Yesterday morning I went out to the Golden Gate Bridge slightly before dawn. In my original vision, I planned on photographing with my medium format set up for the long exposure portion of the morning; switching to the Leica once the sun was up. Once I arrived, I realized that I did not really feel up to the task of carrying my whole Bronica kit (camera body, 4 lenses, extra film back, loads of film, filters etc). I like the slowness of the process as it helps to refine the previsualization of the photograph. Really, it is the weight of all of that gear. When I got home, I weighed my camera bags. The Bronica and all of those gigantic Nikkor lenses tips the scales at 15lbs while my M3 with 3 lenses (plus filters and film etc) comes in at 4lbs (2 of which being the camera and 50). 15lbs may not sounds like all that much but if it is thrown over the shoulder for a morning it can be quite tiring. Beyond that it is extremely cumbersome.
This lead me to abandon the medium format track for the morning and just use the Leica on a tripod for my early morning, long exposure work. I had gone with a few photographs in mind and it was quite easy to just walk to the spots, set up the camera, open the lens and wait. An additional benefit I found was that having depth of field markings on the lens is much more helpful than having a depth of field preview at 5am when it is still dark. Even when photographing at narrow apertures, the frame was bright and clear and I knew that everything from just under a meter to infinity will be in focus. If I had the Bronica, I would have had to guess the focus. I could see where the center of sharp focus would be but not the range of depth that I would have.
The Leica just worked better.
This all led me to feel a further kinship to Oscar Barnack (creator of the Leica). He found his view camera to be cumbersome and difficult to carry (he had a bad back and asthma). The desire to photograph with a smaller device was what led to his creation of a camera that used the newly available cine film; first for himself, then for Leitz Optics who was his employer.
Thank you Dr. Barnack. Your development of the Leitz Camera (or Leica) changed the face of photography 100 years ago. It also made my morning a little easier yesterday.