Home Cameras/Lenses Leica From Nikon to Leica: I handled the Leica and fell in love....

From Nikon to Leica: I handled the Leica and fell in love. I have now sold all my Nikon gear

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Author and professional photographer Jeremy Walker has had a Damascene conversion. A Nikon user since his college days in the 1980s, he has been seduced at last by the allure of Leica, initially by a 60-year-old Leica M3: “I handled it and fell in love with it. A camera, it’s just a camera, but my god, what a camera.” Now he has sold his Nikon gear and moved entirely to Leica.

Writing in Digital Camera World, Jeremy explained how he had worked with Nikon and represented the marque as brand ambassador in 2016-2017, shooting the launch brochure for the Nikon Df.

The Nikon feel

When the Nikon Z6 and Z7 mirrorless cameras came along, however, he missed what he terms “the Nikon feel”: “The cameras could have come out of any old factory, and looked and felt like just about any other mirrorless camera on the market. I also disliked the electronic viewfinder.”

This was also a time when he had decided he no longer wanted to carry a ton of gear. He analysed his typical subjects — landscapes, panoramas, and architecture — and found he was using mainly 20mm, 35mm and 50mm focal lengths, with only occasional use of anything longer.

Love blossoms

The eureka moment came when a friend showed Jeremy his 1956 Leica M3. He handled it and fell in love. A couple of weeks later, he owned an M3 and one 50mm lens. Just of a bit of fun, he says. But the seeds had been sown.

Jeremy’s eyes soon turned to Leica’s modern digital rangefinders. It’s what we Leica enthusiasts often call the start of the slippery path. Once trodden, there’s no turning back.

Since acquiring the M3, he has owned the M10, which he bought to work in tandem with his Nikon kit. Then came the M10-R and now the M11, which he thinks is stunning.

An M11 and four lenses

Jeremy has now sold all his Nikon kit, apart from his original F2A, and is down to just the M11 and four lenses. He finds it difficult to explain why it is so much fun to use an old-fashioned rangefinder. But, as he says, it is inspiring, and oozes quality.

Following the switch to Leica, Jeremy carries the M11 with him wherever he goes. And it has opened new possibilities in photography, including architecture and urban scenes. All in all, he feels he has made the right choice for the next stage of his photography career.


Read the full article here at Digital Camera World

Visit Jeremy Walker’s website

The photographs in this article are reproduced with permission from Jeremy Walker.


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18 COMMENTS

  1. What an interesting story to read.
    Here is my way:
    I’ve started with Exa 1A, which got stolen in Pisa in 1988. Then it was all Nikon, beginning with a F601, F90x, before I switched to digital in somewhere in the early 2000’s; D70. My first full format was a D700. This got converted to infrared in 2022. It’s follow up was a D810; the only one I sold so far. It was replaced by a D850, D780.
    Leica came in in 2017 as a Q1. The virus was placed and I needed to get a M10 and various lenses.
    What I haven’t done is selling the Nikon stuff. Okay, some lenses got replaced by other ones. The pandemic made my by old Ai and AiS lenses, besides a M42 lens which is older than I am, a Biotar from 1956.
    And… I’m not in the mood to give away any of that Nikon equipment. I just feel at home with it. The only con with the F-mount is the fact that I can’t use my M-mount lenses without an adapter that has a lens in it. That’s due to the 46,5mm flange focal length. The Nikon Z8 would solve that. But this would call all my modern F-mount lenses absolete. Until now the answer to myself has been NO.
    Greets
    Dirk

  2. And …let us not overlook those of us who are already confirmed Leica M users, who look back at the Nikkor lenses. I’ve tried the Nikkor 105mm f2.5 AiS, as well as the 50mm f1.4. The lenses are a bit heavy, esp. with adapter, but they’re still great lenses and very affordable.

    And, apropos of Sean B.’s post: Spouse is a Donna Summer fan. As Donna says, ‘I can’t make you happy if you ain’t happy already.’

  3. And this is another perfect example as to WHY People need to STOP listening to these “Pro” photographers & YT “Influencers” as they will bankrupt you telling one thing one day & something else another. Yeah, I get this was a personal growth thing, and the information offers valuable insight into personal decisions, but people need to be careful. Believing a $15k Leica system will make you a better photographer is delusional.

    YT Influencers & Pro Photographers may have unlimited funds to dump an investment in one vendor & buy all new gear from another, but people trying to grow a career & business do not.

    • Sean, what is YT?

      Some cameras and lenses are better than others, obviously. Better equipment yields better photographs, technically speaking. But you are right, not necessarily better photographers.

      However I do believe that the attitude a photographer has toward his photographic equipment does indeed have an impact on how good a photographer he/she becomes. For me, the joy I get out of handling my Nikon bodies and lenses goes a long way toward getting me out there creating photographs.

      And that is the feeling I am getting from Leicaphiles.

      • Hey Martin, Sorry, “YT” just short for YouTube. Well I’m seriously thinking about going Hasselblad for several reasons: 1) Color science 2) In camera X-Pan panoramic crop 3) the 907x digital back is going to 100mp like the XCD. That means attaching that back to the legendary 903 SWC Super Wide film body with a 100mp digital back with a panoramic crop making landscapes epic!

        Saving money now.

        • I take your point. The 60mp Leicas seem like overkill to me. In resolution; not commenting on their other virtues.

          Me, I am perfectly happy with the 16mp images from my Nikon Dfs.

  4. I can completely relate. After the late 2010s all cameras became the same. On the job I was a happy user of a 5D mkIV and a bunch of EF L primes. When the autofocus mirroless became the market king, all cameras were the same, excellent performance wise, but very boring to use and so uninspiring. Lenses became huge, optically “perfect” but incredibly flat and boring. So I coped for a while adapting my lovely first generation EF L primes, that still preserve some character. Since I’ve never liked Canon for my personal photography and my fine art (too “shiny”), I’ve been an avid user of my beloved Panasonic GX1 + 20mm 1.7 for anything related to fine art and personal daily photography, a hidden gem of an undervalued system such as micro 4/3. But after a few years, I over performed my gear. So I roamed in frustration for a few years trying to replace my GX1+20mm with something able to be both light and nice to use and with some more “reach” in difficult lighting situations (and especially a lens with a good amount of color/grey nuances). So I found a Fujifilm X100V for a bargain price (right before the “influencer’s” hype). Well, it deeply let me down for a long list of reasons, the main being the sharp but flat and dull lens. Then one day I was sitting at the bar with my wife, when a guy with a Leica M sits in our proximity, so she asked me “what do you think about Leica”. Back then I just said “I don’t know, maybe stuff for rich amateurs”. But somehow she planted a seed in my mind. May Leica M be my camera for life? It’s light enough to be brought around everyday, it looks amazing, and, as I shoot mostly monochrome, they produce my dream camera: the Monochrom. So one day I decided to spend on a camera more than I’ve even spent before and got myself a used M 246 Monochrom (with a temporary cheap 35mm to be replaced soon). From the first time I handled it and took a shot, I never looked back. Its shades are beyond imagination, it looks and feels amazing, and I feel connected with my camera. I even got an M 240 for my occasional color photography and family shots plus a few primes. I wish I could have found Leica much earlier. But yeah, as you say, it’s a slippery slope for the wallet. But each lens gives me different flavors, soooo why should I keep myself from getting more glass? 🙂

    • One of the great attractions of the M system is the enormous range of lenses which are timeless and, as a result, keep their value. If you hold on long enough, most M lenses will give you back what you paid for them. And this is more than you can say for any modern electronic AF lenses (including SL lenses from Leica). It’s not just the name and the red dot, it’s the tank-like all-metal build and the knowledge that someone will want M lenses even in 100 years’ time. This keeps the market buoyant.

  5. An interesting article (which I followed up in the link) Jeremy, some stunning pictures in both. I have 3 M9s plus an M9-P (all with certified 2nd Gen corrosion free replaced sensors) and I love them. I carry 3 of them mostly one with a 21mm Elmarit M ASPH, one with a 35mm Summicron and the third with a 75mm Summarit f2.5, I think I can get anything I want with these 3 but just in case I also pack a 28 and 50 although I rarely use them. M9s I think bring me as close to the film shooting experience as I can get but with (some of) the benefits of digital which siuts me perfectly.

  6. I have a pile of Nikon gear. Lenses dating back to 1961 up to the present Z stuff . I’m in love with the Z9 and manual focus glass . To me for the Nikon film cameras the Nikkormats feel like a real camera. That’s exactly what I said with the first one I got . But I like the small fe’s also . As for Dslrs the d500 feels great in my hands as does the d810. I have a d850 and Z9 that do feel quite as nice .
    With all that said I’ve got the Leica bug bad . I have my eye on a silver M5 . I actually like the looks of the M5 not that any other Leica looks bad . I’ve been buying Voigtlander glass lately and have several in the M mount along with the Leica Summicron pre asph 90mm f/2.0 . I love the build quality of that lens , wow.

  7. I’m one of those people that made the switch from Nikon to Leica. This was 26 years ago before the digital camera age. I’m glad I did, in particular the Leica-M rangefinder and even the older Leica LTM rangefinder camera (e.g. Leica IIIf).

    I still use these cameras today, recently I traded my Leica M2 for an digital M9; I still use the IIIf as well also. In conjunction I use an Leica Q digital camera. What I like about these cameras it’s Bauhaus design and the “Old World Appeal” with some nostalgia in this modern day era.

    My journey began when I use to attend the photo trade shows in the Washington, DC area; I would buy, sell, and trade Nikon gear. On one particular event I was suppose to buy or trade for an auto-focused Nikon N90 or an N8008s; but I came across a table of a guy selling Leica cameras.

    If you remember the old movie,” A Funny Thing Happened On My Way To the Roman Forum”. This what happened to me, instead of acquring an auto-focus Nikon I ended acquiring a Leica. I will return with part II of the story.

  8. I agree with everything that you said. I have been an avid Leica user for 40+ years. I own an M10R and a cache of Leica and Voigtlander lenses. As much as I really enjoy Leica – quality, feel, history, etc. a camera is a tool. Whatever business you are in, there is a proper and best ‘tool’ for every job. If you shoot still life’s, landscapes, or street, perhaps the Leica fits the bill.
    With that said, why does it have either/or? If you are shooting animate, moving objects, where critical focus or metering is important, I personally think that the Leica M series falls short.

    If what the Nikon offers isn’t needed or does not inspire you, well, that is a different story.

    I also own a Nikon Z8, and while a totally different experience, it is the better tool for some jobs.

  9. I admit I have never handled a Leica. At least that I can remember; in my earlier life I went to a lot of camera shows – it’s possible I picked up an M4 somewhere along the way.

    That said, to me the “Nikon feel” is exemplified by the F2, which was the only Nikon I used from 1980 until I purchased a Df in 2021. From 1973 to 1980 it was Nikkormats. The F2 is a mechanical tour de force, and I cannot think it is surpassed by mechanical Leicas. But I am admittedly biased. I have owned probably ten F2s, and never had a single mechanical failure. Electronics is another matter.

    I still have two F2s. Well, six if you count the bodies I am going to sell.

    When I purchased the first Df (I have two), I purchased AF-D lenses to go with it. Later, after trying the three AiS lense I had remaining, I liked using the manual focus Nikkors on the Df so much that I have now purchased several more. Now I am returning to the position I was in in the early 2000s, that is, refining what I really want my photography to be, and getting rid of unnecessary equipment, mostly lenses.

  10. Made this journey years ago, apparently like many of us. Still have 2 PC Nikkors, 2 Angenieux zooms in Nikon F mount, and a 55 Micro. And some Nikon RF bodies and lenses. No SLR bodies.

    It has to do with utility, but it is primarily a love affair.

  11. Another Nikko-Leica convert- and a Pro!!
    Perhaps we should start a special group/club
    Maybe “The Nikkorless” – No sorry 🤭😉

    • Wonderful shots and another example of why falling in love with an M is an irrational embrace of what some would call a primitive and vintage way of shooting.

      I find myself wobbling on the edge of the precipice and keep looking for another opportunity to try an M and appropriate lens. It’s a seductive experience…

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