Eric L. Woods

Letting go of my M camera film bodies.

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This was unexpected. I recently let go of my latest film Leica M Mount camera. It was not my first. That would be the Leica M3.

Leica M3

A great camera worthy of all of the praise it is given. A great image capturing experience.

Leica M3 w/ Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 and Ilford XP2
Leica M3
Leica M3 w/ Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 and Fuji 200

I let go of it because it went under utilized. Simply put there were other cameras in my possession that were also very capable that were not as precious that offered, heresy to some I know, features like in viewfinder exposure readings and/or automation. The M3 was a great camera for those times when I had opportunity to slow down, but I possessed other all manual cameras to fill that need. So after a year or so I sold it. Feared I would regret this decision but I did not. Next up was a Voigtlander Bessa R2 when one turned up for a reasonable sum.

Voigtlander Bessa R2 (Olive) w/ Voigtlander Nokton Classic 40mm f/1.4

Also a very capable camera.

Bessa R2 - Lomography 800
img276
Voigtlander Bessa R2 w/ Nokton 40mm f/1.4 and Iford XP2
Voigtlander Bessa R2 w/ Nokton 40mm f/1.4 and (Expired) Fujicolor 200
Voigtlander Bessa R2 w/ Nokton 40mm f/1.4 and (Expired) Fujicolor 200

Not a bad looking camera at all either. But while appreciative of the in viewfinder exposure metering I ultimately found that this camera did not feel ‘special’ enough in hand. Superficial for sure, but it was a thing. Sold it after a year or so and after some time passed after that I picked up the bricklet that is the Leica CL.

Leica

A fine camera also capable of creating great images.

Leica CL
Leica CL
Leica CL 50 JAHRE
Leica CL

There is nothing wrong with this camera either. Had my fun with it, but like the others I let it go recently. Why? A few reasons.

  • I do not use it.
    • Got a great deal on it, but I paid too much for it to be a shelf trophy and “I like saying I have a Leica” is no more of a valid reason in isolation today than it was when I had the M3.
  • There is other stuff I wanted more.
    • Had recently bought into the Canon RF system and would rather flesh out that system’s prime lenses than hold on to a camera I was not using.
  • I have other 35mm film options.
  • Other premium options.
    • There are other options that carry a bit of pixie dust themselves without the high cost or relative dearth of features. Leica adherents may sniff at this. Understandable. Personal preference.

But the reasons above were no surprise to me. The reason below did surprise me.

  • I may be more of a fan of rangefinder lenses than rangefinder cameras specifically.

I had sold the M3 on the premise that it lacked in viewfinder metering.

With the Voigtlander Bessa R2 I gained in body exposure metering. But I then let it go thinking that the camera did not feel as robust as the M3 (few if any meet this measure) to move on after a year or so.

As much as I would like one I was not willing to pay as much or more as a new digital mirrorless full frame for an M6. With the Leica CL I had thought I had this thing beat. The CL’s narrower rangefinder base length was the thing that I was most warned about, but this did not prove to be an issue when focusing at 28mm, 35mm, and 50mm. Focus is also doable with the 75mm, but it is more of a stretch I will admit. But that one lens was not a deal breaker however. The CL felt plenty stout. So what was the problem?

I now prefer shooting M Mount glass on digital bodies rather than film bodies.

It is that simple. Adapting to digital is nothing new. I have been adapting M glass to mirrorless for quite a while. Even had access to AF with the TECHART M to E adapter. Still kept film M cameras though. Sure I could attach the lenses and could focus well enough, but there was some intangible element missing. Two cameras changed this.

Sony A7c

Sony A7c - 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1

Canon EOS RP

EOS RP - Focus peaking test run.

Some manner of budget pixie dust has been located with both of these cameras. Where I felt AF via TECHART was the easiest path to accurate focusing before manual focusing with both of these cameras is a breeze. Focusing without punching is quite usable with both of these cameras. Punching in to focus nails focus quite easily.

What happened next was that I simply stopped using the CL. It took a while for me to realize this. More than that I realized that I stopped virtual shopping for digital M bodies.

Both the Canon and the Sony are lightweight and have great ergonomics in hand.

So if I had access to focus peaking before what did Sony and Canon do that was so right this time? All I have to offer is the same answer I gave in the Sony A7c focus peaking post:

  • I have no Earthly idea.

Peaking algorithm something math something? I do not know. I am an Industrial Engineer not a magician. But it works.

So I am good.

With that I traded the Leica CL along with the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 that fit it so well as a set to fund other gear. There was nothing wrong with the 7Artisans 35mm f/2 either. But I only used that lens with the CL. No CL. No 35mm f/2 needed. So far?

No regrets.

No more film M shopping.

No more digital M shopping, new or used.

Was not a conscious decision. I just stopped looking. I may be finally cured of my Leica M body obsession this time.

There is nothing at all wrong with M Mount cameras. But for me mirrorless cameras have matured to the point where they have become a viable option as opposed to an option of compromise.

The latest focus peaking feels natural. It has that same spot a scene, pull the camera up to your eye, dial in the focus, and shoot experience I like. Pivoting to a red patch rather than focus patch image alignment works just fine. Had thought that after years of use perhaps I have finally acclimated to focus peaking, but the process has not changed. The accuracy of the peaking has improved. Where a patch lit up red may or may not mean a properly focused shot before, it does now. I can now shoot as swiftly as I did with a proper rangefinder. That level of confidence has made for a fun shooting experience rather than a compromised one. There is that word again. Compromise. Or more accurately a lack of compromise. I used to feel like I was giving up something, but that is no longer the case. And when you add in access to serviceable AF when and if you wish it makes for a strong case.

Again. I understand that many will not agree. And that is fine. With money tree located and unlimited funds at hand I would be first in line to pick up a new M digital body (Add in a GFX and 907x while we are at it if that is the case.). But that would be more of a luxury choice now rather than a feeling that I am missing out on something. That is why there are so many choices. To each their own.

What I will not be giving up are the M Mount lenses. While not being true Leica lenses they provide what I like about M Mount glass. That compact all metal heft in hand. A certain way of rendering an image that I cannot put a finger on. Bright apertures at a reasonable size.

Here are some recent random knock around M Mount lens shots below as I close. Happy capturing.

7Artisans 75mm f/1.25 - EOS RP
7Artisans 75mm f/1.25 - EOS RP
7Artisans 75mm f/1.25 - EOS RP
7Artisans 75mm f/1.25 - EOS RP
7Artisans 75mm f/1.25 - EOS RP
Meet JJ at Lowes - Sony A7c - 7Artisans 75mm f/1.25
Sony A7c - 7Artisans 75mm f/1.25
Sony A7c - 7Artisans 75mm f/1.25
7Artisans 75mm f/1.25
Focus Peaking w/ EOS RP
Focus Peaking w/ EOS RP
Focus Peaking w/ EOS RP
House mascot has the attention span of a gnat, but I was able to swiftly focus on his eye before he moved on.
Focus Peaking w/ EOS RP
House Mascot
Sony A7c - AF - 7Artisans 28mm f/1.4
A7c and TECHART
Sony A7c - AF - 7Artisans 28mm f/1.4

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