I finally acquired a Leica M11 rangefinder camera for my wedding photography work. In this post you’ll find my first impressions using this system as well as sample images.
Love At First Sight
In March 2020 as the world was starting to shut down, I found myself getting ready to climb El cerro sagrado del Zempoaltépetl, one of the highest mountains in Oaxaca, Mexico to photograph the Mixe ritual of sacrificing a rooster atop the sacred peak. My friend Gina was kind enough to let me use her Leica M6 to use on that trip. It was my first time using the Leica system and I was absolutely hooked from the very first frames.
Since I have been using a Hasselblad Xpan for a few years, I was already familiar with the rangefinder system, and therefore there was a smooth transition to the M6. I put my digital camera away on that trip and only photographed with M6 and XPan.
Upon returning the camera, I immediately started wondering how to justify integrating an M6 into my wedding photography workflow. Unfortunately, upon my return to Pittsburgh on March 13th, 2020. I had other immediate challenges to solve, like: where in the world is all the toilet paper? This and a thousand other Covid challenges effectively made me forget all about the Leica dreams.
Entering The Leica World
It wasn’t until May 2021, that I stumbled upon a great deal for a Mint Leica M6 kit with a 35mm f2 Summicron. I decided to go for it and entered into the world of Leica. I started to bring this new tool to my weddings right away. Fortunately for me – but unfortunately for my film photography – 2021 was the busiest year in my career as a wedding photographer. The black and white film wasn’t developing itself. I was loving taking breaks from my main camera system (Canon 1dx Mark III) to capture some moments with the rangefinder, but I was struggling to keep up with the developing and scanning.
Leica M10R for Weddings
Finally, in December 2021, I decided it was time to get into the Leica M digital system. Reluctantly, I sold my beloved M6 and got the Leica M10r. In multiple reviews, I have heard great things about the M10r but have always been reticent because of the inability to back up the pictures in real time. I have to accept, I’m pretty bad about keeping up with camera rumors so I had no idea the M11’s announcement was around the corner. I used the M10r for a few photoshoots when the new M was announced. Upon reading the specs, I decided to trade the M10r for the latest Leica’s flagship camera.
The Leica M11 Arrives
My M11 arrived at the end of February and I immediately started using it as much as possible to get acquainted with it before my first wedding of the season. By now you may have realized this will not be a technical review as there are tons of those online. This mostly a recount of my first impressions using this camera.
Does the Leica M11 work for wedding photography?
The M11 feels well built yet light enough to carry in a small Think Tank pouch. During this first month of usage, I have been carrying it everywhere I go and using it in all kinds of situations. I have set the camera mostly to 60mp, but I tried it a few times at 36mp and 18mp and I’m definitely impressed with the resulting files.
One big plus of the M11 is the ability to back up your files in real time. With the latest firmware (188.8.131.52) update, I can replicate my canon workflow: storing the RAW files on the SD card and creating a JPEG copy on the internal memory.
This camera works in my workflow as a wedding photographer because it allows me to take breethers during the day from my DSLR: slow down; think about the light and composition; and enjoy being challenged to control all the elements of the photography.
These are some of my favorite photos from the first wedding I photographed with it; I’ll update this post when I use it more.
Leica M11 Sample Images
All the photos were taken with the 35mm f2 Summicron, my one and only lens at the moment.
Here is complete list of my photography equipment for weddings.