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LUFT 9 on the Leica M11: Less is More

LUFT 9 on the Leica M11: Less is More


Luft 9 is an Air Cooled Porsche event that brings together passionate porsche enthusiasts to showcase some of the most incredible Porsches, from heavily modified to restored vintage machines. While it may be advertised as a Porsche event, it is really a meeting of the most dedicated gear enthusiasts in the world. A few of us from Camera West & C.W. Watch Shop attended the event to enjoy these beautiful pieces of machinery. While walking around the event one could not help but notice the onslaught of vintage cameras, Leica cameras, beautiful tool watches and more.

Luft 9 was held at Mare Island, the first Pacific Ocean naval shipyard. The expansive 5200 acre shipyard with old industrial complexes, cranes, dry docks and bars provided the perfect backdrop for Luft 9. The event showcased some of the wildest air cooled Porsches, with gear enthusiasts converging at one place to admire them. The language of gear enthusiasts flowed effortlessly, as vintage gear such as Leica M3 and Hasselblad 500cm cameras were paired with vintage submariners and speedmaster spotted on the attendees. The day was an overwhelming visual experience, from the vintage speedsters to the patina on the old structures surrounding the event.

The Gear:

Sean and I ended up going to the show to take photographs and without any prior planning we grabbed Leica M11 cameras. There was one distinct difference: Sean was using the newly released Leica M11 Monochrom, while I had the regular M11 color camera.

Take Aways on the M11 & M11 Monochrom:

This is not a technical comparison of the M11 and its monochrom sensing sibling, but rather a collection of photos that showcase the distinct photography produced by these two cameras, along with some thoughts to go along with them. Although different people used each camera, we hope you can see the difference in feel and style achieved by the sensors on each camera. The Leica M11 and M11 Monochrom are among the finest M cameras ever made, and the possibilities are nearly endless.

Personally, I regularly shoot with a Leica Monochrom. The Leica M 246 “Your Mark” edition Monochrom is my primary camera of choice, and I haven't used a color M extensively in the past 3-4 years. Sean, on the other hand, also shoots with a Leica M Monochrom as his primary camera and recently upgraded to the new M11 Monochrom.

Live View is Incredible: I've never been a fan of live view on the Leica M, and I rarely use it. However, on the M11, I found myself using it about 40% of the time, and I believe Sean used it even more. I used it in combination with the 35mm Summilux-M when using the close focus that extends beyond the focus range of the rangefinder. Sean used it primarily when shooting with his 28mm Summaron to better visualize his composition.

Speed is Everything: The Luft 9 event was crowded with hundreds of people, and often we were waiting for that elusive Bresson "decisive moment" when other people weren't obstructing the frame. This meant taking several shots in quick succession in some cases, and the M11 always captured the shot flawlessly.

Instant Sharing: During the 40-minute drive back to SF, we were both pulling images off our M11 cameras via the Leica Photos app and sending the small JPGs to friends. The images straight out of the M11 and M11 Monochrom need little post-processing unless you want to stylize the image a bit, and the integration with the Leica Photos app is nearly seamless. The ease of use in this scenario would have sold me on the camera alone, even if the sensor was the same as an M10. I love having instant access to my shots!

In Conclusion:

The Leica M11 and M11 Monochrom are both best-in-class cameras that make experiences such as photographing Luft an absolute pleasure. The main thing to note is that the M11 doesn't get in the way. One rarely thinks about the camera settings. Like an air-cooled Porsche, it's all about the experience. Manual focusing, setting aperture, and shutter speed without the noise of digital gauges and sensors to distract from simply taking a photo. Sometimes it's a matter of enjoying less to experience more.

Words by Ben Carpenter, Images by Ben Carpenter & Sean Cranor

If you’re like us and enjoy tool watches as much as fine photographic tools, we invite you to check out our partner store C.W. Watch shop and shop pre-owned and new watches both modern and vintage. 

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