Leica M1 (and a few words about camera gear)

Yesterday, as I was searching for a specific fitter in my bags, I stumbled upon my old Leica M1. This is a camera my father had bought during the 1960’s, and I personally started using it about three years ago, it was the camera that really introduced me to film.


As you can see, it’s a a real beautiful camera. The lens is the collapsible Elmar 50mm f/2.8 made somewhere in the 1950’s and the device on the hotshoe is a modern rangefinder made by Fotoman. This Leica doesn’t have a rangefinder or a meter, so it’s a full manual machine. I used my Sekonic meter to get the right exposure or just base my settings on the Sunny 16 rule. Unless I am shooting at large apertures, I won’t even bother taking a look at the external rangefinder, just use zone focus.

This camera is in mint condition, like brand new, not a single scratch, and working flawlessly. It has by far the best shutter sound of any Leica I have tried and the silver finish is just awesome (they knew how to make beautiful cameras back then…).

(Leica M1, Fuji Sensia 100)

I have stopped using this camera since I got the M6 and M7. They are faster and easier to operate, and furthermore, I wanted to keep it like its is, brand new, since it has a great sentimental value for me. I have shot a few rolls with it, and as you can see, you can get beautiful images even with a 50 years old camera (that was the beauty of film, you could keep a camera for decades and still get great photos).

(Leica M1, Efke IR820 infrared film, B+W 092 filter)

Today, we have state of the art machines like the Nikon D800 or Canon 5D Mark III, and of course the recently introduced mirrorless cameras, but these machines get obsolete after a few years (and unfortunately their price goes down the drain). I consider myself a hobbyist who has really spent on cameras much more that he could afford, just for trying to find what’s best for my style of photography. Fortunately, my quest is over and eventually, I will get rid of equipment I don’t think it’s worth keeping, so that I can get a balance both in my hobby and my bank account !!

(Leica M1, Fuji Velvia 50)

My first choice remains film, because I like the way it looks and of course the whole process of shooting film. The Leica M7 and Plaubel Makina 67 are usually my first choices, and for serious landscapes I will employ the Fuji GSW690iii.

Since I can’t do all my images with film (due to the cost of course), I have chosen the Sony NEX as a camera for family images, travel snapshots and generally as a camera that I can carry everywhere (and it also does video for those moments when I need it). The Leica M8 would have been sold a long time ago, but it’s great ability to shoot pure infrared images has kept it in my arsenal, since I love IR photography.

Also, I hold my Nikon gear for now, since it’s a professional camera setup which might serve me in the future.

Enjoy the rest of the images, all taken with the Leica M1.




(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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