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Using a Leica M in Iraq

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Anyone have any expierence using a Leica M in Iraq? I brought my M4-P with me

but have not used it yet due to the dust storms and I haven't had the time yet.


What precautions did you take to keep the dust out of your Leica M? I might

be able to use it next week.





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- ziplock bags


- Broad art brush (1-2 inches wide) to get the dust off. Wipe the camera down with a

moist cloth every evening.


- UV filter for lens. If you wipe the dust off of the front element it will act like microscopic

sandpaper and scratch it. I never use filters unless I'm in the desert or near ocean spray.


- Try not to switch lenses too often.


- Obviously you should avoid changing film in the driving wind. If you have to, turn your

back to the wind to shield the camera.


- Don't laugh. Get an old leather ever-ready case, but replace the strap. They may look

clumsy, but they offer a lot of protection from dust, moisture and impact.

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I'd keep it under my body armor, and my biggest trouble would be getting myself to stop shaking long enough to get off a frame. Seriously man, I hope the good lord's got your back. BTW are there lab's around there you can get your film developed, or are you going to do it in the hotel sink like they used to years ago before all the press shooters went digital?
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You will have enough hassle just being in Iraq. I have 6 leicas but wouldn't expose them to that environment. My son, in the army, is just beginning his second tour, this one for 15 months. I gave him my Canon A80 for his first trip in January 2005. Take 4 AA batteries - use lithiums and they will last seems like forever. This shot is out the front window of a truck in a huge convoy in a moderate dust storm. I am a Vietnam vet and I will spare your my thoughts on this insanity. Think about how my wife and I are feeling about having a child exposed (again) to this environment.<div>00Lxv6-37594084.jpg.2bcf2ff459fe6ae697204022020d18d4.jpg</div>
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Thanks! I have Ziplocks and will scroung up a brush. I will give it go once the dust subsides a bit. I tend to use a single lens when I shoot so I will stick with the 50 or 90.


I'm shooting only HP5 in the Leica and I brought HC-110 with me. After I get 8 rolls shot I will process them on my FOB (hell, in the 80's I did E6 in the field using a waterbath in a c-rat box with a trash bag!).


I did buy a digital camera just before I deployed (Panasonic Lumix DMC-FX07 with a "Leica" lens) but my main love is B&W film. The Lumix goes in a pouch on my body armor.


Sometimes I wish I had my Hasselblad kit with me but then I slap myself and realize that I made the right decision to leave it home.





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Like shots by the sea, I woudn't use my Leica at all. They aren't made for

dusty environmenmts unless you have a good budget and don't mind

scrapping one every once in a while.


In a country at war, the high shutter sound of the M8 is also not too advisable.

Perhaps an old lens shutter point and shoot camera is best, with your HPS or

Tri-X film. I use a well-used Rollei 35 in dusty or sea air environments and

sqave my more expensive cameras for less extreme enviro conditions.

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"the high shutter sound of the M8 is also not too advisable."


Sorry, but I would think there are many things in any normal urban environment, let alone a country @ war like Iraq, that emit louder & more disturbing noises than an M8. The sand would be my greatest concern, but feli's advice is good.


Good luck, Anthony, in both your work & photography.

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Arthur, it might be the question of priorities. If your camera is more important to you than your photography, then yes, leaving a first-class RF kit (used by PJs in numerous deserts and wars of past) home and going around with a scale-focus fixed gizmo might just make perfect sense.
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Best wishes, Anthony, for some great images with your Leica. You are

fortunate to be able tro photograph other peoples and cultures. My comments

about leaving the M in the suitcase applied only to the very dusty

environment, where maybe a P and S would be more appropriate. I hate to

have to leave the Leica in the suitcase, but there are definitely some

conditions where I cannot afford to scap an expensive camera for a few shots.


The plastic freezer bag is a good idea, as well as the UV filter, but fine sand

will enter as easy as air into the focussing mount (sandpaper result) and other

fine openings in the body. In sub zero weather here in the winter, a plastic

bag ia always used to protect the mechanism from condensation in going

from supremely cold to room temperature conditions, in which the residual

humidity in the otherwise dry winter air inside will quickly deposit water in the

camera. This is easier to control than sand dust, of course.


Asher, your comments are very valid, although those professional PJs did not

have to worry about maintaining for long periods a specific camera, or had the

luxury of several bodies and earned profits to pay for a replacement. We

amateurs have to put bread on the table via other means. It is always a

balancing act, between the love of photography and making images and the

foreseeable risk of damage to the instruments that allow us to continue

making images.

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I took Leica (M3) stuff, but also took some Nikon. With the conditions I chose to use my Nikon FM2 with 24, 50, 105 lenses, as It's much less expensive to repair than Leica! Also in the UK, it takes an age to get it done. The M3 stayed in the camp area for domestic shooting, the Nikon went out on the road.

Just a bit of housekeeping (brush off dust, wipe down etc) every day, and I'm sure the Leica will take it. I just couldn't afford to have it fixed if it did get gritty, or worse.


Good luck anyway, and keep your head down!

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