The Red Dot – Why Leica
I still remember the day I found myself in front of a shop window full of cameras trying to choose one. Sony, Canon, Nikon, Pentax… I called a friend in a panic and he simply told me to pick them up one after the other and choose the one that gave me the best feeling.
I picked a Nikon.
My love story with the yellow and black brand lasted for ten long years.
I loved the quantity (and quality) of its lenses and being able to use old 60s lenses on modern digital bodies was a dream come true. While canon users had to buy adapters I could easily do the same thing without losing any function. Amazing.
I loved the feeling of its cameras’ bodies: solid, with immediate controls, easy to use, indestructible (once my D700 took a bad fall and kept on working as if nothing ever happened).
I loved the exceptional file quality: the D700’s files were incredibly malleable, I could get amazing results out of terrible conditions. Working on Nikon’s RAWs reminded me of playing with kinetic sand.
Everything went great until Nikon started losing its mind. The D700 was replaced by the D800, which had the same body but three times her predecessor’s pixels. They tried to turn the D600 into a “low cost” full frame, with all its limits (the body had a plastic feeling, it had fewer controls and the viewfinder wasn’t good enough).
I was uncertain but I kept waiting because I couldn’t believe there wasn’t going to be a worthy substitute of the D700 (and in the meantime all the new models’ flaws came out, before they were substituted with updated models.).
Then the D750 came out. I didn’t have a choice: the D610 was too low-end, the D810 had too many pixels despite a perfect camera body. I needed to compromise
I had a love-hate relationship with the new camera: the AF was very quick, high ISOs looked great, better RAWs then the D700, but on the other hand… internal glares, stuck shutter, and finding the right colors became really difficult.
Since it didn’t look like Nikon was going to produce a camera for wedding photographers, I began looking around. I never considered Canon; I tried Fuji and Sony, because they had interesting high end products. But I wasn’t convinced. There was always something bothering me, be it the electronic viewfinder or the file quality.
The turning point
Something unexpected happened in 2017.
I signed up for a photographic workshop hosted by Leica.
We spent five days in a little village nestled between the mountains in Liguria, shooting all day long with a Leica Q.
It’s love at first sight. It’s compact, light, strong, the viewfinder is incredibly detailed, the AF is so quick that you never miss a moment. When I come back home I feel like I’ve been with a lover for five days, and now I can’t wait to go back to that feeling, to the simplicity and freedom of the first love.
It will be another 12 months before I make up my mind, pushed by an unexpected event: a friend lets me try a Leica SL, a camera that I had snobbed because of its weight and dimensions.
“You can use all the lenses you want with it, even Nikon, Leica M, even the old Olympus OM”
“Ok, let’s give it a try”
Thank goodness I did.
Not only I have a unique feeling with this camera, which I think is even better than the D750; the SL creates perfect files. Clean whites, detailed shadows, the colors don’t have the dominants that other brands usually have (red for Canon, yellow/green for Nikon). Postproduction became easier and setting the right skin tone is no longer a struggle.
After two weeks I had already sold all my Nikon cameras and lenses and I bought a Leica Q and a Leica SL. Using the adapters I can still shoot portraits with my beloved 85/2.8 PC Nikkor tilt shift (which I kept), use the 50/1.8 Zuiko when I feel a bit vintage and the amazing 15/4.5 Voigtlander that looks like being inside a cinemascope.
At the moment I use the Q for reportages, both during weddings and for my personal projects, while the SL is better for portraits.
Since April 2018 I’m officially a Leica Certified photographer.
Cover photo: my Leica Q