Leica M Edition 60 – The Street Photography Review . . .

(Please be sure to see the end of this review for an important update).

. . . During the previous installment of this review, I got to know the M Edition 60 a little better and gained a clearer understanding of what it can offer photography today. Now in this, the final chapter, I took the Leica M Edition 60 out and onto the streets of Chester and Manchester, where I could properly put the camera through its paces . . .

. . . The brief was simple. Evaluate whether a digital camera can function as an everyday ‘shooter’, without a screen – just myself and the Leica M60 enjoying a relaxing stroll through the sights, sounds, smells and inhabitants of two popular, sprawling and rugged cities in the North West of England.

Man Waves in Chester UK Leica M Edition 60

How in fact is it possible to spend an entire two days shooting street photographs and using only a camera that provides just the bare minimum of options necessary to capture a picture – those being shutter speed, aperture, focusing and ISO sensitivity?

After all, how can one be expected to do so without the facility to check your previous shots, or to set the white balance, or without referring to a histogram, or defining the AF points, or setting the multiple exposure bracketing, or checking the focus, or formatting the SD card, or . . .

Hang on a second – did I not cover all of that in my previous M Edition 60 articles?

Surely a camera of such minimalist design and operation, shouldn’t require a thousand words in order to get its point across?

With that in mind, I shall now stop typing and simply let the images tell the story . . .

Incognito Manchester Leica M Edition 60

Boy Chases Bubbles M Edition 60

London T Shirt manchester Leica M Edition 60

Rubbish on the streets of Manchester Leica M Edition 60

Expressions Manchester Leica M Edition 60

Cool Dude in Shades Machester M Edition 60

Girls Smoking Manchester M Edition 60

Hipsters in Manchester M Edition 60

Elton Darlow Ex Wrestler and Artist Manchester

Colorful Lady Shopping Bags Manchester

Buy A Poem Manchester M Edition 60

My Hero Manchester Leica M60

Standing in the Rain Manchester Leica M Edition 60

Talk to the Dog Manchester Leica M60

The Hard Sell Manchester Leica M60

The Wonder Chester Leica M60

. . . Goodnight.

——————-

Addendum . . .

” . . . and that was back in May – another place, another time. Now (6/11/15) I feel I can finally come clean with a little piece of the truth that’s been ‘pecking away’ at me since writing that series of articles.

You see, the M-Edition 60 wasn’t entirely the street-photography-bed-of-roses I’d made it out to be. At the time however and as I’ve said, things were different then – I believed my photography and writing were finally ‘going somewhere’ – Leica’s new best friend and all that. What with seeing, using and discussing the new Leica SL a full 5 months before its release, and being the ‘only’ photographer / journalist on this here planet given the opportunity to spend a lengthy amount of time with the M-Edition 60 and actually use it in a real-world environment. Silly me. πŸ™‚

Two problems arose during my time with the camera but it wasn’t until I’d hit the streets and spent a couple of days really getting to know it, that these ‘gremlins’ emerged – the M60 isn’t really suitable as a street photography camera, on call and ready to shoot at a moments notice.

Specifically, the M60 (and due to it’s extremely limited menu options), likes to go to sleep every 2 minutes. As indicated, this can’t be changed, at all. No menu options (even in the viewfinder display) means that unless you make it a habit to give the shutter button a quick half-press every minute or so, the camera will ‘nod-off’.

Of course this wouldn’t usually be an issue – afterall, I have my own M9 set to ‘sleep’ after 2 minutes of inactivity. However, with just a light touch of the shutter and by the time the camera reaches my eye, it’s awake and ready to go.

Except with the M60, the camera is in fact rather like myself – it takes an eternity to wakeup.

As an example, on one occasion I encountered one of those photography moments that you know is going to make a picture that will quickly become a classic (in my eyes at least). Instinctively I lifted the M60, focused, checked the metering and hit the shutter . . . nothing. “Oh heck” I thought, “the camera’s gone to sleep”. I tap the shutter again . . . nothing . . . nothing . . . nothing . . . nothing . . . etc . . .

Only after approximately 7 seconds, the shutter clicked. Of course by then the opportunity was long gone – not to mention it was now blatantly obvious I was trying to ‘discreetly’ photograph the people in the scene.

If this had happened only once it probably would’ve been a non-issue. Sadly, it happened again and again and again . . . I lost track of the number of shots I lost over the 2 days with the camera.

The second issue was one that has plagued every digital ‘M’ at one point or another . . . Freezing.

Yep, locked up, seized, dead, unresponsive, useless – and as per usual, the procedure with a locked Leica is to pull the battery.

With the M60 that can be a bit of a faff and is as a result of the fact that it doesn’t have any strap lugs – unless you fancy dropping your prized and expensive camera onto the pavement, it has to be kept in its half-case.

So it transpires that on the 5 occasions that it became unresponsive, I would have to unwind the knurled nut on the base of the camera securing it to its case, remove the bottom plate, pop-out the battery, then reassemble the whole lot – all of this being done whilst balancing components under armpits etc, of a very valuable test camera and in the middle of a busy street.

Naturally, whilst all of this is going on, I’m not taking pictures.

‘Ah but surely this can be fixed in a firmware update’ I hear you say, ‘after all, that’s what Leica did with their other digital M’s that showed the same issues?’

And ordinarily that is what would happen. However the M60 is a limited edition of only 600 pieces. Most now live in hermetically sealed chambers as investments by their various owners. For Leica to release a firmware update for a camera that is no longer in production (nor was it ever in fact), would take time and money.

Despite emailing my findings to Stephan Daniel of Leica himself, the necessary alterations will never see the light of day, which is a crying shame.

The M-Edition 60 is an incredible idea (in concept) and despite missing out on a raft of photographic opportunities in the process, I was able to take some pictures that I’m quite proud of.

However, it is rendered totally useless as an all day, every day shooter in the one area of photography its design and marketing claim it to be inspired by, ie. the M3 and Street Photography”.

Author: Kevin Shelley

Street Photography. eBooks. Blog. Shoots and reviews cameras. Develops film. Writes novelesque articles.

19 thoughts on “Leica M Edition 60 – The Street Photography Review . . .”

  1. hello kevin
    thanks very much. i enjoyed ”my” stroll through chester and manchester with you and the M60 and, like you, can’t see that the lack of an LCD and extensive menus had any negative impact on the photographic results of your outing.

    i’m not surprised.

    until about 2003 (arrival of my first digital, an E-10), all my strolls and vacations were captured on film, with no peeping and no instant checking to see if the ‘moment’ was properly caught on film. the suspense was part of the fun, and the M60 minimalist approach would be most welcome.

    BTW, the colors (or PP) somehow make me think of the photos i’ve seen using Cine-Still 50D film. very nice.

    thank you for a most interesting 3-part article.

    rick

    Like

    1. Hi Rick,

      Really good to hear that you enjoyed your ‘walk’. πŸ™‚

      The M60 was a revelation in that decisions are easier when you have less choice.

      I’m a B&W man 99% of the time, avoiding color because I’m simply no good at it. These colors were a complete accident and though they’re not to everyone’s taste, I’ve been pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the positive comments received (despite overdoing the contrast a tad). πŸ™‚

      It’s been fun testing and writing about the M60 and would like to spend more time with it again sometime or even a production version if it ever happens.

      Cheers, Kevin

      Like

  2. Kevin, Thanks for posting your resulting photos. They’re great. I am wondering what post processing you did, as the colors all seem a little tilted toward red or tan on my monitor, and they also seem slightly contrasty. Was this a special process you did?

    Like

    1. Hi Jeff and really pleased you like the photographs.

      There was no real ‘process’ to speak of, other than experimenting with various sliders in PS until this particular ‘look’ appeared. So more a case of going with what captured my ‘artistic eye’, rather than a set plan.

      Luckily I remembered how I arrived at it so could repeat it again.

      The yellow/brown tinge originates from the sunlight’s cast in Manchester on that day, less so in Chester as it was raining or overcast.

      Particularly in Manchester, it is also a result of the yellow/brown color of the sandstone used for many of the buildings there.

      Adjusting the hue/saturation for the red and yellow channels accentuated this, though as this was my first foray into ‘color’ and as a staunch B&W photographer, I may have got a bit excited with the contrast. πŸ˜€

      Cheers, Kevin

      Like

  3. Nice work, Kevin. Looks like the ME60 is good at being what it is: a camera. πŸ™‚
    And you’re good at using it!

    I like the rendering you used in these photos, a nice palette.

    I hope Leica does come out with a production body at some point. It seems perfectly suited to what I’d like to work with. And if they did a Monochrom 246 edition too, I’d be overjoyed.

    G

    Like

    1. That’s very kind of you, thank you Godfrey, and as you say, the camera did exactly what it says on the tin.

      This is my first real attempt at color. The ‘palette’ was a complete accident, born purely from fiddling with the sliders in PS until I thought ‘I like that’, an almost ‘cartoon ish’ quality? πŸ™‚

      Judging by the comments regarding the M60 and the articles on various forums (cheers), there is a real excitement for a production version of some form or other.

      Kev

      Like

  4. good day.

    I have also used the M60 and thoroughly enjoyed the film like mind set when you this camera. However i must be brutally honest , I don’t like the post processing you have done ! Muted tones , the photographs have lost that Leica Look, so sad .

    Like

    1. Hello Brian and yes there is definately a different feel to using the M60.

      It’s true that the colors and processing aren’t to everyones taste.

      Without wishing to sound like a pretentious arse, the street photography pictures are more a representation of my artistic ‘vision’, rather than of the cameras capabilities.

      The images in the first two articles show the ‘look’ of the camera.

      Of course being digital, there’s no permanent damage so to speak, so a multitude of different interpretations are but a few clicks away.

      That’s the beauty of photography. Each person would treat each image in a totally unique way.

      It’s all good. πŸ™‚

      Best wishes,

      Kev

      Like

  5. Hi Kev,

    I love that you say you are a mono man 99% of the time but these colours were accidental. I often prefer b&w for street photography but am coming round to the belief that colour really does have a place in street work. I think the accidental colours (with extra contrast as you mention – did you add the contrast in post production or is it a setting on the camera ?) have worked really well in this set of images by the way.

    I haven’t been out on the streets with a camera for a few weeks and am feeling withdrawal symptoms, will have to rectify that very soon !!

    Great article !

    All the best
    Steve

    Like

    1. Good to hear from you Steve and hope Downtown and Driftwood magazine is going well. I really must come up with something to contribute, and soon? πŸ™‚

      Thanks for the appreciation mate. The real test of the colors is whether they work for the CCD sensor of the M9 as well, or just the CMOS of the M60.

      The contrast was added in PP. Not a massive amount, about 30%.

      I know how you feel about not shooting for a while – suppose it’s a better excuse to just go for a walk, but take your camera with you? πŸ™‚

      My next trip is London 14th June, 3 days.

      Kev

      Like

  6. Great series of notes pictures. I was wondering if there would be any gain in image quality to have streamlined electronics in the camera – after all each additional piece of electronics generates its own ‘noise’… No one has looked at that.

    Like

  7. I hate to be a downer but I would argue that your dodging is a bit atrocious. You can see white halos around nearly each of your subjects. Also the contrast is harsh as well. Leica or not these photos are not toned well at all. You should really focus on proper exposures instead of trying to recover poorly exposed images with heavy handed PS.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s