For me, great photography is a communion between the subject and the photographer. You have to give something in order to receive. You have to be present in the moment —open, thoughtful, reactive. Some of the best photos I have ever seen are representative of this process. They are like great paintings.
New product reps and photo-tech influencers would like you to believe that they are advancing the craft of picture-taking by taking the “guesswork” out of the equation by offering photographers a million menu options, lightning-fast autofocus and ultra-sensitive ISO’s. I argue that the guesswork they are referring to is actually, in essence, the rewarding process of Photography itself.
In this brave new world of endless and unnecessary upgrades, you are constantly exposed to marketing hype which attempts to convince you that you need more when, in reality, you don’t. Planned obsolescence merely serves to line the pockets of corporations whose very existence now depends upon this paradigm.
Inspiration comes from understanding and overcoming limitations. What some would view or dismiss as irrelevant older camera technology simply don’t understand what Photography actually is about. Understanding limitations rewards creativity.
The Leica M8 is a 10+ year-old digital M-series camera (actually, Leica’s first) that, as I write this in late 2019, still manages to excite, inspire and reward users. It lacks just about all the bells and whistles inherent on virtually every digital camera made today. But, this little block of magnesium alloy and brass, uncluttered —with just a simple shutter speed dial and rangefinder, is a creative thinking person’s camera.
In the hand, it is a joy to behold simply because it is just about as uncomplicated as a digital camera can get —a testament to Leica’s minimalist design philosophy. And, to the eye, the images this camera produces, with its modest by today’s standards 10.5MP Kodak CCD sensor, are beautiful, film-like and organic.
The M8 has no live-view, gets noisy above 640 ISO, and its RAW buffer is abysmally slow. But, the beauty of the M8 is that it forces you to think more about the shot —to take it all in... and become a more contemplative photographer, rather than just a spray and pray documentarian.
Some of the best things in life are simple, and some of the best moments in life can be captured with less. The Leica M8 is proof of this.