I’ve had a lot of people over the years say things like, “You take some great images! You must have a good camera!” In my last post I wanted to disrupt this belief that skill is directly linked to equipment, so I set out with a disposable camera and although it was a limiting experience I was impressed with how well some of the images turned out. You can see them here.

Photographer David duChemin is known for saying “Gear is good, vision is better” and I think this statement really readjusts perspective. I’m tired of people disqualifying themselves, or devaluing others because of what they do or don’t shoot with. At the end of the day, your camera is simply the tool you use to create.

For those who are interested though, I wanted to share about the tool I use to create my work: the Leica Monochrome. Of the 15+ cameras I’ve owned, nothing comes close to my Leica, and as anyone who owns a Leica knows, it’s a love affair. I’ve also included the accessories I’ve added to my kit because they’re amazing products that either increase the functionality and experience, or are just plain beautiful.

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Leica M Monochrom // camera.

 
  • 18 Mega Pixel sensor
  • ISO 320-10,000
  • 1/4000 max shutter speed


When Leica announced this camera in 2012, many balked at it. To release a camera that could only capture images in black and white seemed like a bit of a joke when you could convert images into black and white after the fact with editing or even in camera. Many thought the idea would never take off, but the camera was so successful that 3 years later they released an updated version of the camera.

The benefit of shooting exclusively in black and white is that you perceive each situation differently when taking an image. Without the option of colour, your focus on on lighting and you filter out unnecessary calculations when composing, such as, "How will these colours look next to each other." There are also additional added benefits such as an increase in resolution due to the lack of the colour layer to the sensor which is said to result in 100% shaper images.

Many argue that Fujifilms X line of cameras does a comparable/better job for a similar product, and although they have done an amazing job lately improving a lot of the functionality it's still not a Leica. I've owned several X series cameras, and every time I felt like I was settling. There's something about the experience of shooting with a Leica, the feel in your hands, the weight, the focusing mechanisms. Because the experience of shooting is so much a part of the process, I just can't settle with anything else.

Leica

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LENSES //

For those who aren't too camera savvy, there are two main types of lenses: primes (fixed), and zooms. Simply put, one can zoom in, the other can't. People still seem amazing to find some lenses can't zoom in. I never considered myself a fan of prime lenses as I felt like they were quite limiting. My lenses back in the day consisted of:

Nikon 14-24mm 2.8 Nikon 24-70mm 2.8 Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 VRII Nikon 50mm 1.4 D Nikon 105mm f/2.8 VR

24-70mm was my go to, but with the huge weight that the body and lenses added I actually ended up wearing a wrist brace because I would get pain from shooting too long.

I wanted something lightweight that didn't compromise quality. I also wanted something small and discreet which would allow me to take photos without making people feel uncomfortable which is what I found happened when I shot with my Nikon.

So when I discovered Leica and their beautiful set of prime lenses, I was hooked. These are the lenses I settled on.

Leica 35mm f/2 ASPH (SUMMICRON)

If I could only keep one lens, it would be my 35. With the most versatility it stays on my lens most of the time. Not much more to say about it other than anyone with a Leica should own this lens.

Leica 50mm f/2 (SUMMICRON)

This lens sat on my shelf for the longest time. I usually like to get close to my subjects, typically within a conversational distance so I mainly stick to wider lenses. Only recently has it been getting it's money's worth, and I'm falling more and more in love with it each time I use it. Bought it originally out of necessity, as it was the only used Leica lens available in the area, but after putting it to use in different environments, I decided it was a keeper.

Leica 28mm f/2.8 ASPH (ELMARIT)

This was the last lens I added to my kit. The thing I appreciate about Leica is how simplified the gear is. When I shot with my Nikon D700 you have almost too many options. Menus within menus, a button on what seems to be every square inch of the camera and lens choices that would make your head spin. A Leica shooter could get away with 2 lenses, maybe 1 if you're not needing much versatility. I had two and this was the "do I really need it" lens. But like I mentioned, I love to get close to my subjects, and the 28 is a great lens for the photojournalist style that I tend to shoot with.

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Leica Monochrom


Tap & Dye // camera strap.

My original Leica strap fell apart after roughly 8 months... talk about a quality product! If I were Leica, I would include a Tap & Dye strap with every camera because these things are durable and absolutely beautiful! The brown leather was exactly the look I was going for, but had a hard time finding one that I really loved enough to invest in. Being leather, and handcrafted, they aren't cheap, but when you have a beautiful camera like a Leica, it feels wrong to throw an ugly strap on it. Found the brand through Instagram as they have an amazing social media presence. Check out their account for some beautiful straps and camera combos.

Tap & Dye

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ThumbsUp // thumb grip.

Can't imagine shooting without this.  As great as the Leica camera design is, it can be a bit slippery to hold. People have designed different add-ons to improve grip, although this has been the best one I've tried so far. Unfortunately the grip I own means you can't use a flash as it blocks the hotshoe, but I rarely use a flash anyways. This add-on is mainly beneficial for rangefinder-type cameras.

http://www.matchtechnical.com/

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Taab // focusing tab.

LensTab has been on my radar since shortly after they amped up their Instagram game in the spring of 2015. For roughly $10-14 USD, this has been on of the best and cheapest additions to my gear. For those who aren't familiar with a lens tab, most of Leica's lenses come with them built on to the focusing ring. Because Leica lenses are fully manual for focusing, the tab makes it easier to make small adjustments. For some reason, the 50mm that I bought didn't include one and this made me less keen on using it. 50mm fans know how pleasant the lens can be for creating a nice shallow depth of field, but with manual focus I found it hard to get it on point, and the lens sat in my bag for the most part, not it's becoming one of my favourite lenses to use because of the Taab. They come in various sizes which are stretchable to fit most lenses.

Lens Tab

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Ona - The Bowery

Ona - The Bowery


Ona // camera bag.

I used Lowepro camera bags for the longest time, but although functional, they're not really known for their form. I wanted something that did it's job while looking good too. Domke makes reasonably stylish bags, but they're a bit overeager on their branding, slapping a big logo across their bag, and with the limited selection available locally I never ended up buying one. Like my other accessories, I found out about Ona through Instagram. It was instantly my dream bag, although I couldn't buy one locally because of some funky dealership limitations. While in Vancouver I randomly found them for sale through coffee shop Revolver in Gastown. I also use mine to carry my wallet, cellphone, etc when I'm not using my camera. I'm already planning on buying a second bag from Ona.

Ona

Ona - The Bowery

I was amazing to realize how many of my favourite products have been discovered through Instagram. Not even just accessories, but I’m also finding my new favourite artists, businesses, musicians, etc. there. It’s by far my favourite platform.

If you’re not already, feel free to follow my account linked below.

 

What’s your favourite camera accessory / gear essentials?

Any questions or comments on the products I’m using?

Or maybe your name is Tyson and you just wanted to tell me how if I learned how to shoot colour I could be a “real photographer”.

 

Whatever the case leave a comment below.

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