Jan 032014
 
Three weeks, four weddings and one dementia sufferer, with the help of the new Nikon Df       
By Mark Seymour
-
Nikon-Df-blakc-and-silver

-

As a wedding photographer who primarily specialises in Jewish weddings, using a predominately reportage and journalistic style, I use the Nikon flagship camera the D4, with a selection of prime lenses.

But recently I was provided with the Nikon Df and it was great privilege to have the opportunity of trialling this beautiful retro styled camera from Nikon, in real life situations, where the pressure was on for me to deliver.

I initially played with the camera for a week adding some poignant black and white images to my personal project covering my fathers’ decline due to dementia. Once I felt confident with the controls and features I was excited to try out the Df for capturing my professional wedding images. I must admit I did revert to my D4 at the point where the high tempo dancing takes place at both Jewish and Greek weddings had begun because I wanted to feel totally comfortable, as you have less time to think and I needed the higher focus speed of the D4. That’s not to say the Df is a slouch, with the focus system borrowed from the D610.

Overall Impression

It’s a beauty, with overtones harking back to the classic days of film and the great Nikon cameras like the F3 and the Fm3. Nikon have done to this camera what we have seen happen to the beloved design of the mini, in taking the look of a camera with nostalgic memories and installing it with their flagship digital camera’s sensor, to enable photographers to have the best picture making experience.

This is Nikon’s lightest full frame camera at just 710g with beautiful retro dials on the top plate and a 16Mp sensor inside, but also includes a small LCD that gives battery info, shutter speed, aperture selected and number of frames left along with a great LCD and shutter lag to a professional standard. The shutter is also the quietest, which is often a bug bear with the D4 during wedding ceremonies.

ISO is sometimes difficult to know on the dial without confirming what it is in the viewfinder, especially in low light.

Image Quality and Buffer

I’m blown away by the qualities of this sensor, the dynamic range is superb and you can shoot anywhere up to 204,ooo ISO with the buffer not to the standards of the D4 so if you are a photographer who shoots in high bursts, at times you will hit the buffer limit

Below is a selection of images taken with the Retro Nikon Df in real life situations as well as a link to my website.

http://markseymourphotography.co.uk

 Nikon Df , 10,000 ISO, f1.8, 800 sec

image002

 

-

Nikon Df, 10000 ISO, F4, 80 Sec

image003

 

-

Nikon Df, ISO 6400, 200 sec , F4

image004

 

-

Nikon Df, ISO 6400, 200 sec , F4

image005

 

-

Nikon Df, ISO 4000, 500sec , F2.8

image008

 

-

Nikon Df, ISO 4000, 100 sec , F4

image009

-

Nikon Df, ISO 4000, 125 sec , F4.5

image010

-

Nikon Df, ISO 2000, 400 sec , F1.4 85 mm lens

image011

 -

Nikon Df, ISO 3200, 200 sec , F4. 85mm Lens

image012

 -

Nikon Df, 3200 ISO, F3.2, 500 Sec

image013

 -

Nikon Df, 2500 ISO, F5, 25 Sec

image014

 -

Nikon Df, 4000 ISO, F3.5, 60 Sec

image015

 -

Nikon Df, 5000 ISO, F4, 60 Sec

image016

 -

Nikon Df, 5000 ISO, F4, 125 Sec

image017

 -

Nikon Df, 1600 ISO, F2.8, 200 Sec 35mm 1.4

image018

 -

Nikon Df, 1600 ISO, F1.8, 200 Sec. Nikon 50mm 1.4

image019

 -

Nikon Df, 1600 ISO, F2.5, 320 Sec.. 50mm f1.4

image020

 -

Nikon Df, 1000 ISO, F2, 100 Sec. Nikkon 85 mm 1.4

image021

 

 

Dec 172013
 

The Valley of Fire Workshop! February 21st-24th 2014

walkingthered

We are now SOLD OUT and this is with extending the group to 14! That means I sleep on the couch! 

OK! With all of these new cameras released and now in the hands of all of YOU what better than to join me on a cool weekend workshop in a gorgeous area of the country where we will hike, shoot, chat, learn, eat and stay in super deluxe accommodations. YES, I am excited about this one and can not wait to go back out and shoot with some of you as it is always a great time.

Along with myself we will have Jay Bartlett doing instruction as well as being our guide. Jay joined me on one of my LA Workshops and gave instruction on shooting models to everyone in attendance, and it was great. Todd Hatakeyama will join in as well (the Cruisemaster from the 1st ever Steve Huff Photo cruise) for the fun and adventure and to set up the details to make sure it all runs smoothly.

There will be a lot of hiking, photography, arches, caves, and amazing colors. We’ll see as much of the park as we can in 2-3 days. Possible locations include: Elephant Rock, White Domes, Arch Rock, Fire Wave, Crazy Hill, Pretzel Arch, El Portal Arch, Piano Rock, and more.

There will be a fair amount of hiking, so be prepared for at least 8 miles each day through trails and some semi-rough terrain. Don’t worry too much if you’re not in the best shape. We’ll break into groups according to hiking ability. We will provide 2-way radios, bottled water, snacks and a suggested list of gear. For all of you who have seen images from these locations online for years and years and have always wanted to BE THERE..well, now is your chance, and of course, we will be doing it all in style.

13-09-11_Valleyoffire_50_0094

Tentative Schedule (to be finalized in the next two weeks) and some details:

As always with my workshops, we make sure we have a “TON O FUN” and this one will be no exception :)

This time we will be staying in a mansion with plenty of space to roam :) 

b453ffb6-5d83-4100-8dfc-afe8f5337553.1.10

- 10 bedroom mansion - 12 guests max (once we sell 12, that is it)!

- single rooms are limited

- we’ll have a caravan of 3 suv’s or vans 

What’s included:

- 3 nights at the mansion

- light breakfast and picnic lunches are included on Sat and Sun

- guided tour of the Valley of fire for 2 full days

- bottled water, snacks

- possibly pickup and drop off from airport (if our schedule permits)

all other meals are not included

d59c1207-7bb7-49dc-a287-ba42008fd950.1.10

Friday – arrive late afternoon – meet at the house, we may be able to pick people up from the airport (would fly into Las Vegas airport)

(those coming from Southern California can meet up to carpool Friday morning)

Friday evening – Dinner

Saturday and Sunday, shooting from early morning until sunset. Light breakfast snacks and picnic lunch.

Sunday night – people can fly out after 8pm, or stay the night and leave Monday morning

(for Southern California people, we’ll head out mid morning)

How much does it cost and how do I get in? (we are 100% SOLD OUT)

if you want to join the fun and come away with some amazing photographs, some new skills and some new friends and great memories then make sure to get in quick before this sells out. History shows that every single workshop I have done has sold out and usually we have more wanting in AFTER they sell out. I do not do too many of these and this time I am teaming jump with Jay and Todd to make sure this one is run smoothly and provides all of the cool stuff you would expect.

If you want in, the cost for a single private room with everything above included is $1000 for the three-day event. If you do not mind to share a room with someone the cost is $700, but private rooms usually go fast so if you are interested, and want a private room, email me quick! 

Payment will be done via paypal or if you do not use paypal we can do other payment methods. Paypal is preferred.

If you want in, e-mail me HERE and I will instruct you on how to pay. Once you are paid up you are locked in and all set! This will be a great time and I am looking forward to it. I may be able to even bring some goodies along for all to try (which I will confirm here when I know for sure).

Hoping to meet and see some of you there in February!

 

Nov 252013
 

Prints for the Philippines

prints

Hey hey! It is Monday and I figured I would start the day with a good cause that can help so many in need. Neil Buchan-Grant, who has contributed to  this site on many occasions has started up a website called “Prints for the Philippines”  in where photographers can offer their prints for sale with 100% of the proceeds going to help the victims of the typhoon. Here is what the site says

“A collaboration of concerned photographers selling photographic prints to help the Typhoon stricken people of the Philippines. All sales go to the DEC Typhoon Appeal. New photographers being added daily. To see the current photographers, their unique offers and our team’s progress, click on “contributors” below”

So go check it out HERE and see if there is any way you could help out! They need people who want to buy prints or submit work to sell to raise money!

Thanks, and more to come today so check back!

 

Nov 132013
 

title1

Burning Man Portrait Report

by Jordan Blackman – His website is HERE

I was riding shotgun in a pickup truck for twelve hours, biting my nails as we lumbered across the American West. Between the bed of the truck and the U-Haul trailer hitched up to it, there was easily a two bedroom apartment’s worth of stuff with us. But we weren’t headed to an apartment. We were going deep into the dust of Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.

Burning Man 1

Now, you’ve probably heard about Burning Man, and maybe you’ve even been. But I never had, and I was anxious about going. I’d heard stories about dangerous dust storms, outrageous orgies, deviant witchcraft and more. Obviously, I’d need to bring a camera and the biggest memory card I could get my hands on.

Unfortunately, my OM-D EM5 had just been stolen. I had shot with that little Olympus for over a year, and paired with the Panny 20mm it really knocked my socks off. I love that camera. But still, I decided I’d try something different. After an obscene amount of internet “research” I picked up a Sony NEX-6. I liked the video quality and price, and I felt that it would be fun and educational to work a new sensor size. Burning Man was going to be my first chance to really use the Sony and I really wasn’t sure what to expect… from the event or from the camera.

Now, one of the big differences between the two cameras is the weather sealing. OMD has it, NEX doesn’t. Burning Man is famously dusty, and so I rigged a plastic bag to keep out those tiny sensor demons. It worked really well, especially with the EFV exposed, as you can see from the pic. The downside was that I was committed to a single lens for the entire week. I chose the Sony SEL35f18.

Burning Man 2

Upon arrival at Black Rock City, the name of the temporary town erected in the desert each year for Burning man, I was completely overwhelmed. The expanse of light and art, the creativity on display, the diversity of color and costume… it was more than I could take in. Burning Man defeats one’s power’s of perception, let alone observation. I quickly decided to focus on portraiture for the following reasons:

1. It would keep me focused, preventing overwhelm.

2. It seemed a reasonable task for the 50mm equivalent lens I had.

3. Portraits could be gifts, and gifts are an important part of Burning Man culture.

4. Everyone else would be shooting the giant art installations anyway, and who needs another picture of the man burning?

And so, every day I walked across the dust and invited strangers to have their portraits taken. Here are some of those photos. Below the pictures, I’ll share some thoughts about the NEX-6, some 2000 captures later.

So, what did I think about the NEX-6 compared to the OM-D? They are both great cameras, and I recommend them both. With the NEX-6, when you nail the shot, you get an amazing RAW file, better than the OMD’s. But, it’s harder to nail the shot and then it takes more adjustments to get the image you want from the RAW. With the OMD I had more keepers and less work to do in Lightroom. I think the keepers come from the stabilization and the better focus system. The NEX-6 forces me to slow down and think more both during exposure and development phases. I consider this a good thing for my growth as a photographer. And when you take the time you get some remarkable results.

If you shoot video, the NEX-6 can produce absolutely stunning footage, albeit without the OMD’s excellent stabilization. I consider 60fps a must for video since the conformed footage looks so great at 24fps. If the community is interested I am happy to write up a long comparison with the pros of each as there is much more to be said on this. The short version is, I’m planning to stick shooting with the NEX-6 until a camera arrives with 5-axis stabilization and the video features I want.

As for Burning Man, I’m no longer nervous. I’ll be heading back whenever I have the chance. My overwhelmed feeling has turned to gratefulness. My anxiety into anticipation. I hope to continue my portrait project for many years to come.

Burning Man 3

Burning Man 4

Burning Man 5

Burning Man 6

Burning Man 7

Burning Man 8

Burning Man 9

Burning Man 10

Burning Man 11

Burning Man 12

Burning Man 13

Burning Man 14

Burning Man 15

Burning Man 16

Burning Man 17

Burning man 18

Burning Man 19

Burning Man 20

Burning Man 21

Burning Man 22

Burning Man 23

Burning Man 24

Burning Man 25

Burning Man 26

Burning Man 27

Burning Man 28

Burning Man 29

Burning Man 30

Burning Man 31

Burning Man 32

Oct 242013
 

Some images from Photo Plus in NYC today. Sony, Zeiss, Leica…

What a day! Whew…

Yesterday I flew out of Sunny AZ at 6am headed to NYC for the Photo Plus show going on this week. When I arrived in NY I did a big “UH OH” because I realized I only brought a light jacket with me, and here I was in NYC in 48 degree weather! The good thing is that it was not THAT cold so I survived a short walk to dinner with some friends and had a great evening. As always, I had a camera with me so for the chilly walk back I snapped a shot or two..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This morning I woke up later than I expected, around 8:30AM. Had a business phone call at 9 through 9:30 and by the time I headed out to the show it was 10:30.

On my way I had to take a picture of myself in front of B&H Photo, the “Candy Land” for photo and tech geeks!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I only had a 15 minute walk to the convention center from my hotel, and was cool that B&H is one block from my hotel. Makes it too easy to spend money though!

As I walked I snapped a few shots with a fisheye that I have been playing around with…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When I arrived to Photo Plus I saw a few familiar faces and made my way to pick up my press pass.

I ended up walking around and it seemed every few steps someone who knew me would walk up to me to chat! Was so cool to meet so many readers of this site today, all were super nice and wonderful people.

I eventually found my way to the most crowded section of the show (from what I saw) and it was the Sony Booth. They had the A7 and A7r on display, as well as the new RX10 (which is  looking better and better to me the more I mess with it). I even had a chance to borrow a Zeiss 50 1.5 Sonnar from a woman who was testing some old lenses on the A7. She was kind enough to let me take a shot or two with her lens mounted on the A7.

I snapped a shot of a guy who was chatting with me (a reader here) at 1.5, wide open. Sony would NOT let me put an SD card in the camera (they are saying the camera is still not FINAL in FW, so pre-production) but when I saw the playback it had the full on Zeiss character and was beautiful. I am telling you this..the camera was a breeze to manually focus with this Zeiss ZM lens. No focus shift because you are using Live View, so what you see is what you get.

The OOF transitions were creamy, the color was nice for being indoors with horrible light and I can tell that this camera is going to deliver on IQ, no doubt in my mind at all. After more hands on time with the A7 and A7r I can tell you that yes, the A7r does have metal dials on top where the A7 has plastic. They both feel great and I noticed no difference in feel or build when in my hand. I have a feeling that the a7r is going to be the Godzilla of resolution. A beast.

Shot with the 50 Zeiss Zm Sonnar at 1.5

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So after messing around and chatting with a few folks a woman walks up from Zeiss to show me the new Otus lens. This lens is a statement piece from Zeiss and coming in at $4000. The 55 1.4 design is gorgeous but man, this lens is HUGE (though light).

She wanted me to try it on the A7r and I used the Metabones Adapter to do so. When I looked at the results on the screen..WOWOWOWOWOW. This lens is something the perfectionist will want. Those who want ultimate IQ..this lens will do the trick and seeing that it is a pro manual focus lens (NO AF), it feels REALLY good in use. It is just large.

I HEARD MUMBLINGS…Sony was telling Zeiss..MAKE THIS FOR FE MOUNT! So we shall see. Below is the lens with hood attached and Metabones EF to E mount adapter. I may get to shoot with this lens on the A7r NEXT WEEK and this time, with an SD card in the camera :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So as I left Sony I headed toward Nikon, Canon, Fuji and Panasonic. Not much new there. Saw the GX7 but I already reviewed it here. I saw the All weather Nikon 1 which was larger and much more solid than I expected and I saw a few other things around the convention center that were more interesting than what Nikon was offering..

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I stopped by the Olympus booth and they were busy with everyone checking out the E-M1 and even E-P5. I saw quite a few walking around today with OM-D E-M5′s and E-P5′s. The woman above was doing an act for Olympus demoing their wifi smartphone/ipad remote feature. Before I shot this I cracked a joke which was probably not good because she could have lost her concentration :) But she didn’t. Behind here you can see every Olympus Micro 4/3 and 4/3 lens ever made.

The Leica booth had a few gawkers but they were not showing anything new besides their “Glossy Black” D-Lux 6. Yet another refresh of the same old D-Lux 6 which appeared to be slapped together just for the show..I mean, they had to have SOMETHING new right?

They did have this on display…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I stopped by Fuji as well and took a look at the new X-E2. Looks and feels like an X-E1. Same build. AF seemed faster but not a dramatic difference. The new 23 1.4 was fantastic though.  This is a lens I would buy if I owned a Fuji. Smaller than you think as well.

So after the show I walked back to my room, stopped off at B&H Photo once again and am now laying in my hotel bed writing this update. What I learned today from Photo Plus is that there is MASS interest in the Sony A7 and A7r as well as  the new RX10. Olympus is hot with the E-M1 and Nikon and Canon are still Nikon and Canon with their usual DSLR updates. (yawwwn)

Leica is holding steady with M sales doing very well for them and Panasonic had quite the crowd as well.

So without a doubt, the biggest thing here this year is the Sony A7 and A7r. Sales are STRONG, results are looking AMAZING and the camera is well made, solid and has very fast AF. When something this good comes along, it gets noticed and the people I spoke with today who were giving it a spin all said the same thing..”I pre ordered one already”. They were all happy with the fact that they did.

Remember, starting on the 28th I will have loads of samples and news and videos on the new A7 and A7r and RX10, so bookmark and come back because you will NOT want to miss it.

For those wondering, all photos posted here were shot with an Olympus E-P5.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I will beheading back to the show tomorrow morning to throw a Voigtlander 12mm on the Sony A7 and A7r and to see what I see on the LCD. Of course, what I see you will see here right after :)

 

Oct 212013
 

Congrats to Neil Buchan-Grant for winning the AOP “Best in Show”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A while ago Neil posted an article about his love for Micro 4/3 and the OM-D camera. He posted a photo (above) that got quite the response and as soon as I saw it I knew it was special. Neil showed that yes, the little OM-D E-M5 could indeed take photos that not only excelled in quality but were able to be pushed and used by someone who really knew how to work a camera. His photo has now officially won the Best in Show AOP open award for 2013!

So let us give a big Congrats to Neil!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Over the years I have defended Micro 4/3 (ever since the GF1 and E-P1) while many bashed it and predicted its doom because it had a smaller sensor than APS-C or Full Frame. Today less and less are trash talking Micro 4/3 and I even know of quite a few who dumped their slower APS-C cameras for an E-M5 and they never looked back. With the E-M1 it goes up another notch and I will state right here and now that Micro 4/3 is going nowhere anytime soon because it offers the perfect mix of IQ, performance, speed, build, and lenses. The lens Neil used for this image was the Panasonic/Leica 25 1.4. One of the best overall lenses for this system.

winners

In any case, Neil has shown what this system can do in capable hands. Make sure you see his latest post here as well as his own blog.  I also want to thank him for his continuing contributions here where he shares his love and passion for photography with all of us here.

Thanks Neil!

Sep 262013
 

Head hunting on the Bonneville Salt Flats with the Sony RX100

By Terry Bell

DSC-RX100_Front_jpg

Hi Steve;

Hoping life is being kind to you. Your site has become my go to photo blog each morning.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the great joy of accompanying a dear friend to the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, where,he would attempt to gain membership in the 200 mph club, aboard his BMW motorcycle.

IMG_2753

I decided to take two cameras with me on this adventure… My Fujifilm X Pro1 with 18-55 zoom and 14 mm wide-angle, and as back up , my Sony RX100.

After watching the first few timed runs, ( from a considerable distance ) it became clear that i was not going to come close to capturing the speed and excitement that some of these motorcycles generate, with the equipment I had.

IMG_2754

I decided that rather than focus on the motion, I would instead, turn my attention to the community of racers and staff that show up each year to make this event so special.

My go to camera for this project was my Sony RX100. It’s big advantage beyond it’s ability to render incredibly crisp images, is that it is, by and large, totally un-intimidating. I always like to work close when shooting people and I have found that the more serious the equipment, the greater the anxiety of the subject.

IMG_2895 IMG_2892

Here on the Salt Flats, I was shooting total strangers and rarely was afforded more than two or three trips of the shutter. The little Sony performed flawlessly and took any hint of seriousness off my picture-taking.

As you can see by a couple of other pics, it did an equally fine job at capturing the beauty of the some of the machines, as well.

IMG_2841

Hope this proves of interest.

Terry Bell

Halifax, Nova Scotia

Canada

IMG_2828

IMG_2829

IMG_2811

IMG_2813

IMG_2815

IMG_2816

IMG_2818

IMG_2820

IMG_2809

IMG_2810

IMG_2804

IMG_2798

IMG_2799

IMG_2802

IMG_2795

IMG_2803

Sep 232013
 

Birth Story with Leica M-9

Making memories with the Leica M. A Birth Story

by Ivan Makarov – His Website is HERE

Having gone through the birth experience with my other three children, I knew I was about to face another memorable day at the end of August.  I knew I’d remember the birth of my son, Yuri, for the rest of my life. These memories always stay vivid in my mind, but I love refreshing them by going back to my photo archive and looking through the pictures.

Being a new Leica user (I bought the Leica M (Typ 240) only weeks ago), I was facing a dilemma as our baby’s due date was fast approaching. Do I pack the trusted Nikon D800 that I can operate with ease? Or do I bring the Leica with me?

Two things scared me about the Leica - (1) the lack of auto focus, which comes in handy in those precious seconds when the baby is born and I can’t think straight, and (2) the metering system which is not as predictable as on the D800.

In the end, I decided to take the Leica. First, I love how it handles high contrast scenes, and there is plenty of contrast in the delivery and surgery rooms when bright lights are on. Second, I didn’t want to carry a bulky SLR with me, which would probably have a huge lens attached to it. Third, I didn’t want to create too much noise with the shutter clicks. The delivery was a c-section, and it’s a super quiet scene that I did not want to interrupt with my shooting. The last thing I wanted was the surgeons to become distracted by my photography while my wife’s and the baby’s lives were in their hands.

Birth Story with Leica M-1

I only own one lens for the Leica – 50mm f/1.4 Summilux ASPH, and I borrowed 35 f/1.4 Summilux ASPH from my co-worker, Sam, for our hospital stay. For the actual birth, I only used the 50mm lens as I knew I wouldn’t want to be changing lenses and missing shots. I’m more of a “details” and “expressions” kind of shooter so the 50mm fits my style better right now. That was another reason to use the Leica – I knew I’d be shooting at f/1.4 and none of my Nikon lenses can match the Leica in sharpness and contrast at that aperture.

Birth Story with Leica M-2

Birth Story with Leica M-3

Birth Story with Leica M-4

When those crucial 15 minutes came (the duration of a c-section), the focusing didn’t prove to be an issue at all. I’m getting better and better at using a rangefinder, and I find it even faster than auto-focusing, because there is no dreaded focus hunting. The metering worked fine too, and the Leica M had no issues handling changing light. I was very pleased with the whole Leica experience and how it captured this big day for me and my family.

Birth Story with Leica M-5

Birth Story with Leica M-7

Birth Story with Leica M-8

Something else that was an added bonus – no one gave a second look about my use of the camera inside the room, unlike my other kids’ births while using the SLR. The shutter was quiet enough and none of the doctors or nurses noticed me firing one frame after another.

The only downside to having a Leica in the room was that right after the doctors finished “getting the baby out”, and handed him over to me to hold, one of them offered to take a few pictures with me and the baby. I didn’t know how to say no, and, of course, all of the shots were out of focus!

Birth Story with Leica M-10

_______________________
Regards, Ivan S. Makarov
Sep 182013
 

New Olympus E-M1 video from the Launch event!

EM1

Hey guys! Just saw this video on YouTube from Olympus on the new OM-D E-M1 and it’s pretty cool if I do say so myself :)

This is the event I attended with a few other bloggers and photographers where we witnessed 1st hand the launch of the new OM-D E-M1. I even give my quick impressions in this video while shooting with the E-M1 at night, see if you can spot me (not too hard with my bald head)  :)

The E-M1 is proving to be pretty popular and is pre-selling VERY well. I can not wait for release and I will have more from the camera, much more, in the next two weeks because I will be headed to Dublin, Ireland and Castle Leslie for 2-3 days to attend another event where I will be able to use the camera. Can’t wait and of course I will report here with info as soon as I get images, details, and some real use with the camera. As always, I will let you guys know the real deal.

The OM-D E-M1 is Olympus’s flagship that is the top of the heap in Micro 4/3 as well as a replacement for the normal 4/3 E-5. Micro 4/3 has come a long way and continues to impress.

You can pre-order at B&H Photo, Amazon or PopFlash.com

Sep 122013
 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Amazing photos with the new Olympus OM-D E-M1! By Edmond Terakopian

A reader, Edmond Terakopian was at an Olympus Event where he was able to REALLY use the camera. He shot photo and video and WOW, the results are spectacular! Check out his video shot with the E-M1 below followed by his photos shot with the camera. These are some gorgeous looking images that not only shows what the new E-M1 can do, but also what Edmond can do! Thanks Edmond!

BTW, I was invited by Olympus to attend a 3 day event at Castle Leslie in Ireland, where Edmond shot these images. Seems they are really going out in a big way to show what this guy can do! My event time is near the end of the month. Looks gorgeous!

You can see all of Edmonds E-M1 photos at his Flickr HERE

His blog is HERE

His site is HERE

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Video from Edmond Terakopian on Vimeo.
 

Photos shot with the E-M1 by Edmond – More on his FLICKR page

Portrait of a model and lake. Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot using the new Olympus 12mm-40mm f2.8 lens.  Castle Leslie, Glaslough, Ireland. September 10, 2013. Photo: ©Edmond Terakopian    *jpeg image processed in Aperture*

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot

Olympus OM-D EM-1 Test Shot

All images copyright Edmond Terakopian

Of course you can nab the E-M1 (ships in about 3 – 3 1/2 weeks) at Amazon, B&H Photo or PopFlash.com

Aug 262013
 

Going on World Tour with Leica, Voigtlander  & Nikon

By Mike Villa

Earlier this year, my typically spastic lifestyle was settling into quite a nice groove. I was putting in huge amounts of time and energy at Motor Trend, working as a video producer for their YouTube channel, while taking on weddings on the weekends, and saving for a motorcycle. And then, one fine March afternoon, the good people from Life Without Limbs called.

For those who haven’t heard of it, Life Without Limbs is a non-profit organization founded by Nick Vujicic, an incredibly joyful individual who was born without arms or legs. Nick seeks to inspire others, help those in need, and spread the hope and joy that he’s found to those who need it most.

Life Without Limbs asked me to join Nick and a 4-man video team from Sypher Films on his 2013 World Outreach Tour and provide photo and written documentation of his journey – essentially acting as their own in-house photojournalist. Less than a month later I was on a plane to Hungary for a “test run” to see how well I meshed with the rest of the team. Shortly after, I left the (rather spectacular) Motor Trend parking lot for the last time, and the motorcycle fund went to the good fellows at Leica and Voigtlander.

There aren’t very many practical reasons to pick up a Leica these days. My D800 offers far better files, and (in my opinion) my little Fuji X-E1 isn’t too far off in image quality, while being even more compact and discreet. Nearly everything on the market provides a more “efficient” way of taking a picture. But if I based all of my life decisions on practicality, I likely wouldn’t be a photographer – there are certainly more efficient ways of making a living. I picked up a Leica for the same reasons I picked up a camera in the first place – I simply enjoy it.

The first leg of our journey took us through eight countries in Southeast Asia and made for an excellent torture test of the M9. I used the Leica with either a Voigtlander 21mm 1.8 or Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 for about 80% of my shooting. Without an M-mount telephoto handy, my D800 and Sigma 85mm 1.4 made up most of the rest of my shots, although I had the rest of my Nikon kit on standby. Needless to say, it rarely left the hotel rooms.

Documenting everything means I touched on just about every genre of photography. Many days were based around speaking events – everything from a class of 30 to a stadium of 30,000. The video team and I played tourist quite often as well, as capturing and understanding the local culture of each country was important. We trekked through slums and palaces, showing our equipment no mercy when it came to dirt, rain, or rough roads. The conditions were rough on the cameras, and often rougher on our hearts. Every epic panorama was balanced with an intimate hug backstage in the green room. Every portrait of a president or prime minister was followed by journalistic shots of sick orphans dying in their cribs.

After 27 days of non-stop clicking of the shutter and furious typing of team journals and blogs, I touched back down on American soil with cards, hard drives, and heart full of incredible experiences.

 

1. Mount Fuji, Japan  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

2. Okinawa, Japan  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

3. Okinawa, Japan  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

4. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

5. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

6. Manila, Philippines  | Nikon D800 + Sigma 85mm 1.4

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

7. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

8. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2 + Nikon SB900

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

9. Manila, Philippines  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

10. Manila, Philippines  |  Nikon D800 + Sigma 85mm 1.4

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

11. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

12. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

13. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

14. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

15. Hanoi, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

16. Hanoi, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

17. Hanoi, Vietnam  |  Nikon D800 + Sigma 85mm 1.4

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

18. Hanoi, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

19. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam  |  Nikon D800 + Sigma 85mm 1.4

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

20. Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

21. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

22. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

23. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

24. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

25. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

26. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

27. Phnom Penh, Cambodia  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

28. Venetian Resort, Macau  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

29. Hong Kong  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

30. Hong Kong  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

31. Hong Kong  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

32. Hong Kong  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

33. Seoul, South Korea  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 35mm 1.2

http://mikevillavisuals.com

-

34. Seoul, South Korea  |  Leica M9 + Voigtlander 21mm 1.8

http://mikevillavisuals.com

So what will I do differently for the next sections of Nick’s World Outreach tour? Not much, although I’ve since added a Voigtlander 75 1.8 in hopes of using my Nikon kit even less. Last time around, I did feel limited having 85mm as my longest focal length for the bigger events, so I’ll swap that out for my 70-200. For a more complete look at my load out, you can peek inside my two camera bags here  and here.

If you’ve already checked out the Life Without Limbs World Outreach blog  and still can’t get haven’t gotten your travel photography fix, you’re in luck: I’m typing this while en route to join the rest of the team in Indonesia for part two of the tour. I’ll be continuing to blog on the Life Without Limbs site, and possibly a bit on my own site as well (as time permits).

Questions? Thoughts? I can’t promise a timely response, but if you comment here on Steve’s site, I’ll do my best to get around to responding.

Thanks for reading folks, and a huge thank you to Steve for letting me share my experiences with his readers.

 

Life Without Limbs 

Mike Villa Visuals 

Images processed with VSCO Film 04 

Sypher Films 

 

Aug 202013
 

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Cycle Messenger World Championship 2013

by Andrew Tobin – His blog is HERE

As part of my coverage of “unconventional” world championships, I took myself off to Lausanne in Switzerland for the Cycle Messenger World Championships of 2013. I had spotted this event a while ago and put it firmly into the calendar as a “must attend”.

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Packing for the trip proved more complicated than I thought. Having figured out that Lausanne was a pretty hilly place and I would be walking A LOT, and it was going to be hot, the last thing I wanted to be doing was carting a couple of 1D bodies and big lenses all over the place, as well as various bits of remote flash kit and other gubbins. So instead I decided to shoot the whole event with lightweight compact gear, taking 3 cameras – an Olympus OM-D with 45, 9-18 and 8mm fisheye lenses, a Sony RX1 and a newly acquired Sony RX100 Mark II. This combination would give me a good choice of focal lengths and apertures so I could deal with pretty much anything that came my way. With the RX100 in my pocket, the RX1 around my neck and the Olympus and lenses in a belt pack, I was as mobile as I could wish for. In a small backpack went a laptop, flash, pocket wizards, light stand and mini-octabox.

I also wanted to travel hand-luggage only and the big gear would have surely triggered some weight limit or other. Happily the airline (Swiss) didn’t bat an eyelid and the lightstand and electronic trickery went through airport security without any problems as I tried hard to pretend my bag weighed nothing at all.

Gear for the trip. Manfrotto lightstand, Sony RX1 with viewfinder, Olympus OM-D, Yongnuo YN560-II flash, 2x Pocket Wizard Plus II, Sony RX100 mark II, Panasonic 8mm fisheye, Olympus 9-18 zoom, spare batteries for the Sonys (not needed), cards, clip thing (unused), lightstand attachment thing. Forgot to incude the mini softbox in this pic.

CMWC gear

So, an early flight put me in Geneva at 9am on Saturday, and the efficient Swiss train system whisked me into Lausanne in about 45 minutes for me to begin my 2-day walking marathon, with some cycling photography thrown in.

After familiarizing myself with the course, chatting to the organisers and riders, and climbing lots of hills, I needed to make my key decision of the weekend. How to cover the event? I already had some ideas in mind before I arrived, but it quickly became pretty obvious to me that it was all about the people and the “vibe”, and the racing was almost secondary. More than anything this is a gathering of like-minded people who might normally be bracketed as “alternative”. It takes a certain something to be a cycle courier, out in all weathers, always under time pressure, not earning much, very physically fit, and never using any fossil fuels. The camaraderie amongst everyone at the event was obvious from the start. Some competitors had ridden from England down to Paris where they met still others for the 3-day ride from Paris to Lausanne, several on fixed wheel bikes with no brakes (making the mountains on the roads into Lausanne quite challenging!). Lots of them referred to the other couriers as their “family”, so it’s clearly a close-knit group of like-minded people who like nothing better than to get together for a good laugh.

James from Glasgow, who rode down from Canterbury to Paris to Lausanne. Top guy.

Cycle Messenger World Championships

And that was the decision made for me. I would shoot the event more like a documentary, trying to capture the people and atmosphere with the race action as a secondary part of the weekend. This also suited my choice of kit as the small cameras are generally useless at catching anything moving fast (or even slow in the case of the RX1) when compared with a pro body like a Canon 1D. It didn’t stop me trying to get a bit of action though. And I also decided to make most of the pictures monochrome because a) I like it a lot and b) it suited a more documentary style look at the event.

A rider toils up the hill as others dry off in the sun after a dip in the “jacuzzi” up by the cathedral.

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Started in 1993 by Achim Beier from Berlin, the championships comprise a number of challenges including a sprint, a track stand (longest time stationary on the bike), a cargo race where heavy loads are carried on special bikes, and the main race. The course winds through central Lausanne and includes bridges, stairs, cobbles, narrow alleyways and challenging hills.

The main race simulates the job of a bike courier making numerous drops and pickups across the city by following a manifest or delivery/pickup list. Riders need to check in at specific checkpoints, hand over their delivery and get a new one. It involves a number of manifests to be run in sequence, each involving multiple deliveries. As well as being a test of sheer physical fitness lasting 3-4 hours, the race is a huge mental challenge as the riders need to plot their own route from one checkpoint to the next. Ensuring that they take the shortest or most efficient route is a work of the black arts as far as I could see. It wasn’t unusual to see riders pick up a new manifest and then sit somewhere quiet while they worked out their route and sequencing. To make matters worse, at some checkpoints you may need to deliver one item and pick up three, so knowing what you need to do where is vital to avoid repeat visits. Obviously you couldn’t drop something off if you hadn’t already picked it up somewhere else! This aspect makes the whole thing very different to a normal challenge against the clock and the winner is the person that combines the physical with the mental.

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Cycle Messenger World Championships

It was hot as well. Did I mention that? I had enough trouble climbing up all the steps and hills on foot – the riders were getting a real beating. It didn’t take long for some of the riders to take advantage of the ancient water troughs that are scattered around the city.

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Saturday was practice and qualifying, plus the cargo race which involved carrying large or strange loads. The cargo bikes are bonkers – long things with a load carrying space up front and a linkage from the handlebars to the front wheel. These poor guys had to carry everything from 12 foot long oars to a TV cameraman who wanted a rider’s eye view of the course.

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Having learned the course through walking a lot and getting blisters, taking a bunch of pictures and figuring out what was going on, I was ready for the evening party. These guys party well. The event had been going on all week with a party every night, so they were well-practiced by the time I turned up. Hosted at the Casino Montbenon overlooking Lake Geneva, I had a horrible thought that it would be a dress-up suit and tie job, but then realised that there was no way on this earth that the majority of the riders would get anywhere near a suit other than to deliver one. And so it turned out that it was a very cool event in a club under the casino, with most people out in the open air as the temperature dropped and the sun set over the alps.

Cycle Messenger World Championships

The party game me a chance to break out my little octabox. After some fiddling with Pocket Wizards and the RX1, I got everything working fine and went off in search of interesting suspects, of which there were plenty. I’ll say this – these guys are just so friendly and open – lovely people. Here’s two of them…

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Cycle Messenger World Championships

So the RX1 turned out some beautifully detailed pictures, but occasionally had brain fade and wouldn’t focus properly even though the focus assist light was on. You’ve just got to be quite patient with it when shooting at night, and give it time to get focus and the square to go green before you hit the button. It’s worth noting that after turning on face detection my results improved significantly.

Cleverly, the organisers hadn’t scheduled any early morning starts, with riders needing to be at race HQ by 11am (though quite a few dragged in after that). This allowed ample time for at least 4 hours sleep to let the beer work its way through the system. Free carrots were available to all competitors.

The start itself was mad. The 100 riders (men and women) all started at the same time. The high qualifiers from Saturday got to be at the front of the “grid”. Well, they weren’t at the front, their bikes were. All the bikes were laid down in the road, the first package and manifest was put next to each bike, and the riders were ushered 50 yards back down the hill. At the appointed time after some general un-Swiss fanning about, they were off! The riders had to run up the hill, get to their bike, read the manifest to plot a route, and then head off. With different manifests the riders headed in all sorts of directions, so a few wisely took their time to figure out the best route as there’s nothing slower than riding in completely the wrong direction, especially as the course was one way and if you got it wrong you’d need to go round again.

Cycle Messenger World Championships

There followed all sorts of madness as riders hurtled about. I walked some of the course before stopping and sending a set of pictures to the UK newspapers. Once that was done I walked the course a bit more and took some more pictures. Here’s a few of them…

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Cycle Messenger World Championships

I had in mind some key shots to get at the end of the race. Obviously the winners, but also I wanted pictures of riders immediately they finished. I rigged up the RX1 again and used my flash held off camera with a simple diffuser on it, triggered by pocket wizards again. The high flash sync speed of the RX1 came in handy here as well as I wanted to drop the ambient light a bit so was up at 1/500th or more.

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Cycle Messenger World Championships

Obviously I’m not as practiced with the RX1 interface as, when people moved from shade to sun I was often too slow to adjust settings (I was shooting in manual) and had to resort to just switching to aperture priority and letting the camera sort it out. In frenzied situations when people are moving about all over the place it’s vital to be 100% practiced with your camera of choice, which I wasn’t.

And that was it. Race over. Party time (again) followed by a very early flight out on Monday morning.

What can we glean from the gear selection for the event? The cameras did their job, but are no way as good when you absolutely must get the shot as a pro-spec body and lens. There were times when I wished I had a 1DIV and L lenses with me. The speed of focus is the main thing. I could have nailed far more portrait shots after the race with a 1D, even with the relatively slow focusing 24 1.4 lens. However I’d have been stuck with a slow off-camera flash sync speed. I’d also have been knackered hefting all that gear. I watched the 2 or 3 agency guys that were there as they lugged their gear about and felt delighted that I was running such a light setup. Also, people didn’t seem to mind when I got in really quite close with the little RX1 either. Sometimes it’s good to have big cameras to shout that you know what you’re doing (sort of!), but at other times it’s good to be a bit more under the radar.

Looking at my stats for the weekend, I shot most pictures using the RX1 with 242, then the Olympus OM-D with 197 (though there were a lot of 9 frames per second disastrous panning shots), then 41 with the RX100 mark II. Out of that lot, 140 made the final edit. Each camera played its own part, as I used the RX1 when I wanted really high quality and shallow depth of field, the OM-D when I wanted a bit of lens choice and high frame rate, and the RX100 when I lost the plot and just wanted to get a picture, or when I had the wrong lens on the OM-D. The different menu systems and buttons and dials is enough to drive me crazy though as I’d get aperture & shutter mixed up, ISO would be all over the place and so on. What I really want is something the size of the RX1 with pro-spec speed of focus and camera responsiveness. The OM-D is fast, but not fast enough when tracking focus. In any event though, I tried to shoot within the limitations of the cameras and make the best of what I had available.

Just to finish off this unusually long post I have to say what a superb event it was. If you ever get the chance to go in 2014, then do it. Support these guys and girls – they are simply an excellent bunch of people. And should you come across them in some big city somewhere, just be aware that they know exactly what they are doing, are fit as anything, and don’t earn much.

Andrew Tobin

See Andrew’s Blog HERE

 

Aug 092013
 

SITE UPDATE: Without stable internet for the next 24 hours! 

Hello to all! Just wanted to let everyone know that I am traveling and without internet for the most part until Saturday morning, so site updates will be few until then (I was able to post this due to getting connected for about 30 minutes on almost as slow as dial up speeds). I am on a mini vacation with my Son Brandon and we trekked across the US from AZ to Illinois and then into Kentucky and Sunday we do it all over again by heading back home to AZ.

Visiting family is always nice and is the main reason for this trip.

So it has been a fun trip no doubt and of course we have been shooting photos along the way :) Brandon has really been getting into photography over the past couple of years so we are out shooting together, which is really cool.

So normal updates will resume tomorrow, Saturday. :) 

I just added a few new samples to the Nikon 6.7-13mm Lens review and will have some new stuff coning Saturday and Monday, so stay tuned for that. I should have some Sony news soon as they told me that something is coming VERY soon (though I do not think it is the FF NEX..yet).

Below are a few snaps I shot today with the Sony RX100II, Sony RX1R and the Nikon V1! I gotta say, ALL of these cameras ROCK HARD. The little RX100II has become glued to my Mom’s hands and I have realized and remembered what a FANTASTIC little camera it is. Yep, the RX10oII is another winner.  The old Nikon V1 is being used non stop and the RX1R comes out when I need some serious IQ and 35mm. All have been doing great.

There have been rumblings this morning about NIkon and an announcement they made where they mentioned “rethinking” the 1 system. Now the internet is ablaze with rumors saying they are pulling out of the 1 system. I do not think this is so or else they would not have just released a $900 lens and a $500 lens. If they do pull out, I would never buy another new NIkon again but at the same time, I would happily keep and shoot my Nikon V1 and buy a V2 when they come down in price to make sure I have a couple of them for years down the road. It’s a great system no matter the sensor used. I can not argue with the results nor the amazing speed, usability and pleasure I get from shooting with it.

I heard a V3 was coming soon, and even heard some details about it but nothing is set in stone I guess. Let us see what Nikon does in the last quarter of this year.

Hope everyone is having a GREAT week! Get out there and shoot if you can! Look for a new and fresh site update on Saturday!

Steve

NIkon V1

DSC_0547s

-

Nikon V1 and 6.7-13

DSC_0565

-

Nikon V1 and 6.7-13

DSC_0583

-

Nikon V1 and 6.7 – 13

DSC_0587

-

Sony RX100II

rx100II3

-

Sony RX1R

rx1r1

-

NIkon V1

DSC_0540

-

Sony RX1R

rx1r11

-

Sony RX1R

rx1r2

-

Sony RX100II

rx100II7-

Sony RX100II

rx100II9

-

Nikon V1 and 32 1.2

DSC_0694

-

Nikon V1 and 32 1.2

DSC_0698

-

Nikon V1 and 32 1.2

DSC_0687

-

Nikon V1 and 18.5 1.8

DSC_0642

-

Nikon V1 and 10mm

DSC_0539 DSC_0702c

-

Sony RX1R

rx1r14

Jul 052013
 

zeiss-touit_tryout

TRY BEFORE YOU BUY! Zeiss Touit Lenses for Fuji X or Sony E Mount!

PopFlash.com has informed me that they are offering a very cool program for the Zeiss Touit line of lenses where you can actually try them out before you buy. In other words, give the lenses a try. If you like them, great! if you do not like them, send them back! This is a great way to see if you like the lenses before committing to buy 100%.

Here are the details from the PopFlash.com website:

“Here is your opportunity to have a hands on experience with the ZEISS TOUIT LENSES for Fuji X Mount or Sony E Mount. You will be billed for security purposes, then shipped the tryout lenses of your choice. Upon return, you will be refunded minus the shipping cost. All you pay for is shipping to your destination plus the **shipping cost to return the camera and lenses. If you like the “TRYOUT SET” and decide to purchase any of the lenses, just return the tryout equipment and we can bill and ship brand new Zeiss Touit Lenses of your choice at our current sale price.”

To check it out and read more visit the page at PopFlash.com HERE. You can read my thoughts on the Zeiss lenses for Fuji HERE. That 12mm is a superb lens!

 

Jun 102013
 

specsandcost

The Leica X Vario has arrived, slow zoom and all!

I have now heard from 4 official sources with full specs and images on the new Leica. Yes, four different sources who are 100% legit have spilled the beans about what is coming from Leica with full details. Two of them actually sent me PDF files with the details. Now, I am sure Leica would hate me for spilling the beans early but it happens all of the time and since I have no contract and no connection with Leica on this, as in, I have no embargo, no signed statement, nothing at all then why not? My obligation is only to my readers and sponsors and this is info the Leica world wants to know, even if it is coming in 12 hours anyway.

So I sit here with this info thinking…hmmm, what should I do? Post it and let everyone know it is indeed what we thought it was, or wait until tomorrow at 9am Eastern for the official word when I have no obligation to do so? Wait for the rumor sites to post it early or do it myself?

Since I am not spilling anything new here, as in, this was really announced when it leaked, I feel I should just let it out. Of course if Leica had given me the info and told me to hold off, it would have been held off. But as I said, I have no agreements with anyone and the information was sent to me freely by several legit sources..so here we go!

The new Leica X Vario hits, and starts shipping WEDNESDAY.

You have read the rumors, find out the TRUTH now, and the truth is exactly the same as the rumors, slow zoom and all. Yep my Leica friends, this is a Leica X2 with a slow zoom added for $2,850 US. THIS IS NOT A MINI M. We also get HD video now as well, which is good to have. I have already stated my opinion on this one in the past week and if I were spending $2,850 I would take the Sony RX1 over the X Vario any day of the week. Now, of course I have not tried this camera yet but the idea of an X2  and a big fat f/3.5-f/6.4 Zoom does not entice me to part with nearly $3000. In fact, I would take an OM-D E-M5 with a 12, 45 ad 75mm lenses (and that would come in at less than the cost of the X Vario) over the X Vario to cover my 24-150mm range at f/1.8 to f/2. Bit If you really want a real Leica with beautiful design and IQ, go for the X2 at $2000. The X2 and X Vario are made in Germany, not by Panasonic.

sidebyside

*I did notice they said it was a newly designed 16MP sensor, so it may not be the X2 sensor which means possibly better in low light, which it will need with that slow aperture zoom.

BTW, there is no IS (image stabilization) so shooting video with this is not gonna fly :) It has an 18-46mm lens, starting at f/3.5 and ending up at f/6.4 by the time you hit 46mm. Due to the APS-C sensor crop, you will of course have an equivalent of 28-70 but with the depth of field of an 18-46mm lens. Throw in that slow aperture and what you have is a “large DOF machine” probably really nice for landscape work. Then again, a Fuji X with nice lens is also nice for landscape work. To me, this release does not make sense. I predict SLOW as molasses sales with the X Vario. If Leica thought the X2 was selling slow due to it not having a zoom, they may be in for a shocker. Those who buy Leica as a status symbol are always there but that customer base is not nearly enough to keep those big profits flowing at Leica, of course, they are in the Leica bubble and do not know that this is who this camera is aimed at.

But, while I am not so thrilled with this release, some or many of you may be. I expect decent IQ because with a zoom lens of this speed, there is no way you will get un-sharp images. I expect decent AF Speed but not as fast as current/modern cameras. Even the design with the big protruding lens is bordering on the Ugly side. The X1 and X2 were beautiful designs..this one looks like a beast and once you add-on that EVF, forget it, it’s all over. Might as well spend the extra for the M 240, which I feel is Leica’s masterpiece :)

What I do like from the looks of it is the back has the M 240 thumb grip and control dial. It “looks” like a mini M 240 body though it is fitted with a lens that can not come off and an APS-C sensor. With a lens mated to the sensor we will get great results. If it had a built in EVF it would have been a much better offering IMO.

lenshood

Here is what Leica says:

“The Leica Vario-Elmar 28-70 mm f/3.5 – 6.4 ASPH (35 mm equivalent) and the APS-C CMOS sensor ensures images of unsurpassed brilliance. The size and quality of the sensor means low image noise, high dynamic range and accurate color reproduction. The wide-angle to telephoto zoom range of the Leica X Vario offers photographers the options for many more creative compositions: indoor scenes, impressive landscapes or intimate portraits. The Leica X Vario allows users to change focal length easily and quickly to spontaneously capture the perfect moment giving the user the feel of classic Leica controls. In addition, the autofocus is fast and extremely precise while the switch from autofocus to manual focusing is intuitive – simply move the focusing ring on the lens from MF to AF mode”

“The design and finish of the Leica X Vario reflects the ultimate art of engineering with attention to detail and the use of the finest materials. When you first see the Leica X Vario, the Leica DNA will be obvious. A few minutes of handling the Leica X Vario and design characteristics of the Leica M will be apparent including compactness and construction. The top plate is machined from solid aluminum, the process identical to that used for the Leica M. The magnesium and aluminum body feels solid while the soft leather trim provides a comfortable but firm and reassuring grip. The Leica X Vario provides the user with a unique,one of a kind visual and tactile experience which is synonymous with a Leica made in Germany.”

sideview

Oh, If you want a hood, be prepared to pay $140 extra. EVF? $500. Hand grip? $160. Case? $240. A full pimped out X Vario will set you back about $4000. For an APS-C crop sensor with a slow zoom. Ouch. 

price

You can order tomorrow and have one by Thursday with no wait!

Dealers will have these ready to ship on Wednesday the 12th and you can buy from Ken Hansen ([email protected]), PopFlash.com,, The Pro Shop, and Dale Photo. They will all have stock. While there is a 9-12 month wait for an M240, this guy will be available everywhere tomorrow.

If anyone here gets one let me know how you like it and feel free to post some samples in the brand new untouched Leica X forum that you can access RIGHT HERE. You can also go there to discuss this new release or of course, by leaving comments here. I am testing the new forum so be sure to check it out.

frontfacevario

So there ya go! This was Leica’s release and the one where they posted “you have read the rumors, get the truth on June 11th”. Well, we have the truth and like I said, it is the same as the rumor. For those who have been hoping for an X2 with a Zoom, your camera has arrived :) I was hoping for an RX1 competitor but I guess Leica considers their M to fill that slot. If they did come out with a full frame 35 f/2 camera it seems it would be in the $7-8k range, so in any case, Sony wins. Funny how so many were moaning about the cost of the Sony RX1 at $2700. It is a bargain if you really think of what you are getting with it. This one, not so much but it will serve a purpose for those who have wished for an X2 with a Zoom. Just wish it was more compact.

Steve

Here are the details of the new X Vario:

Lens

Leica Vario-Elmar 1:3.5-6.4 (28-70 mm equivalent), 8 lenses in 6 groups, 1 aspherical lens

Focal Length

18-46 mm (28-70 mm film equivalent)

Apertures

3.5 to 16 (at 28 mm) / 6.4 to 16 (at 70 mm) in 1?3 EV increments

Focusing range

30 cm – infinity

Focusing options

1 point, 11 points, spot, face detection

Image sensor

16.5 MP, APS-C, CMOS image sensor (effective 16.1 MP)

Resolution

JPEG format, 16 M – 4928 x 3272 pixels, 12.2 M – 4288 x 2856 pixels, 7 M – 3264 x 2160 pixels, 3 M – 2144 x 1424 pixels, 1.8 M – 1632 x 1080 pixels, DNG: 4944 x 3272 pixels

Image data file format

JPEG super fine, JPEG fine, DNG + JPEF super fine, DNG + JPEG fine

Exposure Control

Exposure modes

Automatic program (P), program shift, aperture priority (A), shutter speed priority (T) and manual setting (M)

Exposure compensation

Gradation: 3EV in 1/3 EV increments

Automatic exposure bracketing

3 pictures in graduations up to 3 EV, adjustable in 1/3 EV increments

Metering modes

Smart multi-segment metering, center-weighted metering, selective (spot) metering

White balance

Automatic, presets for daylight, cloud, halogen lighting, shade, electronic flash, 2 manual settings, manual color temperature setting, fine adjustment option for all settings

Sensitivity

Automatic, optionally with limits for shutter speed and sensitivity, ISO 100, ISO 200, ISO 400, ISO 800, ISO 1600, ISO 3200, ISO 6400, ISO 12500

Shutter speeds

30s to 1/2000s, with normal flash modes from 1/30s, with flash modes with slower shutter speeds from 30s

Continuous shooting

3 fps of 5 fps, max. 8 consecutive exposures with constant shooting speed in DNG + JPED fine quality

Color settings

Standard, Vivid, Natural, B&W Natural, B&W High Contrast

Flash modes

Auto, flash exposure correction, red-eye correction, fill-in flash, slow sync, studio, 1st / 2nd curtain sync

Hot shoe

Compatible with Leica SF 24D, Leica SF 58 flash units

Monitor

3” TFT LCD, approx. 920,000 pixels, wide-angle field of ives: 100 %

Internal memory

Approx. 110 MB

Memory card

SD, SDHC, SDXC

Interfaces

HDMI out, USB (USB 2.0 high speed), Leica EVF socket

Battery (lithium-ion)

Capacity: approx 450 exposures

Dimensions

Approx. 133 x 73 x 95 mm or

Weight

Approx. 650 / 680 g or 22.9 / 24 oz (without / with battery)

Product includes

Battery (Leica BP-DC8), battery charger (Leica BP-DC8), battery case, leather carrying strap, USB cable, lens cap, user manual

Software

Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (free download option after camera registration)

© 2009-2014 STEVE HUFF PHOTOS All Rights Reserved