About the equipment I’m using.

Q&A, Reader Smackdown

I’ve been receiving emails on — literally — a daily basis asking me what gear I’m using.

For those of you who have followed my blog for a long time, you already know that I’m a die-hard Leica rangefinder photographer who recently sold everything to start over again.

The real question, therefore, shouldn’t be what I’m using now, but why I did what I did.

Nobody is asking that question though.

As for what I’m using now, I learned in the past the hard way that when I stray away from Leica gear I have to endure a lot of “that’s not as good as what you were producing with your M9” comments.   Now that no one knows what I’m using, I instead get a lot of “did you go back to Leica?” questions.

To be blunt, I just don’t want to talk about gear anymore.  I’m at a point where I’m satisfied with what I have.

I’m not sure how long this feeling will last, but it’s the first time I’ve felt this way since… well, since I first picked up a digital camera (in 2004).  I’m enjoying it.  It’s liberating.

Over the years, I’ve freely discussed everything I’ve learned about photography, gear, etc. on this blog.  Some of what I’ve said has been unashamedly “borrowed”, and some has been met with outright hostility.   On a positive note, I’ve had the privilege of getting to know a few of you who are absolute gems.  You know who you are.

Regardless of whether I like you or you like me, you’re all on your own for a while if the subject of interest is camera gear.

Me?  I’ll be concentrating on photographing Life’s Little Moments.


25 thoughts on “About the equipment I’m using.

  1. Very valid points made here in your overview and summation, Peter.

    By way of example, a person can be given the same broom to sweep a coffee house floor; but I’ll bet the sweep and result will be different to yourself – a result that’s unique due to how the task was approached and completed, by each person.

    One can frequent the same coffee house and see differences between one barista and another who use the same coffee machine and beans.

    In sum, it does not matter one iota knowing what equipment is being used – because time and its timing, subjective and objective circumstances etc will join forces to ensure a unique result, no matter what …

  2. Peter, I for one, have been patiently waiting to hear what you are using. Yes, I am curious as to why such a dramatic shift from your Leica gear, although I recall a post where you had shared many of your Leica frustrations (I think, most of which I share). On the other side, there is just so much I love about the size, camera/lens quality and images.

    I’ve been trying several other systems myself, but I still enjoy using and the results from the Leica the most…although I certainly have to work for it.

    I came into an M10 at a great price and have been using it while Leica is replacing the sensor in my M9. I like the M10 quite a bit, and was planning to sell the M9 upon it’s return…but I just don’t know.

    I love your M9 images, but mostly I just love your family photography which inspire me to do better. Thank you for sharing your work with us all.

  3. Well said, Peter. I’ve always thought your work transcended such issues. And your joy in photographing — whatever the subject — shows.

  4. Thank you gentlemen.

    What I should have added to my post above is that I have been partially responsible in the past for fanning the flames of gear-centricity… I’d like to own up to that.

  5. Nah, you are not responsible for fanning any flames – except the flame of passion for taking photographs. I admit to being more interested in people who shoot either film or rangefinders – all other things being equal.

    Some people haven’t grown up, but that is not your problem. I fail to understand why anyone would email you to ask you what camera you are using. As if you’re going to do them a special favour!

    1. Alas, I am one who has emailed Peter, so I am guilty as charged. All in all, I understand both sides of the coin…Peter’s and my own. We have long enjoyed both the photography itself (the primary enjoyment) and the gear behind the photos, the process that goes into chosing the gear, why the gear does in fact matter to capturing those little moments (and the big ones too), and how there’s an interplay between choice of photographic tool and the output it produces. Sensors and what not are part of the equation. For, me as a Leica devotee, it’s a combo of the camera design, functionality, and output that keeps me here in RF land. It is definitely Peter’s prerogative to stop with the camera gear association, but given a lack of response to my email, I also understand that my opinion is not currently welcomed. I will continue to enjoy the photos.

      1. Oh goodness Ashwin, just checking back on your email it arrived in my mailbox a week ago time-stamped at 2:29 AM, and I first saw it during my bus ride to work at 6:30 AM. By the time my workday finished, I totally forgot about it, so my sincere apologies for not responding. There are certainly many out there who will tell you that I did respond to their emails.

        1. no worries at all. I assumed this past was part of the response. All in all, it’s your blog my friend, and your prerogative to post as you may. We all are on our journies, and mine is both photographic and gear centric, though I will say that I have not purchased a new Leica lens in nearly 3 years now, though I recently have gotten to play with some unique and rare glass… but enough talk about gear :)…

          1. Lol, there is no need for you to purchase another Leica lens because you own nearly every lens Leica has ever made (and have enough cameras — Leica or otherwise — to rival B&H).

            Yet you feel the need to write to me privately and chastise me for not revealing the gear I’m using, as if I owe you anything after all of the information I’ve freely shared on this blog (and privately via email) all these years.

            You’re a big boy “my friend”, form your own opinion(s) about gear… don’t borrow mine and pass them off as your own.

  6. I follow your post primarily because the things you shoot are the same as me, and I’ve learned a lot about composition from yourself. You also love the Leica CCD look and so do I. You’ve also had frustrations with Leica, Film, Nikon sometimes and so have I. We’ve both spent a fortune, but you’ve saved me a fortune also, by pulling the truth out of a camera and posting it here before I’d followed if not identical, a similar path.

    I’m always looking at composition and colour first, then waiting for the day when you find a camera that behaves and gets the Peter colour, micro contrast seal of approval. Just incase I pull an experiment on a MF-C and didn’t have too. So don’t despair everyone is so interested in camera gear, there’s plenty other sites out there for that, it’s Peter’s eye for a photo and Peter’s eye for a sensor/focus etc that draws us here.

    You’ve looked hard, I’m pleased you’ve found something that you can forget about,


    1. Okay… now I’m starting to feel a little guilty about holding back on my recent thoughts/experiences as a result of your message.

      First of all, thank you kindly Sean, for all of the nice things you wrote.

      Secondly, at the risk of opening up a discussion I didn’t want to get into, I will tell everybody reading this that if Leica had a worthy successor to the M9 I would be photographing with it today. Beta products with flaky electronics, or “me-too” sensors that fall short of the industry leaders will no longer be overlooked, at least by me. The rangefinder focus mechanism was/is Leica’s competitive advantage but that’s no longer enough for me to stay in the face of the aforementioned shortcomings.

      1. Interesting your choice to not disclose your gear, I first learned about you when I got into Leica. At any rate, I disagree that the rangefinder is Leica’s competitive advantage, I would say it’s currently holding them back. Wide angle lenses, fast lenses and telephotos are all a challenge using a rangefinder system, especially one that wanders out of calibration. I say this as a former owner of an M8 and the M240.
        Anyway, curious to see how long you hold out on the gear disclosure, I predict it does not last long:) After all, one can love photography and its nuances and still be a gear head:)

  7. Peter – your move to detach from gear-centrism is fully understandable. You get perfect results from any camera you use (I know it, I’m long time follower :)). I would guess that you made such decision because of your internal reasons – because how you feel about this topic. And I think that we (frequent visitors of your site) could grasp a bit of your motives and attitude.

    But anyway I’d like to put here my 5 cents about gear topic. I have a feeling that some photographers (including me – I’m not saying that I’m a photographer, more enthusiast :)) are a bit ashamed while putting gear centrist topics in front of their communication. And I think that in most cases they should. And the reasons for my thinking are following:
    – While we speak in words about gear we might think thats the only thing we are communicating and it might seem that we loose what the photography is about (feelings, emotions, ideas and provocations), but lets not forget that at the same time we are putting pictures with this text – I meant at the same time we are “talking” with picture and picture speaks about essence of photography.
    – Its OK to talk about gear – its the tools of photography and those tools influence our results and even inspire us to shoot. Its impossible to make picture without some king of gear.
    – Lets look into other areas of interests – lets take for example of motorcycle or car fan world – I suppose that there are a lot of areas where gear domination is more pronounced.

    On the other hand its OK, while its sane. 🙂

    As for me I admitted to myself long ago that my personal photography hobby is 50% about process, 30% about results and 20% about gear… Yes, I like to play with “toys” and I wont be ashamed of that. 🙂

    1. Thank you Aivaras.

      Of course you’re correct that it’s okay to discuss gear, and of course all photographers do (in fact, website traffic for any photography site always increases with such discussion).

      In my case, I internally debate the gear I’m using on a constant basis. Or at least up until recently I did. In your percentage system, sometimes my preoccupation with gear comprised 90% of my thought process!

      That imbalance, coupled to the gear bias a significant proportion of people bring to their viewing of my photographs, has resulted in my recent rejection of gear-focused discussion. Of course I realize that this is likely to be a temporary state, but as I mentioned somewhere else I feel quite liberated at the moment and it’s a very good feeling. I also freely acknowledge that I now feel content with what I have; if I didn’t, I would still be talking about cameras and lenses.

  8. Just a quick comment to say that I always saw gear discussion as a complement to your photography Peter and as part of the learning experience for us. And, it is not always about the company behind the camera/lens, sometimes it can be a discussion or analysis about the chosen focal length, how it is used, the chosen aperture and the feeling it creates etc. Always of course in combination with the subject matter/composition and light.

    I will miss the exif info, but I will still enjoy your photography. 🙂

    1. Thanks Kostas.

      I believe that most people who read this blog are perfectly capable of forming their own opinions about camera gear… I’m not sure why it matters so much what I’m using anyway.

      1. To form an opinion you have to use the gear and most people cannot afford to try many camera/lenses so they try to learn through other people’s experience. Also, as I said, it is not about the gear itself, but how it is used. And I think it matters what you are using because you use it well, so people can learn from you. All part of the dialogue..

        To avoid misunderstandings, I am not questioning your decision, I am just stating my view that talking about gear is not necessarily a negative thing.

        1. No misunderstandings Kostas.

          To further clarify, I never stated that discussing gear was a bad thing. I only expressed my wish to not discuss my current gear. I wanted a “wash out” period so that I could post images without people having their gear bias affect their perception of said images.

          As you quite correctly point out, sharing my experiences all of these years has benefitted people. It’s interesting and telling that when I make a request in return I am met with outrage on the part of some. I think the internet has created a sense of entitlement… people forget that some of us blogging do so on a voluntary basis. And I actually pay WordPress to spare everybody from viewing ads on my site.

          1. Agreed Peter, and I am grateful for your advice/learning and images over all these years. Entitlement etc, are all part of the dynamics of human behaviour/interaction amplified by the internet. Best defence I guess is a thick skin 🙂

  9. The “best” camera is the one you like to carry and use everyday. All the better if it becomes intuitive and integral to the way you “see” an image. All other factors, price, brand, reputation, etc – are meaningless. If you take images you personally are happy with – that’s all that matters.

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