“It’s a timeless city. You can feel the vibration of the stories in the city. If you go deeper, you can feel the modern side of the city as well. You get the sensation of an embedded modern lifestyle.” This is how Andrea Boccalini, the Vienna-based Italian photographer describes his experience with the Leica M ( Typ 262) while photographing Vienna. He continues: “When you hold the M camera in your hands, you feel that you are using something that is part of a long story.”
Vienna, the timeless city
Corviale, a previous project created by Andrea Boccalini and featured on the Leica Blog as well, also captures the importance of human expression. With the Vienna project, he talks about how he tried to underline specific characteristics of the Vienna lifestyle through photographic aspects. For example managing the depth of field and the light trough the aperture of the bright lenses or through the contrast between the monumental scenario and how the people were standing or moving in front of it. This work followed the classic rules of street photography, looking where my ideas would take shape in the daily Vienna, bringing the Leica M ( Typ 262) always with me in any situation ready to catch the moment when any element of the reality would fit with what he wanted to express.
Andrea Boccalini started his career as photographer around 10 years ago. As an aficionado, his father would influence a young Andrea with the fun in taking pictures. Later on, as a journalist, it became his profession and began using Leica as the ideal equipment. “My first camera was an M6, followed by the M7, and when passing to digital, I became a Leica Ambassador, a true highlight of my career. It’s as if you were a Formula 1 pilot and Ferrari asks you to drive one of their cars!”
The Leica M ( Typ 262) experience
Although his projects have encompassed photographing renowned jazz musicians, his street photography has been mainly inspired by his use of Leica cameras, more specifically, the versatile Leica M. “Leica fits very well with this type of environment and situations; the M cameras in general are the perfect cameras for street photography. It is a way to understand and know better the new reality. Through this, you can explore and get inside the daily life of the city and the story you decide to tell. This project, about Vienna, is a kind of metaphor in relation to M cameras.”
Throughout the interview, we asked Andrea’s perception and insights of his experience with the Leica M ( Typ 262), including the versatile, yet traditional Leica M body. Inspired by the legendary Leica M9, the Leica M ( Typ 262) feels like a journey to the past, Boccalini says. Without features like the electronic viewfinder, video or Live view, the Leica M ( Typ 262) lets the photographer focus entirely on the subject using the rangefinder.”
For instance, when taking pictures, you can find the essential aspects of digital photography including the high quality of the sensor, the simple and limited menu; according to Boccalini, it’s the best balance between tradition and modernity in cameras. Additionally, an important aspect is when you hold it in your hands; “…the feeling is always amazing. You feel you’re part of a great story.”
Compared to the M9, which clearly has its limits in terms of ISO, the Leica M ( Typ 262) has a wide range of ISO (6400) letting the photographer work in low-lit environments with hardly any problem, achieving great outcomes.
“Another great aspect,” the Italian continues, “is the combination between the sensor and the lens.” The Leica M ( Typ 262) lens is very compact so the quality of the images taken with a sensor that is designed for the lens results in very crisp images. The sensor is an evolution of the Leica M sensor; a full frame sensor that uses the micro-lenses to bring all available light to the pixel. This can definitely be noticed in the quality of the color, micro sharpness, and the resolution of 24 MP, the best resolution for a full-frame sensor.
The micro-contrast and the dynamic range of colors are all very specific and detailed. “If you have to work in a tough area, in the streets, it’s always the best camera to carry around with you” Boccalini comments.
Versatility and practicality
When discussing about the versatility and practicality of the Leica M ( Typ 262) menu, Boccalini made an interesting observation in regards to the modern photographer, especially when new equipment is announced, it usually contains more menu options including additional buttons. “The modern photographer can find it quite strange due to the low range of options (the Leica M ( Typ 262)) has. It’s fantastic! Considering this, it’s great that a new version of a camera has just a few, necessary menu options. This way, you just have to be concentrated in your photography.” He continues, “After you choose the ISO and white balance, you’re all set. You’re ready to start shooting. The shutter is also very quiet, especially during some situations where you have to be concerned about the noise your camera produces.”
In relation to the Vienna project, he came back to express the ideal situation of shooting with the Leica M ( Typ 262) and the city itself. This, more specifically, relates to the weight of the camera itself. With 100 grams less than the M ( Typ 240), Boccalini was able to photograph with ease while avoiding extra weight on his neck. This evidently allowed him to endure more throughout photo shoots. In regards to the city itself, Boccalini remarks “You feel as if Vienna was suspended in time. The people you see is as if they came out from a 1950’s film! They have so many stories in their faces and in their expressions.”
Future projects include a jazz band shoot in New York at the Village Vanguard; an 80 year-old jazz venue. Andrea will be using this camera as well for this project due to the space which also has a conserved, somewhat vintage, style, very much like a 1960’s John Coltrane jazz concert. “It will be really useful since you can’t disturb the peace and flow of the music session.”