Aug 102011
 

Random Photographs from my month on tour with Seal that were never posted!

Let’s see. I’m a photographer and being away for a month on tour across Europe would mean that I most likely took LOADS of photos right? Well, yes and no. I did take quite a few photos but I tried to be selective most of the time :) I am not the type of shooter that machine guns it, especially when using a Leica M9. BUT there are a few photos from my month long journey that never made it to the blog so I decided to post a few that I liked here. This is a photography blog after all! The times I had during those 30 days are times I will never forget, and I am thrilled to have photos to remember it all :) Enjoy.

 

Aug 072011
 

Chaiten; a town digging itself out of the ash.

On May 2nd of 2008, after 9000 plus years, a volcano erupted near the town of Chaiten in Patagonia, Chile. The more than 4000 people who made their lives in this  small town had their lives changed dramatically. The Chilean government temporarily evacuated all the people to other various towns as far away as 200 miles.

A few weeks after the eruption, during heavy rains, the Rio Chaiten which was plugged up with debris and ash, suddenly produced a enormous Lahar (ash/mud slide) flooding 2/3 of the town and swept away many of its houses.

The Chilean Government declared that “the town of Chaiten is destroyed and uninhabitable “. The people of Chaiten were not allowed to return to their homes,  but rather only take a few of their belongings.  They could no longer live in their homes because they were deemed unsafe.

The plan was to build a new Chaiten, north of the old town, protected from the volcano by the mountains. Fifty or so citizens, however, refused to leave their houses and businesses that they had worked for their whole lives. Instead, they persevered;

They dug out their houses, cleaned off their inventory, put in small generators and put water tanks on their roofs that they filled with water from a nearby creek (unaffected by the volcano) and tried to stay open for business.

For two long years following the eruption, these people were left to their own devices of trying to rebuild their lives. They felt that the government had forgotten about them and their town as well as the 4000 other people of Chaiten-now living in various other towns in Patagonia.

Then, finally, as it only can happen in South America, in January of 2011 the Chilean government decided to restore the old town and not to build a new town. New electricity lines were put in and water supply was restored to the houses. Slowly but surely the former citizen of Chaiten are starting to return and things are finally looking up for the town of Chaiten and its people.

Below are a few of the photos I took of Chaiten during the last few years.

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Aug 022011
 

The Road to Somewhere Else by Donald Barnat

“I think it pisses God off when you walk by the color purple in a field and don’t notice it.” – ‘Shug’ Avery in The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I-15, the highway to and from Las Vegas, is traveled by an endless caravan of Southern Californians every year, alternately speeding and crawling their way to Sin City to pass the hours into weekends throwing money away in smoky casinos. With the disposable income gone and the pool parties over, the line of cars moving back through the desert to Los Angeles is most impressive in the sheer single-minded execution of its purpose. Eyes fixed (we can only hope) on the road ahead, it’s pretty clear that everyone just wants to get home.

The setting of this perpetual movement of cars and people is what calls to mind The Color Purple thought quoted above. More on that setting in a second.

But first, does God really get pissed off when we pass by the color purple without noticing? For an athe-nostic like me, the question would go more like this: if nature has created something spectacular to behold, what does it say about us if we routinely pass by it all with our eyes squarely focused on the road ahead, our perspectives blinkered by our desire to simply get someplace else?

Whether it’s an angry God watching down on us or the collective guilt of too few of us, given the sheer magnitude of both the transgression and the number of souls involved, the 270-mile drive between Las Vegas and Los Angeles — through the Cajon pass and over the Mojave Desert — would surely amount to something of a worst-case-scenario for someone as thoughtful about such things as the fictional Suge Avery.

The vast empty expanse of the high desert alone has a visual silence that borders on the metaphysical. One turn of the head and the eye takes in endless vistas completely absent the presence of humans. Appropriately miniscule in scale, the only people to be found are contained in the narrow band of highway snaking through the midst of a truly timeless landscape.

Drivers blow through the desert as fast as they can. Except for a few small towns, there’s only a smattering of rest areas along the way and the occasional supersized gas stations. With nothing really for hundreds of miles but great scenery, it would be difficult for anyone inclined to deviate from the beeline of automobiles to actually do so.

We take the drive ourselves just about every year, always in the winter or late spring. There’s usually weather off in the distance and sometimes we run right into it. We stop occasionally at one of the rest areas for 10 minutes or so, in a hurry, like everyone else. There’s a wind that seems to live at those huge gas stations that can’t in good conscience be called a breeze and, while the cold smack of it after two hours on the road is exhilarating, it always feels really good to get back in the car.

There were the familiar clouds, rain, even thunder, and snow on the ground in the mountain passes, but this time driving through the higher altitudes there was the disorienting sight of even more ominous looking clouds lying in the valleys far below the highway. There was sunshine, maybe mostly sunshine and, of course, the wind. Not surprisingly the air smells like desert and I guess to recall the old vent windows in cars from my childhood, I like to open my driver’s side glass just a crack to hear the whistle of the wind as I drive.

Maybe it’s too much of the things we did back in the seventies, but my imagination plays in the flat desert and hills there in the wide panorama shot. I’d like to hire a helicopter and tell the pilot to set down in the hills underneath the clouds in the left part of the image, get out, take pictures for a while, breathing in the desert, then point to a sun-drenched valley in the distance and say, “Okay, let’s go over there.”

I’m not a natural scenery shooter and I think the snapshots presented here will attest to that. I hesitate to add that the Leica M system of cameras is said not to be well-suited for landscape photography. The hesitation is because the M7 was more than adequate given my capabilities.

I hope these shots from the California high desert find you in a place and time where you can take notice of its incredible beauty. With most of the country sweltering in a mid-July heat wave it would be wonderful if this article even briefly transports some of you to the brisk springtime captured in the photographs here. If you try, you just might hear the wind whistling at my car window and imagine for a moment the cold desert air in your face.

Remember, God may be watching. Personally, I don’t think so, but I’ve been wrong before and these shots and this piece amount to my own personal penance just in case.

All the images taken with a Leica M7, Voightlander Nokton 40mm 1.4, and Kodak Portra 160 VC.

Aug 022011
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

LEICA CAMERA OFFERS NEW SERVICE FOR THE LEICA M9

Allendale, NJ (August 2, 2011) – Leica Camera announces a new service for Leica M9 owners to incorporate the product features of the Leica M9-P into their existing M-System camera, resulting in an alternative, even more discreet and resilient design. Owners taking advantage of the service will also receive a one-year warranty extension. Through the North American Headquarters in Allendale, NJ, Leica will be offering a “Sapphire Glass” upgrade package and a “Top Cover and Sapphire Glass” upgrade package. Interested customers are encouraged to schedule appointments starting August 8, 2011 for upgrades from October 3, 2011 through Leica Camera, Inc.

The “Sapphire Glass” upgrade package offers the replacement of the M9 monitor cover with the M9-P’s scratch-resistant, sapphire crystal cover, a choice between vulcanite and smooth MP-style leatherette trim and a one-year warranty extension. The package will be available for $1,295. The second option, “Top Cover and Sapphire Glass”, includes the replacement of the monitor glass with sapphire crystal cover and the replacement of the top deck and base plate with silver chrome or black paint. The package also includes the choice of vulcanite or smooth MP-style leatherette trim and a one-year warranty extension. The package will be available for $1,995.

All upgrades will be performed by specifically trained technicians and will be a part of Leica’s regular repair service. Reservations are on a first come first serve basis and upgrade time is dependent upon demand. M9 owners can schedule upgrades beginning August 8, 2011 by calling 1-800-222-0118 x 9930.

Please visit the Leica website at www.leica-camera.com shortly before the start of the upgrade program for further information about the offer and the upgrading procedure.

 

Aug 012011
 

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Just spoke with SLR Magic/Noktor and was told that the new lens they are releasing soon is indeed a Leica M mount 0.95 50mm lens. This is an all new lens by Noktor and is made for the full frame Leica M9 as well as Leica M film cameras. The previous Noktor lens that was released for Micro 4/3 and the Sony E-Mount is a smaller lens and would not work for a full frame sensor.

This will be 6-bit coded as well. Yep, a new 50m f/0.95 lens for the M mount that will be MUCH less expensive than the Noctilux. The lens is coming soon but Noktor is still doing some design enhancements and they asked me to post a poll so you guys can help!

NOKTOR NEEDS YOUR HELP!

As you can see from the image of the prototype, the focusing ring does not appear to give much grip. I mentioned to them my preference but they had the idea of me putting up the poll to ask you for your preference.

They asked me which type of focusing ring Leica users would prefer. Scalloped, Round Barrel, or Focus Tab? Also, would you prefer a green ring on the front of the lens or a black ring? Vote in the poll below so Noktor can finish the design and get this lens released!

Aug 012011
 
How to Save a “Throwaway Shot”
 
By Ashwin Rao
 
Hello, my fellow Huffites, it’s Ashwin again, coming fresh off the excitement-packed Seattle 2011 Photo Workshop. Steve, Roger Paperno, Charles Peterson, Tim Isaac & his wife Lily, and myself entertained and photographed with over 20 very talented photographers from both near and wide. It was a great experience, filled with good times, new friends, and lessons learned.
Speaking of lessins, I have slowly been learning a few lessons myself, along the way to trying to get the most out of my photos. One challenge that I have given myself is to periodically revisit old photo shoots, ones that I may not have though successful, and try to coax more out of the images….maybe by revisiting old images, I could find new inspiration and rediscover a diamond in the rough. I hope to tell you my story of just such a “diamond-in-the-rough” photograph in the coming words and images.
In the summer of 2010, I visited nearby Mount Rainier with out-of town friends. The day, while nice enough, wasn’t spectacular. In fact, typical of “moody” Northwest weather, the forecast that day ended up presenting “mostly cloudy”, with a few sunbreaks. While this made for a nice stroll around the Paradise Visitor’s area around Mount Rainier, it seemed to make for poor photo-making circumstances. Yet, I prevailed and took a a few photos with my Leica M9 and APO-Summicron 90 mm f/2 Asph lens as I wandered around a few trails with friends.  I brought the lens in hopes of compressing landscapes and relating the scale of the surroundings to the giant mountain off in the distance. For the most part, my photographic muse was uninspired. Rainier was shrouded by or covered completely by clouds for large chunks of the hike, but in moments, during those rare sunbreaks, the giant mountain would peak out and tempt us. So away, I snapped, hoping for the best.
On returning home,  I quickly downloaded the images, and here’s a sample of what I got….an image that I’d consider thoroughly uninspiring….
As you can see, the image was fraught by poor composition, dust on the sensor, and a lack of clear cohesive direction. Being an eternal optimist, I did my best to tweak the image. I did a bit of liberal cropping to re-center the image and get ride of some dust, and thought I had done a reasonable job of capturing a somewhat bland summer mountain moment. I have plenty of these in my home photo collection, half-finished images that simply don’t seem worth much more effort:
To me, the image continued to seem underexposed in the foreground, and generally dull. I tried to tweak things a bit more by increasing the “green” luminance channel in Adobe Lightroom to bring out the trees (as well as some more dust on my sensor, which came about as a result of my processing)…What I got reminded me of some of the garish HDR images that I stumble across, but at least I gave it a reasonable effort and improved the overall exposure.
I moved on and looked at other shots, but ultimately put the photos away for nearly a year. For some reason, maybe due to the crummy weather that occupied Seattle through much of the spring, I decided to go back to those images from a year ago, and give the image another try….
This time, The approach that I took was to say, for a change, let me try to bring out my “inner Ansel Adams”….Every once in a while I find it fun to mock up images in the style of a famous photographer, and in this case, I decided (with the best humor possible) to put on the hat of the famous Ansel Adams, known across the photographic world for his wondrous black and while work.
To all of you who believe that a photograph should be taken and left as is, please read up on Ansel’s techniques. Adams used extensive photo processing to achieve the look that he desired. He did a ton of dodging and burning, to bring out the intended highlights and sink the intended shadows to create some of history’s most compelling images. Today, in the world of digital imagery and wizardry, processing becomes much easier, and I was able to simply refer back to my Lightroom library and do a quick Black and White conversion. Stepping back to the last edited image in my series, here’s what happened, after a bit of dust removal and contrast adjustment:
To me, suddenly the image in front of me, left for dead a year ago, came to life. I suddenly saw Mt. Rainier as a looming giant in the mist, with the foreground telling its own story….so I I decided to tweak further, pushing the highlights and shadows a bit more to see what would happen….
What I found was that the mountain was becoming even more mysterious…What had originally been intended as a snapshot of Rainier, dashed by the poor weather, was becoming a moody shot, and a “keeper” to my eyes….
So after a bunch more tweaking, that involved adjusting shadows, doing a bit of selective dodging and burning, and performing a series of little tweaks that involved emphasizing the cloud and fog that I saw in this modified image, all in Lightroom, here’s the final result:
So what do you think? I personally feel that I saved an image….a throwaway image at that….Sure, I manipulated the image extensively. Some might argue that what I performed took the image from the realm of photography to something more like graphic art. To me, the image is still a photograph, albeit one that’s extensively interpreted for effect. But again, I feel that this last image is a “keeper”….
I’d be curious what the traditionalists and digital manipulators among you think. After all, this series of images provides a flow from “Before” to “After”, and you can see how what the end-result of the image represents is a far distance from the reality of the day.
Yet, this is now how I “see” Mt. Rainier, as a mysterious giant, hiding in the Northwest’s dense fog, occasionally peaking out, tempting us. Tempting us in its beautiy, challenging us towards becoming better photographers, and to me, better photographic editors….
Until next time, your thoughts and comments are warmly invited….

Jul 292011
 

FULL FRAME 50 0.95 from Noktor. Coming soon.

So this new lens is on the way from Noktor…you remember Noktor. They were a new company over a year ago, released a micro 4/3 0.95 25mm and them faded away. Well, Noktor was recently bought by SLR Magic and they are dedicated to creating more new lenses and this one will be a doozy. Now, I do not have confirmation on anything here but I was told that this lens is NOT for Nikon. NOT for Canon. It is an all new lens made by NOKTOR and the image above is their prototype.

AGAIN, it is an ALL NEW LENS and is getting ready to be announced SOON. It is not an E mount, not a micro 4/3 mount as they already sell a lens in that mount. THIS is a different beast altogether. I have spoken with SLR Magic and Noktor, so this I know.

Hmmm. What do I see? After studying the image for a while I think I see a slide out hood much like the Noctilux 0.95. Could this be a Leica M mount 50 f/0.95? If so, this can be very interesting as the price for this lens would probably be way way less although the quality will also be less.

If it is an M mount, I’d drop the green ring and replace it with black AND if you are listening Noktor, give it a scalloped focus ring. If you remember Noktor was toying with the idea of creating a 90 F/2 M MOUNT lens for a few hundred dollars a while back. Key word is M MOUNT…would they make this for Sony full frame DSLRs? Unlikely. They have already confirmed it is not for Canon or Nikon. That leaves Leica. This could get VERY interesting! Also, check out the rounded aperture blades!

If I hear anything with details or confirmation of mount I will post it here 1st! If it is for Sony, well, that could be interesting too but if I were a betting man….

Whatever mount I really hope the quality is there and the price is reasonable. It’s always cool to have an 0.95 in the bag without spending $10k to do so. Lol. If and when this thing is released I will be reviewing it no doubt!

Jul 262011
 

The Leica 35 Summilux DOUBLE ASPHERICAL (AA) Lens Review  – A Classic FULL of Magic!

By Steve Huff

 

Video Correction – This lens was introduced in 1990-1991 and only 1000-2000 were made. The much more common ASPH was brought out in 1994. So, this lens was NOT released in the 70;s as the video states! Sorry!

How cool is this? I mean, REALLY…how freaking cool is this? I am back home from Seattle and one of the attendees, Ed Tan was at the workshop sporting one of the RARE 35 Summilux ASPHERICAL (AA) lenses. You may or may not know of this lens but I do know it is hard to find, very expensive, and tough to find samples from this lens on an M9 (if you can find any at all). Ed was so nice he let me TAKE THE LENS HOME so I could review it for all of you guys! The only problem is I have fallen HARD for this lens and if I had the cash ($9,000 – $13,000 IF you can find one) then this lens would be my choice in the 35 focal length for the M9. What I mean by that is, if I had hundreds of  thousands of dollars of disposable income this would be my 35 of choice, lol. As it is now, I can’t even afford the current latest and greatest 35 but I have enjoyed shooting with Ed’s lens so THANK YOU Ed! Hmmm…maybe he won’t mind if I send him a cron back instead, hahahah.

CLICK ON IMAGES TO SEE THEM IN BETTER QUALITY!

Roger Paperno and Ed Tan during Lunch in Seattle – F1.4, black and white out of camera (M9-P) – No focus issues in my samples and its very sharp wide open (focused on Rogers Eyes).

Roger giving the thumbs up to the AA and Ed smiling because he knows the lens is HIS!

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Ed…no Post Processing, OOC B&W JPEG!

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Yes, I LOVE the latest 35 Summilux ASPH II FLE but I have to say, the rendering of this ASPHERICAL is out of this world delicious. Do not get this confused with the previous 35 Lux ASPH…nope, this is the lens that came out BEFORE that one (around 1990-91) and has the word ASPHERICAL printed on the lens instead of ASPH (which came out in 1994). Its pretty small without the hood attached and not too heavy. The focus ring on this one is smooth though the Aperture rings seems like it needs a cleaning and lubricating, which is always one thing to expect when buying a used 20+ year old lens.

I have written about the 35 Lux ASPH, and the 35 Lux ASPH II FLE but this is the one lens I always dreamed of trying out and here it is. There is not much I can say about it that has not already been said in the other Summilux reviews but it is a SUMMILUX, so it is an f/1.4 aperture lens. It is DOUBLE ASPHERICAL and it is gorgeous! Yep, this lens was VERY hard and expensive to make as it had TWO Aspherical elements that were hand polished. Leica stopped making these after they produced about 1000-2000 of them due to the high costs. They replaced it with the ASPH version which has ONE Aspherical element. THIS “AA” Version is simply breathtaking though and I wish Leica would have re-introduced this version, but I guess we can’t have it all!

Sometimes the color of the older lenses have odd shifts, but this one has GREAT color that just pops. The Bokeh is pretty smooth in my opinion. Wide open at 1.4, as all Leica lenses should be :)

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The BEST 35?

When I reviewed the latest 35 Lux ASPH II FLE lens I proclaimed it the best 35mm lens you can get for your M9, and this still holds true. It is the best lens you can buy in the 35mm focal length when buying a new lens for your camera. $5000, new, warranty, box and case, and a beautiful “perfect” lens with a modern rendering of your subject with a very smooth look. If I could afford one of those, and if they were actually readily available, I would buy one in a nano-second. The 35 Summilux lenses, all of them…they all have some kind of magic but…but…but… this double Aspherical version seems to have a perfect mix of what I really love. Classic rendering and great color, but also very sharp at the focal point when wide open, which are all ingredients that can add up to some serious fairy dust magic when the light is right. It may not be everyones cup of tea as I remember Ashwin saying he preferred the current FLE Lux to this one as it fits his lens kit better (more modern Leica look) but for some this may be the golden ticket.

Enjoying lunch and also the 35! Out of camera B&W, no Silver Efex here… Leica M9, 35 Summilux AA wide open. Bokehlicious.

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35mm. It’s A great Focal Length. A classic.

Shooting a 35 on the Leica M9 is so natural. I have gone back and forth from the 35 to 50 and one day I may love the 35 and the next day I may love the 50. I also love the 28 but my true love in the lens world for Leica is the old 35 and 50. Two lenses I can live with for life (which is what I do). I have now tried out every 35 Summilux, even the older PRE-ASPH but my personal favorite rendering has come from this AA version. Just wish it was not so damn rare and expensive! There is also a huge lack of information online about this lens which is why I thought it would be cool to have a quick review and video here for it. As you may have seen, the video is at the top of this page.

Another out of camera B&W image (this lens seems to do well with B&W or color). Wide open!

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and some more out of camera color…

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Why are you only posting wide open shots?

This lens, or any SUMMILUX Leica lens is meant and made to be shot WIDE OPEN. I will not be posting F/8 landscape shots as if you want a lens for that purpose then a 35 Summarit or Summicron would be a better choice. When you buy a Summilux lens, a 1.4 lens, this means that Leica has built this lens for maximum performance WIDE OPEN. This is in part what gives us that “Leica Look”. The mix of sharp subject, creamy backgrounds, the way the lens handles the light and even sometimes creates it own…these lenses create images with DEPTH. There is nothing flat about ANY Leica Summilux or Noctilux lens. When you stop them down to F/8 they become just like any other lens in existence. Nope, for me I shoot Leica for the beautiful glass and shooting that glass wide open is where it shines. It is not a gimmick, it is a LOOK and a look that goes along with MY style. Wide open baby! With that said, here is a sample at f/2.8 :)

f2.8, out of camera JPEG with color set to one notch above standard “Medium High”

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FULL SIZE SHOT FROM RAW BELOW!

Here is one from RAW, and a FULL SIZE 18MP file from the M9. Click the image for the full file. SHOT AT f/2.8

This is a lens that you will not find much info on and in fact, some sites who claim they know all about Leica lenses skip this lens in their listings and reviews. It’s not an easy find, nor is it cheap when you do find it. I mean, you can find it USED for about the same price as a NEW 0.95 Noctilux OR MORE. This is much to high IMO, but when something is out there that is this rare, has the name Leica and the word SUMMILUX on it, AND is a double Aspherical lens…well, I guess we can expect it to be priced into the stratosphere!

So maybe there will be a day when I walk into some yard/garage sale and there will be a table with camera gear…maybe, just maybe, there will be a Leica 35 Summilux AA lens for $100 and I will snag it. That would be amazing. Unlikely, but amazing! Thank’s again to Ed for letting me borrow this little beauty so I could share my experience with you guys! If you have the cash stashed and want a beautiful 35…take your pick as they all have magic, but this one has more MOJO than the others. At least I think so.

Some Alien Skin conversions…both ISO 2500, late night & low light, 1.4

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Straight from camera JPEG  – COLOR is nice. Click image for large version.

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Wide open, again, OOC JPEG

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Jul 252011
 

Seattle SteveHuffPhoto Workshop July 2011

Day 2 – The Assignments!

Happy Monday morning to all! It’s 8am and I am on a plane right now headed back home to Phoenix. Yes, there is WiFi on the plane so I am able to update this site as I fly! Pretty snazzy…

Yesterday was the 2nd day of the Seattle Meetup/Workshop and it was a full day of shooting, laughs, learning, and great food from breakfast to dinner. Everyone seemed a bit more comfortable and confident and the results everyone got were fantastic!  The weather in Seattle was perfect all weekend. Sunny and high 70’s so I could not have asked for anything better.

Photo by SK SAITO

We had tons of M9’s, three M9-P’s, three Noctilux’s. a couple M8’s and three M6’s. Lenses ranged from the rare and  Exotic 35 Summilux AA (ASPHERICAL, and my review is coming soon) to Zeiss and Voigtlander glass. Everyone was well prepared with their cameras, MacBooks, and willingness to walk the streets and areas in Seattle and SHOOT SHOOT SHOOT!

Just some of the $250k worth of Leica cameras and lenses at this event! 

Yesterday each attendee had an assignment to help them with their confidence while shooting on the street. I asked them to approach a total stranger, the earlier in the day the better, and to ask if they could shoot their photo/portrait. I am thrilled to say that all attendees followed through with this and from what I saw, it did help their confidence as the shots from yesterday were all VERY good. Hell, 90% of them beat my shots so I learned quite a bit myself from everyone who attended! To those who were nervous about approaching strangers, it was so cool that you overcame this fear when shooting on Sunday. I find this helps quite a bit when out shooting people on the streets so keep at it!

Here are some of the portraits that were shot of total strangers by those shooting digital. Warning! Lots of Shallow Depth Of Field ahead, which is how Leica lenses are DESIGNED to be shot:

Amy Medina

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Andrew Holloway

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Ashwin Rao

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Chris White

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Daniel Harrington

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RANDALL KELLEY

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Ed Tan

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Gerard Van Wesep

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Matt Driscoll

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Warren Phillips

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Roger Paperno (Yes, he asked)

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Steve Huff

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Peter Lindstrom

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Peter Havas

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Todd Hatakeyama

I believe a workshop should be laid back, easy going, and should NOT have the attitude that the presenters and hosts are better than anyone in the group. With my meet ups and workshops everyone is treated as an equal and I feel this lets everyone involved loosen up, relax, laugh, and get out there with the group to be the best they can be. I also believe in INSPIRATION and when we all shared our images on a huge projection screen in Ashwins living room I think we ALL were a little more inspired for the next photo session.

As I already stated in the Day 1 report, we had two professional presenters over the weekend – Charles Peterson and Roger Paperno (who had an EXCELLENT presentation, thanks Roger!) as well as myself and Ashwin who gave slideshows and some tips and tricks for the day.

It was a fantastic weekend that flew by and I had a GREAT time along with everyone else. After the long day on Sunday we all went out for dinner at a local pub and finished off the night with conversation, tips, lens sharing and plenty of smiles and laughs.

It seems my 1st day post is getting a few comments about the quality of the Leica shots. First off, a rangefinder is a TOTALLY different experience than shooting a DSLR. I brought along a Canon 5D MKII on this trip as well. I had the 50 L 1.2 attached but my shots with the Canon are sort of flat, have no “soul” and did not compare to the Leica shots in overall look. The 5DII is a GREAT and SUPERB camera but comparing it to an M9 with a good lens is not going to bring the Canon out on top for ME. I prefer the “look” of Leica glass every time.

The fact is Leica glass is expensive for a reason as it is the best glass you can get for any 35mm camera system. Period. Those who bash it simply do not own any Leica glass.

Also, it is MUCH more pleasurable shooting something like an M9 than a big DSLR, which is why the 5D rarely came out of my bag. The rangefinder experience is a joyful one. It puts smiles on the faces of those who own one. It brings a confidence and adds some motivation to shoot. It is an experience unlike any other in the photographic world. It was a PLEASURE shooting with 20 other RF shooters this weekend and I look forward to doing it again soon. The magic is not just in the “snapshots” but in the user experience and glass that we all take great pride in using. It is my system of choice for anything from snapshots to professional work.

Oh and one more thing..Leica is also not just for the rich as I am FAR from rich!

THANKS to all who attended and to Ashwin, Roger and Charles. I will leave you with a few more photos from the weekend. Some are mine, some were shot by others.

1st few are from me, Steve Huff from Day 2 – more behind the scene stuff

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and now a few from some of the others! Great shots guys! Enjoy!

AMY MEDINA

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ASHWIN RAO

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ANDREW HOLLOWAY

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CHRIS WHITE

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Gerard Van Wesep

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MATT DRISCOLL

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ROGER PAPERNO

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TODD HATAKEYAMA

Jul 242011
 

Hello Seattle! Day one of the Workshop, SUCCESS!

 

Wow Wow Wow! What a long, but AWESOME day! Today was day one of the Seattle workshop and it started this morning at 9am sharp. We had about 24 guests today and it is now 11:45 PM and I am just now getting to bed. I am a pretty tired but trying to write this update before I fall asleep (though it is not being posted until Sunday)

It all starts again Sunday at 9am and it should be an even better day than today!

My plane landed in Seattle on Friday and after I arrived I went to dinner with Ashwin Roa (who is hosting this workshop at his home) and local Seattle pro, Roger Paperno. We chatted for a couple hours and then took a drive and a walk where I snapped a few photos with my M9-P and 50 Summuilux ASPH. Man, did I tell you guys how much I love this combo?

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Before I write any more, I want to thank Ashwin BIG TIME as he has been an amazing help when putting this all together. I could not have done it without him, so THANK YOU ASHWIN!

As Saturday morning rolled in we all gathered for a 9AM start.  We had donuts and coffee from the world famous TOP POT donut shop. They were delicious! I usually do not eat donuts..well, it’s a rare occasion when I buy them, but these were sooooo tasty.

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After everyone introduced themselves we enjoyed a presentation and slide show from Ashwin as well as famous Rock Photographer Charles Peterson, who gave us a slideshow of his amazing concert work of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and even a nice little segment of his personal images of his wife and son, all shot with an M9.

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After the presentations we all headed out for some shooting throughout some hot spots of Seattle. Pike Place was the main spot where we shot today and it was great fun. LOTS of characters and street performers in Seattle and man, was it BUSY! It was great to have 20+ photographers all shooting Leica M cameras. We took the the streets with one goal in mind…to shoot some great photos so we could show them later in the day to everyone via a projector. Fun!

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After we shot we headed over to lunch and then back to Ashwin’s house to edit and work on photos. After sharing the best three from everyone in the group we went back out to shoot more and have dinner. Was a great day and I am looking forward to day 2!

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and one of me from Ashwin…

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In the next couple of days I will have photos posted from everyone who attended this meet up. There are some GREAT shots and today will be a great day with the prize giveaway, guest speaker Roger Paperno, more street shooting and of course more fun :)

Jul 222011
 

 

My First Trip with the Leica M9

By Ricky Cheong

Intro:

Hi Steve and fellow readers, my name is R.C or better yet just by Inzite and I’ve been a viewer of this wonderful site for quite some time already so I thought I should also chip in my thoughts regarding shooting an RF and how it fairs against a SLR. I have been shooting for about 6 years or so with DSLRs from both Nikon and Canon, only recently this year or so have been really using my m bodies. DSLR is fine, and probably great for what I shoot and my shooting style, however there are times when I just want to go out and have less or a burden (especially when going out with the lady). This spring, I decided to only take the m bodies with me for our trip in Asia. Our destination: Macau, Hong Kong, Sanya and Phuket.

The Gears:

M6, M9, 35 Summicron, 15 Voigtlander.

Being new to the m system I don’t have many lenses for the bodies, I actually end up buying the 15 Voigtlander in Hong Kong while we stopped there. I left Toronto with M6, M9 and a 35 Summicron all inside my Crumpler 6 million dollar home. It was quite a change from lugging around a d3, 14-24, 50 1.4 in the same bag, or a 1dm3 or 5d, 24-70 and 70-200 in the same bag. The bag no longer felt like a burden and I no longer get harassed by the flight attendants regarding having too bulky of a bag beneath the seat.

The Trip:

On the way to Hong Kong, packed plane as usual.  M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/8 | ISO 800

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Flight was long and tiring from Toronto to Hong Kong, with babies going off every 30 minutes or so, amidst the chaos on the plane, I did manage to fire off a shot that I was very happy with. The 35mm summicron + M9 is such a small package, great for shooting in close range with people in tight space. Had I try to shoot it with a d3 + 50 1.4, I would probably catch the attention of the woman sitting beside me because I would probably spend a good minute or so trying to yank my bag out from the seat in front, then followed with pulling the camera out of the bag, and not to mention the bold, fierce sound of the shutter going off.

Riding the ship from Hong Kong Airport to Macau. M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/50 | ISO 800

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I do have to say, shots coming from the combination of M9 and 35 IV (I’ll use IV as the short form of summicron here on) is pretty 3D compared to similar shallow dof shots done with a 35L or 85L or 50 1.4 G. So carrying my dead tired drained body, I hopped onto the ship that will take me back home to Macau. I rested for a few days in Macau before flying off to Sanya to meet the lady. The short first part stay in Macau was not bad. Carrying a lighter camera in typical Asian humid climate can really enhance the travel experience. Back when I used to lug around a bag full of Nikon or Canon, I would be feeling so hot and tired that I would be really inclined to stay in doors as much as possible. Now with the m bodies, I can spend more time shooting outside and less time enjoying the ac.

Koi watching in a garden surrounded by cement buildings. M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/500 | ISO 160

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So I met the lady in Sanya and we hit up some tourist spots there, it’s a nice and interesting place there, some call it Hawaii in Asia. I find it quite relaxing as all we did everyday was go out and have fun, all on our own schedule. Weather was nice, typical island climate. If you find your self in the area of Hong Kong or Macau, hop over and spend two or three days there. It is as close as it gets to Hawaii without leaving southern China. The M6 stayed in the bag at our room as a back up body, I took the M9 + 35 IV out every day, every where, bag less, free. It was a good start for the remainder of the trip with regards to the pleasure of shooting. 35 IV works great for an all purpose lens, prior to this trip, I have always wondered if a 50 would serve me better.

Visting Yanoda Natural Reserve, I have never seen so many parrots in one place in my life. M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/350 | ISO 200

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Nan Shan Temple in Sanya, viewing it from the beach gives it quite a unique feel.  M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/4000 | ISO 160

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The lady trying on a hat, we end up buying it for 45 RMB. Love the colors.  M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/1500 | ISO 160

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Elder people give great subject sometimes. He was an old kind man.  M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/1500 | ISO 160

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After our short stay in Sanya, we arrived in Macau along with my future in-laws. My second part stay in Macau is basically to act as a tour guide for the future in-laws. However, I did manage to fire off a shot or two that I can actually use for this report. Again, in warm weather like Macau, the less you bring out doors with you, the better and happier you will feel. I once carried a D3 with a 200 F2 VR lens for shooting once and despite the amazing result I got, it was a nightmare. Then of course when people ask you if it’s hard work carrying such equipment you usually man up and say it’s no big deal but deep inside us SLR folks all know that the freaking thing is big heavy and a pain to carry. Since I didn’t take much pics this time in Macau that is worth sharing, I will also attach a few I took before that I feel it will give you a glimpse or Macau and that being there is all it takes, the type of camera doesn’t matter really. (well, it does if you light to shoot natural light in dim lighting like me, and honestly, the M9 is definitely not there yet in the high iso department, see below)

Scanning Macau from on top of the Macau Tower, the tallest building in macau.  M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/1500 | ISO 160

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Waiting with tickets to see “The House of Dancing Water” at City of Dreams. Yes, it’s a nice name for a hotel, but it’s true that you do feel that you are living a dream. M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/30 | ISO 800

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Inside the MGM Macau VIP lobby, beautiful is understating it, it’s GORGEOUS! D3 | 14 | F2.8 | 1/60 | ISO 2800

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Wide angle Venetian style. Yes, it’s in Macau and you can enjoy the famous meat jerky and eggrolls right after! D3 | 24 | F2.8 | 1/60 | ISO 2000

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Moon lit Guan Yin by the shore, Macau, where the east meets the west.  D3 | 24 | 1/40 | ISO 8000

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Hong Kong, the place where anything is possible as long as one has the cash. It is the place where you can buy multiple M9 in store. (at “fried” price, as locals call it). It is also the same place where you see more people carry LV bags more than plastic shopping bags. It’s a fine city. I dropped by a famous camera store in TST to pick up a 15mm Voigtlander and off I go in wide angle rf land. Framing through the external view finder and focusing or metering through the internal finder proved to be easier than I thought, it is miles ahead of the D3 + 14-24 combination in terms of weight and portability. However, based on the firmware of the M9 at the time, it did have the color shift corners issues, doesn’t bother me much but its there.

Small and portable, image quality is quite decent, I like. 

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Look at the wide-ness of that! I really like this shot because it’s quite odd to see no one on the streets in Hong Kong.  M9 | 15 | F6.7 | 1/750 | ISO 400

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We met Mario at an arcade place in Mongkok, Hong Kong. M9 | 15 | F5.6 | 1/8 | ISO 800

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I got to try a 50 F1.4 Summilux in store in Hong Kong, it is definitely a mighty fine lens. I look forward to getting one soon! M9 | 50 | F1.4 | 1/45 | ISO 1000

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Getting away from the heat in underground AC cooled pass way.  M9 | 15 | F4.5 | 1/125 | ISO 1600

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Finally we arrive in Phuket, Thailand. It is basically a foreigner’s heaven, everything is cheap! The food was excellent, our resort was excellent and the weather was excellent. It was a good opportunity to test out my new wide angle! I was really glad that I did not bring a D3 + 14-24 because it was incredibly hot during the day and I simply cannot imagine carrying such heavy gear under the scorching sun. The M9 did an incredible job in the intense heat and humidity. It’s certainly weather sealed “enough” for my usage. I even took the M9 into the pool with me to get some nice shots. All in all, the results from this final leg of our trip solidify my belief in the possibility and results of the M system in terms of the practicability for traveling. It can certainly match what I can get with my DSLRs at home and if not exceed them by allowing me to shoot with less of a burden.

Fresh fruit to welcome us to the suite, mmm.. beachfront bliss.. M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/60 | ISO 200

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Explosion of colors, tuk tuk rules here! It’s hot there!  M9 | 15 | F6.7 | 1/125 | ISO 200

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With some practice, spontaneous shots are possible with a range finder. We caught eye of this street vendor pass by us rather quickly, we turn and ran to catch up with him.  M9 | 15 | F6.7 | 1/750 | ISO 800

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Hand held over the pool water, it turned out better than I expected.  M9 | 15 | F5.6 | 1/90 | ISO 160

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A rare shot done by the 35 IV, I was really addicted to the 15.  M9 | 35 | F2 | 1/90 | ISO 200

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Great sunsets to conclude everyday in Phuket.  M9 | 35 | F4 | 1/500 | ISO 200

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Post Trip Conclusion:

The M9 performed wonderfully through out the trip, even though it is one expensive piece of equipment but maybe because of its small size and low profile, I actually felt more comfortable bringing it to difference places, simply because it attracts less attention. The 35 IV proved to be quite a versatile lens, but there are multiple times that I simply wanted to focus closer than 0.7m, however that’s the limitation of the Leica m system. The 15 was probably one of my best buys in recently years because it was so small and so wide, it really got me getting creative and I guess the result shows. I didn’t find going manual focus was that bad of a thing, but it does certainly take some time to get used to. The large file size from the M9 did force me to get a total of 3 16 GB cards by the end of the trip but the quality is there right in the raw files. All in all, in the future when I’m going to a paradise I’m taking the M bodies and before that I need to get my self a 50. I hope you all enjoyed this write up and my experience with the M on this trip and the results I got from it. Thanks!

Feel free to drop by my flickr to see my other works

http://www.flickr.com/inzite

Inzite.

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Jul 192011
 

This video seems to be making the rounds online and gave me a little laugh :) This guy is out and about using his Leica M6 and Noctilux but he forgot ONE THING and he can not seem to figure out why the camera is not metering correctly. Can you see what he is doing wrong?

 

Lesson on how NOT to use a Leica:

Here is a video I found that shows you the POV through a Leica viewfinder while street shooting…not my style but VERY interesting…

It’s funny because I recently picked up a GOPRO HD cam to mount to my M9 for the upcoming workshop in Seattle (This weekend!). I will record as I am out and about shooting with everyone so you can see how I shoot on the street. Hope you enjoyed these!

Jul 182011
 

The Power of the 50 Summilux ASPH

As if you didn’t know!

Ok, so last week I had a Power of the Polaroid thing going on, and these past few evenings I was messing around with my Leica M9-P and 50 Lux ASPH, shooting the lens wide open to see just how well it performs. Shouldn’t I already know how it performs? I mean, I have owned this lens a gazillion times right? Well, in the past I have had a couple 50 Summilux ASPH lenses front focus and some have back focused. I have also had an M9 body (or two) that was not spot on (including the very 1st one I had in Sep 09, direct from the factory) and one sure fire way to test is to shoot a fast lens WIDE open at close, mid and far distances.

I did all of that with my new M9-P and new 50 Lux ASPH and at every distance the camera and lens were PERFECT. In fact, this may be the best performing 50 Lux/M9 combo I have ever owned! I decided to post a few pictures with a 100% crop embedded so you guys can see just how sharp this lens is wide open at 1.4 when all is calibrated perfectly. I do this because I seem to get so many e-mails asking me about lens sharpness and some will tell me their 50 Lux or Summicron is not sharp which leads to disappointment for them. All I can say is that if the lens and body are correctly calibrated then they are insanely sharp, even at 1.4.

To see the images and crops below in the right way, you MUST click on the image to see the full 100% crop in the. Now of course 98% of you reading this do not need any convincing from me, as we all know this is the hardest lens to get in the Leica line up. A year waiting list is what I hear for this AND the $10,495 Noctilux f/0.95.

But it is a pleasure to own this lens again, and it helps that I got somewhat of a deal on it in Vienna at the Leica Shop. After the Euro to $$ I think it cost me $3300 US which is damn good as these are selling USED for $4500 – $5000 these days.

Can’t wait to use it more and more and guess what? I have a Canon 5D MKII and 50 L 1.2 lens ON THE WAY right now to do a “Just for Fun/Crazy Comparison” shootout with the M9-P, 50 Lux and Noctilux ASPH. Should be interesting! So many of you have asked me about that Canon combo, and it just so happens the 50 L 1.2 is my favorite Canon lens along with the 85 1.2. I will keep you guys posted on that one. It has been a while since I shot with the 5DII but recently handled one again, so got the itch to do this comparison. Basically a $4000 top end Canon combo against a $12-19,000 Leica combo. Just for fun of course! (For those who asked, I am also working on getting the Sigma SD-1 in for review)

I plan on making it a bit different this time.

At the end of the day though, no matter what happens I am still in love with my M9 for its size, manual nature and overall simplicity. For all of you who are on the fence about the 50 Lux and weather you should place and order and wait, Id say go for it as you can’t lose. It is the one Leica lens that will hold its value over time and maybe even go up like it has continually done so for the past few years.

Check out the images below so you can see what to expect from the quality of this lens. You can also see more on this lens with the M9 HERE, HERE and HERE!

For those wondering where you can get on a waiting list for this lens, I know Ken Hansen and/or Dale Photo may accommodate that. You can always check the B&H Photo page and see if you can GET LUCKY and find one in stock, but don’t hold your breath.

 

 

My friend and fellow photographer Helene from France. This was a quick shot in full sunlight, so not the ideal light but if you click the image  you can see the 100% crop. Pretty nice huh?

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My best friend Mike at 1.4, some wind light coming in mid day…

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One more test shot I snapped to check if focus was spot on…and it was. 

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and just a few more random and recent shots with this beautiful lens…all wide open at 1.4

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While in the Leica Shop in Vienna Seal was posing for a portrait – I snapped this one “behind the scenes”, 1.4 

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ISO 2500 – This is a great portrait lens and would shine with some great natural light. The shot below had no light, was in a dark restaurant after a loooong travel day and yet the lens still produced great results, even at 2500 ISO.

Jul 152011
 
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USER REPORT: The Fuji X100 vs the Leica M6? By Frederick Ogez
I can hear the angry comments already, “This is ridiculous! These two cameras were never intended to be matched against the likes of each other… A viewfinder camera with a fixed lens and an interchangeable lens rangefinder??!” And, “Not another FILM AGAINST DIGITAL article!” Before angrily slamming the laptop screen down, please read on!

Working at a small family owned since camera shop in Minnesota, I was recently able to bring a copy of the Fuji X100 home for testing, and a wild idea popped into my head, my primary camera being a Leica M6… “What if I pitted these two wonderful cameras against each other? What would I find I liked and disliked about each, which would I find I liked better as a small concealable walk-around camera?”

Alright, let’s face it. These cameras can never really compete directly against the likes of each other. BUT let’s also face another fact. A used Leica M6 can be purchased for about the same price as a new X100, of course throw in a piece of Leica glass and your talking a difference, but this is undoubtedly a decision many are considering at this interesting time in photographic history as many are again calling for a pure photographic experience. My decision was made. The Leica was loaded and the Fuji was charged…

My first goal was to get the Fuji set up in a way that best fit my shooting style. I turned in-finder image review to off, the rear LCD to remain off unless in playback, and the battery saving auto-off feature to completely off. I was beginning to feel at home already! Next I held the “display” key until the camera went into silent mode. My jaw dropped. Fuji’s shutter actuation volume made my Leica sound like a revolver. Of course this is an exaggeration, but it is outstandingly quiet. If you are a fan of candid style photography, and would rather have your subjects remain in their natural state unknowing that you photographed them at all, you must try the Fuji in a shop. If it’s a bit noisy in there, you may need to press playback to see if a photo was made at all. It’s just that quiet, and much more so than a Leica M. I set out with both cameras strapped around my neck, photographing in my humble town of Forest Lake, MN. But so much for my suburbian Fargo accented small talk ey, let’s get down to sharing real world opinions. That’s what this here site is about der anyways don’t-cha-know?

One thing I found out about the Fuji right away was that manual focusing was not going to be an option. The optical viewfinder is gorgeous and bright, in my opinion a far superior experience to using the electronic one (something I would hardly use) but it can be quite difficult to see the information in bright light! The frame line remained fairly easy to see, but exposure information was difficult if not impossible for me to see, and most disappointing was not being able to see the color of the focus box. This is inside the frame line, and where you place the portion of the frame you want the camera to focus on. It turns green when an accurate focus is attained. One thing I noticed was that indoors, the Fuji did have a very difficult time focusing in certain situations, and that little square would quite often be red, indicating an unattained focus, and I would have to half press the shutter again, sometimes having to recompose to an area of the subject with higher contrast. Now to address the Leica’s finder…

A photographer friend of mine and I were once discussing this very topic, and he did say that when going out into the street he desired a finder that displayed shutter speed and aperture value, which of course my M6 does not show! I have blown this off as unnecessary. Pure necessities! Isn’t that what a camera should be? Two dials, one for shutter, one for aperture and you’re done. But I must admit, it was a welcome addition to be able to quickly fly from f/2 to f/8 or 1/1,000 to 1/30 and know exactly how far I had gone, all without taking my eye from the composition. I now realize that this can be invaluable in situations with varying light levels, and mean the difference between an intelligently exposed great photo, and a missed opportunity. That being said it seems that there is no experience quite like a manual focusing rangefinder experience. In darker situations where the Fuji sometimes took three tries for the auto focus to succeed, the Leica is easily focused in a fraction of a second with its consistently bright and easily viewable coincident rangefinder. For setting a zone of focus, the lenses are intricately engraved, giving you a precise and intuitive way of doing quick reportage style photography. This of course can be done with the Fuji, but to me the in viewfinder bar that indicates a distance from “here” to “here” on a LCD scale labeled either in meters or feet is simply less available, less intuitive and less clear then markings on the lens.

In the hand, both feel phenomenal. The Leica is significantly heavier, but this is expected from a camera that is designed to last a century (with incremental tune ups of course). Both (depending on attached lens) are very small, and even pocket-able, and both are quiet! But the Fuji is simply more quiet. Almost totally silent, and part of its silence is due to its lack needing to advance… Oh I almost forgot about that… The Leica is a film shooter!

Ok, I know I’ve mentioned the shutter many times already, but this is the last time. A quiet shutter doesn’t just mean low volume, it means an incredibly gentle shutter. Now the analog Leica M shutter is one of the best available in this category as well, but the Fuji is able to be hand held like almost nothing else. I’m serious that in my time with it I’ve gotten perfectly sharp results at ¼ of a second, and believe one could go further and get acceptable results…It was very responsive as well, with no noticeable lag between fully depressing the shutter button, and the actuation occurring. Both were able to be swung to the eye, quickly adjusted according to the bright lines, and capture the decisive moment.

The Fuji was such an enjoyable camera to use, and for certain purposes is better than the comparably priced M6. During this test, I loaded the Leica with Kodak TriX, and set the Fuji to ISO 400. After scanning the negatives with a Plustek Opticfilm scanner, and processing the color files from the Fuji to B+W to my liking, I realized one thing. Digital is simply not film. Sure I can add grain and other effects to create a film like look in Photoshop, but the rendition is quite simply different! Famous Leica photographer Ralph Gibson was asked in an interview whether or not he used digital equipment alongside film loading cameras. He said he had tried using digital cameras, and that his close relationship with Leica allowed him the opportunity to test new products. He went on with his personal opinion between the two forms of capture… “Digital photography is about another kind of information…When I’m taking a photograph I imagine the light rays passing through my lens and penetrating the emulsion of my film. And when I’m developing my film I imagine the emulsion swelling and softening and the little particles of silver tarnishing…Digital imaging and photography share similar symbiosis.

I think it’s a mutual coexistence situation. I don’t think they even compare.” He says some very strongly opinionated things besides these in the interview as well, but these are opinions none the less! I find some of his views quite harsh, as you can all see from this excerpt that he makes an implication that digital imaging is NOT photography! I must say that though I find much of his work beyond gorgeous, and his photographic mindset unique and wonderful, I do disagree with him there. But I do find it inarguable that an image created on film, is not like a digital image. They are just different, and each person is going to have a different opinion as to which one looks “better”.

That being said, these cameras are both a joy to shoot! Fuji deserves acknowledgement for doing something so brave as the X100, and shooting it gives a rewarding feeling, reminiscent of a prior time. But a Leica M, is simply a Leica M. Simple, stunning, lovely, ready for generations of use. Chemicals do cost money, and processing adds up. How about a decent scanner as well? Not inexpensive in the least, and expense is the precise reason the M9 is not mentioned until this point in this discussion. But the texture, the grain, the form, the gradation of tonal values… all is different between the two, and this must be a huge deciding factor when looking at the Fuji, and a film loading rangefinder. Personally, the look of Tri-X is enough for me to justify the expense of the chemicals, and I really find the entire film process rewarding to a great degree. But I want to hear opinions of others! Thank you so much for reading, and I hope to hear many replies and much healthy discussion.

Thanks again Steve,

Fred

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Jul 132011
 

A Closer Video Look at the Leica M9-P

Hello to all! It’s bright and early in the Huff household and after going through all of my emails from the past few weeks I came across a few that asked me to do a short video on the M9-P camera. Many of you had a question on the black paint finish and were asking if it was more of a matte finish or a glossy finish. The M9-P in black has a matte finish and is VERY nice looking. It is not as shiny as the MP or the black paint M8.2 but it IS the most attractive digital M to date in my opinion.

But, the M9-P is the SAME as the M9. The differences are strictly cosmetic (and of course the Sapphire glass screen on the still substandard LCD). For your extra $1000 you get the good looks and un-scratchable screen. Basically, what the M9 should have been in the 1st place for an extra $1000. For me though, this is the M I envisioned since the M9 was released. For me, it was a no brainer to trade up as I am sucker for all black and plain. Beautiful!

Check out the video below to see more…there is even an appearance made by a think tank retrospect 5! Enjoy!

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