On my 12th birthday I received my first Kodak Instamatic 100 camera as a gift from my grandmother. This was a tradition in our family, kind of a transition-ritual towards adulthood because we were supposed to start taking care of something valuable (of worth). This triggered my interest in photography. I remember my grandfather had a darkroom in the basement and as a young kid I was allowed to tinker with the then already obsolete gear. My grandfather passed away when I was 3 weeks old, so I never knew him. Later in life I heard he used to own a Leica.
The need (or call it urge) to control more of the photography technicalities lead me towards an old Asahi Pentax + lichtmeter on top of the camera. As such this was a nice camera to start to learn what shutter speed is, how the aperture influences depth of field and to some extent what ISO means (not that dynamically changeable at that time). I really got the hang of it at that time. I remember getting an old light meter from an uncle of mine and this increased my knowledge of lighting techniques (+ it kinda looked very "pro"). Considering the cost to develop film and prints, I quickly moved to slide film. At the time it was a very good school as cost meant "be frugal" with your pictures and take only good ones...
Next up was a Pentax (without the Asahi in front of it). I bought it with the meagre salary I received from being in the army for one year (mandatory at the time). It did not take long before I sold the camera (not that I wasn't happy with it), but you know... the "call" for something new was irresistible. A new Nikon F801s became part of the family. Cannot even remember the lenses I had on it... but, talking about family, I took it to Egypt on our honeymoon. During that time my brother studied Photography and Publicity and of course "needed" a Nikon F4, very nice piece of kit indeed!
With the digital cameras becoming more and more popular and working for Kodak at the time (not the film part, but the copier part) I was drawn to a SONY Mavica during a business trip to the US. Remember the Mavica. It worked with small diskettes in the camera! (1,44MB per disk with VGA resolution and pictures of 350Kb). The resulution of the camera must have been something just north of 1 megapixel. But hey, no more cost for film or development anymore. Played around with the computer a lot more!
Then I moved to a small Canon digital ixus 2.1mega pixel camera with a small zoom. Was this the camera I needed? No, but it was nice to have and took some pretty decent pictures for the time. After lots and lots of pictures were taken with this camera I had to up my game and move to a semi-professional camera (at the time). It was a Canon D30, 3.1 mega pixel camera with a bunch of lenses. This was also the time I started with "photoshoots" and invested more and more in computers (too)... Having two young girls in the house made me invest in a lot of flash studio kit to play around with. I moved on to a Canon 50D with a lot more pixels (about 15 million of them). Now this was "pro" equipment for my standards...
But after 20.000 or more pictures of everything and everyone around me, I felt the need/urge to go back to the real basics. No more "auto" programs on the camera, no more "P" or "scenes"... all too superficial. Although I had amassed a really nice set of equipment including Canon L-lenses, I sold it all and bought my first second-hand Leica M8. At the time, "the" digital street photography camera. At first with Summarit lenses, then Summilux and one Elmarit wide angle lens. My photography skills had to take a leap to handle the rangefinder-way of taking pictures, everything manual (iso on auto sometimes) and slowing down! Slowing down was the message and way of taking pictures I had to come to grips with. Gone were the days of 5 pictures a second...
The M8 went with me to Nepal (base camp one), Japan, Victoria falls in Zambia, Zanzibar, Tanzania, Cape of Good Hope, USA, all over Europe etc. I even extensively experimented with studio- and fashion photography, something the camera is not suited for (they say - I disagree). I went on to buy a small Leica D-lux 3 to carry around during business trips, then a Leica M8.2 because my M8 was in service and I really needed a camera for a trip to the US. Sold it afterwards. Then I bought a V-Lux (typ 114) for a holiday trip to France including surf lessons for one of our kids (and thus needing a faster longer lens (25-400mm)). Not the same built as a "real" Leica, but nevertheless fun to play with.
The M8 being (only) a 10 megapixel camera and having a need/urge to venture into higher end photoshoots with "real" models, I wanted to upgrade, but did not want to go back to Canon or Nikon (or Sony or Fuji, Olympus...). An opportunity came up during a workshop organised by Leica Belgium to buy a Leica SL. Super, super happy with it, even with the M lenses on it with an adapter. But currently saving for a 24-90 SL lens now... Next stop, a Leica S maybe. Who knows... ;-)
H. DE HERTOGH - Brussels, November 14th, 2019
Back to Top