As you might have read in my previous post, when i got to Vancouver, my Leica M6 had a little problem and i had to improvise a backup camera. After some fruitless attempts with my Smartphone, i stumbled upon a Ilford HP5 + disposable camera in a 7/11 store. For 15$ i got 29 frames to play with.
With a shutter speed of about 1/100th of a second and its 400 ISO it was fairly easy to shoot and good enough for almost all lighting conditions i encountered in Vancouver. For bad lighting (a.k.a. "the indoors") it had a built-in flash, i never used.
I made a few modifications, the effects of which i'm not sure about. Mainly i tried to reduce unwanted light getting in around the lens with a black marker. Attempts to fit a very oversized yellow filter to the camera failed. It couldn't secure my rather expensive filter well enough without blocking parts of the frame, so i abandoned it.
But the biggest challenge with this camera turned out to be not to block the lens with my fingers. There's a certain way i hold my camera, which caused my fingers to be very close to the lens of this particular camera. Also i have hands that need XXL-gloves, so holding this small camera was rather fiddly. At the beginning i didn't realise that i sometimes blocked the lens, which ruined some good shots.
Still i got away with a few images i liked. Although the lack of quality of the lens shows, it's not too bad, giving the photos a soft look, especially in high contrast areas.
Because of its small sitze and quiet shutter, the camera is unobtrusive and you're guaranteed to be stealthy. The lack of control regarding shutter speed, focus and aperture also means, you'll be very quick. The downsides of this on the other hand are rather obvious.
All considered, it was fun shooting the Ilford disposable camera although the results shouldn't be expected to be very good considering detail, lighting and sharpness. If you want to concentrate exclusively on composition and can forgive the shortcomings i mentioned, it is a rather good teacher.
So for 2 years now I almost exclusively used my M6 to shoot. And now I want to let you know, what my experience has been with this camera.
"Not another M6-Review!" - Yeah, yeah. This one won't be about technical stuff, just wait and see.
I got my Leica on ebay for 750 € plus shipping, which, at the time, was a bargain. On the pictures it looked clean and well maintained. Even the plastic bottom plate protector was still there. Although it said, that it had been sitting on a shelf to be admired for the last 20 plus years, I figured (it being a Leica) that wouldn't make any difference.
And after putting 2 test rolls through it, I wasn't disappointed. Almost all photos had turned out fine, metering and shutter speeds seemed to be more or less spot on.
At first I thought that i'd use both my Voigtländer Bessa R2M (which I bought about 2 years earlier) and my M6, putting different films in each one, using the one more suited to the situation at hand. But soon I was using my Bessa less and less. The feeling of holding, carrying and shooting my M6 was just too good to not use it as often as possible. It's something about this camera that just deeply satisfies me, every time I pick it up.
So for the next six month, I shot everything with my Leica and was very pleased. It went to Tel Aviv with me, to Vienna and to Havanna. At the airport there, I took out the last film I had shot, put the bottom plate back on, cranked the film advance lever and tried to set the shutter speed from 1/250th of a second to 1/500th of a second. The wheel wouldn't budge. I tried to set it to a lower speed, which worked, but now I couldn't rotate it back to 1/250th anymore. I fiddled on the wheel a bit more, causing it to finally get stuck at "B" and not rotating anywhere anymore.
My M6 was broken. There had not been any warning signs.
Unfortunately for me, from Havanna, I went directly to Vancouver, where I wanted to shoot on the streets for another two weeks. With the M6 broken and my Bessa back at home in Germany (yeah, I know, serious mistake) I had to make do with a Ilford Single Use Camera.
Back in Germany I sent my Leica to the Official repair service in Wetzlar, where they figured out that a part connecting the shutter speed dial to the rest of the camera hat given out due to wear. They replaced it, found a few other things that needed adjusting and sent it back to me with a two year warranty on all replaced parts. With it came a pretty hefty bill of 930 €, mainly for the working hours the technician had put into fixing my camera. (The part itself did only cost 37 €)
Sure, I could have tried third-party-repair-services, but most of them told me, Leica only sells the part needed to Repairmen trained by them. With them I would have paid almost the same price, just without the two year warranty. Considering this being the first time my M6 was sent in for repair and adjustment in 32 years (it was built in 1984) the price seems justifiable to me. It just so happened that I had the bad luck to purchase this particular M6 just 6 months before the failure occurred.
Would I buy it again? Yes, definitely. There's just something about it that makes it the camera for me. The one I just have to look at to feel inspired and wanting to go out and shoot a few photos.
Photography is a creative process, not a science, although some books on the subject might suggest otherwise. Don't choose your camera depending on stats and technicalities. Go with your gut and get the one that inspires and enables you to shoot the photos you want to make.
A brand name won't make you a good photographer.
It feels good to be back.
Last year almost exactly to this date, i felt the need to abandon my blog KlarNebel. I didn't have any fun posting there anymore and visitors dwindled to almost zero per day.
Also, as i am shooting analogue and developing and scanning normally happens at intervals of around 3 to 6 month, i ran out of interesting things to show.
But now i am back, with my own domain and a pretty damn nice looking site (thanks to SquareSpace). Apart from the Portfolios, i won't be posting stuff already known from my old blog, instead, in the next few weeks, i will talk about my Leica M6, shooting with a disposable camera in Vancouver (and why i had to) and my recent trip to Vienna.
See you on Thursday!