep going but the Nikons just a cleaning every couple of years or so was all that was required. I have two Nikon Ftn's that were my workhorses from that era and they still function perfectly, well except for the Ftn's exposure meter but that was never to be relied on from new anyway. Back to the Leica's. The film Leica M' s that I owned and used were reliable enough to work as second cameras to the Nikons on jobs / assignments and they were M2's, M3's, M4's, M6's, M7's and MP's......but when the M's started to become digital that's when the reliability took a hit in my experience. I've had most of the digital M's from the M8 to the present M10-M and only one of them has never been back to Wetzlar for attention, some more than a few times, so there is that.........How long it will take for the digital M to be as reliable as it's film predecessor for "pro" usage I don't know, but in my own experience it's not there yet and I'd never go on a job with them as my only choice of equipment, ( though my Q V1 has proved to be very reliable ). They are truly beautiful cameras to use and I'd rather not ever be without an M, but like the early Jaguars it's better to own two of them if you want to be sure that one will work when you need it. 

 

Absolutely true. Old film Leicas, even those with some electronics inside were true workhorses. But now it is very easy to get a dud or a lemon - regardless of manufacturer.

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2 minutes ago, Al Brown said:

Absolutely true. Old film Leicas, even those with some electronics inside were true workhorses. But now it is very easy to get a dud or a lemon - regardless of manufacturer.

right............"Sad", as Cobram said, "but true"............My experience with the digital M's are what prompted me last year to opt to buy a new film M-A rather than trade up for the latest digital M as I've been doing since the M8 came on the scene primarily to try to keep current with the emerging technology. For my usage now, fewer pro' assignments but more personal photography pursuits, it seemed a better idea to go for a new film M whilst they still make them rather than to chance a move to the M10-R. For me that's proven to have been a good decision. 

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