How It Started
I am a commercial cinematographer who spends a lot of time around cameras. My whole job is shooting test after test, coming up with gear selections for a given job, and then going out and executing a visual plan for a director. I love what I do. It is a passion and I am very grateful that people trust me to capture their images for them.
The more I started working the more I realized how many still photos I was taking. Pre-production is full of still images. You need to do location scouting, mood boards, and cast testing. These all require stills to be taken. After a while I found that I was carrying and using my stills camera more than I was shooting with my motion cameras.
The Big Question: Why a Leica M240?
I had previously owned a Canon 5D Mark III but it was just to big and heavy to carry around all day. I wanted a change but I didn’t want to compromise on image quality either. I began shopping around and came across the Leica M240. I had always been a Leica fan but never an owner. From the online reviews it seemed like the perfect fit.
- I wanted small and light. The Leica M240 is small and light, especially for a full frame camera.
- I wanted the ability to use high quality optics with manual focus. The Leica M240 is best when used with Leica’s world renowned M-mount optics.
- I wanted discrete. This was a big one for me. I carry the camera everywhere with me and I hated lugging my dslr around because no matter how small you made it, it always ended up bulky and plastic-like. I wanted something where I could have it with me all day and very few people would notice it. The Leica M240 looks great and has a style that fits with my personality.
- I wanted discrete shooting capabilities. I am a big fan of location shooting. At least that is what I call it. It isn’t really street photography and it isn’t landscape photography. It is sort of a combination. I like empty urban spaces or lone individuals shadowed in the inner city. Those are the images that I am drawn to. So I wanted a camera with a quiet shutter. The Leica M240 has a great shutter that is just the right level. Enough to let you know you’ve taken a shot but not enough to have everyone turn around and ask why you took a photo of their dog.
- I wanted quality. In terms of camera pricing everything is relative. I come from the motion world where a quality capture system will cost you $100,000 just to get the basics. I own a RED Epic and am no stranger to getting what you pay for. I spend a lot of time with my cameras and the joy of holding something of quality is well worth the price of admission on the Leica M240. The way a camera makes you feel when you hold and use it has a direct correlation to the images you are able to capture.
All things were pointing to the Leica M240.
The Next Step
So the next step was to test it out. Now I could have shopped online and found the cheapest price but coming from a cinematography background I knew I wanted to test out the system before I went all in. I also know that nothing is better than having a local shop on your side to help you through any growing pains or issues when you purchase a system.
As luck would have it Leica was running a test drive of the Leica M240. They would give you the camera for a short period and you could see if it fit your style. Perfect. I called the local Leica dealer and set it all up and the next day I was off. I took it out for a few days and after quickly getting used to the focus and the controls I was hooked.
It was everything I wanted in a camera system. Basic, all manual yet still delivered the results I was use to seeing in my motion cameras. I ended up purchasing a Leica M240 and a 50mm f1.4 Summilux ASPH.
This is my dream combination. The perfect balance of technical perfection and aesthetic principles.
Discovering the Possibilities
So that is where the journey began. I am a very happy owner of the Leica M240 and it has paid for itself many times over in the hours of pleasure I have derived from using it.
I take it everywhere with me. I use it for everything from location scouting to just having fun off set. The ability to take it every where with me and to constantly be searching and looking for images and light interactions has benefited my professional career as well.
The idea that carrying a stills camera with me at all times in the attempt to better my cinematography isn’t an incredibly ground breaking idea but it has done wonders for me. I learn something new about composition, lighting, and framing every time I put my eye up the viewfinder and that is what this blog is all about.
All of the images in this article were from my origianl Leica M240 test drive. They were taken on the first day I took the camera out and I wanted to show them here so you could see what it looks like to start a Leica adventure.
I look forward to trying other aspects, lenses, accessories that complete the Leica M system and writing about them here. I hope I can share some of that inspiration with other photographers and cinematographers out there. After all, you can’t begin to hone your style if you haven’t explored the realm of possibilities for image creation.
Do you have a Leica or are you an enthusiast? If so let me know how you use your camera and how you are getting the most out of the experience. Thanks for sharing and I hope you enjoy the site.