Another New Leica M9 Wedding Shooter – Roy Strutt

Another Leica M9 Wedding Shooter

By Roy Strutt – Website – www.strutt.org

I am a part time wedding and portrait photographer – My day job is running Symon Dacon (Digital Signage). At the weekends I enjoy weddings as a part time occupation and very much enjoy collecting and using Leica cameras I have a Leica IIIf , a Leica M5 , a Leica Digilux 2 and a Leica M9. I have shot many weddings over the last 5 years using mainly a Canon 5D MKII with a 24 -70 f2.8L , 15mm f2.8 , 35mm f2L and a 135mm f2L.

Last year I took the plunge and invested in a Leica M9 and have experimented with some of the more affordable lenses and for the moment I am very happy with the following:

Zeiss Biogon 25mm f2.8

Summicron 35mm f2  pre asph

Summicron 50mm f2

Voigtlander 75mm f2.5

Elmarit 90mm f2.8  pre asph

I have often followed your articles and reviews for buying choices and these have normally been funded by a reciprocal sale of unwanted equipment. On the occasion of Zoe and Gareth’s wedding I asked a local wedding photographer (Sandra Wignall) if I could be her second photographer and just focus on using Leica. The wedding was in the Essex town of Colchester (40 miles from London) on a typical English autumnal day  but with sunny spells. The wedding was a lighting challenge as I did not want to use flash at all and wanted to rely on natural light and high ISO (similar style to Canon 5D shooting).

The lighting in the church (modern and brand new) was mixed tungsten and sodium with a little natural light – it was very difficult to work with and I also realised that my image count was going to be very different from a Canon wedding and in fact struggled to shoot more than 150 images (versus 750 for a Canon wedding).

For  this wedding I only used the Leica M9 but did a few supporting images for Sandra during a rushed post wedding family session with the Canon 5D. I very much enjoyed walking around with a small bag of lenses and the M9 and was often ignored (which suited me) as the guests concentrated on the Sandra as the main photographer.

Having now completed my two trial runs I would happily do a Leica wedding as the main photographer and have the Digilux 2 in full use alongside the M9. My next Leica wedding was a similar theme but I used the M9 and the Digilux 2 only (I was amazed at some of the images from the Digilux 2).

I only used the Zeiss 25mm and the Voigtlander 75mm for Zoe and Gareth – For Jan and John I used the Summicron 35mm and the Elmarit 90mm on the M9. I used the M9 with  RAW main files and black and white jpeg at generally 800 ISO – I processed using Lightroom 3 and I experimented with the DXO Labs Optics Pro for the RAW to black and white conversion (I use DXO for the Canon shooting) – I am still experimenting with post processing on the M9 and I am always keen to hear new techniques. On reflection I prefer the Leica lenses but the Zeiss 25mm is amazing and a keeper.

Overall it was a steep learning curve using a Leica Rangefinder for a wedding but it had a certain quality and style which I would like to develop for next year’s wedding shoots.

Roy Strutt

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32 Comments

  1. Wow Wow Wow Roy
    Very brave and a great result !

    I enjoyed the full story on the YouTube link you added

    When will the next wedding series be up with the Digilux 2 images ?

  2. Elaine, you should go get one then.

    Paul, why not find one and review on here. It would be a really cool article that you would do wonders with.

    In fact, put a roll of Kodachrome in it but quick.

  3. Otto, nope, I’ve not worked with the D3x so I take back that the D7000 is the finest ever made. Your right. But then again, I’m that guy that told General Custer that “Over that Hill they are friendly Indians.”

    But, if it’s because of Hi ISO then that still would not impress me one bit, as I do not like Digital ISO no matter what camera. It’s a matter of taste I think.

    So, I should stick with what I have put my hands on. I think the IQ of the D7000 is much better then any of the digital’s that I’ve used from the Canon’s first Full Frame digital, the Ds1, to theD700 to D3, the Loaned M9. (Don’t own but made plenty of files from it)

    But I’ll keep my Nikon D40 for it’s unlimited sync speed because I don’t like High digital ISO and like to use light combo’s of ambient and “not so much”

    I still like my film, developed correctly (“Correctly” being the subjective word) in my Darkroom or jobo ATL-2300 custom program to the 1/10th of a second based on my notes from that exposures conditions. I’m still asked by dozens of wedding photographers to develop their film for them. I can’t now but will after I have this damn pump put into me on the 7th and rest for Dec. I’m already expanding the darkroom now as we “speak”. No kidding. Going back to DR color printing and going Allt pretty soon.

    If you’d like here is a 28meg Leaf back file when it was first released about two years ago. I sent it back in a few days. I think this was shot at ISO 50.
    You judge: WARNING: LARGE TIFF: files.me.com/tom.aellis/tgls9n

    Come on’ go get that M < 8 out and shoot. You know you want too!

    Have an awesome holiday this week!!!!
    Big love,
    T

  4. have you worked with the D3X? I’m sure you once you’ve shot with that the D7000 won’t be the finest digital camera made. that’s a crazy statement Tom. no offense at all. i’m jst astounded by it?

  5. Not going there. Anyway to me it’s the DR, it’s knowing DR and EV and frankly post in both darkooms.it’s knowing how to leverage a spect. Highlight into a diffused shodow in pre. I shot with the DL28 the Leaf 28 Meg back, a dynamic range of 13.5 Sent it back after 4 days. 220 back and bab baby. Then again I have my own wet labs so I really take my time which is such a joy I can’t even begin.

    I for one was disappointed in the M9. I spent only 1,199 on the nikon body and find it thus far, the finest digital made. Then again, the yahica t4 is my fav camera so that’s how much I know

  6. tom, now i have to disagree. digital is far superior to film as far as high iso ability. give the D3s a go and see. film is nowhere near it. not even close! and i still shoot medium format film. the look of film is unique and special but as far as resolution, sharpness, high iso ability, digital has it all won. go shoot with a PHASE ONE back and you’ll see…even leaves 4×5 film in the dirt..

  7. What does pee me off a bit is that the iq of the d7000 does kill and destroy the d700 and orig D3.

    The is no “full frame” anymore, just do some fast mast if your working with two different sensors.
    To add on a comment by you…..

    I think all digital above 400 ISO is nasty. Nothing like a 400/800/1600 negative.
    I’m shooting all Koda 64 on christmas eve and day wiry 4 days to get the rolls to dwyanes.

  8. my bad for that misread. no doubt riccis and roy are artists. as someone that shoots with the D3X( and now the M9 ) I’ve just been very impressed with the M9 files. Especially 400 iso and below. in fact i prefer the M9.

    best
    otto

  9. Hi Otto, I agree with that, I have the d700 but I’m talking about the new D7000 and IMO rocks way, way over the M9 if I’m using a few select lenses such as the 85mm 1.4 , the exception being that Noc 0.95. Now, frankly the m6 with ANY leica glass or the zeiss 35/ f/2 beats ’em all.

    But that had nothing to do with my orig post, put an m9 or ANY M into the hands of wedding Photographers such as the great Riccis or Roy here, and they’ll blow away all of us as they are artists.

  10. tom, the D700 comes nowhere near the M9 with regards to IQ. Especially not at low iso’s. Yes higher iso’s its no contest but I’d say below 400 iso the M9 wins by a mile.

  11. I have never fell into the Megapixel hype, and just recently found that my D7000 kinda blows away the M9 in IQ but you put a Leica into a talented wedding photographer like Riccis or Roy here, and man, nothing comes close. Great post

    • Many thanks Tom
      I agree with you re Megapixel hype – In fact both Leica’s used here on the two weddings were for different reasons
      The M9 for the ability to use some fantastic old classical (Leica) lenses and some modern very high quality (Zeiss and Voigtlander) lenses (Both low cost in Leica terms)
      The M9 above 800 ISO starts to struggle (but is helped by noise reduction capabilities when RAW processing) but has wonderful IQ due to the large unstressed sensor and processor

      The Digilux 2 for its amazing Leica zoom lens on what is now a low capability sensor and processor (5 Megapixels and inability to be useful above 400 ISO)

      At the end of the day on both weddings when light dropped too far I did resort to the Canon 5D MkII at a comfortable 1600 ISO and completed the story (not featured here though)

      Kind regards
      Roy

  12. Can someone educate me about the photographic merits of wedding photography? It should be about capturing the moments people will want to remember for the rest of their (married) lives, so they should be very special. I don’t see that here.

    • Hi Michiel
      I agree when you only see 5 images from the 150 which were taken and the 90 images finally selected and used to tell the story of the wedding that day
      The plan was to “Capture the day” but in an informal rather than rigid way
      Many weddings now have that blend of “record the day” and “capture the day” type formula but as I was second photographer I could concentrate on just capturing the day
      Many thanks
      Roy

    • Thanks Elaine
      Its a great way to experiment and get the shots you want rather than have the prime responsibility for the standard “wedding catalogue” !
      Regards
      Roy

    • Adrian
      Have a look at a Digilux 2 (£500 on ebay) or a Lumix LC1 (£300 and very similar)
      Slow and slightly awkward in digital processing but the fantastic Leica lens
      Regards
      Roy

  13. Very nice!!
    Would you mind sharing some Digilux 2 shots also? I jst got one and have totally fallen in love 🙂

    Cheers
    Anders

    • Thanks Anders
      I am writing up my second Leica wedding soon using both M9 and Digilux 2 which should feature some shots you suggest
      Kind regards
      Roy

  14. Nice shots Roy! Especially the persons look very natural. I like the tonal transitions in the BW – how do you “normally” do the BW conversions (without DxO)?

    Best regards,
    Matthias

    • Many thanks Matthias
      I normally use Photoshop CS3 and the Image……Black and White ……step
      I have used Nik Color Efex (on trial) and found it powerful but perhaps too many choices !
      Kind regards
      Roy

    • Many thanks Otto
      I have enjoyed your articles here and they acted as an inspiration for me to contribute !
      Kind regards
      Roy

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