Monday, May 20, 2019


By Kirsten Vignes, Leica Store Miami

Last spring, my colleagues and I at Leica Store Miami published an article called What’s in Our CameraBags, where we individually laid out our gear bags and showed you how and what we shoot. Since then, a lot has changed. We’ve hired new staff, new cameras and lenses have been released, and individual shooting styles have evolved.

We’ve also realized that we each have more than one gear setup. You wouldn’t bring the same camera on a bare-bones hiking trip as you would on a fashion shoot. You’re unlikely to shoot wildlife with the Leica M, and you probably wouldn’t grab a Leica S for discreet street shooting. This is the photographer’s dilemma: there just simply isn’t one camera that does it all. Different cameras and lenses serve different purposes.

So, here we are a year later, sharing with you yet again “what’s in our bag.”

Scroll through or click the quick links below:


Kirsten’s Rangefinder Bag

Kirsten Vignes has been a Leica Specialist with Leica Store Miami since 2012. She’s originally from Minnesota, but much prefers the sunshine and warmth of South Florida. Kirsten loves photography, which she studied at Rochester Institute of Technology, graphic design, traveling the world, movies with mythical creatures, chasing non-mythical creatures (birds) and, of course, coffee. Read some of Kirsten’s articles here.

When we decided to re-visit the “In Our Bag” idea again, I immediately knew what I was going to share this time around: the gear I actually own (or some of it anyways). As a Leica Store Miami employee, I have access to the entire range of Leica equipment, and I can honestly say I use a wide spectrum of Leica gear. I use the CL with 35mm Summilux-TL to do environmental product photos for our Instagram page, the V-Lux (Typ 114) for birding, the Leica SL (Typ 601) with M lenses for the occasional wedding, the beloved Q and M cameras for street and travel, the Leica D-Lux 7 for an evening out with friends, and the Leica S for those once-in-a-lifetime landscapes.

But what do I actually own? I’m glad you asked.


The first Leica I bought was the iconic M9, the original full-frame digital rangefinder. It was 2013, the M (Typ 240) had been released, and we were in the process of selling off all of our old M9 demo cameras at Leica Store Miami. When I was given the instruction to box up the last M9 to be listed and sold, I just couldn’t do it. The M9 and I had been through quite a bit. It had documented my first year living in Miami: the neon lights, the turquoise waters and the new friends I had made. It had traveled with me to Argentina and kept me company as I sipped wine in Mendoza, went horseback riding with gauchos, and took in the breathless beauty of Iguazú Falls. Call it an impulse buy, but I had to have it.

And, I still shoot with it today. I know, I know. It’s a ten-year-old camera with ten-year-old technology, terrible ISO performance (by today’s standards anyhow), and a laggy user interface. But, there’s just something about those M9 colors and the clunky yet endearing sound of its shutter. I’ve been tempted to trade-in towards the current M10 (especially with current used prices), which to Leica’s credit, has a comparable color output and feel as the M9. At the end of the day though, I just can’t part with my M9. I’ll be honest, it spends a lot of time in a drawer these days, but I do reach for it for those times when I want to take things slow. It’s reminiscent of shooting film. Its limitations force you to slow down and really think about and appreciate a scene before firing the shutter.

This brings me to my most recently-acquired Leica: an M4-P analog rangefinder. Over the years, I’ve toyed with the idea of buying a film M. After all, it is the ultimate M experience – the most “das Wesentliche” of all the M’s. For someone who’s just starting to dabble in the film world, the M4-P is an affordable and functional option. The Canadian-made rangefinder comes in at half the price of a used M6, and, unlike a used M3, doesn’t require cumbersome goggles when shooting a lens wider than 50mm.

Both used digital and analog M cameras are a great way to get in the Leica M system. A lot of people starting out are intimidated by Leica’s price tag, but with a little research and patience, you can get into the M system for a reasonable price.


I’ve always been a 50mm shooter. I like being able to isolate pieces of a scene and create a very graphic and intentional image. When I set out to buy a used 50mm, I came across the 50mm Summicron-M f/2 Version 4. The V4 50mm Summicron-M is optically identical to the current V5 standard Summicron-M, but has a different barrel construction. Like my M4-P, the V4 Summicron was built in Canada. Because Canadian-made Leica’s are less desirable in the used market, it’s easy to pick one up at a significantly lower price than their German-made counterparts. For someone looking to get into a used M and not break the bank, look into Canadian-made glass.

I’ve always complemented my 50mm with my Leica Q (Typ 116)’s 28mm Summilux-M. These days, I’ve been trying to focus more on rangefinder photography, so the Q gets left at home more often than it’s used to. For those who want to shoot with a rangefinder and aren’t interested in the autofocus Q, Leica offers four different 28mm M-mount lenses: the Summaron-M f/5.6, the Elmarit-M f/2.8, the Summicron-Mf/2.0, and the Summilux-M f/1.4, which is pictured here on my M4. (This I borrowed from the store and is more of a wish list item. My collection of M lenses is a work-in-progress.) In digital, we’re spoiled with incredibly high, clean ISO’s. If a lens only opens up to f/2.8, no problem, just boost the ISO. With film – and the M9 for that matter, a fast aperture such as a f/1.4 Summilux is more critical, especially in low light situations. On top of that, the 28mm Summilux-M is the most recently-designed 28mm M lens. Of the entire 28mm M lineup, it delivers the most corner-to-corner sharpness.


The photographer’s other dilemma: there is no perfect camera bag. Different shooting occasions call for different bags. My bread n’ butter bag is the Oberwerth Kate (You can see my video review on the Kate here.), however, when I’m just kicking around town and have a smaller setup, I carry the Oberwerth Harry & Sally. The Harry & Sally is part of Oberwerth’s casual line and is made of the same soft, tumbled leather as my Kate. It fits a small two-body rangefinder setup perfectly.

Another clever feature of Oberwerth bags is the built-in SD card pockets. I can usually double stack them and fit four extra cards at a time. This eliminates the need to carry a separate SD card wallet.


I like a soft, thin strap that I can wrap around my wrist to double as a wrist strap. A smaller, softer strap also packs easier and takes up less space in my bag. Pictured here on the M9 is the Arte di Mano Comodo Neck Strap in Rally Volpe, and on the M4 is the Arte di Mano Waxed Cotton Neck Strap in Barenia Tan.


When shooting black and white film or the Leica M Monochrom, filters are essential. In a digital color file, you can easily adjust the color channels to achieve a desired look. With film or a Monochrom file, you have to use a physical filter over your lens. I always keep a Leica Orange filter on hand to darken skies and brighten skin tones, as well as a Leica 4-Stop ND filter to be able to shoot wide open in daylight.  


I always carry a notebook and pen when shooting analog. Unfortunately, film doesn’t record metadata, so I try to make a point to jot down my exposure settings while shooting.

A huge travel game-changer for me has been the discovery of short power cables and plug adapters. I leave the exaggeratedly-long power cables that come standard with most cameras and chargers at home, and swap them out for 1-foot power cables. When I travel to Europe, I use a European plug adapter, eliminating the need for a separate adapter.

The tripod and blower ball pictured here don’t fit inside the Harry & Sally along with the other stuff, but I wanted to show them because they are part of my setup. The Giottosblower ball is a must with an interchangeable lens system. Never be caught off guard without a way to clean your sensor.

My Sirui T-025SK CarbonFiber Tripod is always on hand. If I’m traveling, it’s in my suitcase. If I’m driving around town, it’s in the back seat. I might not always have it on my physical person, but it’s never far away. It folds up to just 12 inches, weighs less than a pound and has traveled all around the world with me.

For other articles on this blog please click on Blog Archive in the column to the right



Buy vintage Leica cameras from 
America's premier Leica specialist 


Click on image to enlarge
Please make payment via PayPal to GMP Photography

Click on image to enlarge
Please make payment via PayPal to GMP Photography

Click on image to enlarge
Please make payment via PayPal to GMP Photography

No comments:

Post a Comment