I started using a Leica Camera (M9P) back in 2012. Moving from a Nikon D3s to a Leica Rangfinder was like chalk and cheese, I mean going from a basically fully automatic camera to a fully manual camera had many challenges and I want to share some of those challenges with you.
I first started getting into Photography back in 2011 after bringing my D90 out of the closet and taking it on a trip to Penang to try my hand at photography. I had no idea what all the gauges and buttons did on the camera except that I knew that if I had the green button selected it would take nice pictures (green button being the “Auto Exposure Button”). The D90 had been sat in a draw back in Thailand for about 3 years and all the rubber parts of the camera were tacky so one day while I was walking around Times Square in Kuala Lumpur I noticed that they had a Nikon Service Center there so I popped in and asked them if they had a cleaner that could clean all the rubber parts of my camera. They told me that for $60 I could have all the rubber parts replaced and that it would only take a day to get my camera back, so that’s what I did and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I went to pick it up the next day…………..it looked just like new.
While paying for the new rubber parts I noticed a sign up saying that they were holding a basic camera class the next day and that it was $15 for the one day class. I asked the lady if I could join the class and she said sure, so I paid her the $15 bucks and went to walk out of the center when she called me back and said that the class was only for people with the Nikon D7000 camera and not for the Nikon D90. I told her that I wasn’t bothered about what camera it was for I just wanted to learn the basics, but she insisted it was only for people with a D7000 camera and she gave me my $15 back.
Me being me I walked across the shopping mall and walked into a Nikon Dealers shop and asked if they had a Nikon D7000 for sale, five minutes later I was back in the Nikon Service Center and asking if I could still do the training class that they were holding the next day. I got some funny looks from the staff in the service center and I was told again that it was only for owners of the Nikon D7000 to which I opened the carrier bag and produced a new Nikon D7000……………..I was in the basic photography class.
From there I took a few more classes at the Nikon Center and while at one of those classes I met a guy that introduced me to a local forum called Photo Malaysia http://www.photomalaysia.com/forums/forum.php that not only is a place to post pictures but also where they have photo trips that include some professional instruction as well. So I signed up for a few of those trips and after that I was hooked on Photography. I would travel all over Asia taking mainly Street and Landscape pictures and share them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram Photo Forums like Photo Malaysia, Talk Photography from the UK http://www.talkphotography.co.uk/forums/ There is so much help out there if you are looking for help especially when it comes to asking questions about how do you do this and how do you do that to make a picture like this or that ………………and ask questions I did. I asked loads of questions and slowly but surely I started to understand what was needed to get an exposure right.
During one of my photo classes I met a guy that had a Nikon D3s, as soon as I saw it I needed it, I don’t know why but I needed it. So during the lunch break I started asking him a bunch of questions about his camera and he was trying to explain to me that his camera was a full frame camera and the camera I had had a crop sensor which meant absolutely nothing to me, except his camera was twice as big as mine and I needed one. I decided it was time for me to trade my D7000 for a Nikon D3s and later that day I went over to YL camera in Jaya 33 and traded my D7000 for a new Nikon D3s along with a new 70/200mm f2.8 Lens………………..talk about an ego boost walking down the road with this massive camera and even bigger lens.
I joined my third Photo Malaysia trip to Pacu Jawi in Indonesia, it was while I was on this trip that I was introduced to a Leica Camera (Leica M9). The owner of this camera was sat next to me on the bus. We talked for a while about his camera and mainly about the size of it (remember I had just gone from a Nikon D7000 to a D3s) and I am thinking how possibly could a camera a third of the size of the D3s cost more than double the price and supposedly take better quality pictures…………….I needed one but had no idea what I was getting into.
The start of my love/hate relationship with a Leica Rangfinder
I ordered a New Leica M9P along with a 35mm Summicron lens as my starter kit from Ffords Leica Store in Inverness Scotland http://www.leicacameras.co.uk/ When it arrived at my home in Kuala Lumpur I unboxed it and the first thing that I noticed was the weight of it compared to its size (it’s a heavy wee camera for the size of it). I had watched a bunch of YouTube videos on how to use a Leica Rangfinder but to be honest I didn’t have a clue what I was doing when I first tried taking a picture with it. I remember charging the battery overnight and heading down to China Town first thing in the morning to try my hand at street photography with a Leica Camera. My very first try was a disaster as I forgot to remove the lens cap while trying to take a picture of a young lady praying in front of a small Chinese temple. Once I realized my mistake I moved on and managed to take quite a few pictures with reasonable results apart from what would have been a fantastic picture had I remembered to focus the shot before taking the picture. The picture I am talking about was of three people sitting on a bench waiting for a bus. (Note my previous picture was of a building across the other side of the road) The first guy was a Muslim gentleman with the long beard and his white cap (taqiyah) on. The second guy was a Jewish guy who was also wearing his traditional black suit and trilby like hat. The third guy was a Pilipino who was sat reading the newspaper. I made my way to the end of the bench, knelt down framed the shot and shouted “Hay” at the same time they all looked around at me and I snapped the shutter, got up and left. I looked on the back of the LCD and it showed me that I had a perfect exposure and I was ecstatic. When I arrived home I couldn’t wait to upload the picture onto my computer and post it on my Facebook and the photo forums, but to my horror the picture was completely blurred as I had forgotten to set the focus first…………this was the my start of the love/hate relationship with a Leica Rangfinder.
I continued to shoot with my Leica M9P and added two more lenses………………. a 21mm Summilux and a 90mm APO Summicron.
While on a Photo Malaysia trip visiting Ha Giang in Northern Vietnam I only took my Leica gear and left all my Nikon gear at home. There were many times during that trip that I wish I had had my Nikon gear with me because I found myself missing shots all over the place due to either the poor lighting or because of the subjects were fast moving and my inability of being able to focus and adjust the exposure in a timely manner. It was also during this trip that I started to have doubts as to whether I wanted to continue to shoot with my Leica gear or just go back to shooting with an auto focus camera system i.e. Nikon.
For the next six months I switched back and forth from Leica to Nikon to Leica and it was driving me crazy. I loved to ease to shooting with the Nikon D3s with it’s long zoom lenses but missed the quality and the small size of the Leica gear, but I had to make my mind up as trying to use both at the same time was just too much for me, so in March 2013 I decide to sell all my Leica gear and concentrate on shooting with my Nikon Gear.
Leica had announced a new Leica M (240) in September 2012 but it was mid 2013 before they started shipping them. I had a good friend of mine who lives in Kuala Lumpur that bought his new Leica M around May 2013 and as soon as I saw it I needed to have it as well. So I added my name to the waiting list of Ffords http://www.leicacameras.co.uk/ and in September 2013 I bought a new Leica M (240) along with a 50mm Noctilux lens…………………….that was me back in love with Leica and have been ever since. Leica is now my go to camera and I have since added a Leica Monochrom to my collection.