Warning, rant alert!
Firstly when I sold my X100T I had no intention of buying a Leica M5. I actually sold my X100T with the intention of buying a second XPRO2 body. At the time I was blown away by how good the PRO2 was and wanted to have a second one for when photographing weddings, keeping my XT1 as a spare. A few weeks after receiving the XPRO2, I was experiencing issues when using my Nissin flash, a flash I had used on the XT1 since purchasing it. I never had an issue before and thought it may have been the flash so sent it back. A few days later I decided to hook up with a friend in London and whilst showing off my new toy, (the XPRO2) it died, literally just stopped working! That was that days shooting over and as you could imagine I was rather annoyed.
As soon as I returned home I was straight on to the Fujifilm repair centre and two days later it was on its way to be repaired. That Friday I was due to meet another friend in London to watch a screening of Josef Koudelka shooting holy land. We had planned to make a day of it and take some shots before the screening. All was going fine, good food, good company but then another mare on the camera front. I took my XT1 along for the days shooting and the dials on the top plate were dreadful. I could have literally done with a hammer to move the shutter speed dial. Also the shutter button kept getting stuck down. I found out that a new top plate would cost me around £120 as the friend I was with had exactly the same issue. He too had to send his camera to Fujifilm to have the top plate changed. I actually take very good care of my cameras so I know it’s not anything I have done. It’s just nowadays things tend to have a shorter life span. Things are more advanced and complex which in my opinion allows more room for things going wrong.
So with two digital cameras ruining two days shooting in less than a week, I decided that was enough. I needed something mechanical, something less complicated, one camera I could have with me at all times and is a lot less likely to ruin my day by not working. Enter the Leica M5.
I have been told by friends I didn’t need a Leica because there are other film cameras just as good which do the same thing and are cheaper. But why do people buy a Rolex instead of something cheaper? All watches tell the time? I’ve never seen anyone tapping a Rolex because it has stopped working though. These kind of things are made to last. I also know a lot of people say film is extremely expensive and I would agree, it can be. However, If you process and bulk load your own film then it can be very affordable. Photography is expensive full stop, digital or film. Digital cameras depreciate rapidly, whereas certain film cameras don’t. In fact some increase in value. The initial set up when shooting film can be expensive and that’s no different when shooting digital, when I photograph a wedding I use three camera bodies with several lenses! You do the math for that. The main point for me though, is if looked after properly an old Leica will outlive me.
As a little side note. I really like my Fujifilm cameras. I’m invested in Fujifilms X system and intend to continue shooting with it. This is definitely not a pop at those cameras. All the time I’ve used them I’ve never had a single issue up until the other week. When it rains it pours, as they say. But when two valuable days shooting have been lost, I guess it’s time to consider a plan B for the future. Just incase.
Joseph Brazil provides a documentary / reportage wedding photography service based in Surrey, England.
He is available throughout the U.K. as well as overseas events with no occasion too small or large.