Shooting weddings with Leica M10 review

12 May 2019

Why Leica? Which are the most obvious differences between DSLR, Rangefinder and Mirrorless? Let's talk about how it feels shooting weddings with Leica M10 review

“All roads lead to Rome”!

As the famous quote testify, we can all use different tools to achieve a similar purpose, right? Well, I also think a couple getting married doesn’t really care about the tools (in this case, gear) a photographer can use to get amazing photos. The most important thing is photographers make the clients super happy and always try to exceed their expectations.

I can also say that the best camera is the one you already have; because everything depends on the unique vision, knowledge and experience of the photographer. It’s not about the arrow, it’s all about the Indian. we can give the best camera out there to an amateur photographer and a very basic camera to a professional photographer, and the results could be very interesting ;-)

My belief is that a professional photographer should be able to achieve great results, no matter what camera or gear he is using

It's about light, composition, moments and vision, because all these factors (the ingredients of a great photo) are exactly the same if I shoot with a DSLR, a mirrorless, a point & shoot or a rangefinder ... These are just tools to achieve cool results.

I always used Nikon DSLR cameras to shoot weddings, I really think so far is the best fit for my way to work and perfectly covers what I require from a camera. My favorite camera for weddings right now is the Nikon D5 (full review and settings here), it just gives me everything I need... But if I believe that I should also be able to shoot weddings using other kinds of cameras such as mirrorless and rangefinder... well, talking about rangefinder...

for this wedding I gave a chance to the one and only Leica M :-)

As a gift for my 40th birthday, I gave myself an expensive but really worthy Leica M10. This little toy :-) now is my daily camera and I always carry it with me to shoot street photography, lifestyle, and to travel. It is very light and compact, besides being aesthetically beautiful :-)

I think every photographer who owns more than one camera or lens, at the moment of traveling is always asking himself the mighty question: "Which gear do I bring with me?"

LOL ... It's always a commitment! Right?... If I bring only one lens, a wide one for example, I can take many landscapes, panoramas and give more context to the story, right? But what if I need/want to shoot a portrait? (having all my gear with me, I would probably choose a 58mm or 85mm), Should I bring a flash? A tripod? How many cards? and so on... The photographers endless story :-)

When I choose the Leica M10 as my daily and travel camera, I was conscious about all of this. But without suffering and with big proud, I decided to buy a Leica M10 and a prime lens: the legendary Leica The Elmarit-M 28mm f/2.8 ASPH…

Why this lens?

Because it’s one of the most compact lens of the entire portfolio of Leica M lenses; the 28mm is an excellent focal length to shoot different kind of stuffs; it was not so expensive as other 28mm lenses (such as SUMMICRON-M 28mm f/2 ASPH and the SUMMILUX-M 28mm f/1,4 ASPH); and also because for my way to shoot with Leica I didn’t need any fast lens, the F/2.8 was more than enough.

A few months ago I had the great opportunity to shoot a wedding with an amazing and very talented couple of photographers: Todd & Danette of Laffler Photography. The Destination Wedding was held in the beautiful luxury ocean front Villa Bellissima in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico... Besides to thank Todd and Danette for the invitation, I would love to thank Riley and Tommy for let me be part of their special day, I really appreciate it!

Now let’s start being a little more technical and detailed about how it feels shooting a wedding with a Leica M10

First of all, let me say that for me this wedding was not easy at all. Why? Since I was not the primary shooter, I had to make sure I was not in other photographers’ frames :-) which is fundamental when you are second shooter... And having a 28mm, with a wide 75° angle of view, it was much more complicated. But finally, I’m happy with what I got.

I will not go into details in this post about all the features of a digital Leica M system or the differences between a DSLR or a Rangefinder, maybe I'll post an article on this great topic soon, but let's keep it simple for now.

Things I really love about shooting a wedding with a Leica M

— I just love how simple and minimal the camera is: there are only three big buttons on the back of the camera (menu, play and live view). No top LCD screen to see settings, three buttons and that’s it. But I don’t need more, once all the camera settings are set I don’t either press menu or live view during a shooting... And this is one of the best things about this camera: Straight to the point! I can just focus on shooting and make art, instead of changing continuously settings or pressing buttons.

Who owns a Leica knows that this is the philosophy of the brand (at least for the M series): to forget about menu and get focus on your vision!

shooting weddings with Leica M10

— To shoot at F/8 and F/16 is amazing... Embrace it! These lenses are so sharp and with deep details, and if you like how the depth of field works, you know what I'm talking about it. As my Magnum Photos idols: shooting with a Leica rangefinder chasing the perfect moment, showing us a lot of context... and shooting at closed apertures :-) In many photographic styles, people are used to using prime lenses shooting wide open, to get that bokeh that "really" makes the difference. Me, I prefer context, information, to appreciate more about the story. Sometimes when I want just a little depth of field but still wanting understand the scene, I shoot at F/4 ... But most of the time, it's F/8 or F/16.

— I really love that being a rangefinder, I’m always able to observe the entire scene through the viewfinder without any blackouts. Yes, in a DSLR when you click the shutter there is blackout, because the mirror is covering your vision. It’s a fraction of second, but if you shoot often having always the complete vision and understanding of what is happening in the full scene, it really makes the difference.

— This is weird at the beginning, but when you embrace it you gonna love it. There are frames lines appearing in the viewfinder, according the lens you’re using. So if you mount a 28mm lens, you will see the frames of a 28mm and 90mm; if you mount a 35mm, you’ll see the frames for a 35mm and 135mm...

Which is awesome because it doesn’t matter which lens you’re using, you’ll always see the same scene. The rangefinder is a fixed glass that doesn’t change depending which lens you have mounted and the frames give you the idea of what the picture will look like (or almost) but it’s really about aiming to your final composition. This is great because it doesn’t leave anything to chance. You have to know how works a composition with a rangefinder, in order to get the same photo you’re thinking in your mind.

The point here is that it looks like you shoot more instinctively: you feel that it could be a good picture and you press the shutter button, that’s it... It could be complicated at the beginning, because you’re seeing differently in your viewfinder, and your picture for sure will be different :-) 100% challenging, love it!

— There are no video feature, HDMI, USB or other "useless" connections. There is no built-in GPS, no tilting screen, no in-camera stabilization. The battery and the SD card are covered by a metal plate, they're not even accessible quickly... Which is great :-) The camera is better sealed and with not so many buttons, grooves or slots, so I can concentrate better and focus on my photography. Yes, because I can change aperture, ISO and shutter speed using the amazing old school (but extremely very effective) dials... Straight to the point!

I repeat, once you know your camera and settings very well, you only need to change these three settings and nothing else. The pure essence of photography. Back to the basics, but with style! :-)

— Image Quality?... Oh yeah! Some people may think that when you buy a Leica, you pay more for the Brand than the camera/lens features... It’s a bit true, everything with Leica is more expensive than the regular photography market. But the quality of the lenses, for example, is one of the best in the world, objectively. My 28mm is so sharp, with almost no vignette or chromatic aberration. Let’s say that you can easily have an amazing sharp photo without post processing the photo. Really! The sensor has an amazing dynamic range and the details are maximized because of the lack of the anti-alias filter. Wow, everything together gives us a supreme image quality.

— The camera is so fast!... -Why? Many reasons... In Leica M system doesn’t exist the Autofocus (AF), all is manual focus. To focus is very easy with Leica, and if you’re familiarized with “zone focusing”, depth of field and hyperfocal distance, you will be fast as superman :-) Because once you master the rangefinder manual focus system, you can be faster than a super accurate AF. Does it make sense? Also because there is no mirror, there is not shutter lag, I mean there is no delay between you clicking on the shutter and the image registered in the sensor.

Villa Bellissima, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico

— At weddings, guests are expected to see a photographer with huge cameras and lenses. But shooting with a Leica M10 and a prime lens such as the 28mm, you really will be unnoticed, much more discrete. The camera is very silent compared with a DSLR. It is smaller and lighter than many cameras out there and I’m sure that your back and shoulders will appreciate it too :-)

Conclusion:

The Leica M10 is an amazing camera, I really love it. And I will keep to shoot weddings with this little gem once I have chance. At the moment, I can’t use it as primary camera. -Why?... Easy, I only have one lens, LOL. I would need for sure a 50mm, for a full day coverage: a 28mm + 50mm is an amazing combo for weddings. The features of this camera are very very simple and the options are minimal, which is awesome. I repeat, once the camera is set all you need is to shoot.

Think for a second in the mirrorless camera of the moment: The Sony A7III... There are so many buttons, features and menu options that I feel like the Leica M10 and the Sony A7III are two opposite poles: the newest technology VS the pure minimalism. I really think that the technology can help, but also interfere (a camera with five options and a camera with twenty five, they both can give you similar results but with a very different approach).

In a saturated world as ours, we have too many options to choose, and there is the paradox of choices… Having only very few options you can boost your photography skills and that will let you concentrate only in what we want: shoot a great photo… And I don’t talk here about showing off your Leica camera. The Leica M line has a legendary status among photographers yes, but your wedding clients really don’t care about which brand you are using or how cool is your camera, they want facts: amazing photos :-)

Definitely, it’s not a camera for everyone. It could be more complicated to shoot with a Leica rather than a Fuji or Sony mirrorless or a Nikon or Canon DSLR. You need to master the rangefinder system and how to focus in order to guarantee results. It takes a lot of practice to be sure you can manually focus in any situation.

If I were a sport photographer I wouldn’t chose a Leica M camera of course, because I would need a super fast AF that is mandatory for sport photography.

But for a general purpose, travel, street photography and why not, weddings, it could be an amazing camera. Which are your goals when shooting a wedding? What do you really need and what is unnecessary? Think about that, maybe you can give to Leica a chance.

Storytelling + Leica

Meanwhile, I’ll keep shooting weddings with my Nikon D5.... But I’ll tell you more once I’ll get a 50mm :-)

DI LUSSO.

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