Over the past few months I have been shooting primarily with my Leica M6TTL 0.58x (for those unaware, the Leica M6TTL can come in three different viewfinder magnifications: 0.85x, 0.72x, and 0.58x). I took this with me out East and on my road trip out West, and it was my primary shooter both times. I also took my Hasselblad 501CM with me on both trips, but for me the Hasselblad system is too large to ever be a primary camera for me. I love the results but it is too large, too loud, and too slow to be a primary shooter; it’s a bit cumbersome at times, and takes up a lot of real estate in my bag. It can get heavy carrying it around all day as well. At least, this is what I tell myself…and then I get a roll of film back from it and I am instantly in love again. Still, the convenience of the smaller formats is really alluring.
But, I digress. 2013 has been primarily shot with the M6TTL 0.58 and it has gone just fine. I have used the X100 a little, but not much at all. I am pretty much shooting 90% film at the moment. I figured I’d post a quick thing about how I’ve been shooting recently, and the kind of gear I’ve been using.
I sold my Leica MP since I prefer the 0.58x magnification on the Leica M system; I had planned to perhaps get an MP in that magnification, but the MP is honestly just hard to justify at the cost it generally commands (which sometimes makes me regret selling the one I found for really cheap that I ended up selling), especially the viewfinder magnification that I prefer. I like the larger shutter speed dial of the M6TTL, and it’s a lot cheaper than the MP. I don’t mind the size of it (it’s marginally larger than the “traditional” Leica M), but some people do. Honestly, in the land of Leica, people get worked up about the strangest things. I also sold my Zeiss Ikon last fall, but recently ended up acquiring another for cheap; this time, in black. I do appreciate how much faster automatic exposure (AE) can make things at times, and I liked the viewfinder on the Zeiss quite a bit. I find it funny that the Zeiss Ikon can cost as little as half as much as an M6.
I have been using the 35mm focal length quite a bit, as well as the 50mm that I’ve always loved (but doesn’t everyone love the “nifty fifty”?). To be honest, it was the X100 that pushed me into using 35mm at all; I’d always felt more comfortable with 50mm, but lots of time with the 35mm made me acquire a taste for it. I have also always liked the 90mm length, but don’t have one at the moment after selling my old one last year. I do think I’ll end up getting one again for portraits and the times I want to have more reach than I do with my 50mm. Before the trip out West I picked up a 15mm super-wide but haven’t seen any results from it yet, and also scored a cheap 28mm lens that I have used a bit but also haven’t seen any results from. It seems like too much to have 28, 35, and 50. 28 and 50 seem a good pair, but I prefer the 35 if I only go out with one lens. Hence, I’m hanging on to all three for now. Maybe I’ll move some at some point, but I’m not sure when.
The X100, which I still enjoy, has taken a back seat. While I like it a lot, I am increasingly frustrated with the “quirks” that it came with. The autofocus speed is pretty poor, and it does weird things at times: the exposure will go haywire randomly, it can lag, and the battery life seems to get worse all the time. When I try to use it to make images of my son…forget it. It’s way too slow. After playing with the X100s in the B&H Superstore in New York City, I think that could be a solid option in the future. Ideally I’d like to have a digital version of my Leica M, but I’m unwilling to pay the steep cost for a digital camera.
My frustration with the X100, and my failure to find a real digital solution that I’d be happy investing in has pushed me into doing film pretty much all the time. I think that at some point I’ll get back into digital, but I’m not sure how and when. I finally sold my old Nikon D700, since it has been gathering dust for nearly two years. I also sold off all of my F-mount lenses that were unused as well.
As I said, I used the M6TTL with the 35mm and 50mm basically for everything for all the time out East and was content. Perhaps stripping things down would be nice, but it is nice to have choices at times. I need to figure out, once I have the time and space in my new house, a process for developing and scanning my own film at home. This would help save on costs (as I now send out all my film), and would also allow me to get things processed more quickly.
So for now I’m shooting mostly with the Ikon and M6TTL primarily. The Hasselblad and X100 get some use, but it’s infrequent. I’ll try to keep blogging more and post some more photos of my journey out East, and eventually, of my trip out West. I hope you keep coming back and that you enjoy the photos when they do appear. All this talk of gear makes me want to stop thinking about gear and go out shooting.