Once, while striding purposefully to see a brand new animal at the zoo, I slipped on a frozen puddle and shattered the LCD screen of my DSLR. I could no longer review the pictures I’d taken or fiddle about with menus, but it was otherwise a perfectly functional camera. If anything, it was made somehow purer by the accident.
For around £5,000 you can have a Leica camera that achieves much the same effect. The weighty Leica M-D has been stripped of an LCD screen, along with every other frivolous modern convenience, such as autofocus and video recording. Instead it’s a purely functional camera that’s evocative of a romantic age of film shooting. The split-image rangefinder has you manually aligning your subject by sight alone to bring it into focus, while the extent of your control over the shot has been boiled down to the very essence of photography – ISO, shutter speed and aperture – all of them selected with chunky manual dials.
Similar to the Leica’s recent monochome-only model (though that black and white sensor did bring some unique advantages) the self-limiting Leica M-D is an incredibly well made novelty for the quirky (and moneyed) enthusiast.
For the rest of us? Professionals can’t do without the standard features the M-D is missing, while those wanting to revisit the purist thrill of not knowing what you’ve shot until later on can find their way to the nearest patch of ice and fall on their arse.