Don’t you feel the Leica M9 is a sluggish camera?

It seems to me that many people think that a manual focus camera is nowadays not suitable for taking sports pictures.

Taking a M9 manual focus camera to sports event might sound a little silly. I got some very strange looks even from the athletes.

The photo gallery is to be found here

With a Leica you have only the chance of one single picture. When I took the picture of the leading runner my Leica did just one click. Next to my ear I heard a rattling sound: tok, tok, tok, tok, tokk. A professional photographer has posted her next to me. I turned my head and she smiled somewhat embarrassed.

After shooting almost only with my new Summilux 35mm lens, I thought it is time for a break. So I went to the Zurich Ironman 2010 to take some sports pictures with my other lenses. OK, I ended up using the 35mm Summilux and a 75mm Summarit which I was given because my 75mm Summicron does still not focus correctly.

I did use the M9 mainly because I do not have any other ‘useable’ camera anymore. Yes, I still have a Nikon D200 with some kit zoom lenses, but since I own the M9 I did use it only once again. Originally I kept it for taking pictures while skiing but the quality difference of the photos is so huge that I probably won’t take it ever again with me. Furthermore I do not believe, that the slow autofocus would have been of any help!

On some pictures I got strange artefacts!

On other occasions I have been to late. Must have been the delay while pressing the shutter!

But lets come to the better part. I got some nice shots using these techniques:

Technique 1: Shots like these I got by fixating some chewing gums on the tarmac and releasing the shutter when a cyclist approached my position. The aperture was set at f/2.8 so that there is a fast shutter speed and still some focus depth.

On most places there are already enough chewing gums on the road and you don’t need to bring your own. One of the main problems during shooting was, to remember the ‘correct’ chewing gum. These pictures have been taken with the Summarit 75.

Technique 2: Panning; For this I used a shutter speed of approximately 1/60th. This resulted in an aperture of about f/8. The result was some focus depth but it was not really plenty due to the fact, that the athletes passed very close. I did stare at the ground and focused where most of them drove by. When an athlete approached I judged if he would fit in my focus plane.

Using 1/60 gives still some motion in the wheels, but the pictures don’t get too blurred…

Technique 3: Pre focussing at a spot where runners will pass by (it’s about the same as with the chewing gums).

There is not much to say about this, except that I got incredible sharp results. These pictures have been taken with the Summarit 75mm

Technique 4: That’s just the traditional focusing while looking through the rangefinder. Having fast moving subject this is probably the most difficult one with the highest failure rate.

With some irony one of the few almost static pictures which I took got completely out of focus. But I suppose that it even supports the sad mood.

More pictures of the Ironman 2010 in Zurich are to be found here. Please click on the photo below!

Official Ironman Zurich website may be found here

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