Tom Stanworth has returned to live in Britain after over eleven years in war-torn Afghanistan. During that time he has used his film Leicas, and latterly a Mark I Monochrome, to record life in a country that few of us can ever hope to visit. His Leicas, and a tiny Ricoh GR, have been his constant companions throughout the decade. We have written about Tom’s adventures on several occasions and you can find a list of links at the end of this article.
A brilliant photographer and owner of the popular Photo Fundamentalist blog, Tom has used the opportunity of his return to England to assess his relationship with Leica:
I have shot the Leica M system for over ten years and I still absolutely love it. But things have changed. My needs and priorities have changed and my circumstances have changed. The camera ‘landscape’ has also moved forwards and these all impact such decisions. I started with Leica film cameras (I’ve owned various M2, M3, M6 and MP cameras at one point or other) and jumped into Leica digital with a Monochrom (M9M). The resultant photos have wowed me, but there is more to it than that. I have to remain focused on the most cost effective ways of producing the best photographs I can. Its also important not to forget that you can’t evaluate the quality of photographs you haven’t taken. One must therefore ask whether a system is restrictive and leaves you wishing for X, Y or Z.
Tom has chosen to move his full-frame photography from Leica to Sony, while retaining the APS-C Ricoh GR as a handy, pocket go-anywhere camera for street work. He makes some persuasive arguments in favour of the move to Sony, many of which I can appreciate. Certainly in terms of value for money there is no disputing the cost-effectiveness of the Sony FE system. I can also fully understand his loyalty to the Ricoh GR. I also have one of these little cameras on the gear shelf and slip it into my pocket when I want to travel really light.
Yet there is something about the Leica system that keeps me loyal. It is partly the heritage, tracing a line of progress over ninety years, but also the sense of belonging that keeps me in the Leica fold. Above all, though, I love the cameras and I love the system.
Yet I cannot with honesty say that Tom has made a bad decision. After all, everyone has to make a choice and Tom feels that the Sony system can give him everything he needs at a much lower cost. I appreciate that and I am sure Tom will continue to produce more of his wonderful photography, irrespective of the tools he uses.
We all have our reasons for our choice of system. I have tarried with Sony, dallied with Fuji and am currently engaged in a little love affair with Olympus. But my one true love remains Leica and it is the M that I pick up most times when I am setting off for an event or even a walk around a favourite city.
I (and I am sure Tom) will be interested in any views from readers. I wish Tom good luck in his new system but I’m glad he’s hanging on to one Leica, his original M2. Perhaps it will make him feel a little homesick from time to time.
- Tom comes home after 11 years
- What’s special about the Leica system asks Tom Stanworth
- Tom Stanworth on the Ricoh GR
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