Street photography with my Leica M9 and Summilux 50mm

Despite loving my M9, I have never really thought it a great camera for street photography. Which is actually somewhat silly, given that the likes of Henri Cartier-Bresson used film Leicas. Nevertheless, my attempts to use an M9 on the street all too often result in pictures like the above shot. Needless to say though, static subjects make for lovely photos.



Emboldened by not getting terrible results with my E-M5 and 25mm Voigtlander the other week, I thought I would give the M9 a go on the street.


The results were, well, varied. I can see how one could get very good at it.


I also find it polarises reactions much more than an auto focus camera. When I wander with my E-M5, the reaction when someone realises I am taking their photo is generally to step out of shot, move or to look mildly weary about the whole thing. With the M9, people either give you a very negative reaction indeed (one guy shouted at me demanding money), pose (which I generally hate – I’ve never liked the cliche picture of homeless people giving a thumbs up) or give you a knowing grin. Never mind, I suspect at least part of it is down to my lack of aptitude focusing and the strange whirring noise the shutter of the M9 makes after a shot…


I can also see why most people seem to prefer the Summicron 50 to the Summilux. Trying to shoot street at F1.4 is a recipe for driving yourself nuts, particularly for a “beginner”. I must admit I prefer the bokeh from the Summilux, so I just have to remember to stop down.


The trick (much of the time) seems to be to prefocus and wait for your subject to come into focus. Its certainly a good bit easier than trying to use the rangefinder while walking down the street!


I can also a variation on this which is to focus on a subject but just beyond someone rather than on them. I suspect my rangefinder use would need to get a wee bit more instinctive before I try that!


It is frustrating, much more so than using an AF camera, but it is also fun and teaches you a lot too.


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