Mar 092012
 

Goodbye DSLR’s, traveling light with the Leica M9, Panasonic G3 and Olympus E-P3

by Neil Buchan-Grant – Visit his site HERE

Last year I was commissioned to shoot a travel guide covering the island of Sicily. I had, only the previous year, sold all of my heavy DSLR equipment. Although it weighed a ton, that equipment included AF lenses which covered a wide range of focal lengths from 16mm to 560mm. My M9 kit spanned from only 28mm to 75mm.

Having done a few of these travel commissions before, I knew that the extra range would be greatly missed. So to produce the bulk of the photos, I used an Olympus EP3 and a Panasonic G3 which I used with not only the Leica lenses, but also Olympus mft lenses ranging from 12mm to 600mm. The M9 handled most of the travel portraits, each shot with the 50mm Summilux ASPH lens.

Before, when I used the Canon equipment, my travel work was mostly concerned with the places, the landscapes and the light. Now with the M9/50 lux combination in particular, I feel that portraits of the people I meet in a country will become the heart of any future commissions. I know of course there are fast primes available in other systems and I’ve used most of the Canon ones, but none have offered me the opportunity to record people in such a visually beautiful way as the Leica equipment has. So its safe to say that using this equipment has changed the way I take photographs.

I traded a big heavy rucksack for a small shoulder bag and a belt pack. These are some of the pictures, I came back with.

 

  140 Responses to “Goodbye DSLR’s! Traveling light with the Leica M9, Panasonic G3 and Olympus E-P3 by Neil Buchan-Grant”

  1. Great intimate images. I went to Sicily as a student many years ago, and after seeing these images it just makes want to go back. Great work and very successful as a travel guide I’d say!

  2. Wonderful stuff! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Great work – I am taking the E-P3 along with some film cameras to Italy next year…I have no doubt it will more than fill the bill when the other gear can’t come out of the bag.

  4. How can he travel light with three cameras?

  5. I understand your concern about the bulky DSLR but now you need three cameras!
    In two weeks I am travelling to Sicily and I thought to carry just an M8 with a couple of small lenses. I would do without a tele, but the M8 is too noisy to shoot by night, so I’m afraid I will have to carry my old 5D with the 24-70mm. I am not sure if this is the wisest decision, but the complete 5D gear kills me.

    • Hi Luisa
      I’m envious of your impending trip! For the guide I liked to have wide and longer shots covered with the MFT gear and the mid-range with the Leica. I don’t like to have to change lenses if at all possible so extra bodies help get the shots as they come up. It can be fairly frantic when you have so many places to cover. I’d sell your 5D and get an NEX-5n or an OMD if I were you, much less weight:)
      Have a great trip!

      • Hi Neil, thanks for your advice.
        I’m thrilled with the M8 and a Leica 24mm, but I have to explore other possibilities for a medium tele lighter than the 24-70mm and 5D which are too heavy. Problem is that I mistrust small sensors.

        • The NEX-5N he mentions has a APS-C sensor… which would only be called “small” if you consider anything less than full frame small.

        • I luisa
          8 of the above pics were shot on micro four thirds gear which has a sensor a little smaller than the NEX. I’m selling my 5n as the difference with m43 is negligible and the new fast mft lenses are brilliant!

        • one more thing luisa you should shift your mistrust of small sensors to zoom lenses, very few can come even close to a Leica prime

          • Yes Neil, I totally agree with you regarding the prime lenses.
            Since I bought the M8 I got so used to my 24mm Elmarit that now I can’t shoot with a zoom!

            As for other small cameras, I have explored the Ricoh GXR Mount A12 but right now with my travel to Italy I can’t afford to spend even a dollar in another camera, so I will have to wait. But I am almost decided to sell my old 5D gear.

    • The NEX-7 has beautiful low light capabilities and is an APS-C sensor. I was also surprised at the size, super compact. I’m thinking there perfect travel kit now is a M9 and a Sony NEX-7 (for night and automatic shooting situations).

    • really nice work on your website luisa, it has a great style!

  6. I’m right there with losing all the heavy equipment. I traded up my Canon gear for Olympus and aside from just a couple of things, I have yet to miss it. (and I loved my Canon gear)

  7. The US Navy brought me Sicily often. These images definitely bring back some of those memories. My favorite location there is Taromina!

  8. Great shots! Especially the one with the dog.

    I wonder how light your gear actually were. Three cameras sounds like a lot to me, and the M9 is not exactly light either.

    • Hi Iau
      The gear was pretty light compared to SLR’s the MFT stuff is very light and I would generally carry one in hand, one on shoulder and one in bag.
      Here’s another dog pic which didn’t make the edit:
      http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7036/6821226744_60c66cc334_b.jpg

      • I really love this one!

        • Thanks! I like dog pics:-.)

          When I travel myself I use a D7000 and a few primes most of the time. I never use the larger and heavy 2.8-zooms. On my last travel I also brought the X100 as a second camera. Most of my pics were architecture and landscape/sceneries.

          Since then I’ve bought a GX1 so not sure which one comes next, but I’m bringing the D7000 for sure:-.).

          • Just to correct myself. I do actually bring a heavy 2.8-telezoom on some travels, when I know there will be lots of wildlife opportunities. Yellowstone is my favorite in that regard.

      • Love this, it gives a feel of quiet, rest and space. Context is such a great writer.

  9. A lot of beautiful shots! Although for my taste, a lot of the portraits of men look oversharpened, or as if you cranked up the Nik Color Efex “Tonal Contrast” filter way too much.

    Love the beach shot and the kids on the stairs!

    • Or a bleach by-pass filter was over used…. That’s my guess…Looks over “baked”

    • hi
      they’ve all had a bit of bleach bypass (what a knowledgable crowd:)
      but in most cases that has been pulled back to about 10% of the default settings, and saturation restored to almost normal levels

      • that’s nik colour fx bleach bypass not Lightroom btw

        • What’s Bleach bypass?

          • It was originally a way of treating film (first generally used in processing movie film, but later used for stills) similar to processing slide film in C-41 colour-negative chemicals: it missed out one step of the chemical process (rather like missing the ‘fixing’ process when developing black-and-white film) leaving a mixture of silver as well as dye in the finished film.

            ( See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleach_bypass )

            The result is less solid colour, a more ‘washed out’ look, but still with fine detail from the silver image. (Kodachrome slide film was really black-and-white film, but with its various b&w layers successively bleached away and replaced by dyes ..see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K-14_process )

            The ‘bleach bypass’ effect (strong detail, washed-out colours) can be simulated in software (with digital images) using ‘Lightroom’ or ‘Nik’ programs or Apple’s ‘Aperture’, etcetera.

        • I like bleach by pass so it looks great to me.

  10. Quiero decir ! fotos tan increíbles !!! Gracias por compartir

  11. Just because you can shoot wide doesn’t me you have to for each shot. For the assignment you described, wouldn’t it be better to show a hint of the background and the environment?

    Way too much PP…

    • you mean the aperture thingy moves round and makes a smaller hole?

      The wide open look of Leica lenses is what I prefer to shoot, I like the way it looks, these are my favourites. The vast bulk of the job was shot on MFT gear with a 12mm lens where most of the scenes were in focus, but as those pictures are of less interest to me visually, I have chosen to show my favourites.

      I can understand someone thinking they’re ‘samey’ when presented as a group like this. I also understand why for some the PP will not be to their taste, these things are very subjective, this is how I like to present these pictures. I’ve compared the before and after and I’m happy that the after has more impact, more drama and more connection for me and it feels more like the scene I remember.

      • Hi Neil,

        Thanks for sharing these pictures. Very nice shots.

        You mentioned these pictures were from your commissioned trip for a tour guide. I was wandering when people looked at those pictures in the tour guide with blurry background or different colors other than natural look will be interested to visit these places?

        If they do, they might throw the tour guide into the trash cane and take some pictures from their P&S cameras.

  12. nice article and images.

    i have to ask though, what is the point of the m9? i dont see how having a rangefinder benefits you at all in this case when you have 2 reliable m4/3 bodies to shoot with. the only thing i see it did was make your wallet $6000 lighter.

    • “..i dont see how having a rangefinder benefits you at all in this case..”

      I don’t think the advantage was that it was a rangefinder, but that it’s a “full-frame” camera which takes a small, fairly light, wide aperture 50mm lens, which can blur away portrait backgrounds.

      The micro-four-thirds cameras, with “quarter-frame” sensors, would use a lens of half that focal length (i.e; 25mm) to give a similar view, but a ‘shorter’ lens, such as a 25mm, gives far greater depth of field for the same aperture as a 50mm lens.

      So it isn’t quite so easy to isolate someone, or something, from its background with an m4/3 camera – even with a wide aperture lens – as it is when using a “full-frame” camera.

      • point taken. considering it’s commissioned work i see no problem in spending the money on it now that i think about it i just thought it may be more cost effective to buy a 25 0.95 for the e-p3.

        • The Cosina/Voigtländer 25 0.95 is a great lens for the money (though rather soft wide open at closest focusing distance) but it’s the equivalent of a 50mm f1.8 on a full-frame sensor (NOT a 50mm f0.95!) so – though very good value – it still doesn’t give the look of a Leica 50mm 1.4 wide open, unfortunately.

          • you’re spot on there too David, I’ve wasted a few quid on CV lenses only to be let down with the wide open performance. what’s the point of a fast lens if it’s soft wide open? I’m spoiled by the Leica lenses now and everything else has to match that standard:)

      • David makes a great point:

        “So it isn’t quite so easy to isolate someone, or something, from its background with an m4/3 camera – even with a wide aperture lens – as it is when using a “full-frame” camera.”

        This is exactly why the film vs. digital debate can be moot when comparing the smallish FF 35MM sensor to 645, 6×6, or 6×7 mf camera…you can mess with pixels or lines per mm in film, but the larger the area the lens can project on, the more your subject can stay sharp and then pop it off the back ground.

        That is why Douglass Kirkland did some 8×10 portraits on the set of “Australia” I believe, and lamented you just couldn’t duplicate the look with smaller 4×5 and MF sizes – light’s optical physics cannot be changed.

        But on the other hand, extremely thin DOF, exaggerated leading lines, and the good old “hair light” are fast becoming the sugared cliche of the times…at least to me.

        PS – I loved what he caught in these images, personally i would love to see sooc images because my view is that the soul of these images are lost due to the post – sorry – you talents as a photographer, to me, far out weigh what ever the heck you are doing in Frightroom…:)

    • Or…maybe he really likes shooting with the rangefinder? not sure what the micro 4/3 bring here other than size. I tend to pick one camera and stick with that.

    • Hi Steven
      David is quite correct, I now have the 25mm Leica/Panasonic Summilux (50mm fov) for the m43 gear and as nice as it is, it cannot produce files with this quality of bokeh. Right now, for me, the M9 serves several purposes, great portraits, classy interiors, detailed land/city scapes, street photography. But for wider than 28mm and for longer than 50mm I use the other kit.

  13. Thanks for the story. Very nice and refreshing images.

  14. I quite agree with all the comments loving the content and subjects of your images and I quite agree with those noting a tendency of some to look over processed. It might be from the downsampling to reach posting size for your jpegs, but for whatever reason the wonderfulness of your subjects and your equipment was being lost for me in some of these images.

    I definitely wouldn’t mind going to the lovely place and scenes you’ve shared, but first my bucket list demands visits to england and ireland and scotland. :-)
    RW

  15. great pics but too much sharpening applied for my taste… but everything’s in the eye of the beholder.
    rather than close-up-face-portraits would like to see more ‘life’ pictures if you have any to share with us :) (never been to sicily)

  16. why bother with 3 cameras ?,when it only takes 1 good one in this case the m-9 to get all the shots you got ! I also think you used way to much PP , taking away from the pictures natural look & feel !

    • Hi Boris, as I explained above, I submitted over 1200 images to the publisher and less than 100 of those were shot on the M9, its a great camera but it just can’t cover the range required for a commercial travel shoot like the one I was asked to do. I’ve seen some wonderful travelogues and assignments etc where only and M9 or rangefinder was used but for this kind of job where there are several hundred ‘must shoot’ items on the list, one needs the range that other equipment affords.

  17. Great story!
    I, as well switched to Leica m8 and m9 few years back for travel.
    See my books here:
    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/259667
    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1719156
    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/341321

    Both were done with couple of digital m Leicas and 3-5 lenses… Can not beat this combo!

    On my last trip to India, I had to leave Leicas at home since I was going there primarily for shooting documentary work on video and I needed my 5D MKII. My second body was 1Ds MKIII and regular line up of Canon high speed primes and zooms. Man! Did I regret not taking Leicas for stills…
    I will never go on the trip with out them…
    But, here is the book from India anyhow:

    http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1856694

    Cheers!

    Steven

    • Nice work Steven!

      The M9 (or FF digital rangefinder anyway) is a longer, slow burn type of thing and something I enjoy using greatly. I would like to spend a year or two using the 35mm lux as much as I have the 50.

    • Wow. I’ve just bought your “7 Days in Panama”, Steven.

      What great pictures, great layout, what an eye! What an inspiration! Great colours!

      So gorgeous it makes me sob!

      ..Oh and Neil: thanks for these beautiful pictures here..!

  18. I’ve never before made a negative comment when someone has taken the trouble to show us his pictures, but I think this is a case of wonderful images spoiled by oddly muted colors and strange purple skin tones, particularly on the older man with the straw hat, and the tattooed guy.

    Forgive me, Neil, but I think they would be better as they came out of the cameras.

    As for “oversharpening,” I don’t think you can make that kind of judgement from a 600×900 web image.

    • Yes, I agree to some extent, but if you look beyond the technical details then these images are very good or you could without hesitation say great (at least most of them).

    • Of course you can see oversharpening on a 600×900 web image. Maybe your screen isn’t good enough to see it.

    • Hi Paris, no forgiveness required, you are entitled to your opinion and I’m ok with that. I know that there is no argument in my mind if I look at the original file and my end file, which is better to me, for these shots I was looking for a clear style of presentation which reflected the feel of the place and I’m happy with the result as is the publisher.

      • People seem to be confusing “criticism” with “finding fault.” That wasn’t my intent.

        I looked at the before and after images, and even for a crabby old man like me, all of the landscape images are much better “after” than “before.” Still not sure about the portraits, but maybe I’m stuck in “National Geographic” color mode. Of course, your decisions are yours to make.

        I have relatives in Sicily, and was there five years ago. Your images do convey the sun-blasted, hot, dusty, faded feeling that I remember. (And, no, that doesn’t mean I’m finding fault with Sicily, either.) :-)

  19. Nice images btw..

    I agree with some of the comments above. Its looks like too much of Nik filters and PS action on the portraits. Also I dont think you really needed all the three cameras for these images. I know steve loves Leica and so does everyone who comes to this website, but come on!

    A nikon DX kit with one zoom and prime or a NEX or micro 4/3rd would have worked out just the same.

    cheers!

  20. Incredible portraits!

  21. Love the shots. Don’t mind the PP. LOVE the one photo of the fisherman with the knife. Its arresting!!!!

  22. Hi Neil

    I really like your photos. They are all good. You are a skilled photographer.

    Disregard what all the other douche bags are saying about DSLRs, heavy Post Processing etc.

    Your pictures are great.

    It’s a shame that you take the time to present some nice pictures for the benefit of everyone and you are rewarded with critisism.

    Such is life in these days. Everyone is nasty.

    If these nay-sayers posted their pictures, they would probably look like ShIt anyway, and they’d get a taste of their own medicine.

  23. Thanks for the pictures. I have a question: Do you think the average person should go ahead and buy one of the cameras that automatically focuses on the eye? The G3 allows you to pick and point, for example, but the EP3 automatically tries to focus directly on the eyes.

    Do you think this is a useful feature for someone who doesn’t have the “feel” to do good manual focus?

  24. For god sake you’ve got an M9. Of course you could say goodbye to the DSLR gear. Indeed very beautiful pics though.

    • I didn’t coin the title:) but that’s essentially what happened and if I could do without the extra special bokeh for portraits, I could easily do future assignments on m43 gear and still get pretty good portraits:)

      Thanks for the comments:)

  25. Neil,

    Is it too much to ask you to break down which images were taken by which camera?

    • not at all Darren,
      1. EP3 75mm summicron ASPH APO
      2. G3 ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ” ”
      3,4,5. M9 50 lux
      6. G3 75mm cron
      7. M9 28mm 2.8 ASPH
      8. EP3 75mm cron
      9. EP3 50mm Summilux
      10. M9 50mm lux (AT F8) :)
      11.G3, Olympus 45mm .18
      12. G3, Olympus 45mm 1.8
      13. M9 50mm lux
      14. G3 50mm lux
      15,16,17 and 18, M9 50mm lux

  26. Fantastic shots. I really appreciate your comment “I know that there is no argument in my mind if I look at the original file and my end file, which is better to me” and that is all that really matters.

  27. So much negativity. I could be wrong but most people posting are probably not working photographers. Since this was an assignment why not take the tools you feel you’ll need? If you look at some of the gear that working photographers pack around taking these 3 small cameras is indeed packing light. Also, as a working photographer, you need to have backups in case something breaks. Broken camera=no shots=no money=sad panda.
    I’m not a working photographer but some people need to think outside the advanced tourist box.
    Great images from a great spot.

    • cheers manson
      the backup is certainly one aspect as is the ability to shoot things quickly without having to Phaff around with lenses
      thanks for the comments

    • I tend to have just one camera when out on a trip, it’s enough. Only time I took more than one was the last time I went abroad as I wanted to shoot with all three. But I’m not a working photographer, just a tourist – so I suppose a pro needs a back up body.

      • As a tourist I only ever travel with one camera as well, the X100. Love it. The only time I’ve taken 2 cameras is if I want one digital and one film. But as a tourist I have different needs than someone shooting for a living.

  28. Amazed at many of the comments here- can’t recall seeing this level of negativity and second-guessing before. At least Picasso didn’t live long enough to get postings that he was using too wide or too stiff a brush, his pigments were grainy, etc :). Neil gave his point of view on equipment and techniques- they are his art.

    • cheers, but I wouldn’t worry about it:) although I disagree with the nagative points made in this instance, they are entitled to make them. On most forums it seems that negativity tends to attract a pack mentality, does it not?:)

  29. Wow! Grrreat photos, my favorites are Kids in the stair, fish monger and the dog! The bokeh in the kids photo is AMAZING! Damn i wish i could afford leica camera and leica lenses!

  30. These are beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I love the diversity of gear you have used as well.

  31. I like them all a whole lot. Since, most photography is art, and you’re not a beginner like me, how can anyone else say your images should be made this way or that way. They should be the way they are here, the way you, the artist like them.
    When I post, I need the C &C, but I think it’s not appropriate here, when not asked for.
    Best,

    Jeffrey

  32. Just lovely! Very Leica-ish portrait shots, a little sur-real maybe, but masterly!

  33. Wow…
    that is ..

    makes me really wish to travel …
    Sicily looks so wonderful

    great vision !

  34. outstanding picture quality, very emotional pictures
    thanks a lot for sharing

    Matthias

  35. You guys will never believe this
    When traveling
    If
    1. want everything in focus (background foreground)
    2. wide to much reach
    3. dont want speed
    4. publishing only on web or max 11×14

    Canon SX10 28-560 IS
    http://www.dpreview.com/products/canon/compacts/canon_sx10is

  36. Neil, great to see your images, which are fantastic, and hear your words, which I concur with. While I am typically dedicated completely to the M series, I am enjoying another compact, the NEX7, with LEica glass, using this combo to shoot my travels through Argentina. Your images show that the gear is secondary, and in fact, a smaller set up can inspire and promote a sense of creativity and comfort in your subjects. Fantastic work!!!

    • cheers Ashwin, yes, I spent some time in NYC recently and the 35 lux was virtually bolted onto my NEX5, what a great combo to use:) fits in the pocket, shoots in almost ‘any’ light and the quality is superb. I’m hoping my 35 will find a new home on the OMD soon:)
      cheers!

  37. Why all people ask about beinging more than 1 camera???
    He explained in the beginning that he brought the m4/3 for longer tele and the Leica for shallow DOF shooting. Sounds like good arguments to me.
    I agree though-that the post processing (muted color and sharpening) is a little overdone for my taste, otherways I really like the images.

    • Good arguments indeed, but I asked because the point for not bringing a DSLR was weight and the M9 is not exactly light itself. Personally I would never suggest that one DSLR/mirrorless, with the appropriate lenses, would be sufficent because I know that one often like to use certain gear for different kind of photography. That is also an explanation for bringing both the E-P3 and G3. Like shooting with both, but then weight is less important.

      I read these articles because I like hearing about what others do. I like reading about other people’s preferences and why they use certain gear. And their experience with it. Most photography sites nowadays are very gear oriented. Nothing wrong with that. But it’s nice when it’s articles like this one, with lots of images!

  38. Nice shots man!

  39. Neil,

    thank you for sharing these images with us, great work – but you do not need us to tell you that!
    i grew up in italy (northern part of the country, far from sicily), but i think you really ‘captured’ the soul of the land and its people.

    i do not ‘get’ these forums at times; although obviously everyone is entitled to their opinion (de gustibus non est disputandum, like they used to say), this does not entitle any ignorant person with a computer to assume they are ‘experts’ and go critique other people’s work like some do.
    such individuals should perhaps show how good THEY are, before they go and criticize one’s choice of tools and finishing touches.
    as long as the author and the client are happy, who cares??

    it seems that many people still do not understand that what really matters at the end is what we photograph, not what we photograph WITH!

    i have used the olympus M 4/3 in conjunction with the Leica too, and – as you prove here – it is really hard to tell which image is taken with what (pixel peepers will now have a heart attack!); i even took excellent shots with the even smaller sensor (blasphemy!!!) of the nikon v1.

    it all comes down to personal preference and what we think is the best tool for the job at hand.

  40. Hi Neil, sweet stuff. A very impressive collection and I think your interpretation of the subjects and the look you created is spot on. I have never been to Scicily but somehow your shots capture how it would ‘feel’ to me, a little bit harsh, hot and bright and so on.

    Look forward to seeing more of your small cam adventures, this post has whetted the appetite…

    Cheers, and thanks for sharing,

    Colin

  41. Very nice work.

    I love your PP. No doubt it contributes significantly to the depth, dramatic impact and feeling your images convey.

    Best,

    Bill

  42. Hi Neil, thanks for sharing your images, thoughts and ideas. Great article.

  43. interesting and beautiful set. Only thing is that I do find the use of the bleach bypass effect (and yes I use it it too and shoot mostly with the M9 an 50m lux) to be a bit to strong in some of the shots especially where it effects the bokeh of the out of focus background thus making it seem a little harsh thus losing some of the separation effect. Just a thought

    • Hi David
      I appreciate the comments, I have printed most of these out at about A3+ size recently and I think the harshness which may be evident hear is down to the picture crunching going on. The certainly don’t look harsh in print form. Even although those who think the PP is ‘not to their taste’ :) I’m starting to think about doing a webpage showing the before and after of each one of them. I doubt anyone would prefer the before’s:)

      • that should have been:

        “Even although those who think the PP is ‘not to their taste’ are in the minority here, I’m starting to think about doing a webpage showing the before and after of each one of them. I doubt anyone would prefer the before’s:)”

  44. Geart pict!!
    I have nex 7, but still not thrilled about Sony’s lens line up. I found myself using old zeiss RF lens on my nex7.
    Would you add Leica m9 to nex 7? Or just add adaptor to nex 7?
    MFT, has great lens line up, but I am sure about the bodies…… Any suggestion on that?

    I am long time canon user, I have full set of gear including several L lens, 7d, 5d bodies…… Now they all at gathering dust. I guess I am emotional attached to them, but I can see myself carry them around :(

    Thanks.

    Jack

    • Hi Jack
      I had the NEX5 and 5n too for a while (I still have the 5n but I’m flogging it on ebay!) I think with the new OMD, they have a body which can rival the Sony’s in many ways for the vast majority of users. I think the difference between the mft sensor format and the APS format is negligible, in terms of getting a limited depth of field etc. (see my test comparing MFT/APS/FF from a few weeks ago http://forums.dpreview.com/forums/read.asp?forum=1041&message=40746736

      So when you add that in with the great lenses available, MFT is the way to go for me! But the difference between the equivalent 50mm 1.4 for the MFT format and a 50mm 1.4 on an M9 is still too large for me to consider abandoning the M9. Its uses are becoming marginalised with every new release of camera and lens from Japan. But there is something special about images from the M system which no one has yet been able to match!

      • Thank you for your reply!
        Your link is very educational…….
        I do see the differences between Leica and others…….
        Also thinking about MFT. CV makes super fast MFT lens too, have you tried it?
        I always wanted a Leica, but I have problem spending 7k on a digital camera…… But your link got me thinking again.

  45. Beautiful photos!!! Well done!

  46. How did you have mft lenses ranging from 12mm to 600mm? Either you’re quoting actual focal length, wherein I’d like to know where you got a 600mm mft lens, or you’re quoting effective focal length, and I’d like to see that 6mm lens you have. Also, that half of these shots are Leica M9, and the other half are Pana G3 tells me your opinion of the Olympus E-P3 loud and clear ;) I think it’s a dog too; Olympus should be flogged for repackaging the original mft sensor in a 2011 camera.

    • Hi Agjios
      yes that should have been 12mm to 300mm in MFT terms (24-600 in 35mm terms)
      I only had one battery for the EP3 and 2 for the G3 so inevitably it got more action, but I prefer the files from the EP3 even though its a smaller sensor and the camera was more useful in low light with the IBIS and better EVF than the G3 in my opnion
      And before you start, I couldn’t really care how strongly you disagree with me, I’m just putting that out so everyone else knows what I think about your comments
      have a nice day

  47. If anyone is interested, you can see the comparisons between before and after processing here:

    http://gallery.me.com/neilbuchangrant#100685

    Processing is something that can be tailored towards ones own preferences or those of the client but there is rarely one right way to do it, each one is an interpretation chosen to reflect someone’s taste or fit the purpose it will be used for. I’m happy with the way these worked out

    • Bravo !!!

      Thank you for these beautiful images and your generosity in sharing with us the “before and after” post processing treatment. It is wonderful to see the artist’s vision and interpretation – something one nowadays seldom sees this. I think the PP is absolutely fantastic and makes the images even more evocative.The treatment works, and that’s what counts.

      I have recently purchased the “Magnum Contact Sheets” publication and it is an absolute delight to see the work process and vision of these masters – something that the digital medium seldom seems to afford us nowadays for whatever reasons.

      So many forget that a digital raw file (or JPEG, for that matter) is merely a basic “negative” to be interpreted as one personally “sees” best and not as the camera spews it out. I think that “out of camera” images are basically there to continue the interpretation process of an image. It is what defines the style and the emotions of the photographer. And your work, Neil, has certainly engaged my emotions.

      One has to be cautious when “everyone” praises one’s work :)

      Question: Would you ditch the other two cams if you had two (or three) M9 bodies… and lenses ranging from 18 to 90mm for your travel work ?

      Regards
      Jorge

      • Hi Jorge,

        I had, I’m afraid, never seen your work until I clicked on your link here. I know I shouldn’t, but I tend to measure the validity of someones thoughts and opinions by the quality of their work. So in your case, I am really stoked, as they say across the pond, to read your comments.

        Your work is quite exquisite and extremely creative! What I do is relatively simple compared to the work you produce!

        As to your question, that’s a good one! I have enjoyed pondering on the idea of having ’3 M9′s’!! not likely though:) I have a 75mm for my M9 but when used on the M9 for distant subjects, I find its accuracy is not brilliant, so it gets used on MFT or NEX bodies mostly:) I think I would find all that phaffing around with extra viewfinders on the M9 (with the ultra wides), to be ‘bothersome’ (c. a pain in the arse:). Where the M9 really excels for me is the 35-50mm area, I love using it for these lengths. But I would prefer to use other systems for longer and shorter focal lengths. I have to say for the 90mm area, the new Olympus 45mm f1.8 is almost as good as the Canon 85mm 1.2 and is certainly more fun to use:)

        Thanks again for your very kind comments, if you’re ever in London, give me a shout and I’ll buy you a drink!

        • Hey Neil

          I, too, am stoked ( you’ve been to CT :) ) by your kindness. I may just take you up on that drink… have a possible performance workshop in London coming mid-June. Would be great to exchange thoughts on portraiture – something that has rekindled my photography interests recently (perpetual case of re-learning this difficult but all consuming craft). Likewise, “mi casa su casa”, if you ever in Cape Town or Barcelona. Will drop you a line.

          PS yes, 3 M9′s :) real bad habits that these Leicas are – trouble and strife would slaughter me. If I had the means I probably would get 2more. I too have been thinking of offloading some Canon FF gear and streamlining. Never thought of 4/3 format, but your wonderful site makes me think … you have powerful stuff there. Your compositions and portraits… absolutely superb.

          Regards
          Jorge

          • Sounds good, drop me an email with the dates when you know and I’ll pop up to London, its only an hour on the train:)
            cheers
            Neil

          • Great story! I’m having the same problem with the heavy Canon camera’s and lenses. I think I’ll buy the new Fuji X-Pro1 in the futere because the M9 is out of my reach.
            Jorge your pics are outstanding!! Really cool! I have some Cuba pics on my own site… We have the same shooting style, but your post-processing is really wicked!

            Regards
            Bas

    • What is interesting to me is the people photos although the edited versions are more striking and have more initial impact this wears off.
      The originals are longer lasting in the memory and the ones i keep being drawn to.

    • Thanks for the comparisons, Neil!

      Of course, this is what one used to do by choosing ‘harder’ grade paper to put under the enlarger ..and dodging and burning ..this is what Ansel did with all his memorable pictures. Photographers have always ‘printed’ the picture to their preference, or chosen film with particular characteristics, or a ‘fine grain’ or ‘contrasty’ developer ..unless restrained by the impossibility of adjusting development – by having no control over, say, Kodachrome development.

      Many thanks for the “fuller story”, and taking the time to post these “before and after”s. The “afters” have much more impact, I’m sure, on the printed page.

      There’s no reason why one has to accept what a camera designer or technician has decided should be the output of their hardware. Why should they be the artists? They’re making the brush – you are painting the picture.

      One’s own pictures are for giving oneself satisfaction! You’ve brought these shots to life. A bit of retouching here, a bit of adjustment there ..that’s the artistry and impact in these as much as choosing the moment and the viewpoint, the lens and aperture and the camera body.

      Great – thank you!

      • Hi David

        Thanks for the comments. I see most of us using a camera as ‘crafts-people’ and very few, are what I would call ‘artists’, and I include a lot of great photographers in those I see as crafts-people. I do appreciate your comments but I want to say that I don’t see myself as an artist with a single, driven vision. I am like most of us here, trying to develop my craft in photography, trying to make better pictures, picking up bits of advice and influences from all sorts of places and often being surprised when it all comes together:)

  48. Is traveling with 3 cameras really much better than taking, say, 2 Nikon D7000s, a 10-24, 35mm 1.8 and 55or 70-300mm lenses for travel? And the advantage with the Nikon is it’s 2 of the same camera so you don’t have to think about where controls are on different bodies.

    • I think Neil is at that level of photography where he doesn’t “have to think about where controls are on different ‘camera’ bodies” ;)

      People, please read the post carefully before posting ur every thoughts on the comment section..

    • It is a pain having to learn the way each camera works but that’s just the way it worked out, I like to test out different gear:)

  49. Very nice shots. I’ve just moved to the G3 and, even if I enjoy very much using my MF legacy lenses, I think I’ll switch to an M43 fast prime – the Olympus 45mm or the Panasonic Leica 25mm…

    • good move Andrea, the first time I got to play with an EP3 last year was at Park Cameras in sussex. I had about half an hour to try it out with a few lenses.

      I shot some pictures with the 45mm and some with my Leica 50mm Summilux. The bokeh on many shots was only slightly better with the Leica lens, but almost impossible to tell apart. The contrast, colour and sharpness of the 45mm was ‘superior’ and more of the shots were actually in focus where they were supposed to be, and of course I could capture images quicker!

      So for many types of photography, I would say these great new primes are relegating the need for manual focus legacy lenses.

  50. I love the post processing Neil’s done. I think it’s totally a matter of individual taste and style. I applaud it because it’s different and well done. Sometimes change is good. I also agree with everything Neil has said about equipment selection and am considering dumping my Canon collection to lighten everything up. The MFT stuff is so good. And with the relentless move of advertisers to the web the days of huge files seem to be drawing to an end. YMMV. But to castigate someone’s style seems…..parochial. Enjoy his good seeing.

  51. That photo of the rough guy cutting fish is just AWESOME !

  52. I don’t consider traveling with three major camera systems to be “Traveling Light”. 1 DSLR and 3 prime lenses would be lighter than what was mentioned.

    • hi victor
      1 dslr and 3 primes would not have been sufficient to do the job properly. having quick access to one of 3 focal lengths at any one time, was a benefit. having access to small but high quality lenses was a benefit, having a range from 24mm to 60mm (35mm eqv. fov) was a benefit. one dslr and 3 primes may have been lighter, but if you matched the same focal lengths I used with 35mm gear you would be digging out your rucksack

  53. Get the little Tamron 28-75mm F2.8. It is the lightest and smallest of all the FF zoom in that range. And is as sharp as the 24-105mm, but you loose some range. This is the first third party lens I got, based on good reviews and i never regretted this buy. It has no stabilization, but you won’t need it so much, because it opens at a constant F2.8

    • Well this was supposed to be an answer to Luisa planning to go to Sicilia with a 5D and 24-70mm. She would like a lighter combo.

  54. Your photos appear over processed.
    do you actually get paid to produce these?

    • would you like to show us some examples of your work, just to put me properly in my place:)

      • Good retort, frack him!

      • Why should i bother, you put yours into public domain so must allow me my comments
        if you get paid to produce this all well and good
        only my opinion remember
        its a free world
        i am allowed not to jump on the ‘oh thats great ‘ bandwagon

        • G-
          You can critique someone’s work, even negatively, without being insulting, as you were. Why not choose to keep this space positive and post honest comments towards improvement, not back handed insults?

          Peace,

          J.

        • the way I see it, I welcome negative critique especially so when there’s a valid point or something I had not considered before. but when someone starts making silly wisecracks then he needs to be called on talent, ability or experience

  55. I’ve been a professional editorial and advertising photographer for over 7 years and this was the year that I too gave up SLRs as well. I sold my Canon system and switched to the tiny Olympus Pen Mini with the 12mm 2.0, 45mm 1.8, 17mm 2.8 and kit lens.

    It was a scary thing to do for me since I make my living with my photography so I did talk to my clients about it first and they were quite happy after I showed them my personal work I was doing with the Pen Mini at the time.

    Shooting my second cover with the Pen Mini tonight.

    • Hi Giulio Sciorio, out of your experience with the Pen mini and the Canon gear which you used. Would you say that the Pen mini’s IQ is on par or at least almost no difference to Canon?? In a simple words, can it replace DSLR ??

  56. Um… why is this about traveling with an M9? Seems like most of these were shot with something other.

  57. Great stuff! Love the dog one. My D700 has been out in the cold ever since I switch to M9P/50LuxAsph.

    Cheers

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