Home Genres Landscape Photography Jeremy’s year shooting landscape with the Leica M11 rangefinder

Jeremy’s year shooting landscape with the Leica M11 rangefinder

8

Professional photographer Jeremy Walker has spent a year shooting landscape with his latest Leica rangefinder, the M11. He upgraded from the M10-R and has had no regrets. In the past eighteen months, he has sold his remaining DSLR kit and almost all the equipment he has accumulated over the years, simply to concentrate on a new outfit predicated on light weight and high performance. His new outfit consists of just the M11 body and four small prime lenses — a 21mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar and a trio of Summicrons, 35, 50 and 90mm. All of this fits comfortably in his Billingham Hadley Pro bag.


Small-bag smugness

Travelling abroad has become a joy, says Jeremy, with no fight for overhead cabin storage and no worrying about a huge camera rucksack being taken away for hold luggage at the gate. Jeremy refers to it as “small-bag smugness”.

My first overseas job with the Leica M11 came just a couple of weeks after purchasing it, a few days shooting in Florence, Italy. It was the middle of the summer, not my favourite time for travel and daytime temperatures were pushing towards the high thirties centigrade, which is not the weather for heavy rucksacks and large tripods. On my first morning out on location, I knew I had made the right decision. A small, light, unobtrusive bag and handheld shooting with a compact rangefinder camera. Perfect.

Landscape around the world

You can follow Jeremy’s year in his full Amateur Photographer report, as part of the magazine’s long-term review of the M11. It takes him from Florence to Scotland, to Iceland, to New York, in all weathers. He admits, though, that if the rain is heavy, he does worry about the weather proofing of the lens mount. This is more so because he has noticed that, in some extreme situations, the lens mount is not light tight and, if this is the case, it may not be weatherproof:

Light seepage

I started playing with long exposures, something I rarely do these days. With an exposure longer than thirty seconds, often the image would have what looked like flare in one corner. Apparently, this is light leaking through the lens mount, a quirk in the Leica M rangefinder design. At first, it seems horrendous, an expensive camera that’s not perfectly light-tight. But once you know of the problem, it’s easily fixed. Just shield the lens mount from direct sunlight or, as I have done, make a little soft leather collar that goes around the lens mount which is fixed in place with Velcro. It really isn’t a big deal for me (or, I suspect, many other M11 users) as I rarely do long exposures.

While he acknowledges that the compact Leica rangefinder has a certain reputation for street photography, it isn’t noted as a tool for landscape photography, something which is fundamental to his work.

M11 for landscape

The Leica rangefinder is possibly not the first camera you would have associated with a landscape photographer. They are certainly more linked with ‘street’ photographers or reportage photographers from the fifties and sixties. The Leica rangefinder is an anathema to most, over-priced and out-of-date.  There is pretty much no auto anything, a distinct lack of modes, and the frames per second is pitiful. As for video, forget it. But this is where the Leica M11 and, in fact, all Leica rangefinder cameras, score highly. It is the stripped-down, back-to-basics feel that makes this camera so appealing. 

Jeremy agrees that the Leica M11 rangefinder is not to everyone’s liking. However, after a year and half shooting in all weathers and environments, he has found it to be an excellent workhorse. But, as he says, it so much more than a working tool, so much more than just another camera, and it’s difficult for him to put his finger on it. Switching to Leica, he says, has breathed new life and enthusiasm into his photography: “There is a pleasure to using an M11, there is an intangible quality to it.”

Read Jeremy Walker’s full M11 review at Amateur Photographer

All images in this article are copyright of Jeremy Walker and may not be reproduced without permission


Join our community and play an active part in the future of Macfilos: This site is run by a group of volunteers and dedicated authors around the world. It is supported by donations from readers who appreciate a calm, stress-free experience, with courteous comments and an absence of advertising or commercialisation. Why not subscribe to the thrice-weekly newsletter by joining our mailing list? Comment on this article or, even, write your own. And if you have enjoyed the ride so far, please consider making a small donation to our ever-increasing running costs.


8 COMMENTS

  1. I also use the Leica M for landscape photography. At the beginning I was a bit reluctant but then I though: “why shouldn’t I use the best camera and lenses I have?”. It rewarded me with beautiful prictures and has the advantage that I have to carry much less weight that with other systems.

    I also use the Monochrom for landscape photography and it also works very well

  2. M series is massively underrated for landscape shooting. The drawbacks people typically associate with them are totally irrelevant. What you’re left with is a kit containing 3 or 4 primes and the body itself… which comes in at a size/weight which approaches just a 70-200/2.8 by itself. I’ve gone hiking with a M+21 in hand and then a 50 in one pocket and 90 in the other. Done, no bag at all. Dust is no issue either, because the sensor doesn’t get exposed during lens changes. It’s all wins!

  3. Landscapes are my favourite genre of photography. I am inspired by this article to try and capture some decent bucolic images this year in East Anglia, perhaps concentrating on “Constable Country”.

    Jeremy’s stunning “autumn avenue of trees”, unless I am wrong, was taken on Grand Avenue , Savernake Forest, Wiltshire. I love tracking down locations!

    Chris

  4. Loved Skye;and Waterfall! Wish I had courage to use an M; thank you; think your photos great! Remind me of Jonos!

  5. Thank you for posting-and-linking this. It’s one of the reasons MACFILOS is so valuable a resource, offering reviews by professionals, and, not least, samples of stunning photos.

    Also it’s just nice to wake up to something like this 🙂

  6. Great read. Remember doing a Lee Filters/Landscape Workshop with Jeremy on the Isle of Portland back in 2013. I was the sole Leica M/Billingham attendee amongst a sea of DSLR’s / large backpacks! Pleased he has seen the light and embraced it wholeheartedly!
    Always admired Jeremy’s images and enjoy his books, and will now follow his work with greater interest.

  7. “Apparently, this is light leaking through the lens mount, a quirk in the Leica M rangefinder design. At first, it seems horrendous, an expensive camera that’s not perfectly light-tight.“

    It’s okay, you can call it horrendous. Imagine every Porsche 911 from the 1950’s until today coming from the factory with an air leak between the intake manifold flanges and cylinder heads. “All I had to do was stuff a wad of chewing gum in the gap and BOOM, problem fixed.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here