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Article: Master your Leica: tips and tricks for beginners

Meistern Sie Ihre Leica: Tipps und Tricks für Anfänger

Master your Leica: tips and tricks for beginners

Choosing a Leica camera is choosing an icon in the world of photography. Around 100 years ago, Leica cameras revolutionized photography with the 35 mm format. From the 1930s onwards, they created a prototype for the system camera with the interchangeable lenses of the so-called Schraubleicas. This was followed by rangefinder cameras, SLR cameras, first analog and then digital after the turn of the millennium, and a series of compact cameras. Throughout this time, photo enthusiasts and professionals have appreciated one thing above all about Leica: the outstanding quality of the lenses and the clear functionality of the cameras.

However, a special reputation like this did not protect many traditional companies from disappearing in the digital revolution. Leica is different: by installing Leica cameras, Huawei phones have for years held the top spots in smartphone photo quality. In the same way, Leica has mastered the leap into digital photography with its own cameras and today, as in the past, is one of the best tools photographers can use. Do you have one of these cameras and want to master your Leica camera or are you still looking for the right Leica? Then read more here about the individual cameras and how best to use your Leica camera - along with the most important Leica photography tips for everyone.

Beginner's guide to Leica: Which Leica is best for me?

First of all, you should pay attention to the differences between the individual Leica camera series:

- The Leica S system includes various robust digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR) in medium format with 16 specially developed lenses and focal lengths between 24 and 180 millimeters.
- The Leica SL system includes full-frame cameras with a 47-megapixel sensor, image stabilization, a wide dynamic range with 14 f-stops and professional video recording. The system also includes special lenses whose imaging performance fully exploits the possibilities of the SL cameras. A Leica SL is operated via an intuitive touchscreen.
- The current Leica M system reinterprets the company's classic. The Leica M full-frame camera with rangefinder was long regarded as the best camera in the world and, with its purism - it has neither autofocus nor electronic function modes - is still considered by many to be one of the most fascinating cameras on the market.
- Leica's Q cameras form the manufacturer's fourth important system. It features full-frame system cameras with fixed focal length and macro mode. The Leica Q3, for example, has a choice of photo resolutions of 60, 36 or 18 megapixels and shoots video in 8K at 30 frames per second.
- There are also the Leica CL and TL systems - compact system cameras with 24.2 and 16.5 megapixel resolution respectively. TL cameras have an integrated flash, while the somewhat younger CL system has an integrated viewfinder as a special feature.

You can also find the right camera bag for your equipment and everything you need to protect your camera in our Oberwerth Shop. From classic camera bags to modern sling bags up to noble photo weekenders and backpacks. Of course you will also find hand straps and shoulder straps. Finest craftsmanship made from the best materials. Take a look around and find the bags & accessories that best suit you and your equipment!

This brief overview also shows the addressees of the individual Leica systems. CL and TL are clearly positioned as the entry-level models in the world of Leica cameras and, with their small dimensions and matching lenses, are ideal for taking with you wherever you go. The cameras feature classic Leica design, are intuitive to operate and are ready to take a snapshot without the need for extensive settings. At the other end of the model range, the S and SL systems meet all the requirements of ambitious photographers and professionals. The Leica Q3, which will be launched in 2023, surpasses the S or SL in terms of technical specifications and, as a more manageable system camera (DSLM), offers an alternative to the S or SL SLR cameras that is worth considering.

Leica photography tips: Use the lenses from Leica

All of these cameras have special in-house technical features or functions as well as the unmistakable Leica design language and feel. Compared to similar cameras from other manufacturers, they often stand out due to their reduced range of functions. In the overall package, however, the technical differences to others are marginal. The almost legendary special feature of Leica photographs, which inspires many to use a Leica, is not so much the technology as the glass: the Leica lenses.

Leica lenses are among the most expensive, but also the best you can photograph with. They are exceptionally light, fast, durable and combine bokeh, three-dimensionality and sharpness in the smallest of spaces. The lenses are handmade in Germany as well as in Portugal and Canada from special glass developed individually for each system, which ensures the unique signature of a Leica image.

To save on your budget, you can buy used lenses without hesitation. There is always a large supply on the second-hand market and, especially for the Leica M, well-preserved 50 or 60-year-old lenses still work today just as they did on the first day in a new camera. This camera was, is and remains unique in every respect in the camera portfolio of the Wetzlar-based company. Mastering this Leica camera is just as special.

Leica tips for beginners on the Leica M

A Leica rangefinder camera opens the door to an almost forgotten age of photography, before SLR cameras shaped the images. Rangefinders replace autofocus with mechanics and require greater eye concentration. But with them you can see the whole scene in front of the lens, become a part of it and no viewfinder frame restricts your view. It's not the camera that determines the final image, but you. This allows for more creativity, which is exactly why passionate photography enthusiasts love the various new digital editions of the Leica M - one of which is even equipped with a monochrome sensor for native images made purely from light and shadow. All of these cameras are compact and offer good portability despite their surprisingly high weight.

Every beginner's guide to Leica M cameras points out that getting to know these cameras requires a little patience and practice before you can take a sharp photo with the rangefinder. Especially with long focal lengths from 50 millimetres or wide open aperture, you will only see a very small focus area for orientation. Over time, however, you will automatically visualize the optimum image composition beyond this range. You will even be able to take good photos when the fine mechanics of the rangefinder actually require readjustment at the Wetzlar factory.

You will probably have to use this reliable, free service more often over the years with a Leica M. External influences such as slight shocks make it necessary to readjust the sensitive mechanics on a regular basis - with frequent use even every twelve months or so. Including shipping times, domestic service takes an average of two to three weeks. It can also take longer before major photo events, when many people have their Leica M readjusted. As a private individual, you will also have to wait in line behind professional photographers, because they earn their money with the cameras, so the professionals receive the professional service first, in line with Leica's corporate philosophy.

But for this and a few other small compromises, a Leica M will always compensate you with its unique photos. The best way to enjoy or share them is with classic prints on paper. Unfortunately, the digital technology behind websites or the displays of computers, smartphones and tablets does not succeed in conveying the multi-layered character of Leica M photographs.

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