Alright, another camera post!!!
Fuck my life … I really don’t want to write that much about cameras but man since I got the Leica my life it’s far from being easy. Let me elaborate on this.
Nothing. Let me repeat that. NOTHING surpasses mechanical focus when you want to focus manually
I was a happy camper with my Fuji X100T. Files look gorgeous! Seriously. All the praise than the Fuji cameras receive online is well deserved. But to me the main problems of that camera were the sometimes weird quirky menu settings and the manual focus. A pain in the ass! I personally don’t like the “fly by wire” system. Nothing. Let me repeat that. NOTHING surpasses mechanical focus when you want to focus manually, especially rangefinder lenses; they are a pleasure to manually focus.
So there I was with a Fuji X100T and a Leica M4-2. I always wanted a Leica, but let’s be honest, shooting film feels amazing but makes your photographic life a complete pain, so a digital one was the one that I wanted. I was about to turn 40 so hey, why not? Some people buy themselves a little sports car. Well I rather buy myself the camera I always wanted. So I did.
I was so excited! I was going to have an analog body and a digital one and they both share same lenses. Perfect for simplifying my life right?
First let me tell you the goods of a digital Leica, or at least my experience. The photographic experience is awesome! I mean the picture taking. The camera certainly is a very sexy looking camera (might be stupid but I like cameras I can look at them for “the rest of my life”). Menus, oh man what a joy! Simple as they come. You don’t need to activate this or that to unlock certain features (hear that Fuji). Camera controls, plain, simple, all you need in the palm of your hand. Shutter speed on a direct dial on top of the camera. ISO, press a button select ISO and done. Aperture and focus in the lens, all manual.
I heard a lot of people saying that “all you need to do is bring a grey card with you and set the white balance as you change lighting situations” … To me this is bonkers!
Now let me tell you the bad. Heavy, the camera is built like a tank, which is a good thing, but that means that is heavy as the come, ad to that the weight of a lens usually made of part brass part aluminium, and you have one hell of a weapon that can open skulls if swinged properly, but your neck or wrist might get tired after a long day shooting. White balance, ughhh … don’t even know where to start. I heard a lot of people saying that “all you need to do is bring a grey card with you and set the white balance as you change lighting situations” … To me this is bonkers! Basically the white balance is totally unreliable. Start time, the camera takes it’s sweet time to start; so if you see a photo, by the time the camera is ready to shoot chances are the moment is gone (you can keep it on all the time as I do, but this drains the battery eventually, and yes I have a second battery). Files, to me this is the major problem. BIG ASS PROBLEM. It took me some time and adjusting to make this files look somehow decent. Let’s put it this way, the Leica DNGs (RAW) are made for you to adjust a bare minimum, if you try to do some further processing … forget about it. Also I like to photograph people and the skin tones make me wanna puke. It took me a lot of red, magenta and orange channel tweaking to get them “ok”. I know I’m spoiled by Fuji that has the best skin tones out there. But my Nikon D700 can teach a few thing to my Leica when it comes to color reproduction. Also, before I forget, if there is anything red in the photo, let’s say a car or a sweater … the reds are going to be so saturated and with so much “luminosity” that you might get your corneas burned. I must say that if your primary photography is black and white, Leica has the second best black and white I’ve seen coming straight out of a camera (best one is any Ricoh GR series camera, they nail it!).
Anyway, so before I reached this level of dissatisfaction with the Leica M Typ 262, I was questioning myself if I should sell my Fuji X100T. As you see in the photos it is basically a redundant system, two cameras with 35mm and 50mm f2 lenses (I have the 50mm adaptor for the Fuji). So I was sure I had to let the Fuji go. Since I got the Leica some months back it was the only camera I was shooting with. But I made a “mistake”, I went in my Lightroom library and started looking at old files … Oh my God!!! The Fuji files look so much better and I’m talking about the ones I didn’t even process!
You might think “well, I have a Leica M Typ 262 and the files are beautiful. So all this is just your personal taste”. Damn right it is!
So I decided to take the X100T for a spin before putting it up on eBay. I decided to do a walk I did with the Leica, basically from my house to the beach and come back, and take not the same photos but similar. Let me tell you one thing … When I came back home and look at the photos in my computer it was second to none. Leica being a full frame camera, with a 24Mp sensor, and costing 4 times more; couldn’t even look in the face at the mighty Fuji.
You might think “well, I have a Leica M Typ 262 and the files are beautiful. So all this is just your personal taste”. Damn right it is! And I photograph for myself so I’m the one that has to like the files. Trust me, I wanted to love the Leica. I wanted to love it so badly that I was willing to put up with slow start time, the worst white balance I’ve ever seen, the weight, … I didn’t care, I wanted to love this camera! But those files … Sorry but no!
Don’t misunderstand me, the Fuji has flaws too. Menus are a pain in the ass. I can’t get my mind around the fact that to use certain things the camera make me activate this or that. Like I said before, forget about manually focusing with “fly by wire” type of lenses (even the new Fuji lenses seem to be better at it). Focusing in low light (at least with the X100T) can be frustrating like you don’t imagine. Battery life is certainly short. But the files are FANTASTIC. I’ve even processed JPEGs in the same way I was processing the Leica RAW files and the Fuji JPEGs hold better!!!
So the decision is clear. I’m selling my Leica. I will keep the lenses for the film one and live with two systems (unless I decide to sell my M4-2 too).
Now I want to replace the M with some interchangeable lens camera. And I think the decision is pretty clear. I’m going with a Fuji. What is not that clear is if it will be the X Pro2 or the X-T2 … Chances are it will be the X Pro2 but will see.