Jump to content

Does anyone here prefer a Leica film body over the current digital M bodies


petereprice

Recommended Posts

I was supposed to ride a motorcycle from Alaska to TDF and due to various circumstances I changed my mind.  I am presently scuba diving in Subic Bay in the Philippines.  I left both the anniversary M4 and my Rolex submariner at home due to a fear of loss.  I bought both to use and now the value of each almost acts as a deterrent to their use.

For photography, I have a GoPro in a $19.95 case and the GR3.  I purchased the Rolex back in 1980 in Singapore to use as a dive watch.  I remember paying $310 for it and due to an irregularity in its manufacture a friend says it is now worth $10,500 on the collector market.  Would you wear a $11,000 watch wreck diving?  It serves a duplicate function now because dive computers have the time element built in.

Same thing with Leica cameras.  The possibility of loss or damage seems almost too much to risk.  I am 70 and honestly if I have not written it down it did not happen.  Black paint M4's are approaching $15000.  About ten years ago I was touring Europe with my daughter and we were hiking the West Highland Way in Scotland and after one particularly long day, the B&B we were booked in also happened to be the local pub.  Long story short, my M9 was not in our hotel room the next morning.  After a couple glasses of the local brew, I had left it in the bar.  Unfortunately, I think incidents like that would increase as I age so we eliminate the chance of loss.  If someone wants my GoPro it would be a almost painless theft.

My point here is that lots of classic film Leica's can be had for $2000 but new ones are $6000 for film and upward of $9000 for digital.  I have insurance but I would rather carry a $2000 classic body (M2 or M4 being my favorites).  If you are not over three score years yet, carry what you want!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I have owned one digital Leica. I just happened to walk into a shop the day the Leica rep was touting the then new DLux 4. I know, it was just a Panasonic with a red dot. It was fun to use, even though it lacked a viewfinder and finding what you wanted on the menu was akin to locating Waldo but the early cell phone cameras weren’t very good.   Both my wife and I used it for about eight years before it was bundled with some other gear for a trip to KEH.

I had owned a couple of IIIf’s and a CL in the late 1970’s, then in 1986 I found a M6 with a 50 Summicron that I used for the next seven years before trading it in on a Hasselblad. I used a variety of medium format for the next decade until in 2006 sold it all and bought a M6 TTL. That camera was traded to KEH at the height of the great analog sell off and with a bit of cash I owned a M6 TTL Millennium for the next six years. All the Leica gear was sold in 2018 to fund a home improvement project but after several months, missed the M cameras and bought a M4. Last year, I bought the Leica I had passed on for years, the M4-2 and to my surprise has become my favorite.

I tried some digital Nikons and found them to be burdensome to carry around. I do own a Sony A7II that has spent most of its life on a copy stand digitizing negatives. I did use a Plustek scanner for several years but tired of spending an afternoon scanning a roll of film. I recently added Negative Lab Pro and can scan, convert, adj and post images in about forty five minutes.

Digital is great if you have a photography business, are working with a news organization or chasing children. For me, it’s about the process of working with film and always trying to reach the point of no adjustments after conversion. 

  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

I just cleaned out my camera bags and sold off what I did not use. Gone are M3, M2, IIIf x2, and IIf - all users but with recent CLAs. Also cleaned out some lenses: 50mm DR with goggles, M 135mm f4, and LTM Summar and 5cm 3.5 Elmar. All things I thought I would keep forever.

I love to shoot film. I kept M6 Classic Solms with MP finder, M7 with MP finder and, optical reader, with 28mm 2.8, summicron 35mm and 50mm, summilux 50mm, and 90mm 2.8. Also my best IIf with 35mm, 50mm, 90mm and 135mm. These cameras and lenses get used frequently. There is always a roll in one of th

I also have an M-D for digital. Pretty much a film camera feeling with a card and variable ISO. Love my M-D.

What I use the most is the M7, M-D, and Nikkormat FTN with metal rewind lever and self timer. All of these 90% of the time with a 50mm lens.

So yes I mostly prefer film bodies over current digital M's, but to be fair, I have never tried them. Happy with what I got now.

But with all that money from the noted sales, a Q3 is mighty tempting! Good thing there is a long wait list for me to change my mind.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

I wish I could answer your question, but I do not own a digital M. I made two failed attempts to purchase one. First time I walked into a Leica store to get the M10 but walked out with the M6 TTL. A few years later I tried again, this time aiming for the M11, but walked out with 35mm and 50mm Summiluxes instead. There is some kind of invisible force standing between me and digital M cameras.

  • Like 5
  • Haha 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Advertisement (gone after registration)

48 minutes ago, Danner said:

<snip> For me, Leica is a film-only camera, using a pair of M6.

 

     ...same here - no digital, only M4, M6 and MPs. I did once err with a D-Lux 6, but that space is now covered by an iPhone.

Edited by aesop
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

I was just looking at M10's and M11's.  Why, I don't know (GAS?) as I have plenty of cameras.  I am currently in the Philippines for a few months and doing a lot of scuba diving.  I brought a GR3 and a GoPro for underwater snapshots.  Last November-December I spent a month in Vietnam and carried my M4 and iPhone.  The weather and lighting were so bad I did not even shoot a full roll of film but snapshots on the phone for posting home.

Digital is nice but my soul says film.  I learned on a 4X5 Graflex in 1966 as a freshman in high school.  Besides the M10's/M11's I have been eyeing a black paint MP only because it is black paint.  My mint 50th anniversary black chrome M4 will do everything the MP will do except meter.  If I am logical I should just use what I have but owning Leica's has nothing to do with logic.

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Quote

Does anyone here prefer a Leica film body over the current digital M bodies

In a word, yes. I do prefer a film body over the current digital bodies.

in a few more words, I don’t have a current digital M and have no intention in letting go of my M9 for as long as it works. My MP and M9 are complementary.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Well I have - after almost a full year of shooting film only - found that I just prefer the experience of shooting film. There is more life rolled into the final image, more process, more complexity, more risk, and ultimately more fun. 
 

So for me, my MP will remain my predominant camera, along with my M6 if I ever end up getting it back from Leica.

The M10R I have besides these two, I don’t really seem to connect with anymore - oddly and sadly. It was my entry into the world of Leica and I was so proud to own it, and mesmerized with the images it took. But today, its output feels too « thin », too « brittle », just a grid of pixels, no materiality in its digital noise, no dimensionality as you’d have with grain, and ultimately no gravitas.

I just need to have the negative. That’s what makes every image « a thing ». Quite literally. That’s my type of Content Authentication Initiative or whatever that new M11P feature is called.

  • Like 3
  • Thanks 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for your feedback!  This has been really enlightening and helpful!

So I’ve decided to let the M11-P go and return it after two weeks of use.  Here are the main reasons after careful consideration.

1.  Having a 60mp Rangefinder camera does not fit my photography style or workflow.  Especially when shooting moving subjects constantly.  Add that low light and it was either noisy pics or soft focus wide open.  No matter the shutter speed it was a struggle to get sharp images unless I stood firm and still like a landscape shooter and took the shot.  Which didn’t really work for street in New York for me at least.  And after shooting M11 in general for 2 months, I just never gelled with it.  I just think a 60mp sensor really does require some sort of IBIS. This factor played such a big part in the popularity of the Fujifilm GFX series.  Which originally didn’t have IBIS.

2.  Having such a high value camera in my possession for street photography gave me anxiety.  I paid with tax around $10,000.  It’s the most I’ve spent in a single camera and I felt very uncomfortable taking it out on the subway or leaving it in my bag while at work.  Even with comprehensive insurance!

3.  When I shoot with the M6 it just makes sense and has no friction in my experience.  Does it shoot as sharp photos as a 60mp sensor?  No.  But does it shoot images with character and joy.  Absolutely!  To me the M series feels more natural to me with the M6 and perhaps eventually with an MP.  
 

For me I think the M10-P probably would have been a better fit for me or I should have stuck with my M10-R which seemed more frictionless in my photography experience.  However now, I’m not sure I’d go back.  The M10’s lack of dynamic range I think is not worth the extra money a digital M comes with as they are still over 4K.  
Equally the M10-R had drawbacks I’m not sure I’d want to go back to.  Like being a slower camera overall and a lot heavier than the favorable weighted M11.  That extra weight is something I’m not sure I’d go back to with the ergonomics.  And overall when spending that much money on a camera if it just doesn’t feel right, then I feel like it’s not worth tying all that money into it.

So I'm sticking with my M6 for now and keep my SL2-S with adapted M glass which I also find easier and more fun to shoot with.  

Maybe someday the cost of film processing will be so restrictive I may have to revisit the digital m series but I think I would have to carefully consider which digital M I would get.  
 

Thanks again for your perspectives.
 

 

  • Like 7
Link to post
Share on other sites

Although I have an M2 and M4-P and have owned M6 and MP I can still honestly say that my M9s are my favourite cameras. I love the way they feel in my hands and much prefer the output from them to 35mm film.

Edited by Topsy
  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, petereprice said:

So I'm sticking with my M6 for now and keep my SL2-S with adapted M glass which I also find easier and more fun to shoot with.  

I reconnected to the SL2-S recently, and especially last week when I was on an assignment (journalism). With the M Summicron 35mm ASPH, it‘s able to create remarkably good pictures in challenging light, thanks to IBIS and its wonderful sensor that has no equal in Leica‘s lineup. Couldn’t have achieved that on film. 
I even managed to get a few landscape and wildlife shots that I found better than OK with that combo. 

But it requires quite some looking to understand what must be done in postproduction to make it look appreciable side by side to a similar image shot on Kodak 250D 5207. 

Besides everything what @Wildpeak said in her/his excellent post, the major advantage of film is its unique colour separation and subtleties, especially in the mids and shadows. Now add to that the non-linear gamma curve in the negative with the hard-to-copy saturation roll-off in the whites and you will have a baseline that is hard to reach (plus texture, etc.).

All of that is highly subjective, of course, but there are many great minds out there who stick with film no matter what: Stephen Spielberg, Andreas Gursky, Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and thousands of other less prominent artists. Film will stay. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, petereprice said:

So I'm sticking with my M6 for now and keep my SL2-S with adapted M glass which I also find easier and more fun to shoot with.  

Whenever you feel the itch of GAS, get a second M6. Film cameras come ideally as twins. There‘s always the chance that the roll in your camera isn’t right for that particular moment. A second camera solves that.

  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Much has been said but I'll just add that I do like to pick up a film M and not ask myself about the battery charge status, or doubt if it's ready to go, or wonder about it working when the temperature drops, or having to look at a screen/menu to use it, or deal with clipped highlights (blocked shadows generally aren't a photo-killer for me), or have a trips worth of photos at risk of loss etc.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

On 11/14/2023 at 3:44 PM, hansvons said:

Whenever you feel the itch of GAS, get a second M6. Film cameras come ideally as twins. There‘s always the chance that the roll in your camera isn’t right for that particular moment. A second camera solves that.

Well at least one for color and the other is Hp5+ iso variable capable 😂🤣

Link to post
Share on other sites

Since the late 1970's I have owned and used Leica M bodies (originally an M2 and an M3). Presently, I have two M4-Ps, one M4 and an M8.2. I have a suite of lenses, from 28mm through 90mm (Leitz glass). Of these, I use the M8.2 only when I need something done quickly--usually for a specific task that requires timely delivery of color images (usually technical applications for others...). 

I retired in 2017 and am doing personal work that investigates the benefits and limitations of film including, but not limited to the photograph as a trace and as an artifact.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...