A special moment

2009, Photography

Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
Yesterday I felt honored and privileged to photograph with my friend’s Leica M8 and two gorgeous lenses. Yes, the camera is something totally different then anything I have used for photography. Top finish and wonderful and bright rangefinder with bright frame lines. And I have to say that this is my dream camera. Do you read me John?
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
But the lenses made all the differences. Yesterday I used a nineties 35mm Summilux f/1.4 and a 1975 pre-production 50mm Noctilux f/1.0. Both lenses screamed to be used wide open which I of course did.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
Shooting wide open at dim light isn’t easy. I know that now all to well with my Canon 10D and legacy lenses. But it helps that the finder is so bright.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
Kevin is used to waiting and this isn’t the first time his legs are photographed.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
I tried to focus on the cigarette and admittedly almost succeeded.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
I think I like the fall and shooting wide open, which is even better with such a gorgeous Summilux.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
And when we went to the Ginkel Heath, one of the drop zones during the start of Operation Market Garden on September 17, 1944, the light became just perfect. The monument is to commemorate the young men who died there.
Leica M8 and 35mm Summilux f/1.4 by Wouter Brandsma
All shown photographs in this post were taken with the Summilux. In my next post I will also show some photographs taken with the Noctilux.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

37 thoughts on “A special moment

  1. It´s not that easy to nail the focus at these apertures! 🙂
    Great to see that it did work out quite well in many cases! Your photos are gorgeous as always! Tell your friend she should get one of these nice & shiny new M9s – you could take care of the M8 then! 😉

    1. if you and other followers of this blog would like to donate your kidneys to allow me to purchase a nice and shiny new M9, i would happily allow Wouter to take care of the M8 😉

      1. At the moment I´m seriously thinking about selling my HAIR to raise some money, but my organs have to stay where they are! Ah, only the liver got already sold some years ago to the producers of Zacapa rum… 😀

        1. LOL!

          tell me if you find a decent buyer because i’ve got good hair too. industrial strength, even, guaranteed to clog any drain or vacuum cleaner. my pony tail really does resemble one — compelling Wouter to act like a school boy and tug on it on more than one occasion 😉

          1. It´s just that the Indian competition has beaten down the prices… I´m afraid we won´t make a living of that so easily…

            1. now that you mention it, i thought i saw a pair of shears sticking out of your camera bag…

              btw, for all readers of your blog:

              Wouter has got exquisite hair!

              1. I tried it, but it didn’t bring anything 😦

                And after nearly a week I am back into the world of reality. Got just surprised with what ease people talk about replacing and buying new cameras on some forum. What do they all do for a living? Do they have families? Credit cards? I just don’t know. Why am I active or do I read such forums?

                1. tell me about it!

                  it’s why i took a break before and am likely to do so again…

                  i am getting particularly disgusted with suggestions that i need to spend 2K and use the X1 for months before i can make an educated decision as to whether or not the camera suits my needs… are they mad?

                  or really just xxxx photographers who have more money than talent that think some camera will turn them into HCB?

                  could you not tell almost immediately that the 35 Lux was for you? could you not see it in my images? would it take you weeks, months, to make that determination?


                  if Leica had any sense, they would put an X1 in *your* hands. you’d likely make it sing — well, as much as it possible could.

                  you have the ability to bring out the best of any given camera… many people with the money, do not and so they go in search of the elusive…

  2. wouter… we could give you a cardboard box and a pinhole and you would get great shots… you are living proof thats its not the camera…. though i am sure you would get more keepers with the M8 🙂

    Thanks again for a great weekend

  3. Really wonderful photos again. So sharp on where you have focused. Shot 2,5 and 6 are my favorites. Shot 5 when enlarged makes me feel dizzy for some reason? 🙂

    1. I hope not Ed 😀 It is the price of the camera and in particular the lenses that is really disturbing to me. For me the most beautiful thing was using the Lux and the Nocti, especially the Nocti. Thank you!

  4. Hello Wouter,

    it is not the leica, not the lens on it, it is you, inspired by the scene, the moment, the passion and the feelings of taken a picture in a special situation.

    Red dot – or not. All the best, titus

    1. Every time I read that statement, which is repeated over and over again by multitudes of people, I can’t help but get a little upset.

      The tools also matter. For me in particular, the tools often inspire me to use them more so than the scene in front of me. If the camera had nothing to do with the image, then we’d all be shooting with cell phones.

      I don’t disagree with the sentiment of your comment. I just don’t like to see the camera, which in this case is a technological wonder and a work of art itself, completely disregarded.

      1. No need to be upset, Ed. Yes, the tools does matter. But honestly, I see quite a lot of photographs from people who have such technological wonder and their photographs really upset me. All that money and nothing special. You really need more than just a gorgeous camera and superb lenses. That is I think what Titus wants to mention.

      2. Hello Ed,

        i wrote this comment in my studio on a MacMini, i love it. I own the Cube too – and i love it. I shoot my digital pictures with a Ricoh GX and the Olympus E-400 – the same. Last spring i got a M8 from my dealer for a one-day-shooting. What can i say – i loved it. In December or January i will repeat this with a Leica X1 – and i hope – i will be inspired by this camera too. If not – if my pictures are only good enough to put it into the trash – than i have no excuse – its not the camera – its me!

        I failed the dicision moment, not by the shutter lag.

        All the best, titus

    2. Well Titus. That might be for the largest part, but while the M8 is just a camera, it was a very stable and subtle camera. It helped me to shoot in very dim light at ISO 160 and 640. But the lenses did certainly make a lot of difference. Trying to focus in dim light with my Ricoh is difficult. The AF would likely not work. Focusing the Canon with my legacy lenses in dim light is a challenge too, because the viewfinder is still pretty small and quite dark. But focusing with a rangefinder camera is absolutely a different story, Titus.

      The light we had that day was very subtle and still quite dark (and yes, still very inspiring though) and that would hardly work with my own cameras.

      I do however certainly agree with the passion. Without passion you can’t take beautiful photographs in my opinion.


  5. Ok Wouter haha – Damnit, I had just got the Leica out my head and was thinking it might be something that I would think about later 😉 Now I see this and you have totally awakened my thoughts and dreams again. And to answer – yes I read you 😉 sigh…. loud and very clear. I hope you are well and I look forward to your next installment – John

    1. There is a reason to keep dreams alive, John. There really is. Don’t push it, enjoy your Pentax and that wonderful 50. And someday when the time is right we will take the plunge.

  6. Hey Wouter, don’t seIl the kidney! 🙂 have been so inspired by the M9, I started a special savings fund but more-than-likely, I will end up getting the X1 (if the image quality is there). Of course, I’m also waiting for what Ricoh is about to announce.

    1. Seriously James. Unless Leica will come up with a X2 and a faster lens you don’t want the X1. At f/2.8 and that price it still misses the point in my opinion. I am curious about Ricoh, but I do hope it still looks like a classic camera. I am old school and I like real lenses and I hope they are not coming up with cartridges or whatever fancy.

  7. Yeah, I hear you. I have a M6 and it was my all-time favorite camera to carry around. The M8 though didn’t really impress me that much – only now the M9, well, that’s the one I would love to have. But then, I am using the collapsible 50 and 90 on my M6 and so a full-size sensor is obligatory. It might have been different had I used a 35.

    But the weird thing: the panasonic and the little ricoh spoiled me. Yes, the M stuff is fantastic and of course there is noticeable difference in the quality of the optics. But the little ones give me much more results for a very simple reason: nowadays even the M6 feels heavy and blocky to me. A camera that I don’t have with me is worth next to nothing for me 😉

    It’s why my 10D is now on eBay, despite me having the wonderful 35/1.4L for it (which is up on eBay, too). It is just too darn heavy and so stays far too often at home. Which means no pics.

    Maybe one day Leica will produce a Xn with a 35/1.4 lense or a Xnoct with full size chip and a 50/1.0 integrated. 😉

    1. That would be it Georg. A Leica Xn with a 35mm Summilux. I have been using the 10D now for a couple of weeks and I never hang that thing over my shoulders or around my neck. I have the neck strap twisted around my wrist and hold the camera loosely in my hand. And that works really well.

      But I hear you. I like smaller cameras too, but I want them with real lenses. I was impressed with the feel of the Summilux. Small, smooth, and then I am not even talking about the delivered performance.

  8. The line about Kevin’s legs brought a smile to my face, much as your photos did. It is always a delight to see how you respond to different tools and how no matter what, there is always an essential “Wouter-ness” to all of the photos.

    Speaking of using different tools, my iPhone’s camera has been seeing more work than my M8. I’ve been on an impressionistic jag, I guess.

    1. It is something we are not always aware off, but I feel honored when others see my style. Thank you Maggie.

      I think an iPhone is a bit like a Holga or Lomo. Good fun and totally different. Have fun 😀 As Chase Jarvis says it: “The best camera it the one that is with you!”


  9. Really nice pictures Wouter.

    I’m jealous. I have a Leica M2 (1959) with a 5cm Summitar (1949 screw with M adapter). I love using it. Solid well built, smooth operation. Much better than my Japanese and Russian cameras. It’s just a pleasure to use mechanically. I don’t know if I want to use a digital M. That seems like heresy.

    I’m going to be polemic now. I don’t like refering to Leica lenses as ‘cron’, ‘lux’ or ‘nocti’. The americans like doing that. It just sounds so lazy though.

    Gripe aside. I really like your Leica pictures. Your blog is a pleasure as always.

    I’ve been meaning to mention your son’s autism as you mentioned in a previous post and try to give you something positive. I have aspergers, quite severe at times in certain situations. Although I have an IQ of 140 and ‘am educated to degree level I can ‘think’ my way out of uncomfortable situations. Probably why I like photography. Its a solitary pursuit. I don’t have to deal with social interaction. My photography is devoid of human faces. Your son will find his way.

    Best Regards


    1. Chris,

      i’m afraid he borrowed the camera and lenses from this lazy american, so i likely infected him with how i refer to lenses. i mean it as a term of endearment, rather than sheer laziness — i have a true love for my lenses.

      i also have an M2, though no lens as old as the great Summitar. i like to use my 21/3.4 Super Angulon on it or the version 1, 8-element 35 Summicron — both slightly younger than camera but beautiful nonetheless… the M2 absolutely feels beautiful in the hand, and film renders like no digital camera ever can. however, it is very expensive to deal with film in europe right now. an absolute pity, as i do love it.

      1. My dear Colonial friend. No insult was intended. To this former public schoolboy such contractions sound rather ghastly. I correct the English of my friends and work colleagues much to their chagrin. It is the aspergic and pedantic side of my personality. I can accept that from an American point-of-view it is a term of endearment.

        I would really love to try the M8/M9 and compare the experience to the film M class. There is no possibility of me ever being able to afford the digital M, so I think you are rather privileged.

        Why is film so expensive in Europe? It it the cost of the film or the cost of processing?

        In the UK film is about 1.6 to 4 Euros per roll depending on manufacturer. I process my own so there is very little cost in that repects. I recently purchased from a mail order company 10 rolls of Kodak Plus-X for 2.5 Euros each. The American Kodak film is my favourite, so I certainly don’t hate you all. LOL.

        Best Regards


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        1. no insult taken! i was just defending Wouter if he slipped into cam-speak 😉

          film is expensive here as is processing. we’ve set it up to do it ourselves in the kitchen sink and dry in the loo (amazing amount of dust in there!), but here’s the rub: i want to see prints! i know i can scan and put in on the computer, yada yada, but it’s just not the same. even small b/w prints cost an arm and a leg… it inhibits me as i calculate the cost of each shot before taking it and, in the hesitation, miss the shot…

          and, yes, i am very privileged and i know it. i was able to get both the M2 and the M8 used for a very good price. trust me, i do not take it for granted. .. the good news is that the M8 prices are coming down and hopefully will be within reach of many best suited for it. it may not be the very best out there, but the glass is meltingly good — both new and old.

    2. Thank you Chris for sharing your story. I know life is full of chances and opportunities. If either yourself or other people around you provide you with the necessary helping hand you can make it as long as you are happy. That is what we try to provide for our son.

      I recognize the M8 in what you describe of your M2. It is all craftsmanship. I do not mind that Leica is a niche brand, but I do not like it that they try to be Rolls Royce with prices that make them unreachable for serious photographers.

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