The Leica look is ever so slowly etching its way into my heart. Frame by Frame, day by day. I’m starting to see the goodness behind the optics and magic of simplicity. It would be fair to say I’m brand agnostic when it comes to cameras but Leica Q definitely sets the bar up very high.
I’m afraid this will sound a bit like a gear rant or worse still — a Leica fanboy rant but its neither. This is in fact about my foray into the world of Leica Q. It wasn’t an easy ride as I expected. To make matters difficult I wasn’t really seeing the Leica goodness all that much in the first few months of shooting. Sure enough the files were creamy smooth, beautiful bokeh, top notch clarity with Leica goodness but something wasn’t quite right! What was the problem then? Why wasn’t I happy? I wasn’t persistent with my approach. It took a good ten months until I started shooting regularly with my Leica Q. Needless to say it was hard going at first.
About a year on I was shooting the Taiwanese Film festival in Sydney. The lighting was uneven. Horrid at times. I had to shoot the patrons, the actors and some of the crew along with the audience in a dark and overcrowded bar in downtown Sydney. Horrible lighting, bad angles, low ceilings. Deafening noise, Crowded theatres! My pet peeves had all arrived in unison. I had my Fujifilm X-Pro2 on the left shoulder and my Leica Q in my right hand. It was this event that helped me realised I was sitting on a jewel of a camera and shameful didn’t fully know how to use it well. Shocking revelation! But the truth!
Colour samples from my Leica Q
My main hindrance was the fact that I wasn’t familiar how to change the Leica Q setting in a snap for different lighting scenario. Eventually my X-Pro2 started hunting in low light. It was doing my head in. And at one point I put all my energy on pushing my Q to the limit. The film festival went on for three days. I’d get home beyond spent each night. But in all that pressure something had changed! I had somehow figured to break my Fujifilm ways of thinking and focusing. Each night when I got home I looked at my files in Lightroom with sheer delight. Things were beginning to shift.
I had been very comfortable with FujiFilm settings. Thats what brand loyalty does to you. Overtime it becomes a routine and soon a default behaviour. Before the Leica Q I’ve been using the Fujifilm ecosystem for almost four years – nearly daily! I never left home without a camera in hand. My go-to camera for almost two years was the Fujifilm X-Pro2. I used this so frequently that it felt like an extension of my right arm. When you are this vested in a camera type change is hard. When I moved to a new system I missed Fuji’s 3 dial buttons on the top for quick access to menu and about 4 on the back. Not to mention I missed the look of Classic Chrome and Acros in my photos.
Being comfortable in one eco system is good but limiting. There is no shame in polyamory with cameras. Pick up what you like play with it, fail fast and move to what works best for you. An important observations here is that this didn’t happen with my previous cameras: Since my switch from the other brands I’ve never missed my Canon, Nikon, Olympus or even the Ricoh GR. Fujifilm is a little special like that. 🙂 I’ll tell you more about the Leica Q goodness in Part 2.
We know a better camera doesn’t always make a good photographer but when you start to notice the subtle differences in the frame – its fair to say it is a good sign!