I’ve written in the past about the cameras I use for travel and landscape. Generally, I’d use one of the Leica SL’s along with the 24-90 Vario-Elmarit zoom. That setup can handle pretty much any situation as long as there’s sufficient light. I might also throw an L-mount 50mm Summilux into the bag as well for those low light situations. Those are two heavy lenses. And then there are the accessories, batteries, filters, etc. All this is starting to weigh me down as I get older, especially if I want to be reasonably quick on my feet all day and be able to climb or squat for vantage.
So on a recent month-long photography trip to Lisbon and Porto — both notoriously hilly cities — I reassessed my setup, aiming to downsize. I decided on a Leica M-11 and the new 35mm close-focus Summilux, which luckily became available just a week before I left. One camera. One lens. Hopefully a good setup to do some street photography, too.
I usually shoot street with a 50mm but I was open to trying something new with the 35mm.
With the 50mm, my default setting is to open up to f1.4 and zone focus to isolate the subject. That’s always been the style I aim for. It’s a distinctive look. If I need to open my depth of field I would jump up to f5.6 for that scene and then reset back to f1.4.
With the 35mm I reversed things. This approach was more scene-specific rather than subject-specific. This time f8 was my default and I jumped down to 1.4 only when I wanted to isolate a subject or needed more light. A more traditional street photography approach.
This worked well in the alleyways and small streets in and around Lisbon and Porto. I was happy with the images I got. Some were shot wide-open but most were full-in-focus street shots. Every once in a while I came across an irresistible landscape (or cityscape, as below) and this lens and camera combo rose to those occasions as well.
I”m still heavily invested in the SL ecosystem of cameras and lenses, and I still love 50mm, but I have to say the M11 and new 35mm Summilux are just fantastic (and light) photographic tools.