The Goods: My Digital Leica Bag
Some love it, some hate it, others lust for it. After using the M9 for almost a year I think its a spectacular camera. Sure it has its quirks, but for the size, image quality and compatible Leica glass it is brilliant.
Leica 50mm Summicron f 2.0
There are more exotic lenses in the Leica line up, but this was my first lens. Even though Leica pairs the 50mm Summicron with its “Starter Kits” this is probably the most versatile lens Leica has ever made.
Leica 28mm Elmarit f 2.8
The Elmarit was designed to travel. Its pancake shape and light weight barrel make it an ideal field lens.
Voigtlander 15mm Heliar f 4.5 ( Super Wide )
This is the smallest lens I own. Since the rear element sits too close to the M9 sensor I only use this lens for film, but when you need to go wide its a great trick to have in the bag. Since I bought mine a few years back Voigtlander updated the lens. Now it is rangefinder coupled (so you don’t have to estimate the focus), its has threads for a 52mm filter, and it has a larger, more protective hood.
Leica Table Top Tripod
This is a great little tripod. It comes apart and will fit in the smallest camera bag. I use it for long exposures in the early morning or evening. The one is use is a vintage Leitz one, which you might be able to find on eBay, but if not the new ones are just as good.
B+W Polarizing Filter: When you travel anywhere near the equator the daylight is often blinding. Using a polarizing filter will help recover some of the details that would be lost in the highlights. I prefer B+W filters because they have brass threads, instead of aluminum. Brass always releases smoothly and will not lock on to the lens. If you are using a camera with an internal meter, you will want to buy a circular polarizer for accurate metering and I prefer the multi coated lenses to block against any flare. I often use this filter in super bright conditions, so any additional coating is a help.
B+W UV Filter: When you shoot near ocean spray or in the desert you lens will need to be cleaned every day. Instead of accumulating the wear and tear on the lens, use a UV filter to catch the sea spray and dust. It is much easier to clean than your lens and if it gets scratched you will not have a nervous breakdown.
Cokin Filter System: The Cokin System filters are great for landscape work. They come in a few sizes, but for most Leica Lenses (anything up to 62mm) you will use the Series A filter holder, the thread ring for your lenses (mine is a 39mm to match the 50mm and 28mm) and the filters. The acrylic filters slide in an out so you don’t have to take the filter holder off to change filters.
Split Neutral Density: Instead of trying to save over exposed skies in Photoshop or Lightroom use a Split Neutral Density Filter instead. They come in different intensities from 1/2 a stop to 3 full stops. This will give you Ansel Adam’s style skies and colorful sunsets.
Lens First Aid
Keeping your lenses clean is super important, but you don’t want to scrub them down every day. Sometimes all they need is a little air and a dusting. I keep a microfiber cloth and a blower in my carry on for quick cleanings on the road. The microfiber cloth is also great for getting finger prints off of the viewfinder of a Leica M camera.
Giottos Rocket Blower
The rocket blower is small, but is a much better alternative to blowing in your lens. If you accidentally spit on your lens while attempting to blow off some dust, you will have an even bigger problem on your hands. I use the Giottos Rocket blower for dusting my lenses, in between the dials, and my film negatives while scanning. They are great and the rocket fins allow the blower to stand upright on your desk or hotel table.
Leica Micro Fiber Cloth
Lenses are dust magnets. No matter where you go or how careful you are, dust will find its way on to your lens. A small microfiber cloth is one of the easiest ways to manage this issue and keep your images clean.