Friday, September 18, 2020


By Heinz Richter

I am asked quite often what camera equipment I use.  The simple answer is: Leica.  As I have mentioned before, my first Leica was a Leica III with 50mm f/2 Summar that my father gave me for my 5th birthday.  I still have that camera.  It works as well as it did on day one.

My first Leica, a Leica III with 50mm f/2 Summar

Of course I have used other equipment in the past as well.  In the film days it was expected that one used more than just 35mm equipment, so I also had two Rolleiflex SL 66 cameras for medium format and a Plaubel Peco Universal for large format work.

But at no time was I ever without a Leica for 35mm work.  Via Leica IIIC , a IIIf and a Leica IIIG I graduated to two Leica M3 cameras with a compliment of lenses.  They were rather unique in as much that the one body was of the first serial number batch ever made.  The second body was the exact opposite; it was of one of the last serial number batches ever made of the M3.  Those two rangefinder cameras were accompanied by a Leica R3 and later R4 at one time or another. Unfortunately, those two M3 cameras as well as all the lenses were stolen.

I replaced them with the same lenses and a Leica M6 camera.  That system served me well until it was time to change over to digital.  My first digital Leica was a Digilux 2 which soon after was accompanied by a Digilux 3.  But I still hung onto the M6 and its lenses.

My first digital Leica, a Digilux 2.
I replaced the original black cover of the camera with grey
leather.  The camera is still in frequent use by myself as wll
as my wife.

As soon as it became available, I added a Leica M8 to my system.  It served me well until I replaced it with my current Leica M240.  

People have asked me why I didn’t stay with the M8 or why I didn’t switch to a M9.  The main reason is live view.  In order to use lenses longer than 135mm live view is necessary unless you want to bother with the old Visoflex II or III.  The ease of use of longer lenses and close-up photography are made a lot easier with the electronic Visoflex, the electronic viewfinder which cannot be had with either the M8 or the M9.  I also like the higher resolution of the M240, not that I make very big enlargements on a regular basis.  But the higher resolution enables me to crop when there was not enough time to switch to a longer lens or a lens that allows me to focus closer.

Full Frame

Cropped section of the same frame

Very small cropped section of the same frame

My current working system consists mainly of the camera, a 28mm f/2.8 Elmarit, a 50mm f/2 Summicron and a 90mm f/2.8 Elmarit.  To facilitate easier changing of lenses I am planning to modify my cameras case with a removable insert offering three rigidly attached Leica rear caps.  With one lens installed on the camera, two of the rear caps will hold two additional lenses.  When changing lenses, the lens off the camera will be attached to the open rear cap in the camera case, freeing my hands to easily attach another lens.

I have always been a firm believer in being prepared for even unusual shooting situations.  For that reason I also have a 135mm f/2.8 Elmarit as the longest lens that can be used with the Leica rangefinder and a 15mm f/4.5 Voigtlnder Super Wide-Heliar.

I have often been asked why I bother with the 135mm.  I mainly use it for portrait and portrait related work.  In many cases, individuals that are not used to being in front of a camera have a tendency to tense up when a camera is pointed at them.  The 135mm Elmarit allows for a greater shooting distance which in most cases will put the client more at ease.  That has gained additional importance because of Covid 19.  I still do occasional shoots, mostly with models.  Here too the additional shooting distance allowed by the 135mm 
Elmarit allows me to shoot with social distancing. The 135mm Elmarit has the additional advantage of utilizing the 90mm viewfinder frame which is magnified by the viewfinder magnifier built into the lens, the so called goggles, to the field of view of the 135mm.  This greatly increases the rangefinder accuracy.  

I am a firm believer that if at all possible, one should use Leica lenses on a Leica camera.  Otherwise the performance potential of the camera is compromised.  So why chose the 15mm Voigtländer?  15 mm is a focal length that I use quite rarely. Therefore I felt that a Leica lens was beyond a sensible expenditure.  The Voigtläder 15mm was a reasonable substitute. 

I have always been interested in long lenses for a variety of work, including wildlife and nature photography.  For that type of photography I use a 200mm f/3.8 and a 400mm f/5.6 Novoflex Follow Focus lens.  They are of the same design as the 400/560mm and the 800mm Leitz Telyt lenses and have proven to be of virtually the same performance level.  But the pistol grip type focusing makes their use substantially easier and faster.  With the electronic viewfinder on the Leica M240 they have proven to be very capable lenses, as are a 55mm f/3.5 and a 105mm f/4 Micro-Nikkor for close-up work.

In the future I am planning to replace one of the Micro-Nikkor lenses with a Leica-R macro lens and there is a Leica M10 lurking somewhere in the future.

But for the time being I am quite satisfied with what I have.  As it is always the case, it is not so much the equipment, rather than the photographer behind the camera.


I use an older Leitz camera bag.  It holds the camera with the 28mm or 50mm lens attached.
Rear to rear lens couplers allow me to carry two of the short lenses in one compartment,
next to the 90mm and the 135mm, including the electronic Visoflex

Leica M240 with Novoflex 200mm f/3.8

Leica M240 with Novoflex 400mm f/5.6

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