From Canon to Leica

Posted On

2024 Jan 26

about 1 month ago

Updated On

2024 Jan 26

about 1 month ago

The Journey

Canon was the ecosystem that I have invested in since the beginning of my photography journey in 2009. Prior to going DSLR, I owned multiple digital compacts from Olympus, Minolta and also the Canon Powershot G series, as a memory tool rather than a photographer’s kit

I began from an entry 500D APS-C DSLR to the full frame 5D2/3 and 6D

The Trinity 2.8L lenses EF 24-70 f/2.8L II USM Inventory update have served me well during event photography, which I then invested further into primes such as the EF85 1.2 and the EF100 macro for portraiture and wedding events. Which eventually leads into their accessories, such as Speedlite and radio transmitters

RF mount

Fast forward almost 10 years, Canon introduced the newer RF mount, which is meant for the newer mirrorless bodies

That news sent a ripple down my spine. Aside from the excitement, glass and image quality improvements, this meant that all my invested EF lenses will one day be dinosaurs, sitting in a dry box, waiting to be given to a younger member who's about to start their photography journey (and complaining that it's an old school, big and slow heavy camera)

Apart from an entirely new mirrorless body, using the outdated EF mount meant the reliance of a mount adaptor if I wanted to upgrade to a newer RF body

Even though none of the L lenses gave me any problems, over time, it will definitely give in to usage, wear and tear

Value

As lenses or mounts get discontinued, their value diminishes way faster, with digital camera bodies being the fastest

If I were to get the newer mirrorless bodies, I know they won't perform to their full potential when used with older EF lenses (GAS fear/syndrome?)

Ex-Professional

As I am no longer full-time in Japan, where most of my freelance jobs come from, it means I am also no longer a "professional" photographer, which makes it even more challenging to justify an EF > RF ecosystem refresh

An upgrade approach also didn't make much sense since I didn't foresee myself getting freelance photography jobs

Physics

Having owned the Leica Q, which is a full frame compact with a fixed 28mm 1.7 Summilux lens

The Leica Q satisfied my requirements of the following:

  • Full frame
  • Image quality (from the glass)
  • Compact
  • Creamy and lovely bokeh

With mirrorless bodies being smaller than the DSLR brother, the weight reduction helps, but it is still considered bulky compared to a compact. When paired with a good quality or "pro grade" (hint: constant f/2.8) AF lens, the bulk becomes almost like holding a DSLR

This made one thing clear: before any new materials/formulas are discovered in my lifetime to manufacture smaller lenses with the same or better image quality, you still can't beat around the physics combination of glass size and an AF motor

Ecosystem change or Experience refresh

Being able to change lenses is essential for me. With a lingering taste of the power of Leica glass on the Q, I began to research and tap into the possibility of migrating to a Leica M rangefinder or the Leica SL

The SL felt like any other DSLR/mirrorless or the briefly owned Sony A7R3. The body is of similar bulk/size when attached to the newer Leica AF L mount lenses

EVF is good enough, although not as smooth as the A7R3… Wait. This will end up as just another ecosystem swap. What I wanted was a compact similar to the Q, with interchangeable lenses that could fit in a small sling bag

The SL's AF was very tempting, coming from having used AF all my life (even with the Q), but it also meant spending a lot more money with Leica glass, and I'm definitely not one to stick with just one 24-90

While weight is not much of an issue for me (as long as I use the correct strap), the bulk of the system or equipped camera bag is. The L mount primes are enormous in size and definitely not a compact set

Next, I tested the M with a 50mm (I can't remember which lens), trying to focus on the rangefinder patch. It was… challenging

Challenging as it was, the whole experience was refreshing. I'm not entirely new to manual focusing since some of the portraits I take happen outdoors in the evening. Getting the rangefinder patch to align is new to me

Also tested the SL mounted with an M lens, which is a very viable solution, but the challenge above kept me curious

The switch to Leica M

After almost a year of contemplating, I landed the big decision to sell all my existing gears and settle myself into the Leica ecosystem

I could have made the switch earlier; 365 days does affect the value of my gears since the RF mount was announced/released. Yodobashi and or other used-lens shops in Japan started to have a vast amount of EF lenses, and their price are on the drop every month

Bought a brand new Summilux-M 50mm f/1.4 ASPH. Black first while in Osaka, Japan, followed by a pre-owned Leica M10 in Singapore

It was the worst equipment wait ever while holding the 50lux without a body to attach to

Remembering to properly take the first image taken on the M10

Closing chapter

It felt like a chapter in my life has come to a close in photography. Time to move forward (or perhaps backwards into manual focusing)

Thank you, Sony, for giving me a peak into what's to come for future mirrorless cameras. Eye AF is just amazing!

Thank you, Canon, for all the memories, experiences and photos

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