I’ve been back from New York for three days, but my march toward my senior years means I can’t get rid of this jet lag. I have been waking up at 2 am every day, and that leaves me unrested and turns me into a cranky person. Or rather, a lack of sleep brings my crankiness to the foreground.
I have been trying to put a smiley face on my sleep-deprivation issues by going through thousands of photos I have snapped this year and culling them down to a choice few that are worth sharing, either on social webs or here on the blog. I am still trying to figure out if I should start a separate photoblog instead of stuffing the photos here on Om.co!
Anyway, as I was going through photos this morning, I realized how much I didn’t like the Leica Q. Don’t get me wrong — it is an astonishingly good camera! It is fast, has an amazing sensor and has a great Leica 28 mm lens. It has Wi-Fi and a stunningly sharp and bright electronic viewfinder. It even has macro and autofocus. It is beautifully designed, has the appropriate weight and has that classic Leica look. And yet I don’t like it, mostly because it makes it easy for me to take too many photos. I counted: My around-the-world trip resulted in about 10,000 photos. I like about 100 of the total. That is 1 percent.
The ease with which you can take photos makes it easy to take a lot of photos, especially bad ones. I guess that is no different from the rest of our society, where everything is so easy and readily available that we continue to make bad decisions. Fast fashion, fast media, fast interactions — all leading to making decisions that aren’t the right ones.
In comparison to the Q, when I am using the Leica M, I feel I am making photos and not taking them. The key difference between the two is that the Q uses an electronic viewfinder and can utilize autofocus while the M uses a rangefinder approach and is completely manual, as you have to manually focus the lenses. The Leica M feels more analog, even though both are digital cameras. I am not saying the M is perfect. It is heavy, so heavy that you can swing and crack a skull with it. It is hella expensive and doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Even downloading photos is a slow process, and the camera takes mediocre JPGs (though RAW is where it’s at).
Yet I don’t mind those quirks. Sure, I miss the moment. I miss the focus, and the photos don’t turn out perfect. But when they do, the joy they bring is amazing. I will eventually become a film guy, but for now I need to learn a lot, and the M makes it possible to combine the convenience of digital with the slowness of a rangefinder.
My preference for the Leica M rangefinder has to do with character. After all, I write in longhand, with fountain pens and on pristine Japanese paper. I like to read analog books, and the stacks of magazines in my apartment are getting dangerously high. When I read online, I typically sit down for an hour to read articles saved in my Pocket app. I use all means necessary to slow down time, which, frankly, moves too fast these days. The Leica M allows me to savor the process of making photos and not just the end result.
Like cars, writing instruments and watches, photography is a highly personal thing. My Q has found a home with a new owner who loves it more than I do. I have an older M Monochrom that will soon be searching for a new home, just like my Sony RX1 and Sony RX100 Mark III. If you are interested, drop me a note. I have settled on the new M-P 240 and a f2/35 mm Summicron lens as my companions! At the start of the year, I promised myself that I would make life less complicated: I cleaned my apartment and got rid of a third of my things, and now with photography (as with watches and pens), I have settled on the tool that feels natural in my hand.
Today happens to be the birthday of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, who taught us never to forget the poor and also that to segregate people based on religion is awful. I am not a religious person. I prefer spirituality to organized religion and basic principles of humanity to texts, and I don’t publicly comment on politics and religion, for those are highly individualistic choices.
But in light of the soul-tearing madness that has gripped our planet, I wanted to share Guru’s philosophy, which also endorses learning through travel. I am fortunate to have the means to go to places and learn about people and their reasons. I feel more human as a result, less judgmental and more open to food, culture and ideas. I still haven’t tamed the jet lag though!
We have a long weekend coming up here in the United States. I hope to do some writing, some reading and some walking. I have not sat down in one place for a long time — perhaps that is why I am constantly wrestling with jet lag. I will try not to be cranky today!
San Francisco, Nov. 25, 2015