Over a year of tinkering with rangefinder film cameras I finally did it, I dumped all my heavy Nikon DSLR stuff for a Leica M system. Crazy, possibly, but for me it was time for a change, a big change.

Making the grab

I have a thing for birds in flight and am somewhat well known for it, have been published, covers etc. and even ran workshops and seminars. But it was getting kind of boring for me, all that autofocus on $5000 dollar super fast focusing lenses was getting too easy for me and was losing its challenge. I have literally 1000’s of snowy owl inflight photos like the one above and getting more didn’t make sense. Although the one above was taken after I sold my DSLR and fancy lenses, the above shot was taken with a Sony NEX7 and kits lens last winter, believe it, or not.

a rob mckay picture

Not long ago I used to jones for more fps, buffer, focus speed etc.. Blame the camera for missing shots, easy outs like that.  But all these options I wished for are camera related and have nothing to do with the photographer or photography, it was all about mechanical features, none would make me a better photographer.

Enter the M9, all me photoing! If I miss focus, its because I suck! But if I hit it, I found it to be 10x more gratifying than the camera doing it all (looking back, I can’t even believe I was ever that happy nailing something with fast AF lenses, thats easy compared to doing it yourself) The simple shots become more interesting/exciting and the resulting images killer (to me)! A whole new world of photoing has opened up for me.  Trying to get good at this manual old school focusing is way more fun than pointing and shooting IMO and the end result and composition are all up to the photographer, not the camera’s built in focus points. With the M9 I look a little longer, I check my light, my composition and get right into it a little bit more because there is no real point and shoot mode with this camera.

Down sizing without compromising image quality!
I have not seen anything out of any camera that comes close to what I get out of this thing and the glass is like jewelry, I can’t believe how taken I am to this system, its truly amazing.
Downsizing is the key to more, means more opportunities because I will have the camera with me a lot more than my giant DSLR and I am less afraid of pointing it at people because it is so unobtrusive.  It also gives me WAY more gratification when I do nail something, unlike a D4, the Leica is all about the photographers skill, not the cameras 150 auto focus points.
 A few things I love about the M system.
  1. Image quality, full frame sensor
  2. build quality
  3. size
  4. killer lenses (the glass, oh the glass!)
  5. unobtrusive
  6. no AA filter
  7. image size (MP count is fine)
  8. I take better photos with it and actually into it more
  9. minimum features, so you are not jonesing for more FPS, etc. its a different beast. its all about photography, not gadgets you don’t use.
  10. longevity, this thing has been around for almost 4 years, I wish I would have done this when it came out, talk about value! (My DSLR stuff was obsolete after 1.5 years)

4 responses to “About

  1. I’m with you. I’ve shot 35mm and medium format film cameras, and carried a huge DSLR system before selling it all for my M9. It just doesn’t get much better than the M.

  2. Hi Rob, I concur fully with your M9 “watershed moment” makes me wonder how many have shared that exact experience, back to basics and in tune with your camera……..a real turning point, for me certainly.

    All the best, Jason.

  3. Hi Rob, I’ve just joined wordpress and found you because of your Kiev88 post. I stumbled across this and agreed 200%!! Although my kiet gets bigger not smaller and I’ve not yet fully made the jump as a portrait/ wedding photographer I shoot old Nikkor AIS lenses on my D800. I only shoot MF as don;t trust/ like AF. I’m now in process of moving over to film and have Nikon,FM as a nice compact street shooter + larger Contax 645, Kiev88s, Pentacon Six and now a huge Mamiya RZ67 Pro II. I develop my own film and rather than taking 500 similar digital photos I now may only take 40 images or 3 rolls. It has slowed me down and made me appreciate photography so much more.

    As you say..digital.. it’s just far too easy! My goal is to shoot 100% film weddings.. I just need to build the niche client base now. Every Tom, Dick & Harry can pick up a entry level DSLR and shoot a wedding cheap but not many people can shoot one on film (these days).

    I’ve tried to follow you but it seem sto be rejected. Will try again tomorrow.

    I’m sure i’ll get to Leica eventually 🙂 + Large format!

    Cheers Matt

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s