May 262011
 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NEW: THE LEICA V-LUX 30

The universal compact camera for carefree photography

Solms, Germany (May 26, 2011) – Leica Camera AG presents a new digital compact camera featuring a 15.1 megapixel sensor (14.1 MP effective) – the Leica V-Lux 30. In comparison to its forerunner model, the new camera has a Leica DC Vario-Elmar lens with an extended range of focal lengths and a new LCD touch screen display that guarantees fast and simple handling. Together with its numerous automatic features and manual setting options, this makes the Leica V-Lux 30 a compact and universal camera for the whole family. Additionally, its integrated GPS function and video recording in 1080i-AVCHD Full HD make it the ideal companion for all life’s moments from the family vacation to the backyard barbecue.

The Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3 – 68.8 mm f/3.3-5.9 ASPH. 16x zoom lens has an extended range of focal lengths equivalent to 24 to 384 mm in 35-mm format. Thanks to this high performance lens, the Leica V-Lux 30 delivers outstanding image quality and covers a wide range of photographic opportunities, ranging from wide-angle and macro shots to telephoto shots of distant subjects.

The newly developed 1/2.33″ CMOS sensor of the Leica V-Lux 30 guarantees outstanding image quality and allows photographers to capture image sequences with the camera’s fast, continuous shooting mode. The Leica V-Lux 30 enables consecutive burst shooting at a rate of ten frames per second at a full resolution of 14.1 MP, or 60 frames per second with reduced resolution in a choice of individual aspect ratios. This allows users to reliably capture fast moving subjects – for example when shooting sports or wildlife. Its brand new 3D mode lets users take fascinating, creative images. In this mode, the camera combines two suitable shots from a sequence in a “stereo image pair” and saves them as a 3D image in MPO format.

An outstanding feature, the Leica V-Lux 30’s video recording mode offers performance comparable to that of digital camcorders. Particularly, the video mode records in efficient, 1080i-AVCHD-Full-HD format with the entire 16x zoom range available during video recording and an integrated stereo microphone with an electronic wind noise filter guarantees a crystal-clear soundtrack.

As with the complete Leica portfolio, the V-Lux 30 is characterized by timelessly elegant styling and extremely easy handling. With the new 3″ LCD touch screen, many camera features can now be controlled simply by touching the screen with a fingertip. This generously dimensioned screen has a diagonal of approximately three inches and displays images in outstanding brilliance with a resolution of 460,000 pixels. This provides users with an ideal tool for reliable and precise assessment of images both during composition and after capture.

Thanks to the integrated GPS function, the camera records the geographical coordinates of the location and the local time for every shot and saves them in the Exif data of the image files. When travelling, the V-Lux 30 can also display the sightseeing highlights of the immediate neighborhood (1,000,000 so-called “Points of Interest”). Images posted on social networks, image portals and map sites such as Google Maps or Google Earth reveal exactly when and where they were shot.*

The Leica V-Lux 30 will be available from Leica dealers beginning June 2011. The camera is supplied with an extensive software package comprising Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 9 for still image processing and Adobe® Premiere® Elements 9, especially designed for video processing. There is also a choice of two different camera cases: The strong and resilient leather case and the soft leather case.

* It is possible that GPS tagging may not function in the People’s Republic of China and neighboring regions. Satellite signal reception may be impossible, depending on the location. In such cases, the positioning data may be recorded inaccurately or not at all.

Media Contacts:

Evins Communications

212-688-8200

Clara Kroher

212-377-3589 / [email protected]

Julia Covelli

212-377-3593 / [email protected]

 

Technical data                                         LEICA V-LUX 30

Lens: Leica DC Vario-Elmar 4.3 – 68.8 mm f/3.3-5.9 ASPH. (corresponds to 24 – 384 mm, 35 mm equivalent focal lengths), 12 elements 10 groups); Aspherical Lenses: 6 surfaces in 3 elements

 

Optical Image Stabilization: Yes

 

Zoom

optical/digital:                                           16x/4x

 

Focusing

Modes:                                                      Normal/Macro, continuous focusing (On/Off)

 

Metering modes:                                       Face Detection, AF Tracking, multi points, 1 point, Spot, Touch Field

 

Focusing range

P / A / S / M:                                             50 cm (wide-angle) / 2 m (tele) – ∞

 

Macro / intelligent /

auto / movie:                                              3 cm (wide-angle) / 1 m  (tele) – ∞

 

Sensor: 1/2.33″ CMOS with 15.1MP (effective 14.1MP)

 

Resolution / Recording File Format

Still pictures:                                             16:9 format: 4320 x 2432 pixels, 3648 x 2056 pixels, 3072 x 1728 pixels, 2560 x 1440 pixels, 1920 x 1080 pixels, 640 x 360

3:2 format: 4320 x 2880 pixels, 3648 x 2432 pixels,  3072 x 2048 pixels, 2560 x 1712 pixels, 2048 x 1360 pixels, 640 x 424

4:3 format: 4320 x 3240 pixels, 3648 x 2736 pixels,  3072 x 2304 pixels, 2560 x 1920 pixels, 2048 x 1536 pixels, 640 x 480

1:1 format: 3232 x 3232 pixels, 2736 x 2736, 2304 x 2304, 1920 x 1920, 1536 x 1536, 480 x 480

 

Movies:                                                      16:9 format AVCHD: 1080i: 1920 x 1080 pixels  (max. 60 min per clip) 720p: 1280 x 720 pixels (max. 60 min per clip)

Motion JPEG: 16:9 format: 1280 x 720 pixels (max. 30 min per clip)

4:3 format: 640 x 480 pixels, 320 x 240 pixels  (max. 30 min per clip)

 

3D:                                                            16:9 format: 1920 x 1080 (MPO format)

 

Exposure control

Exposure modes:                                       Program mode (P), Aperture priority (A), Shutter Speed priority (S), Manual Setting (M)

 

Exposure compensation:                           Increments: 1/3 EV steps, setting range: ±2 EV

 

Scene modes:                                            Portrait, Soft Skin, Transform, Self Portrait, Scenery, Panorama Assist, Sports, Night Portrait, Night Scenery, Handheld Night Shot, Food, Party, Candle Light, Baby1, Baby2, Pet, Sunset, High Sens., High-Speed-Burst, Flash Burst, Starry Sky, Fireworks, Beach, Snow, Aerial Photo, Pin Hole, Film Grain, Photo Frame, High Speed Movie

 

Metering modes: Multi-field / Centre weighted / Spot

White balance: Auto / Daylight / Cloudy / Shade / Halogen / Manual setting

 

Sensitivity: Auto/iISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600

 

Shutter speeds: 60s-1/4000s, (Starry Sky mode: 15s/30s/60s)

 

Continuous shooting mode: (Burst frequency: max. number of pictures / max. resolution)

2 B/s: max. number 100 / 14 MP max. resolution

5 B/s: max. number 100 / 14 MP max. resolution

10 B/s: max. number 15 / 14 MP max. resolution

40 B/s: max. number 50 / 5 MP max. resolution

60 B/s: max. number 60 / 3.5 MP max. resolution

 

Flash

Modes:                                                      AUTO, AUTO with pre-flash (to reduce red-eye effect), AUTO with slower shutter speeds and pre-flash, On, Off

 

Range:                                                       60 cm – 5.0 m [W/ISO Auto],

1.0 -2.8 m [Tele/ISO Auto]

 

Self-Timer: 2/10 s delay

Monitor: 3.0” TFT-LCD, approx. 460,800 pixels, Touch screen functionality

 

Microphone/Speaker: Stereo/mono

 

Recording media

Internal memory:                                       approx. 18 MB

 

Memory cards:                                          SD: 8 MB – 2 GB

SDHC: 4 GB – 32 GB

SDXC: 48 GB – 64 GB

 

Interfaces

HDMI:                                                      Mini-HDMI cable (type C)

 

AV OUT/DIGITAL:                                Digital: USB 2.0 (High Speed)

 

Dedicated jack (8-pin):                             Analogue Video/Audio: NTSC/PAL Composite (switchable in menu), Audio-line-out (mono)

 

GPS: Geodetic Data System: WGS84

Database:                                                   1 Mio. Points of Interest

 

Operating temperature/

Humidity: 0-40°C / 10-80%

 

Battery (Lithium/Ion): BP-DC7

 

Voltage/capacity:                                      3.6 V / 895 mAh (260 pictures according to CIPA standards)

 

Dimensions (WxHxD): 104.9 x 57.6 x 33.4 mm / 4.13 x 2.27 x 1.31 in

 

Weight: 219 g / 7.72 oz (with memory card & battery)

 

PictBridge: Yes

 

Scope of delivery: Camera, Battery charger (Leica BC-DC7), Lithium-Ion Battery (Leica BP-DC7), Carrying strap, AV cable, USB cable, Software DVDs, CD with long instructions (PDF), Printed short instruction manuals, Touch Pen

 

Software: Adobe® Photoshop® Elements 9,

Adobe® Premiere® Elements 9

May 242011
 

Leica X1 vs Fuji X100 – Part 2

Full size image  Throwdown!

Ok guys, this will most likely be my last post on the X100 vs X1 thing, but I was going over images from yesterday and processing the RAW files and found the Fuji can easily equal, if not surpass the X1 when it comes to sharpness and detail. Now, I have said it a gazillion times, sharpness is not going to make or break your photo unless you need that sharpness for a detailed landscape, BUT just want to point this out for those who thought (including me) that the X100 would not be as good of a landscape camera.

I am going to present a few shots from each camera here in FULL SIZE. Meaning, if you click on the image you will see the full size, 12 MP image from each camera. These were processed using ACR in Photoshop CS5. All editing was done during the RAW conversion.

You will see that the Fuji is pretty damn good when shooting RAW, better than its JPEGS for sure. The following comparisons are not “side-by-side” shots but there are one or two shots that are the same.

1st, the Fuji Pics. Keep in mind these are all between 6-8MB each. I saved them as a level 10 JPEG after the conversion from RAW.

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…and now a few from the X1, same thing. All from RAW, saved as a level 10 JPEG in CS5.

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So what do YOU think? I think Leica should think long and hard about adding a built in VF/EVF to the X2, put on a faster lens (maybe even a 1.4 or 1.8 just to up the stakes), add video (my prediction is this is going to happen), and add 6400 ISO capability. Speed up the AF and put an aperture dial on the lens. Add in good manual focus control as well. So all of this while keeping it as small or smaller than the X100 and the X2 will easily be THE camera in this category to own. I’m drooling just thinking about it. On the other hand, if Leica releases and X2 down the road with another 2.8 lens, no VF and the AF is still slow then they may as well not even release it. I am hearing rumblings from within the Leica camp that they may be working on something totally different and unexpected, so we shall see. My guess is a 2012 release for an X2.

The good thing is, IQ wise, the nearly 2 year old X1 is still up there in overall quality. That means the X2 should be something special.

Oh, and a few people asked me if I thought something like a Fuji X100 or Leica X1 would give better image quality than something like a Canon 5D and 35L. Well, to be honest, I think they can. There is something to be said about a fixed lens camera combo where the sensor has been tuned to the lens. Of course these cameras will not offer you the speed or versatility of a huge DSLR setup, but you will get relief from your back aches and fantastic image quality that is tough to beat with a DSLR and lens. As always, just MY opinions but I would rather treck out with an X1 or X100 than a huge DSLR and 35mm lens.

Let the commenting begin!

 

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If you enjoyed this article/review, feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of this page and also be sure to join me on twitter or my new facebook fan page! Also, you can subscribe to my feed at my subscribe page HERE and read these posts in your browser or news reader! Also, the new forums are NOW OPEN on this site so get involved if you like! Thanks so much for visiting my site!

May 232011
 

UPDATE: The TOP image was from the Leica X1. Bottom X100. Full comparison can be found HERE.

Happy Monday!

Im heading out to Sedona and Oak Creek Canyon AZ this morning to shoot the Leica X1 and Fuji X100 side by side to not only see the image quality differences, but to also see which one I prefer shooting with all day. I have a soft spot for the Leica X1 but also am really digging the X100 so I wanted to see the real deal between the two as so many have been talking about the 3D depth of the X1 and the flatness of the X100.

When I reviewed the X100 I did not have an X1 on hand, and now I do so this is going to be fun :)

I posted a sample and poll on Saturday of my son asking what camera you guys though took each photo, and the voting is pretty close! I will reveal which camera took which image either later on tonight or tomorrow morning with my full X1 and X100 side by side report.

Until then, here is one more comparison!

FULL SIZE OUT OF CAMERA IMAGES!!!

YOU MUST CLICK ON THESE TO SEE THE FULL SIZE IMAGES!

These were shot RAW, f/8, and exported from ACR without ANY change of settings or PP.

One of these came from the Leica X1 and one from the X100.

When you click on them they will open as one but in FULL size.

Instead of asking which one you think came from which camera, this time vote for the one you like best. It’s a crap image but was just taken to test detail, color and rendering at f/8 with each camera. I will have some better images later tonight or in the morning from each camera, along with my full comparison.

With that said, I think sometimes it is pointless to over-analyze things such as this. Obviously, both the X1 and X100 are fantastic cameras capable of high image quality and each one can inspire confidence and deliver the results. Which one you prefer is all up to what you want to use it for. For example, if you wanted a viewfinder and close up capabilities, the X10o would be a better choice. If you wanted that “Leica Look” that some of you see, and some do not, then the X1 is the only choice.

BRW, both cameras are easy to use and have similar AF speed (using the X1′s V2 firmware).

 

 

May 212011
 

UPDATE: The top image was from the X100, NOT the X1. The Bottom image was from the X1. The full comparison is HERE.

WEEKEND FUN POLL!

Hey everyone! It’s Saturday and I’ve been hanging around the house today doing some comparisons between the Leica X1 and Fuji X100 just so I could see once and for all which camera I prefer when shooting both side by side. I will be working on this for the next three days, and should have something up by Tuesday. For now, just for fun I decided to post one image along with a poll to see if you guys can guess which image was shot with the Leica X1. I may put one or two more up before Tuesday, just for fun.

The answer will be posted in my comparison this week.

Both images were shot at f2.8 and processed with default RAW settings in CS5. No PP.

YOU MUST CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO SEE THE LARGER 2000 PIXEL WIDE SIZE…

May 192011
 

Ok guys…all of this Fuji X100 craziness is driving ME crazy! Lol. My e-mail inbox has been flooded in the last week asking me the question “What should I buy” – The X1 or X100? First of all, I can’t tell you WHAT to buy as I have no idea what fits your style, your needs, or your wants. I love both the X1 and X100. Both are capable of taking beautiful photos. One is made in Germany by Leica, one in Japan by Fuji. One is $1995, one is $1200. One has a viewfinder, the other is smaller and sleeker. One has a fast F2 lens, the other a slower 2.8 lens. When I reviewed the X100 I did NOT have a Leica X1 on hand to properly compare it to, but one is now on the way!

Leica dealer Ken Hansen (email: [email protected]) is sending me an X1 which will arrive Monday and I will finally be able to compare the two, side by side to showcase the differences in the way each camera operates and renders the image. I will shoot RAW and JPEG and will be taking a trip for this one so I have some fresh photographic opportunities. Maybe I will still do my Showdown in Tombstone..maybe I will take a trip up to Sedona AZ to photograph the red rocks..maybe both.

I will shoot both cameras equally. Same settings, same ISO, same everything. After my trip I will report back here with my experiences of shooting BOTH and which I preferred. There will also be plenty of images as well as discussion about  the usability of each. This way you guys can read it and then decide what will work best for YOU, if any of them!

I am looking forward to this. I am ready for a photo road trip! As for the cameras,  The X1 is almost 2 years old but still packs a punch even though the X100 is newer. I will also be reviewing the new firmware 2.0 of the X1. I am also still enjoying the X100 almost daily and am finding it to be a fantastic camera. I am ok with just a 35mm lens, and could easily live with just that focal length if I were just an everyday hobbyist.

So be on the lookout NEXT WEEK for this comparison. I am not going to get overly technical or worry about ultimate sharpness as there is MUCH more to a photo than that. I do know that each camera renders differently, that is fact! I will also be publishing my Olympus XZ-1 review next week as well as talk about a few other cameras that I had here for the last two weeks that just didn’t do it for me.

As always, thanks for visiting the site!

Steve

May 192011
 

USER REPORT: The Leica X1 Dynamic Range by George Sutton

The Leica X1 has a lot of limitations offset by outstanding strengths. I think it works best as a walk-around camera in a city. Color is exemplary. Another strength I have discovered is the camera’s range.

Recently I was in the Sainte-Chapelle chapel in Paris with its spectacular stained glass windows. Photographing inside the chapel poses the typical challenge of exposing windows while preserving any detail in the much darker room. To get the windows I underexposed the original shot, shown below, by 2/3 stop. The windows are in direct sun. In the raw photo, the windows were still a little overexposed but the the rest of the room was dark. In Photoshop I reduced the exposure of the raw file an additional 1 1/3 stops to get the windows right, dialed up the fill light to the max, then fine tuned it more with the tone curve.

The result is the second photo. Preserving that much detail in the otherwise dark shadows is truly amazing. Kudos to Leica.

CLICK ON THE IMAGES FOR MUCH LARGER VERSIONS

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May 152011
 

Finally, I Added My Portfolio Pages!


Just a note to let everyone know that I added some galleries of my work on the site today. You can find them under the “About” tab above. I added the Seal 2011 Tour Gallery, The Rural Landscape Gallery, and a Street Gallery. I always get asked where I post my photos so decided to add some galleries of my own!

 

Also, thanks to a reader request, a new section of the site is being added THIS week! I will be adding an area with User Reports and First Impressions, from YOU, the readers of this site. If you have a report on a camera or lens, along with some photos, and you want to write about it then you will be able to have your article posted in the new section. I am hoping this will grow in to a large resource for info on all kinds of cameras and lenses, with opinions from a wide range of shooters. Should be fun, so stay tuned for the announcement.

May 132011
 

Re-Visiting the Leica 50 Summitar lens on the M9

By Steve Huff

With all of the Fuji X100 craziness lately I decided to switch it up and dust off the old Leica M9 :) Ahhh, feels good!

Are you one of those Leica shooters that CRAVE that creamy classic Leica look but there is no way in hell you can or even want to shell out crazy dollars for a classic 50 Noctilux F1 or even a 50 Summilux PRE-ASPH lens?

What if I told you that you can get that crazy, classic, swirly look for anywhere between $200-$300 with a classic lens that not too many Leica shooters know about or would even think about buying? A true classic in every sense of the word, the Leica 50 Summitar is a 1940′s lens that can be found for $300 or so in pretty decent shape.

I reviewed this lens a while ago but there are still many of you who missed that review or have no idea what a 50 Summitar is! Basically it is an f2 lens that was made before the Summicron and it has a cray classic signature that will add some uniqueness to your photos. Be sure and check out the review to see what I had to say about this lens when I first received it. I even shot it on the Sony NEX-5 with good results.

Lately I have been shooting my M9 here and there around the house, or when out and about and I have been bringing along this little Summitar. It’s looking pretty good, even on the all black M9 (IMO).

If you ever see this lens available, and in good condition, snag it up! You will need an Leica screw mount to M adapter and after that you will be all set. BUT BE PREPARED! The crazy Bokeh of this lens will not be for everyone as it is sometimes pretty swirly, sometimes busy and always unique. Here are some recent shots with this lens on the M9…

My 14 year old dog Scrubby. He has seen better days but is always willing to pose for a photo, haha

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Testing color and bokeh. This is a pretty smooth file and has great color and that classic feel. Even makes the ridiculously boring subject matter somewhat interesting for a minute or two :)

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My copy of the lens is pretty sharp when shot in close to medium range. After that it back focuses a bit, but this lens is OLD so I can’t complain. Maybe I will send it in for a cleaning and adjustment soon.

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Now you can really tell that Scrubby has seen better days! Shot at f/2

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Saw these horses and grabbed a couple of shots with the Summitar. Once again, at f2, which is the only aperture I shoot this lens at, for its signature.

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For portraits the 50 Summitar is pretty nice. It will give a totally unique and different look that something like a 50 Summilux, or 50 Summicron. It’s closer to the original Noctilux, though not as fast. This one was shot today at lunch…

and one I shot about 6 months ago…

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Looking for the swirl! Can you see it?

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Just testing the focus from about 10-12 feet away…I personally really enjoy the rendering of this lens on the M9.

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The Leica 50 Summitar lens may be tough to find today, but a year ago I saw at least 6-7 available on e-bay and some online shops, no one wanted them. The secret must have gotten out :)

Bottom line is that it’s a great lens to shoot with on the M9 though it doesn’t focus close (1m) and it can be soft and hazy, especially if you get a not so clean copy. But price wise, it’s almost a no-brainer. At $250-$350 for a true German made Leica 50 f/2 lens I would say GO FOR IT.

Here are a few more images that I posted some time ago that some of you may have missed. One thing I notice is that the color is AMAZING with this lens. Sure I enhanced these a bit during the raw conversion, but the lens was able to produce nice colors and contrast, even wide open. This may be one of the best deals going in used Leica lenses! If you want to look for one, e-bay may be best. Even Ken Hansen may have one or two of these laying around as he seems to have loads of used gear sometimes. If you look for one, good luck! If you shoot with one, leave a comment and let me know how you like it!

As always, click images for larger versions!

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May 102011
 

The Forums Are Going To Get A Major Improvement SOON!

It’s Tuesday, a perfect day for a news update. I will start off with the forums on this site, which were just started 6 months ago. Since then, there have been 5600 of you who registered to the site, which is awesome! Almost 1,000 per month.

Also, in 6 months, not ONE comment had to be moderated in the forums. That says a lot about the great people who come to this site. I love being positive and throwing out the positive vibe and it is so cool to attract positive people here as well!

I will be setting up an all new forum, more functionality, more features, more everything. Easier to use, edit your posts, etc. This will be launching as soon as next week, so stay tuned!

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My Crystal Ball

Long time readers here will know about my “Crystal Ball” that I bring out from time to time. It shows me images and tells me of things to come in the camera world. Things that readers here would find interesting. It has a 99.6% accuracy rate to date but today it was REALLY dusty so lets hope it is still as accurate. What did I see when I gazed into the ball today?

  • I saw (what I thought was) an M camera  - something that appeared to be pretty damn gorgeous – classic. It came in and out so quick that I could not really tell what it was as I did not see a model name or anything. It was floating on 6 clouds which tells me a possible JUNE announcement as June is the 6th month :) Could be wrong, you never can tell.
  • I also saw what appeared to be a lens that I never have seen before….small, compact – well made. Looked like an M lens but it could have been something new. Again, the ball was hazy…it was floating on 6 dashes…6-bit? June? Let’s wait and see!

Thats all I saw today but I am happy I took a look. Now lets see what June brings us from Leica, if anything!

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The Olympus XZ-1 arrives…


Was out and about today with my buddy Mike and had the Fuji X100, M9, and Olympus X-1 with me. Took some shots and wow, the little XZ-1 is a KICK ASS little camera! It’s in the league of the D-Lux 5, but so far I like it because Olympus added all of the art filters from the PEN series into this little camera. It has a fast 1.8 lens, a huge LCD, super fast shot to shot time, and a nice little design. I will have more on this camera very soon, but for now here are a couple of silly snapshots right out of the camera.

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Using the “Dramatic Tone” filter…

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and my old fave, the Grainy B&W Filter


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More from the Fuji X100

Yes, I am still enjoying the X100. I updated my review with some  new stuff over the past few days but still loving it, even with its quirks. I am finding that the more I use it, the more I like it. If you like it when you first get it, then it gets better. If you do NOT like it when you first get it, use it and use it some more. It does grown on you in a weird kind of way. Me, I liked it from the get go as I learned to get around the quirks of the camera. I am finding the Dynamic Range of the X100 to be fantastic and I love the lens. I also love that it is a fixed 35mm equiv lens. Simple, effective and makes you work!

Here are some shots from today…still loving the color!

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More X100 news…This morning I  was sent a new review on the X100 by controversial reader and guest writer David Babsky. Some of you may know David from THIS article, or even THIS one. Are you ready for his take on the Fuji X100? I should be posting it this week, so stay tuned!

The M9! Today I had my M9 with me along with the old 50 Summitar. Talk about classic rendering.

That is about all for today in the news department. Lots more new stuff this week. I also have a GF2 on hand as well as a GH2 from Panasonic and after shooting the Fuji X100, for some reason their output is not exciting me…more in the next few days!

May 102011
 

Different Lights, Different Lens

By Hao Hen Chen

Both myself and my wife are avid photographers. We travel, wherever and whenever possible, to photograph and experience culture around the world at least once every year. This time round, we decided we would want to go to Istanbul and Santorini.

The challenge has been always to push our boundaries, leave our comfort zones to take travel photographs that are both unique and engaging. It is easy to take beautiful photographs when you are in a beautiful location. You point your camera, you release the shutter and you get a beautiful shot; except that shot will be similar to shots taken by thousands or more photographers before you. For a destination that has been photographed to death, there is a real need to find a new angle to things.

So, we endeavor to push ourselves to look beyond the norm and to learn to see things in different lights, and different perspectives (aka lens).

Preparation

To prepare for our travels, we spend weeks reading up on our destinations. For this trip to Istanbul, we relied on travel guides such as Rough Guides, Lonely Planet and Eyewitness Travel. We scour materials and research the destinations from DVDs, novels and movies to understand the history, the culture and the current affairs. And to help us prepare how we approach our photography, we looked up on works by Ara Guler and Alex Webb.

This background work helps us to approach the destination uniquely and in our own ways. In our opinion, this is important because books and prior works from fellow photographers offer a glimpse of what life was at the destination, which would take months or years for us to understand. We also view our photographs to be a continuation to their body of works as we attempt to document life as it is, and contribute to the ever evolving images of the destination.

Equipment

Hence, armed with this research, we packed the M9, a 5D, a 7D and an Xpan (with dozens rolls of films) and headed out on a 14 hour flight to Istanbul. Of course, we also had our notebooks with us, myself with a new Macbook Air 13″, which I found light and powerful enough to do on-the-spot editing, and my wife, a Sony Vaio.

My initial worry was the rolls of films that I was carrying. I had packed Provia, Velvia and Deltas for this trip but I was also expecting a dozen or more x-ray scans on my carry-ons based on our planned itinerary. As it turns out, my worry was unfounded, we never had any problems except for when we landed at Athens and had to put all our lenses and cameras on trays for inspection. There was also no fogging on the films although we had more than a dozen scans.

The Photographs – different lights and different lens

We spent most of our time at Istanbul, with only four days at Santorini. In the seven days at Istanbul, we had one sun lit day whilst the rest, we were shrouded in gloom and moody clouds. Luck was not really on our side (one of those times when weather was not on our side) and we despaired if we will manage a different angle of Istanbul in our photographs. To tackle this, we really had to dig hard into our creative juices.

Different perspective means having to get our hands dirty. Taking photographs at eye level is boring and one of the many ways that we found effective is to look for angles that give a dramatic view of our subjects. For the shot of the Blue Mosque below, I had literally gotten my hands (and body) dirty by lying flat on the ground. As there was a construction to repave the cobble-stone street just five meters away, you can imagine how dirty that was. I was also fortunate that I had to take this in one take and was rewarded with a curious glance from one of the construction workers. To make matters even more interesting, when I was done, I was greeted with a shout from one of the town council workers, “I love you MAN!! I’ve just swept the streets!”; me lying on the ground was somehow seen as a testament to how clean his streets were. LOL.

Above: Blue Mosque from Ground Up

Different perspective means learning to be patient and wait for your shots. My parents taught me the virtue of patience. Learning to be patient may sound counter-intuitive to today’s shoot-now rapid-fire DSLR era. But the virtue of patience rewards one with a different angle of subjects. At Santorini, we saw donkeys walking up the steep stairs and knew that would provide a different take from photographs of Santorini in your popular travel magazines. But alas, we waited and the donkeys never showed up. It basically took us almost 2 hours of waiting before they came up.

What is a photograph of Istanbul without a shot of a muslim in her traditional black abaya. It turns out to be a particularly difficult photograph to take, especially if you are looking for direct eye-contact. There are reasons to this and one of the reasons is the Quran’s requirement known as the Hijab that requires muslims to dress modestly and for women to lower their gazes (from strangers). To get the shot at Yeni Cami (below), I had to visit Yeni Cami several times and to coincide my visits with the muslim prayer times and what else, to wait patiently for such a scene to unfold.

Above: Donkeys at Santorini

Different perspective means going the distance. Sometimes, when we arrive at a destination, we get so caught up with the location and forget the surrounding areas that could provide better vantage points to our subjects. Walking away from the location helps us to see a different perspective. The Ali Ahmet Celebi Cami photograph (below) is an example. By walking away from the busy bazaar around Yeni Cami and across towards the other side of the Galata Bridge, I glanced back from the railings and saw a new perspective.

Similarly, with the shot of the boy climbing up from the rooftop of a church, we were at an Easter celebration at Santorini. I had followed the boy up the rooftop to see what he was up to. It turns out, the church bell was stuck and he had to free the ropes. When he climbed up from the walls, I saw a photo opportunity.

Going the distance could mean literally walking kilometers. The Blue Mosque shot from the tram station is an example. Walking away from the touristy Sultanahmet area, glancing back I peeked at the magnificent mosque. With some luck, I was able to get this lone man walking on the platform together with the Blue Mosque.

Above: Ali Ahmet Celebi Cami from the Galata Bridge

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Above: Boy Climbing from the Roof of a Church

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Above: Blue Mosque from the Tram Station

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Different light means revisiting the same location twice or thrice. The square near the Yeni Cami side of the Galata Bridge is crowded and offers a lot of opportunity for good photos. Visiting the square at different times of the days offered a different “feel” towards the whole atmosphere. Different times of the days offer different sets of hues as well. The following photographs were taken from the same area during different times of the day.

Above: Bus Terminal at Galata Bridge

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ABove: Galata Bridge and Yeni Cami

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Above: Yeni Cami at Dusk

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Different light means having luck on your side and taking the shot. Throughout the trip, we had only one beautiful day and it was the first day of the trip. We were jet lagged and were short on sleep but my wife was eager to hit the trails. As it later turns out, it was the only sunny day with clear sky and perfect lighting.

The shot of the reflection was due to light showers in the wee hours of the morning. Often times, we would be tempted to think we can return for such a shot given it was only the first day. Well, a week later when we did return, the traditional cobble-stone street was replaced with newly paved gray tiles (yucks!). Lesson learnt: take the shot and don’t wait for later.

Above: Reflection of the Blue Mosque from the Clobber-stone Street

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Different light means having courage to take blur photographs. Well, not exactly. The shot of the elderly lady (below) was accidental. It was purely right time at the right place but with no time to refocus. It was now or never. I am glad I took the photo because it is one of my favorites from the trip. I like the photograph because it captures the whole essence of Istanbul. The historical Istanbul, as always, at the crossroads between the old and the new; blurry because nobody knows the future.

Above: Elderly Lady Walking Past the Blue Mosque

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The rest of the photos. Enough said, here are some selected photographs that we hope will inspire you to look beyond the ordinary in your next travel.

Above: Beggar at Yeni Cami

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Above: Man at Yeni Cami

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Above: Pigeons at Yeni Cami

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Above: Boys Kicking Tin Can

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Above: Man and Anchor (stopover at Dubai)

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In closing…
We were amazed at the warmth of the Turkish and Greek people. Everywhere we went, we felt welcomed. At Santorini, we were blessed to have been invited to join an Easter celebration and experienced firsthand what we have read from books.

The M9 performed well. This was my first trip with the M9 and am amazed at the combination of the 50mm Summilux (Pre-Asph) and the camera. I had brought my M6 previously on trips but I had reluctantly left it at home in favour for the Xpan. The 50mm was tack sharp and colour reproduction was amazingly accurate.

Seeing things in a different light and with a different perspective is not difficult. We hope our sharing will inspire you to do the same – to see beyond the norm. We also hope you have also enjoyed the photographs.

For more photographs, please visit our website at http://haohanc.com/

May 092011
 

With all of this talk of workshops, Leica cameras and even Fuji cameras I just wanted to update the status on the upcoming Seattle Meetup/Workshop on July 23rd and 24th. Ashwin Rao and I have been getting the schedule of events down over these past two weeks. This meetup is going to be an AWESOME weekend full of great people, guests, amazing photography, super food, cool presentations, Leica cameras and even a special prize to be given away randomly to one attendee. Loads of fun and it is ALL WEEKEND! July 23rd and 24th 2011.

In addition to the schedule of events below, I will have an extra Leica M9 on hand for those who would like to try it out with me on the street and I will also have some lenses to check out. Lunch is included both days, and we even added an evening stroll for those that want to do some night shooting. I am even giving away a killer camera system with loads of accessories and goodies, all new in box. One random attendee will win this great prize (don’t get too excited though, it is NOT an M9).

This will be TWO DAYS of jammed packed activities. Only two seats are left so if you want in, email me here. The official workshop page with pricing and more details is HERE.

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SOLD OUT! ALL 20 HAVE BEEN SOLD!


Saturday July 23rd

9:00 AM: Everyone arrives (time at 9 am at Ashwin’s)

-       Top Pot Donuts (on of Seattle’s most famous donut spots) with coffee will be waiting for all.

-       9:15ish: Steve’s intro & welcome

-       9:15-10:30: Group Introductions

-       10:30: 10:45: Ashwin’s intro and comment on photography/slideshow

-       10:45 – 11:15:  Guest speaker intro: We will have a couple of guest speakers at the event (still being finalized). Tim Issac of Thumbs Up fame will also be there to talk about his products for Leica and he will have some on hand as well to demo and possibly even sell.

-       11:30- 1:30: Morning street stroll – downtown at Pike’s Place for some street photography.

-     1:30-2:30 Lunch (down in Pike’s Place- Pikes Place Chowder or the like – (Lunch is included and paid for)

-       3:00- 4:00 pm Head to Glazers Camera for Leica Demo (tentative, need to confirm on demo); We will do a Glazers stop either way with a possible talk by Ashwin on setting up your own photo show/exhibit.

-       4-6  pm Return to Ashwin’s for critique, comments, editing from our morning stroll photos

-       6:30 – 8:00 evening photo stroll – Sunset at Kerry Park  or Golden Gardens

-       7:30- 9 pm Dinner and evening cap (Rays Boathouse near Golden Gardens, The 5 spot, near Kerry Park, or similar restaurant in upper Queen Anne – DINNER is NOT included)

-     9:30-10:30 pm? Optional later night, low light photo stroll for those interested.

 

Sunday, July 24th

-       9:00- Breakfast: Mighty O Donuts and Coffee

-     9:15-10: Steve’s presentation of shooting The Leica M in challenging conditions.

-       10:00-11:00: Recap of the previous day – question/answer

-       11:00 AM – 1 PMPhoto Telling stroll – Space Needle/ Seattle Center – Tell YOUR story!

o   If people have interest, we can take a ride up the needle. It’s a fun place to photograph from above as well, both the people and the city!

-       1:30-3 PM: Lunch at Dad Watson’s or similar pub grub place (Paid for by Steve!)

-       3-5 pm: PM stroll at Discovery Park

o   Beautiful nature site worth spending some time at

-       5:30- 7:30 pm: Return for critique and discussion of story telling

-       7:30: Prize giveaway – Someone, at random, will win a complete camera system with all accessories (NO it is not an M9)

-       8:00 pm: Send off Dinner – (Bastille in Ballard, Rays)

 

Possible Photo Strolls

-       Downtown stroll (Pikes Place, Pioneer Square)

-       Seattle Center (space needle up close; up the needle, waterfountain)

-       Discovery Park and waterfront images, Gasworks Park, Travel through Discovery Park

-       Kerry Park (early AM or sunset)

-       Graffiti wall and urban walk

-       Alki Beach

-       Seattle Public Library stroll

-       Sculpture Garden and waterfront

-       Out of Seattle, into nature

-       Golden Gardens at Sunset (beach, mountain views)

-       Ferry trip to Bainbridge island

-       The Piers where the Ferries take off

 

SIGN UP NOW – EMAIL ME HERE

May 082011
 

For Immediate Release LEICA CAMERA ANNOUNCES LEICA AKADEMIE’S NORTH AMERICAN DEBUT

Leica will host experiential workshops in 16 North American cities

Allendale, NJ (May 2, 2011) – Leica Camera, Inc. announces the North American debut of the world- renowned Leica Akademie, bringing experiential programming to 16 cities through the initial 25 workshops starting on July 9, 2011 in Santa Barbara, CA and concluding on December 11, 2011 in Miami, FL. Following in the footsteps of the original German Akademie’s storied tradition dating back to 1934, a priceless series of photographic lectures, workshops and hands-on experiential learning days will travel for the first time to thousands of committed Leica aficionados in the United States and Canada.

“With a rich European heritage, the Leica Akademie has been helping Leica enthusiasts enhance and deepen their Leica experience for over 75 years,” said Christian Erhardt, Vice President of Marketing at Leica Camera, Inc. “The Akademie’s goal is to increase the fun and enjoyment of photography, expand photographic knowledge and bring the total Leica experience to a new generation of photographers.”

Open to experienced as well as entry level photographers, these experiential workshops are the premiere learning resource for Leica Users. In addition to the benefits of small class sizes and real world shooting situations, each participant will have access to experienced Leica instructors as well as a selection of guest photographers who will provide coaching and inspiration through the sharing of their images, techniques and insights. The inaugural North American Leica Akademie includes five distinctive programs highlighting the full range of the Leica portfolio.

Leica Weekends: Our Premier Leica Akademie Events – These intensive and exciting weekends will cover the essentials of Leica photography in two full days of hands-on learning. Held in five destination cities across North America, each workshop will be led by a knowledgeable Leica instructor as well as a featured Leica photographer. From rangefinder basics to advanced techniques, this workshop is custom tailored to each host city and is the perfect opportunity to have a priceless weekend of learning, inspiration and camaraderie in the company of fellow Leica enthusiasts. The Leica Weekend Program will cost $495 with each participant receiving a $300 voucher that can be used toward the purchase of a brand new Leica serial numbered M product from any North American Leica Dealer.

The Leica M9 Shooting Experience: Spend a Day with the Masterpiece – A full day of programming enables prospective and current M9 owners to experience all the world’s first full-frame digital rangefinder camera has to offer. The workshop serves as a comprehensive introduction to the incomparable M9 and its exquisite Leica M lenses. Additionally, participants will benefit from a two hour field trial, invaluable instruction on how to get the most out of Leica M9 files and instruction on basic Lightroom workflow. The Leica M9 Shooting Experience is $199 per participant with all attendees receiving a $149 voucher that can be used toward the purchase of a brand new Leica serial numbered M product from any North American Leica Dealer.

Leica Street Photography: Your Gateway to a Great Tradition! – This full day program distills the essence of distinguished M-System street photography, which dates back to the flagship line’s introduction in 1954. The day’s schedule of events is designed to provide inspiration to experienced M photographers and a solid introduction to the history and techniques that helped establish the esteemed photographic genre that witnessed and defined our world. The cost for attending this event is $249 with each participant receiving a $149 voucher that can be used toward the purchase of a brand new Leica serial numbered product from any North American Leica Dealer.

Leica Digital Black and White Photography: See the World in Black and White – This one-of-a-kind workshop encourages participants to explore the fascinating monochromic world of black and white photography by pre-visualizing scenes in black and white as well as exploring new ways of seeing. Participants will gain a more profound understanding of lighting, texture, contrast and tonal gradation. The program incorporates a class lecture and real world shooting experience utilizing the Leica M9 or X1 cameras and focuses on capturing images and processing with the easiest workflow. The cost for attending this event is $249 with each participant receiving a $149 voucher that can be used toward the purchase of a brand new Leica serial numbered M product from any North American Leica Dealer.

Leica Compact Camera Photography: Getting the Most from your Leica Compact Camera –

Leica’s portfolio of compact camera is heralded for its sleek design, superior optical performance and outstanding image quality. This workshop, aimed at everyone from beginners to experienced shooters, enables participants to get the most out of these outstanding cameras by exploring their powerful potential. Leica instructors will be on hand to explain complex concepts, review the cameras’ exposure modes, scene modes and manual settings as well as answer any questions. The cost for this event is $149 per person.

For additional information and to sign up, please visit www.leicaakademie.com or email [email protected].

Boston, MA - August 12, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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Calgary, AB, Canada - July 16, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience with Todd Korol

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Chicago, IL - August 6, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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Santa Barbara, CA - July 9, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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Santa Barbara, CA - July 10, 2011

Leica Compact Camera Photography

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Los Angeles, CA - October 14-16, 2011

Leica Weekend : Featuring Craig Semetko

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Miami, FL - December 9-11, 2011

Leica Weekend

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Minneapolis, MN - August 20, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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New York, NY - September 22, 2011

Leica Street Photography

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New York NY - October 26, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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New York, NY - September 16-18, 2011

Leica Weekend

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Portland, OR - August 17, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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Salt Lake City, UT - October 5, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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Salt Lake City, UT - October 6, 2011

Leica Digital B&W Photography

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San Francisco, CA - July 28, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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San Francisco, CA - July 29, 2011

Leica Compact Camera Photography

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San Francisco, CA - September 16-18, 2011

Leica Weekend

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Seattle, WA - August 20, 2011

Leica Street Photography

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Toronto, ON, Canada - July 22, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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Toronto, ON, Canada - July 23, 2011

Leica Digital Black and White Photography

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Vancouver, BC, Canada - September 9, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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Vancouver, BC, Canada - September 10, 2011

Leica Compact Camera Photography

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Victoria, BC, Canada - August 12-14, 2011

Leica Weekend : Featuring Quinton Gordon

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Washington, DC - November 4, 2011

Leica M9 Shooting Experience

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Washington, DC - November 5, 2011

Leica Street Photography

May 062011
 

Look what I got today! A nice red Artisan and Artist strap and a mini classic soft release to fit to my X100. For about $100 total it has transformed the look of the camera and now screams out “Im An Expensive Camera, STEAL ME!” Lol. I love the cloth straps from Artisan & Artist as they can be adjusted to be long or short. I like wearing my cameras around my body and have them hang low. This is the only A&A strap that I am aware of that lets you do this. ALSO, it happens to be amazingly comfortable. I first used one a year or so ago on Seals M9 and it was so comfy when I shot with it that I knew I wanted one. Took me a year but hey, I bought a red and a black on from popflash because I noticed they were having a “Spring Special” on many A&A products, mostly the bags and cases. I bought a red strap for the X100 and bought a black for the M9. The red soft release looks really good on the X100 too. I am and always have been a fan of Artisan & Artist though they are usually on the pricey side. The cool thing about their products is that they are functional, and that is most important when shooting every day.

Not everyone will care for the red as it is a bit flashy but you can also buy the strap in black for a more stealthy look (on my M9 and will add a black soft release and black dot soon) so there is something for everyone.

Dale Photo also sells the A&A line including the straps, bags, cases, etc. I bought from PopFlash as the prices they have now on the bags and cases are great, for A&A, as they are normally pretty pricey. Saving money is always good!

I am still enjoying the X100 and took these shots with a Panasonic GH2 which just arrived for me to review along with a GF2 and Olympus XZ1. Lots of fun work for me over the next two weeks! The X1o0 though, even with its quirks and oddities, is still a GREAT picture taking memory making machine! Amazon is taking pre-orders if you want to get in line…Enjoy!

This cloth strap is wide, and soft. Very comfortable on your shoulders or neck.

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This soft release is a Metallic Red and screws right into the X100 shutter release. Sort of matches the OVF/EV lever. Matched with the red strap, you have one Sexy looking camera.

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Next to my camera “soulmate” the Leica M9 – also fitted with an Artisan & Artist leather case and cloth strap

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Ready to travel in an ACAM-7000, also from A&A – This bag will hold two cameras, 2-3 lenses, your passport, paperwork and even an Ipad or Macbook Air 11-13″. $239

May 052011
 

Just saw some used Leica deals for those who are in need of a Leica fix without spending full retail prices!

 

Looks like someone traded in an X1 for an X100 – maybe…Here is a grey/black X1 for $1599 in 9+ condition, which is as new.

 

Also, this is RARE! A Leica Digilux 2 – used, in 8+ CONDITION FOR $449! THESE NORMALLY go for much more! Get it quick if you want a taste of classic Leica digital.

 

A GORGEOUS Silver Leica M6 with a .58 Viewfinder which is useful when shooting wider angle lenses. 8+ with box, $1699

 

A GREAT CONDITION LEICA M8 at Dale Photo in Silver or Black

 

Retro! A Leica Digilux 1 for $195!

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