Eric + Money Tree = Immediate Leica M11 and Leica lens purchase…
Though a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 might do just fine…
But until that money tree arrives:
Years ago I wrote a post for KEH’s blog titled, “Why You Need A Close Focus Lens Adapter”. In it I opened with:
- Do you have mirrorless camera?
- Do you have a film lens?
- Do you enjoy macro?
The post went on to detail the added flexibility of adapting lenses, in this case M mount lenses, by adding close focus distances not possible with a native M mount camera.
Was reminded of this today when tooling around with a full frame mirrorless camera and an M mount lens married by helicoid adapter.
Here is a sample of what I was able to quickly produce.
Natively this lens is rated as having a 1 meter close focus distance, but the adapter brought me to within mere inches of the subject. And just like that also a bit of background blur with a lens spec not known for subject isolation. This combined with a number of other factors over time and even recently had another impact.
Greatly reducing the likelihood that I will ever purchase a digital Leica M camera.
Please note that I specify digital. A film Leica will always remain a possibility. Have had two M mount Leica film cameras (A CL in addition to the M3 noted above.) in the past, entertained a Bessa R2 for a while, and I currently get along just fine with a Hexar RF.
Make no mistake. As stated above I do still want an M mount digital camera. But until that day I locate my money tree it does not seem like it will be in the cards. I once pointed to the relative “affordability” of current digital medium format cameras as a reason why I was able to move on. But as stated in a recent post that is not really it. A number of other factors came together.
Also noted above.
First off the Leica M11 does have a few things that I wish other companies would adopt.
- Internal memory making a memory card optional.
- An attention to detail, design, and materials that other faux DSLR hump having look likes cannot be bothered with.
- A true adherence to legacy rather than current cameras in vintage costumes (See Nikon Df, Zfc, and Olympus PEN F.). Others may look the part but it falls apart once you have them in hand with iffy materials and control schemes barely any different from their modern counterparts.
- A true rangefinder configuration.
But my internal logic will always overwhelm the Leica head within me. You can tell the logic side of the house of Woods about colors and experiences all you like. But it is not having it. Especially with fellow 60MP options on the market. Means nothing to a Leica loyalist, and rightfully so, but for $5,097 more money (That could get me a few G Master primes.) I have a hard time giving up:
- Articulating Screen… Especially the ends all articulating screen debates one.
- (I am sorry.) AF… Despite my love of all things rangefinder I really like having AF. Especially if it is of the crazy accurate latest bells and whistles AI variety.
Again. All that being said I still want a Leica body.
In a recent post, I outlined how walking around taking photos by myself with two cameras around my neck did not seem like a great idea. Now imagine my discomfort ferrying a camera equal in value to a bag of cameras and lenses. One could say, “Who would know?”, but I found out that was not the case at Duke Gardens one day.
Had a Leica Q on me once while trying to shoot discretely when someone a few meters away blurted out, “Is that a Leica?!”
And then all heads in earshot pivoted to me… Dude. Shush. Had thought putting black tape over the Leica logo was overkill, but nope.
This next scenario is fully my fault. I was running errands with one of my daughters. I got distracted while talking with her. We got home and I opened the hidden compartment in my truck, where I thought the Q was, and it was empty. Instant panic. Ran back to our last stop. A grocery store. Turns out I had set it down when I paid for our items. A ridiculous unforced error. To my great relief, a young lady in the store went to High School with my daughters, was in marching band with one of them, had seen my camera, put the camera in the store safe, and had already texted my other daughter about what happened. I thanked her profusely.
While completely aware that it was my mistake, the stress experienced during that episode was too much for me to take and I eventually traded the camera.
I keep saying this… but I am not mad at those who do purchase an M11. I am actually quite happy for them.
Will not matter to many. But while a quality build is appreciated I can also appreciate a smaller camera please and thank you. Personal preference.
Bootleg Lens, Why Not Bootleg Camera?
Across all of my M mount cameras I have only ever owned one Leica lens. The Leica Elmarit 90mm f/2.8.
A fantastic lens and very affordable. But that is it. Other Leica lenses I wanted were out of my price range. Fortunately, Voigtlander (50mm and 40mm Noktons)…
…, and TTArtisans (28mm mentioned above) had my back with a host of lenses that I have been very happy with.
But here is the thing. Arguably lenses have more of an impact on the resulting image than the camera. And, similar to film cameras, if I was ok with a non Leica lens why not a non Leica camera?
I have read that rangefinders are great, but to accurately focus a fast aperture long-ish lens an add on EVF is recommended… I am sorry. An EVF costs what now? Yeah. That is not helping me justify this at all.
This is a very recent addition to this list. I put a question mark by it because my data is far from scientific. But I have seen two Youtubers outline Leica M11 failures recently.
I am a huge fan of Three Blind Men and An Elephant Productions. This video came out months ago but I just came across it. In it, an issue is raised where his Leica M11 failed after less than a 1,000 shutter actuations.
Not only that after a month he did not have a replacement yet. I am sure this has been remedied long ago. Plus he is taking it very well. I would hope that I would do the same. Then I thought that this must be an anomaly, right?…
Next up is a new channel to me. This video was the first one of Jeremy Jacobowitz’s offered up to me by the algorithm and was also posted months ago. I will definitely be watching more of him. Again, his Leica M11 failed. But not at less than 1,000 shutter actuations. No. On the first attempt, it failed.
Two Leica M11 failures is far from scientific, but concerning I must admit. Especially for someone like me that does fancy himself owning one someday. What? I said I still want one. But here Jeremy reacts more like I believe I would. Still takes it well all things considered but is understandably upset. At the time of the post B&H allowed him to return it, after some initial resistance, but this put him back on the waiting list. I see M11’s are in stock now, so he must have received his replacement long ago… <Checks his channel.> Yep. He received a new one after a week and he looks very happy. Surely Hugh above must have received his long ago by now also. Good.
I really prize reliability. The only repair I ever had to have done on my, purchased when released, Sony A7III was when I had shunted the power chord. No fault of the camera. Other than that I have owned many Sony bodies for many years and not once have I had a camera body fail otherwise. The two M11 cases above may have been flukes offered up by the algorithm, but I do not find them comforting at all. If I ever did purchase a Leica M mount it would be my expectation that it would be kept and used for many years to come. Add in past reliability concerns years ago and these stories above would stay in the back of my mind.
This brings a very unorthodox comparison to mind. Expensive. Rudimentary. Potentially unreliable. I really want a Dodge Charger Hellcat Redeye Thundercat G-Force. Ok. Those last two were cartoon show names from back in the day. But they do not seem out of place, do they? Back to my loosely held together comparison. There is nothing at all subtle or artistic about the Dodge. But it does hearken back to a simpler time, uses old timey IC cubic inch tech instead of new fangled battery packs, pulls on all the nostalgia strings, and costs a pretty penny. A NC dealership recently had a mass theft of about 10 of these sleds that approached or surpassed a million dollars. They also have reliability issues. Over many years despite my better judgment I have owned three Dodge products. All wildly different. But all three were ultimately reliability disasters. Yet I still bought three. And knowing this logic still gets thrown out the window when I hear a Thundercat G-Force rev its engine. I still want one.
Based on their emphasis on design legacy and perceived prestige I had once equated Leicas to Mercedes, BMW, Audi, or perhaps Tesla. But none of those brands even remotely resemble their storied cars of the past. I would love a modern interpretation of a 3rd generation E38 BMW 7 Series. It is one of the nicest looking cars that has ever rolled out of a dealership in my opinion. A design I could spot, and have spotted from far off. But if you strip the badges and ridiculously sized double elephant kidney grill off of the current model I would struggle to tell it apart from any other luxury sedan. In the pursuit of aerodynamics and efficiency many look kind of samey nowadays. And all of those brands are falling over themselves trying to one-up each other with the latest technology. None of those last few sentences apply to Leica. Sounds more like high end bodies from Canon, Nikon, and Sony to me. Just to beat a metaphorical dead horse crop 645 digital medium format Hasselblad and Fujifilm cameras would be special edition high-end models… <ahem> …and actual 645 sensor having Hasselblads and Phase Ones would be Bentley or Rolls Royce <cough>….
Way off course now. Will try to land this thing now that I have likely cheesed off nearly everyone.
Honestly. I come in peace. Just a thought exercise I now inflict upon others to clear my mind. Seriously. Buy whatever floats your boat. Run what you brung. So on and so forth.
Your mileage may vary. I feel no need to convince or advise others. Right now I am happy with what I have. My current distraction.
Hopefully, that will last for a minute.
And we all know that eventually one day I will likely buy that Thundercat… I mean Leica.
A few more quick samples from the current distraction that prompted this whole thing at the close.