Leica M60 Release
Life without a screen
Leica is a changed company. The German lens and camera designers used to trickle out new goods at an analog pace. The costs of new product development are astounding and while larger companies would release an array of new cameras and lenses twice a year, Leica was happy to release goods in a much slower fashion. But since CEO Andreas Kaufman took the reigns, Leica has been cranking out a combination of new cameras, lenses, formats, and special editions every year. One that is of particular interest is the new Leica M60 digital camera without a screen.
The Digital Screen
Overall, the shift from analog to digital has been anything but smooth. Photographers have fought daily over the merits, from quality of image to quality of life, as the digital explosion has expanded the number of images taken exponentially. It has been said that there will be more pictures taken today than in the entire history of photography.
And while there are merits to both sides of the argument, one thing is pretty clear…the single greatest impact on photography happened, not with digital itself, but with the screen on the back of the camera.
Digital cameras have not really affected how pictures are taken. The process remains altered, but is mostly unchanged. A number of buttons are configured, either with aperture and shutter speeds or program modes, and the shutter is pressed. It does not matter what camera is doing the shooting, the process is very similar.
What has changed is the near heroin-like dependency that photographers have developed with the digital screen. No one is immune to it, unless they still use film. Every photographer in the world, at some point, looks at the screen. It’s a blessing and a curse. But for those who come from film and are fully confident in their ability to meter a scene, the Leica M60 will be a welcome relief from the digital screen.
Know your film speed
When photographers start to wander off of the “program” modes and opt for shooting manually, one of my recommendations is to memorize exposure for film speeds. (ISO 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200) The art of estimating exposure used to be a standard procedure for any photographer. With the M60, Leica reminds us why simpler can be more pleasurable.
Leica has been experimenting with new aesthetics since the Leica M9 Titan came out in 2010. Their collaborations with the designers of Audi and Jony Ives have rounded the corners of the bodies and lenses and introduced new wraps that have moved a Leica camera from feeling like a photojournalist’s sidearm to a sleek extension of contemporary design. While at first the look might not appeal to everyone, if you have a chance to handle one of these cameras, your opinion might change. I will be the first to admit that in pictures, none of the newer designs immediately appealed to me, but from the M9 Titan forward, these cameras do not disappoint when touched or with their power to push your “Desire” button.
The M60 is not a camera for everyone, but then again neither is any Leica. They have always been a specialty producer. As Leica has grown into the digital age, they have maintained their ability to do three things very well: produce outstanding photographic tools, evolve the aesthetic of the rangefinder better than anyone else, and still find your “Desire” button, no matter how much you try to hide it. The new announcements at Photokina touched a whole bunch of buttons, and there will be ongoing coverage and possibly a few hands-on reviews in the coming months. Stay tuned!