In June of this year, Aperture added support for the Leica M8, among other cameras.
I have to admit, I have always been jealous of The Leica Shooter. Armed with a small camera and a few tiny lenses (compared to the beefy SLR kit), Leica shooters have roamed the world capturing iconic images we all know.
The legendary “Leica Look” and creamy bokeh have been talked about since the camera first appeared. From Capa and Cartier-Bresson to Winogrand and Salgado, the list of photography giants who have chosen this tool represent a good chunk of the history of photography itself.
During the past two weeks, I was told by several photographers about an article in the September 24th New Yorker Magazine entitled: Candid Camera: The Cult of Leica. It is more a love letter to a camera than a technical review.
The photogs who told me about the piece all said the the same thing; “after reading it, you will want one.”
Personally, I have used SLR cameras since I started shooting pictures as a 12-year-old in my home city of Montreal. It is second nature to me and I’m most comfortable with this type of camera. But like most photographers, I had dreamed of owning a Leica; but like most photographers, I couldn’t afford one.
“When you take a picture with an S.L.R., there is a distinctive sound, somewhere between a clatter and a thump; I worship my beat-up Nikon FE, but there is no denying that every snap reminds me of a cow kicking over a milk pail. With a Leica, all you hear is the shutter, which is the quietest on the market. The result—and this may be the most seductive reason for the Leica cult—is that a photograph sounds like a kiss.”
The Cult of Leica, Anthony Lane
I finally bought a used M6 with a 35mm lens in the late 90’s, and I took it and my SLR’s on a road trip through the Northern United States.
I wanted to love it, but compared to my Nikons, it was slow. The rangefinder focus was sometimes hard for me to see, and occasionally I would forget the f-stop was at 16 when the exposure needed f4. Though I took some great shots with it, including one of my favorites of a giant cow in North Dakota, I ultimately abandoned it for the familiar clunk of the SLR.
Copyright Steve Simon
But I believe that the Leica Rangefinder is a system that needs to be committed too, and I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment at the time.
“Asked how he thought of the Leica, Cartier-Bresson said that it felt like “a big warm kiss, like a shot from a revolver, and like the psychoanalyst’s couch.” At this point, five thousand dollars begins to look like a bargain.”
“At Photokina, the biennial fair of the world’s photographic trade, Leica made an announcement: it was time, we were told, for the M8. The M series was going digital. It was like Dylan going electric.” Anthony Lane
The Leica M8 had its problems when it was first introduced, but they seem to be ironed out and the Leica shooters that use it are singing the praises of the camera. Maybe I’m finally ready for commitment.