Since rediscovering the joy in photography when I was introduced to the world of the Leica M system rangefinder photography, I can safely say that I have followed the gospel as preached by my Leica guru Thorsten Overgaard….wear a camera! I travel frequently and my Leica M9P travels everywhere but everywhere with me…usually with my trusty 35mm F1.4 summilux in tow…I think this is just a killer combination; it’s compact and is great for everything from portraits to street photography to scenery, never needs flash etc etc. Rarely am I tempted to bring any other lens along when I want to travel light….if I do, then it’s the 21mm F3.4 super-elmar and v v occasionally the 50 noctilux F0.95 but what a heavy beast this is. Instead of my usual nature slanted travelogue, I thought this blog post would be about the more challenging situations my Leica and I get into and how it coped with extremes of weather and conditions…some of my friends comment that I am crazy to bring such expensive gear to these inclement places and I usually simply reply that in such difficult and challenging places I need to have the best equipment to take the pictures I want to take…after all…what’s the use of having a pristine camera without the pictures?? First things first, here’s my M9P when it was fairly new and before it travelled the world much with me. The leather half case from Ciesta of Korea has been marvellous, taking the brunt and protecting the camera from drops of 2-3 feet and bumps on many occasions. The first drop was barely a month after I bought the camera but thankfully I had the Ciesta case on at the time…
After using and loving the pictures that came out of this killer combination, I soon started bringing it everywhere with me, to events, meals, meetings, walks, travel etc etc. Then I was invited out to a fishing trip in Rompin Malaysia where we’d spend 2 days at sea on a small fishing boat and only come on land to sleep…this was of course when the camera was maybe 6 months old and I agonised about whether to bring it out to sea where wind, rain, sun and salty sea water would all threaten the M9P….my camera owning friends all said “You can’t be serious about bringing such an expensive camera to sea!” But I rationalised that I don’t go to sea very often and I really wanted to take pictures of the fishing trip and that I would be careful etc etc and in the end just decided that I’d use my camera and not wrap it in cottonwool….of course I took some precautions…keeping the camera in a bag when the sea was rough etc. But I was so glad I had it with me when picture taking time came around….
The Leica came out entirely unscathed by this maritime jaunt and it was soon my regular companion at sea for all my fishing trips….But the most challenging fishing trip came just a couple of months ago when with 6 other fisherman, we set sail from Kuching in Sarawak, East Malaysia for a 3 night live aboard a small fishing vessel….the omens were not good…as soon as we boarded the boat, the heavens opened; thankfully my M9P was in my trustworthy Lowepro and none the worse…even managed a few night pictures…
And of course, I also go snorkelling in our tropical waters and this trip was to Redang Island on the East coast of West Malaysia…an idyllic island where the waters are clear and the fish and corals colourful and abundant…
On to cooler climes….a trip to the Bavarian alps…where the snow and ice on top of the King’s Lake in south east Germany…the danger came not so much from the cold, snow and ice but from slipping and falling…which indeed I did, and thankfully with no harm to camera…only to my bum and my pride 🙂
But colder still….how about Wulanhaote in Inner Mongolia in December where the temperatures were -15C! The consensus seemed to be that it would be OK but that I had to keep the camera and batteries warm and protected and only take it out when taking a picture…actually I could hardly shoot for more than ten minutes before my gloved hands froze… I had to go via Beijing which was cold enough at around zero C and had the time to shoot in Tiananmen first…
and so on to mongolia…
The Leica M9P did not miss a beat despite being in such extreme cold….so we’ve been to the tropical seas and to the frozen lands of Mongolia…where next? The active volcano Mount Bromo in Java, Indonesia….where the volcanic dust and sand storms would challenge the integrity of the M9P to the limit…rising at 330am to catch the dawn also meant that it was pretty cold….
Another hazardous activity although more hazardous to me than the Leica is shooting snakes and bugs in the forest,,,mostly by night…here the Malayan Blue Coral snake, one of the most venomous snakes around…..
How water resistant is the M9P? It’s not weather sealed as the latest M240 is but I had the opportunity to test this when we visited the waterfalls at Trawas in Java Indonesia….this involved a 1km trek along the river and passing directly under some waterfalls to get to our final destination….I couldn’t resist pointing my camera directly up at the water cascading down…….
The M9p behaved flawlessly despite being under the falls for a few minutes! On this same trip we stopped at Papuma beach….where yet more sand and sea threatened the Leica….
So should we be carrying our expensive cameras to inhospitable and challenging environments? Based on my experience with the Leica M9P, a resounding yes…it’s fallen on concrete, onto snow and ice, into volcanic ash….it’s been in extreme subzero temperatures and in hot tropical and Indian subcontinent summers….it’s been ‘waterfalled’ on and buffeted by sand storms and never missed a beat….
After all, if we are going to unusual places that we may never go again, I would rather have my favourite camera with me rather than a point and shoot. I also know now that the M9P is well built and tough and likely more so now with the weather sealed M240…..I just wonder about the Monochrom now!
I leave you with this shot of me and my Leica on the edge of a cliff in Java…..
I’ve just purchased my M9P. I’ve been shooting an MP for a few years.thanks for sharing your shots. Not sure about the snakes though ;0)
The M9P is awesome,…I just got my M240 but still prefer my M9P. Snakes are gorgeous! Haha
These are stunning! Hope you publish your photos and commentary as a book one day!
Thanks for your comments and visiting my blog…
We’re a bunch of volunteers and opening a brand new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with useful info to work on. You’ve done a formidable job and our entire group shall be thankful to you.
Excellently captured pictures. Treat to see!
Thanks Sudhan! See you in Singapore soon.