May 132015
 

Oregon Landscapes with the Leica M9 in B&W

by Kirk Williamson

Almost a year ago my wife and I made a trip out to Oregon to visit our twin sons who have moved out there to find work in their field (3d animation). Knowing that the landscapes out there are really something compared to the East Coast I was really in a conundrum as to what to bring for gear. I am a newspaper photojournalist and carry Canon pro stuff all day every day and there was no way I was going to travel with all that heavy gear. I kept looking at my M9 wondering if it were really possible to travel with just that and my Canon G15. I know people travel light with the Leica gear all the time but they usually use it for street shooting and the usual tourist stuff. So I finally decided to go for broke and break away from my comfort zone and went with the M9 and the 35 f2 Summicron, 50 f 1.4 Summilux and the old bear 90 f2.8 Tele-Elmarit from the late sixties.

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I had no idea what I was in for when we got off the plane in Portland. It being June made me think that the weather was going to be ok but it is Oregon and rain is part of the equation, but really, all the time! So on the first day out we drove to the usual places involving beautiful waterfalls and tricky driving along the old road above the Columbia River Gorge mostly in the rain. The sun would peak out of the rain clouds from time to time giving me fantastic opportunities for images involving landscapes and clouds.

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I found myself using the 35mm and 50mm all the time for these scenics with clouds. I just put the lens at infinity, no focusing involved (old school auto focus). These two lenses did the bulk of the work and they were a joy to use. The 90mm was almost as much and the images were spectacular. I only wanted my 21mm a few times but all in all the travelling light thing was great, the Leica excelled at landscape shooting. Now I do have to say that I was not very well prepared for shooting waterfalls as I did not bring a tripod and cable release. I was able to get around it using the Canon G15 or shooting at around 1/30s some even at 1/90s to slow down the larger water falls.

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The Canon G15 made it out a few times but mostly on a hike of Silver Falls State Park which has ten waterfalls along a hiking route. What a great camera to hike with! Two of the shots I have included were taken with that camera – two of my favorites. The waterfall shot made with this camera was done holding it down on a post at 1/6s so it is a bit soft which adds to it’s other worldly look. The macro leaf shot was made with the G15 as well.

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Very quickly I noticed that this was going to be a mostly B&W conversion right from the start. The colors were muted with the gray skies and rain so I converted some right way after loading them into my iPad. The result was wow! The clouds just popped. So I knew when I got home that post processing in Silver Efex Pro would be warranted. Boy was I right the results were fabulous.

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Needless to say my small kit was a big success. I have upgraded my M9 to the M-P 240 and plan on bringing that along for this years trip. We will be going to the coast so I will be including my 21mm Super Elmar as I know I’ll need it. This time the G15 will be staying home as my Sony Nex-7 will be tagging along to use with my Leica glass.

My website is www.krwphoto.com and my blog is www.krwphoto.com/blog

Thanks,

Kirk

May 132015
 

Leica M6 TTL & Eeyore’s Birthday Party 2015

By Khunya Lamat Pan

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Hello all! Some might recognize my name and you may attribute it to my extreme loyalty to the Pentax K1000 and the Super-Takumar line of lenses. While I still LOVE the hell out of those, I finally made a big purchase on my dream camera and bought a nearly mint Leica M6 TTL body with a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.5 lens. I chose the M6 due to its pure mechanical nature, with the exception of the light meter. Much like the K1000 actually! I like having the option of using a light meter, but if it fails or the battery dies, I can at least keep on shooting without any hiccups.

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Drum Men

Not long after I bought the new setup, the annual festival in Austin, TX known as Eeyore’s Birthday Party took place. For anyone not familiar, the festival is a celebration of the character Eeyore created by A.A. Milne. Most everyone probably knows him from Winnie-the-Pooh. The festival has live music, egg toss, yoga, drum circles, food/beer, a real donkey, etc. It’s an all day event held in a beautiful park, and while it can get quite intense, the best thing to do is to find a nice shady patch on the hill within the trees and set up camp to watch all the interesting people walk by.

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The M6 performed flawlessly. Like any Leica, it didn’t attract attention to itself in a horde of people. And while nearly everyone at the festival had a DSLR with them, I still felt relatively discreet. For the intensity of the festival, I felt the M6 was the perfect tool. I never felt like I had to worry about it, it just always works and feels smooth and precise. Even changing film on it in a crowd of people was easy, and I was expecting the worst since many people seem to hate the M6’s loading system. It was a very hot and sunny day, so I chose Ilford Pan F+ 50 and Efke KB 25 film. Efke is not longer in production, but I have stockpiled a lot of it in my freezer for special occasions like this. My style has always been to shoot more wide-open, so these two films are perfect for me, especially since I reside in sunny Texas. I developed them using Rodinal and Ilford Stop/Fix baths, and scanned myself using the Plustek Opticfilm 8200i 35mm film scanner.

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On to the pictures! You can follow me on Flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/khunya

You can also check out my website here: http://www.khunyalamatpan.com/

Thanks for looking, and I hope you enjoy!

-Khunya

May 112015
 

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The New Leica 90 Summarit f/2.4 Lens Quick Review on the M 240

By Steve Huff

I recently posted my very positive experience with the new set of Summarit lenses from Leica. Mainly, the 35, 50 and 75. I have now finally had a chance to shoot some frames with the 90 f.2.4 and as before with the old Summarit, I love it. It continues along the same lines as the previous version but adds a closer minimum focus, an f/2.4 aperture vs 2.5 and now comes with a full Leica leather case and metal hood at no extra charge. The rendering of the lens is very nice, and leaves you wondering if you really do need that larger, heavier, more expensive Summicron!

This is not so much a full “review”, but it is sort of an “addition” to THIS 90 Summarit review (which sums up this lens just as well) and THIS recent post. Read those 1st, then come back here to read this short but sweet article.

The video I did a few weeks ago showing the Summarit lenses and the new Leica M-P Safari set. 

Thanks Ken!

Also, before I get started let me thank Leica Legendary Dealer Ken Hansen for sending me these lenses for review. I could not even get them from Leica, so Ken sent them my way to borrow so I can test them to see what I thought. I just packed up all of them for their way back to Ken. SO THANK YOU KEN! If you need ANYTHING Leica, be sure to EMAIL him at [email protected] and ask him for it, he deals in NEW and USED and has it all in stock. All of it.

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The New Summarit. Is it so different from the previous line?

This little and very light 90mm F/2.4 Summarit is a beautiful lens, and I admit, I am not a 90mm or telephoto guy. If I owned a 90 for my Leica it would probably be used twice a year. I prefer to shoot 21, 35 and 50 as I like to get up close and converse with my subjects. Even so, the 90 is fantastic when you want to shoot a portrait as you get NO distortion, and nice separation of your subject from the background..or as some like to call it “3D Pop”.

But what about the last 90 Summarit f/2.5? Is this lens better in image quality? No, not really..in fact, it seems about the same to me as the last 90. The new f/2.4 vs f/2.5, well, let’s just say there is really no measurable difference in that speed. Many say the old Summarit was really f/2.4 but Leica marked them as 2.5 as to not cannibalize the Summicron sales.

Where this 90 F/2.4 excels over the old 90 F/2.5 is that it is a new design, comes standard with a Leica leather case and metal hood where the previous version came with a felt baggie and the hood was a separate purchase. It is nice to see Leica upgrade these things as even though the Summarit lines is the cheapest new production lenses in the Leica lineup, they are NOT cheap! The 90 here comes in at a hefty $2350. YES, IT IS STILL A LEICA ;)

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I am not a 90 guy..but I did enjoy this lens. 

I know many who love and adore the 90mm Focal length though and some who call it their favorite focal length while others never touch it, especially with a Leica.

But…

There are many shooters who love them some reach. Some do not feel comfortable getting in close to their subjects and a longer lens helps them do this without being noticed. Others use them as they would any other lens, as I do, pulling it out for that portrait or when it is needed. It will deliver the depth and pop of a good 90 though the Bokeh of this Summarit, well, I much prefer the Bokeh from the 90 Summicron. But hey, the 90 Cron is $3995, close to be double the cost of the Summarit, so you will pay for that 90 Cron creaminess if you indeed want or need it.

Even so, the 90 Summarit is fantastic.

Click images here for much better versions and to see them correctly

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The 90mm focal length has long been considered the goto for portraits, and that is for many reasons. No distortion that most wider lenses will give you, nice subject pop and a good 90 will give you nice bokeh, nice detail and be just about perfect for head and shoulders type of shots or just headshots. Now the 90mm focal length is not only for portraits of course, but most of those who I know who uses a 90mm uses them for people. Others use them simply to get more reach. One thing is for sure though, Leica does not make a bad lens. Buy a summart, summicron or summilux and ALL of them will deliver what you want although they will all have a different character.

With Leica it is all about the “character” of the lens and how it renders and this is what makes them special, as there are not many lenses out there that refer quite like a good Leica lens.

As with all posts here on this website, clicking the images below will open up a much nicer and larger version, how they were meant to be seen. All images below with the Leica M-P 240 and 90 Summarit. 

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VINTAGE MODERN

The entire Summarit line, for me, renders in a way that is a mix of classic, modern and everything in between. It has the sharp crisp details that Leica is known for (modern) and also gives you a bit of that classic feel without being soft or too “vintage”. I’d say 80% modern, 20% classic. My time with the 90 was short as I rarely use a 90 but if I were a guy who loved this focal length, it would be a choice between this and the Summicron. I have owned and loved the cron, and have to say I do prefer the rendering of the APO Summicron but it is MUCH heavier, larger and expensive. This Summarit is just as good if not better than the previous summarit, and again, my review of THAT lens is HERE. It is also just as good as the old and very much loved 90 2.8 Elmarit, which is now discontinued.

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ANY ISSUES?

Not much to say here but this 90 will give you some CA (purple fringing) as you can see below in Wyatt Earp’s hat. Even the $11,000 Noctilux has CA, as do the Summilux line. For me it doesn’t bother me but I do not shoot critical work where it needs to be printed at 60 inches wide for public display, so for me this is just part of the digital course. Many say CA is a sensor issue, others say it is the lens. But it is common in good fast lenses when shooting digital… Always has been and unless the camera itself corrects for this, it will be in your photos. It is also easily taken care of with your favorite photo editor.

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The bottom line is that this version of the Summarit excels over the old version with a closer focusing distance of 0.9m, included metal hood and leather case and in use, the lens is buttery smooth to focus. I had no issues with the lens, focusing or anything.

This is a solid performer and while I did not use it a ton (again, I am not a 90 guy) I did see it’s potential. It would be very tough to choose the 90 Summicron APO over this at $4000 vs $2350. But that is all personal preference. I know what I like, and for me, I prefer the 90 Sunmicron rendering but I prefer the price of the Summarit.

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MY OVERALL FEELINGS ON THE SUMMARIT LINE as a WHOLE?

These lenses are beautiful, gorgeous, and the performance is what yo would expect from a Leica lens. Just because they are considered the “starter” or “budget” line does not mean they are sub-par. The 50 is my favorite summarit followed by the 35 and then 75. The 90 is my least favorite simply because I am not a 90mm shooter. The lenses are ALL fantastic, and one could never go wrong with any of the Summarit lenses. You will save some cash, and have some of the most beautiful and compact lenses ever made.

5 STARS for all of these because for the price, for the name, you are getting great performance at a much better price than normal.

WHERE TO BUY

You can buy these lenses from Ken Hansen, PopFlash.com, The Pro Shop, or B&H Photo. Even Amazon sells them via PRIME.

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PLEASE! I NEED YOUR HELP TO KEEP THIS WEBSITE RUNNING, IT IS SO EASY AND FREEE for you to HELP OUT!

Hello to all! For the past 7 years I have been running this website and it has grown to beyond my wildest dreams. Some days this very website has over 200,000 visitors and because of this I need and use superfast dedicated web servers to host the site. Running this site costs quite a bit of cash every single month and on top of that, I work full-time 60+ hours a week on it each and every single day of the week (I received 200-300 emails a DAY). Because of this, I need YOUR help to cover my costs for this free information that is provided on a daily basis.

To help out it is simple, and no, I am not asking you for a penny!

If you ever decide to make a purchase from B&H Photo or Amazon, for ANYTHING, even diapers..you can help me without spending a penny to do so. If you use my links to make your purchase (when you click a link here and it takes you to B&H or Amazon, that is using my links as once there you can buy anything and I will get a teeny small credit) you will in turn be helping this site to keep on going and keep on growing.

Not only do I spend money on fast hosting but I also spend it on cameras to buy to review, lenses to review, bags to review, gas and travel, and a slew of other things. You would be amazed at what it costs me just to maintain this website, in money and time. Many times I give away these items in contests to help give back you all of YOU.

So all I ask is that if you find the free info on this website useful AND you ever need to make a purchase at B&H Photo or Amazon, just use the links below. You can even bookmark the Amazon link and use it anytime you buy something. It costs you nothing extra but will provide me and this site with a dollar or two to keep on trucking along.

AMAZON LINK (you can bookmark this one)

B&H PHOTO LINK – (not bookmark able) Can also use my search bar on the right side or links within reviews, anytime.

Outside of the USA? Use my worldwide Amazon links HERE!

You can also follow me on Facebook, TwitterGoogle + or YouTube. ;)

One other way to help is by donation. If you want to donate to this site, any amount you choose, even $5, you can do so using the paypal link HERE and enter in your donation amount. All donations help to keep this site going and growing! I do not charge any member fees so your donations go a long way to keeping this site loaded with useful content. Thank you!

May 072015
 

A carefree trip to Siem Reap with Leica D-Lux

by Paul Chan

Leica DLUX

Although I am a proud owner of a Leica M240, I opted for a small and easy camera for my recent trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia.  It was a vacation and I did not want to bother with the whole “thinking process” involved when shooting with a rangefinder.  Above all, the thought of lugging multiple lenses and a metal camera body in the heat of above 90°F just terrified me.

Knowing that the Leica D-Lux is virtually the same camera as the Panasonic LX100, I still bit the bullet and spent more dough on the “red dot” so that I could travel in style.  To my pleasant surprise, the handling of the camera was foolproof, with all commonly used features within easy access.  Since I prefer to shoot in the aperture priority mode, the exterior aperture ring is particular invaluable.  On that note, the add bonuses are the built-in EVF viewfinder and the quasi-four-third sensor.

The D-Lux is by no means the best deal of cameras in that price range, but it accommodates all my needs as a photography hobbyist who seeks the equilibrium of functionality and sleek design in a camera.

Here are some of the pictures I took of the wondrous ancient city.  Most pictures were taken with spot focus; some were intentionally underexposed by 1 stop in order to increase their color saturation.

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May 052015
 

Leica cuts lenses by 12% – Save hundreds on Leica lenses now!

Leica is trying to boost sales so they cut lenses by 12% through May 31st 2015. B&H Photo has them all cut down HERE. Also, the other dealers that you can buy from that I highly recommend are Ken Hansen ([email protected]), PopFlash.com, Pro Shop for Photographers and Leica Store Miami! The 50 APO is in stock at B&H for nearly $1000 off!

Noctilux? SAVE OVER $1300

SAVE 12% through May 31st!!!

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Apr 302015
 

The New Leica M Typ 246..or “The New Monochrom”

Seems the rumors were all true! The new Leica M 246, or “New Monochrom” has just been announced by Leica and it is basically what we all thought it would be..an M 240 body with an all new 24MP Monochrom CMOS sensor. No more CCD as with the M9 to 240. This new Monochrom appears to be a beauty. Me, I ADORE and LOVE my M 240 body. For me it kills the Leica M9 body in so many ways from feel, shutter sound, LCD, battery life. quality of controls and the way they feel, menu, RF frame lines and so much more. It is for me, the best digital M body ever designed so I am thrilled to see it make its way to the new Monochrom.

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The big question many have is “will this give the same amazing B&W as the previous CCD version”? That remains to be seen as I haven’t seen one, tested one or tried one. I should be able to soon. Expected to ship in just a couple of weeks, around mid May the new Monochrom 246 comes in at $7,450 and as before will be a niche camera that users will cherish and adore. Many do not understand the concept of a B&W only camera but it does have its benefits for sure. The previous M Monochrom put out B&W files that no other camera could match for B&W purists. It was truly the digital version of film, but instead of being stuck with one film, you could get the looks of many types of film. Of course, NO DIGITAL will ever replicate real film, but we can get in the ballpark.

You can see some 1st samples over at the Red Dot Forum, and to my eye, they look fabulous. 

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Some specs:

Outstanding imaging performance with low noise up to ISO 25,000
Live-View and focus peaking
Large buffer memory and Leica Maestro processor
High quality full-HD video function
Easy to use – reduced to the essentials
Body made of high-strength magnesium alloy and solid brass top and base plates finished in black chrome
Sapphire crystal glass cover plate and 3” monitor
Access to a wide range of M lenses from 16 – 135 mm
New filters solely for the Leica M Monochrom widening creative possibilities
Compatible with all accessories for the Leica M (Typ 240)
Access to R lenses with Leica M-Adapter-R for pictures and video
Adobe Lightroom available as a download
Made in Germany

I think the new M 246 Monochrom will be amazing, but I love Leica. I love their cameras. I love how they work, how they feel and that they are the most beautiful cameras made today for 35mm full frame.

Expensive, yes. Worth it? Maybe, that depends on you. Oh, it also now shoots video..only in B&W of course :) 

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You can pre-order the new Monochrom from Legendary Leica Dealer Ken Hansen by e-mailing him at [email protected].

You can also pre-order at the Pro Shop for Photographers, PopFlash.com and Leica Store Miami. 

I wil not be able to buy one but I should be able to test one as I have already spoken with Leica, so look for info soon from me with samples. How soon? Probably a couple of weeks.

OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:

Leica Unveils Its New M Monochrom Camera,
Taking Digital Black-and-White Photography to New Levels

Fresh Features Focus on Unsurpassed Imaging Performance, Rich Details,
Peak Low-Light Capabilities, HD Video Capability and Live View Options

April 30, 2015 – Leica Camera introduces the new Leica M Monochrom (Type 246) today, the next step in its hugely successful digital black-and-white photography concept for the Leica M rangefinder camera system. The new Leica M Monochrom, the first and only digital camera to enable a real black and white image – still or moving – without image processing or filtering, will be available May 2015.

“With never-before-seen imaging performance, outstanding low-light capabilities, and richness of detail, the new Leica M Monochrom surpasses the high standards set by its predecessor,” said Roland Wolff, VP of Marketing and Corporate Retail for Leica. “At the same time, it keeps its primary aim sharply in focus: black-and-white images with top quality across the board.”
Thanks to its high-capacity 2GB-buffer memory and Leica Maestro processor, the new Leica M Monochrom captures sequences three times faster than its predecessor. The new processor also enables extremely fast display of the captured images in review mode, making the new Monochrom even more versatile.
The Leica M Monochrom follows the successful route taken by the Leica M and captures decisive moments with 24-megapixel resolution. The monochrome CMOS sensor produces exceptionally sharp pictures at all sensitivity settings up to ISO 25000. As the M Monochrom has no color filter array over the sensor, it requires no interpolation for the calculation of luminance values. The result is 100% sharper images with brilliance and detail contrast that far exceeds what color photography can do.
The new Leica M Monochrom can also capture high-quality full-HD video in black and white. The optional Leica microphone adapter set, comprising an adapter and a stereo microphone, ensures perfect sound. The high-resolution 3″ monitor with 921,600 pixels ensures that photographers have complete control of composition, exposure, focusing and depth of field.
Moreover, the camera now offers full visual control with its Live View function, which provides two focusing methods: the up to 10x magnification of Live View Zoom mode, enabling full control of the sharpness of details in the image on the monitor or the closest focusing distance; and Live View Focus Peaking mode, where sharply focused edges in the image are highlighted by colored lines.

Another advantage of the new CMOS sensor is that, in addition to the M-Lens portfolio, almost all lenses of the Leica R series can now be used with an optional adapter on the Leica M Monochrom to expand the creative capabilities of the Leica rangefinder system, as is also the case with the Leica M. Additionally, all equipment and accessories from the Leica M series are compatible with the new Leica M Monochrom.

Other new features include:
• Nearly unbreakable sapphire crystal cover glass for the LCD monitor, treated with an anti-reflection protective coating to ensure precise assessment of images in any lighting situation.
• A body manufactured from high-strength magnesium alloy, with a top- and baseplate made from solid brass blanks and finished in black chrome.
• New yellow, orange and green filters, available in July.

About Leica Camera
Passion for creating perfect pictures. Leica represents a union of craftsmanship, design and experience. It is a beautiful collision of art and engineering, and the future of form and functionality. Leica Camera is an internationally operating, premium-segment manufacturer of cameras and sport optics products. The legendary status of the Leica brand is founded on a long tradition of excellence in the supreme quality and performance of cameras and lenses, and the iconic images that artists and photojournalists everywhere captured with them. Leica Camera AG is headquartered in Wetzlar, Germany.

For more information about Leica visit www.leica-camera.com

So what do YOU think about the new Leica Typ 246 Monochrom? Leave your comments below! 

Apr 302015
 

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Angelo Pelle Cases for the M 240 and Sony A7II (Video)

After acquiring a Leica Safari M 240 set I went to the website of Angelo Pelle to see what he had to offer in the form of a half case for the green Safari. I knew I wanted something different, something unique and something besides the usual black or brown half case as the Leica Safari is a sort of Army Green color. After perusing his website for a while, and after owning a fantastic brown leather half case for my Sony A7II that Angelo made, I found the half case AND bag that I wanted from him for my Safari M.

Camouflage.

See the video below to see the case and bag

I decided to order his “Henri Bag” which is a small design that will hold your Leica and small lens as well as one more lens to bring along, and that is about it. I asked for BOTH in Camo color (though if I could go back I would get the case in CAMO and the bag in Black) and in less than 2 weeks I had the custom set at my door. I have had my share of half cases for Leica M cameras. Gariz, Arte Di Mano, Luigi,  Artisan & Artist, Leica’s own cases and a few cheap options that all fit loose and sloppy. I always have said “you get what you pay for” and this holds true with half cases for the Leica M. Usually.

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The best fit cases I have tried until now have been the Arte Di Mano line, but man are they expensive. (then again, so is a Leica M). Luigi cases are gorgeous as well but a tad on the thick side and Leica’s own cases are the worst of the lot with sloppy fits and odd designs.

As for Angelo Pelle, his cases are right up there at the top when it comes to quality, design, fit and finish. When I received my Camo case for the Safari I was stunned at the quality of Leather used as well as the “fit like a glove” design. It offers nearly full protection for the camera, most I have seen for a half case as it come all the way up to the top and even covers pretty much all of the rear bottom, top and sides. There is even a flap to cover the LCD if you want to do that. I have been shooting the M like this, and it is pretty cool to ignore the LCD!

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Angelo’s products are top notch, best rating I can give. He is a friendly guy, offers unique options and all products of his are hand made in Italy. They fit perfect and feel fantastic. The Leica case has a built in grip that allows a nice feel, and this really takes it up a notch as well.

His cases are not cheap, but they are not the most expensive either. I find them to be the best I have used, and for quality Leica leather cases, price in the upper middle of the range. Less expensive than Art De Mano and Luigi and well worth the cost IF you are looking for a high quality beautiful case to protect your camera and give it a nicer feel when you are using it.

You can see Angelo’s website HERE. He has quite a it to offer and makes cases for many cameras. My Angelo Pelle Sony A7II case is superb, amazing. It is wearing in nicely as well. The only weaknesses I found with these cases is that once they are on you lose access to the battery and memory card until you take the case off. This is how 99% of cases are though. Me I shoot all day, come home and then take the case off once to get my card and battery. No problem.

Apr 292015
 

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A User Review of the Zeiss 35mm Distagon f1.4 ZM on a Leica M 240

By Howard Shooter

I must confess to being a bit of a Leica fan. I love Leica and the purity of the rangefinders’ back to basics approach to photography. Up until three days ago I have veered towards only Leica glass and my thoughts have been mostly positive. I was niggled and irritated by the slight softness of the 50mm Summilux on the M240mm compared to the M9 and the ever so slight lack of contrast, which means I sometimes have to give the files a bit of the proverbial kick in Lightroom. The shift from M9 to M240 was another learning curve in appreciating subtlety and nuance for me and took longer than I expected to really love the new signature of the much debated cmos sensor.

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I always loved the 35mm focal length, as it’s such a versatile lens for so many situations from landscape to portrait. I wanted the Leica 35mm summilux but the price is too steep for me to justify the outlay.

Zeiss have always had their avid and similarly loyal followers and the Leica fit Zeiss lenses have generally reviewed well and been passionately spoken for.

I ordered the Zeiss 35mm Distagon f1.4 ZM a week before they came in and the initial online reviews were scarce and very favorable. At approximately one-third of the price of the Leica equivalent I was looking forward to testing out the lens and deciding if my long and loyal following to owning only Leica glass was now dwindling.

Physically the lens is a little heavy for my liking; bulky and substantial, not balanced perfectly with the body. This isn’t a deal breaker for me as the optics far outweighs the extra size but it is a consideration and a minor irritation. The focus ring is a little tighter than I’m used to but the aperture is wonderfully smooth in third stop increments. The lens blocks the viewfinder a little but not enough for me to care. For all of it’s differences it is a beautifully well made lens in the true tradition of Zeiss and feels and looks better than in the Zeiss promotional shots.

Incidentally I am not going to post shots of my camera with the lens as you can see other reviewers do this. I am not a “professional” reviewer so I’d rather share my hopefully interesting opinions and see if this helps you decide on whether this lens might be of interest to you.

I’m in my favorite photographic haunt again of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, a fishing town with a wonderful English appeal and atmosphere.

The following shots were all taken with the Leica M240 with the Zeiss 35mm lens at various apertures. All were processed minimally in Lightroom with a little post processing but the essence of the lens’s signature is preserved. After you’ve looked at the shots I’ll let you know my personal opinion.

Shot 2 Oyster Fisherman

Shot 3 Lobster cages

Shot 4 Boats Windows

Shot 5 Gone Fishing

Shot 6 Boat Silhouette

Shot 7 Fisherman Sorting Catch

Shot 8 Woman On Beach

Shot 9 Boats at Dawn

Shot 10 Man by house

 

I hope you like these shots because in some ways they really surprised me. Now this may seem strange but the lens seems to give more pop and contrast than most Leica lenses I have used on my M240. The signature almost reminds me of the look I used to get with my M9. In other words if you are missing the M9 pop from your M240 and are looking for a 35mm lens I think you can do no better then with the Zeiss.

Just to re-iterate, when used with the M240 this lens gives you the subtlety of the M240 cmos sensor with the pop of the M9… a perfect combination.

This leads me to wonder if the colour and contrast of this lens on an M9 might be a little too saturated and contrasty but I am merely speculating. I love this lens and think that it actually feels very old school Leica rather than modern day Zeiss. It isn’t overly clinical in my opinion but is very sharp, handles flare extremely well, is very adaptable with various subjects and in the right light gives plenty of pop but at a third of the price. The bokeh isn’t distracting but also isn’t class leading either as subjective as this always is. I think reds do come out a little too red and saturated on the M240 which means they need toning down a little but the black and white conversions are wonderfully filmic. The M240 has always been very good for black and white and I think with this lens you get a real sense of depth and dynamic range.

I can strongly recommend this lens. Have you got this lens and do you share my opinions….?

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Shot 13 Aldeburgh Town

As always many thanks for reading,

Warm wishes

Howard Shooter
www.HowardShooter.com

(From Steve: POPFLASH has one Zeiss 35 1.4 in stock in black!)

Apr 272015
 

The View from the Rearview

by Mark Steiglman

As I was recently interviewed on the Leica Blog, I thought I would submit here as well.

Spending hours a day commuting in my car has made me acutely aware of my surroundings. One day while looking in my rear view mirror I became very interested in the comings and goings of the cars behind me. The scenes unfolded like little vignettes of humanity, people laughing, arguing, crying but mostly just looking bored and trapped within their heads as well as the glass and metal box they confine themselves to in their daily commutes. I wanted to capture what I was witnessing.

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After working out the technical aspects, my first attempts lacked the direct, unreserved look I was after as people were recognizing the camera. There is a long history of documenting people without them noticing. Walker Evans shielded his camera within his coat while making his subway series. Ben Shahn, while documenting for the WPA used a right angle mirror attachment on his lens pretending to take pictures of his wife while actually shooting what was off to the side. I solved this problem by buying a small stuffed bird, ripping out the stuffing and cutting a hole for the lens. The bird cam has made it virtually impossible to know that I am photographing and my pictures suddenly became what I had seen on that day I conceived of the idea.

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The imaginary line of public verses private space that the windshield seems to represent became my “monitor” for both real and imagined tableaus that raise so many interpersonal and social questions during the moment of exposure. Coming from the whole “social landscape photography” genre, these are the kinds of pictures I have always taken except now I am within the confines of my car taking photographs of my subjects within the confines of theirs.

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Mark Steigelman

marksteigelman.com

marksteigelman.wordpress.com

https://instagram.com/msteigelmanThe

Apr 242015
 

Street Photography in Dublin Ireland with Film

By Fergus Fitzgerald

Hi All,
I hope I am familiar to most of the regulars here as I post a lot as a commentator but never before as a contributor. I suppose you could call me a street photographer in as much as most of my photography seems to take place on the streets. My interests in photography these days is in street photography and those photographers who are regarded as being talented in this genre.

I do not take myself too seriously. I think street photography is valuable in the sense that it is entirely without an agenda which is its strength.

I realise this is a gear orientated site and I am definitely not a gear head though most photographers who say that are actually not telling the truth ! How can I explain this ? You see we all start out with an ambition to produce a great image -the image that is in our heads – if we do not succeed we will try again and again always seeking that elusive image. If you have experienced this feeling and know the frustration and remain faithful to that image in your head -then you are a photographer simple as that.

We can try all kinds of ways to achieve our goal -most of us (myself included ) at some time or other will succumb to the allure of the apparatus. If only we could get that new piece of equipment -that would make the transformation for us . In time we learn that the secret is to just keep shooting with what you have and try to become enthused more by the images you are creating and not the apparatus used. Mind you, I am more than willing to concede that gear can and does inspire people. So once you don’t go too crazy, what’s the harm in enjoying a new Nikon Canon Sony or even a Leica ? Not all at once of course !

I have used many cameras in my day and finally settled for Leica for many reasons -firstly they are beautiful and minimalist in the extreme and have superb optics. Secondly I like the European heritage -not to mention a desire to be a bit different.

I think of my images as being snaps for the thinking snapper. I hope anybody who recognises himself or herself in one of my photos will have the sense of humour to just have a laugh as I would never take an image to show a person in a bad way -though I will not allow my photography to become anodyne either.

These images are mostly from my M6 with 35 and 50 Summicron lenses on Ilford XP2 film scanned on my Nikon Coolscan V ED .  The images are just incidents I happened upon as I walked around where I live which is Dublin Ireland . For example the girl walking in costume reading the book was an actress rehearsing her lines during a break at the Samuel Beckett Theatre festival.

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I tend to shoot mostly with the 50mm lens and do not get too up close. Despite what Capa said I feel you can still produce good pictures from a slight distance. I cannot for example imagine myself ever using a 28mm or wider for street -though many do this magnificently.

I traded my M6 for an M8 seven or more years ago and occasionally I get a Lumix G1 on loan from a friend .I used this to get the image of the old lady bemused by the two guys reaction to whatever was on the laptop screen. I actually like the G1 a lot as it is nice and compact and produces good colour images -though I’m not a big fan of EVF’s Actually none other than Saul Leiter used one at the latter part of his career!

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The photo below was taken in Moore St Dublin where traditional traders still sell from stalls and many have family roots going back generations:

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The old gent looking through the view window is in Temple bar which has nice bars and restaurants and is a great spot for street photography. My favourite haunt there is “The Gallery of Photography “where I have seen such wonderful exhibitions as Genesis by Salgado. Keen eyed photographers will see this is not a film scan -it’s actually from the M8.

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Luck and happenstance play a big part in street photography. One day I was in the old Animal Museum in Dublin known to the kids of Dublin as the “Dead Zoo” with my nephew when I snapped a photo of him looking in wonder at a Moose. When the film was processed it turned out to be a different kid altogether as my nephew had wandered off to view something else! Years later myself and friends would visit “Yellowstone Park” in the US and I would have a very similar reaction to a live Moose -Wow they are big!

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When I got the M8 I shot almost exclusively in colour but now I mostly shoot in black and white . I love the way Leica M digital cameras render black and white. I have not seen better. Strangely I now seem to be shooting Black and White on digital and colour on film which is the reverse of a lot of photographers I know. Kodak Portra film has a lot to do with this as I love it‘s subtle pastel like colours. I have now resurrected my ancient Pentax K1000 and a few Takumar lenses for colour.

Hope you like the images.

Rgds Fergus Fitzgerald

PS might post a few colour street photos from the M8 in the future…….? Thanks Steve and Brandon.

Apr 242015
 

Pre-Baby shoot with a Sony A7II

By Aditya Agarwal

Hi Steve, Hi Brandon

Thanks for having this wonderful site and the wonderful reviews. It has immensely helped my passion for photography. I recently shifted from my Canon 5DMKIII kit to a brand new Sony A7II and A7S with a Leica Noctilux and the amazing new Sony Zeiss 35mm f1.4. As of writing I have just opened the box for the 35mm and I am eager to try this wonderful new lens tomorrow.

I don’t shoot professionally and I own a successful reseller business for Apple Inc., in India. What keeps me calm and rocking is my love for photography. Though I am a Apple fanboy and tech geek myself.

Recently my family friend asked my to shoot some photos for him. His wife is expecting a child very soon and they wanted some pre-baby photos. This is the first time I am shooting for someone. Since they are our very close freinds, I obliged.

I used my Sony A7II with the Leica Noctilux 50mm mounted with a Voigtlander Close focus adapter. I got this kit after failing to resist, reading all your wonderful reviews :-D

Here are 3 pictures. I have begun to realise that NO OTHER LENS renders anything like the Noctilux. None. Period. I have fallen in love with it so much that I don’t mind the weight and size at all.

All pictures were taken wide open at f0.95 except the portrait of the couple which was at F2.0. I put in one pic of my wife, a very candid shot which I like very much. I shot them all at ISO 100 on Manual. I controlled the exposure with the shutter speed as needed.

The Noctilux is everything a lens should be. Dreamy at f0.95 and razor sharp f1.4 onwards. I will keep this lens forever and never sell it.

Hope you like the pics.

Many Thanks

Aditya Agarwal

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Apr 232015
 

My Adoration for the Sony A7 series and the Leica 50mm Summilux f1.4 ASPH Lens

by Jonathan Peterson

Steve,

To begin, I must say that I love your website. Like a ton. You’ve brought together a great community of artists and enthusiasts who gather to discuss photography and the wonderful products that show up on the shelves. I visit your website multiple times a day for inspiration and to read your views on some of my most beloved cameras.

I’m talking about the wonderful line of cameras from Sony: the A7, A7R, A7S, and A7II. I own the A7R, in particular. I LOVE this thing. I received it soon after its release and have loved it ever since. I paired it with the Leica 50mm Summilux f1.4 ASPH lens and have managed to create some decent images. I’m a U.S. Navy Sailor, so I get a chance to visit some very cool places. In fact, I’m stationed in Japan at the moment. Please enjoy some of my favorite images.

Thanks for your time and effort in this website, Steve. Please take care!

Very respectfully,

Jonathan

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Apr 152015
 

West Coast Monochrom

by Phillipp Wortmann

These are photographs taken along the California West Coast during a trip in march 2015. The route was roughly LA – San Clemente – Joshua Tree – Morro Bay – Big Sur – Santa Cruz – Point Reyes – San Francisco.
As I like to keep it simple I brought only my M6, 35 Summicron IV and a bunch of Kodak TriX film. It doesn’t matter if it’s cameras, lenses or film – if I bring more than one I can never decide what to use so limiting myself in that way actually gives me a lot more peace of mind.

For the past year or so I have been almost exclusively shooting 35mm color film but for this trip I wanted to give the black and white another go. This decision was actually made a couple of weeks prior to the trip when I went through my archive and rediscovered some of my older black and white film photos. You can check my little user report on that HERE.

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Another reason for going with black and white was that I had already been to do southwestern US the year before where I shot all Kodak Portra 160. So to avoid ending up with very similar photos from two different trips using Kodak TriX 400 made sense. If you like you can see the color shots from last year here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/derphilipppp/sets/72157648794789646/

So overall the trip was a blast and although I didn’t shoot as much as I had hoped/planned/anticipated I’m really happy with some of the shots I got. I will probably need to find a darkroom to do some prints soon.

The entire album can be viewed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/derphilipppp/sets/72157651692347201/

You can also see more of my photos here: lifeon35.tumblr.com and instagram.com/derphilipppp/

Best regards and thanks for the opportunity to showcase my work!

Philipp

Apr 142015
 

Black & White with Leica M6, M9 and MM

By Dan Bar

Hi Steve & Brandon! About 8 years ago a friend of mine , a well-known photographer in Israel told me he wanted to buy the new digital Leica M8. I thought very highly of him and decided to go and see the new wonder. Yes it was a Leica, looked like one and was VERY expensive.

I have always dreamed of one but never wanted to spend so much , so I offered the salesman my Canon 5D + some lenses and to my great amazement he agreed to switch. I had to add some money of course as I also wanted 2 lenses with it. Since then I sold the M8, bought the M9, than sold it for the MM .

I also had the M6 for some time but the trouble dealing with film and development made me sell it too.

The purchase of the M8 , MM and M6 incited my love for black and white again. With my Canon 5D I only shot color. There is something about Leica that draws the user to b&w and I don’t know why. This odd attraction made me buy the Leica MM which I think is a fantastic b&w camera, as close to film as can be ( at least in my opinion. ) I know Steve prefers the 240 and so does Mr. Thorsten Overgaard, ( he told me so). I love the 240 but i mainly use it for color photos but here are some of my B&W photos which I like and hope you will like too.

Thank you
Danny

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It is not easy to decide which photos to send, I am not saying I dont like color photos and yet BLACK & White has its uniqueness. I love your site and look at it on a daily basis.

Thanks
Danny

Apr 132015
 

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The NEW Leica Summarit Lenses. 35, 50, 75 and 90 2.4. Part 1.

These lenses were sent to me to review by Leica Dealer Ken Hansen. He has these and many other Leica items in stock, so email him if interested at [email protected].

**This review will be in two parts. This part will mainly focus on the 35 and 50 with a few 75 samples thrown in. I will show many images and talk about the character of the lenses. Part 2 will feature more 75 and 90 and go over my final thoughts on the Summarit line as well as some comparisons. So my conclusion, comparisons, and more images will be in part 2 in about 1-2 weeks. Enjoy!**

1st, a video showing the Summarits with my new Safari Leica M-P 240 

Man, these brand new 2015 Summarit lenses from Leica REALLY surprised me, and these days it takes A LOT to Surprise me. The fit, the finish, the build, the design, the smoothness, the hood’s, the caps, the whole package with these little Summarit line has gotten better than ever before with the new improvements. Optically they are STUNNERS and IMO beat many of the classic Leica lenses. For example, I prefer the new 2.4 Summarit 50 to the older 50 Summicron f/2 (non APO). The 35 Summarit is TINY but STUNNINGLY sharp. The 75 is probably the coolest of the lot with its 2.4 aperture, close focusing distance of .7 and the slim slender profile. I loved the old summarit line (which are not really that old) that Leica introduced at the end of the M8.2’s life as they released them to create a more affordable lens for what would be the M9. They did a great thing with that lens line as they were Semi Affordable in Leica terms and they were fantastic performers. 

The new line is even better with a new design, new metal hood designs, new metal lens caps, new silver or black finish, improved optics, new closer focusing distances, and each lens comes with a real Leica leather case (the old line came with a bag). So the prices have went up from $2000-$2350 but they are still the least expensive REAL Leica lenses made today for the M and they give up nothing in performance to their more expensive siblings.

The 35, 50, 75 ad 90..look at the stunning silver finish. I am not a HUGE fan of the black focusing rings on the silver body but I would still choose Silver for my Safari M-P. 

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After shooting with the 35, 50, 75 and 90 I can say that I would love to own the 50 and 75 AND 90, but may end up buying the 50 for now, and one of the other telephoto options later. I own a 35 Summicron so do not need another 35 but man oh man. The details and color..some of these have that old M9 pop that many look for IMO – all from Leica’s latest and most affordable lens line for the M.

Click this image for a larger 1800 pixel size to see the details, and depth. This was with the 50 f/2.4 and it is STUNNING at any price. If Leica packaged this as an all new special 50 with a new name, they could have priced it at $3000. It is crisper than a Summilux, sharper and has better color than the old 50 Summicron, along with a smoother Bokeh and it is smaller and sleeker and looks amazingly beautiful on the camera. Click the image of the Cowboy to see the depth, detail and character of his face. Amazing lens. 

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When you view the above image, you will see that Leica pop and look from the contrast, sharpness, color and the WOW. It is in a class of it’s own. The gentle transitions from focus to out of focus is organic, the color is scrumptious and the glow is here as well. Take a look and click on the image below. From raw, wide open at f/2.4 on the new 50 Summarit.

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But let us keep going as I think I want to make this review more image based as the images are what tell the tale.

Click on the image below for a larger sized version. Here, you can see Leica’s color signature, the glow, the detail (see the eyes) and the smooth transition from sharp to butter. :) This 50 2.4 is a smashing lens. Many will feel they need a Summicron or Lux and they will miss out. Today, there is no need to spend more for better. Each Leica lens, the Summarit, Summicron and Summilux each have a different character, but ALL are stellar and better than any DSLR 50 ;) 

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The 35 Summarit inside at ISO 2000. Still crisp, still “leica” in the feeling. Nothing special about the image but it does show that even in dark indoor interiors the 35 Summarit and M 240 can pull it off.

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Always love old doors and this one was taken in Tombstone, AZ at an old abandoned building. The 35 now has a .8 meter close focus distance, is made to a higher standard, has improved optics and again, comes with metal hood, leather case and the full Leica treatment. This 35 goes for $2250, much less than the 35 Summicron or 35 Summilux. This lens feels amazing on the M. Small, solid, smooth focus. Not much more you could ask for. Click images for larger. 

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Another with the 35, right out of the camera (RAW)…

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The 50 has its own unique mojo and character that sets it apart from the Summicron and Summilux. I know of one guy who has ALL of the Leica 50;s and chooses which one he wants to shoot depending on what he is going for in looks. For me, the 50 Summarit provides a crisp and “perfect” style of image while not being analytical or hard in any way. Look at the image below. The man WAS this red as he had a slight sunburn and he was HOT wearing his MARSHALL uniform. The Leica did color here better than my A7II did the same day and place. So Leica has finally got the old color issues settled. Now I see Leica color I remember. 

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Another with the 50, which became the most used Summarit for me while having them all. I shot with the 90 the least as I never use 90 but it is beautiful none the less. Look again at the detail the Summarit gives as well as the overall character of the rendering. 

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A quick grab shot this guy was a blast. He hung around all day dancing and playing his finger instruments. Never hounding anyone for money, just smiling for all who passed by. I used the 50 here again. 

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These two were on the street in the harsh AZ sun and I thought there is no way this image would come out OK. Usually these harsh sun images lead to faces in shadow, uneven exposure, etc. When I arrived home I was able to easily pull out the shadows on the faces while retaining highlights. 

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RICH reds here with the 50

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Again, the 50 shooting a happy young man on the Trolley Tour. LOVE the way the 50 renders images..so crisp and so colorful..with ACCURATE color. I think Leica enhanced these for use on the M 240 as the color that comes from these lenses is superb. 

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The 75 is a lens I have a love hate relationship with. Not because it is a bad lens, because it is SO GOOD and SO gorgeous, I want it. Problem is, I rarely use anything above 50. Even so, I will own this lens one day. I loved the old version of the 75 Summarit and this one is even better. Retains the Summarit look of crispness, great color, smooth transitions and this time with the new 75 we get .7 meter close focus, which is AWESOME. 

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Horse with the 75 in the direct sun. Look at how it handles the harsh light. Contrast is a but high but that is what gives these lenses the pop and 3D separation. 

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The local high school band from Nogales Mexico in Tombstone. They sounded great! The 75, even from across the street gave me detail, snap and pop. Color is spot on and the M handled the harsh light VERY well.

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I saw this lady having a BLAST watching the parade..she had her bubble machine and was getting the biggest kick out of it. She was enjoying life with a smile. I snapped this one with the 50..

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One more with the 50..love the dog ;) 

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Just a simple shot to show the detail and the Bokeh of the 75mm at 2.4

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…and a shot with a 100% crop from the 75 inside my home, no special light. Wide open at f/2.4. 

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It is safe to say that I am enjoying these Summarit lenses. I will be shooting over the next few days with the 75 and 90 more so my next report, which will be part 2, will go over these lenses more as well as a couple of comparison like the 35 Summarit vs the 35 Summicron vs the Zeiss 35 Loxia on the A7II.

REFERENCE: My old 35 Summarit review is HERE. My old 50 Summarit review is HERE. My old 90 Summarit review is HERE.

So that is all I have for now on these fantastic new lenses from Leica. ALL are stunning in their build, performance, styling and included accessories (Hood, caps, leather case, etc). The Summarits are now better than ever and are in no way handicapped by the more expensive line besides being a tad slower at f/2.4 vs f/2 or f/1.4.

If you want to save some cash and some weight, you will still get that Leica quality from the entire line of Summarit lenses. Watch for part 2 SOON which will have more on these beauties. Again, these came from Ken Hansen, email him and mention me for a GREAT buying experience ;) His email is [email protected].

MORE SOON!

Steve

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