This is camera stuff. Pure and simple. Gear from the past and what's in the bag now, what works for me and what I can't get on with... any comments from far better photograpghers are most welcome!
Leica APO-Summicron-M 75mm f/2 ASPH
So 2019 is significant as I want to re-ignite my love of photography, specifically the art of capturing beautiful people – both those that I know and strangers alike; a move from street photography to more portrait formats.
I want to be isolating people from their surroundings, highlighting their features, telling their stories and getting up-close to develop a distinctive style of image for the coming year.
To enable this I have taken the leap to move to a longer focal length lens for the majority of my projects when I set off to photograph somebody I will be armed with this lens, and this lens only – a 75mm Summicron.
My 50mm Lux has served me well for five years, but it is time to move on – I have swapped 50 for 75 and will be reporting back over the coming months, will this prove to be the way forward?
Who knows…..watch this space!
Leica Summilux-M 35mm f/1.4 ASPH
I’m not completely mad, the 75mm Lux is not going to work for every outing on its own – so a double swap has been performed, cash has changed hands.
28mm & 50mm has become 35mm & 75mm
Enter the 35mm f/1.4 ASPH Summilux, the ‘standard’ lens I nearly bought with the Type 240 to start with – at the time I thought it was just a bit wide for every day, hence the later trip to buy the complimentary 28 for the 50 – well that didn’t work, 3 years on its time to swap the 28 to something more useable (and save a load of weight!)
I’m loving this one already – had it a few months and it proves to be super sharp, beautiful bokeh and equally adaptable for everyday landscape and street photography, leaving the 75 for my people passion.
Leica Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH
OK, this was a tough decision, after five years of faithful use, it was time to say goodbye to the first M lens I ever purchased, the 50mm lux that I bought with the type 240 from Leica Manchester store in 2014.
It has served me well as a faithful companion on so many trips – and for the first two years was my only lens, a fantastic bit of kit, but not something I can justify keeping with a 35mm in the bag as well – let’s hope I don’t miss it too much!
Leica Summilux-M 28mm f/1.4 ASPH
And so to the final piece of the jigsaw; I had to say goodbye to the 28mm Lux in the big swap this year – a great shame but to be honest I never really felt I could focus it properly.
Purchase to take to Norway in the summer of 2016, I thought a 28mm and 50mm combo would be all that I ever needed.
I was wrong.
Not to say we didn’t have some great snaps along the way, but we need to move on and get more subject matter in focus, to be honest with my eyesight I was always struggling with this one through the viewfinder – is there a reason this was their first-ever attempt at as fast a 28mm lens?
Some previous hardware…..pre Leica M
I grew up with a love of photography that I think came from my dad and grandfather in turn – it’s been a long journey to get here, a trail littered with occasional highlights and numerous disasters, cameras opened and photos ruined, not so dark darkrooms and unfixed negatives; broken cameras, dropped lenses and many disappointments over at least 30 years.
So here are some of the heroes that have helped me along the way, the good the bad and the ugly; most I was happy to move on from, and some I really miss, even in this digital age, none more so than my amazing 18th birthday present in January 1981.
My first real camera, a black Nikon FM.
My first serious camera was a manual Nikon FM with a 50mm f1.8 Nikkor, bought after months of visits from the patient staff at Leeds Camera Centre for my 18th birthday in January 1981; a long time ago.
At £200 it was a LOT of money at the time, I went on to buy some lenses including a 300mm Nikkor f4.5 that I loved. This camera was amazing, and if we still all used film, I would want one in my bag today – it is so similar to my Leica M in many ways except for the obvious, that it is an SLR.
Ignore the shape of the camera body and concentrate on the key elements of photography – composition, exposure and what the eye focuses on; manual, precise and a solid click from thumb to finger on real metal dials and focus rings.
The FM as great, loaded up with Ilford FP4 or HP5 I would wander off across Yorkshire and shoot some scenes in black and white, sadly most of these memories of 30 years ago are now long gone; I salvaged a couple of mono prints from a foggy day in Knaresborough with Martin Smaller and scanned them in.
Around 1981 I went off to university – sadly I can’t find many of my original images, I have a couple of albums of negatives and quite a few slides (Kodak Tri-X) that I really should dig out and investigate. When I find them I will input them here.
My Interest in photography continued with trips to Paris and other notable experiences of the time; returning from University and starting my first job in Manchester at the end of 1984.
The Nikon survived as a hobby in the background and finally left me in the summer of 1987 while asleep with the future Mrs. Broadbent at Athens airport awaiting an early flight – I suspect somebody took it out of my bag as I didn’t realise it was missing until we returned to England.
What a shame, end of an era.
While it was the end for the FM, it was not the end for film; that would be at a much later date, enter my next purchase a couple of years later
The retro themed Canon EOS 50E
Armed with a pay cheque and heading for a mid-life crisis, this retro inspired piece of junk was purchased in Jessops Manchester city centre store around summer time 1990.
I don’t know why I left Nikon, but I know I regretted it fairly early on; I bought a couple of lenses and then the camera broke with the film back clip snapping and making it completely useless after only a year or two – this was certainly not the quality I was used to, the retro look not reflected in retro durability or quality of construction.
No need to worry; this was the end of the film era and with a young family and no spare time, spending half the day in a darkroom or disappearing off on an artistic mission was never an option, sadly the 50E was never going to work for me.
The digital era was upon us and it would soon be time to gift the clunky old film camera to the charity shop and get down with the digital kids…
Enter the Samsung Digimax 401, our first digital camera, and a real belter!
I don’t even remember using this little chap – but seeing an image of it now I remember how a small plastic box was to transform our photography as our first digital camera (I think to be fair, my son’s Christmas present in 2004?)
The Samsung was a good little camera. It went around the world with us, and for that I am gratefull.
But it was soon time to get a digital camera of our own, and a return to Nikon was on the cards, but this was to be no FM.
Enter the Nikon Coolpix L3, 2005 – 2013
Bought from Costco in Manchester for around £75, this was to be the mainstay family camera for many years and is responsible for many holiday shots on my blog including the west coast of America, a lot of Europe and Scotland between 2005-2007
This little camera gets pretty good reviews
Kids a bit older and some money in my pocket, its time to get back to having a proper camera; my first and only DSLR in fact, so, bought in the USA I went the whole hog and purchased a Nikkor 18-200mm lens as well for good measure.
Nikon D200 … my only real DSLR
The D200 was my weapon of choice for many years 2007 to 2013 in fact – always there and producing many of the photos that are on my blog; that was until somebody stole it from my house, that put an end to a lovely relationship and it was time to move on.
It’s always good to have a more portable companion as well as the DSLR – enter my first ever Leica
The amazing Leica C-Lux 2
I loved this camera every day between 2008 and 2013, when it sadly found the same fate as all my other gear.
The quality was amazing, it was so small yet delivered incredibly sharp images from a beautiful Elmarit f2.8 zoom lens, sadly it never recovered from having a load of drink spilt on it in Berkley California, 2011
So let’s celebrate the quality and joy it brought.
I loved this Leica so much, I saved up after the break-in and bought a propper one; a decision I would not regret.
May 2013 to Oct 2014
The Leica X2 was an amazing little camera; purchased in a post-robbery downsizing experiment, I left the world of DSLR’s and multiple lenses for a £1,400 Leica point and shoot coupled to a £1,000 Mac Book Air.
The best move I ever made; simple, lightweight and pure quality of image.
If only it had detachable lenses, a viewfinder and the autofocus had been a little less annoying; that’s why I had to trade it in after a year for my third Leica and what I hope will be my last ever camera!
Leica M & Summilux 50mm 1:1.4 ASPH
I bought my most recent Leica and current to celebrate moving back to Yorkshire in 2014, I wish I had owned it years ago.
It takes you back to that first Nikon, basic composition, manual focus and thinking about every image. I still get it wrong most of the time, but it is worth it.
An amazing camera with any lens, when you get it right, the quality of the light and colours is unsurpassed, nothing comes anywhere close.
Everyone should get out there with a camera and record some images, if you can’t write creatively or paint or make music, then a camera is a pretty good outlet for some creative angst.
On my blog you won’t find anything too serious or overworked in photo-shop and sent around the world, likewise there is nothing for sale, it’s more a place to keep my memories and share some of the images that have kept me travelling across the world for the last few years.
I hope you enjoy it.
The Image above was taken in Paris, a study of love-locks on the Pont de l’Archeveche, crossing from the Latin Quarter to the Cité Island and Notre Dame Cathedral.
Thanks for visiting and please feel free to contact me