Film - Stock - Leica M7 and R5 'reviews' - Over complication.

Images above shot on Leica R5


Images below shot on Leica M7


Some stock shots / tests I took recently. Inculding the first results I've seen from my Leica M7. The shots were taken with my Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.1, mostly wide open. Look fine. 

One of the reasons I've embraced film photography again is to get away from all the nonsensical 'gear wars' that permeate the photographic internet. Film cameras are of course so different from digital and I thought I would illustrate this by a kind of review summing up as per the 'usual suspects' on the photographic internet. 

The LEICA R5 and M7 film cameras summary:-

  • AF very poor. In fact non existent. CON?
  • Raw and jpeg file formats missing. CON? Maybe PRO.
  • Only Manual and Aperture Priority Automation. No programme modes. MASSIVE PRO.
  • Image quality uncertain as needs additional equipment. (Film and Processing) CON?
  • No view screen CON? PRO?
  • Battery Life - 6 Months to a year. MASSIVE PRO.
  • Very truncated menus. In fact none. MASSIVE PRO.
  • Very expensive when released, now very much a bargain. MASSIVE PRO.
  • Dynamic range, colour accuracy, high ISO noise? (See Image quality above)

VERDICT (in the style of.......those usual suspects.)

'These two cameras have so much missing. Where is the face recognition, 250 AF points, IBIS raw conversion in camera and 4K video that we as photographers cannot live without? Throughout my time reviewing this camera I didn't get to see anything I was shooting and I had to go out and buy some archaic stuff called film and then get that processed in some nasty chemicals.(URHGGG!) Then somebody gave me some prints which I couldn't upload to social media unless I scanned them (whatever that is). What I fail to understand is how photographers used these relics from a bygone age and this is not something I recognise as photography. 0/10. No stars. Avoid wherever possible.'


Since I started shooting on film again my picture production has actually improved. Not in spite of all the 'deficiencies' of the medium but because of them. I'm thinking much more about each exposure and getting it right more often. The four examples of 'street photography' at the top of the page weren't the result of lots of shots on a motor drive, each one was the only shot I took from where I was standing. Digital, after you've bought the camera and lens(es) costs nothing apart from paying for yet more more storage. So, it's cheap and unrestrained by any need for photographic 'discipline'. And yes, I will freely admit that I was as guilty of that as anyone. But unlike the bulk of the photographic internet, who seem intent on turning most of the world into one huge server farm by their production of endless digital images, I have 'seen the light' and yes the pun IS intended. 

Yesterday I saw this - CLICK FOR LINK and I actually couldn't believe what I was reading. I personally haven't got a clue why people think this is a good thing. Just how many levels of complexity and complication do people want? Just one example - 

  • 32. Switchover of the main and sub displays in the Dual Display mode (X-T2 only)
    The update allows you to switch between the main and sub displays in the Dual Display mode.

Exactly how does this help you take better better pictures? Do we really want to be camera operators with our heads stuck in manuals or do we want to be photographers? I know what I want. Now I'm no Luddite, I have A LOT of technology and I use it all the time. But I do refine it, adapt it to my uses and make it serve me rather than the other way around. Because I don't know about anyone else, but complex and bloated menus and endless / knob / dial combinations on cluttered bodies just get in the way of what I'm trying to achieve. I would go so far as to say that they are actually anti-photographic. Dealing with the world is difficult enough without my cameras making my photography just compound that difficulty.

And this all sums up why I'm enjoying my photography more these days than I was in the past year or so, because I've decided enough is enough. All that endless searching for the 'perfect digital camera' was a waste of time (and  money!!) and I do now feel that in many senses I've come back home. And yes I imagine that many will think that all of this is some kind of fetish, affectation and yet another example of my pretentiousness and photographic snobbery (Everyone's a critic!!!) but I have no responsibility to anyone else other than myself in the choices I make. And regular readers will know this is nothing new. I have in fact been banging on about this for years. But finally, I'm pretty much where I want to be with my photography and certainly happier about how I'm doing it and with the results I'm getting.

It seems that a lot of other photographers feel the same way. And I'm not the only one who feels that this constant technological bombardment that camera manufacturers foist on us is actually the opposite of what they try to convince us it is. Now advances in technology ARE welcome, but the exaggerated claims that go along with it are not. And as photographers we should surely be questioning what we see and apply that to what we use and the options we are now presented with.. Do we really need this technology overload? Does it make us better photographers? Do we create better photographs? Does it hinder us or help us? Well I think I've made it pretty clear where I stand and those suspicions I had that going back to film may well prove so seductive that I might abandon digital altogether are starting to be realised. And no I haven't sold anything yet and I'm taking my time to see if this is just another passing 'enthusiasm' or whether I am actually in the process of a profound change. As ever time will tell.