Jan 202012
 

LINKS: The FIRST Fuji X-Pro 1 review, PIC of the new Olympus OM-D and more.

So the 1st Fuji X-Pro 1 review is online. It has been translated with the help of Google so it will note read perfectly but you can get an idea of what the reviewer thought about it. Thanks to Vlad Dodan for sending me the link. Vlad posted his own 1st impressions on the Fuji as well.

The 1st Olympus OM-D leaked pic with detailed specs

This was  posted on 4/3rumors.com  – It’s only a glimpse and sneak peek but so far this is looking like a great new camera from Olympus. Weather sealed, classic design, magnesium body, black or silver, 16MP sensor that may be a new design by Olympus, fast AF and 3D tracking…

The official announcement will be on Feb 8th so look for full details here :)

A SAFARI M9 and M9-P?

No not really! A reader , Brad Husick sent in these images because he was a fan of the original Safari M8 and said he would love to see Lieca come out with a Safari set for the M9 or M9-P. What about you? I smell an M10 coming…well, not really but I feel it. Just before the M9 came out Leica churned out the Safari edition M8 so maybe they will do the same for the M9.

 

 

 

Jan 192012
 

USER REPORT: My time with the Leica M9 by Matt Draper

FIRSTLY I WOULD LIKE TO THANK STEVE FOR ALLOWING ME TO CONTRIBUTE TO HIS EVER GROWING SITE, HIS RESPECT OF OTHERS OPINIONS AND SKILL LEVELS ARE VERY HUMBLE TO SAY THE LEAST.

SECONDLY IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO READ ANOTHER M9 USER POST IT MAYBE WISE TO CLOSE THIS PAGE NOW.

All comments are welcome!

The photos I have selected for this post have no theme. I tried to add variety so please feel free to send any constructive criticism my way. I am grateful for the posts added on Steve’s site every day, they take longer to write than most think :)

There weren’t enough seats in the back of the tuktuk so the roof it is.

The driver must be doing at least 70 kilometers per hour – we are an hour or so out of Chang Mai dodging pot holes, small landslides and the odd stray elephant it’s a one way road and there’s oncoming traffic.

Gadd attempts to pass me his camera, he wants a photo standing on the roof with no hands. I look at him with a worried look and he yells “car surfing bro”. Shaking I take the camera…..

I look through the electronic view finder and time stands still for a moment, it’s so bright and clear, the large dial on the light ergonomic body is set to auto and I quickly gain composure with the stock standard auto focus 18-55mm lens.

One click and a quick look at the well sized well lighten LCD and that’s it, a Facebook profile picture nailed.

I begin to rem-anise…… 5D MKII

A love–hate relationship is a relationship involving simultaneous or alternating emotions of love and hate.

Never have I used let alone owned a camera that I have loved and obsessed over, learnt and grown from and also been so continually pissed off with in my short 26 years on Earth like the Leica M9.

It reminds me of the first time I dated a girl, I guess those were the same feelings I felt maybe in a different order but they were present.

An explanation is a set of statements constructed to describe a set of facts which clarifies the causes, context, and consequences of those facts.

Some of my reasons in changing from a very popular DSLR to the camera I now speak of fall into the cliche M9 buyers guide that users ever so often mention.

Personally I don’t believe individuals need to justify a purchase to others especially one of such grotesque value in which most M9 cases involve a few sleepless nights before bank details are given to that authorized Leica dealer you have continued to annoy with countless emails and phone calls.

In saying that here are my main reasons/thoughts:

Documentation is a term used in several different ways. Generally, documentation (to document) refers to the process of providing evidence.

*I would like to think my photography has a photo journalist quality to it. I am inspired by the classic National Geographic magazine in which anything ever imagined is documented in such a raw, unique and educational manner, a magazine where in my opinion most images are so powerful that captions are not needed and our creative brains can manufacture a story to go with them. My fingers have turned these pages ever since I can remember “the girl with the green eyes” was published on the month and year of my birth and a pristine copy sits framed on my wall. To contribute to this magazine is a life long goal.

Like the yellow cover of Nat Geo magazine Leica has moulded itself into a well known name with a cult following which happens to be joined at the hip to the classic 35mm camera. Some of history’s most dramatic images in photo journalism have been captured with a Leica system and to have individuals from Magnum photographers working with such cameras Leica has always been imprinted in my brain as a camera system worth having.

Sick of Canons countless menus, HD movie capture I never used, auto focus I didn’t need or rely on and a love of all things manual the M9s attributes started to have my full attention.

*Its always mentioned but size and discretion are paramount to me, I travel a lot throughout the year and I don’t feel comfortable with a large DSLR slung around my neck shouting their ever so popular brand name$

The countries and cultures I have recently been surrounded by require respect and edict (two things the western world could slowly be losing) acquiring a portrait with my old Canon 24-70mm 2.8 lens can be extremely overwhelming and draw unwanted attention.

*Lastly and possibly most importantly, the quality of most Leica lenses are second to none, they are in many cases kept for life.

A waiting period is a period of time which one must wait in order for a specific action to occur, after that action is requested or mandated.

After a long 8 months of waiting and a whopping 1.672.900 Australian cents sucked out of my bank account I had the Leica M9 the 35mm 1.4 Summilux-M ASPH and 50mm 1.4 Summilux-M ASPH sitting next to me in my tiny 3 by 4 metre Donga situated in the middle of the blistering hot Western Australian desert on a dusty and dangerous iron ore mine site.

Ergonomics is the study of designing equipment and devices that fit the human body, its movements, and its cognitive abilities.

Holding the M9 is satisfying its solid weight/build and ergonomic feel really sit nicely in the hand, all working buttons and dials are positioned to be used with such ease. Changing the ISO on the M9 compared to doing the same on Canons 5D MKII is not even worth competition, it hands down beats any DSLR I have ever used for practical functionality.

Select the shutter speed turn the top dial, change the aperture rotate the ring on the lens, increase or decrease the ISO speed, hold the ISO button then navigate through to your desired speed.THAT’S IT, THAT EASY a couple of seconds and all things needed to capture an image are done, this made me smile.

Color, or colour is the visual perceptual property corresponding in humans to the categories called red, green,blue and others.

Although I own CS5 I am not a huge user of photoshop. I use most of the basic RAW adjustments, the spot healing tool (as my M9 came with a dirty sensor and images shot over f8 had spots in them) small amounts of noise reduction or sharpening and the crop/straighten tool if composure is off. So it didn’t take much encouragement from the M9 for me to capture more photos in black and white (well convert to black and white as I shoot in DNG) and less in colour.

The auto white balance is poor (pre-sets not as bad) and the colour rendition compared to cameras of the late was not what I had expected.

I find it really hard to put my finger on what exactly the M9 does poorly with its colours as I am not very technical in that area eg: charts etc all I know is that a lot of the time the colours in my images just don’t look right, when it gets it right it really gets it right, the colours look amazing it is quite hit and miss, more miss.

In both digital and film photography, the reduction of exposure corresponding to use of higher sensitivities generally leads to reduced image quality.

I have never used a flash its just not my thing, the people that have mastered flash photography and the images they produce are impressive. Most of the images I take do not require one, in saying that this does not mean I am never in low light conditions, quite the opposite to be exact, so high ISO performance is something I cherish in a camera.

Switching from the capabilities of the 5D MKII’s astonishing high ISO performance to that of the M9 was extremely frustrating even with the low light capability’s of the two f1.4 lenses I use.

Anything over 1,600 has noticeable noise, if you are shooting over 1000 ISO don’t even bother replaying your images on the LCD (unless you are checking composition) they will look far noisier then the actual image produced.

The M9 with a Leica lens attached has the potential to take some of the sharpest images (even at f1.4) in the world of photography, I would rather have high noise in my image then blur and lack of sharpness so I tend to keep the shutter speed as fast as possible with the available light present when shooting hand held.

Improve means to make something better.

“Am I a better photographer now that I use a Leica? Hell no. For those out there that say a Leica will improve your photography, don’t believe them.”

A quote extracted from “The Leica M9 – 16 Months Later by Scott Graham” Although Scott’s post contains informative points and beautiful images fueled by years of experience, teaching and travel, I personally have to disagree with the statement above.

The M9 encourages patience, I am more visual when trying to compose a scene, I spend more time trying to get the whole story in the frame lines, I see more through a fixed focal length like that of the eye and less time thinking of what I could zoom in on, more time concentrating on the available light present, more time trying to get the perfect shutter speed and aperture to work together in preventing post processing. The M9 relies on me to focus as all lenses are manual, I no longer count on the camera’s auto focus system to later find that it didn’t quite nail it, I take less photos on the M9 and keep more, I spend less time checking the LCD screen and more time composing.

Have these things helped improve my photography? Yes I think so, I have grown up in a world where technology is improved everyday, where paid photographers are made over night relying on the latest camera and its advanced intelligence rather then their own creativity and knowledge of the subject, switching to all things manual is a lesson worth taking in photography. (From Steve: I agree with Matt on this 100%)

Damage is physical harm caused to something in such a way as to impair it value, usefulness, or normal function.

6 months after receiving the M9 the already below average LCD screen has small but noticeable scratches on it, purchasing a screen protector is a must, its irritating to say the least on how easy it is for this screen to be permanently marked.

The fake black leather that surrounds the body of the M9 may look and feel nice but whether its a problem with the adhesive used or something beyond my knowledge that causes the black material to pull away from the body of the camera located at the bottom left and right side of the playback screen on the M9. At first I thought I may have received a manufacturing dud but after seeing two other M9’s (one being brand new on display at a Leica store) with the same trouble I begun to wander how many others have this easy to fix but most annoying problem?

Not having too many troubles with the SD card writing that many speak of (maybe happened to one in 200 of my photos when taking photo after photo) the problem is replaced with another, sometimes when replaying images on the LCD screen (zooming in or flicking through images) the M9 would randomly turn off, even after the latest firmware had been loaded.

Pros and cons have always helped me make a decision…….

I am in no way a good photographer its a hobby I have loved and done all my life, I wish in some way photography could be part of my career but I have a trade, some of the photos that are posted on Steve’s site (daily inspiration) truly blow me away, the skill and creativity out there is really helping people realize that what we love is a form art.

In no ways is this post about blaming equipment it is just one mans point of view, one mans opinion of a debatable subject.

Some pros

* Ease of use (simple menus)

* Unnoticeable size

* Rangefinder (amazing focus capabilities)

* Full frame sensor

* A mount for the best lenses ever made

Some cons

* White balance

* Colour rendition

* ISO capabilities

* Battery life (not too bad, but compared to others)

* Poor LCD screen

Summary is a brief statement or account of the main points of something

From the red dust of the desert I call work and home, the crystal clear waters with endless surf points of the Western Australian coast line, the funky streets of Bondi Sydney, the warm smiles of Indonesian Island life, the fast moving South to the temple rich North that is Thailand, days down the Mekong River, crazy bus rides through Laos, three weeks of motorbike riding and a bad case of Dengue Fever (time in hospital) in Vietnam to pre Christmas shopping in Malaysia. Over the last 6 months the M9 has seen what I have seen and been where I have been.

The M9 has spent days in a draw when its flaws have continued to annoy me and days around my neck when its qualities have continued to inspire me.

I have produced photos that I will keep forever, photos that I would like to send to a competition, photos that I have deleted ten at a time of and photos where I think my iPhone or even the most basic of point and shoot cameras could have done better.

So is the M9 for me?? Yeah! it was very much so for 6 months to be exact, but here’s the twist the flaws of the M9 are flaws a seven thousand dollar plus camera body should not have, flaws I am not content living with, flaws that make me believe the M9 is not the last camera I will own, so in a world where the dollar sign is ever so present and where global financial problems affect everyday living I SOLD IT, it lasted 4 days on Steve’s site.

I had just spent 3 months in Asia and with a new life draining job in the mines starting early January it was a decision I found easy to make.

This is the beauty of life isn’t it? We are free to make decisions on our own accord whether they are spirit of the moment or a product of sleepless thoughts.

One thing I am certain of is the two lenses I now own are keepers for life, if I ever have children I would like to think they too will use them one day, the build quality of the Summilux really has to be seen (and felt) to be believed, its hard to say how much time I have actually spent just looking and holding these beautiful optical masterpieces.

Succeed, lead to the desired result

The M9 was announced September 2009 so taking into account the time to design and produce this camera the technology used could well be over 3 years old. Not long in terms of life but in the world of technology and with what has been released over the last 12 months this could well be holding the M9 back.

I am confident that anyone that has ever owned the M9 or currently uses one has a wish list for the M10, I do! its not big, its not over the top or a complete turn around in design but I do believe the things on my list are crucial for the Leica M system to keep competing with cameras of today.

Do I think Leica will nail the M10? Yes I really think so, Leica seems to listen to their users, they have lasted the test of time and slowly modified to the wants and needs of today’s photographer, Leica’s share price reflects their achievements of 2011 a year where most small companies faced certain death.

The M10 could well be a camera I own for a very long time, I anticipate its announcement and predict to place an order as soon as this happens, its an expensive set up but in the words of Led Zeppelin “That’s the way, oh, that’s the way it outta be, yeah, yeah”

 

Finish, bring to an end; complete.

As I finish this article siting on the couch of my parents house in New Zealand, the house I grew up in, a house and family I have been away from for nearly two years a surprise visit for Christmas.

My thoughts of what 2012 will bring are blinded by a camera that stares at me from the coffee table, the SX 70 Polaroid in near new condition, loaded with film and awaiting the start of what is to be a very interesting project.

All photos were taken with the Leica M9 with either the 35mm or 50mm Summilux, each image has a story but I would like you to make your own to go with them. :)

Thanks Matty Draper

Thanks Matt for the great article! If anyone else would like to submit a guest report, article or review e-mail me at [email protected]

Jan 162012
 

 

USER REPORT: Vintage Glass is Fun
a Mini-Review of a 1961 Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8
by Amy Medina – DangRabbit Photography
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Nothing too technical here, I just wanted to share my delight with a recent lens I got for my upcoming birthday (yes, I got my gift early!). It’s an old version 1 of the 90mm Elmarit, and what a joy it’s turning out to be.
I’ve wanted a 90 for quite a while, ever since last year when I found myself in a situation where the 50 just wasn’t long enough and there was no way to get closer with my feet. Two very interesting fellows were sitting in chairs conversing on the other side of small boat canal, and I only wished to have something longer to capture more of their wonderfully interesting personalities.
So I finally decided to take a chance with this old Elmarit. While I’d love a newer one, it’s just not in the budget for me.
It arrived on Thursday morning and I immediately set out to give it a try… down to a favorite marina on a misty day. This is one of my first shots with the lens, wide open, of a favorite subject:

 

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This old Elmarit renders in a very classic way, with focus-fall-off that isn’t harsh or dramatic, but silky smooth. Wide open, the lens is surprisingly sharp. Contrast is more of what you’d expect in an old classic like this — the contrast is not at all punchy  — but lets face it, in the digital age we can always give contrast a little boost in post if necessary. It has a fantastic character about it, the way an old Summitar does (but the bokeh isn’t swirly). Straight out of the camera, the files have a vintage look to them, not in color, but in their rendering… and it takes to a retro-style post-processing treatment quite nicely.

 

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The downside is that the lens is quite prone to flare. Though I didn’t get a hood with the lens, I’ve heard it actually makes little difference, and since it’s a bit long already without the hood, I’m not sure I’d use it anyway. It is something to be aware of though. The flare is of the soft hazy kind.
The lens isn’t heavy, but as mentioned, long. You can see in the photo of my camera with the lens mounted, it’s almost silly looking… almost. Focus is smooth, and the throw isn’t too long. Adjusting focus with the Elmarit is quite comfortable and easy, though with any 90 you’ll want to be sure your rangefinder mechanism is aligned properly. Luckily, mine is spot on, even after almost 5 years. I love my M8.

Also, focusing can be a little challenging with a long lens like this. I have a 1.25 magnifier screwed onto my M8 and it really does help in a big way. And I have one of the cheaper, “from Hong Kong” magnifiers I got on EBay and it works a charm.

 

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Overall, for under $400 I am thrilled with this star-of-a-lens… and it’s a gem worth exploring if your budget doesn’t allow for a more modern 90, or if you just want to try some vintage Leica glass. I’ve been having a ball with it for the last four days, and though I was a little worried 90mm might be long for every-day use, it’s proving to be just a new focal length to explore, and a fun one at that.

 

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and Follow me…
Thanks for reading and looking!
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Jan 132012
 

Let It Snow!

By Allen Liu

Hi Steve,

Hope you had a great new year!

Here is my second blog entry to your great site (you can find my first blog entry about my trip to Hong Kong here…).

A few weeks ago, Julie and I decided to spend our winter vacation in Montreal, QC. I was particularly excited about this decision; living in California, I had never experienced a “white Christmas” before.

For the first few days there, the sky was clear, and temperatures dipped below freezing. We were actually a bit disappointed because we really wanted to see snow (I know people who need to shovel snow out of their driveways all winter long are secretly hating me now).

Then, on the last day of our trip, our prayers were answered.

A tiny Christmas miracle.

It snowed.

All photos are shot with one camera and one lens then post processed by Silver Efex Pro 2.

Please feel free to visit my Montreal album 

I hope you enjoy them.

Allen

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Jan 062012
 

Another Open Letter to Leica

By Ashwin Rao

Hi Leica,

It’s me again, Ashwin (from my last letter about a year back… I hope you had a chance to read it). Well, it’s that time of year to read the tea leaves of wish aloud on the interwebs, Thus, here I am again, thinking it’s time to write a letter and get your attention….

With the new year upon us, the photography world has seen many interesting developments. Last year, there was the Fuji X100, copying your style and going toe to toe with the X1, sporting new innovations and a friendlier price tag. It was nominated as one of the most innovative cameras of the year, despite the X1 before it….

Later in the year came the announcement of the Sony NEX7 and the release of the Ricoh GXR. Both are remarkable cameras, Leica, and you should be taking notice….after all, demand for Leica, Zeiss, and Voigtlander glass is at an all time high, as many folks are adapting these lenses for use on these bodies as well as Micro 4/3 cameras such as the Panasonic GX-1 and the Olympus EP-3….

There is a veritable plethora of choices for using Leica lenses. Focus peaking, hybrid viewfinders, and other tech have made it quite feasible to adeptly manually focus rangefinder lenses, which have been notoriously moody lenses to focus in the first place….

Now comes a new announcement….the Fuji interchangeable lens camera, the Fuji X-Pro1. It’s not yet official, but by the time you read this article, it may well be. I’m sure that your insiders have whispered in your ears about this camera (and the threat that it could pose to your install base. It will arrive, apparently, with capable and tiny 28 mm f/2, 50 mm f/1.4, and 90 mm f/2.5 equivalent lenses (when accounting for its APS-C sized sensor). It will have a refined hybrid viewfinder. It will be autofocus (and hopefully improve upon the design of the X100’s AF system). Companies like Novoflex and Fotodiox will surely make adapters for it, so that all Leica M mount lenses will be useable on it. I suspect that the X-Pro1 will have a high “lust factor” for photographers such as myself…..I am already telling myself to look away….look away (likely in vain)….

So why am I writing this letter, you may ask? To brag about other systems, new cameras, and fascinating innovations? To rave about focus peaking and novel uses for M mount lenses? To blather on about 2 MP EVF’s, cross utilization of lenses, and flexibility of systems. No, I am writing to coax you to stay relevant to your target market: folks like me who love photography and who love innovation….folks like me who want to see Leica lead the way, as you did with the M9. Folks, unlike me, who haven’t yet invested in a system, and who would love to try a Leica, but can’t as it is too pricy. It’s time to do grow into new markets, leica, or risk further cornering yourself into a niche.

Now, Leica, I know that you have big aspirations. All of this talk of staying small, refining your base, um….I’m not so sure that I believe you. Why else would you partner with Blackstone to provide more funds for growth and development? Why else would you build new plants to produce lenses and cameras? Why else would your CEO speak in LFI about expanding your production base to meet future demands that the market is setting?

The time of large sensor compact cameras with high performance is upon us. DSLR’s will continue to thrive, but less than in the past decade, as smaller cameras become more capable. Smaller cameras will lead the way through this decade.

Is it possible that the time of the Rangefinder and getting back to the roots of photography are in front of us? Is it possible, Leica, that your greatest days are in front of you? As a fan of your work, I hope so. But I think you need to continue to innovate and refine….

…and if you do, the Rangefinder will thrive. And if you don’t, the RF way could die (well, not really, I wrote that to rhyme and for dramatic effect …)

So, here’s what I hope, Leica. I hope again, against all odds, for a digital CL solution. My prior arguments, essentially remain the same. I think that the time is upon us for you to develop a product that sits between the X1 and the the M9 as a interchangeable lens camera that brings forth and tests Leica’s best innovations.

What should this camera be? It should be a rangefinder, first and foremost. Leica, this is what you are good at, but we need more from you. I feel that the hybrid VF idea is great, if properly implemented, and I suspect that you feel similarly. Having the best of both worlds, a true optical rangefinder focusing mechanism while carrying forth some added ideas such as focus peaking, which has worked wonders on the NEX and GXR camera lines…would be a great way to explore new tech that you can eventually bring to your top teir cameras such as the Leica M10.

The camera should be priced to compete too…Yes, Leica, we all know that you are vain. Your vanity is both the best and worst part of you…it’s why we cherish you and at the same time sneer and mutter at your prices….but once again, in order to win over more market share rather than lose some of your base to Sony, the M4/3 consortium, and Ricoh, you need to compete at their level. You still need to enforce a slight air of superiority by pricing the camera bit more than Sony, Ricoh or Panasonic/Olympus would feel comfortable with. But you need to price a digital CL in such a way as to the Leica brand and pricing structure…how about a $2500 solution, with an APS-H or APS-C sized sensor?

How would this camera be different form what’s out there, and what’s coming? Well, you gotta keep the rangefinder focusing mechanism intact. The manual focus that defines Leica is why I buy into the system. The lenses are now good on many systems, so the Rangefinder focusing system will distinguish you.

The camera’s gotta keep Leica’s style and substance! Metal build, vulcanite, old school looks, and new school technology. Like a German Car (Beemers, Mercedes, you know the ropes)…..

I am sure that from now on, Leica will remain relevant for its lenses. But the lenses work best with the system that they were designed for: The Rangefinder system. And it’s that system that is endangered by cameras like the new Fuji, which looks a lot like a Leica, but has Autofocus as an option, and at a price less than 1/3 of an M9….

So Leica, it’s time to stay relevant with your cameras. I know that you can innovate. You certainly did so with the M9 and the M8 before it (and for all of each cameras flaws, they are great cameras)….But you need to keep those cameras great by refining them and pricing them in the stratosphere for all of the longtime Leica customers. However, there are so many people out there who deserve to be part of the experience. The students, the newbies, the artists, who cant afford such a pricey body as the M9.

So design something for those people, a little sister to the M9, with a lower price, with a rangefinder focusing scheme, and with an M mount….oh yeah, and focus peaking would be nice too if there’s a hybrid VF in the works…

You’ll win over a lot more customers, and you and Blackstone will both be happy for a long while to come!

Your friend, fanboy, and voice of both content and discontent,

Ashwin

Jan 042012
 

Question and Answer Wednesday – Your questions answered!

A couple of years ago I used to publish a weekly Q&A post where I would answer some of the questions sent in by readers. With questions flooding my inbox every day, and many of them asking the same things, I figured I would bring this back so those asking can see the answers here because I can not get to all of the e-mails. If I did I would not have time to do any reviews! So here are some recent questions that were sent to me. Want YOUR question answered? E-mail me HERE with the subject heading “Q&A”.

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Question:  Hello Steve. My names Rich and I live in the UK. Despite my name I am not a rich or wealthy person and living in these austere times I need to make some perfect decisions regarding money making with my camera. The help bit.. I’m looking at the M8 with a , as yet undecided, genuine Leica M lens- all secondhand. I want a very basic set-up that can output raw files to make high quality prints from. What kind of print size can I max out at while keeping very high quality? The M9 is impossible for me, unfortunately, so the M8 is my main choice followed by the X1. Now the M8 is affordable would you recommend them having seen their output yourself? Especially shooting landscapes, cityscapes, street and portrait people+pets. Hope you can help Thank you. Rich

Answer: Hi Rich! Thanks for the question. The Leica M8 is still, even today, a wonderful high quality camera. The output can be gorgeous and yes, sometimes it can be garbage. All depends on the light, the lens, etc. The M8 excels in good light as the high ISO and low light performance by todays standards is pretty bad. If you shoot the M8 and a decent lens in good light it will reward you with wonderful color and rich sharp files. I always felt the M8 had a different look and feel to the files than the M9 files. The M8 is sharp and more “raw” where the M9 can be more smooth. It is a joy to shoot but even at the used prices of $2000 for the body it is still a major purchase for most.

Something like and M8 with a 35mm Summarit would be great. The 35 Summarit (if you can find one in stock) is really just as good as any other Leica 35, just slower in its aperture speed. This would work for your needs and as for printing, I never had any issues printing from an M8, large or small. I can not tell you details about sizes but that would not be a worry unless you wanted to print billboards. Even so, I feel the M8 could even do that. (Ive seen it with much lesser cameras and resolution).

So ask yourself if you can live with the low light limitations AND whatever you do, be sure to get the UV/IR filter for whatever lens you get as these are MANDATORY IMO! The X1 on the other hand can be found used for about $1300 these days and the quality is puts out is also spectacular. The X1 is still a great choice as well but it is slow to AF. The M8 will give you more control, bigger body, RF focusing and ability to change lenses. The X1 is small, simple, and gets out of the way of your shooting but it is slow! I have been expecting Leica to release new cameras in 2012 and my guess is a new X is on the way as well as a new M. Maybe even something else thrown in? Who knows, I sure don’t but I do remember Stefan Daniel telling me their goal was “every three years” for their major product refresh. M9/X1 was 2009 so here we are in 2012. What does this mean? That MAYBE prices of the M8/X1 will go down even further on the used market. We shall see!


Question:  Hi Steve, I just got a M9 + 50 noctilux f 0.95. Makes a shot where there is no shot :-). One amazing combination. The only issue I am noticing is that the within the exif info of the photos the f-stop is not being recorded properly. i shot bunch of pictures @f.95 but the exif info of the pictures shows f1.2 Have you noticed this? Thanks, Rohit

Answer: The EXIF info on the M9 is an approximation. There is no aperture data transferred between your lens and the M9 body so your processing software is “guessing” the aperture. The M9 can not tell you what aperture you shot at. The 6-Bit coding is only there to tell the camera what lens is on so it can apply software correction if needed.


Question:  Hi Steve -Thanks for all the time you take answering questions – Love QA Wednesday ! What are your thoughts on storing lenses when you are not using them – I have a few lenses I hope to keep for a lifetime and wondered if there is a better way to store them ? I understand about not getting them to hot or cold but is there a preferred way to store them – Leica glass is not getting cheaper  Thanks – Gordon

Answer: Hey Gordon! Storing Leica lenses is easy. If you are not going to be using them for a while and have the box, I would put them in their case and in the box and keep them in a room or closet until you want to use them again. If you use them occasionally just keep them either in your bag, or on a shelf, cabinet, etc. If they are in your house then they should be fine for many many years to come. Once lenses get to be used and many years old they could always benefit from a CLA (cleaning, lubrication and adjustment) but lenses really require no special treatment in my experience. I know people who have had lenses in a cabinet for 20+ years and they are as good as new.


Question: Dear Steve, My girlfriend and I just got a Leica M6 this past Christmas. We found it at her parents’ house where it’s been stored in a closet for several years. (The camera was donated to an auction by Ralph Gibson and they bought it for virtually nothing!). The camera seems to be in excellent condition and has a 50mm Summilux Lens on it. Needless to say, despite having read the manual, we know very little about it and would appreciate any tips on how to operate (and enjoy) it. i.e. best film, lenses, guides, references… ANYTHING. Happy New Year and thanks in advance, Ben

Answer: Lucky you! You just acquired one of the best 35mm film cameras of all time. The M6 is fantastic but if you have never shot with a rangefinder it may be tricky trying to figure out how to meter and focus with it. I won’t go over details as that would require thousands of words but for the basics just attach the lens (the lens you have is one of the best so keep it and shoot with that one for a while) and look through the viewfinder. You will see a small square “patch” in the center. Notice when you move the focus dial of the lens that the square patch separates. To get your images in focus you aim it at your subject and turn the focus ring until both square boxes, or patches, come together. If shooting portrait I usually focus on an eye and then recompose and shoot.

Then there is the metering. For starters you have to set the aperture on the lens to your desired stop. Lets say you put it at f/2. You then look through the VF and if batteries are in the camera and working you will see a dot and arrows. Turn your exposure dial on the top of the camera until the red dot is lit up. This means your exposure is now correct. It takes some time to get used to and is not an auto focus or speed demon camera. With that said, once you learn it and use it, the images you can get out of it will have some of that classic film magic. Enjoy!


Question:  Hi Steve, Happy New Year!! Since a couple of weeks now I am following your blog/site, and I REALLY like it! Thank you for sharing your passion. It is truly inspiring!! Also sharing the work of your followers is awesome. I really think that you influence and challenge them to bring themselves to the next level. Thumbs up and keep up the EXCELLENT work:-)

One question I have. I am really looking forward to read your opinion about your thoughts are about the camera of 2011. According to your readers, the X100 is the winner. But, do you agree:-)? My sense is that you also like the EP-3 and the V1. Looking forward to read your comment! Thanks, Jeroen

Answer: Hey Jeroen! Thanks for the kind words. My favorite camera of 2011? That is not so easy as there were so many great and capable cameras! I love the E-P3 and probably had the most fun and use from that camera than any other in 2011. Of course  the Fuji X100 was the groundbreaking camera of 2011 with it’s EVF and superb color and quality BUT it is/was kind of slow and quirky so it became less and less fun to shoot for me. BUT the quality can not be denied from the X100. Then the V1 appeared and did 98% of everything right when it came to performance, ease of use, fun factor, video, color, metering, EVF, etc. The V1 is the camera I ended up taking with me almost every time I left the house, taking over the E-P3’s spot in my bag. The V1 and 10mm did what I wanted it to every time.

Of course we can not leave out the NEX-7 but I am seeing that as more of a 2012 camera because only a handful have actually shipped so far.

For breaking the mold and providing an APS-C sized sensor in a rangefinder styled body with a great and fast 35mm equivalent lens and wonderful Hybrid EVF I have to give the camera of the year to Fuji for the X100. The image quality is fantastic as is the style, design, and MOJO of this photographic tool. I’d give 2nd place to the Nikon V1 for sure. Again, I am not including the NEX-7 as I am considering that a 2012 camera due to the delay in shipping.


Question:  Hey Steve! Love your site and the insight you provide! I own a Sony Nex-5, and is currently interested in investing in the Nokton 40mm! The only thing that I have not been able to thoroughly research is, what adapter to use? I would think that all adapters did the same thing…yet I find adapters ranging from prices from 30-to the hundreds! I do realize that some of the adapters offer macro focusing and decrease in minimal focus range, but does that really matter if I plan on using it for a walk around lens? Thanks!

Answer: Thanks for the question! There are a few adapters you can get for your NEX-5. The best of the best in regards to fit and function is the NOVOFLEX adapter but it is really expensive at over $250. You can see it HERE. I owned the Novoflex for a while and it always did great with a tight fit and no hassles. I also owned a couple of cheap adapters that I purchased from Amazon, like THIS ONE. The problem I had with TWO cheap adapters is that after a few months of use both of them had a loose and wobbly fit and sometimes my pictures would not be critically in focus. I chalked it up to the cheap adapter. So you get what you pay for though many are using the cheap ones effectively.


Question:  Hi steve, I love seeing your works that I decided to ditch my slr for Leica. Without the slr, im really confused on which 3 lens should I get for the M9? Do you think wate+35+90 is a good combination? Or should i stick to 30-50-75/90 and use voigtlander lenses for the wide angle? Thanks, Gerry

Answer: Hey Gerry! Congrats on the Leica! This is really a question I can not answer for you. All I can do is tell you what I would do if it were me, but you are not me! If I were you I would go for a 28, 35 and 50. I have had them all and every time  I had a 90 I never ever used it! BUT that is just ME and MY experience. What do you want to shoot? If everyday life all you need is a 28 and 50 really. The problem is, the Leica 35mm lenses are sooooo good! First, look at your budget. Then decide what you will be shooting. I could be content and happy with a 28 and 50 but I just shoot daily life and street sometimes. The 28 Elmarit is so good on the M9, and not a bank breaker like the 28 Summicron and the 50 Summicron is also a fantastic lens but the Summilux is the ultimate for M9 shooters it seems. Everyone I know with an M9 seems to always end right back up with a 35 or 50 as their main goto 90% of the time lens. It seems that the M was made for those focal lengths.

 

 

Look for more Q&A next Wednesday! If you want to see your questions answered here, send them to me with the subject “Q&A Wednesday” to my e-mail HERE.

Jan 042012
 

From Steve: Coming later today is another edition of “Q&A Wednesday” but for now I’d like to share with you some of the most inspirational images I have seen in a while. I have known Peter for years now and his images always go right to my heart and soul as he truly does capture “Life’s Little Moments”. Enjoy!

Dear Steve,

In follow-up to my previous contributions “Life’s Little Moments“, “The M9 for Sports” and “All I know about photography in 25 words” , I wanted to make another contribution to your fine website.

These were taken over the past year and I hope they continue to convey my philosophy of image creation, that is, “seeing and capturing the beauty of life’s little moments.”

I’d be honoured if you posted them.

Either way, I wish you (much deserved) ongoing success for 2012 and beyond!

Your friend,

Peter | Prosophos.

www.prosophos.com


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and one more image for Jan 2012!
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Dec 262011
 
Event Photography- Photographing a Restaurant Opening
By Ashwin Rao – Ashwin’s blog can be seen HERE

 

 

Hi everyone, it’s Ashwin, back with a short and sweet post (hopefully) as the New Year fast approaches. As many of us have gotten increasing experience with our cameras, we have received opportunities to port our cameras to events, such as weddings, sporting events, and gallery openings. Recently, I had the pleasure to be invited to the grand opening of the Seattle Restaurant U:Don, a Japanese noodle station in which the udon noodles are manufactured in house and served in a variety of delicious preparations.

 

I am acquainted with the Station’s owner and family members, and so I had early access to the big opening. Of course, along with me came the trusty Leica M9 and my fast-developing favorite lens, the 35 mm f/1.4 Summilux Asph FLE lens, as well as the nice 21 mm f/3.4 Super-Elmar and 75 mm f/2 APO-Summicron Asph.
A busy opening night….21 Super Elmar

 

I had a blast photographing the event, after polishing off a delicious bowl of wonderful noodles, with beef brisket, and all of the fixings. A happy belly makes a happy photographer, or so they say (wait, I think I just made that up).  Regardless, I had the opportunity to take a nix mix of photos of the grand opening of U:Don, and present them here.

 

The Line Chefs in Action: 35 FLE

 

I primarily shot the lenses wide open, hand-held, at ISO 50, using Auto-WB (though fluorescent settings would have worked fine as well. I kept shutter speeds about 1/45 s, in general, though I took some liberties to shoot as slow as 1/24 sec with the 21 mm Super-Elmar. I only mention this, as a good rule of thumb for shooting hand-held is to shoot no slower than 1/focal length. That is, for a 35 mm lens, shoot at 1/35 s or faster shutter speed, and so on.

 

Head chef Tak Kurachi: 35 FLE

 

Line Chef/Noodle Master: 35 FLE

 

 

Event photography poses many challenges, and variable lighting is in fact a big one. As you can see from the pictures, U:Don’s décor incorporates a variety of palettes, including warm neutral wood stock, red and brown accents, and sheet metal, along with reflective surfaces. I used a variety of perspectives, focal lengths, color/b&w profiles, and angles to capture the opening event in a way that I thought was representative of a typically busy night at this restaurant, which I hope will be a great success, not only as I know the head chef, but also because the food is fantastic, and good food should never go unrewarded.

 

Chef and Sous-Chef: 75 APO-Cron

 

Patrons Lining up for the Goods: 35 FLE


Sure, it would have been nice to have a camera with ridiculous high ISO performance, Vibration control/image stabilization, and crazy zooms, but me, M9, and 3 lenses seemed to do the trick just fine. In fact, keeping a simple kit of 1-3 lenses and 1-2 bodies is suffient for nearly all perspectives for your photography. You may find that the simplicity of shooting in this manner stimulates and challenges your creativity in ways that are both refreshing and rewarding. I certainly have….

 

U:Don Sign: 35 FLE

 

Chowin’ down: 35 FLE

 

Servin’ Up the Tempura Fixin’s

 

If you are ever in Seattle and are craving a soup/noodle/Japanese cuisine fix, you can find U:Don in Seattle’s University District, at 4515 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105….U(just ful disclosure, that I have no stake in U:Don, other than a satisfied customer with a happy belly and some fun photos to share).:

 

Happy holidays to everyone!
Ashwin
Dec 252011
 
Leica — Love and Hate
By George Sutton

 

Owning a Leica M9 has been a real love/hate experience.  I am frequently on the verge of selling it because it is outrageously expensive and limiting then I get a shot that is so stunning I just want to get out and start shooting it again.  Here is why I decided to keep the Leica and some other random thoughts after a year of use.

 

The M9 is unmatched if used as a smaller and lighter substitute for a DSLR in situations where there is time to manually focus.  The clarity is remarkable.  The attached photos exemplify this.  Both were taken at a 1,000 year old Hindu monastery in Cambodia named Bantay Sri.  Its carvings are among the most detailed and elegant I have ever seen and the Leica captured that very well.  Both shots are cropped yet the detail is still crisp and clear, almost three dimensional.  I hope viewers on the website can see how the clarity just jumps out of the photo.  I think even a larger format camera would be challenged to take a better shot.
Click image for larger version
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That is the Leica’s strong point, and it is a very strong point.  But the frustrations can be almost as big.  

 

The Leica is not a replacement for a DSLR.  It doesn’t have the versatility to take most kinds of shots.  For example, it is hard to shoot people close up.  I can get many more keepers with my Canon 85mm f1.8 and even a 24-105 f4 zoom.  Both lenses autofocus and are very sharp.  Unless a person is posing or holds still, or you are able to take a lot of shots in the hope that one will work, manual focus is just too hit and miss when you want to take a shot from ten feet away wide open and hope to see the pores on the person’s skin after the shot is cropped.  I can get that shot with the Canon.  I recently spent time with a pro who mainly takes candid shots people in everyday life.  He carries two Nikon DSLRs that clip onto a belt he wears on his waist, one with a zoom wide angle and the other with a zoom telephoto.  He only shoots JPEGs because he doesn’t have time to edit raws and he shoots many shots as fast as he can and doesn’t want raw photos to fill up his card and camera buffer.  He tried my Leica and said it would be much easier to carry around but he would miss most of his shots.

 

The M9 is also not useful for very wide or long photos.  I shoot a lot of landscapes in the southwest.  Many of my best shots were with a fisheye lens.  The Leica can go 21mm or 18mm but as Steve points out in his lens reviews you usually need a Leica lens to shoot wide angle and avoid color problems at the fringe.  Effectively the M9 has no telephoto capability.  90mm is slight telephoto and 135mm, the maximum for a Leica rangefinder, is too inconvenient to carry in addition to a 90mm.  My full frame Canon DSLR will go much wider and longer with no fringing problems.

 

Leica’s software is relatively primitive and colors are hit and miss.  Sometimes they are great.  Others times there is a yellow or orange cast.  On the other hand, no other camera I have used does as good a job in long exposures on a tripod.  Take a shot in moonlight and it will come out like it was day.

 

I hope you find this interesting.

 

George Sutton
Dec 242011
 

Just saw that popflash.com has the Chrome Leica M9-P IN STOCK. The chrome version is the one that is high in demand so it will probably sell quick. Of course you can buy this chrome M9-P and give it a hot pink paint job like crazy Kai over at digital rev. Lol. Maybe I should paint my M9-P green and red for Christmas. Hmmmmmmm.

Dec 162011
 

PRESS RELEASE

NEW FIRMWARE UPDATE FOR THE LEICA D-LUX 5

Solms, Germany (December 16, 2011) – Leica Camera AG announces the release of a new firmware update for the Leica D-Lux 5. Users wishing to bring their camera up-to-date can now download the firmware update and an installation guide from the ‘UPDATES’ section of the D-Lux 5 page on the Leica Camera website.

This new firmware offers D-Lux 5 users the following updates:

  • Improved autofocus speed in the wide-angle domain
  • Enhanced functionality when using manual and automatic focusing
  • Increased automatic white-balance precision in adverse lighting conditions
  • High-ISO-noise reduction for ISO 1600 and ISO 3200
  • Incorporation of an ‘Active mode’ for image stabilization and new ‘Miniature effect’ in the ‘My colors’ mode (available for photo and video modes)
  • Continuous autofocus with the shutter button half depressed
  • Increased longest shutter speed from 60 to 250 seconds
  • Addition of manual adjustment of the LCD monitor and the external viewfinder to the camera settings menu

About the Leica D-Lux 5

The Leica D-Lux 5 is a true representation of the Leica design vocabulary and philosophy. Its flat, smooth and uncluttered design ensures its timelessly modern look. The Leica DC Vario-Summicron 5.1-19.2 mm f/2-3.3 ASPH. offers a faster lens than previous models and a zoom with an extremely practical range of focal lengths. Furthermore, the 10.1 mega-pixel D-Lux 5 guarantees exceptional image quality and superb sharpness while its intuitive controls ensure ease of use. Its 720-pixel HD-video function in memory-saving AVCHD-Lite format and optional accessories make the D-Lux 5 the perfect camera for capturing truly distinctive images.

Dec 152011
 

UPDATED! MEGA WORKSHOP: Los Angeles – January 27th, 28th and 29th 2012 – FIVE Great presentations, Street shooting, Lighting, models, and a VERY special World Premiere Lens debut!

SELLING FAST! A few seats still remain!



Lots of surprises, lots of shooting, and lots of PASSION!

After many requests I am bringing a MEGA meet up/workshop to Los Angeles and I have been setting it all up behind the scenes for the past few weeks. I found the perfect location with the help of Todd Hatakeyama who has allowed me to have base headquarters at his new studio right in the heart of Los Angeles.

Hatakeyama Studio will be where we will converge, talk, have presentations, share our passion, shoot on the street, shoot models, learn about lighting, learn about basic technique and even witness a new world premiere of a special lens as well as learn how to create an online presence with your photography! 

You can read about past workshops like the one in Seattle, Chicago and New York. They were all super cool and everyone had a great time, made new friends and even learned a thing or two. This one in Los Angeles will be the biggest and best yet as I have so much planned we had to stretch it to a 2 1/2 day event!

Base camp for the weekend will be at Hatakeyama Studio in Los Angeles – Plenty of space! Check out Todds Leica site HERE

There will be FIVE presentations over two and a half days and FIVE special guest speakers. The biggest yet. Some of what is in store…

1. Photographer Jay Bartlett will speak about lighting, and even shooting portraits with the Leica M9 using studio lighting. Jay knows his stuff and his website can be seen here.

2. There will also be a special guest who will be showing off the WORLD PREMIERE of a brand new amazing lens that is VERY special and very high end. Those who attend will see it first and will have a chance to see it and shoot with it. The 1st in the world in person look at this special item. He will also give a talk on lenses and design.

3. There will be a great presentation/lecture from Elizabeth Wang-Lee on Street Photography. She will go over the masters as well as talk about what makes for a great street photo. Elizabeth recently had a Daily Inspiration posted on the site HERE.

4. We will also have Sean Armetta, fashion photographer (we WILL be in LOS ANGELES right?) giving a presentation.

5. Ashwin Rao will be in attendance as well and he will give a talk on how to build your online presence in the photo community as well as share some of his best photos with us all.

6.. A  pro model will be on hand so we can each shoot studio portraits with lighting. We will share our shots later in the day. (more info soon)

7. Other surprises to be announced soon as well as detailed itinerary and we may have some Leica gear on hand as well for those who would like to try out an M9 or lens.

 

The Seattle workshop hosted by Ashwin Rao was a huge success – Photo by Ashwin Rao

We will hit the pavement as well! Street shooting in LA as well as trying our hand at studio/model portraits!

1st of all, everyone is welcome! Not just Leica shooters! At my last workshop in Chicago we had a wide variety from Micro 4/3, Leica, Olympus 4/3 and DSLR’s. We had a little bit of everything and we ALL came away with some great shots.

The Los Anegeles workshop will start on Friday evening Jan 27th where we will do our introductions, go over what our goals are with photography and then we will settle in and discuss what we will be doing over the weekend. On Saturday Day 2 we will have some presentations on lighting and fashion and will each have time with the model to get some shots. On Day 3 we will have some street shooting presentations and we will head out to shoot people on the street, we will shoot life as it happens. We will go outside of our normal boundaries and be inspired to get the shots we want. On Sat and Sun lunch will be paid for by me and we will have a GREAT lunch. Just because its free doesn’t mean it will be skimpy! I will be posting the full detailed itinerary SOON but do know it will be jammed packed.

There will also be processing and critiques on a big screen as we go over everyones shots. As with my last two workshops I will be giving away a prize to one lucky winner. After day two ends we will have a goodbye dinner and drinks (the cost of this is not included, every man for himself)!

Seattle 2011 – Ashwin Rao

How to GET IN and ATTEND this Special Weekend! 

Mark your calendars for Jan 27th, 28th and 29th. This is a Friday/Saturday/Sunday. There will be two and a half days of hanging out in Los Angeles, five presentations, four guest speakers, street shooting, studio shooting, processing and critiques, a world premiere of an amazing new product and two days of lunch provided by me at no cost and dinner and drinks on day three for anyone who wants to hang out after (this dinner is NOT paid for by me).

The days will typically start between 8-9am and last until we are done for the day, which usually is around 6-7pm. We usually all head out for dinner and drinks afterwards.

RESERVE YOUR SPOT NOW!

The cost of this weekend event is $595 and this includes lunch on both days (will announce where we will be eating soon). If you sign up before Jan 1st you can save $50 and your total cost will be $545. I am limiting this to 15-20 people. Every workshop in the past sold out so if you want to go be sure to get locked in quick!

I can accept credit cards through google checkout so if you want to attend this special weekend, e-mail me HERE and I will get you all set up.

Again, Lunch on BOTH days is included. Will also have coffee and snacks each morning provided. Many hotels are nearby including this Sheraton 5 blocks from base camp which is where I will be staying.

More details will be posted soon! Bookmark this page and check back every week for more info on this event!

 

Seattle 2011 Group as we all gathered on Ed’s “Beast”

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Chicago 2011 Group at Chicago’s oldest camera shop Central Camera

Dec 122011
 

Canon 50 mm TV lens f0.95 for Leica M by Konstantin Mihailov

The “Dream Lens” – that’s what they often call it. Of course, the famous Noctilux is also a dream lens but I get the feeling it is not only a dream lens because of how it renders but also because every Leica user at one point or another dreamt of having a Noctilux. Canon 50 mm f0.95 TV lens is perhaps less of a dream to own but it surely lives up to an other definition of a “dream lens”. Before continuing with the review, I should perhaps make a disclaimer that I have never owned any Noctilux version and that perhaps at one point in the future I will dream of it. For now, even this is a bit too much for me to handle.

In an attempt to get to know the lens better, I had it mounted on my M9 for almost the entire duration of my ownership of it (about a month). The lens ergonomics leave much to be desired – it is big, and I mean big – I am sure the Noctilux is also big, but the fatness of this lens combined with its shortness and the close proximity at which it sits next to the body, makes it very difficult to even hold on to the camera. The Noctilux has a tapered end which allows the fingers of the camera holder to use the space between the lens and the body for better grip. The smoothness of the focusing ring is also incomparable to the usual Leica buttery but this is not really an issue and perhaps is an added bonus with a lens which requires so much attention when focusing.

When the lens is actually put to use, one quickly discovers that it focuses to the usual fast-lens minimum distance of 1 meter which I always found limited and disliked (Leica Noctiluxes as well as older version Simmuluxes were also limited to that distance). It interferes with the viewfinder but this has never disturbed me personally.

The photographic qualities of the lens are even more subjective – at f0.95 it is quite soft and the photos exhibit a considerable glow, with a somewhat harsher bokeh than one would expect; at f1.4 it is already with improved contrast, sharpness and definition and this has been the aperture at which I’ve used this lens most often, and if focused correctly, it is quite satisfactorily sharp; my limited use of the lens at other apertures makes it difficult to judge it further on this.

To my mind, this lens would be ideal for portraits, some journalistic situations but few nature/landscape situations. On the other hand, the Leica Summilux 50 can serve in all of these situations quite satisfactorily so my personal choice would now lean in this direction, while even entertaining the use of the Simmicron C40.

See the pictures below for a more empirical overview.

You can see more of my work at my blog HERE.

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Below is a picture taken recently from the top of the Rathhaus in Hannover. This was shot at f8 and it is composed of two pictures stitched together. The sharpness I discovered to be suboptimal (compared to, for example, my Summicron C40) which for this kind of pictures may be undesirable 

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Dec 092011
 

 A Day at the Zoo with my Leica M9-P and 50 Summitar f/2

Since I live in Phoenix AZ I get to enjoy mild and beautiful winters. Full sunshine, and mid 60’s in December makes for a perfect time of year to head outdoors. In the summer when the heat rises to a blistering 105-115 degrees I tend to stay indoors. That could mean my house, my car, in a mall, or in any building with Air Conditioning. Today my son and I decided to take a photo stroll through the Wildlife World Zoo in Phoenix to enjoy the nice day and get some cool snaps out of it  as well. My son Brandon has really been getting into his Nikon D2h lately. Such a classic but oh so huge! He doesn’t seem to mind it but he is eyeballing the little Nikon V1 and Sony NEX-7 that I have been carrying around. Good thing he only uses small primes with his D2h. He hasn’t felt the full pain of lugging it around with a 70-200 VR yet, hahaha.

Many years ago when he was really young we would go to this same Zoo and I would have to rent a stroller. NOT for him, but for all of my camera gear! I used to shoot with a Nikon D2h myself and I had the typical lenses most Nikon shooters had at that time. The 70-200 VR, the 85 1.4, the 24-70…all big and heavy lenses, especially the 70-200. It performed exceptionally well but at the end of the day I was so tired of lugging it all around AND having to push a stroller through the zoo.

These days I always travel light as possible so today I was the one with the smaller cameras. My M9-P and Tiny super old 50 Summitar made it in my bag along with the Sony 50 1.8 OSS and NEX-7. Some of my shots with the Sony will be in my 50 1.8 lens review either later today or tomorrow but for now I wanted to post a few snaps I shot with the M9-p and 60+ year old 50 Summitar. I have written quite a bit about this classic 50 and I am one of those in the camp that love the lens. It can provide crazy swirly bokeh at f/2 with a classic softness thrown in and by f/4 it is super sharp and crisp. The colors can be pastel like at times but I enjoy the lens. The cool part is that if you can find one used they usually go for $250-$350, which is super cheap for a Leica.

If I ever find another super clean copy I will probably buy it as a back up. It is a wonderful lens LOADED with character. As I walked through the Zoo today with two cameras and two 50mm lenses I loved the fact that I didn’t have a huge zoom like everyone else at the zoo that day. Usually the zoo shooters come in with their huge lenses just like I used to do and they end up with photos that look like everyday Zoo snapshots. When shooting with a shorter lens on something like a Leica M9 or even NEX-7 you have to think a bit differently. You lose that power to zoom in on the animal faces but at the same time you gain the power to be different. Pretty cool huh?

Next time you take a stroll through the Zoo leave the zoom at home and shoot with a 50mm. You may enjoy it! Below are a few snaps I took today as we casually walked around. You can click on the images to see larger and better versions.

This kangaroo was just relaxing in the sunlight and enjoying the cool 60 degree afternoon. He didn’t mind when I got right up to him (they are not caged, but free roaming)

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I have taken pictures of these McCaws a couple times before when I was reviewing the Olympus 45 1.8 lens and the Ricoh A12 Module. Personally, I love the way the M9 and 50 Summitar renders the light and colors. Click on them for larger views.

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This warthog saw us and started walking up towards us looking for food. The light was shining down and the nearly 70 year old 50mm rendered this with a crispness and glow that I am pleased with. 

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This Meerkat was on the lookout. I have a similar shot I took with the NEX-7 and 50 that will be in my 50 review but as you can see in this M9-P shot with the old 50, the Bokeh is sort of swirly and crazy. The Meerkat is sharp though, and I like this look. Many do not as the background can be distracting. I shot this at f/2 because I knew this would make a good example of the Bokeh this lens produces wide open.

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