My Gear

I believe photographers should use whatever gear they like and they can afford.   There are no right and wrong answers but only what works for you.   I have shot a lot of different cameras over the years.   I like to play and experiment with different photography equipment.  This is part of the joy of photography for me.   You can spend a small fortune with trial and error shopping while trying to find out what works for you.   I’ll share what I use and why.   Hopefully it will give you some insight for your purchases.  Feel free to ask questions if you have them.  Let me tell you about my gear:

Leicas

My primary color digital camera is a Black Leica M9-P.   To me it is a truly amazing camera and the perfect camera for me!  It is light and easy to carry around.   It takes razor sharp images with brilliant rendering of color.   It is can easily slip into my briefcase to accompany as I go about my daily business.  It also is a great conversation piece.  I have a lot of conversations started by strangers who are just interested in my camera.

I use the Artisan and Artist Silk Cord Strap vs. the one provided by Leica.   Made from the same Japanese Kumihimo artists that have been making braided silk straps for battle armor and swords for Samurai warriors for thousands of years.   The strap is cool on your neck and won’t mark your shirt like a leather strap can plus if it is used by Samurai it must be cool.   It wraps very easily around your wrists when shooting Street Photography.

You will often find my Noctilux 50mm f/0.95 on this camera…

Leica M9-P

I also shoot a Leica M Monochrom for Black and White digital photography.   I shot a lot of street photography and evening events with my Monochrom as it has great ISO capabilities (for a Leica) so my Summicron 28mm f/2.0 is a great lens for this camera.

Leica M Monochrom

For Film Photography I shoot two collector Leica Film Cameras.  I don’t lock mine up but I use mine.  I shoot the Leica M6-J and its matching Elmar 50mm f/2.8.

Leica M6J

and the Leica MP-3.  I typically shoot that with my Summilux 35mm f/1.4.  I didn’t plan to use certain lenses with certain cameras it just worked out that way.   I also have a Summilux 21mm f/1.4 that I shoot from time to time.

Blog-5

In a world of mass production I admire the craftsmanship that Leica puts into their products.  You can instantly feel the construction of the camera as you hold it in your hands.   I love the clean look and feel of my M9-P.    Leica refers to it as ‘stripped down to absolute functionality’.   This video gives you a behind-the-scenes look at the making of Leica cameras.

Shooting only prime lenses took a bit of adjustment for me.   When you walk around with zoom lenses you can change the perspective and see the change ‘in camera’.  With primes it takes practice to learn to see the shot.   You really ‘learn’ to see at different focal lengths and with practice will be able to see a shot before you put the camera up to your eye.   I have gotten into the habit of spending a significant amount of dedicated time with new lenses to make sure I can ‘see’ the world through them as I talked about in 10 things I learned from daily shooting.    You will find it easier to shoot some lenses over others.  My 50mm is natural for me so there is no need to spend dedicated time with it.   I actually have to stop spending time with it sometimes.   Once you are comfortable with the lenses you can go out for a day with just one lens and be happy with your results.  I am constantly checking which lenses I am getting my shots from to make sure I have a good balance between lenses.    I am pretty happy with the shots I can get from any of my lenses;

50 shots with the Noctilux 50mm f/0.95

35 shots with the Summilux 35mm f/1.4

21 shots with the Summilux 21mm f/1.4

Medium Format

I have started to explore Medium Format film photography.    I picked up a Hasselblad 501CM which is my primary Medium Format camera.

Hasselblad 501

Sekonic

Point and Shoot

I also have the Ricoh GRD IV as my digital point and shoot.

Ricoh GR IV Digital

Accessories

I always use a clear Leica protectors on my lenses.   I know there are varying views on this but I never have a lens cap on.  I am always walking in cities so I want to protect the glass of the lens.  I like to shoot my lenses wide open most of the time so during the day I switch my clear protectors for ND filters.  I use B+W ND 4 Filters most of the time and I also have a B+W ND 64 for my Noctilux for when it is really bright out.

Leica Filters

There are a few ‘must have’ accessories to get the most out of these lenses.   I have a 21mm bright finder I use in the hot shoe when I am shooting the 21mm Summilux.  I also have a 35mm viewfinder that I occassionally use with my 35mm.   The 35mm Summilux blocks part of the in camera viewfinder which takes a bit of getting use to.   I also use a 1.4x magnifier with my 50mm to make it easier to focus.

Leica Lens accessories

Leica Lenses are hand-crafted.   They are manufactured meticulously to precision.   They are razor sharp.   I find their manufacturing process fascinating.

I hate lugging around a tripod but they are necessary if you want to capture certain shots at night or long exposures.   I use the Leica TableTop Tripod.  It is extremely light and portable I tend to alway keep it in my camera bag when traveling.   I have gotten some really cool architecture shots in hotels using it.  I also use a hot shoe level which is helpful in making sure the camera is level.

Tripod

Flashes

There are times when a flash is very helpful and a fun part of photography to explore.  I don’t carry them often when it makes for a nice divergence when I do.  You can check out some of the results from Flashing Jiyugaoka, Flashing Tokyo and The Bake Shop Party….

Leica Flashes

Memory Cards

I typically go out with 5 memory cards.  I have one in the camera and four in a little carrying case.  I tend to swap out cards once I get 100 or 150 shots on them.    I am always worried about losing a card so I prefer to spread my data out across cards.   With the type of shooting you are doing on a Leica you don’t need lightening fast cards or huge memory.  I found my M9 works best with 8GB cards 30/mb per second cards.

SanDisk 8GB

Film Scanning

For handling your film and ensuring you don’t get finger prints or oil from your skin on them you need gloves.  I couldn’t believe how nasty my film got from just a little handling and it gives you a lot more to clean up in post processing.

Gear for film scanning

I use an Epson GT-x970 Flatbed scanner.  This is the Japan version of the V750.  There are much more expensive dedicated film scanning available on the market.  They are about 4-8 times the cost and I think I am getting pretty decent results now so I am not ready to make that investment.  Perhaps there will be a PlusTek OptiFilm Scan 120 in my future but not right now.  I am going to keep that money for film, cameras and lenses.

What you do need to invest in is a set of Better Scanning film holders.  The ones provided by Epson are pretty difficult to get the film to lay flat.  You also need to get an big air blower to get dust off of the film.

Gear for scanning film

Mac, Drives and Software

If you don’t understand the need for ensuring the film is laying flat have a look at these two scans.  The one on the left was not laying flat and the film was a bit curved.  The second scan is laying completely flat.   The BetterScanning plates don’t magically make this much difference but they do help you to ensure that your film is laying flat and as you can see this is pretty important for scanning.

I use a 17 inch MacBook Pro for all of my image processing.   It is really heavy to carry around but I love the screen size and processing power.    I have a 500GB Flash Drive and removed the optical drive and put in a second 600GB flash drive.

17 inch Macbook Pro

I don’t actually use a lot of different software.    I have a minimalist digital workflow and use Adobe Lightroom for all of my editing needs.  I have Photoshop but I never have a need for it.  Lightroom can easily handle everything I need to get accomplished.    I use TimeMachine for backing up.   I also use the Rescue PRO file recovery utility from SanDisk.  It is a life saver if you mistakenly format a memory card too soon.

ShootTokyo's Software

Traditional spinning disk drives and I have a horrible legacy together.    I didn’t lose ‘a’ hard drive…I lost ’6′ within a couple of months.  I’m not sure what I did to the ‘Data Gods’ to cause this curse but if you enjoy reading about other people’s misery… enjoy;

#1 Technology and Karma

#2 Another MAC bites the dust

#3 The Mac is back: third time is suppose to be a charm

#4 En route Hangzhou China via the Apple Store

#5 952 Yen + Tax

#6 Random Friday

Thankfully I am extremely paranoid and I backup everything, all the time.   I do backups with TimeMachine a few times a week.  I use Western Digital drives.  I like them as they are clean looking, simple, reliable and I can access them directly and not through their software interface.   Once a month I also copy over my entire ‘photos’ folder and archive off a copy.   When I am traveling I make a second copy of my images I have shot and move them to my second drive on my Mac.  I also carry along a couple of 500GB Western Digital drives to archive off copies to as well.

ShootTokyo's Drives

So…there is a little insight to what I am shooting with.

Thanks for stopping by today…

 

40 Comments

  1. Hi
    Enjoy reading your writings! Quick question. I have shooting M9P for a year now and have a 35mmF1.4summilux, 50mm F1.4 summilux and just got a 50mm 0.95 Noctilux.
    1. Do you miss having the smaller lighter and still great 50mmsummilux or are u happy just with the hefty noctilux?
    2. To ‘complete’ my collection, I was debating between 21 or 24mm F1.4 summilux…guess you wd recommend the 21mm?
    3. Why have the 28mmsummicron which kind of bridges the gap between 21 and 35mm?
    4. Your thoughts on getting a 90mm summicron?

    Love my Leica and the wife thinks I am crazy shooting everything and bringing my camera everywhere!

    Best

    Ron

  2. Hey Dave,
    This is a great post man! Getting exited my reading it, really stimulated to shoot some picture for myself.
    And yes, it’s totally cool: “plus if it is used by Samurai it must be cool” LOL
    Great videos, such effort. Amazing. Thx for this share, nice to get a peak ‘backstage’

  3. Hi Ron

    I never had the Summilux 50mm so not sure. If I had unlimited money I would like a second lighter 50mm but I love my Noctilux so much I don’t mind carrying it around. I like the 21mm personally. I think the viewpoint in 21mm and 35mm are so different that 28mm is a nice perspective to shoot. I haven’t tried the 90mm yet. I want to get a longer lens one day.

  4. Very nice pics, I’m photo fan as well. Hope we’ll have more communication in the future. I’ve got the web site from my colleague in HK.
    Kelvin

  5. Thanks Kelvin…

  6. Hi, what does “shoot my lenses wide open” mean? Thanks for the answer.

  7. Gabi – It means to shoot with the biggest aperture. For example, if you have a lens that is a f/1.4, you are shooting wide open when you shoot it as 1.4 as the aperture blades are open as far as they can go ‘Wide Open’…

  8. Hi, Dave

    Appreciate your wonderful pics. Just wondering, do you shoot in RAW or JPG?

  9. Always RAW Northy… details on how I shoot are HERE.

  10. Mr Powell, what happened to talking it through before getting the mono :)
    Anyway, I was offered one from the local dealer and decided to give it a miss and probably wait for the 50mm APO instead. That said, might change my mind. So looking forward to hear your experience with the mono…

  11. I got offered one and I couldn’t resist. I am not sure if I would rather have the APO. Let me know what you think of it.

  12. Love your work! As much as I’m jealous of your gear! Ha. My only question is how do afford all the Leica gear? Are you making a living with your photography or is it a hobby?

  13. I work in IT Andrew. Photography is my hobby.

  14. Dave,

    When will I see the Leica M240 in your gear list?

  15. Nathan – Not for a while I think. I am really enjoying shooting my M6s, M9 and Monochrom right now.

  16. Wish I could afford all this gear! I do love my Nikon D3200 but these are so small and inconspicuous while maintaining the power of a high end DSLR.

  17. Beautiful machines … just expensive as hell :)
    by the way, great website, it’s been a pleasure to spend some time here :)

  18. Thanks Jiri. Glad you enjoyed it.

  19. Being in ITR also helps me get away with relief by shooting with my D800 and D600 will eventually downsize luv the B+W
    Keep those pixs coming Dave.

  20. Please Dd me to your lists. Enjoy your web site.

  21. Dave,

    You have been asked the important question and I am asking it again here: when will you get the new Leica M? Though not perfect, the Leica M is the result of Leica listening to its customers and updating its flagship offering to put it in the zone of what other modern cameras and technology can do. So now, it is weather-sealed, has a newer high res screen and better ISO. In addition to the rangefinder experience, you can use EVF. Instead of being restricted to primes, you can add (via adapter) legacy telephotos for R lenses (although I wish Leica would give us a couple new native telephotos like a 70-200mm)and that all important Leica sacrilege: video capability!!

  22. Hi David – Not sure I am moving to the new M anytime soon. It solves a lot of problems I don’t have. Well they are certainly not $10,000 problems. I am not worried about weather-sealing as I don’t go shooting in the rain much and my lenses aren’t weather sealed so the weather sealing doesn’t do me much good. The ISO is higher but not dramatically. I don’t ever really hit the limits of the ISO on my M9. I am using fast glass which compensates for this. If it had similar ISO capabilities of my Monochrom it might be a different story. I don’t shoot video and I am not that interested in LiveView. I saw someone that had a Macro Adapter which was interesting to me. I am happy with my M9-P and just don’t feel compelled to jump to buy something else. If I was going to spend another $10,000 on cameras I can think of a lens or two I would like or 10-20 film cameras I would rather buy.

  23. Dave

    Hi there, I like your site very much. As you have own and tried many Leica Lens I would like to ask for your opinion I’m the APO 50mm 2.0. Do you think the improvements over the summilux in regarding to sharpness is enough to make it worth getting?

  24. Hi Ho

    I haven’t shot the Summilux before but I have shot the Summicron APO 50mm and really liked it. I know a few of a readers here shoot with it so I will ask them to comment.

  25. Could you let me know where you get the Honi wraps from please? I have tried google but cannot find a link. Thank you very much indeed.
    Douglas Nelson

  26. Dave,

    I just got a Fuji X-pro 1…. I have to confessed that I am still learning how to use it. But it is much much lighter than the Canon that I use to have…..

  27. Hey David! Great camera. I have many friends with it who love it.

  28. Do you ever have the classic black and white T shirts in XXL ?
    Whenever I look they are out of stock.
    I am 205 lbs 6′ 3”

  29. Hey Dave,

    may I ask which size are your Honl wraps? The 12×12 or 16×16 ? I suppose you wrap your camera with lens together right ? Also where can I get the 1.4x magnifier to better focus my summicron 50mm rigid lens ?

  30. Paul – Not sure on the size. Drop me an email and I can measure it when I eventually get back to Tokyo. You should be able to buy the magnifier at B&H or on Amazon.

  31. Hi Dave,

    im just wondering , when you do your film scans, what resolution do you scan them at ?
    I am doing 4800 dpi at the moment and it takes forever !

  32. Hi PT – I used to scan at 4800 dpi but it took forever. I am experimenting with scanning a lot smaller. I use whatever Popeye gives me for now which is something like 800 or 1000 DPI.

  33. Hi Dave,
    I am planning for a trip to Switzerland in December, with my Leica M240 with 50mm Summilux and a Xpro1 with 10-24 for landscape super wide shots. Currently I am planning to get another Leica lens for the trip, which one will you recommend?

  34. WeiJun – It really depends what you shoot. If you have a 50mm then probably something shorter like a 24mm or 28mm. I shoot a 28mm a lot.

  35. Hi David,

    what kind of halfcase did you finally find for your MP-3? I am looking for one that will fit my MP with Leicavit and have problems finding one.

    Happy to see that you ended up keeping your M6-J, its such a nice camera.

    regards,
    Kristian

  36. I found the case finally from Leica Time. They will make a case for any Leica camera.

  37. Not thinking of M240-P?

  38. Gunston – No, It doesn’t have features I need. I have everything I need with my current setup.

  39. Hey Dave, looks like this post needs some updating as you move into movies!! (excuse the pun)

  40. Len – Will do once I figure all of my great out and settle into what I am going to shoot.

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