I just read an interesting article on PetaPixel about why Leica users should carry their camera always on their shoulder, no matter how cold, hot, cold, dry conditions are. The author claims he has taken his M240 everywhere and always on his shoulder.
While I enjoyed the read and while I agree on taking your camera with you at all times, I’d recommend to bring your Leica M in a bag. There are a few simple reasons for this.
- The rangefinder is susceptible to impacts. Yes, the Leica M is built like a tank. The rangefinder mechanism is NOT. I’ve walked around a lot with one M in my hand and another one on my shoulder. The chances of hitting something (door post, chair, wall, whatever) with the M while carrying it on your shoulder are substantial, especially when you’re in a hurry. I don’t care about scratches, but I do care about a rangefinder that is out of whack. In that case sending it to Germany is the only real solution.
- Condensation. I’ve also shot my M in hot, cold, humid, dry and sandy conditions, but I always brought a bag. When you’re shooting in the cold and enter a building, condensation will occur. The visible part of this process occurs in the viewfinder, where it is only annoying. But it also happens on the electronic circuits. If you bring a bag, you slowly ‘warm up’ the camera and prevent condensation.
- Rain. The M isn’t waterproof. And even though the M10 has more waterproofing than the previous versions, lenses aren’t waterproof either. Water and cameras aren’t a good combination. Bring a good bag and take the camera out for a shot. It’s not that much work anyway.
- Theft. When traveling, it’s wise to hide your Leica when things get nasty. Walking around in Buenos Aires with a camera on your shoulder is a pretty good recipe to get robbed. Bring an inconspicuous bag, like a Billingham Hadley small.
I know from my own experience that shooting a camera that is at hand is easier than shooting with a camera that sits in a bag. But unless you want your M to visit Germany a few times a year, I dare to say that’s it pretty unwise to leave without a bag. Mind you, I’ve taken my M on alpine climbs, on wild rivers in a canoe and in humid Cambodian jungle, but ALWAYS in a bag. You can open the bag, you know, and take your camera out and take any shot you like.
If you’re still not convinced you should bring a bag, there’s another solution. This is it. It’s called the Leica X-U.
Another camera where you don’t have to be afraid of mechanical impact and moist is also available. It’s called the Leica SL. This lens however is pretty far from waterproof. The native SL lenses are much better in that regard.