Shooting With A Rangefinder Camera

July 11, 2016

michaels was visited recently by Leica ambassador and aficionado John Laham who presented a FREE Special Event Lunchtime Seminar in the michaels Media School, discussing the differences between capturing images with rangefinder and DSLR cameras and outlining the benefits of rangefinder shooting.

For those who were unable to attend, Laham has kindly provided our E-Newsletter readers with a written article titled ‘Shooting with a Rangefinder Camera.’

John Laham tips on using a rangefinder camera - Leica photographer and ambassador

The first thing you notice about the Leica M is it size. Wearing it around your neck is not as noticeable as a DSLR - the lenses are about half the size. The build quality of this system is unquestionable. The Range Finder (RF) system on the Leica is simply fabulous. With practice you can shoot at the widest aperture with confidence. My favourite lens of all time is the 50mm Noctilux. I use this lens at aperture 1 about 95% of the time.

The Leica M9 menus are simple and uncluttered, making it is very easy to navigate through. I actually learned it within minutes, without reading the manual. I shoot all my images in raw, Leica's extension to that file is DNG. I like to keep my white balance fixed to either daylight or tungsten if you are indoors as it makes post processing a lot simpler in Lightroom. Another thing I use is the ISO button to quickly change the setting if you move from low-light to bright areas quickly. Leica have a dedicated button to ISO for quick access.

With focusing I prejudge distances before I raise the camera to my eye and in most cases all I need to do is make a small adjustment to the lens barrel to confirm focus is spot on. With practice this process can be fast enough for most situations.

My assignments range from Fashion to Portraits to Weddings. When I photograph a wedding I carry a small camera bag, smaller than a ladies handbag. The looks I get carrying such little gear is funny to say the least - little do they know this kit carries quite a punch in terms of image quality. Carrying such a small kit gives me the sense of freedom and the ability to mix with the crowd almost unnoticed.

As an Artist, I appreciate what the Leica offers in terms of file quality, the dynamic range is fantastic, I like to express myself through my Art Portraits, you notice the image quality is supreme, the tonal range and the contrast are amazing.

Using a RF system makes you look at the world differently. It makes you conscious about composition and timing. Looking through a DSLR viewfinder is like looking through a tube, opposes to RF which is more like looking through a window with a frame within a frame to compose your image. It will really bring the photographer in you forward.

Best regards to all

John Laham

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