one:eight photography


My Adventure with a Leica MD-2

I've been a photographer for over 20 years, and for over 20 years I've dreamed of what it would be like to have a Leica. I'm not a gear-head. I don't often browse the latest camera tech reviews. I couldn't even tell you what the latest model is of the camera brands I own. But, I do know that I've always wanted to shoot with a Leica. There's a level of allure of shooting with a legendary camera and the quality that comes with it. Photography is not my profession, so the odds of my owning one any time soon has always been very slim. Until now...

I have a good friend that has worked in the medical field for a long time. He had a few cameras sitting around his shop and he said I could have them. Two were Leicas. One was a Leica MDa and the other was a Leica MD-2. The cameras were used by medical facilities and connected to microscopes and other imaging gadgets. The camera bodies are just like any other cameras...except for the fact that they have no viewfinder and no light meter. 


My friend generously told me that I could do what I wanted with the cameras, so I quickly researched and found a 28mm Carl Zeiss Biogon 2.8 lens I wanted to purchase and made the decision to sell the MDa on eBay. I sold the MDa last night and paid the invoice for the lens, which is now en route to my house.

So, I have Leica. I have a lens. But, I still don't have a viewfinder or light meter. As a street photographer, I'll be able to use the 28mm lens and zone focus my subjects. My plan to start is to re-learn everything I have forgotten about pre-digital cameras. Aside from the basic "sunny 16" rule, I've downloaded a light meter app on my phone to give me some assistance. I typically shoot in aperture priority, but the idea of now going back to metering is a bit intimidating.

There are a few view finders out there that I could purchase. I've researched a Voigtlander, SBLOO and Leitz. But, for now, I think I'm going to just start making photos. I want the manual work and to visualize each photo (until that gets old, I suppose). Once I get over how awkward it's going to be to raise my camera up and not see through anything, I'm hoping I'll be good to go. 

Aside from a few personal projects I've done with my Holga, I haven't shot film in probably close to 12 years, and beyond that, it's probably been closer to 20 since I used a camera that didn't automatically advance the film. I'm really looking forward to that feeling. There's something more intentional about this. Film and developing are expensive, so I have to make every frame matter. With digital, I'm two buttons and two seconds away from deleting a bad image, so there's liberty to shoot and experiment. But, now, this is about precision, choice and intentionality.

I don't have the lens in hand (yet). I don't have a light meter. I don't have a viewfinder. But, I have a Leica and this is my adventure.