Light is Everything!

Das Wesentliche

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Leica just officially released the M-D Typ 262 camera. You’ll quickly notice that the back of the camera takes us back to the first digital cameras . . . that didn’t have LCD screens.

?????

That’s right, sports fans, no viewing your photos on the back of the camera. No chimping. No showing others your great shots on camera. Nope. You gotta wait until you get home and get your film back from the lab hook up to a computer. Immediately the camera was met with criticism on the inter webs:

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It is true that Leica does now have the reputation of being a boutique camera for the rich and or famous. It’s always focused on the essentials (Das Wesentliche) in having very no frills operation, no AutoFocus until recent models, no video, etc. It has remained stalwartly old fashioned in the modern hi-tech era of photography. But taking away the LCD? It’s a bit odd.

However, I wonder if such an advancement development would change the photographic experience? People go on and on and on about how photography isn’t about gear, it’s about developing your eye and looking for moments and colour and  gesture and seeing etc. It’s not about the gear you use.  It’s a nice sentiment, especially for making beginners feel great about photography and not self conscious about pro-level gear they can’t afford.  But it’s also total BS.

Gear does make a difference to photography. It affords capability and quality that is not otherwise achievable. This is why pros use zillion dollar pro gear. It gives them an edge on the competition as well as ability to nab photos they otherwise couldn’t get. Like shooting at ISO 5 billion in the dark and still getting a usable photo. But not only these practical things, the gear actually changes the photos. It alters the way a photographer shoots. People who use Medium Format make different photos from the person using the iPhone camera. Likewise when people switch to mirrorless. They find that not lugging around the big heavy DSLR gear all day changes their photography. Using a fixed prime instead of a kit zoom changes the photography.

So what about removing the LCD screen?  Will that change one’s photography? Yep. I’ll bet it would. One, you’d be more careful. No spray and pray shooting. You’d have to be extra conscious and aware during the photo taking process to make sure you had the exposure and composition right – because you won’t know until your looking at it on a screen back home, long after the fact. This alone would make everyones’ photography better. The film guys were careful. They were thoughtful. There was a level of “critical” that is almost gone in the digital age. There was some finality to the roll of film in a way that there isn’t with high capacity memory cards affording metric tonnes of available shots.

Ditching the LCD, will it bring back the ‘film thrill’? I don’t know. It would scare me to be honest. I rely heavily on the LCD in my photography. I’m always chimping, always checking the light and the highlights. It’s a part of my photography now. I’m sure I’d find not having the crutch there unnerving. But it also might be a freeing thing too. What do you think? Boutique camera with a stupid gimmick or photographic genius in the making?

PS: I wrote my article here before watching the video. 😎

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