The end of the Leica Year…or not?

August the 10th. It is now a year ago I started with Michael Johnston’s ‘Leica Lessons‘ project.

I feel like I didn’t really complete the year, though. As I detailed before, I’ve been using my 400D occasionally to record the progress of our renovation project1, and as you can see from last week’s picture, I haven’t stuck to one lens either. I’ve also started using a light meter during the second half of the year2.

So, will I ditch the Leica tomorrow and go back to my EOS 30, or even run back to the modern embrace of digital? No, definitely not. I’ve found that for most of the things I shoot, the Leica is close to my perfect camera. It’s small, so I can carry it always, it’s reliable, and it’s an enormous pleasure to use. It certainly has its weaknesses, and rangefinders don’t suit every purpose, but nothing prevents me from using one of my SLRs if the need arises.

As I mentioned earlier, I haven’t really stuck with one lens. When I realized the Leica was there to stay, I started drawing up my ultimate Leica kit3, and started watching Ebay for deals on these lenses. Over the past few months, I’ve been able to get both lenses I wanted for very reasonable prices. I haven’t used the lenses much, mostly put a few rolls behind then to make sure they worked as they should, but I still used them. They have, however, confimed my assessment that the Leica suits me.

Why did I start using a lightmeter? This I blame on the remodelling project: Because I had very little time to shoot, and equally little time to develop, I practised little, and there was often a long time between shooting the picture and seeing the result. It is also my experience that you need to keep excersizing the skill, or it will fade very fast. When I started getting less than 10 well-exposed shots per roll it started taking the fun out of the whole project, which wasn’t the idea. So I picked up a Leicameter MR from Ebay, and I’ve been using it for most of my shots since then. That, combined with the fact that I’ve finally zeroed in on a exposure index/developing combo I’m happy with means that the last 5 months have given me a lot more satisfying shots.

So, what’s next? I might, in the future, redo parts of the year, since I feel like I cheated. I’ll certainly give GSOTPANWASTOTZSS another go, when I can make more time. I’ll also keep shooting a lot of B&W film. For one thing, I like the ability to do your own development, but I also feel like I haven’t learned everything I can about shooting in B&W yet. I will be trying out the Leica (or more exactly, the Leica lenses) with some colour slide film though4.

Next friday I’ll be shooting another wedding, so I’ll get a healthy dose of modern cameras and lenses. Let’s call it detox.

  1. I was also asked to shoot a swimming match a few months ago, for which I brought the Canon as well. []
  2. Though to be fair, this requirement wasn’t stipulated by Michael Johnston, but by me []
  3. On which more in a following post []
  4. If I like both, there may be a second body in the future, though that won’t be soon. []

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