Learning to Autofocus with a Rangefinder

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

For ages the holy grail of street cameras has been a Leica with a 50mm lens. It’s great not only because the picture quality is stunning but because Leicas are small, quiet and have fully manual controls.

Leica nerds brag about subconsciously learning to feel how to take shots with their cameras without thinking, but I never believed them. After years of thinking Leicas were just expensive toys I bought one three weeks ago and started shooting with it for most of the day, every day.

After editing photos of the market near my hotel earlier I thought it was such a beautiful place that I should go back and walk it again. The whole walk my hands were moving the manual focus on the camera and I thought it was just idle fidgeting.

But when I started to shoot I realized the camera was already very close to the right focus every time I raised the camera to my eye. This is the kind of insane story not many people will believe, and I wouldn’t have believed myself a few weeks ago, but my hands actually are learning how to get the camera ready without any conscious thinking.

I walked down the street, saw this lady cooking and decided to take this picture. The camera was already in focus when it came up to my eye and I just clicked the shutter. I’m not sure cameras will ever be the same to me.