Cutting Out The Middle Man

Shot with Leica M5 and Leica Summicron 50mm on FujiFilm ISO 200This is just a short entry updating my photographic exploits over the holidays and the direction I've taken regarding my adventure into Leica M rangefinder cameras. Specifically the M5, shooting film and how it all shakes out as it applies to my personal work flow.

I'll start by simply saying the M5 is no longer in my stable. And I'll also state emphatically, I miss it. So why is it gone?

In a word… FILM. Now I'm not here to argue whether film or digital is better than the other. It doesn't really matter. I know there are shooters out there that are dedicated to pursuing film and the preservation of film, but I'm not that guy. While I enjoyed "success" at shooting film, I did not enjoy the process.

Simply put, film did not fit into my workflow. Perhaps due to the volume of processing I do, I found that trying to fit film into my "system" was cumbersome, unpredictable and frankly, VERY disappointing.

Now I'm sure if I wanted to go all-in and develop my own negatives, print my own prints and do all the analogue things that film requires, the outcome might have been different. But the fact is, I don't want to do that. And in the end, to use any of the images, they'd ultimately end up digital anyway.

I battled with the quality of negatives. I battled with the cleanliness of negatives. I battled with the quality of scans… even my own scans couldn't overcome the flaws, dust and debris accumulated on the negatives.

Ultimately the light went on when I realized that my PHOTOGRAPHIC results were good… in fact, better than I had anticipated, but my ability to process and do something with the final image was a total let down. I literally stared at my monitor asking myself, WHY are you doing this?

So why do I miss the M5? Well, it's probably more that I miss the "M." Rangefinder shooting is just a different experience. I could probably liken it to the difference between driving an SUV and maybe a beautiful Mercedes 280 SL (top down). Rangefinder shooting is just more personal. It falls under the umbrella of "less-is-more." It's less gear and technology to come between you and what you're trying to do. It's an absolute joy.

So… the answer was fairly obvious once I made the decision to cut out the middle man (film processing lab). A digital M. I won't go into that direction today… but I'll just say a Leica Digital M is on the way.

The other little change that happened over the holidays was a "new" Digilux 2 came into the household. I'd also wanted to build a red  Leica Digilux 2, so what better time than Christmas?

Of course the camera shoots as well as any of my previous Digilux 2s… but I think I have a little more fun with this red one.

That's it for now. Stay tuned for the arrival of the digital Leica M and we'll get into more discussion about the unique traits of shooting with a rangefinder.