I use the above film based M 6 rangefinder camera for all my important work, and I have used it for years.
Leica Camera GMBH has come out with the MD 262 series camera it’s a ‘chimp proof’ digital version of my M 6. The Leica MD 262 has no screen on it’s back plate. The MD 262 user will rely on just the discipline of the moment. Chimping is the practice of taking your eye off the subject at hand and checking your camera’s view screen to see what you have just shot.
But the new Leica MD 262 costs about $5000.00, I would like to own one, sorry Leica, like many other pros I now can’t afford to. Narrative photographers work for themselves, we have to cover our own costs and make a profit in a world where there is a glut of cheap imagery for the market to choose from; we are now putting off the buying of the latest cameras. I think that at the foundation of our troubles is the ‘chimp screen‘ on the back of digital cameras.
By ‘our troubles’, I refer to both narrative photogs and the makers of digital cameras.
I say a big up to the people at Wetzlar for realizing this obvious in the Leica MD 262 camera, it’s a step in the right direction to unf**king our collective selves in the above regard. Removing the screen from the back of a digital camera won’t do an iota of harm to quality photography, but it will put disciplined shooting back into the world of photography.
Disciplined shooting is when I immerse myself in the surroundings and keep my eye in the viewfinder capturing the moments as and when I perceive them. There is no going back to collecting a moment lost to the distraction of the bells and whistles of todays camera bodies. Magical moments are only collected through a mix of luck and perception, a moment can flash and be gone ‘like a cat in a door way’ or a wisp of smoke in the eye of the subject. Chimping will do me no good, and it may just cause me miss the next moment of magic. I know of photogs who tape over their camera’s screen, others who just program the camera not to flash the images when buffering.
Real photogs just need aperture, shutter speed and ISO, the rest can be sorted out at home before setting out on the shoot, and the final results can be edited with a cool head when the photog feels that the moment is over, also back at home or base camp.
Having a back plate screen on a digital camera is like having permanent training wheels on your pro bicycle. Without them we will preform much better; and the world will have a sustainable supply of images and the pro camera makers will have a segment of their market back…
John Robinson is an in touch narrative photographer based in the streets of Africa