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:
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…
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.
For film photography I shoot my Leica MP. To me there is nothing better and more simple than the Leica MP. 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.
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’.
I shoot prime, fixed focal length, on my 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 now. I have only 4 lenses but I think together they make the perfect lens collections for me.
My most favorite lens is my Leica Noctilux 50mm f/0.95. It is the king of Leica lenses. This lens is very heavy especially for a Leica lens but I really love it. It has a unique look and feel to the images that just can’t be matched in my opinion.
A visual review: 50 shots with the Noctilux 50mm f/0.95
The first lens I bought for my Leica was the Summilux 35mm f/1.4. It is a perfect carry around lens. It is super light and super fast.
A visual review: 35 shots with the Summilux 35mm f/1.4
My Go To lens for Street Photography is my Summicron f/2.0. It is wide enough to get a good perspective of your main subject and it’s background when shooting a scene on the street.
Lastly I have the Summilux 21mm f/1.4. This is the ultimate wide angle lens. It is a speciality lens as it is so wide but it is razor sharp from corner to corner so you can really get some amazing shots.
A visual review: 21 shots with the Summilux 21mm f/1.4
I use the Hasselblad 501CM which is my primary Medium Format camera.
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.
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 occasionally 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.
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.
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. Because of this I am constantly backing up my Lightroom Library and making copies of my images. 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;
So…there is a little insight to what I am shooting with.