Glodok over the years with Leica

I live in Jakarta, Indonesia, since I was born. However, I have only been to the Glodok area when I was in junior high school. I still remember accompanying my friend and his dad to buy a Sega Dreamcast. Glodok is the center of electronics stores in Jakarta, where you can find cheap to decently priced items, and bargaining is common. Back then, Glodok was a very crowded market, with merchants flooding the main road and selling cheap electronics, such as radios and VCD players, as well as bootleg VCDs (since DVDs were still expensive at the time).

Leica Q, 2023
Leica Q, 2023

During college, while attending a Fine Art College, we had a class where we had to go to different places to draw landscapes. Glodok area also has many colonial museums that are famous in Jakarta, so we often took our bikes to Museum Fatahillah. I usually brought my Nikon F50 (which I borrowed from my Dad) and took photos while drawing.

Leica M240 + Color Skopar 35mm F2.5, 2022

It wasn’t until after I graduated that I became more focused on my photography and started learning about street photography. Nowadays, Glodok is not as crowded as it used to be in high school. Illegal merchants have been forbidden, and there are more buildings and malls in the area. However, I discovered that the back of the main road offers many interesting subjects for street photography. There is a small Chinatown called Petak Enam/Petak Sembilan with its own traditional market and residential areas. It’s a small area with tight alleyways, but it’s crowded with merchants selling vegetables and Chinese festival ornaments.

I always try to go there whenever I have time, sometimes alone and often with my friends. The people there are mostly familiar with photographers wandering around, as this area has become a tourist attraction, showcasing a Chinatown in Jakarta.

My passion for street photography has grown over the years, and I realized that I’ve been pursuing this type of photography for over a decade since I got my first camera, which I bought with my own money, the original Fujifilm X100.

Leica M240 + 7Artisans 50mm F1.1 M-Mount, 2022
Leitz Minolta CL + 7artisans 35mm F2 M-Mount + Fomapan 400, 2022

Like any other street photographer, I have, at some point in my life, been drawn to Leica cameras. Using the X100 made me curious about experiencing a true rangefinder, and while the Leica M wasn’t my first rangefinder (I had the Canon P, Yashica Electro, and Voigtlander Bessa R film cameras), it was my first and probably “the last” (although I hope to have another M in the future) digital true rangefinder.

I bought my M240 back in 2018, coupled with the Color Skopar 35mm F2.5 and the 7artisans 50mm F1.1. It was a very good experience, and I felt much more appreciation for all my photos compared to those taken with any other digital camera. However, later on, I had to sell it, as I felt that using this camera without Leica lenses was not the true experience. As I didn’t have the budget to afford Leica lenses, I got the first Q (Titanium version) as a replacement. It’s true, I fell in love with the image quality rendered by the Summilux 28mm F1.7 ASPH lens.

Leica CL + Summicron-T 23mm F2, 2022

I took my M240 to Glodok and got many photos that I still consider some of my best. However, with the Q, I was able to capture more photos using autofocus or zone focus. Then, I felt that the Q was a bit too wide, and I also had the GRIII back then, so I felt I already had enough with the GRIII if I wanted a 28mm focal length. Consequently, I sold my Q and got the Leica CL with the Summicron-T 23mm F2 lens. Yes, it’s an APS-C camera, but I really don’t care about the sensor sizes in cameras. 

Leica CL + Summicron-T 23mm F2, 2022

The Leica CL was really compact, and I had my ‘Leica experience’ moment. However, the shutter was really loud and the Summicron-T was slower compared to my GRIII AF. It couldn’t even close focus like any modern autofocus lenses. So, after a few trips and exploration, I sold the CL (back then, it had just been announced as discontinued by Leica, and I was afraid the used price of the camera would drop). I then got a very cheap Leica Q in mint condition. The price was cheaper than the CL + Summicron 23mm that I had sold.

Leica CL + Summicron-T 23mm F2, 2022

My love for the Q came back again. I still have the Q now, and I have a Fujifilm X-T5 as another body for more hybrid situations like videos. I took two trips to Glodok this year with the Q. The first one was in January, during Chinese New Year. Unfortunately, there were no events during the day as Chinese people spend their time with their families, so many merchants were closed. Nonetheless, I still managed to take many photos that reflected the Chinese New Year.

Leica Q, 2023

The second time was in June. There was nothing particular, just business as usual. But I felt satisfied because I fell in love again with my Q, and I have no plans to upgrade it to the Q2 or even Q3.

Leica CL + Summicron-T 23mm F2, 2022

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