Ok.. you're hooked. You are absolutely hooked on photography. You scan for reviews of cameras like a frenzied calorie counter spies his next diet - the only problem is you want everything. You have, as one of my favourite photography writers Eric Kim said, 'GAS' or Gear Acquisition Syndrome'. Now GAS doesn't sound like the most pleasant thing to have. It's cool, i'm here for you.
Here are some easy steps to beat G.A.S
- Hide your wallet
- Hide your money
- Hide your money with your partner
- DO NOT hide your partner.
- Every time you get G.A.S shoot a new subject matter with your existing equipment.
- Set your ebay and paypal passwords to something completely non memorable
- Buy a Leica
Before point 7 happens read the following. It might save you a few thousand $$$$
So my first opinion of this piece comes down to the holiest of holy G.A.S moments every photographer will fight - Whether or whether not you get yourself a LEICA. It's the quintessential Chanel handbag of cameras, the Kobe beef of food. It's THE bougee choice but you deserve it right? Right...Wrong. Now the following is going to be like an immigration test where if you answer anything NO you're deported back to the land of no-Leicas. I'll do explanations after. Not knowing the answer counts as a no. Here we go!
QUESTION 1. Do you like focusing rangefinders? Yes or No
QUESTION 2: Do you have time to focus in your preferred subject matter? Yes or No
QUESTION 3: Do you shoot stopped down? Yes or No
QUESTION 4: Do you have the money for a lens? Yes or No
QUESTION 5: WIll you be un-phased shooting it in public despite it's cost? Yes or No
Ok - you're still here.. your G.A.S is strong. Well done. Question 1 is important.. rangefinder focusing is very different to focusing on an slr..it can be awkward and slow for a lot of people an it plain doesn't suit some folks. Question 2.. it takes me about 10 to 15 seconds to nail focus on a Leica if i'm being precise rather than zone focusing - do you have that time in your field? If you are a street kid.. iso 1600 it and F8 it and go on with your bad self.. everything is in focus you hero of your own world. Question 3. This refers to film Leicas more commonly which is what most people can afford - Shooting wide open is not really what the film Leicas were made for.. it's a brutal process. Digital Leicas.. get your wide open on.. this is a different story. I personally feel that film Leicas were made to be shot stopped down. Question 4. I really think it's important to have enough money for a Leica lens if you're going to invest in Leica film bodies. After all, its really the lenses that make the image here and the camera is for ergonomics and the tool that facilitates. I think the zeiss glass is maybe too sharp at times and a little digital with its render and the voigtlanders are great but the prices have really creeped up - do yourself a favour and buy used Leica glass. Question 5. Don't buy one of these guys if you're not going to shoot it (unless you're a collector...you do you mr collector person.. you're great, i love your work.)
Ok, you've got this far. The next thing is, if you still want a Leica, go to a store that stocks them and try it out for yourself. It's a huge commitment buying into an M system so try before you buy. Leica supported shops are normally looked after by passionate, independent camera stores and you'll learn loads about them. I love going to Aperture UK and http://www.richardcaplan.co.uk/
Whereas you'll get good prices on camera bodies most places, I buy and will buy my used Leica glass in Japan as there's just so much of it in mint condition and at a solid price
For first time Leica kids, I thoroughly recommend shooting on the Leica M3 if you don't mind not having a meter or the Leica M6 TTL as they are amazing value at under 1K and will last you a lifetime. Make sure you do your research on which frame-lines each camera can bring up and whether it matches with the lenses you want to buy.
Any questions on Leicas, do drop me a message.. i love my M6 TTL and i shoot it every week but i didn't always love it and it took a very long time to get to grips with it. If you're willing to put in the time, you're golden and everything will click. It's not an instant results camera but that's the challenge and the beauty of a Leica