New Horizons Part I : A day out with the Leica M (Typ 240)

A little over a month ago, I had the opportunity (or should I say, misfortune) to spend a day testing out a Leica. The Leica store here in New York has a program that allows you to test drive a Leica camera for an entire day. The obvious intent is to allow people like me who had never used a rangefinder before to try one, and obviously entice us to procure one for the future.

The kit I received consisted of the digital Leica M (typ 240) and the 50mm Summicron f/2 lens along with a battery and charger (in Leica jargon, a f/1.4 lens is a summilux, an f/2.0 lens is a summicron and a lens in the range of f/2.5-2.8 is an Elmarit). For people not too familiar with Leicas, these are rangefinder cameras where, unlike SLRs wherein you view directly through the lens, here you view through a separate window with frame lines based on the focal length. Focussing is done by aligning the double image within a small rectangle in the center of this optical viewfinder. But since this view is only a representation of what you can shoot, a lot of Leica newbies (myself included)  take a photograph without realizing the lens cap is probably still over the lens.

After a short handling period while I got accustomed to shooting with my new borrowed toy, my girlfriend wife and I took the subway to Jackson Heights to run a few errands for the day.  I tried some discreet shooting techniques using just the distance scale on the lens but my efforts were probably a bit too early during my brief time with the camera to be of any interest. Out in Jackson Heights though, we stepped into a couple of saree stores and one gentleman in the store was kind enough to let me take a snapshot.

The Gentleman in the Saree Store

The Gentleman in the Saree Store | Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

I am not (yet) much of a portrait photographer but it is something I am definitely interested in; something to do in the off-months when I am not travelling. This is a black and white conversion from the DNG file in Capture One.

The next stop was the New Calvary Cemetery, a location I had been meaning to visit for a long time now. It was also nearing sun-down and I was excited to shoot images in the soft evening light. Something that was beginning to be apparent to me from the photos I was taking was that there was something definitely special about the system; or perhaps it was the lens. The colour was always quite beautiful and the images (when in focus) were always sharp; but unlike the aggressive contrast seen in some other outputs, the tones were very soft – something that I now refer to as the sharp yet soft look; very film-like even. Enjoy the following shots from New Calvary Cemetery. They haven’t been touched in any way and are straight out of camera from the original DNGs.

Winter Strol |Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

Winter Stroll |Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

Angel  of Calvary Cemetery  | Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

Angel of Calvary Cemetery I | Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

Angel of Calvary Cemetery II | Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

Angel of Calvary Cemetery II | Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

A Little Prayer | Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

A Little Prayer | Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

Backlit Statue | Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

Backlit Statue | Leica M 240 | 50mm summicron

These images are very different from most of the images in the main galleries. As of now, I still am not sure how they fit within my style; the blog is definitely my best approach to sharing my more casual photography for the moment. Do drop me line below in the comments; and also any thoughts about the imagery in this and future post. Until the next post, cheers!