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Shooting a Wedding with the Leica M9


My name is Tomer, and I’ve been a street photographer for the past 12 years. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of event photography, shooting weddings, couples, families, and more.

A few days ago, I got a job as a second shooter at a wedding from my friend Asaf Tamam, who’s a professional event photographer. I found myself in a dilemma.

My main camera gear is the Leica M10 and Leica Q, two great cameras for any situation from professional street photography to professional event photography.

But a month ago, I sent my M10 to Wetzlar for inspection and adjustments, and my Leica Q wasn’t available either. The only body I had left to work with was my Leica M9.

The M9 is not the ideal camera for a wedding, and I could list dozens of reasons why you probably shouldn’t use it for that purpose. But yes, I did, and I’m pleased to share that it went well.

My gear of choice for the wedding was the Leica M9, a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.2 ASPH, and the Leica Summaron-M 28mm f/5.6.

Here are some of the challenges of using the M9 for a wedding:

1. Buffer: The M9’s small buffer (less than 10 shots) is something hard to get used to, even for a camera 11 years old.

2. CCD Sensor: One of the most unresolved debates is the war between CCD and CMOS sensors. I will not address this argument here, but what everyone can agree on that the ISO of the CCD sensor is not the best way to go.

In this day and age, most cameras can reach ISO 50000 and produce files that are usable. The Leica M9’s top usable ISO is 1600, so you always need to look for that sweet spot of light.

3. Viewfinder: The not-so-bright viewfinder (compared to the M10) makes it really hard to see in dark places.

4. Slowness: The M9 has very slow overall operation, but I’ll add that one of the best things I like about the M9 is its slow operation. I love to take the time to compose my shots, but do I have the time to wait for the camera in a real-time wedding situation when every second matters?

5. Battery: The battery life on the M9 is very short and because I don’t use the M9 for professional work, I never considered purchasing an extra battery. But it’s a good thing I took my charger with me, as I found myself charging the battery during the event.

After the photo shoot with the bride and on my way to the events hall, I charged in the car. I then shot the guests and then charged again while everyone eating. I was connected to the charger like a junkie.

As you can probably guess, I was quite nervous. I do love my M9 and use it a lot for street photography, but I had reservations about bringing it for professional wedding work.

And perhaps the most important thing when you do professional work for a client is the screen of the camera… The screen gives you the confidence — you can take a shot, look at the screen, and retake if necessary. But with the M9, the poor screen is only good for the menu settings of the camera. What you see is not what you get and that part for me was the worst part.

I needed to trust myself and my experience with the camera. It all starts fine through the first two hours, but as the hours pass and the situations become more and more complex, I begin to feel the pressure. Would my camera and my knowledge betray me in the final hours? Are my settings the correct ones? I know what I need to do, and I know the right way to shoot each photo in each situation, but when I need confirmation that everything is going well, it’s difficult to know.

But when I returned home at the end of the event and uploaded the files to my computer, I sat in front of the screen and fell in love with the camera again. The Leica M9 makes beautiful files that every photographer would be proud to provide to their client.

Will I do a professional wedding work with the M9 again? Probably not.

Was it a fun experience? In a weird way, it was. It’s for experiences like these that I’m in the world of photography.

About the author: Tomer Vaknin is a street photographer based in Israel. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Vaknin’s work on his Instagram.