Harper Reed's Blog

Harper Reed's Blog

Musing from a normal person doing normal things

18 Mar 2024

How to Leica like a noob who shoots Leica

After going down the Leica path to extremism over the last few years, I felt compelled to jot down a few notes and thoughts. Originally, I wrote this for a few friends who’ve recently purchased Leica cameras (Q2, and a M11). Thinking it might benefit others, I’m sharing it here. YMMV.

Congee spot in Guangzhou. Leica Q. 2016

I have shot with Leica cameras since I got the og Q in 2016. Since then I have gone through the Q, the OG monochrom (my very fav camera of all time), a 262 (Purchased with 10 BTC lol), and now I am shooting with a M11. I really enjoy them. I enjoy the community and I like the vibe.

Someone once told me that Leica cameras are Birkin bags for men. Lol. Not wrong. This isn’t bad - but is funny.


Karin Tanabe. Leica M (Typ 262), Summilux 50mm. 2022.

Don’t listen to me. Find your friend who is way better at photography and ask them. Barring that, here is what worked for me.

  • The only way to get good is to shoot it constantly.
  • I carried a camera almost everyday from 2016 until Covid.
  • If you are shooting an M, learn to zone focus. It is helpful. I rarely use it in real life - but it was super helpful to learn. Taught me a lot about my camera.
  • You almost never need a zoom lens. As my friend Trammell told me: “Zoom with your feet.”
  • Take a bunch of classes at a local photography spot. Every city has one. Find it, make friends, and take classes. None of them will be too easy. You will learn a lot.
    • I took a lighting class that blew my mind
  • Print at a local photo printing lab. Its fun and you learn a lot
  • Take your camera everywhere. The Q is super durable. I have hit it against everything and it still works great. Same with the Ms. They are like bricks.
  • My goal is to break my cameras while using them. My biggest fear is that they will get broken while they are sitting on a counter or a shelf. They are meant to be used.
  • I shoot full auto. 100% all the time full auto. Even on the M (obviously manual focus). A lot of photographers will do everything on manual. I do not have time for that. Lol. Those same people will give you shit about shooting on auto. Fuck em.
  • Play with the macro mode. its fun.
  • One of my favorite rules of thumb for photography is: Remove variables for better results
    • Shoot in black and white!
    • Don’t use liveview
    • Shoot only in f/8 (i know not “auto”, but on the M the lens is fully manual. life is complicated)
    • also works for most things in life
  • Share your photos!


Eamon singing, Chris Laughing. Leica Q. 2018.

Everyone needs a “Leica guy” to help maintain the constant drip of Leica cameras into their life. You already made the decision to get a camera based on fashion, just lean into it and live the lifestyle.

  • My go-to Leica shop is Tamarkin camera in Chicago. They are solid and helpful. Tell Dan that Harper sent you.
  • Leica Miami is a decent store to buy from on the internet.
  • Be careful of ordering off Amazon. Lots of counterfeit.
  • Lot’s of great equipment is waiting to be bought used. I got my dear Summilux, and my beloved Monochrom used. They are both perfect. Just make sure you are buying from someone ruputable, and trustworthy.
  • If you are not using a piece of equipment, sell it. Better yet, give it to someone who will love it.


My friend DJ. Leica M11, Summilux 50mm. 2023.

Sometimes the photography hobby is less about photography and more about equipment. I try to make sure I have minimized my gear acquisition syndrome (GAS) and focused on shooting.

  • Lenses. OMG. I have gone through a lot of lenses. I finally settled on shooting primarily with a 50m Summilux. Through a bunch of experimentation I realized I like how 50mm works, how it looks, and how it frames.
  • I have never traveled with more than one lens.
  • Learning on a fast lens is a nightmare cuz the super shallow depth of field. When I first started out, I was hitting on 5% of my shots. VERY frustrating. Call Dan at Tamarkin and buy a vintage summicron. You will adore it, and you will have more fun. Then go for the fast af lens that costs a million dollars.
  • I don’t really use a camera bag. I typically put my camera in a pouch, and then in my tote, or backpack. I want it quickly accessible.
  • Find a strap that you feel comfortable with
    • I use the “vintage” Leica goodies sling strap
    • My friends like Cooph
    • The Artisan and Artist straps are nice too.
    • I find the peak design straps a bit too clever.
  • I like the look and utility of the leather half cases
  • I use the Arti di Mano from Korea. You can get it in many colors. It protects the camera and makes it look dope
  • Ditch the lens cap, just get a nice filter and use that as a lens cap lol. I haven’t had my lens cap on my cameras since 2016. Never going back.
  • This stuff isn’t meant to sit on shelves. It is meant to be used and capture amazing beautiful things.
  • If you break your camera, Leica will repair it. Go out and break it!
  • If it is on a shelf, you should sell it or give it away. You can always buy it again later.


Matthew Dear. Leica M (Typ 262), Summilux 50mm. 2017.

I am literally the worst person to help select photography software. When I started, I only used google photos. I, of course, backed up all my jpg/raw pairs so I can change that later. I recently migrated over to apple photos and I am very very happy with it. I like that it is local to my devices, and that it doesn’t have to be “cloud based” like many of the alternatives.

  • If you are starting out, just use Apple Photos. Lots of photography people will get on your ass about it, but it is fine and works well.
  • if you use the SD card reader that Apple makes (or any usb-c sd card reader if you have the new iPhone) than you can import the photos to your phone and you don’t need to carry a computer!
  • Lightroom is too hard lol. Don’t listen to folks who say you have to learn it. You don’t. I used google photos for years and it was fine too.
  • There are so many neat photography software options. Play around until you find your jam. Don’t be too worried about what others think. You do you. Most people think we are already crazy for spending so much on cameras. lol
  • If you are a hacker type and you use apple photos, osxphotos is a really cool piece of kit that will help you manage your library.

It’s fun, ain’t it

Jason peeking. Leica M (Typ 262), Noctilux 50mm. 2019.

My favorite thing about carrying a Leica camera is how understated it looks to most people. People will think you are using a vintage camera, and not some 60mp wild beast. Lean into that. Get good shots.

Enjoy it!

Eryan. Leica M Monochrom, Summilux 50mm. 2022.

If you find that you don’t like the Leica (unlikely) sell it and get a different camera. Lots of options and most are way cheaper and just as good!

Some light operatic busking. Leica Q. 2016.