Ones & Zeroes

I've only owned a few digital cameras in my life. Both of them were Nikon DSLRs. The first one was a D70, I think. I bought it for work, to take photos of promotional events for clients. I sold it during the recession because...well, because I needed a few bucks. Years later, I traded some Hasselblad gear for a Nikon D700. I shot a few dozen snaps with the D700 and it made really nice images. I traded the D700 for a Leica film rangefinder.

A couple of things I've learned about myself as a photographer is that I don't like heavy cameras and I don't like fiddly cameras. Both of the Nikons were fairly bulky blobs of metal and plastic by themselves. Outfitted with a zoom lens, they got downright heavy to lug around all day. And the menus and settings and such on the Nikons meant far too much fiddling for me. I am not a Luddite. Not scared of technology. I manage more digital marketing platforms on my job than I care to count. However, when it comes time to relax and enjoy photography, I don't want to fiddle with menus or manage complicated settings. I want to go out and take some photographs. I suppose that's what I like best about old mechanical film cameras. They are simple tools. And they never get in the way.

I set a goal for myself this year to become a more competent photographer. Go back and study the basics. Shoot and learn. I also decided that I wanted to add a digital camera to my arsenal. I love shooting film, but there are some times when it would be great to go out, shoot, come home and look at my output right away.

I spent a lot of time online, looking at options. I knew that I didn't want to go the DSLR route, because of size and weight, even though I had some AF Nikkor lenses that would fit nicely. I could go in a different direction all together and get a Fuji or Sony body, but moving into a new camera system meant additional investment in lenses. I started thinking about the Leica lenses I had acquired and how much I enjoyed shooting the M cameras. How simple they were. How small and light. I knew I couldn't afford a new digital Leica, but there were used M8s and M9s and with some horse trading, I might be able to get a nice one without too much financial risk.

So that's how it came to be that with a few emails to my friend Ken Hansen, a trade and a bit of cash,  this Leica M9-P becomes only the third digital camera I have ever owned.

I plan to do a full review of this camera once I have driven her a few more miles. My first impression is that this is a camera that, for me, comes closest to the film experience in a digital camera. Very simple. Minimalist controls and menu. Small. Light. Wonderful feel in hand. Exceptional build quality. Very little fiddling. Compatible with all of my M-mount and LTM lenses.

A few hours after unboxing my M9-P, I headed out to the Sonoma County countryside and shot these images. Nothing spectacular, but I'm pleased with my first images from this camera.

I do like way the M9-P renders in black and white mode. Here's a monochrome selfie...

I plan to use the new digital Leica to learn and grow. Along side the chosen few film cameras I have, I hope I can become a better photographer in 2016.