The old school photographers don’t even bat and eyelash.  Younger photographers tilt their head and say, ‘What?’  Leica Camera AG ignored normalcy and did what they do best – create a camera for photography, not for technology.   The Leica MD Type 262 has some of the current Leica M technology, but not all.  Leica Camera refers to this most recent body style as ‘simplicity’ and that is how they designed it.



Aperture, Shutter Speed and ISO

Since the beginning of photography, creating images was about recording light.  The light triangle is made up of aperture, shutter speed and ISO, or film speed.  These items are equivalent to the size of the lens opening, how long light is allowed to go through the lens opening and finally, how sensitive is the recording medium (I.e, film or digital sensor).  Photography doesn’t get any simpler than this.  The Leica MD Type 262 only has settings for aperture, shutter speed and ISO.  Other than setting the date and time, nothing else is a variable when taking digital images.

This is Simplicity in it’s purest form.


Before the Storm

Some people believe that the light triangle is not enough for today’s photography.  They believe that the advances in computing and battery power should be used to help them take better photographs, more quickly, with less thought.  Others, just want assistance when and how they feel they need it for a specific photograph.

I will agree that there are times when a photograph may be missed without mastering quick reactions to set a proper exposure.  Using a hand-held light meter is not quick.  Furthermore, focusing a manual lens can also lead to missed opportunities if speed is not mastered.

However, photographers have been dealing with this problem since the beginning of time.  In fact, the original concept of the Leica camera was not only to allow portability of photography, but also speed in capturing images.

So, is there a market for a digital camera that enables only the three variables of photography rather than providing a plethora of digital options?  I believe the answer is a resounding, ‘yes.’

The Film Version of LCD

If someone is asked whether film cameras had an LCD that quickly showed the results of taking a photograph, they would probably answer in the negative.  After all, who has ever heard of an LCD on a film camera?  More importantly, if you have to take out the film and develop it prior to seeing the image, how could it possibly work?


The Wacker on Main Street

The first, and only, LCD for film photography was made by Polaroid.  Imagine before digital cameras were even a scientists’ reality.  Imagine a camera manufacturer engaging in discussion about being able to take a photograph, and 2 minutes later looking at the image.  We would have told the individual they were crazy!  But, that is exactly what Polaroid set out to accomplish.

For a period of time, instant photographs took center stage for being able to quickly frame an image and determine if the photograph came out the way the scene was envisioned.  Instant develop film like this is no longer used.

How Important is Instant Gratification?

The scientists and the artists of photography may disagree on the answer to this question.  Scientists will suggest that an LCD for review of an image is necessary in order to see if the image came out as expected and was technically correct (exposure, sharpness, framing).  Artists, on the other hand, typically prefer to keep photographing and not worry so much about the technical results.  However, even an Artist wants to occasionally look to see if the photograph has the artistic qualities they originally desired.  For example, was the image blurred as intended?  Was the image over-exposed as intended?


Clouds from Tropical Storm Bonnie

Additionally, there is an age gap between photographers today.  Older photographers, like myself, that grew up with film know all too well that waiting to see if an image comes out as expected is just how film photography has always worked.  We concentrate on the exposure and pressing the shutter.  Afterwards, we concentrate on the next shutter press.  Later, sometimes much later, we will concentrate on rewinding the film, developing the film and looking at the negatives.

The younger generation does not typically understand the necessary patience for film, just like they do not understand the patience when dialing a long-distance telephone number on a rotary dial phone.  The younger generation has been trained that technology provides instant gratification.  Emails, texts, web searches on any topic, Facebook, instagram, twitter – all provide instant feedback.  That training carries over to digital photography.


My personal belief is that the missing LCD is a blessing.  If I cannot review images taken by my camera, I will not concentrate on what was taken.  Instead, I will concentrate on what I want to continue taking.  The continued flow when taking photographs of people or animals is important because these subjects do not pause.  People and animals continually move or change expressions.  Without looking at past results, I can concentrate on the future and try to anticipate what else might happen.  My gratification comes afterwards when I am downloading a memory card to a computer and opening Adobe Lightroom to begin looking at what I captured.


Construction – New and Old

Patience allows me to concentrate on exposure – just like film.  Not worrying about the image I just capture allows me to concentrate on my focus through the lens – just like film.  I don’t feel the need to remove my eye from the viewfinder which keeps me in tune with what is going on around me.

I still enjoy landscape photography, and there are certainly instances where I would like to shoot a landscape and then look to see what I captured.  However, I never had that luxury with film, and I have some great landscapes in black and white film.


Flowers on Main Street

So, while I understand there are two schools of thought, I ultimately love the simplicity of this camera and the photographic experience I have while using it.  Since I still shoot a lot of film, using the Leica MD allows me to almost seamlessly move between the two mediums.

About The Author

David taught film photography and development for 3 years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1989-1991). He began using Leica cameras in 2000 and still shoots 70-100 rolls of film through a Leica M3 and Leica MA while enjoying the challenges of the Leica Monochrom and the new Leica MD 262. David has written about photography and is working on several volumes documenting changes and artistic merit throughout Old Town in Rock Hill, South Carolina, USA. His full-time job is as a CPA, but spends free time with a camera at the ready.

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