Leica M: The Expanded Guide by David Taylor

Posted on by Mike Evans

Recently I came across a very useful book on the Leica M by David Taylor, a talented British photographer based in the North East. Generally I avoid third-party "how-to-use" guides because they are often aimed at beginners and tend to be little more than a rehash of the owners' manual.

David Taylor's new (June 2014) treatise on the M is different. While it is undoubtedly suitable for beginners, particularly newcomers to rangefinder cameras, the guide has a great deal to offer the experienced Leica user. David recognises that the M is a specialised camera and most buyers will have extensive photographic experience.

The book is attractively paid out and is well illustrated with working examples of the M's capabilities. It is also well written. Unlike many guides, it is actually a good read.

David includes extensive reference material that any M user, experienced or not, will find useful. The table of characteristics and specifications of all current Leica lenses is one such example, with all the important information laid out in a concise and clear table.

It is useful to have even the most basic of information, such as the weight of a lens, the angle of view or even the filter size clearly laid out for reference. A similar table is provided for Voigtländer and Zeiss optics. In another section you will find a clear table of hyperfocal distances.

Together with explanations of optical properties such as flare, vignetting and chromatic aberration, the guide provides an invaluable overview for any Leica M user. And as someone who seldom uses flash I found the section on flash photography and the accompanying tables potentially very handy.

The chapter on Lightroom is a welcome addition, particularly now that Apple's Aperture has bitten the dust. All the basics are there and the book enables you to be up and running with Lightroom in a short time.

Most of this information is available elsewhere but there is no discounting the convenience of  having everything, especially the excellent glossary of terms, available in one handy reference book. I can thoroughly recommend David Taylor's book on the M. He has previously published a similar guide to the M9 and, while I have not been able to review it, I am sure it will be of great interest to owners of the older camera.

I bought the Kindle version of the M guide for £9.97 but the paperback book is also available for £10.49. The M9 guide costs £10.29 in the Kindle store or £14.99 in paperback. I would strongly recommend the electronic version because it provides a handy reference tool that you can have with you at all times.

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