New weapon and new challenge - Let's Roll.

I've been shooting 35mm photography since 1980. I started with a Pentax ME, added an MX and as many photographers do, went way overboard in equipment. Later I shot with a Leica R3. 

My shooting slowed down through the late 80's and early 90's. By then the Leica had been stolen and I was shooting with a Pentax LX. But I wasn't shooting much.

Then came digital. My first digital camera was an Olympus point n' shoot. Other than a $25,000 Kodak backed Nikon, there were no SLRs. None that were affordable, anyway. 

In 2000 the Canon D30 arrived on the scene. An affordable (around $3K) digital SLR with a whopping 3.2 megapixels. It was real. It wasn't long before I owned a couple and began by journey on the D-train. To date, I'm sure I've owned at least a dozen of the Canon EOS "D" series cameras.

Leica M5 shown with Voightlander 35mm f/2.5Of late, however, digital has left me a bit unsatisfied creatively. That's not to say there is anything wrong with digital. It's amazing technology and it's opened up the world of photography to a lot more people. Not that everyone is a "pro"…. but digital has allowed a lot more people to capture better photos than they ever have before.

But for me, digital aligns with my work. That is to say, my job. And while by no means do I feel I've accomplished everything I can with digital, nor do I necessarily feel I'm at the top of my game, digital doesn't fill the creative void I feel in my personal photography.

When I'm at home shooting simply for my own personal pleasure, I don't need to blow off 100 images. In fact, I don't NEED anything other than personal satisfaction. I only need to answer to myself. I'm the only guy buying these images.

I've gotten immense satisfaction from shooting with the Leica Digilux 2. It has taught me more about my own personal point of view than any camera I've owned. It's slowed me down… made me think and made me more accountable for every frame.

More recently, I've had the same experience shooting Polaroid. It's been a great transitional camera…. since instant film gave me the immediate feedback like digital, I was able to grasp the results of my successes and failures right away. But ultimately, the Polaroid cameras aren't very nimble or suitable for walk around shooting.

So… short story long, today I took the plunge back into 35mm roll film. No more chimping. 24-36 frames… make 'em count.

I'm starting out with a Leica M5. The M5 was Leica's (and the world's) first rangefinder to employ a built in meter. This was important to me. With the Polaroid I used a handheld meter, but again, I want to develop a quick nimble style of shooting with the rangefinder. After all, it's fully manual exposure and there's no autofocus. So, I figured I have enough on my plate without having to stop and take an incident reading of the light. I'm not gluten for punishment.

To compliment the camera I selected a Leica Summicron 50mm f/2 lens and a tiny  Voightlander 35mm f/2.5. Many argue you should only shoot with Leica lenses on a Leica… and there are some good arguments to be made. There's also a mortgage payment to be made. Yes, you can pick up older Leica glass… which is what I did, but many point out that newer lenses from Zeiss or Voightlander easily rival 50 year old Leica technology. Also a good argument. So for now, I went with one of each. The Leica is 50 years old and looks like it left the factory six months ago. It's beautiful. The Voightlander, while not the build or "heft" of the Leica lens, is by all standards a beautiful piece of equipment.  So, we'll see.

For the first few rolls I'll be employing the one-hour photo guy at Walgreens. I'm not anticipating any "art" for the first few weeks, so I'll just push through some Kodak color and Kodak BW400 black and white that their machines can handle. The films about $4 and processing with a CD (no prints) is between $6-$7. It takes an hour.

I'll close by telling you that I love the feel of this process. The equipment in your hand, the cranking of the film advance lever… just the feel of clicking off stops on the aperture ring… it's nice. It's real nice. It's probably like driving a 64 XKE Jag or something similar… you're not going to use it as a daily driver, but it sure makes an adventure out of a Sunday drive.

Wish me luck.