We have our annual roundups in winter. We refresh our wedding photography site, we have our equipment serviced, we catch up with friends and look for new challenges. We usually have a bit more time for that but we are also less immune to a variety of temptations. As it’s no secret that I suffer from G.A.S, so I am even more susceptible to temptations than Dorota is. To cut it short, I simply need to test every single camera, lens or flash. It can be quite tiring, I admit. But there’s a bright side to it, too. We stay up-to-date and adapt new solutions all the time. Even though we have been working mostly with Leica for the last few years, we do not limit ourselves to it.

Sony A7r2 + Summarit 35mm


Last year brought a few interesting options, like the new Nikon D850, Sony A7rIII or Leica CL. This means one thing – huge discounts on previous models, which makes acquiring new gear less painful. Yeeey! So I bought an almost brand new Sony A7r2 at a lower price than the new Fuji X-pro2. What’s so amazing about it? A7r2 is a full frame body with an amazing sensor. If you use it with the Summarit 35mm, the tonal range and the amount of detail is at least as good as in Leica M9, if not better. You don’t get the analogue vibe, but it’s more than enough for commercial work. One thing is sure, it has got a better dynamic range and ISO. The only fault is that instead of a rangefinder it’s got an electronic viewfinder which is much worse than the one in Leica Q or SL. I have no idea how AF works with native lenses as I don’t have one. It works quite ok with Canon L lenses used with the Sigma MC-11 adapter. Good enough for it to be used at a gig or a wedding. And this is how we get to the core of everything.



Sony has very recently announced that they are launching a new ‘basic model,’ Sony A7III. After the first glance at the camera specifications, it is clear that it is probably the most advanced mirrorless camera at an affordable price. Its launch can be compared with the revolution caused by Nikon D750 or Canon 5d.In the wedding industry it’s going to be one of the main candidates if you’re thinking about new gear. Fast and reliable AF, excellent high ISO performance, new sensor stabilisation, 15Ev dynamic range and, most importantly, two SD card slots. What’s more, it’s dust and moisture resistant. So, if it is at least 90 per cent as durable as A7r2 (and it most probably is), then it’s gonna be a very interesting piece of gear.
There’s one thing though. Does a photographer really need all those features to do commissions? Do we need ISO12800 to be sure we can deliver a great story? Is the ultra fast AF a guarantee that we are going to have great frames?
I have to disappoint you. It is absolutely not.



Can technology make our lives easier? Of course, it can. That was the reason we decided to buy Leica M10. Higher ISO, slightly improved ergonomics, and LV which can come in handy with exotic lenses such as the old Planar 50mm attached with an adapter. Sony A7II did not pass the test. I felt like I was taking pictures with a computer. The electronic viewfinder, which was supposed to be an asset, was not precise with manual focus on. We sold it without any regrets.
Getting back to the nitty gritty. For the last 7 years I have taken most of my successful and award-winning wedding photos, personal projects or simply snaps with Leica M9 using Elmarit 28mm f2.8, Summarit 35mm f2.5 and Planar zm 50mm f2. See that these lenses are quite dark considering the standards. The only light lens I have had and sold twice was Nokton 35mm/1.2. Although it had nice imaging, its cumbersome size did not quite fit Leica M.
Leica M9. A camera where the most decent upper ISO value is 640. Yes, that’s right. There’s no zero missing here. ISO 640. Ok, ISO 1250 is still ok, if you insist. Why not ISO 800 or ISO 1600? In the native M9, the one which is not digitally pumped up, there is a base ISO of 160. So if we multiply it by 2, we get ISO 320, 640 and so on. Quite similar to negatives.



Getting back to M9. There is no AF, but a rangefinder instead, which means that there’s only manual focus. The buffer fills up after 3 to 5 pictures depending on whether the camera writes images in DNG or DNG+JPG. Leica M9 likes to freeze for no reason sometimes and the LCD screen can only be used for the exposure view.

However, Leica M9 has something other cameras don’t. A soul. This is the first and the only digital Leica M so far which feels exactly like Leica M4 or M6. I cannot even get this feeling with Leica M10. You can either love or hate M9, but one thing is for sure – there is no other body that can take such ‘analogue’ pictures. The tonal depth, detail and structure. They are unrivaled. Some people say Kodachrome is hidden in the camera. Magic happens under the right conditions. The CCD sensor absorbs the light in a totally different way. It turns out that we rarely need very high ISO values when working with the camera.
Today’s obsession with ISO is actually quite an interesting phenomenon. Kodachrome 64 used to be iconic. Yes, ISO 64. Another zero dropped. Alex Webb’s and David Alan Harvey’s most famous images were taken with a Leica, low ISO slides, and an amazing eye. This is the secret to photography – the ability to see, and not the gear. The equipment you shoot with is not supposed to hinder you in any way. It is supposed to be transparent. But this is a subject for a separate post.


So, do we really need to get new gear every year?

Do we have to chase the rabbit? Try and get the smoothest, sharpest images? The new Sony A7III is definitely a step in an fascinating direction. It leaves almost no space for improvement and it definitely is a competent tool. But is it going to make our clients happier with our pictures? Am I going to become a better photographer?

Let me know what you think in comments. Let’s talk;)