I am in the process of transitioning from shooting events with a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV DSLR to a Leica M9 Rangefinder. There are a whole host of reasons which I have highlighted in a previous post. The image quality right out of the camera are absolutely gorgeous. The image of the bride below was taken with a Leica M9, 75 Summilux at ISO 160, 1/125th, f/1.4
However, I am hesitant to do so for a host of reasons mostly due to my personal insecurities:
1. The M9 is not as good in low light as the Mark IV
That is very true from a purely ISO perspective but the two are comparable given that an M9 can be shot at much slower shutter speeds. Just keep in mind its limitations. For example, the M9 is not the ideal sports camera. The M9 generates very useable images up to 1600 ISO. 2500 ISO is useable as well if you nail the exposure or are willing to go with black and white. Moreover, I have successfully handheld my M9 at shutter speeds as low as 1/2 of a second if I can brace myself against something solid and I have a static subject.
Compare that to the Mark IV where I do not hesitate shooting at ISO2500 and have generated wonderful 20×30 prints with images I shot at ISO8000. However, I prefer to shoot the Mark IV at a shutter speed of at least 1/125th of a second depending on the lens attached. The net result is that the two are comparable with slow to static subjects. If I were using flash or strobes, this would all be moot and I would rather use the M9. In fact, I used the M9 quite a bit during wedding receptions where I had strobes set up in the corners of the venue. I would shoot at ISO 400 1/180th of a second at f/8 and I would not even bother to focus the M9. I would just set the lens, which is usually a 35/2 Summicron to hyper focal so subjects between 6 feet away and infinity would be pretty much in focus.
2. Clients Don’t Take You Seriously
As photographers, we all know it’s mostly all about the image as opposed to the gear. Unfortunately, clients do not always look at it that way. There have been times where I have done most of the shoot with my M9, but I still sling my Mark IV over my shoulder for show. I’m not sure how I can get around this bigger is better syndrome because there is a sense of seriousness to a shoot when you show up with a Pro DSLR or medium format camera mounted on a tripod. I have done headshots where I have used my medium format camera and an M9 where the number of favorites from each system was very comparable.
To overcome these insecurities, I have started to use my M9 more and more at various events. In fact, I have now used it at four weddings, three in the last month. It was not my primary camera but I used it often enough that I would not hesitate to use it exclusively if I had a second M9 body so I can attach a 35/2 Summicron on one body and the 75 Summilux on another.
Here are samples from my three weddings last month: