Finding the range of a rangefinder

So after thoroughly enjoying my shooting experience with the Leica M5 I decided film was not conducive to my post shoot workflow. While many hold film near and dear to their hearts, for me it detracted from the enjoyment of shooting with the M5.

The rangefinder style of shooting is almost zen-like. For me, film spoiled the fun. Enter the Leica M8.2 digital rangefinder. In a word... WOW. This little beauty is a ball. Unlike Leica's current flagship rangefinder, the full frame sensor M9, the M8.2 delivers 10mp files with a 1:3 crop factor. So, with a 35mm lens your field of view is just shy of 50mm. It's nice. More importantly, the M8.2 is the upgraded version of the M8 and features a silent shutter and scratch-proof sapphire rear display. The black version (shown in the previous entry) comes with a black vulcanite grip, black paint finish (as opposed to black chrome) and the infamous Leica "red dot" has been replaced with a stealthy black dot.

The M8 and M8.2 versions have a known issue (bug or feature) with infrared light.  All cameras have an IR glass filter in front of the sensor. In an effort to keep sharp detail to a maximum, Leica put only the thinnest of IR filters in front of the cameras sensor. Unfortunately this had an effect on some colors ... like black fabric... giving off a bit of a magenta cast. The solution is rather simple; put an IR cut filter on the lens. Leica steadfastly defends that this is still a better solution since it minimizes any filtering between the lens and the sensor. I can only tell you, with the IR cut filter in place (on the lens) my images have been fantastic.

First impressions are important. The M8.2 didn't disappoint in that respect. But it's important to keep in mind that the Leica and rangefinder philosophy dictates that the equipment shouldn't intrude on the job at hand. Referring to one of my favorite audio analogies, I don't want to come to your house and here your new system… I want to hear the music. Same thing here… I don't want to shoot the camera, I want to make pictures.

Of course, getting fluent with any new camera takes time. Using a rangefinder is taming a different beast. There's no going in with all guns blazing and taking a scorched earth approach to "getting the shot." It's slower, it's methodical and it's deliberate.

My personal goals with the Leica M8.2 are first and foremost learning the camera. I need to get comfortable with the personality of the camera's internal meter and making the decisions of going over or under for the lighting of a given scene. I need to get smoother and decisive on making exposure adjustments and deciding whether to adjust the shutter or aperture. And the biggest hurdle of all, I need to get quicker and decisive with the manual focus. It's amazing how much our modern DSLRs participate in our picture making process. When you have to do it all yourself, you realize what a marvel those cameras are.

But that's just it. In the situations where I want to use this camera I don't want the camera to do the work. Nor do I want to simply accept the camera's point of view or interpretation. I want to be more connected to the process of making the picture. While it can initially feel overwhelming and hectic, it's actually relaxing and therapeutic.

In short... I'm in love with this camera. I have a long way to go before I'm fluent with the camera's controls.... not that they're difficult, but with a rangefinder you want the process to be seamless... smooth, decisive and quick. I'll get there.