Notice: TECHART LMEA7 update here.
Update: More to come, but suffice it to say I fell prey to a Leica film body not long after writing this. I tried. I did say “might”.
Stopped by SE Camera recently and they had a new to them second hand Leica digital body (M Type 262). They also had a film Leica body as well (M6).
At first I was intrigued. The digital body was a bit rough around the edges but seemed in perfect working mechanical order. Had flashbacks to the M3 I owned some time ago. Felt that pull. Looked through the viewfinder and that huge, bright focus patch. Drawn in further. Attached a lens focused went to take a shot and… no card. Dug into my camera bag and grabbed a backup SD card. Opened the bottom, put in the card, focused, and took the test shot. Nice. First I tried it with my 7Artisans 50mm f/1.1 at every aperture from brightest to most closed down. Held as steady as I could for the smaller apertures.
While I was at it I tried it with a Zeiss 50mm f/1.5 they were selling with the body. Shot the same way as above.
Fine and dandy. Leica buzz on deck as per usual. But here is the thing. Turning the camera upside down reveals the price of $3,000. While still tempted the buzz starts to clear at that revelation. And $3,000 is a good price for a used Type 262. What you get with a Leica, objectively and subjectively, is well documented. But then I looked at the Sony A7 III w/ the TECHART LM-EA7 in my camera bag.
Ran the same test shots. Used the same Lightroom settings as above.
7Artisans 50mm f/1.1.
Zeiss 50mm f/1.5.
Sony shots are a bit dimmer. Likely different setting, but easy enough to adjust in Lightroom either way.
After this, I was left with a question. What matters most with photography?
- The experience of getting the shot.
- The ease of getting the shot
- The resulting shot.
The Leica nails bullet one.
I have a soft spot for rangefinder focusing. Love seeing those two images overlap. I would likely still own the M3 or Bessa R2 I had (and traded both) if I did not have other serviceable fixed lens rangefinders (Exhibits A, B, and C). The Leica is superior in every way, but not $3,000 better in my universe.
But in the real world, the Sony/TECHART takes the lead with bullets two and three.
I will be the first to admit that I much prefer rangefinder focusing to focus peaking no matter how effective that tool may be. But AF is a game-changer. Also an advantage on Sony only at this moment. Preferable to rangefinder and peaking for me. Also facilitates moving targets. Either can zone focus with old-timey lenses so counting that as a draw.
IBIS is another game-changer. Along with the Sony’s stellar low light capabilities this greatly simplifies the photo taking process.
Close focus is also available when adapting Leica glass. Helicoid with MF and TECHART for AF.
While Leica’s are known for their silent photo taking the Sony counters with a low key mechanical shutter and electronic shutter for complete silence.
There is an argument to be made for Leica JPEG color science, but I shoot RAW. To my eyes, there is no discernible difference between the Leica and Sony images once they are hit lightly with the Lightroom bat.
And here is the last thing that shook me out of my Leica haze. While $3,000 is a more than fair price for a second-hand Type 262 (more for a newer model). I can buy a brand new A7III and TECHART LM-EA7 (Saved more by buying mine on Ebay) less than $2,400 combined. And not only can I shoot Leica glass new and old, but I also have access to the deepest mirrorless lens bench and Canon glass via an MC-11 adapter.
Despite everything listed above would I buy a Leica if I had endless resources? Yes. But in my reality, no.
My draw to Leica will continue. But I am much less likely to buy.
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